Thursday, July 29, 2010

Your Website Has To Work On Smart Phones

If you browse the internet on a smart phone you already know the value of a mobile website or app. It is essential to make your site work on mobiles.  Check out the great research Neville Hobson put together on his post: Compelling Reasons To Mobilize Your Website.

You just can’t expect anyone with a screen this small to have any kind of pleasurable time on your website if what they get is a minute version of a standard web page with text looking so small that you can’t read it even with a magnifying glass. I bet a lot of people do what I do in such situations: leave... Read on at

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your Customer Has a Burning Question -- Are You Answering It?

Your potential customer has a burning question about your product and service.   A question that only you -- or your competitor -- can answer.  Depending on how you answer it, you will either drive them to your business or away from it.

Here are the first steps to take to find out what the question is and how to answer it in such a way that customers are drawn into your business.

1. Find Out What The Question Is

Most businesses have the answers they want to give, or what they think the customer should ask.  But, you need to know what questions your customers are asking about your product and service.

  • What are the first three questions callers ask your representatives?
  • What are the top 20 questions potential customers ask?
  • What are the main objections to your product or service?

2. Find Out Why They Don't Ask the "Right" Question

When you talk to frontline staff -- whether they are sales representatives, receptionists, business developers, engineers, or principals -- about what frustrates them about their customers' questions, they will tell you:

  • "They just don't get it." 
  • "They aren't asking the right questions."
  • "They always ask the same stupid question."
  • "They aren't making the competition answer the right questions."

Those are exactly the areas that your customer needs attention and education.  If you can help them understand why they don't get it, and educate them on how to get it, you will be doing them a great service that leads to a great business relationship.

3. Answer the Question When They are Asking It

Although you have the information they need, are you giving it to them when they need it?  Or, or are you holding onto the answer until you are ready?  Many companies don't want to give any answer until they go through their process -- getting the customer's information, assigning a representative, meeting and evaluating the person, etc.

Remember, you are trying to answer their burning question -- it has to be a timely answer or the fire will be out.

Although getting accurate information from a customer is important before you give a detailed, technical, legal, or financial answer; you will not get to that point with them unless you give them something when they are ask their question.  They will either give up and move on -- or ask a competitor -- or they will continue with you but without a sense of trust -- and that is something you have to have.

  • Reconsider what information you can give freely without compromising good judgment or ethics.
  • The thing to focus on isn't what you can't tell them -- it's what you can tell them.
  • What are the questions I can answer without knowing their details?
  • What is the question I can answer now that will help them move to the next level of disclosure?

4. Be Where They Are When They Ask Their Burning Question

  • What might appear to you as someone playing with their laptop or smart phone during an important business meeting, just might be a potential customer trying to get their burning question answered -- so they can share it with their team and make a decision.  They are searching the internet to get an answer.  Do they find your answer?
  •  When a customer asks your office manager the same question she hears 20 times a day, is she giving the answer that educates and engages the customer, drawing them into going further with your company?
  • When a production engineer has a problem and digs out the brochure your representative gave her, does it answer her burning question or lead directly to the answer?
 The question has to be answered whenever and wherever it pops up.

Most companies I talk with are not only very good at what they do, they are also a wealth of information about their products, service, and industry.  Many love to talk about their business.  Why not share your information in a way that answers your customers questions and leads to more and better customers for you?

Just Like That
Originally uploaded by nateOne

Monday, July 26, 2010

What You Can Do Now For Startup Weekend Olympia

Startup Weekend Olympia is a sure thing.  Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Washington is the location.  Get on board, the train is moving.

Here's what you can do now:

 1. More info on Startup Weekend here.

2. Sign up to attend here.

3. Info on being a sponsor here.

4. Join Olympia Startup Weekend Google group

Friday, July 23, 2010

Five Marketing Changes You Have To Make Before the End of 2010 - To Get Ahead in 2011

If you keep doing what you've been doing, your competitors and customers will leave you behind in 2011.

In the last two years, you made the changes needed to ride out the downturn -- but so did your customers -- and many of your competitors.  Now, a new race is starting.

With the change comes new growth potential for the companies that quickly identify new opportunities and pounce on them.

Here are five new business realities and the questions to ask yourself about your marketing strategy to make sure you gain and retain customers -- and move ahead of your competitors in 2011.

1. Your Market Changed

Cash flow, labor availability, operations cost, and hundreds of other things have changed because of the transformation in the economy.  But, each change creates an opportunity.

For example, financing is tighter than in the past. And that opens a new marketing door for a company that, based on the current availability of financing for themselves and their customers, finds a way to meet their customers' needs.

Although there are some things you can't do anymore, conditions are now better than ever for some of your products and services.

"Based on the new economy, what new opportunities, customers, and markets are open to me?"

2. Your Competitors Changed

In the same way that the National Football League changes each season due to the trading decisions each team makes, the relative position of each of your competitors has changed.

Your competition has changed strategies, targets, sources, goals, territories, structure, financing, and personnel. 

"Because of what my competitors have done and not done --- what new opportunities have emerged that I didn't have before?"

3. Your Customers Changed

The last two years have changed the buying techniques of your customers.  They research more,  want feedback from other buyers, and expect personalized attention.  They want quick, direct, easily-available, accurate answers to their questions in order to determine the quality of your product or service.

In return, they can be more loyal than ever before and will even help you sell your product or service.  This is true for both consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketing.

"How can I help my customers to understand my business, products, and service in a way that helps them make a decision that benefits them (and my business)?"

4. Your Customers Wonder If You Changed

If your organization maintained marketing and advertising efforts over the last two years, you are perceived as being financially and strategically solid.  On the other hand, if your target customers have not seen you as much lately, you are perceived as questionable ("Are they still pursuing my business?"  Or even, "Are they still in business?")  And it's not just a question of perception.

Every organization benefits from the sense of familiarity, stability, connection, dependability, trustworthiness, community involvement, and long-term investment, whether from their target market or the public.

"What am I doing to help customers have confidence in my company and in what I can do for them?"

5. Your Company Really Has Changed

Your company reacted to the shifting economy and made changes that worked -- otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.

What did you change to get to this point?  Who is on your team now?  What new technology are you using that you did not have two years ago?  What new sources or resources did you switch to?  What new efficiencies and processes? 

With the new products, services, departments, people, or ideas you have, you can bring products or services to market that would not have been workable in the past.

"How can I develop and communicate my company's new potential?"


For example, consider a customer who, in the past, always bought from your competitor.  But, in the last two years, the competitor had to make some changes.  The competitor closed their local facility and route their calls to a regional office.  They are active online. Their new website makes interaction easy. Maybe they are not at the tradeshows like they used to be.  They offer the same things as before, but they changed sources so the quality is different.  They dropped some of their lines, targets, and representatives to be more efficient. When other businesses pushed into the market, they focused on the new competitors -- or maybe they ignored the new businesses and are focused on you.

Your competitor is not sure what you are going to do next.

Either way, your customer will research their options and make a decision based on what they know about you.

By acting now, 2011 will be your year of growth.

What new opportunities does my company have and what am I doing to pounce on them?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Five Internet Marketing Tools Every Attorney Must Use

If you set up these five internet tools, you will have completed the essentials of a social media presence on the internet.  

But without them, you are invisible to a large and growing population that will not pick up a phone directory or call a referral service to find you.

Here is why you have to be on the five.  They're...
  • Free (You don't need to pay or upgrade for them to work.)
  • Effective (They make your practice available to those who need legal services.)
  • Easy (All you need to get started is a photo of yourself -- the rest of the information you already know by heart or have it on your business card.)
  • Ethical (You can comply with bar advertising ethics just like you do in the rest of your practice.)
  • Personal (Each attorney in your firm can have their own profile.)
Here are the essential five with tips on setting them up.

LinkedIn Example for an Attorney
Time needed to set up profile: 30 minutes.
Maintain: Check and update every three months, or make it the hub of your online social world and spend 15 minutes a day on it.

This is the new standard business directory.  Simply open an account and set up your profile.

Notice that one of the categories in the example screenshot is  Specialties.  The lawyer did not label this, it is an unchangeable profile category in LinkedIn. To comply with ethics rules, you have to put in a note that says something such as,

Practice Areas (lawyers can't legally call them "specialties"): real estate, property, landlord/tenant, business... 

You can see this in the example screen shot.

Go to and begin.

2. Google Local Search
Time needed to set up profile: 30 minutes
Maintain: Check every couple months.

Google Local Example for Law Firm

If you haven't done this yet, do it right away -- it is the single best way to help those in need of legal services in your local area find you.

Go to Google maps and search for your firm or attorneys in your city (such as "attorney Tacoma")  Click on your business.  Click on edit.  You will see a question, "Is this your business?"  Click on it and claim your business by following the directions then fill in your profile.

As on the other sites, remember to list your "Areas of Practice," not "Specialties."

Go to Google Maps


Time needed to set up profile: 30 to 60 minutes.
Time to figure it out: a few days of playing with it.
Maintain: Daily to weekly depending on the involvement you want to have.

Facebook example for Law Office
Facebook is different from the other sites I have described -- it is not simply a listing or directory -- it is meant to be interactive and therefore will give back in proportion to what you put into it.

Will interacting on Facebook accidentally put you in an attorney-client relationship?  Attorneys tell me that they treat it the same way they treat any other conversation, phone call, email, or question from a neighbor -- they control what happens next, and either end the conversation or pursue it in person according to standard ethical guidelines.

If you are not already on Facebook, I recommend that you begin using it on a personal level.  Just set up an account, look for your friends and family already on it, and begin connecting with them with photos and comments.  I found that if you just get started, then your kids, friends, grandparents, and everyone else will find you and draw you in.

When you feel comfortable with it on a personal level, you have two choices on how to include your practice.

One way is keep using your main page.  You can set up categories (groups is the Facebook word for it) to separate the information you share with professional contacts from your family and friends.  Once you do this, you can add more professional information.  You will find that this alone will result in referrals from other professionals, schoolmates, etc.

The other choice is to set up an additional, separate page for your practice or firm (a fanpage.)  Although this sounds like a better way to keep things separate, it might not be right for you if you don't intend to maintain and interact on it.  If you don't use it regularly (and enjoy it) you will lose the public interaction that makes Facebook so useful.

In the example, Fox, Bowman, Duarte has a great mixture of friends, family, and professional people.  This is the direction you want to go in.  Being active on Facebook will help the public see you as a person while making yourself available in case they need your legal services.

Is it worth your time?  Facebook has over 500 million users.

Begin on

Example of lawyer search on Avvo
Time needed to set up profile: 20 minutes.
Maintain: Check twice a year.

One of the main online lawyer referral sites.  Just go to the site and click on the button in the top right corner "for lawyers."  Follow the directions, add your info and photo and you're done.

Set up your profile at

Example of lawyer search on Justia
Time needed to set up profile: 20 minutes.
Maintain: Check twice a year.
Another main online lawyer referral site.  Go to the top right and click on the button "get listed."

Get listed at

Done with the essentials?  Now you are ready to really get things going by creating your own blog.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogging Solution to "Post Was Not Saved Due To Form Errors"

Error message when trying to publish post or save post in Blogger:

In compose mode:
"Post was not saved due to form errors"

Or, if in Edit HTML mode:
"Your posting cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed: META"

If you copied and pasted from an email or the web, the problem is the formatting built into it from a word processor that Blogger is not designed to handle.  Here is an easy solution that usually works.

An easy way to remove the special formatting is to copy and paste into Notepad first.  Then copy and paste from Notepad into your blog post.  Notepad creates a text that Blogger can easily deal with.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Startup Weekend Olympia


October 15 - 17
@ Saint Martin's University, Lacey, Washington

Have you ever thought, “Man, someone should … ?”  You know, those crazy brainstorms you have about starting a company that produces some sort of widget or a green and sustainable product, or maybe some cool idea popped in and you need a developer to program a website or iphone app.

Well, now’s your chance to bring all those wacky concepts to life! Startup Weekend Olympia’s theme is:  “Bring Your Ideas!”

It’s called Startup Weekend and it’s coming to the Olympia area October 15-17 at Saint Martin’s University.

Imagine something like 100 people coming together on Friday afternoon and out of those 100 people, 30 of them have an intriguing thought that won’t leave them alone... (Get the info and sign up as a participant or  a sponsor)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blue Collar Social Marketing

At the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning, I gave the example of a pool guy who does a phenomenal job with his social marketing.   Several people asked for more details.

Watch this video interview with the pool guy himself.

It's 28 minutes and  I guarantee you will be both ready and inspired to do it yourself after you watch it.

If you just want to see his blog, here it is: 

Stick Your Tongue Out
Originally uploaded by Adam NFK Smith

Friday, July 9, 2010

What's the Word for Wishing You Hadn't Asked a Store Clerk for Help?

Want to invent a new word?

I need a word to describe that feeling of  regret you get when you go into a store looking for something, ask the clerk for help, then realize, not only are they not going to help you find it, they are going to slow you down or try to prevent you from finding it yourself.  Got a noun or adjective for that?

Retail regret?   Storensnarement?  _____________

You have one?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Transparent Window Marketing

AG orders Tacoma window seller to be transparent in its marketing

The Washington Attorney General's Office continued its efforts to clear up alleged deceptive marketing practices among window sellers by reaching a settlement this week with Energy Exteriors of Tacoma.

The office has reached similar settlements with West Coast Vinyl, Harley Exteriors, Penguin Windows and Evans Glass in recent months.
The latest case accuses Energy Exteriors of ... Read on in the Business Examiner

Monday, July 5, 2010

Olympia Brewery's Future Is Up To You

Brewery may hit auction again

By: CHRISTIAN HILL; Staff writer

The former Olympia Brewery property might be put on the auction block for a second time.
The uncertainty surrounding the historic property’s ownership occurs as the city prepares to ask residents to help shape the future use of the property through a $90,000 “visioning” project.

Read more:

Pricing Your Monthly Service

$10 is the 'magic' digital-media figure

The digital-media business has a new mascot: Alexander Hamilton, the treasury secretary on the $10 bill.
Hamilton sorted out the nation's financial policies during its chaotic early days.

Entertainment companies are doing the same thing now that the digital revolution has happened — they're finding their footing and figuring out standard ways to make money. Their solution appears to be charging $10 a month for access to the most desirable content.

This crystallized last week when Hulu announced a $10 per month premium service. Hulu Plus offers full collections of current TV shows in high definition, making them available through some phones, game consoles and TVs with Internet connections... Read on in the Seattle Times

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Creative Logo Design Samples

Web Urbanist put together a collection of interesting logos that you have to see.  Check it out at  Hidden Logos: 12 Creative Designs with Secret Symbols.