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Clients’ Expectations: 5 Things I’ve Learned the Hardway

Honest truth. I never wanted to start my own business. I didn’t want to have to work my day job and then come home at night at work some more. But all that changed when I met my husband. Together, our business development firm can do amazing things. We can do SEO, public relations, online marketing, website design, social media, IT, network management – basically you name it, and we can do it. If not, we’ll find someone who can.

Another truth. I’m not young anymore. There I said it. And one day, I will be forced to retire but I’m not ready. So owning our own business, WinnComm, will keep me thinking, producing, telling stories, long into my future.

I’ve read several articles and most say it take three years for a business to be successful. The first year you lose money. The second you break even and the third, there is profit. I would say that is the track we are on. And although my patience wears thin, this is not the hardest part of owning a business. The hardest part is managing client expectations.

When a client isn’t satisfied, it frustrates me. I even go as far as feeling as though I’ve failed, even though we’ve done everything we can to meet client’s expectations. I’m a perfectionist and I go beyond the scope of work WinnComm has been hired to do so yes, it hurts a little when a client isn’t satisfied. I try to not take it personal but this is my time, my effort, my brainstorming ideas all for the win and to make client successful! You can get a client in the top spot of two high ranking search engines, BING and Yahoo! but it’s not Google. We got them to page four within one month and it was climbing but they lost their patience.WinnComm, LLC We told them upfront it would take time. It doesn’t happen overnight, especially with Google and especially since Google penalized them for doing blackhat tactics not long before they hired WinnComm. They needed to build credibility with Google, Our strategy was working but they lost their patience. We were disappointed that our client lost faith in the strategy. We had wins. We had Bing and Yahoo! Google was climbing. But it wasn’t the big player. They wanted out after only two months.

Another client. A start-up company tackling one of the hardest topics for businesses. Diversified team and how to make them successful. The firm hired WinnComm to get speaking opportunities. After researching local and national conferences, I’ve learned that most want speaking experience, video tapes of speaking gigs – none of which our client had. We felt we needed to step back some and try to establish reputation through media relations. I’ve spent countless
hours creating media lists, researching stories about diversity and discrimination, introducing the firm to local and national reporters. The firm had no news to share. No clients to use as an example for stories. No speaking engagements. But she had passion, 30 years of human resources experience and her own personal testimony. We’ve gotten her three interviews, one live spot on TV, another TV interview, and a blog interview. I’ve introduced her to over 125 reporters. We’re establishing credibility, building reputation. And yet, within 2.5 month, she gave notice – just as we were going to present her with the PR plan. There wasn’t even enough time to build, grow and get local speaking opportunities so that we could videotape her and submit her for larger opportunities. She was sure happy when we got her those interviews, but it didn’t lead to work, so she got deflated.

At this point, I’ve had it. I wanted to quit WinnComm. I take it too personal when I need to look at it as just business. I reached out to other PR professionals and dsc_0191_editthey agree that managing clients’ expectations are the hardest thing to do. One firm puts a clause in her agreement that PR is never guaranteed. It you want 100 percent guarantees, do advertising. She set expectations right up front.

And it’s not all bad either! We help a local veterinary animal hospital with their storytelling, client relations and social media. They love us. We’ve grown their online reputation, increase their engagement, give one-on-one communication with their clients so they are learning why their clients come to them with their beloved pets. When we get emails of praise, we are happy! Plus, we get to play with cute puppies, kitties and guinea pigs.

We helped a non-profit organization that helps veterans get a radio interview, a TV story and a story on a Veteran’s blog with only two days notice about an event. It was just a one-time thing but they were happy with the results we got them in such a short amount of time. (We also almost had a second TV interview but were called away on their way to our story location. Bummed but used to it by now).

But like I said, I’m a perfectionist and I want to make all of our clients happy. What the saying, … you can’t please everyone? So here’s what we’ve learned over the past year and half of starting WInnComm about client expectations. (Now, my husband has had many businesses so maybe this is what I’ve learned).

  1. Manage expectations upfront – your own as well as the clients.
  2. Discuss with the client that there are no guarantees and that it takes time. Don’t just put it in their contract. Verbalize it
  3. Small businesses with minimal funding have higher expectations. Realize this if you decide to hire them within their budget, which is typically way below your normal prices. Then communicate often, maybe even over communicate. Let them know you’re not sitting idle and you’re working hard on their behalf. It’s the truth.
  4. Develop goals and strategies upfront before doing any work. Create KPI and a timeline. This is will help manage expectations and they can decide upfront if they want to proceed with the contract.
  5. Don’t take it personal. If you know you’ve done everything you can, even beyond what the agreement called for, then know you’ve done your best. Maybe sit down with the client, let them know the scope of work you’ve completed and if they still want to give their 30-day notice, then it’s just business. (I keep telling myself this over and over… I hope it works one day but I’m new to this. I haven’t been able to sleep and it’s stressing me out big time. It’s just business. It’s just business).

Thanks,

Sharon

Posted on

Clients’ Expectations: 5 Things I’ve Learned the Hardway

Honest truth. I never wanted to start my own business. I didn’t want to have to work my day job and then come home at night at work some more. But all that changed when I met my husband. Together, our business development firm can do amazing things. We can do SEO, public relations, online marketing, website design, social media, IT, network management – basically you name it, and we can do it. If not, we’ll find someone who can.

Another truth. I’m not young anymore. There I said it. And one day, I will be forced to retire but I’m not ready. So owning our own business, WinnComm, will keep me thinking, producing, telling stories, long into my future.

I’ve read several articles and most say it take three years for a business to be successful. The first year you lose money. The second you break even and the third, there is profit. I would say that is the track we are on. And although my patience wears thin, this is not the hardest part of owning a business. The hardest part is managing client expectations.

When a client isn’t satisfied, it frustrates me. I even go as far as feeling as though I’ve failed, even though we’ve done everything we can to meet client’s expectations. I’m a perfectionist and I go beyond the scope of work WinnComm has been hired to do so yes, it hurts a little when a client isn’t satisfied. I try to not take it personal but this is my time, my effort, my brainstorming ideas all for the win and to make client successful! You can get a client in the top spot of two high ranking search engines, BING and Yahoo! but it’s not Google. We got them to page four within one month and it was climbing but they lost their patience.WinnComm, LLC We told them upfront it would take time. It doesn’t happen overnight, especially with Google and especially since Google penalized them for doing blackhat tactics not long before they hired WinnComm. They needed to build credibility with Google, Our strategy was working but they lost their patience. We were disappointed that our client lost faith in the strategy. We had wins. We had Bing and Yahoo! Google was climbing. But it wasn’t the big player. They wanted out after only two months.

Another client. A start-up company tackling one of the hardest topics for businesses. Diversified team and how to make them successful. The firm hired WinnComm to get speaking opportunities. After researching local and national conferences, I’ve learned that most want speaking experience, video tapes of speaking gigs – none of which our client had. We felt we needed to step back some and try to establish reputation through media relations. I’ve spent countless
hours creating media lists, researching stories about diversity and discrimination, introducing the firm to local and national reporters. The firm had no news to share. No clients to use as an example for stories. No speaking engagements. But she had passion, 30 years of human resources experience and her own personal testimony. We’ve gotten her three interviews, one live spot on TV, another TV interview, and a blog interview. I’ve introduced her to over 125 reporters. We’re establishing credibility, building reputation. And yet, within 2.5 month, she gave notice – just as we were going to present her with the PR plan. There wasn’t even enough time to build, grow and get local speaking opportunities so that we could videotape her and submit her for larger opportunities. She was sure happy when we got her those interviews, but it didn’t lead to work, so she got deflated.

At this point, I’ve had it. I wanted to quit WinnComm. I take it too personal when I need to look at it as just business. I reached out to other PR professionals and dsc_0191_editthey agree that managing clients’ expectations are the hardest thing to do. One firm puts a clause in her agreement that PR is never guaranteed. It you want 100 percent guarantees, do advertising. She set expectations right up front.

And it’s not all bad either! We help a local veterinary animal hospital with their storytelling, client relations and social media. They love us. We’ve grown their online reputation, increase their engagement, give one-on-one communication with their clients so they are learning why their clients come to them with their beloved pets. When we get emails of praise, we are happy! Plus, we get to play with cute puppies, kitties and guinea pigs.

We helped a non-profit organization that helps veterans get a radio interview, a TV story and a story on a Veteran’s blog with only two days notice about an event. It was just a one-time thing but they were happy with the results we got them in such a short amount of time. (We also almost had a second TV interview but were called away on their way to our story location. Bummed but used to it by now).

But like I said, I’m a perfectionist and I want to make all of our clients happy. What the saying, … you can’t please everyone? So here’s what we’ve learned over the past year and half of starting WInnComm about client expectations. (Now, my husband has had many businesses so maybe this is what I’ve learned).

  1. Manage expectations upfront – your own as well as the clients.
  2. Discuss with the client that there are no guarantees and that it takes time. Don’t just put it in their contract. Verbalize it
  3. Small businesses with minimal funding have higher expectations. Realize this if you decide to hire them within their budget, which is typically way below your normal prices. Then communicate often, maybe even over communicate. Let them know you’re not sitting idle and you’re working hard on their behalf. It’s the truth.
  4. Develop goals and strategies upfront before doing any work. Create KPI and a timeline. This is will help manage expectations and they can decide upfront if they want to proceed with the contract.
  5. Don’t take it personal. If you know you’ve done everything you can, even beyond what the agreement called for, then know you’ve done your best. Maybe sit down with the client, let them know the scope of work you’ve completed and if they still want to give their 30-day notice, then it’s just business. (I keep telling myself this over and over… I hope it works one day but I’m new to this. I haven’t been able to sleep and it’s stressing me out big time. It’s just business. It’s just business).

Thanks,

Sharon

Posted on

“C” is for “Creative Catalogs”

A lot have changed in the market over the years – a tough economy, rising prices of goods and customer’s need for high quality products have imposed new demands on businesses. Evidently, the need for helpful, reliable information has never been greater. Catalogs have always been a great source of product information. When people need to buy a product they refer to catalogs to guide them in finding the right product at the right price. But increasing sales does not necessitate creating the perfect catalog. A relatively small improvement in your catalog can already result in a proportionate increase in sales and profits.

So before you print your catalog, make a careful analysis of your old catalog. Pick out the flaws in it and try to improve it. Gather all the letters that you received from your customers and look through their criticisms, suggestions and comments. These may be a big help in designing a better catalog. And as you are designing your catalog think of your customers and the reasons why they would want to buy your product. Think of what they want and what they need and use this in creating a catalog that accomplishes your customer’s desires.

Thus, to create a striking catalog use color combinations that are attractive and pleasing to the eyes. You can use full color in the cover and two colors in the inside. Keep in mind that people respond better and remember longer good-looking catalogs so make your color choices carefully. Likewise, to attract new customers you can add new products and information to the products featured in your catalog. For instance, you can feature bizarre items, include exciting products or include unusual facts about specific items. You can also include information on how to use the product, maintain them and operate them. This information will help your customers significantly and as a result they would keep your catalog for future references. In addition, this would increase customer confidence to your company thereby increasing their inclination to buy.

If there are products in the old catalog that are unprofitable then perhaps you can promote them more strongly in your new catalog. But if it doesn’t really sell, them you can get rid of them or replace them with new items. You need not place them again in the catalog as they can be a nuisance there.

When you are ready to print your new catalog, make sure that you get the services of an experienced and knowledgeable printer with a reputation for quality and reliability. Your local print shop may be able to do the print job for you but there are also printers online that can do it for low prices, easy ordering and instant price quotes. It is up to you to determine which printing service to avail.

So give your business a distinctive personality and create catalogs that can be a special marketer in the minds of your prospects and customers.

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Finding The Perfect Christmas Gift For Her. Yes your other half!

It’s that time of the year once again – there’s a chill in the air and a spring in your step. It’s Christmas once again! And while there is music, cheer, fun, and fervor everywhere you are probably pondering about finding that perfect Christmas gift for your special someone…

The wonderful cakes, trees bathed in bright lights, and Christmas carols and the Santa usher in a season of hope and joy, and it’s only right that you want to make sure that the special someone in your life loves her gift so much that she jumps with joy and gives you a huge hug as she peels off the wrapper from her present. Yes, there is nothing that quite beats the excitement of opening up presents that have been gifted with love and thought!

While most of us know what we want as a Christmas present, it’s never easy to find that perfect Christmas gift for our loved ones. Here on our website, we have several amazing gifts that will remind your beloved of you every time they see it. Here are some Christmas gift ideas for all you men who want to choose only the best gift for that special lady in your life – a gift that’s perfect for her!

A Bright Sparkle: Bijou
When Marlin Monroe sang “A diamond are a girl’s best friend” little would she have known that it would become a girl’s anthem! Every woman loves jewelry and if it’s given as a gift, the joy is doubled. If you can’t afford an expensive diamond jewelry piece don’t sweat it. You still have plenty of options from trinkets to baubles to silver jewelry and these won’t pinch your pocket either!

Scent of a woman: Perfume
Perfume… lilting fragrances that can add mystery, sensuality, or style to a woman’s personality. You really can’t go too wrong by gifting a perfume. Whether it’s a branded one or a French perfume, it’s bound to be a smash hit with your lady love.

Oh! But remember not to unwittingly pick up a perfume that smells more of an insect repellant than an enticing, pleasant fragrance. Seek advice of a lady friend to be safe!!!

Style for Her Feet: Shoes, shoes, shoes! 
Paris Hilton has a house full of them, and many other celebrities need a new one each day. Yes, we are talking about shoes. A woman can’t ever have enough shoes! Whether these are stilettos, platforms, wedge-heels, flats, slingbacks, boots, or heels, she’ll always want them all, and more.

So, if you want to gift your lady a gift she will remember forever, then shoes should be on the top of your gift options list. Buy her a pair of delicate, feminine shoes or just beautifully detailed; make sure they suit her personality.

A quick word of advice: buying shoes for someone other than yourself can be tricky, so make sure you buy a size that fits and check with the shop or online mall on their exchange policy and period.
It’s all in the Bag: Handy Handbags

A handbag doesn’t really go out of fashion. Women of all age groups and likes would gladly accept a fashionable and trendy handbag or clutch purse as a Christmas gift.

If your lady is young and individualistic then pick up a trendy, stylish clutch purse in leather or fabric. If the gift is for a teenager, a brightly colored tote or sequenced wallet may be a good bet. But if you’re shopping for a mature woman then you should buy a handbag in a larger size and a dark color (black, browns, and grays).

Trendy, Head Turning Eyewear
Branded or designer sunglasses rate high on the style quotient. There is a really wide range of eyewear to choose from. Sunglasses are both useful as well as fashionable and she’s bound to think of you every time she steps out into the sun!

You should try to find a shape that suits her face cut; oval frame for an angular face and squarish frame for a round shaped face. She’s bound to look like a fashionista when she wears them!

Time after Time: Watch
If your lady loves watches (like I do) then she’ll simply adore a stylish, sleek, watch. Not only does a watch make a great budget gift, it will also stay with her for longer and be useful. Just make sure you know what shape, color, and design she likes and freeze that moment in time when she kisses you for this fantastic gift!

Getting intimate: Sheer Lingerie
Big on attitude, comfort, and style sheer lingerie is the sexiest gift you can give her. Not only will she enjoy its feel against her body, but you can enjoy it as well. But sheer lingerie should only be gifted to your wife or partner, and not your crush!

Choose from slinky, ultra-feminine, cute, or just plain sexy…

Dressed as a Diva: Make-up

When picking up makeup or cosmetic item, remember to check the quality. Make-up makes a woman feel pretty, pampered, and prepared. Choose colors she usually wears, and pick assorted items such as kohl, eye shadow, lip gloss etc and have them wrapped in an attractive paper and tie it up with ribbons to make it more personal.

You can never, ever go wrong with…
Chocolates! Yes, it’s the thought that counts. So don’t sweat if you can afford the fancy jewelry items, perfume or clothes. Buy her a dozen of red roses, or a bunch of her favorite flower and pen down a romantic poem – your ode to her – and you can be sure this Christmas gift will stay etched in her memory for a lifetime.

Best of all…
You can Shop Amazon – Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

Posted on

Finding The Perfect Christmas Gift For Her. Yes your other half!

It’s that time of the year once again – there’s a chill in the air and a spring in your step. It’s Christmas once again! And while there is music, cheer, fun, and fervor everywhere you are probably pondering about finding that perfect Christmas gift for your special someone…

The wonderful cakes, trees bathed in bright lights, and Christmas carols and the Santa usher in a season of hope and joy, and it’s only right that you want to make sure that the special someone in your life loves her gift so much that she jumps with joy and gives you a huge hug as she peels off the wrapper from her present. Yes, there is nothing that quite beats the excitement of opening up presents that have been gifted with love and thought!

While most of us know what we want as a Christmas present, it’s never easy to find that perfect Christmas gift for our loved ones. Here on our website, we have several amazing gifts that will remind your beloved of you every time they see it. Here are some Christmas gift ideas for all you men who want to choose only the best gift for that special lady in your life – a gift that’s perfect for her!

A Bright Sparkle: Bijou
When Marlin Monroe sang “A diamond are a girl’s best friend” little would she have known that it would become a girl’s anthem! Every woman loves jewelry and if it’s given as a gift, the joy is doubled. If you can’t afford an expensive diamond jewelry piece don’t sweat it. You still have plenty of options from trinkets to baubles to silver jewelry and these won’t pinch your pocket either!

Scent of a woman: Perfume
Perfume… lilting fragrances that can add mystery, sensuality, or style to a woman’s personality. You really can’t go too wrong by gifting a perfume. Whether it’s a branded one or a French perfume, it’s bound to be a smash hit with your lady love.

Oh! But remember not to unwittingly pick up a perfume that smells more of an insect repellant than an enticing, pleasant fragrance. Seek advice of a lady friend to be safe!!!

Style for Her Feet: Shoes, shoes, shoes! 
Paris Hilton has a house full of them, and many other celebrities need a new one each day. Yes, we are talking about shoes. A woman can’t ever have enough shoes! Whether these are stilettos, platforms, wedge-heels, flats, slingbacks, boots, or heels, she’ll always want them all, and more.

So, if you want to gift your lady a gift she will remember forever, then shoes should be on the top of your gift options list. Buy her a pair of delicate, feminine shoes or just beautifully detailed; make sure they suit her personality.

A quick word of advice: buying shoes for someone other than yourself can be tricky, so make sure you buy a size that fits and check with the shop or online mall on their exchange policy and period.
It’s all in the Bag: Handy Handbags

A handbag doesn’t really go out of fashion. Women of all age groups and likes would gladly accept a fashionable and trendy handbag or clutch purse as a Christmas gift.

If your lady is young and individualistic then pick up a trendy, stylish clutch purse in leather or fabric. If the gift is for a teenager, a brightly colored tote or sequenced wallet may be a good bet. But if you’re shopping for a mature woman then you should buy a handbag in a larger size and a dark color (black, browns, and grays).

Trendy, Head Turning Eyewear
Branded or designer sunglasses rate high on the style quotient. There is a really wide range of eyewear to choose from. Sunglasses are both useful as well as fashionable and she’s bound to think of you every time she steps out into the sun!

You should try to find a shape that suits her face cut; oval frame for an angular face and squarish frame for a round shaped face. She’s bound to look like a fashionista when she wears them!

Time after Time: Watch
If your lady loves watches (like I do) then she’ll simply adore a stylish, sleek, watch. Not only does a watch make a great budget gift, it will also stay with her for longer and be useful. Just make sure you know what shape, color, and design she likes and freeze that moment in time when she kisses you for this fantastic gift!

Getting intimate: Sheer Lingerie
Big on attitude, comfort, and style sheer lingerie is the sexiest gift you can give her. Not only will she enjoy its feel against her body, but you can enjoy it as well. But sheer lingerie should only be gifted to your wife or partner, and not your crush!

Choose from slinky, ultra-feminine, cute, or just plain sexy…

Dressed as a Diva: Make-up

When picking up makeup or cosmetic item, remember to check the quality. Make-up makes a woman feel pretty, pampered, and prepared. Choose colors she usually wears, and pick assorted items such as kohl, eye shadow, lip gloss etc and have them wrapped in an attractive paper and tie it up with ribbons to make it more personal.

You can never, ever go wrong with…
Chocolates! Yes, it’s the thought that counts. So don’t sweat if you can afford the fancy jewelry items, perfume or clothes. Buy her a dozen of red roses, or a bunch of her favorite flower and pen down a romantic poem – your ode to her – and you can be sure this Christmas gift will stay etched in her memory for a lifetime.

Best of all…
You can Shop Amazon – Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

Posted on

The Two Most Important Factors In Ecommerce Design

OK, so the title isn’t strictly true there is one important factor in ecommerce shopping cart design and two things you have to do achieve it. The goal is to make people purchase your product. The two things you have to do to make them buy is to help and persuade.

When you design a site you need to pay serious attention to it’s usability and it’s persuasive abilities. The aim of a good eCommerce solutions is to gently (or not so gently) persuade the sites user to purchase the product they want to make sure that they find this as easy as possible you need to make sure that your website is as usable as possible. There are thousands of usability and persuasive design methodologies and we don’t intend to cover them all in this article. We have identified a couple of the most important factors in both areas and given you some tips and guidance to help you tailor your shopping cart software to increase sales.

Usability Design

When a customer lands on your internet store they will only have a certain amount of patience, once this all runs out they will give up and leave your site for one of your competitors. The easier your site is to use and the less they have to think about how it works the longer they will stay on your site, and the more likely they will be to purchase from you.

With the increase in the use of CSS and the increasing accessibility of graphic manipulation packages people are able to completely customize the way the ‘things you click’ on their web-site look, the limit it pretty much their own imagination. Unfortunately this can lead to some confusion for users who have to think about what is clickable and what isn’t, this will cause them to get frustrated.

With text links it’s best to follow HTML tradition, keeping links in a contrasting colours and keep them underlined. Users also like to know where they have been, so keeping links that have been visited in another colour is good practice.

The best course of actions with buttons is to … well… make them look like buttons. I know it seems patronising but a lot of people forget this when they’ve spent a lot of time making sure the buttons on their site fit in with the design. Raised looking buttons are difficult to make look nice and clean without them looking a little ‘2001′ but it’s really worth spending a little time thinking about your buttons.

One of the easiest way to lose customers is to actually lose them. If you customers can’t find their way around your store, or can’t find their way to wherever they want to be they’re not going to buy from you.

What’s the best way to achieve this? Well it’s probably by using tabs. they give a good idea of where the user is, and how they can get to where they want to be.

Tag Lines are frequently dismissed from modern website design in order to make at design look less cluttered, and certainly there are situation where removing a tag line will do no harm but generally there are useful. It is important that a customer know as quickly as possible if your site will sell the product they are looking for. A good example of this is Amazon when they first launched they used a tag-line similar to ‘Online Bookstore’ because when customer landed on their page they would have had to think a little to work out that a company called Amazon was in fact an online book store. However as Amazon are now so well known they have removed it as it’s no longer needed.

Persuasive Design

Once you’ve addressed the Usability of your store and your visitors can find their way around your site easily and find their way to where they want to be, you must then consider the second important part of the design. You need to make then go to where YOU want them too, the order confirmation page. Below are 3 tips for making this happen.

Once the user has put some items into their cart and clicked on the checkout button there is a good chance that they really want to buy something. So whatever you do make it as easy as possible for them to put their credit card details in and click the order confirm button.

A design practice that we implement is removing all unnecessary links from the order process. For example all links to the ‘home’ and search boxes are removed. If the user goes searching for other products then it’s possible that they’ll get side tracked and forget that they were going to buy your products. But make sure that the user still has access to the information about the product that they’re buying, we try to implement this by including all the information on the shopping cart page, or by linking to pop-up with the info in, we don’t link back to the original product page as this could lead to further distractions.

Long checkout processes with multiple pages is also something that should be avoided. Only ask the customer for information that you really need.

One of the main ways that people will look for products on your site is by using the search box. Rigging (or Mapping) your searches will allows you to map products to keyword, so when a customer searches for a word related to a product that does not include the keywords in the title or the product text you can make sure the products show up. This is just like a customer asking a shop assistance for a product when they know what they want the product to do, but are just not sure of the name of the product.

You need to make your product descriptions and products images as descriptive as possible, don’t ever assume that your customers are as well versed on your products as you are. If there is something they want to know and you haven’t covered they will do one of three things:

  • Ask yourself, which happens a lot less than you would imagine.
  • Go and look on a competitor’s web-site, if they have the information then it’s likely you’ve lost a customer.
  • Give Up.

Also the more information that you include the more ’spider food’ there is got the search engines, writing the product descriptions is a good time to focus on Search Engine Optimization.

Following a couple of these simple guidelines you should see a marked increase in the conversion rate for your store. There are also many other usability and persuasive design models that you can apply and we defiantly recommend searching for some more to apply to your shopping cart.

Posted on

The Myth of Cyber Monday – #CyberMonday Appears to be…

“Cyber Monday” is the Monday after Thanksgiving and is commonly reported to be the start of the online holiday shopping season or the biggest online shopping day of the year, both of which are untrue. The theory purports that consumers do a great deal of their real world shopping on “Black Friday” (another myth about the Friday after Thanksgiving) and when they return to work on Monday, they start their online shopping.

The origin of the term is unclear; probably a media fabrication in their attempt to create a story where one didn’t exist. Sure, more and more of our holiday shopping is moving online and there is definitely a online holiday shopping season, but the start of the season is not as clearly defined as the media would like. They already have a term and day, Black Friday, to describe the start of the holiday shopping season, so they should also have the same for the online shopping season, right? In their quest for the story, the media created Cyber Monday.

In reality, there is no single day that kicks off the season. Online shopping ramps up from the middle/end of November and runs through about a week before Christmas.

The Monday after Thanksgiving was convenient and made more sense years ago when consumers didn’t have high speed internet access at home. The rational for this is that consumers didn’t want to shop on a slow speed dial-up connection at home, so they waited until they could use their employer’s high speed connection. Now that most consumers have a high speed connection, this rational makes less sense. It is probably more likely that after a big Thanksgiving dinner, consumers will get online and get a head start on their online shopping instead of waiting until Monday when they need to get caught up on their work after the four day layoff.

The trend in consumer behavior has also been to ease into the holiday shopping season. We can measure this with the appearance of holiday decorations and merchandise appearing earlier and earlier every year. You can now find some Christmas décor before Halloween in some stores. It wouldn’t be there if consumers weren’t buying it. The same goes online as we ease into the holiday season as we can now find holiday décor year round online.

As far as the biggest online shopping day goes, that occurs between one and two weeks before Christmas as most of us procrastinate, waiting as long as possible. In our neighborhood stores, the biggest shopping day is usually the last Saturday before Christmas. Our deadline for completing our shopping is the last day that we can have something shipped so that it arrives before Christmas, about a week before. That deadline isn’t that important either as we can always get a last minute gift card which is also prolonging the holiday shopping season as more of our shopping occurs after Christmas when we have those gift cards in hand.

Hopefully the media will realize that “Cyber Monday” doesn’t really exist and we won’t be hearing all about it this year.

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Black Friday – bah humbug

It’s black Friday. For the past few months, many institutions have been clamoring for your attention because they want your dollars. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday. This time of year it doesn’t end until January 1st. Then everything falls off – sales and donations.

I’ve never worked in retail public relations, but I have worked in nonprofit public relations. This time of year is crazy time. The time when you can work weeks on end without a day off. Why? Nonprofits generally make 60 percent of their budget within these last few months. People think about giving more during this time of year and nonprofits have to capitalize on it, if they plan to continue their mission. This is especially true if they don’t take government funding.

I’m sure nonprofits and retailers marketing dollars increase during these last several months. I know in the nonprofit I worked work, every dollar spent, they were gamer, orbweavermake $6. I’m sure there is some equation that retail follows as well. That is why we seem so bombarded with advertisements, mail, email, commercials, banner ads, etc. They want your attention and it works most of the time.

Although, I’ve seen the ads, I really haven’t paid much attention. Today, I looked through my emails, went to the websites of the store I was interested in but frankly, I was disappointed in most of the sale items. The deals weren’t really deals and if they were, they were already sold out. I did find Razer’s orbweaver for $40 off for my gamer husband Shakeboxing. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen it during the past year so I bought it. The only other thing I saw that I wanted was a $88 refurbished laptop but it was sold out. So marketing and PR professionals, working extremely long hours to help their brand successful, failed on this customer. The products and the prices were bah humbug!

I feel for the countless hours public relations and marketing professionals are are putting in. I’ve been there. I have empathy. It’s exhausting but if you want me to grab my dollars, you have to do better. Besides, the holidays is better spend on personal gifts for our loved ones. They matter more!

Happy holidays,

Sharon Couts

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This is a story about a poor guy with an inept domain that wanted to build a site geared for a very competitive keyword and his long, agonizing journey toward the true light of SEO wisdom.

Here’s a little foundation for what I’m about to cover here. A while back I bought a stupid domain name. It was one of those fairly useless domain names that might have been good for maybe selling cellphones or something. The thing is, though, I’m a poor guy. I don’t have time to tailor a site for cellphones with the pitiful amount of money I have. This was my thinking not long ago at least.

After sitting on this domain name forever I decided to put a site up there and give myself to the study of SEO or search engine optimization. It seemed like an interesting subject and I knew to those that managed to learn SEO, marketing, and some web design would fall infinite riches. It really sounded good to me.

So I went for the throat so to speak. More precisely I picked out some search terms that I will probably never be able to get traffic for in my lifetime. Smart I know. This had the grand side effect of having the site sandboxed by Yahoo and Google until pigs flew.

Recently they flew, however, and I’ve come out of the sandbox altogether and hit face to face with a few SEO surprises. I did manage to get a tiny trickle of traffic but not from the terms I tried to get it from. After trying to optimize those pages for the key terms I received traffic from I got more traffic. This of course started me down a long road of speculation and hair pulling.

After many a night of such I’ve come up with a few things that I believe will give anyone the power to eventually pull traffic off the net and convert it into a good decent living. I’ll probably write an ebook and make millions one of these days.

Optimize by the page
Don’t fall into the trap of focusing totally on building this far flung and far reaching site that will rule the world or make you millions instantly. Unless you have lots of money you’re going to need to work for your traffic. Plan your site out carefully and make sure each page is a precision crafted piece of art.

I love serverside scripting and dynamic websites but I’ve come to realize there is a danger that people will overuse it. I know I have. If your site is dynamically generated, make sure every page isn’t a total cookie cutter image of every other page. It’s good to have the same navigation and same general layout but each page also needs to be special. Each page should have careful, proven SEO techniques applied to maybe a single key phrase.

Don’t try to optimize one page for a handful of phrases. Just focus on one phrase. Do your keyword research and, whatever you do, don’t haul off and pick a key phrase with 2 billion wealthy competitors in Google. Pick something that can be attained and can get you some traffic relatively fast. Select a phrase that is as specific as possible to your particular niche and still gets a couple thousand or so searches per month from Yahoo.

Whatever you do, make sure that one web page has good, solid, desirable content that is keyword rich and one of a kind. This will help make it special. At the same time your content obviously needs to lead the customer toward your intended goal for monetizing your traffic.

Keep it simple
I’ve found to my dismay that building a complex web site with all the content management stuff and all the database thrills isn’t exactly what really gets the attention of search engines. Weirdly enough this can be true for internet surfers too. A nice, clean layout with very accessible content and intuitive navigation will be recognized by both search engines and surfers alike. If you can figure that part out you’ve just pinned down about 90% of SEO in my opinion.

Engineer your site for your traffic
When you start getting search engine traffic to your site take a very close look at what they are searching for. I assume you have some kind of statistics program and can mostly see what search terms people are using to get to your site. When someone comes in on a keyword or phrase you haven’t optimized for do a little research. Does the page they are coming to need touched up to include the search term or would this search term merit its own search engine optimized page to handle the traffic.

Conclusion
With every page you add you are gaining another potentially valuable piece of internet real estate. If you’re doing your job right then eventually each page should get its own traffic and you should begin to attain your goals. Patience and learning are the name of the SEO game.

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Start an Art Collectible Hobby and Beautify Your Home

Collecting is a fun hobby, and one of the most interesting things to collect are art collectibles. Many different items can be painted with artwork and become an art collectible. Hobby enthusiasts collect such things as saw blades, and wooden eggs which have had artwork painted on. People even collect designer rugs as art. Another art collectible hobby is collecting limited edition plates, thimbles, Christmas ornaments, and figurines produced by such companies as Bradford Exchange. And of course, many people collect fine art paintings.

The person with an art collectible hobby will probably find his or her own favorite artists whose works they appreciate. They can choose to focus on one particular artist, either past or present, or they can choose from the works of many artists. On the other hand, they may collect art and art objects around a theme they enjoy, such as cigars, wild animals, or piano music.

One may think of an art collector as a rich person who has the money to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an original Van Gogh. A person of more modest means can collect art too, however. Post cards are a good place to start. Most art museum gift shops offer high quality, glossy postcards printed with some of their more notable acquisitions. By buying those cards one really appreciates, anyone can have an art collection.

Ebay is a good source of art collectibles whatever type of art or collectible you fancy. In fact, if you are just starting out, the choices and options can be overwhelming! Just remember that you can sell your own belongings as well as buying those of others. This should make the impact on the budget a little less powerful. Other ideas for inexpensively collecting art collectibles are scouring flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales. You never know what treasure someone else may be getting rid of.

One nice thing about art collectibles is that artists can be found in every part of the world. The art collector should scout the local art shows, museums, and artist’s hangouts to find out just what sort of talent can be had less expensively and close to home. Because of the local flavor of some artwork, art collectibles make good travel souvenirs. For instance, the artist Linda Barnicott specializes in paintings of scenes, buildings, and landmarks found around Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Similarly, collectors can find local artist almost everywhere.

An art collectible hobby will keep you interested in life and give you a home filled with art masterpieces as well. If you enjoy pretty and interesting things around you, consider starting an art collectible hobby today.