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7 27 Ways to View the Web Beyond Your Site

Image: gerlos via Flickr

The web just keeps gaining significance in the world of small business and it’s no longer enough to think about your website as your web strategy.

Marketing today means building a great deal of your thinking around a total web presence. I suspect you’ve heard this before because this idea is one that is being voiced by just about anyone that’s online today, but I encounter business owner after business owner frustrated with trying wrap their head around this idea in a practical sense.

For today’s post I would like to outline what I think is a very practical and doable approach to building your total online presence. You can build your web presence out fully by taking action in each of the five station of work below. Think of each station as a bucket. You need to start adding to each bucket in a systematic way, but don’t try to fill one bucket before you move to the next – put a little in each bucket and keep returning. This way you’ll build momentum in the short view, while building value in the long view.

The Listening Station

Your online marketing will benefit greatly when you take the time to monitor what’s being said by others. Creating an automated way to do this, something I call a listening station, is a base strategy these days.

  • Create Google Alerts to monitor your brand, products, competitors and industry
  • Use tools like to Social Mention and Postling to get deeper analysis of what’s being said – even on review sites like Yelp!
  • Find and subscribe to industry or related blogs and feed them into Google Reader for quick scanning
  • Create Digg and Pinterest accounts to quickly scan what’s hot and what’s new
  • Put key journalists in a Google Alerts track so you can participate when they write or blog

Content As Hub

I’m going with the assumption that you have web content that describes your business, tells your story, outlines your products and services and maybe even showcases a few client success stories. That’s good, that’s a start, but now you need to go to work on consistent content creation – the kind that builds trust, draws links, and educates.

  • Add a blog, sorry you must do this, better still, build your entire website with WordPress
  • Create a lists of related or local bloggers using Google BlogSearch and placeblogger as potential guest blog hosts
  • Keep a notebook of every question a prospect or customer asks and create blog post answers and FAQ pages
  • Stick a camera in front of your best clients and get them to share how important your business is to them
  • Turn your sales presentation into a slide deck and post it to your site

Pushing Out Assets

  • Create YouTube, Flickr, and Slideshare accounts and post your videos, images, and slides with complete keyword rich descriptions of each
  • Claim and enhance your Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local profiles
  • Build a LinkedIn profile and LinkedIn Company Page complete with lots of links back to your site, blog, and events
  • Create an Official Facebook Page (that’s what they are calling Fan Pages these days)
  • Claim and enhance your company pages on review sites like Yelp and CitySearch and start participating in the review process

Participating Socially

  • Use your Facebook Page as a way to create awareness about events and content and as another vehicle to reach prospect with fresh content
  • Ask and answer questions on LinkedIn Answers – it can be an interesting way to showcase your expertise
  • Use a tool like Flowtown to figure out which of your prospects and customers are the most active in social networks and equip them to be ambassadors

Facilitating Community

  • Create events and groups on MeetUp and bring like minded people together
  • Use project and customer portal tools like Central Desktop to create a place where your customers can access information and collaborate
  • Get your customers involved in creating community through the use of a wiki that allows them to share and generate ideas
  • Create a group blog that features content contributed by your team of strategic partners
  • Set-up Facebook Groups and add your customers and prospects so you can host live group chats and peer to peer discussions

That should get you started, but expand your thinking beyond the action steps above. In fact, share more action steps in the comments here!

11 Connecting the Dots With Social Surfing

I wrote and article last week for AMEX OPENForum about appending your customer and prospect lists with social network data to create a much more complete picture of a prospect. My guess is that most CRM systems and software will bake this in as a standard feature by the end of this year if not already.

I believe that the ability to layer a person’s social graph on relationship building activity is one of the most valuable marketing opportunities to spill from the widespread adoption of social tools. This trend will eventually become a part of how we as consumers begin to make decisions about the people and companies we choose to do business with. Instead of companies finding more about prospects, prospects will see who in their social network knows a good attorney. We’ve done this informally for years, but now the data is there to automatically mine.

This form of social surfing will enjoy a major boost when a visitor can stop by any real estate agency or law firm website and turn to the listing of agents and attorneys and bypass the pretty pictures and fluffy bios and simply hit a button to see who in their LinkedIn of Facebook network knows any of these folks. That day is here in limited applications, but I predict this is functionality that will soon be a standard website feature.

Colorado start-up is still in private beta, but you can see its social surfing option in action at Telluride Properties (click the agent match link). Imagine what a powerful tool this will be for someone shopping for an agent. With the click of a button they can scan their own networks and evaluate which of the agents they may already have a connection with. This will dramatically impact referral and lead generation. Even the business with only one employee could easily offer this kind of functionality so that when someone refers them a potential prospect could visit the website and see who know who.

This dashboard allows you to scan your networks to see which agent you might already have a connection with

Once you find matching connections you can view the details of those connections – Click to enlarge

Of course, once this form of social connecting is commonplace it will also be a great tool for a sales person doing some research. If I’ve got something I want to sell someone having a quick way to scan and find our common connections might make it easier to get referred to them.

It’s tempting to call this another social media tactic, but in reality, this is just where we are headed with information and participation in the world of marketing.