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First, Best, or Different

Niche Marketing Matters
By John Bradley Jackson

Internet Advertising Continues Growth

April 30th, 2008

Internet advertising is growing three times as fast as the other methods. Marketers spent $21 billion on search marketing in 2007. It is forecasted to reach $31.3 billion by 2011 according to International Data Corporation. In 2000, internet advertising revenues were effectively zero!

While internet advertising is still relatively new, companies can successfully implement an internet marketing strategy with dramatic results. The options include rich content, paid search campaigns, blogging, and article writing.

A 2007 search study by Enquiro found that 65.3% of business buyers said they would start their research with a search engine. The study found a heavy reliance on online research in all aspects of the purchase cycle.

What really matters to the search engines? First of all, don’t think of your home page as a static brochure — home page, product page, services page, about us, and maybe a news center. Rather, think of it as a resource for people to solve problems. Searchers will use a keyword or phrase that describes their problem, their pain or a general category of solution. Thus, be sure to populate your site with relevant terms that people will use.

Pay per click advertising is hot right now since it can pinpoint your messaging to people searching for your offering. Pay per click is a form of advertising found on search engines, advertising networks, websites and blogs. The advertiser pays when a visitor actually clicks on an “ad” to visit the advertiser’s website. Advertisers bid on keywords or terms that they believe that their target customers use to find information on products or services.

Frequent content is important and this is why blogs help so much. Blogging is viewed as new content by the Search engine spiders each time you release a blog. If you don’t have a blog consider creating one. Once loaded on your website, no maintenance is required from your web designer.

Article marketing is another high impact tool which is low cost and is a type of online advertising. Article marketing consists of short articles on topics of interest to your target audience or industry. Once written, you make these articles freely available for distribution and publication in the marketplace. Each article contains a ‘bio box’ and ‘by-line’ which include references and contact information for the author’s business. Well written content articles released for free distribution have the potential of gaining the author business credibility within his or her market, as well as new clients.

Internet advertising works. Get on board.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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Skimming: A Pricing Strategy For New Products

April 29th, 2008

Price skimming is a pricing strategy which utilizes a high price for a brief period of time; this type of pricing is generally used with the introduction of a new product. The purpose of this pricing strategy is to “skim” the profits before the competition enters the market.

When TiVo launched its early DVR products they commanded a substantial pricing premium in the market with the early adopters. This premium helped pay back TiVo for the R&D costs associated with the creation of the new product and the new market. Where a highly innovative product is launched, research and development costs are likely to be high. This includes the costs of introducing the product to the market via promotion, advertising etc.

Yet, there are other reasons for establishing a high price. A company can build a high-quality image for its product by charging high prices initially. This is especially true for luxury products which can benefit from skimming since the buyer tends to be more ‘prestige’ conscious than price conscious. To this buyer the high price denotes quality.

Similarly, where the quality differences between competing brands is perceived to be large, or for offerings where such differences are not easily judged, the skimming strategy can work well. An example of the latter would be for the manufacturers of “designer” watches. Buyers of Rolex watches expect to pay more for the brand; it is almost as if they demand it.

The beauty of skimming is that the price can be lowered later if necessary. The converse is seldom, if ever, true. Once you educate the market about your price, raising the price is damn near impossible.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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Thanks

April 27th, 2008

It is hard to believe, but my book “First, Best, or Different” was published a year ago. To say the least, it has exceeded my wildest expectations. Sincere thanks to everyone who bought the book. It means a lot to me.

I have an idea. How about you share it with a friend?

I wrote the book to help people market their products and services better. It would be awesome if you could pass it on to someone else and help them.

Thanks,

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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Handling Difficult or Angry People on the Phone

April 14th, 2008

If you deal with difficult or angry customers on the phone, you know that the biggest problem is that they tend to go on and on, don’t listen, and dominate the conversation, which means you can’t get a word in edgewise. This consumes lots of time, and of course, it’s hard to help a customer who won’t let you talk.

There’s a simple technique that you can use on the phone to get the customer to stop talking. It’s called “silence is golden”. Like any kind of conversation, telephone conversations have rules. One of those rules is that when one person is talking, the other person sends signals to the “talker” that they are listening, and still there. This is necessary because the parties can’t see each other.

The only way to know there is a person on the other end is if the other person makes some sort of noise, usually “yes”, “uh-huh”, “I understand”, etc. Consistent with our self-defense principles, you do not want to follow this rule.

The best way to get a person to stop talking on the phone is simply to say nothing at all. If you can avoid breathing into the phone, or if you can exclude any noise getting through from your end, this is even better.

Eventually, the person on the other end will stop, and say something like “Hello, hello, are you there?”, and pause for a moment. This gives you the opportunity to say something like, “Yes, I was listening to you. Let me see if I understand what you are saying…” By repeating back what the difficult or angry customer said, not only are you back in charge, it also gives the customer time to cool off.

Now that you are back in charge, you can help fix the problem.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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Pay Per Click Advertising 101

April 14th, 2008

Pay per click is a form of advertising found on search engines, advertising networks, websites and blogs. The advertiser pays when a visitor actually clicks on an “ad” to visit the advertiser’s website. Advertisers bid on keywords or terms that they believe that their target customers use to find information on products or services.

When a searcher enters a keyword or term in a Google or other search engine that matches the advertiser’s keywords, the advertiser’s ad is displayed. These ads are called “Sponsored links” or “sponsored ads” and appear next to or above the “natural” or organic results on the search engine text listings or results. You will typically see these ads displayed to the right of the text search results.

Pay per click ads may also appear on websites. In this case, Google AdSense and Yahoo! provide ads that are relevant to the content of the page where they appear, and no search function is involved.

The major players in the pay per click industry include Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft; there also are many small players. Prices for per click can be as low at $0.01 per click. Popular search terms can cost as much as $10.00 per click.

Sophisticated buyers of pay per click advertising learn to pick multiple key words that better target their customer, but cost less. For example, “car dealers” is a common but expensive term that frequently gets bid high and may not be affordable. Yet, “Orange County California Car Dealers”, which is a much more specific term, is much more affordable. The prices for keywords are determined by an auction process and thus can change.

Pay per click is proving to be a viable and cost effective way to advertise on the web. Choose your keywords carefully.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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Radio Interviews

April 8th, 2008

A prime objective of a public relations effort is to secure an interview on radio. While these opportunities can be stressful, I find that preparation is the key.

“This President is going to lead us out of this recovery”, said Dan Quayle, Vice President of the United States in response to a simple question by a radio reporter. A little verbal slip on his part made him the butt of countless jokes for the rest of his career. Google “Dan Quayle” and will find a host of other verbal guffaws on his part.

We all make mistakes, but a little preparation will go a long way to help you avoid blunders as this while making the most of the public relations opportunity. Radio can be a terrific way to position yourself as a “knowledge broker” while promoting your business. Talk radio may be the best radio format for an interview along with the news segments on traditional radio stations.

Getting interviewed on a radio program is not as tricky as you might think. Radio station managers are always looking for interesting topics and guests; like you in your business, they trying to be different from the competition. The challenge is to get on their radar, so to speak. Before approaching them, study the station’s target audience. Who is their customer? What demographic are they targeting? This may help alter your story or pitch.

Here are a few ideas on improving your odds at getting on the air and some tips on making the most of your opportunity, once you get it:

- Go to the radio station website and you will find information about the station’s mission, the audience that they serve, and what content they cover. Make yourself knowledgeable of what they are trying to do.
- They sometimes archive previously-aired material on the website which should give you a feel for their content or message.
- Like any company, there are numerous points of contact including the on-air personalities, the program managers, the PR department, or the producers. You can contact these folks directly, but don’t expect a call back until they need you. Getting referred in is best, but that works only if you know someone who knows them.
- You may find a link the on the website that gives instructions on how to contact the station by e-mail. This is the formal channel communication into the radio station. They are expecting people to contact them; unfortunately, they generally screen out 90% of the requests. The good news is that the radio staff is always on the hunt for news, feature stories or talent. That is you.
- As simple as it sounds, listening to the radio station will probably give you the best sense of what the station is all about.
- Maintain a dialog with radio stations via press releases. Note that turnover in radio staff is notoriously high and it will take great effort to keep your database current. Both e-mail and direct mail can do the trick. People get fired a lot in radio, so don’t get too attached to them.
- When they need an “expert”, it is typically because of a “hot” news story. This means that they have little time to go looking for you so it helps to be in their database as a “knowledge broker”. When they need you, you will have to drop everything to help them or they will just contact someone else on their list.
- I recommend contacting the show producers along with the on-air personalities to let them know of your special knowledge. Your timing will never be right when you approach them, so you need to express your interest and ongoing availability.
- Radio stations are required by the FCC to make public service announcements (also known as PSAs in the trade). Your knowledge or message may fit the station’s criteria for a PSA. Often the PR department will have the job to find PSA material. They can help you contact the right person to speak with at the station.
- The straight news at the radio station is typically traffic, crime, and weather. They will be quick to admit that it is very boring, repetitive stuff. Because of that, they are always on the hunt for feature or human-interest stories. It could be that your business and “knowledge” fit the bill.
- As a guest, the good news is that you are an expert and, therefore, you know more than the interviewer and more than the audience (generally speaking). So, relax and speak as if talking to a friend. Keep your responses concise, but colorful. Visualize the audience listening to you and smiling at your comments. Be prepared to answer the same question several times during the interview, radio personalities are surprisingly poor interviewers and worse listeners.
- If the interview is on the phone, close the door to your office and let everyone know that you are on the radio. No interruptions allowed. Always use a landline phone since cordless phones and cell phones just don’t sound right. Can you say dropped call?
- An interview at the radio station requires that you dress professionally, (i.e., look the part) although radio personnel tend to be a casual group themselves.
- When you are done offer your contact information. This way people know how to contact you for follow-up questions. Often the station will allow you to release your website address over the air.
- If the station records the segment, ask for a copy. You can include this on your website. After the fact, you can promote the recorded interview via e-mail to your website’s registered guests.
- Be sure to follow up with thank you cards to the station. Send a card to everyone that you met. Express your willingness to do this again.
- Do your best to establish a relationship with the on-air talent and the producers; if they like you, they will invite you back.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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Optimize Your Website

April 7th, 2008

Your website must be usable and friendly while helping the visitor get what they want whether it is information, entertainment, or to solve a problem. This is the value proposition of your website—to immediately give the visitor what they want. Anything less and the visitor will just click away never to return again.

Start by writing good content for your site which is about giving your customers value. Be sure to format your content so it is easy to read. While content is king—-people don’t really read anymore—they scan pages. They scan for value or for what they want.

A new type of computer-aided research called “eye-tracking”, is challenging conventional wisdom about what makes a website user friendly or not. It turns out that clever design and artistic images don’t help the reader and often actually distract or turn off the reader. This may come as career limiting news for your design and artsy friends, but here is what eye tracking research tells us:

• Bullet points are a great way to list your ideas in a concise format. Lists communicate priority and catch the eye. Bullets and numerical lists draw the eye.
• Use single column formats with lots of white space. Multiple column formats are harder to read.
• Ornate fonts are harder to read. Stick with Times New Roman and Arial.
• Carefully word your headings and subheadings; tell the reader what is below. Don’t tease or mislead the reader.
• Leave the big words for the attorneys; use an informal tone and write as if you were communicating to a friend.
• Words trump images. Images are great, but people don’t always know what they mean. A stop sign without the word STOP is just a red octagon.
• Numerals are better than words; use 4 instead of four.
• People read the page in an “F” pattern. Basically they progressively lose interest as they scan the page. The lower right corner of the page is no man’s land—it literally does not get read.
• If your call to action is to “read more” or to “buy now”, be sure to put it toward the top of the page and in multiple locations. Never put it just in the lower right corner.

Always give the reader what they want right away.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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The New Auction Culture

April 3rd, 2008

My fifteen year old daughter asked me yesterday, “Dad, can we trade in Tara for a new puppy? We can sell her on eBay.” Tara is our eight year-old, slightly annoying, yellow lab. I was aghast at the suggestion. How could my daughter even consider trading in the old dog for a new puppy?

Welcome to the “new auction culture”. Cell phones are traded in every year or so. PCs last a couple years before we discard them and trade up to a faster microprocessor and bigger hard drive. Cars are leased for three years and then traded back in for a new model. When our email address starts getting too much spam, we just abandon it and get a new one (I should know, since I have nine different email addresses).

College students don’t keep their text books. When the semester is over they list them on websites that resell books such as Amazon (http://www.amazon.com) or Darple (http:www.darple.com). No sense hanging on to that unnecessary stuff when you can get cash instead. For that matter, college students also auction their old CDs, surf boards, and iPods. Who needs that stuff anyway?

Flash back a few years ago and you will remember when we repaired broken appliances and kept them for decades. My mom had an IBM typewriter—it was built like a tank and it worked for 30 years! We have a sewing machine that is over 60 years old—my wife doesn’t sew, but it is a family heirloom which is cherished. I think it is tucked away in a closet.

Daniel Nissanoff, author of the book “FutureShop”, suggests that a new “auction culture” will change the way we buy, sell, and use our possessions. According to Nissanoff, we have had an “accumulation society” for many years where permanent ownership of a product was very important. Today, we are adjusting to “temporary ownership” where we buy or lease the goods we want (some at prices we can’t even afford), and then sell them for optimal resale value when we tire of them.

Gone are the days of saving for years to make a special purchase and keeping it to pass down to the next generation. Instead, we just go buy it, use it, and discard it when the thrill is gone. No worries. Some might say this also applies to our jobs, since all we need to do is visit monster.com (http://monster.com) and get a new one. Or, if you tire of your current spouse, go visit eharmony.com (http://eharmony.com) to find a better one who is more compatible—can you say Sagittarius?

Welcome to the new normal. For my daughter’s generation, this is all they know: everything is disposable and replaceable—even the dog.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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