Archive | July, 2012

Journalism skills come in handy

27 Jul

I recently observed how valuable my journalism skills are to what I do. Whether I am writing text ads to run on Google’s network, identifying partnership opportunities, or trying to win a new account, I always seem to call upon some time-tested journalism skills.

Listening is a key skill that was taught in J-school at KU and in Mass Comm at ACU. But words and sounds are only a small percentage of what listening requires. Observation is part of listening. Body language, tone and what is not said, are often much more important than what is actually said.

In journalism courses, I was drilled in identifying the “Why” of the story. Other facts that imbue from who, what, where, when and how are required also, of course. However, the answers to”Why” almost always reveal the most interesting nuggets that make a news story or feature so compelling. We seem to naturally want to understand the “why” of things.

Leading a story with the most important facts was always a good challenge. But it is a good exercise to go through in business communications as well. What are the most important things to communicate to your audience. Why should it be important to them?

Headlines must capture attention.Writing headlines was always my favorite journalistic task. Using as few words as possible, I’d create headlines that compelled most people to read at least the first few lines of a story. Headlines are even more important today since there are so many things competing for our attention. Email subject lines, Web page subheads, White Paper names, even Tweets – these all require great headline writing skills.

I’m showing my age here, but deadlines used to be the driving force in publishing. You had to have your stories completed at a certain time to allow for editing, rewriting and layout, so that a publication could be printed, packaged and distributed on time. Some of that sense of urgency remains in the publishing industry, but it is different now, with 24-hour news cycles and wide-spread consumer access to the Web, email and smart phones. It is different in business now too. Competition is now 24/7. Companies must move faster and continually release new content, new products, new strategies, and news to placate customers and investors.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes the simple task of putting the right words in bold, italics, quotes, or underlined is more important than you first realize. More than ever, people skim content to look for the most important ideas and news.

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The Multiple Values of Google Adwords

14 Jul

Results matter.

Google Adwords, when done correctly, brings you additional online sales that are still profitable after deducting the expenses associated with Google Adwords and the usual expenses of conducting business.

But there are other values that need to be recognized and valued. However these can be highly subjective, so they will never be the same for any two businesses.

Non-Purchasing Visits. These people visited your site but did not make a purchase. Is that worth anything? Maybe they’ll remember your site when they finally get the itch to make a purchase? Maybe they’ll bookmark your site or send a your link to a friend.

Opt-in Prospects. If people complete a form to get onto your email list, they have indicated an interest in buying your products or services in the future. But because only a small percentage of people actually open emails, you have to be very conservative about the value of additional prospects on your mailing list.

Branding. Let’s assume that NO ONE clicked your ads. Yikes! That would be really bad, right?  Yes and no. Yes it is bad, in that you are not going to experience any online sales from your advertising. But No, in that you haven’t spent a dime, but still got your name and URL out there. Some people don’t click ads and, instead, just visit the site directly. Others simply see your ad, remember your business name and then get distracted or enticed by some other ad. This branding effect has a value, but it is very small.

Post-Purchase Activity. If someone did buy your products or services online as a result of your Google Adwords ads, they might, depending on your business and their satisfaction, make additional purchases with you in the future.

Taking Sales From Competitors. Taking revenue and profit away from competitors is often just as important as making the profit on a sale for yourself.

Your Google Adwords budget should be dictated by the actual sales that you can make at a profit. But don’t lose sight of the extra values that you earn. They help justify the expense, effort, and time that it requires to make Google Adwords work for your business.

If you’d like some professional help in managing Google Adwords, I am here to help.

Eric Strautman 816.797.9946

PR is FREE (sort of) publicity!

12 Jul
Yes, I provide PR services. I’ve done business PR throughout my 25+ year career.
I start by understanding what the true goals are:
  • Do they want to see their name in print?
  • Do they want notoriety?
  • Do they want more links back to their Web site?
  • Is it about branding or to drive sales?
  • Is it to enhance credibility?
  • Is it to encourage venture capital investment?
Once the goal is defined, I can custom-tailor a PR program.
  • I can write news releases.
  • I can submit them to free online distribution services (They produce inbound links for the clients Web site but may or may not be read by humans).
  • I can submit news releases to paid distribution services.These can be expensive, but the news releases are more likely to be published and read. There are ways to reduce the monthly investment while still getting 90% of the value.
  • I can submit news releases to industry publications (printed and online).
  • I can submit news releases to specific editors and reporters, to encourage their coverage.
  • Once the news releases are published on a reputable site, I can re-promote the news release via email, social media, and other channels.
PR (Public Relations) remains one of the best bang-for-your-buck marketing investments that you can make. But just because a great deal of it is free, you shouldn’t ignore it or not make an effort to do it well. It is an essential part of the marketing mix. And because of Web sites and social media, you will want to invest some funds to control the message and measure the results. Doing so will enable you to have higher and higher performance over time.
Take shortcuts and you’ll end up with mediocre results that won’t accomplish your goals.
Your PR should be a planned part of your overall marketing strategy. Plan, prepare, execute, measure, improve. If you need my help, you know where to find me. 816.797.9946 Eric Strautman

Keep the revenue you earn, while making more.

12 Jul

Call 816.797.9946 for payment processing for start-ups, mobile payments, stores, kiosks, and virtual terminals.

If you are in business, you take payments from clients or customers.

There is an expense associated with taking those payments. Your bank wants a cut, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express want a cut, and your payment processor (the one who sells and services what the banks and credit cards offer) wants a cut.

Do you have unnecessary multiple payment processors? You might have started with a brick and mortar store added a location, then started selling online and then started selling via mobile devices. As a result, you might have two or more payment processors, multiple statements to decipher and, as a result, are paying too much.

I work with Kansas City-based MerchantGuy, to provide payment processing services at reduced rates. We often find that businesses are able to save between 15% and 70% on the fees. I educate customers on what the charges are and which ones they can control.

I also help uncover new revenue streams and implement recurring billing.

For a free quote on payment processing that has no leased equipment, no contracts and no nonsense, call me at 816.797.9946. Eric

15 Google Adwords Tips

9 Jul

ImageAfter managing $200,000 worth of spending on Google Adwords for an employer, I learned a few things that I would like to share with you. 

1)      Buying clicks, just to get clicks, is a strategy for building brand-recognition, but won’t convert to sales in most situations. Gifts.com did this to establish a foothold in the online gift buying space and to see what keywords would work. They used 20,000+ keywords.

2)      You can really only make judgments about what is working based on numerous clicks. If you don’t have an adequate number of clicks for a keyword, ad, or campaign, expand the date range, but be careful not to include holidays or other extremes, because that would most likely skew the data.

3)      On holidays, keywords that previously were underperforming might perform quite well. Understand that buyers will search and convert differently on such holidays.

4)      Older, seemingly outdated terms like “Gift Certificates” might perform as well as or better than more modern terms like “gift cards”.

5)      If older terms like “gift certificates” are working, what can that tell you about the searcher? Most likely they are an older generation buyer. Or, they might be highly educated and use that term instead of “gift cards” because gift cards is often confused with “greeting cards.”

6)      Carefully evaluate Google’s recommendations that you raise your bid level for increased exposure on various keywords. Look at the keyword performance over time and its cost per conversion. If the cost per conversion is $4 and your acceptable level is $8, you may be able to nearly double your bid to acquire a higher volume of sales.

7)      Don’t forget misspelled keywords. “Gif cards” and other typos produce a respectable amount of volume. But, only do this for misspelled versions of your higher performing keywords.

8)      Your landing page is super-important. Test several. Some will work better at different times.

9)      On holidays, people like to see the holiday theme on the landing page.

10)   If your product or service requires some level of explanation, try landing them right on the “How it works” page, if you have one.

11)   Make ads descriptive enough to dissuade curious clicks. If non-buyers don’t click, that’s great!

12)   Test multiple ads. In low click volume campaigns, you’ll need to pause ads so that two ads get an adequate number of clicks so that you can make judgments about what is working.

13)   Timing is important. “gift card ideas” might not perform well until the day before a holiday because the user’s gift-buying options at that point are limited. So just pause it and only turn it on right before the holiday.

14)   High volume holidays are your opportunity to offset those days when the cost-per-conversion was higher than you’d like. Don’t forget to raise your daily budget level. You don’t want to miss the volume, as long as your cost-per-conversion is acceptable.

15)   Don’t freak out the cost-per-conversion seems really high at the beginning of a day. Often, just one or two more conversions will make all the difference. Be patient and trust the historic performance. Some days will be higher and some will be lower. You can’t make judgments on a day’s performance except during high volume periods like Christmas.

If you liked these tips and found them valuable, I have tons more. But you don’t get them unless you engage me to handle your Adwords account. Call me at 816.797.9946 to discuss your needs. Thanks. Eric