Archive for the ‘business’ Category

General rule of thumb,
if they mention you and/or your company,
then you deserve a link.

My boss was interviewed by a big magazine that published both off and online. He gave some great info and insight into running an exterminator business. What he forgot to do was ask for a link. While this should happen naturally from writers/editors, it doesn’t. Perhaps I live in a dream world that would deem that linking to your source as ethical. Maybe I am alone in thinking that writers should know to link out. Perhaps someday, but for now on my boss has been advised to proceed as follows.

ASK FOR THE LINK BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

It’s really very simple boss, when they quote you they need to do the following:

“Adam Seever, CEO of Bulwark Exterminating, says…”

If it’s an exclusive interview of you then they should conclude with an about section or begin with an introduction were they can build up more of your expertise. You can get a few more links in if it’s an exclusive interview.

“Today we are interviewing Adam Seever, CEO of Bulwark Exterminating, who has used database technology to create www.ScorpionReport.org

In the past I would have pushed for an anchor text link for targeted keywords like pest control , and if I author a guest post for someone then I typically do drop in such a link, but today Google wants to see more of your branded keyword linking to you over heavy anchor text links. You can still accomplish this in an interview if you reference something you have written elsewhere online… “In my recent article on ant control I showed how statistical evaluation of treatments..”

You can also have them drop in easy links under a bio that lead to Find Bulwark on twitter, Follow Bulwark on Facebook: http://facebook.com/bulwarkpestcontrol Read Bulwark’s Blog

These are just a few thoughts on how to get valid links through interviewing or blogging. But don’t over do your linking. If you submit an article to me as a guest blog post with as many self promoting links as what are in this article then I’d reject your article submission. I think 1-2 selfish links per article is permissible. More links are acceptable if they are not self serving. So if you want to load up a few more links then link to your friends.

English: Bulwark Exterminating

Image via Wikipedia

Want to guest post? Then contact me: @Thos003

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So I am enjoying my Search Marketing Expo experience giving a few tidbits on local search seo and customer experience and I find this…

Spot lights to bring in new customers.

Spot lights to drive out current customers.

If you didn’t catch it, the spot light brought in to attract more customers to this San Jose hotel was spot lighting the windows of it’s guests. The reason I noticed the windows was because a guy in one of these rooms was standing with curtains open and arms spread out wide. While this is one extreme example of marketing efforts that piss off customers, I believe that this happens on a regular bases. Have you ever seen a company offer a promo for a cheaper price for new customers? What about the guys that have been paying you for 5 years? Or what about lavish spending? There are a number of cases when marketing screws up perception. In this particular case, it wasn’t just percetpion but a direct customer satisfaction conflict. Marketers listen up, customer service is not it’s own silo!

Marketing is actually most often the beginning of customer service. The marketing message sets expectations. Customer service is based on expectations. Customer service is often tasked with being the ears of an organization, and marketing the mouth. In conversation marketing these should be used sysyncly.

DON’T SEPARATE MARKETING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Today was to be the internet blackout day in protest of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). Mike Halvorsen named some big names in his blog post on those that were going to protest: http://michaelhalvorsen.com/2012/01/google-amazon-facebook-twitter-shutting-day-protest-sopa/

Among those names were Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Ebay. None of these have actually closed their sites for the day, but a few are voicing some protest on their site. Other big name websites, like WordPress, Reddit, and Wikipedia have stepped up to the plate. Here are screen shots of websites protesting the “Stop Online Piracy Act”.

WordPress

I actually found WordPress.com to have the more unique and creative protests. Imagine how many wordpress blogs could be in danger of SOPA regulations. In fact, this entire blog could be shut down for even using a screen shot of the wordpress homepage. Clearly wordpress has not blacked out their entire site due to SOPA, as this is a wordpress.com blog, and I am personally grateful they did not.

WordPress.org also strikes in opposition of SOPA. Although at the bottom of the page you can find a link back to the old wordpress.org page.

Amazon

Amazon Protest

Screen Shot of Amazon Homepage 1-18-2012

In case you missed Amazon’s protesting efforts…

So look again and you will see a small box in the top right hand corner labeled “Reasons to oppose or modify SOPA.” Amazon is walking a fine line here as many authors may have reasons to support SOPA.

Google

Google Homepage SOPA Protest

No doodle from Google in protest of SOPA. The google logo still appears on the google maps vertical, but does not appear in google’s other vertical searches. The link on google’s home page takes you to their page dedicated to protesting the movement and includes the following nifty PDF. < click the image to download it >

Surprisingly YouTube shows nothing in opposition of SOPA.

Wikipedia – Biggest Protester

Homepage of Wikipedia in Protest to SOPA - 1/17/2012

Very compelling message by Wikipedia, a site built upon FREE information. They also implement a great call to action to help push phone calls to “your representatives.” Their goal is to melt Washington D.C. phone lines. Worthy attempt. Although wikipedia did not have a complete blackout, and they are employing a rather sneaky redirect. Although I assume that Google will most likely ignore this black hat tactic. You will notice that the above page loads first then the redirect loads on top of that page. My guess is that Wikipedia understands the damage that could occur to their SEO should they show the search engines a bunch of duplicate content and/or pages down. And if you really need Wikipedia to do your homework then try http://simple.wikipedia.org.

Other Notable Protesting Websites

Mozilla‘s home page:

Mozilla’s blog mentions the protest but their blog and all other internal pages are still live.

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Reddit‘s Entire Website for 12 hours:

This includes all of Reddit’s internal pages.

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Wired.com is censored in protest of SOPA

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Pinterest.com, upon login gives the following message and screen shot in protest.

Only visible upon login.

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Slickdeals.net adds a notice on their homepage.

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Congress Woman @RepAnnaEshoo of California is protesting on her site:

Anna Eshoo represents California’s 14th Congressional District–the heart of Silicon Valley. She is Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

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Craigslist.org is also adding a protest to their local directories, but with a link to click on through.

Image from Craig's List Phoenix AZ

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Slashdot.org marks through their logo and posts two articles at the top of their page explaining SOPA.

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Fark.com Homepage Support for SOPA

Watch Why You should Support SOPA Video. Farks deeper pages are all still active. And instead of a blackout they went with a white-out.

Non Protesting Sites as of Today:

Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Ebay have nothing on their homepages in opposition of SOPA. Bing announced it’s protest, but nothing on Bing shows them as protesting. And while Godaddy was once listed as a supporter, they have nothing on their website going either way.

Perhaps it’s because the bill is nearly dead at this time, but with the exception of Wikipedia and Reddit, I feel that the protesting websites have failed to actually “BLACK OUT”, and their protests are weak. As a business, I can understand the actual costs involved in shutting down for a day. Google would loose millions if it closed it’s doors for one day. Wikipedia has the luxury of being a Non-Profit, so no money will be lost. As for Godaddy, they are smart for staying out of the political heat.

Feel free to add any additional sites in protest to the comments below.

Enhanced by ZemantaAnd that is a day in online protest, from your local pest control guy, at Bulwark Exterminating.

It all started with a little success from a place called Groupon.

Groupon raked in huge coupon marketing success. Google wanted to buy, Groupon said “No”. Google Offers was born. Living Social (the firstborn), Kudzu Deals, Facebook Deals, Phoenix New Times…. The list of companies trying to compete in this seemingly new and fantastic coupon space is growing… and growing… and YES AMAZON jumped on board. Here is my first email from Amazon Local, received today.

And they just assume that you want to be in on their local coupon deal email list… But you can simply unsubscribe with the link at the bottom of their email. (Doing that now)

Unsubscribe from Amazon LocalThat was pretty easy. First and Last Email from Amazon Local.

Haven’t you ever heard of Coupon Dependency?

This marketing tactic is very inciting for small businesses. It seems like a win because if you can still have a break even at 50% off then it’s worth it. Heck, if you can make a small profit as a restaurant by offering a $10 deal to get them in the door and spend more then it sounds even better. At the very least, they know that this marketing tactic is actually reaching an audience. But if you are having to double the price of your Phoenix Iron Gate to drop it down to get 75% off, then you risk loosing trust. And trust is the most valuable piece of any business.

Most marketing tactics for local businesses carry so much unknown, that small businesses can’t find that trust to take take the risk. This coupon deal produces real people. And nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. The down side… What crowd are you drawing? Are you drawing in the penny pincher, non tipper? Is that your ideal customer? Before you charge off down a road of coupon mania, you might stop and look at where that road leads. Coupons are not a complete marketing strategy.

New Facelift - Review Button, Photo Button, Best Ever Badge

New Facelift - Review Button, Photo Button, Best Ever Badge

Google Places gets some upgrades

A – Write a Review Button

The “Write a Review” button is a new feature. They have had something similar in the past, but with the advent of Hot Pot this call to action was not so clear over the past few months. In fact the second item marked A was the only call to action for a review with the previous Hot Pot facelift. It was  by far one of the most discouraging updates from a user standpoint. Trust me, being someone that works with promoting online reviews, the previous click the stars to review idea was a complete nightmare. Users could not figure out how to add reviews.  The new button is very, VERY, clear. Good job google on the new “Write a Review” Button.

Sign in to rate

Very Clear instructions Google. Kudos.

It is also complemented by a clear “Sign in to rate” button when not signed it. When signed in it mirrors the “Write a review” button.

B – Upload Photos

The upload photos button is another great addition to Google Places. The search engines value user created content. This button and these photos, in my opinion, will add another trust signal to a location. In fact, there are examples of locations ranking very well despite the outside the metro city limits disadvantages due to geo tagged photos associated with that location. You can find my uploaded photo of the Seattle Conference Center (Map Rank E as of this post). The photos are reviewed prior to approval and appearing on the places page. Hopefully this eliminates abuse and spam of photos. Yes, photo spam in google places will be attempted.

Screen Shot from Search: "Phoenix Bug Control Bulwark"

Photos are showing up in search. This just adds to all reasons that you want to claim your place page on Google, so the owners images can show up here.

 

c- Best Ever Badges

The Best Ever badge. While this isn’t entirely new I thought I would take a second to catch up on this feature. The Best Ever badge shows at that top of the places page as marked C in the first image. The badge at the top tallies up the total number of best ever badge. It also shows in the review section as in the image above. While this isn’t a game changer it does give a nice additional shout out from users. For those that willy-nilly hand out 5 star reviews, perhaps this badge might be saved for the Best Ever. In fact, we should all make an oath to only ever assign 1 best ever per category. If you promise, then add a comment now with your pledge. If you make that promise then you can read on….

Only Found in Hot Pot

How to get a BEST EVER BADGE

Hot Pot. It is an option in Hot Pot. to add a Best Ever Badge. It would actually be nice to be able to sort by Best Ever Badges, but Google places reps have told me that the sort by reviews was removed due to review spam. So I imagine that searching for services with best ever badges will not be an included feature. In the mean time, it does add a  little flare to the google places section.

The Smile and Frown Facelift-

This is a cross over from Google’s Hot Pot as well. As you can see in Google’s Hot Pot, there is a dislike like section. For a the restaurant this includes Food, Service, Atmosphere, Value. Google has added similar ratings to its Google Places reviews. So now you can like or dislike the Service. Users can like or dislike the Value. If you choose to select the smile next to Service or the smile next to Value a bolded “Liked Service” or a bolded “Liked Value” will appear at the end of your review. If you choose to select the frown next to Service or the frown next to Value a bolded “Disliked Service” or a bolded “Disliked Value” will appear at the end of your review.

Click Smiley face, get liked section.

Disliked Button - Not Smiley face

Overall, this is a good move toward improving Google Places reviews. Once a user is trained to look for the Liked/Disliked section, they can see at a glance if the value and service of a company was liked or disliked. More importantly, a Google Places user may see a pattern that is not so obvious through the traditional star rating system; perhaps a company provides great service but the value of the service is questionable due to the cost. Plus you may think a service or restaurant deserves a 5 star review while still disliking something about the company. In the image above the review for the restaurant was 5 stars, but the reviewer disliked; “Value”. With two easy clicks of the mouse, a reviewer can qualify his or her review and make it much more useful for the end user.

One con with the new Liked/Disliked button is that it is not easily seen. A suggestion might be to change the color of the text or to add a graphic depiction of their choices. In my opinion, it is important to differentiate the Liked/Disliked section from the text of the review. But they aren’t calling me for Phoenix bug control.

And the Favicon

– Yes, just giving a shout out to the new Favicon in google places. I like it. That’s all.

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Why did LinkedIN’s IPO price double yesterday? Was it because of LinkedIN’s awesome business prowess and potential earnings? It seemed from the few people I spoke to that were remotely interested in purchasing their stock that the simple reason was “It’s LinkedIN.”

What earning potential does the social media site of the business world have?
Pro Memberships and Ads. But isn’t the advertising/income potential a problem for other social media giants, say… Facebook? Granted the audience on LinkedIN is much more professional than Facebook.  Of course being a professional social media networking site doesn’t guarantee you have business savvy, like “What Price should the IPO open at?” which according to the LA Times cost them $130 million. Ooops. But don’t worry LA Times also quotes the high price at $122.70. Yet they posted a Bloomberg report with a high of $110.01. And Google reports the opening day high for LinkedIn’s IPO at $115.09.  So what are few number discrepancies…?

Back to the point at hand.

PEOPLE BOUGHT LINKEDIN PRIMARILY BECAUSE OF A NAME.

Many people bought knowing the name would push it, just so they could sell it after the initial jump.  Branding. Gotta love it.

Any other Questions?

What is LinkedIn’s Stock symbol? LNKD.

Next question. …..Just add it below.

Don’t mind me, just a pest control guy.

You know I am often amazed how effective baits are in pest control.

Fire Ant

Red Imported Fire Ant

The Fire Ant Bait

I sit in awe as fire ants emerge from an ant mound that was just disturbed by a human hand, and upon finding what smells like food, they quickly gather it in and take it down to their colony. How do they so easily forget that the hand that destroyed their peaceful rest is the hand dropping this tainted bait? Yet their swarm of furry and haste to horrid food ultimately leads to the demise of the entire strong hold. Oh little fire ant, leave the bait be.

The Harvester Ant Bait

Harvester Ant

Harvester Ant

Harvester Ants are  a bit smarter. Any bait laid directly on their mound is not trusted. They simply sweep it aside. Therefore to bait a harvester ant one must be a little more patient and not so direct. Sprinkle the bait about 6 inches from the mound. Do not disturb the mound. Let them be. Be subtle in your attack. Then patiently wait for the ants to emerge and search for food in their normal way.

Morale of the Story?

Sun Tzu says “Know the opponent and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.”

As a pest control operator, if you don’t know the opponent then you are not going to know the best way to conquer. You must also be willing to know yourself. Which means knowing your limitations and being honest enough to stop and say, “I don’t know how to win this one.” Being brazen and forward moving as if you know everything may be the quickest way to prove you know nothing. Do that publicly and you will damage your reputation. It is better to be still and move when you know what your best move is. It is best with customers to acknowledge that you might need to do a little more research and work to make sure the problem is solved properly.

Google Sponsored Tag

Houston TX was first to recieve the tags.

So I have been involved with Google tags for a little while now, since the beginning. Today Google announced that the sponsored tags for businesses would be no more.

“We’ve made a decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial.”

http://googlesmb.blogspot.com/2011/04/update-on-tags.html

Honestly I hate to see these tags go.

Google tags may not have driven hordes of traffic, but that wouldn’t be any surprise as they were so localized. The truth of the matter is that they worked well for many small businesses. The sponsored tags did eat up some of the clicks a business may have received otherwise, but they added a few more that a business wouldn’t have gotten. This is one product that I openly endorsed for Google. This was a good product for most small businesses. Granted, I may have moaned a bit when they took away the view website option, but perhaps that’s because they replaced with … “View More Google Place Pages” options. Which means more views for Google Adsense. Sadly, this move to remove Google Tags sings the same song of “What’s Best for Google?”

Pushing the Google Boost Ads

My full review for Google Boost Ads. The Pros & the Pests to Automated Local Advertising

Google Boost has a lot to offer. And Google Boost has a lot lacking. From my perspective, what it lacks most is similar to what Google’s sponsored tags lacked, CUSTOMER CARE. Or better yet, what Guy Kawasaki stated, “IF you want your customers to trust you then you need to trust your customers.” There is a serious problem when a paying customer following Google’s guidelines gets a “Place no longer exists.” branded below a business name, simply because their trusted anonymous user says it to be so. And there are a myriad of other issues that Google’s local search team is also suffering much of it seems to stem from a trust factor and or customer care perspective. But…. Google’s local search is still the best out there! Heck, Bing isn’t even taking reviews right now. Plus Bing’s maps are horrible for embedding.

So here is my biggest complaint, Google wants to get rid of an nice entry level platform for Local businesses, the Sponsored tags. In it’s place they want to push, Google Boost. The reason this doesn’t look good is because the customer care part still doesn’t exist. But it looks even worse because the song I am hearing from Google is, “What’s going to make Google the most money? That would be Google Boost… So we have decided that Boost is what’s best for our customers.” “We know what’s best for you?” “Just Trust us?” That’s a pretty big step for business owners to take. Trust is most often built with time and history. One step at a time. Anybody that would marry after a first date is considered “NUTS”. Building a business relationship is the same way.

Will Google Boost work? Is it good for local businesses?

I would like Google boost to work for local businesses. But, it’s a completely automated system. As much as I trust the auto pilot on an airplane, I still need to be reassured that their is a real pilot to correct it’s mistakes. Do the math.

But I am just your local pest control guy, so don’t mind me.

While in school pursuing my marketing degree we brushed upon the subject of coupons.  Coupons can have their place in the promotion of products and services.  However, one of the down falls is what the text book called “Coupon Dependency”.


What is Coupon Dependency?

Coupon Dependent:
A consumer whose purchase relies on a coupon or special offer.

 

Coupon dependency is when consumers associate a product or service with a coupon and will only buy with a coupon. Coupon dependency occurs typically after a consumer becomes aware of special offers received through coupons.  If the consumer perceives that these coupons are readily available then the consumer will withhold purchasing until they receive a coupon. Often times, coupon dependency, leads to a perception of lesser value than the suggested retail price. 

Case Study: Sonic Drive-In

Don’t laugh, but yes, I worked at Sonic. In fact, it was my first real job. I even car hopped on roller skates.  When I worked at Sonic, we would equip every tray with a coupon. One of Sonic’s regular coupons on that tray was a buy-one-get-one-free Burger.  In fact, there is even a permanent BOGO Burger button on Sonic registers. Esentially 50% off retail. Sonic used these coupons for years. While working there I observed many individuals that would pull in and ask for a coupon sheet before ordering.  They were coupon dependant. And if no coupons were available, some of these consumers would drive away. Heavily coupon dependent. Sonic no longer offers coupons on their trays.

Coupon Woes

In today’s online marketing race, more and more brands are competing for attention. Groupon offers what no other mass media agency in the past could deliver. They offer a customer at a fixed price. A guaranteed sale. No more guessing what the ROI will be for a mass media campaign. No more playing to the numbers and eyeballing customer conversions based on the per 1000 audience reach. Groupon takes out the complexity of marketing for the average business owner.  No dice roll. A simple, you offer it at X amount, give groupon Y percent and you have a real live body for Z cost. While I am not going to argue if “Groupon’s Days are numbered“, I am going to say,  please read the fine print. As a business you are gambling with the perception of value. If you rely solely on the merits of cutting your price in half then you will soon find your profits cut in half as well.

Coupons most certainly have their place in marketing and promotion, just understand the weapon you are carrying and the potential backfire it may have.

Taco Bell is the first ever to use a promoted tweet to make an official statement about their lawsuit.

Taco Bell promoted tweet about lawsuit

Taco Bell promoted tweet about lawsuit

I arrived to work exceptionally early today.  I got my tabs and windows up and running and noticed something that looked completely normal.  Taco Bell was promoting a tweet.  Sweet!  I was hoping for a free taco.  Or, better yet, a free Nachos Bell Grande!

Turned out that this promoted tweet was much different than any other I had ever seen.  Taco Bell was using their promoted tweet to release an official company legal statement regarding a class action lawsuit from a California woman regarding the quality of their beef.  No free tacos.  No half off discounts.  Rather, a one page statement of legal jargon and adamant statements by Taco Bell’s President and Chief Concept Officer.

Should Taco Bell Promote a Tweet about their Lawsuit?

I’m not here to argue the validity or falsehoods of this lawsuit.  In all honestly, its not even going to detour me from eating there.  I love their food.  In fact, this has prompted my co-workers and I to go there later today for lunch.  And we’ll all probably check in on Foursquare from there.

To me, the debate at hand, from a marketing and public relations standpoint, is whether or not using a tool like a promoted tweet is the appropriate or effective way to issue such a statement.  This was the first I had even heard that Taco Bell was being sued over such a claim.  Would I have even found out about it had they, themselves, not pushed the issue in front of me?  When I notified my boss of the tweet and apparent lawsuit, he knew nothing either.  However, my other two co-workers did have knowledge of the lawsuit.  They had heard about it on the radio before today.

At first I thought it was an ill-advised move.  Why go around broadcasting your controversies?  And why would you pay a platform like Twitter to do so?

Then my public relations degree kicked in (Yeah! BYU, class of ’06).  The more I thought about it I have only one word:  Brilliant!  Yeah, Taco Bell is going to inform more people about the lawsuit than probably would’ve found out about it in the end, but it’s better that you be the one informing them than a bunch of angry customers, and bloggers, and Twitter users, and news achors, and Facebook updates and aspiring writers.

Just consider the speed at which Twitter and Facebook function?  It takes literally minutes for someone or something to be a national trend for all the wrong reasons.  With today’s social media boom, wrong reports and ill-speaking travels like wildfire in windy conditions.  If the history of public relations and publicity has taught us anything, it’s better to get out in front of an issue before you have to chase it down.

Still a bold move? Yes.  I had never seen anything like it.  Was it a wise, bold move?  Only time will really tell.  But for now, I say definitely.