Thursday, January 31, 2013

Owners Manual as Sales and Marketing Opportunity

Since practically nobody's doing it, promoting your product in the Owners, Users, Operation, or Instruction Manual can be an easy way to gain competitive avantage.

Use your Owners Manual to boost customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, repeat purchases, upsell, cross-sell, and word of mouth advertising from happy fans.

Owners Manuals, almost without exception, miss a terrific opportunity to increase sales and overcome buyer's remorse. Right after the purchase of an expensive item, many people have second thoughts, feel anxiety and guilt, and question the wisdom of their investment.

Most owners manuals, almost all that I have seen, start off with Precautions, Warnings, and Disclaimers. Then they proceed into the nuts and bolts of setting up the gadget. They tend to end with Safety Statements, Copyright Information, and Service Announcements.

None of which inspire much confidence or joy in the purchased product.

Owners Manuals, User Guides, and Operating Instructions should start with a Congratulations message that reminds customers of what a smart decision they made. Listing the benefits of the product and what distinguishes it from the competition. Reminding the customer as to the good reasons for owning the product.

Give the customer bragging rights talking points, which can lead to word of mouth promotions and increased sales.

Here is the most fantastic opportunity for sales and marketing messaging.

The customer is excited. You've got them in the palm of your hand. They are unwrapping and unboxing the product like it was a Christmas gift. They can't wait to feel the product, get it going, do something with it, and  experience the thrill of the new.

Customer enthusiasm and delight are at the highest pitch that they will probably ever be, unless the product keeps wowing them into a feverish ecstasy as they use it to solve problems, meet needs, or enhance a lifestyle.

So you'd expect companies to use this period of infatuation to drive home the sales message, reinforce the marketing, and beef up the customer retention values. But how often does this happen? Almost never.

Here we are again, on the territory of Customer Relations, the worst aspect of almost every business in America. Very rarely does any company act like they sincerely value the customer. They seem more interested in kicking you to the curb, once they've got your cash, and rushing on to the next sucker.

If you manufacture or market a product, keep in mind this golden opportunity to secure a competitive advantage.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Social Media Errors of Corporate Status Quo

The ZDNet article "2013 predictions for enterprise social media" got me thinking about the recurrent issues of social media vs. business enterprise status quo. 

What business enterprises still need to grasp is that social media marketing is about sharing and caring, not relentless sales hype and leveraging of brand promotions. 

"How can we get our message out there?" must be replaced with:

"How can we share our expertise, even when its not directly related to product sales, to help people solve problems, so that we can become Top of Mind Choice in our field?" 

Social media is your chance to be different, to alter the perception of corporations being haughty, uncaring, and interested only in profit, not people. Don't blow it by perpetuating the negative perceptions and seeking to squeeze maximum revenue out of social media participants. 

Treat people decently, enable them to solve problems, act like a normal human being, and increased sales revenue will follow. 

There is generally no real need to be spread out on every social media network, until you have a "dark social" that is murky and nebulous. Pick out a few priority social networks (eg, Facebook, GooglePlus Local, YouTube, Pinterest) and work those until you master them and are getting good ROI. 

Social media marketing must be aligned with SEO and web usability/content considerations, or it's just a waste of time.

Sharing expertise, providing insights and how to tips, and interacting with other participants are the guideposts for any company's social media strategy, and this is also where most companies fail miserably. 

Colossal error is to split off the social media as a separate culture. Social media must actually modify or revolutionize the entire corporation, not be a side project that smiles at customers, while the corporate culture remains aloof, arrogant, smug, and greedy. 

To do social media marketing effectively is to focus the entire corporation and all its activities on customer relations, customer loyalty, and brand differentiation. 

From the CEO on down, all employees must be caring and sharing, generous with expertise, practicing extreme altruism, amplify sincere friendliness and genuine compassion toward customers. 

To just "do social media" but not let social interactions reform and modify corporate operations and marketing in general is a huge mistake. 

You can't fake it in social media. You can't treat social media as just another one-way broadcast advertising media, or as populated by passive marketing targets to exploit.

ALSO SEE my article in InterBusiness Issues "10 Tips on Customer Service: Achilles Heel of American Business".

Saturday, January 26, 2013

SEO Gurus Chasing Google Algorithm Changes

SEO gurus have a system by which they chase search engine algorithm changes (recipes or formulas for determining the value of a website to human users). They stay up late at night, trying to adapt a website's tags and text to accommodate the constant fluctuations. 

SEO Moz lists the Google algorithm changes in a timeline.

Sure, you can hire specialists and buy analytics tools to chase the elusive search engine algorithms. But the algorithm changes are largely due to SEO gurus attempting to game the system. They seek to trick search engine spiders into valuing a website higher than its real value to human users.

SEO gurus invent a new gimmick, then other SEO practitioners imitate it, then Google catches onto the ploy, and changes the algorithm. Then the SEO gurus and webmasters panic, hurrying to adjust the tags and text, etc. so that Google won't penalize or blacklist a website for being spammy or black hat.

Algorithm updates have names, similar to hurricanes:

Panda, Penguin, Venice, Knowledge Graph Expansion, Page Layout, 7-Result SERPs, Query Encryption, Pagination Elements,, Google +, Panda/Farmer, Attribution, Penalty, Social Signals, Negative Reviews, Instant Previews, Brand Update, Caffeine, Rel-canonical Tag, Vince, Google Suggest, Dewey, Buffy, Universal Search, Big Daddy, Jagger, Gilligan, Bourbon, Allegra, Brandy, Austin, Florida, Fritz, Esmerelda, Dominic, Cassandra, Boston.

If you write a website so that it is speaking naturally, in human language to human visitors, you'll have great SEO. By using synonyms, multimedia, and frequent content updates (news, blog, products, etc.), you'll have a website that Google will favor.

Ignore those emails from SEO companies that want to charge you big money to perform their SEO magic tricks on your website. 

You'd be a lot better off hiring a web content developer to provide you with well-written website text, with naturally occurring keywords, and web pages that are productive, not stagnant.

Even the SEO gurus agree: high quality content is becoming far more important than link building and esoteric SEO gimmicks.

The Law of SEO is this: Google wants to show search engine users the best web pages for the key words and phrases they use to find the information they need.

Thus, you need to have superior content. You need a good writer who can present your products, the problems your products solve, and your corporate expertise in a way that is complete, compelling and original.

Curating content, copying and pasting content, scraping content from other websites, plagiarizing and slightly modifying content of others -- all these techniques are despised by Google.

Google will eventually penalize your website, demote it SERPs (search engine results pages), or de-index your website for such foolish acts.

Your website needs fresh, frequently updated, professionally written content.

Websites must be designed and written to provide a satisfying user experience. Speak to your audience, fans, and customers like a normal, caring, sincere human being.

Use relevant key words and phrases. Not in the manner of an SEO sharpie, but like you would ordinarily talk in a seminar or a book you authored.

Keep your website aimed at real users and typical customers, and the search engines will love it, boosting your website higher and higher in search engine results pages.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

$1 Million Luvaglio Laptop Computer?

Since I bought a new Asus Windows 7 Pro notebook computer today, I started wondering what was the most expensive laptop available.

At the BestBuy website, a Lenovo - 15.6" ThinkPad Notebook - 16 GB Memory - 500 GB Hard Drive at about $3,000 appears to be the priciest.

How about the most expensive laptop in the whole world?

Luvaglio is the mythical $1 million laptop. 

I say "mythical" because it seems to be a hoax or perhaps a scam. 

The websites discussing it are poorly written, with loads of grammatical mistakes, like a sloppy spam site. Reviewers since about 2007 have been talking about it, nobody seems to have actually seen or used one, and the manufacturer in England is reclusive and nearly impossible to reach.

For example, check out this awkwardly composed description of the Luvaglio $1 million laptop.

(NOTE: I will not link to any of the sites that mention this laptop, as they may be malicious and harmful to your computer. It's odd that searching the keyphrase "most expensive laptop computers" on Google turns up tons of junk websites, most of which I refuse to even visit. I am not sure why this is so.)


Luvaglio is the top one expensive laptop in 2012. The actual cost of this laptop is approximately $1 million. The outer structural body of the laptop is quite impressive and gorgeous and this designing surely made it the costly ones as well.

Now after viewing the value you would might be thinking that what so special about this laptop? Well this laptop is covered with an LED screen that is 17 inches long. It is filled with such a reflexive system that makes the images even brighter and glowing. It has capacity of storing up to 128 GB items and applications it.

On the power button a diamond has been placed that can also be utilized as for the security purposes as well. This facility makes this laptop as the most desirable and yet the favorite ones among the people.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Narrow Web Text Columns and Paragraph Breaks

An issue that comes up frequently is the width of text fields for blogs and websites. Many websites and blogs spread the text across the computer screen, forcing your head to swivel from left to right and back again as you read the page.

However, website and blog design admin panels (content management systems) enable you to adjust the width of text columns and sidebars, so there's no reason to present your content in a hard to read format.

There's a reason why newspapers and magazines use narrow columns for articles. Narrow columns, and short paragraphs, are much easier to read. In fact, when text spans too wide across the page, your eyes can get lost when moving from line to line.

It's even more important for online text to be formatted for easy reading. Web users do NOT read web text like they read newspapers, novels, magazines, and other print documents. Web users tend to skim and scan, skipping over things that are not relevant to their specific, immediate need.

A good website helps users ignore most of the content. That's right. Ignore. Why? Isn't every word precious, carved in gold, pure genius? You'd like to think so, but web page text is worthless to the user, if it does not deal with the question on their mind, the exact information that is urgently needed at that moment.

Very rarely do web users wish to consume everything on a website. 

That typically occurs only when a user knows nothing and needs to quickly get up to speed on a topic. Even then, they won't find everything valuable during any given session of reading. They may come back to read more later, but generally they have specific information they need to find on each visit to a website.

You'll notice how Facebook does this. The column of status update text is narrow, approximately 83 characters wide when typing in your post. The published message is about 68 characters wide, which is around 12 to 18 words.

If you write an essay and make it stretch across the computer screen, with no paragraph breaks, just a big dense block of text, very few people will read it. But if you bust that text up into bite-sized chunks, with paragraph breaks and narrow text column, people will read very long articles.

There are many other differences between web text and print text. As you gain an understanding of how reading on the web, and mobile devices, have some unique characteristics, you'll increase web traffic to your site, increase sales and audience interactions, and accomplish more business goals.

Friday, January 18, 2013

QR Code Business Card

My new business card will contain only my name, expertise, phone number, email address, and the QR code shown above, which links to my LinkedIn page.

Steven E. Streight
Internet Marketing & Web Content Development
(309) 686-7102
steven [dot] streight [at] gmail [dot] com

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Million Facebook Likes SCAM

You see new ones daily. Scams that plead with you to make their personal cause go viral. Frequently they guilt trip you. 

"If you hate cancer, click Like and Share this on your own wall. If you are apathetic, keep on scrolling." 

Often they set a goal of how many Likes and Shares will make something happen. 

"If my sister and I get one million likes, our dad will get us a puppy." 

"If I get one million likes, my wife will stop cheating on me with my best friend." 

Or they will tell you to click Like, Share the post to your own wall, and type in the number 3, and watch the image change in a hilarious way. You obey. The image does not change. You've been scammed again. 

It seems so innocent. How could this be a scam? It's a good cause. The kids who want a puppy are so cute. How dare anybody wreck the fun? Why be so critical? 

I'll tell you why: it's all about gaming the Facebook Edgerank algorithm. Spammers are tugging on your heartstrings to trick you into clicking Like and Share, so they spread their message. 

It's not that the message is necessarily wrong or evil. It's the fact that they are using these messages and images to boost their own popularity and thereby have more people to spam or hit with rogue apps that could cause great harm to you. 

Edgerank. The mysterious formula that Facebook uses to value a status update and the profile from which it originated. The better your Edgerank score, the more Facebook will push your wall posts, the more people will see your posts in their news feed. 

This is the secret behind these seemingly innocent and benevolent posts. 

"I'm sure most of you will just keep scrolling and ignore this. But those who love kids with autism, please click Like and Share this to your wall, to show your support." There's a photo of an allegedly autistic child. How could you not click Like and Share? 

"I'm doing an experiment to see who reads my posts and really cares about what I have to say. If you are a real friend, click like, write a one word comment on how we met, then post this message on your own wall for one hour." 

Now, some people copy and paste these messages, thinking they're a good idea, and there's no harm in it. They really do love autistic kids, hate cancer, and want to know who is enjoying their FB posts. 

But they are unknowingly using a spam technique, and they are also perpetrating the acceptance of such messages by bad people who are spamming, distributing malware, pushing rogue apps, committing identity theft, etc. 

STOP falling for this. STOP clicking Like and Share on these posts. STOP copying and pasting these messages. Even though you have good intentions, you are playing into the hands of spammers and other malicious schemes.


Daylan Does "Facebook Like Scams

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Facebook Graph Search - of dubious value

I don't think the new Facebook Graph Search will be of much value to me. 

I don't care to search on things that I or others have clicked Like on. What I want to search on Facebook is my own content, to track down certain articles I've posted, that are now buried and require laborious scrolling to find.

I don't see any value to searching things like "music liked by people who like Jody Foster and Lance Armstrong". There may be some value to connections and combinations of Likes, but I'm not interested in what anybody else likes, as I value my own judgments over those of my peers.

If I'm in a strange town, I don't see any benefit to searching "restaurants in New Orleans liked by my Facebook friends". Who says they're an authority on fine dining? Maybe they prefer fast junk food, while I myself want to eat at organic health food restaurants whenever possible.

This whole orientation toward discovering what celebrities or friends like, and then imitating them, seems to be based on a conformist, insecure, dependent, easily influenced mindset.

To base search on quantity of Likes is one form of value, but I much prefer the Google search logic of links. It's easy to click on Like just to be nice, but when you link to a web object, it implies a far more serious and deeper commitment to the object.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Rogue Apps and Social Media Malware

Protect your accounts from all the schemes proliferating on the Internet today.

Social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, have pitfalls for the inexperienced, the naive, and those who are too trusting. 

You can click one link in a message and get locked out of your own account, while a hacker spams all your friends with messages that look like they're coming from you. In the worst-case scenario, you can end up a victim of identity theft.

Let me share a recent episode in my ongoing campaign to expose internet fraud and criminal online behavior.

READ MORE -- my article on InterBusiness Issues magazine:

Friday, January 4, 2013

SEO Tools for Professionals

SEO tools can help with analyzing websites for competitive advantage. The best SEO tools are those that remain within the white hat realm of ethical, Google-compliant practices. 

The best place to start understanding SEO (search engine optimization) is at:

SEO at Google Webmaster Tools

Google-Friendly Sites at Google Webmaster Tools

Webmaster Guidelines at Google Webmaster Tools

Link Building (Link Schemes) at Google Webmaster Tools

Canonicalization (Setting a URL as the Preferred Version of a Content Page) at Google Webmaster Tools

Google provides authoritative, official information these and many other SEO topics.

Google Analytics can track activity on your site in a wide range of metrics and it's free.

Once you understand Google's viewpoint on a wide range of SEO issues, you're ready to investigate SEO tools and tool suites for managing SEO for your own website or those of clients.

You can also learn a lot from SEO podcasts, such as are found on My favorite shows there are SEO 101 and Webcology.

Here are some recommended SEO tools you can look into and decide if they're a good fit for what you're doing.

(1) Majestic SEO - Claims to have the largest database of how websites are linked to each other. Site Explorer, Keyword Checker, Link Profile Fight, Backlink HIstory, Bulk Backlink Checker, Clique Checker, Majestic Million, Comparator, Neighborhood Checker.

(2) Raven Tools - Suite of internet marketing tools. SEO, Social Media, PPC (pay per click), Metrics.

(3) ebrandz - Internet marketing tools. SEO, PPC, Social Media, Conversion Rate Optimization.

(4) SEObook has a set of free and paid SEO tools.

(5) SEO Power Suite offers Rank Tracker, Website Auditor, SEO Spyglass, and Link Assistant. Some SEO gurus advise practitioners to avoid Link Assistant as it has allegedly sparked accusations of URL harvesting and spamming. It's a tool that identifies potential link exchanges, but Google doesn't like too many reciprocal links.

(6) Optify provides digital marketing tools for leads management and more.

(7) Authority Labs - White label SEO tools that you can resell to your clients. Check out the Authority Labs blog.

(8) SEOmoz has a suite of tools that includes Campaign Manager, Followerwonk, Link Analysis, On Page Analysis, Rank Tracking, Crawl Test, SEO Toolbar, Keyword Analysis, Mozscape API.

Also see Search Engine Land "Enterprise SEO Tools: The Marketer's Guide", for HTML code to help your website's structured data and databases communicate with search engine spiders, and W3C Validator to check your website's compliance with established web standards.

StepForth Web Marketing "Red Zee Top3 Promotions Review".

Marketing Land "Return of the Google Dance".

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Definitions of the Many Types of Snow

Lately I've been hearing weather reporters speak of "snow showers". To me, a shower means rain, not snow. So I looked up online the different types of snow, as meteorologists talk about it.

Snow comes in a wide variety of forms -- snowfall, snow flurries, thunder-snow, snow showers, snow banners, snow squalls, snow blizzards, snow spouts, snow garlands, snow grains, snow rollers, lake-effect snow, snow hurricanes, and snow storms.

* The term snow storm can describe a heavy snowfall, while a blizzard involves snow and wind, obscuring visibility. Snow shower is a term for an intermittent snowfall, while flurry is used for very light, brief snowfalls. -- Wikipedia

* Snow Roller = The product of moist, cohesive snow that when initiated by wind rolls across the landscape, gathering snow until it can no longer move. It is shaped like a rolled sleeping bag, some reaching four feet across and seven feet in diameter. --

* Snow Banner = A plume of snow blown off a mountain crest, resembling smoke blowing from a volcano. --

* Snow Garland = Snow appearing as a beautiful long thick rope draped on trees, fences and other objects. Formed by the surface tension of thin films of water bonding individual snow crystals. --

* Snow Grains = Frozen precipitation in the form of very small, white, opaque grains of ice. The solid equivalent of drizzle. It is reported as "SG" in an observation and on the METAR. -- Weather. com

* Snow Spout (Snow Devil) = A small, rotating wind that picks up loose snow instead of dirt (like a dust devil) or water (like a waterspout). Formed mechanically by the convergence of local air currents. --

* Snow Squall = a heavy snow shower accompanied by strong winds. -- Ask Yahoo

* Snow Pellets (Soft Hail) = Frozen precipitation in the form of white, round or conical opaque grains of ice. Their diameter ranges from 0.08 to 0.2 inch (2 to 5 mm). They are easily crushed and generally break up after rebounding from a hard surface, unlike hail. Sometimes it is called small or soft hail. It is reported as "GS" in an observation and on the METAR. --

* Snow Shower = Intermittent snow falling from a convective cloud. --

* Snow Shower: short duration of light to moderate snowfall. Snow showers are characterized by their sudden beginnings and endings -- they're finite. They usually leave snow on the ground, but not always. Also, snow showers come from cumuliform clouds, as opposed to stratiform clouds. -- Ask Yahoo

* Snow Shower = snow system leading to an accumulation of snow between 1 to 3 inches. A snow shower brings more snow than a flurry, but less than a snow storm or a blizzard. - Wordnik

* Thunder-snow = Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, is an extremely rare kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone. Thermodynamically, it is not different from any other type of thunderstorms but the top of the cumulonimbus are usually quite low. As well as snow, graupel, or more rarely hail also commonly falls. -- Wikipedia

* Lake-effect Snow = Snow produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, providing energy and picking up water vapor, which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores. The same effect over bodies of salt water also occurs (e.g. ocean-effect snow, bay-effect snow). The effect is enhanced when the moving air mass is uplifted by the orographic influence of higher elevations on the downwind shores. This uplifting can produce narrow but very intense bands of precipitation, which deposit at a rate of many inches of snow each hour, often resulting in copious snowfall totals. The areas affected by lake-effect snow are called snowbelts. -- Wikipedia

* Snow Hurricane (Snowicane) = A hurricane that brings large amounts of snow, instead of rain.

Here are two bonus precipitation definitions that are not quite "snow":

* Frozen Dew = When liquid dew changes into tiny beads of ice. The change occurs after dew formation and then the temperature falls below freezing. -- National Weather Center

* Sea Smoke (Arctic Steam Fog) = a cloud over the sea, which could otherwise be called fog, and is usually formed when very cold air moves over warmer water. The physics are in principle similar to lake-effect snow. -- Wikipedia

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