Maj
    05

    Apple Launches Dating Site – Forehead Smack Heard Worldwide

    There are times when everything about the web is right.  Not “right, but I’m talking “just right”.  When everything is at an eclectic climax and all the pages throughout the world are singing in an orgasmic chorus that rivals the highest choir of angels.  When every site under your guidance suddenly pops up on page one of the SERPs.
    I love those times, because it is the signal of a beautiful and glorious day.  A day like that is rarely rivaled.
    Today isn’t one of those days…
    I received notification of a disturbance in the force, a ripple that was more like a cold shudder across the web.  You know the kind you get after a harsh vurp.
    A new site is launching called Cupidtino that is going to invade social media circles. It’s a dating site for fanboys and fangirls that love Apple products.
    iForeheadsmack.
    The site name is a little play on words:  Cupid and Cupertino, California where the Apple deathstar headquarters are located. Here’s a “cute” little blurb from their landing page…
    Cupidtino is a beautiful new dating site created for fans of Apple products by fans of Apple products! Why? Diehard Mac & Apple fans often have a lot in common – personalities, creative professions, a similar sense of style and aesthetics, and of course a love for technology. We believe these are enough reasons for two people to meet and fall in love, and so we created the first Mac-inspired dating site to help you find other Machearts around you.
    …Machearts?  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
    The site is set to launch in June 2010 and is exclusive on Apple platforms.  That means if you don’t use Apple products then your soul is free! you’ll never know if it would have worked out between you and the hot chick in Sociology who has that iPod touch and legs that don’t quit.
    Oh, wait – Yes you can.  Go up and talk to her.
    Apple fans can be a little annoying when they’re roaming around alone.  The thought of them reproducing, breeding and forming packs brings images to mind that look like something out of “I Am Legend”.
    It is a smart move by Apple honestly, as those who are involved in the network will be subjected to specialized ad content in one great big relevant market.  Companies that do app development on the Apple iProducts will likely make a killing off the desperate millions who are looking for love.
    I envision adcopy that reads “Size does matter to her, go big with the iPad”.  Not to mention with the inclusion of location based apps, it makes it even easier for Apple fans to stalk and kidnap one another.
    I suppose the bonus to this is that when you ensure that Apple lovers only date Apple lovers, you don’t have to worry about their iGenetics mingling with the rest of society.
    Maybe their social media invasion isn’t that bad after all.

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    Maj
    04

    Want To Boost Conversions? Get A Business Hubby

    Put down your torches and pitchforks, I’m not being sexist… or stupid (though some have stated I suffer from both from time to time).  This is a very real and legit topic that comes from a strategic perspective.  Keep your ear to the ground and follow me.
    Being in the pilot seat for a social media company has put me in contact with various business owners, most of which have been desperate to increase their sales despite the recession that the world (especially the U.S.) has been wallowing in.  The approach to increased sales is the critical point, and has a lot to do with why so many businesses fail miserably at social media.
    They have the wrong strategy.
    Main Features Of Commonly Seen Strategies:

    1. Turn yourself into a universal contact magnet across the online networks
    2. Start engaging all the contacts by discussing your business
    3. Continue to pester them until they agree or die of a heart attack
    4. When they respond, but before they can say no, invite them to your sales funnel

    What you’re seeing is a mashup of the same process that literally millions of online businesses go through every day.  This is a failing failed strategy.  Because of this overused and ineffective strategy, people began to feel that social media wasn’t a good arena for anything other than self indulgence.
    Don’t feel bad, I was in the same boat.  Even though it’s been around for several years, which feels like a long time, it’s still a new realm.  This is how I started four years ago.  I had a LOT of contacts and very little money.
    Why This Strategy Sucks
    If you’re in the business to brag about how many people you’re connected to in the world, then the above process is perfect for you.  It also leads me to believe that you’re a 14 year old on MySpace.  You can even find products online that brag about being able to help boost your numbers in social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
    As if the numbers will magically transition into sales.
    If you’ve already tried this approach, then you know it’s not true.  Closing sales, hell even starting the sales process, is an extremely interactive and involved process that takes time to plod through.  Even when it happens quickly there’s a lot involved, it just means you have to work faster.
    If you know enough about the true sales process, and how it should work, then you can avoid falling prey to the B.S. tactics that come from simplistic, ineffective, village-idiot marketers who are only out to sully the good name of marketers everywhere.  If you want to monetize your network, it takes a more complex instrument and strategy.
    Bah.  </soapbox>
    Let’s examine some of these sales components:
    Sales and Marketing: Take it back to S&M 101 (Get your mind out of the gutter…) and we know from the fundamentals of this business that the best way to generate new customers is to get products and services that you offer right in front of people.  Not just any people though, but the people who want it and need it.  The ones that are searching for it, and must have it to satisfy an immediate need.  Does this help put into perspective the issue with a social network mashup?
    Unless that person connected with you because they’re currently looking to fill a need they know you can help with, then they’re probably never going to become a customer of yours.  A high number of social contacts does not equal sales.  That’s like putting 50 drunken Irishmen in an antique china shop.  No one is going to buy anything.
    The Immediate Sale: “Hi my name is Nick BUY SOMETHING FROM ME PLEASE!”  Just because a customer is aware of your product, doesn’t mean they’re going to buy something from you immediately.  Impulse customers are crap customers because they won’t likely ever return.  You want informed customers that WILL return.  We know this from several years of testing, case studies, and lose pocket change dealing with online and offline strategies.  People generally need to be sold on something before they’ll buy it.  That’s doesn’t mean sold on just the product either.  I’m talking about the product, the service, the person selling it and the company.  They need to read, see and hear something from you that is going to convince them that you can in fact fill their need because you empathize, you understand and you can improve their current situation with your product and service – and here’s how.
    That might sounds like a lot of work, but I’ll tell you what’s harder:  Wrestling the money out of someone’s hand. People are holding tight to the money they have and before they open that closed fist to you, you need to convince them that you’re offering a worthy investment.
    Customer Confidence: It’s kind of a myth, and it might surprise you to know that most customers have absolutely no idea what they want.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to a Home Depot where I told an associate what my problem was and left it to them to find the answer for me so I could take it home and pretend like I knew what I was doi-.. I digress.
    This sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true.  There are more options in most markets to make a customers head spin.  Never before have people had so many choices to pick from.  There is an unprecedented capacity here for people to compare and research and list and look around… and get confused.  Unless the customer you have is well versed in the market, then they more than likely feel inexperienced, and in no position to make an informed decision.
    Imagine if the only thing standing between your customer and the checkout was a simple lack of information on the product in front of them.  They’re not certain it’s the right one, they don’t know how best to apply it to their current situation, etc.  People want to know when they make a purchase that they’ll be able to talk about it, to brag about it.  They want to believe that the purchase is a secure one, that they’ll get the best price, so that it can become a part of the sharing within their social circle.
    What steps can you take to rid them of any confusion and instill customer confidence?  Considering ensuring that you have sincere and heartfelt testimonies on your site.  You must have a growing list of articulate, true-sounding testimonies in order to produce sales.  Couple those testimonies with enough information on the site so the customer understand the product you’re offering and can make an informed purchase that is a comfortable one.
    Guarantee Conversion: Just because the customer feels confident enough to buy, doesn’t mean that the process is done.  It’s underway, but not quite complete.  People are still fairly skittish about buying online.  There’s often worry about whether or not something will work, or if it will properly fix their need.  You need to reassure customers that they have some recourse if things go south – and sometimes that happens.  Make sure you offer a sales guarantee that is easily visible, and easy to understand. Let them know that any return/refund process is simple, and that there is a solid guarantee and you will increase your sales.
    Empty Checkout: Funnily enough, it’s possible to actually get all the way through the list and to meet all of the criteria for a good sale and still get nothing at the checkout.  There has always been a high number of shopping cart abandonment online.  It takes place every day, and I swear if I saw it happen in the world we live in, at a brick and mortar store, I’d probably fall over laughing.  Imagine over 30% of the people who walk into a checkout lane at Walmart suddenly slipping around their cart at the register and walking out of the store without a word.
    Thank God we don’t have to restock shelves in our online storefront.
    Many people use the shopping cart as a means of finding facts that aren’t on the sales page such as shipping info and tax, hidden fees, etc.  The only way to get this is to play around in the shopping cart.
    Another factor can be the difficult use of the shopping cart or product assembly therein.  If the checkout method is a pain in the ass, they’ll find somewhere else to shop.  People can walk into a store, drop their stuff on a counter, let the person ring them out then hand over their payment.  This is a 4 step process that really only requires 1 action at checkout.  Your checkout process should be as easy.
    And now to wrap it all up so that I make some semblance of sense out of this:  If a lot of customers never finalize a purchase even though you’re hitting on all the criteria of a truly awesome and dynamic sales process, what makes you think that the simplified 4 step process I mentioned at the beginning of the article would work, regardless of the scenario?
    It just won’t.
    It comes off like a desperate attempt by a broken individual who needs money.  Sales don’t happen this way, and you won’t tear don’t the social barriers that block the sales process from happening.  It’s naïve to think that you can tear down sales barriers with simplistic leg humping just because someone linked to you.
    The most productive sales take place through a finely tuned sales funnel that is attached to a business content syndication hub.  When I say that everyone needs a hubby, I’m referring to a central hub.  A central operation where everything and everyone can find you, your products, the services you offer, your written content, etc.  The hub would be your singular link at the forefront of your sales funnel.

    This kind of hub will overcome all the barriers in the sales process, and the people who make a lot of money online generally have this type of system in place.  If they’re good at it, they make a LOT of money with it.
    Once you understand what goes into the design, execution and continued maintenance of your central business hub, then you can truly begin to monetize your social networking traffic.  Then, and only then, can start turning contacts into sales regardless of how those contacts came to you.

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    Maj
    03

    Avoiding Shortcuts in Social Media

    There’s an overwhelming amount of data milling about that shows a vast majority of people using the top 4 for their social media marketing efforts: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Linkedin. Duh, right? If the size of the active user base is what makes them the big 4 then it would stand to reason that most people are there.
    The question is – Are your customers there?
    I certainly don’t have any issues with social media marketing within the Big 4. That’s a big ocean with a lot of fish in it. You drop your hook in the water and you’re bound to pull up something. Really though, do you want to have that kind of “take whatever you can catch” model going on for your business? What you catch might be good, it might taste good. It might make a nice trophy.
    It could also come up out of the water and bite your boat in half.
    You don’t have to launch your small boat into that massive ocean when fishing. There’s more out there if you know where to look.
    Figure this: There’s something like 23 million Americans stuffing their face at McDonalds on a daily basis. That’s a huge number, and McDonald’s is one of the bigger chains of “clog your arteries fast” food. There are still almost 110 million Americans that don’t eat at McDonald’s every day that find their food fix elsewhere.
    While the Big 4 has the largest user base per social network, there are a lot more people out there either not engaging in the Big 4, or they are running a parallel social network account on a more niche-specific playground.

    There are a lot of strange networks out there, and I’m not talking about the fetish communities (unless that’s your business, heh). One man’s strange social network can be another man’s goldmine in a thriving customer community. When you limit your marketing efforts to the Big 4, then you miss out on all those opportunities.
    On the Ning platform alone there’s something like 2 million specialty communities. And while “Stiletto Mamas” isn’t a social community that every company would do well in it would certainly be a great target for a business that deals in specialty shoes for women… with attitude.
    The whole point of social media marketing is about meeting your customers on their terms, in their homes, on their streets with their interests. Raising a bugle and sounding a general sale alert is a vestige of the old marketing.  “That’s so 90’s, dude”.  We’re moving into a new age and that should be put behind us.
    That means if you’re a gun dealer, and a large part of your community hangs out at prepareforzombieapocalypse.com for fun then you can use that to your advantage. That’s where your customers are, go there – even if it means you can’t participate on Twitter.
    Please understand that in no way am I saying that you should be everywhere all at once, and I’m also not saying that you’ll do better on one site over another site. Doing either would be impractical. In the rush to keep up with social media marketing, many businesses are latching onto the Big 4 like a dog in heat. They’re completely missing the point in many cases that the most social communities, the communities that carry the most weight, are those that are niche-specific and focused on singular topics.
    If you’re planning that big fishing trip and you know there are Northern Pike in some floodwaters north of your camp, but you also know that if you launch out onto the big lake you might get a Pike but you’re more likely to get some Walleye (which tastes good, too)… which do you opt for?
    The answer is simple: When you’re fishing for Pike, go where the Pike are.
    Do you really know where your customers are in social media? Are you ready to look harder?
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    Strony