Are you a Master at what you do? Does it matter?

When trying to build their business, a lot of entrepreneurs blame the fact that they aren’t successful on just needing to get better at what they do.

I think people get this from their years in the workforce. When you got a performance review, your boss would usually talk about ways to improve performance, and a lot of times it involved getting a certification, learning a new skill or software, cross-training in another department, etc.

You know what, though? If you are a business professional and have some level of expertise, you know more than a lot of people out there! There is someone who would love to know what you know, and in that way, you offer value to them.

Now, I’m not saying that additional training isn’t important. But I think a lot of entrepreneurs use the excuse of wanting to get more training/skill/knowledge/another certification as a way to avoid taking that next big step, stepping up, and really marketing their business and seeing the success they deserve.

“Marketing is more important than mastery”.
-Ali Brown

Marketing is THAT important. And if you’ve been holding back until you get that next level of education, I challenge you to STOP! It might take a major shift in the way you’re currently thinking about your business, but think about it this way: it doesn’t matter how much you know, if nobody knows about you, you’ll be out of business before you know it.

How can you best showcase the expertise you already have?

A quick, easy and low-cost way to get started showcasing that expertise is online marketing. You could write a series of articles on a topic that a lot of people have questions on, or a How-To series. Share little mini-tips regularly on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Use some of this content, and create short videos that you put on YouTube. Fill your blog with all of these different pieces, and you might just be amazed at your own expertise!

Not only does this increase your visibility and get you out of your own head, it helps you get more clients through the Know Like and Trust factor. People will see your expertise, they’ll get to know you, and they begin to trust you. And that is an awesome way to start a new client relationship.

If you’re ready to embrace your current expertise and start marketing yourself online, there are lots of articles here on my blog, and online, to get you started. Or contact me for your own 20 minute strategy session to learn more about how a VA can help you with a complete online marketing strategy.

Important questions to ask before a website design/redesign

If you’ve ever gone through the process of designing a website, you probably realized part way through that there were lots of things you had never even thought about when you were planning for your site! And if you never have designed a website, and have been thinking that you need to do that soon, getting a head start on planning will only make the entire process easier and less stressful for you.

I’ve designed quite a few blog sites since I started my business, oh way back when  :), and in the process I’ve developed  a list of important questions to ask the client, or at least have them think about as they’re giving me notes for the new site, or their site redesign.

At the beginning of the year, a lot of people start thinking about their goals for their business, and the things they’d like to get accomplished that year, and often times, a new website or a website redesign end up on that list. But unfortunately, the process can get overwhelming and so the project gets put off.

But I can’t just let you sit around with a bad site, or worse, no site at all! So today, I’ve decided that it might be helpful to share those questions with you.

If you’re even thinking about redesigning your website or getting a new one done, check out the Web Design Questions pdf here. And if you have any questions about the web design/redesign process, comment here or email us at info@marketinggeeksintl.com!

Happy Holidays from Marketing Geeks!

Happy Holidays from Marketing Geeks! Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year by far – the music, the lights, the food, and the family – I love it all! And as long as we have a white Christmas (which we usually do in the snowbelt of Michigan) I can even handle the cold!    :)

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season, whatever holiday you may celebrate. This time of year is great to take a break and reconnect with the things in our life that are our true priorities, like family and friends.

But with all the holidays sales out there, it’s also a great time to save a few dollars on products and services that will help your business grow in 2011. So in the spirit of holiday sales, we’re offering 25% off our most popular products and services!

Take your pick below, and use the coupon code snowman when you checkout!

Products

* The Social Media Content Creation Kit:  $97  Now $73 Buy Now

Creating a strong social media presence requires content – lots of it! If you always find yourself struggling to publish enough blog posts, articles, tweets, status updates, videos and audios, the Social Media Content Creation Kit is for you. It lays out a simple strategy for generating original content regularly, and gives you tons of ideas for repurposing content, automating your social media, and spending as little time as possible while generating an online presence that screams “Expert”!

* Social Media Assessment & Strategy Call:  $75  Now $57 Buy Now
In this 30 minute call you’ll get a complete assessment of where you are with your current social media profiles, and where improvements can be made.  Then we’ll map out a strategy for you in order to increase your visibility, traffic and sales through social media.

Services

* Project Social Media Done In a Day Intensive:  $897  Now on super-special 60% holiday discount!
This innovative Done In A Day Intensive is a one-day personalized program that gives you direct access to the experienced Project Social Media team and gives your social media marketing efforts the kick in the pants that it needs. Get your strategy and your setup done, all in one day!

* 20 Hour Support Package: $997  Now $748 Buy Now
Our ultimate support package – you get 20 hours of specialized social media, WordPress, 1ShoppingCart and online marketing support! Let us take care of the technical side of your online marketing, and see increased results and more time for you to spend on your business!

* WordPress Blog Site Design: $597  Now $448 Buy Now
Is your site outdated (or worse, nonexistent!) and in need of updates? Tired of waiting for your web designer to make simple changes to your website? Want better search engine findability and social media friendliness for your site? Consider WordPress! Our WordPress Blog Site package gives you a complete website based on WordPress, a user-friendly and search-engine friendly platform that makes updating your site easy, and gives you loads of functionality you probably don’t currently have!

* Social Media Branding Package: $157  Now $118 Buy Now
Having a consistent design across all your social media profiles is a great way to brand your business, provide additional information, and gain visibility. This package gives you a custom Twitter background, a custom welcome tab for your Facebook Fan Page, and a custom YouTube background.

* Press Release Submission:  $67   Now $51 Buy Now
Press Releases help you get the word out about new products, changes in your company or any other news you’d like the world to know about. Our team will create accounts with your bio (and a link back to your site), and distribute one press release out to multiple high-ranking PR sites.

Free teleclass: Crafting your online marketing strategy into an easy-to-delegate system!

Announcing our next free teleclass on Tuesday, August 10th at 3pm Eastern

If you’re like many solo business owners, you’ve probably dipped your toe into the world of online marketing & social media. As you may have found, though, if you don’t have a strategic plan for social media, it can be time-consuming, and not always produce the results you’re looking for.

And there are so many different pieces to online marketing, you may find yourself jumping from one “latest and greatest” tool or fad to another, with no plan, and no results to show for it.

Wouldn’t you love to be shown an easy way to decide on a complete online marketing & social media strategy, set up the tools and systems to get it done quickly and efficiently (instead of spending all day on it!), and even have the entire system to give to a social media manager, virtual assistant (or even your teenager) so this marketing plan can work for you, while you have time to work on your own genius ideas?!

Join us on this free teleseminar on Tuesday, August 10th at 3pm Eastern to learn

  • A simple way to create a social media strategy that can be easily communicated to your assistant
  • 3 handy tools to run (almost) all your social media marketing
  • Guidelines for things your assistant should not do when managing your social networks
  • 5 Tips on finding the right person to help, and the important things to communicate to them
  • And one easy-to-follow system to streamline all the pieces into a recurring Online Marketing calendar, so you & your assistant always know what’s coming up, and what’s expected (an easy way to avoid the stress and hassle of marketing tasks falling through the cracks!)

As a bonus, you’ll receive a copy of our Social Media Strategy File to use for yourself, and a sample Marketing Calendar to ensure you see just how easy this can be to put into place.

So whether you’re a successful solo professional that has decided there’s not enough time in the day to do it all yourself and need to outsource, or are just getting started and want a system to follow yourself, this call is for you!

Register Your FREE Seat on this Teleseminar NOW!
Tuesday, August 10th at 3pm EST

Name
Email

Can’t make the call live? No worries! Be sure to register, and we’ll send you a copy of the recording.

Permalinks – Getting them right can get you more traffic

Today’s tip is on Permalinks – Getting them right can get you more traffic. Now, what are permlinks, you might ask?

Permalinks are the way WordPress displays the url for your posts and pages.

Here are some examples of different formats that WordPress offers:

Default - http://marketinggeeksinc.com/?p=123
Day & Name – http://marketinggeeksinc.com/2010/01/10/sample-post/
Numeric – http://marketinggeeksinc.com/archives/123

Or, you can use a Custom structure – http://www.marketinggeeksinc.com/how-to-set-up-wordpress-permalinks

In my opinion, the last one is the best format to have your permalinks in for 3 reasons:

1. It’s friendly on the eyes and easier for other people to link back to you
2. It usually keeps them shorter than some of the other WordPress permalink options (day & name can get really long)
3. It’s best for SEO – it uses keywords in your url, and keeps those keywords as close to the beginning of the link as possible, which can be a factor for SEO as well

So if you’re starting from scratch (or don’t have many incoming links), you’ll definitely want to check your Permalink settings. But what do you do if you already have an established blog? You can’t just go in and change them and leave it at that, because any incoming links you already have will stop working.

To get around this problem, you will first need to install the Redirection plugin.  Once it’s installed, go to Manage –> Redirection –> Options, and make sure both that URL Monitoring boxes are set to “Modified posts”. Now you can change those permalinks to SEO-friendly permalinks without having to worry about the search engine consequences. Now you’ll want to change your Permalink structure. Go to Settings –> Permalinks. Select the Custom structure, and enter /%postname%/


One last thing you can do to your permalinks to increase your WordPress SEO is install the SEO Slugs plugin. This will automatically remove stop words (words like and, to, from, if, etc.) from your slugs once you save a post, so you won’t get those ugly long URL’s when you do a sentence style post title. It also helps keep your most important keywords (which should be in your title) towards the front. And since they give you no SEO benefit anyway, you might as well take them out and give that SEO priority to your good keywords!

4 Easy Ways to Integrate List Building Into Your Current Online Marketing

how to build a list with social mediaIf you’ve spent much time marketing anything online, you’ve probably heard the mantra “The money is in the list”. And that’s usually true, especially if you’re consciously building a list of targeted subscribers – people who want and need the types of services or products you provide.

One thing clients often say is “How can I be sure my list is targeted? I can’t control who signs up!”

So before we get into the ways to integrate your list building efforts, here are a few tips to ensure that all those new signups are really targeted to what you offer:

- First and foremost, do you have a freebie? If not, you should! That is, by far, the easiest way to get people to actually sign up. Most people do NOT want any more emails in their inbox than absolutely necessary, and generally won’t sign up to get a newsletter if there’s not anything else in it for them. So create a freebie that hits a nerve for them, and makes them “gotta have it”. You can get ideas from questions that clients ask you over and over again, or by polling clients or even your network on Facebook and Twitter to find out what their burning questions are.

-Use language that excludes people that aren’t right for you. So if you’re a coach for single parents, mention single parents in your freebie title. As an example, my freebie is “11 Easy & Effective Steps to Creating a Search Engine and Social Media Friendly Business Blog“. If someone stumbles across my website, but doesn’t have a business blog, or they don’t care about search engine and social media traffic, that freebie won’t speak to them. They won’t care about that info, and so they won’t signup. This ensures that the people that sign up want the kind of expert advice that you’re providing.

Take a good hard look at your current freebie or newsletter signup. Is it speaking right to your ideal clients? Is it compelling – something that will help them solve a problem they’re currently having?

You may decide it’s time to change things up a bit, and now’s the time to do it!

Once you’re confident that what you’re offering speaks right to your ideal client, here are the 4 Easy Ways to Integrate List Building Into Your Current Online Marketing:

1. Your Website or Blog – this may seem basic, but do you have your freebie and signup displayed prominently on your site? All to often I see clients wondering why nobody is signing up for their list, but when I check out their site, it’s very hard to find their signup. It’s at the bottom of the page, or on one page but not another. You want to display your freebie & signup consistently on every page, as close to the top as you can get it. Ask a friend or family member to sign up for your newsletter, and you’ll get a much more honest picture of how easy-to-spot and compelling your offer is. If the text blends into the rest of the page, or the page is too busy, you might consider having an ebook cover designed – this gives more pizzazz to your offer, and also increases the perceived value.

2. Your Resource Box on Article Directories – are you using article marketing for your business? If so, do you mention your freebie (with a link to sign up) in your Resource Box? Why not? That is a great place to encourage signups. They’ve read your article and hopefully have found it of value, but they’re not on your site! If they leave now, they won’t have any idea that you offer a great freebie related to that exact topic!

3. Your Social Media Profiles – if you’re active on social media, you probably have your website listed. Hopefully, you have a well crafted business description that speaks to your ideal client, and tells them exactly how you can help them. But did you know that you can actually provide a way for them to sign up right from within Facebook? You can use the Profile HTML app or the Static FBML app to display html code right on the sidebar of your personal profile or on your Fan Page.

On Twitter you can have a custom Twitter background created that gives visitors more info about you, and directs them where to go to sign up for your freebie.

On your YouTube videos, add the signup link to the description box, or use the annotation feature to add the web address right onto the video itself.

If you’re already using social media regularly, then let it work double-time and help you with your list building efforts!

4. Your Offline Marketing Materials – just because list building is thought of as an online tool, there’s no reason you can’t promote your freebie on all your offline marketing materials as well! Create a short, compelling description of your freebie, and add that to your business cards, postcards, invoices, proposals, or any other offline correspondance. This will give you leverage to build your list with people that may not be as active online, but are still a good fit for you.

WordPress Privacy – Don’t Shoot Yourself In the Foot!

Today’s tip is going to be super-simple to implement, if it’s even necessary for your site. But it’s one of those really simple, but REALLY important things that if done wrong, can have major consequences on your search engine traffic (or lack-thereof).

You may not know it, but in WordPress, you can actually tell the search engines NOT to visit or index your site. I guess this is for people that want to do a private blog. Many people aren’t aware of this because it’s something they would never think of – “Why wouldn’t I want the search engines to find my site??”

But unfortunately, certain web hosting companies that offer Fantastico or a one-click WordPress install occasionally set the built in default to keep your site private. BAD! This means you are telling the search engines that you don’t want them to go through your site or put it in the search engine results.

To check this on your site, login to your Dashboard, and go to Settings –> Privacy.

It should be set to:
“I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers”

If it’s not, change it! This should immediately help you start to see more traffic. If it’s correct, good!

As I said, today’s tip may not be necessary for you, but if you have it wrong, you’ll definitely see improvements just with that one simple change.

Deepen connections by greeting visitors by the site they came from!

Have you ever wished you could create a personalized message for readers that came from a certain site? For example, if a reader clicked through from Facebook, would you really like to suggest that they check out your fan page? Now you can! WP Greet Box is a WordPress plugin that can identify the site a new visitor is coming FROM, and display a custom message! It’s pretty easy to setup, and offers many different social networking and social bookmarking sites, so the ones you and your target market are active on should be on there. There’s a quick walk-through video below on setting up and using WP Greet Box

The nice thing is that there are default greetings built in, so you don’t have to come up with something clever to say for each site that you’d like to use. But, the even nicer thing is that if you DO want to personalize the greeting, you have that ability too.

One final note – it’s pretty easy to setup and get going with, but make sure you add in your profile link to all the social networking sites you choose to use – that way they can click through and connect directly with you there, too! Oh, and feel free to deactivate any that you aren’t familiar with. Just places less load on your site, and keeps things cleaner and neater in the backend. If you’d like additional documentation on using more advanced features, check out the WP Greet Box tutorial here.

How to add snazzy social media icons to your site

Do you have your social media profiles on your website? Hopefully so, because just like offering a freebie or free-taste on your website, it’s a great way to encourage readers to connect with you in a casual, non-salesy way. This lets them get to know you and your expertise without any pressure to immediately become a client. And it helps you build that KLT (Know, Like and Trust) factor that is so important online.

So today’s post is going to show you how to add those snazzy Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn buttons you’ve seen around, to make it easy for readers to find your social media presences, and connect with you there too!

To start with, you need to find some icons you like! Now a word of warning – just because you find an image online doesn’t necessarily mean you can grab it and use it on your site – things like that can get you in trouble! So you want to start with a source that you know offers the right to reuse on your website. My particular favorite is www.iconspedia.com, or you can visit www.twitter.com/goodies to generate the html code AND link and save yourself one step. You can also do a search on Google for free social networking icons.

Once you find icons you like, go ahead and download to your computer.

The next step is to generate html code for the image, as well as the link to your profile. If you’re not familiar with writing html code, the easiest way to do this is to go into your Edit Post screen on WordPress, and Upload the image.

upload

Once you have the icon in your post, select it by clicking on it, then use the Insert Link button to add a link to your profile – should like something like this  http://www.facebook.com/rebeccazwar?ref=profile or this http://www.twitter.com/rebeccazwar

Now, all you need to do is switch to the HTML tab, and copy ALL the html code you see!

It should look like this:

The very last step is to go into Appearances –> Widgets, and drag a new Text Widget onto your sidebar. You can name it something like “Connect With Me”, then you just paste your html code into the box, click Save, and VOILA! You can check out your new icons!