Portland Business Alliance Discount

I see that the Portland Business Alliance is offering a $100 off membership if you join in February. I recently joined the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce (GVCC) and am considering the Portland Business Alliance also. I have attended the leads meetings of both organizations and some of the evening events of the GVCC. It is good to be able to meet with other business people but to make the most of your membership you really have to participate.
I found the same with the American Marketing Association. For years I was a member and went to the luncheons every now and then but it wasn’t until I got involved and joined the board that I really started to get some value from my membership.

Anyway, if you want to join the Alliance, the promotional code that was in the Oregon Business Magazine is PBA0207. See you at one of the events!

What Does Your Marketing Say About Your Business?

How many business people do you know who say that their ads do not work or that they have been disappointed in how few people visit their website? its often because the person has not built a communications foundation.

Yellow pages ads are famous for being supposedly ineffective. Just look at pretty much any page at random and you will see a page full of ads that say pretty much the same thing. For example, in my local directory for optometric services, nearly all the ads say — “eye exams for adults and children”, “fashion frames”, “contacts”, “insurance billing”, etc. Well, I would hope they provide these services! Its sort of expected. But if I am looking for an optometrist, how does this profound information help me pick the best optometrist for my needs? It doesn’t.

The same thing is true of a website or a brochure or any marketing tool, your messaging should communicate how your product or service meets valued needs better than that of the competition.

Some of my clients have told me that their service is the same as everyone else and so they have nothing different to say. Yet when I talk to their customers, the customer can give me many examples of why they like this service better than alternatives. It might be the rapid return of phone calls or how a problem was handled or perhaps how a job site was tidied up after the work was completed. These are the things that make a difference and separate one company from another.

So before you create your next brochure, ad or website, talk to your customers find out why they buy from you and reflect that in the messages that you communicate. Of course, if your customers don’t have good things to say, then you’d better fix your product or service first!

Selling at Trade Shows

I recently had the opportunity to visit the North American Music Manufacturers (NAMM) show in Anaheim, California. I am a bit of an amateur musician (I play guitar and write music) and since I was in LA on business it seemed like a great thing to do.

The show did not disappoint and was packed full of interesting booths. It was pretty intense, as you might expect, and the brain was assaulted by both noise and visual stimuli. It got pretty tiring after a while.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that I was surprised at what a poor job most of the booth staff did when it came to engaging with potential customers. I know booth space at a show like NAMM is not cheap so you would think companies would train their staff and make the most of the opportunity. Continue reading

Review of Linksys CIT200

I bought the Linksys CIT200 for use with SKype about a year ago. On the whole it has worked really well. For such a small handset, the call quality is excellent and even the speaker phone sounds great. Range is also very good and I have been able to easily use it throughout my house.

It has a few quirks however. One is that you must plug the base into a USB port that is directly connected to the PC. I tried it though an external powered hub and even my laptop docking station with no luck. In fact it puzzled me for ages until I discovered I had to plug it into the PC itself. Continue reading

Skype for Business?

There has been a lot of hype around Skype over the last year but is it any good for business purposes?

Skype is an internet telephony service that works using your computer and a high speed internet connection. It uses voice-over-IP technology in a similar way to Vonage or other providers. The difference is that with Skype you have to have your computer turned on in order to receive calls. Voice-mail works even with the computer off. Continue reading

Guide to Google Adwords

For those of you who use Adwords or for those of you who would like to have a guaranteed high listing on Google, download the new “Insiders Guide to Adwords” written by the folks at Google. The file is a PDF and gives a lot of insight into how to make Adwords work well for you.

For those of you unfamiliar with Adwords it is a way to ensure the listing for your website shows up on the front page. If you look at a Google search results page you will see listings along the top and listings down the side in addition to the main content in the center. It says “Sponsored Links” next to these special links. If you are having trouble getting a good listing in the central part of the search results page, you can pay for certain key words which will buy you a place in the “sponsor links”.

It works by using key words. For example, Continue reading

New Duct Tape Marketing Book

Happy New year! I hope 2007 is both a healthy and prosperous one for you and your company.

The New year has brought in a special treat with the publication of a new book written by John Jantsch.

As most of you know, Market Accelerators is part of The Duct Tape Marketing network of coaches across the country (and the only one in the Pacific Northwest). I use the Duct Tape System with many of my clients and it really is very good.

Well, John is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing and he has just released his book of the same name.

The Duct Tape System is created specifically for small businesses and is immensely practical. You can put it into action on day one and this book is no exception. It is basically the whole system condensed into a $16 and change book. It is an excellent value. If you are interested in buying the book there is a link on my Market Accelerators home page.
For those of you considering the Duct Tape System, this book will give you a good feel for the system with a very low investment.

The Importance of E-Mail Headlines

Its obvious that a good e-mail headline can make the difference between an e-mail being read or filed in the trash can but many small businesses do not take the time to craft one properly. For any promotional document whether printed or electronic, the headline is probably the most important component.

Think about how much printed mail or e-mail you receive. You scan the title to see if it is something you will even open. How much time do you spend thinking about it? One second? Perhaps two? You can have the best content inside the message but it is totally wasted if it is not even opened!
Your message is competing with dozens of others and being received by someone whose time is not only valuable but in extremely short supply, so spend the time to craft the headline. Write out many different headlines and try them on for size. Test them out on people you know.

And think about what it is that makes you open a an e-mail or an envelope. Is it some cute play on words? No, most often you are thinking about “what is in this for me? How will reading this benefit me in some way”.

Many thanks to Brian Kolstad at RocketBoy Media who pointed out an interesting article about e-mail headlines at EmailLabs. Its worth a read.

Do Yellow Pages Ads Work?

I recently created a yellow pages ad for one of my clients. At first they were a bit hesitant to go with a yellow pages ad as it seems quite expensive and many advertisers will tell you it doesn’t work.

A yellow pages ad is not the right tool for everyone but the research we did with my client’s customers clearly established that directories were the second most likely place their customer would look to find a company in their industry (the first was word of mouth).

For products or services that are not a regular purchase or where the customer does not know much about buying that product or service, the yellow pages are a natural place for them to look. And the extra benefit is that if the customer is looking in the yellow pages then they are probably about to buy RIGHT NOW!

From a marketing point of view, the secret to a successful yellow pages ad is Continue reading

More on Networking

OK, this is the last post on my recent networking experiences. Sorry it has taken so long to finish this.

In addition to the Portland Alliance networking event, I went to two Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce (GVCC) events. The first was an evening event centered around the opening of a new showroom at Pacific Lifestyle Homes and gosh was it a happening party! These folks really know how to have a good time. There must have been hundreds of people there and both the food and the music (live band) were excellent.

Many of the people seemed to know each other but I found plenty of folks that were very interested in talking to me. While I was intently loading up my plate with some delectable morsel. often the person next to me would open up conversation and ask me what I did. Attendees clearly expected to network and did so with ease. I actually got a couple of leads from the party so it was worthwhile.

The second was the Leads East breakfast meeting held at Gustav’s. This also is run by the GVCC and is very similar to the leads meeting run by the Portland Alliance. The format is almost identical. I think someone said there was around 80 people there and once again, many of the people knew each other. We each gave our 20 second elevator pitch which took up a good chunk of the overall time. Some folks really have it down pat. Bob the Builder (complete with hard hat) and Dr Shelby stuck in my mind so they must be doing something right. Of course knowing the name is not enough but its a good start. Trust gets built over a period of time so I would say regular attendance is necessary.

As with the other networking event I attended, we were each given a number and then went to the table of the same number where we met with 3-5 other people to learn about their businesses and what leads they were looking for.

To be honest, I’m not sure that Continue reading