David Brim on business, marketing & life.

What Every Business Owner should know about Google Instant Previews

Contributor: David Brim December 3, 2010

Google recently released a new feature called “Instant Previews” into their search engine results page.    As the name suggests this feature enables a searcher to preview all of the websites on the listings page before making the decision on which website they should visit.

This may seem like a small adjustment, but what does this mean to your business?

This small preview icon in the search engine results means a great deal to a business…It can work for or against you, bringing you more customers or less.

If you show up highly on the search engines for various keywords, but have a poorly designed website you now have a higher chance of a customer selecting a lower result that appears (from instant preview) to better fit their needs.  On the other side if you have a strongly designed website you now have the chance to steal away customers who in the past would immediately click the first or second result that they came across.

Now if you have a strongly designed website, but are on the second or third page Google Instant Preview doesn’t necessarily help you, because consumers often don’t venture past the first page when making decisions via search.  Having a strong SEO presence consisting of optimized title tags, url structure, content, proper keywords and quality links is still extremely important.

If you have a website that is not being found through search engines now is the time to assess how it was built (functionally and aesthetically), enhance or re-design the website and implement an SEO strategy.

Have Google Instant Previews work for your business, not against it.

The Power of Social Proof

Contributor: David Brim June 2, 2010

Ever look up while standing in a crowded area? If not give it a try…a strange thing happens.   You’ll often see another person will stand by you and look up in the same direction you are…then another person…then another…if you do this long enough you’ll eventually gain traction and notice a whole group of people are now looking up to see what everyone is checking out.

By doing this exercise you’ll witness first hand the power of social proof.social-proof

Here is how Wikipedia explains Social proof:

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed. Since observation of others usually provides only inconclusive information about what behavior is most profitable, the term ‘informational social influence’ is superior. Social influence in general can lead to conformity of large groups of individuals in either correct or mistaken choices, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as herd behavior.

Social proof is an inherent social principle that can be leveraged in social media to increase traffic and visibility to your venture.  The way I would recommend to best utilize social proof is the following:

  1. First have a clear idea of the offer you’re trying to promote
  2. Make sure the website of your offer has a strong call to action (or is a buzz worthy product).  Social proof is much more effective principle if the thing you’re looking at is actually worth while….If your product or service is worthwhile it will gain significantly more traction.
  3. Plant the social proof seeds…This could be through well written or enticing content (articles, blog posts, press releases, etc) or through a genuine recommendation.Recommendations are a great way to facilitate the social proof process.  This can be done through sponsored conversations, which can be done by reaching out to online influencers with talking points and asking them to review or plug your product.  This kind of activity can be done by sponsoring blog posts, tweets, check-ins, or having a creator of a relevant social network send a message out to their group members.Now many people disagree with sponsored conversations, but lets face it….If you have a good product/service and can help facilitate the propensity for the site to go viral and reach the masses…why not?  (In the art/good practice of disclosure I did work for IZEA until May of last year, but I am not getting paid for this post.)  Another way to plant social seeds are through social bookmarking.  If you have a good product,service  offering or content share it with others by utilizing services like Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon or sharing the post via Facebook/Twitter.

Social proof is in my eyes a natural catalyst for word of mouth marketing.  The good part is many times you don’t even have to say anything….simply revealing your actions to your social circle of influence or helping facilitate the process/enabling others to share your offer or content with their social circle of influence can do wonders.

Word of Mouth marketing…or in the case of social proof….(Traction by Action Marketing <–I coined that! ) is a very powerful asset to incorporate into your marketing campaign.

Now it’s your turn…Do you agree with my comments?

What role do you feel social proof plays in marketing?

The Empty Party Scenario

Contributor: David Brim February 13, 2010

At Brand Advance we have a steady stream of people that discuss their online ventures with us both from a marketing and web development perspective. A relatively large amount of these projects involve some sort of community or social aspect. When it comes to growing a community based site or social network I always caution those I speak to about not falling into the Empty Party Scenario.

What’s the Empty Party Scenario?

Well…One perfect example comes to mind:

When I was in college there was a party that several of my neighbors organized. They had been planning the party for some time and had the perfect set up, lighting and speaker system. However there was one major flaw…when people came rolling in there was hardly anybody there. In College, the “Party Industry” is a competitive landscape and if students walk into a party and see it doesn’t have a decent crowd they will turn right back around searching for the next one. When I talked to my neighbors I asked if they had a good turn out they said yes, but it was so fragmented that nobody stayed and the party didn’t gain traction. They were not happy with the way their party turned out.

The Empty Party Scenario is magnified 10 fold when you are referring to online ventures.  For example….Let’s say you have a concept for a social network tailored for Fishing that allow users to connect with other fisherman in their area. You’re very excited and get the best web-design and the standard features of a social site (discussion boards, groups, ability to friend, etc.  You plan on using social media to market your website and get a reasonable amount of sign-ups. All is well right….Nope

The users who have signed up are all in different cities and you built your concept around networking with local fisherman. Consequently you have a very fragmented userbase consisting of users in Long Island, Miami, LA, Portland, etc….Once your users have signed up and realize that there is hardly any people in their specific area or little activity on the site in general and they will leave and not come back.

How can the Empty Party Scenario be solved or prevented?

  1. Utilize the bowling pin strategy for Market Entry
    From a marketing perspective you are not able to boil the ocean all at one time.  You have to boil water in a small area first then open it up to a larger body of water and expand gradually.  The same premise is with the bowling pin analogy….You first have to knock down one pin, then two more, then three more, etc.  Facebook used this strategy to exxpand.  They first started at Harvard, then several other schools in the Ivy league, then all Ivy league then Northeast schools, etc.  This not only creates buzz, but enables you to get a very relevant and targeted audience.
  2. Make Your Venture/Party Sticky
    What do I mean about making a venture sticky?  Well going back to the party analogy if there was awesome food people would most likely stay.  As more and more people came in the party would seem better because people are staying.  This can be done for your online venture by providing a great tool or good food for thought in the form of content.  When planning GroupTable we constructed it in a way that if a small group of 3-5 went onto GroupTable they really don’t care if there are 10 people on the site or 10 million.  The group receives the same benefit regardless.
  3. Encourage Referrals (Incentives & Word of Mouth)
    When launching a business if you are able to offer incentives or referral perks to current customers your business can grow immensely.  Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate lots of referrals if it fits your business model.  The other side of this is that you should craft a product or design your party in the way that is worthy of a referral.  This could also include having a track record for throwing successful parties or launching successful ventures.

    You should also strive to make it very easy for others (your customers) to share their experiences with others.  Offering SWAG (or promotional items) is a great way to do this…providing a code for them to embed on their blog or website that promotes the event or venture is another.

  4. Develop a Captive Beta Audience (Private Party)
    When throwing a party it helps to have a nice crowd already there.  When launching an online social/community site don’t do a public launch or loud opening until you have everything in place and have a decent amount of people already there.    Stay in Beta for a period of time and get all the kinks worked out.  Thinking back to the party analogy invite a small amount of people first who can tell if the DJ is not good or if the food isn’t up to par.  Once everything is fixed up based on your findings and you have a decent amount of people you can then open it up to a wider audience.  Then when others come it will be a better party, not only because of what you fixed, but because there are others there.

  5. Find other Parties & Convince People to Leave
    One way to solve your empty party scenario is to find other parties or social settings and encourage people to leave to attend your party.  The same is true online.  You have to be very careful when you do this because you can position your brand in an unfavorable way as well as create some enemies.  Actively seeking out places where your target market interacts and sparking up communications I feel is the best way to do this.  One caution is that you don’t want to spam people.  You don’t want to go into a party and start bashing the party loudly the party your at to get people to go to yours.  I recommend talking about the party and seeing if people like it then mentioning there is another alternative that they may want to check out.  Focus on educating people on something new not selling.  This will spark people’s curiosity and if everything else is in order will bring you more people to your party/customers.

What are your thoughts about the Empty Party Scenario?  How else can this be prevented?  Do you have any other examples that you’ve personally experienced.

2010 Internet Marketing Predictions, Trends & Tips

Contributor: David Brim January 12, 2010

It’s no secret that technology changes extremely fast.  Often times keeping up and implementing trends in technology is like hitting a moving target.  Internet marketing is no different.  From changes in Search Engine Algorithms (like Google’s Caffeine– that had a large roll out following the holidays) to new social media innovations like Posterous…The world of internet marketing has been and will continue to change in 2010. I came across this list on Search Engine Land by Matt McGee listing many different resources discussing predicted changes in various areas of online marketing during 2010.  Enjoy!

Using a seo tools centre sentence rewriting tool can help you create better content for your customers and also make sure your articles are grammatically correct and look professional for your business.

SEO

Search Marketing/PPC

Local/Mobile Search

Social Media

Video

Analytics

General Online Marketing

Miscellaneous

Have a Safe and Successful 2010!

Best Marketing Colors for 2010

Contributor: David Brim January 8, 2010

Best Marketing Colors for 2010

What colors will be used in the design world for marketing in 2010?Brand Marketing Colors

Your brand creates an emotion?  The question is, is it the right emotion to positively influence your audience?  The following information will give you some insight as to which colors may work best to achieve your marketing goals through visual communication.

Here’s a list of frequently used colors and what emotions are generally associated with them:

  • WHITE – White is associated with innocence, purity, peace and contentment. It’s considered clean and sterile. It’s cool and refreshing. White can have a calming, stabilizing influence.
  • BLACK – Black is the ultimate power color.  It suggests strength, potency, authority, boldness, seriousness, stability and elegance. It’s distinguished and classic, great for creating drama. Black has more weight than other colors. Too much can be ominous.
  • Gray or Silver – Gray can be associated with conservative qualities and considered traditional. Business-wise, it symbolizes high tech and suggests authority, practicality, earnestness and creativity.
  • GOLD – Gold suggests wealth. It’s considered to be very classy.
  • BLUE – Blue is the favorite color of many businesses. It suggests sanctuary and fiscal responsibility. It inspires confidence. It is the most popular and second most powerful color. Darker shades are authoritative. Dark and bright blues represent trust, security, faithfulness and dignity. Paler shades can imply freshness and cleanliness, although they can imply weakness.
  • RED – Red stimulates many kinds of appetites. Red commands attention, alerts us and creates a sense of urgency. It’s considered the sexiest of all colors. Red symbolizes heat, fire, blood, love, warmth, power, excitement, energy, strength, passion, vitality, risk, danger and aggressiveness. Financially, it’s associated with debt.
  • YELLOW – Yellow is the sunshine hue and is a spiritual color. Yellow represents a warning, but it can also bring happiness and warmth. The most preferred yellows are the creamy and warm ones. Bright yellow can be irritable to the eye in large quantities. Yellow speeds metabolism. It’s often used to highlight or draw attention.
  • GREEN – People associate green with the color of money, as well as nature. Olive greens are associated with health and freshness — a good choice for environmental concerns. Green suggests fertility, freedom, healing and tranquility. Green represents jealousy. Businesses use it to communicate status and wealth. Green is a calming, refreshing color that is very easy on the eyes.
  • BROWN – Brown is associated with nature and the earth. Dark browns represent wood or leather. Brown and shades of cream are associated with warmth and coziness. Brown suggests richness, politeness, helpfulness and effectiveness. It is solid, credible, mature and reliable. Light brown implies genuineness.
  • ORANGE – Orange is associated with vibrancy and the tropics, as well as warmth and contentment. It can instill a sense of fun and excitement. It implies health. It suggests pleasure, cheer, endurance, generosity and ambition. It can make an expensive product seem more affordable. It appeals to a wide range of people, both male and female.
  • PINK – Pink is considered to be a very feminine color. It represents gentleness, romance, well being and innocence.
  • PURPLE – Purple represents royalty and luxury. In darker shades, it’s considered a wealthy color. It suggests spirituality and sophistication. In paler shades, such as lavender, it’s feminine and romantic.

When choosing your color choices for your next graphic design project, make sure you consider your marketing goals and the emotion you want your audience to experience.

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So well done I had to share…Hope you guys enjoyed it!

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