Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reflecting on a life of change

As I work my way through my 60th year (blimey that's scary) I reflect on the changes I've seen in that time. Has this last half century and a bit seen the greatest change in the way the human race lives and works?

When I think back to my very early years, and starting at infants school as it was known then, I was part of a family that had a car and telephone - not because we were rich - simply because my father worked as a local representative for one of the Fleet Street newspaper publishers. They were the tools provided as essentials for his job. Amongst my contemporaries, those luxuries were very few indeed

Our holidays consisted of visits to relatives back in London or in Eastbourne where my Grand Parents lived. You might find this difficult to believe but, in order for us to use the car for our holiday, my Dad had to work some of the time whilst we were away to secure it's use!

I can remember one of my class mates holding us all in awe with his tales of a rare holiday to Brussels to visit the Worlds Fair. He was the only person I can recall ever having a holiday beyond the South East of England.

Dad's area that he covered included across to the Fens, Wisbech and March. That meant staying away from home for several days and neither Mum nor I had any real idea where he was or when he would be home.

The World beyond Norfolk seemed a very long way away and I didn't really know much about what it looked like, other than from books, until we bought our first television in the later part of the 50's.

I used to read the Eagle comic every week and wonder at the marvels of communication and travel that it depicted and assumed that they really were impossible, certainly in my life time.

How wrong I was.

We think nothing of travelling all the way around the world and feel deprived if we are out of contact with our friends and family, were ever they are, for even a few hours.

Have we seen the greatest ever change in humanity and it's environment?

It certainly feels like it.

Has it been for the good?

The jury is still out on that one, but my feeling, when I look back to those naive and relaxed years, is that maybe there have been as many downsides as there have been benefits.

Let's hope the next generations manage to harness the power we have at our finger tips and use it for the good of us all rather than for just selfish means.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I feel jealous.

Why? Because I spoke to a lady today who knows she is to be made redundant after many years in the public sector and is planning to start her own business when that happens in a few months.

But why should I feel jealous about that?

Most of us in business work on the 'just in time' model.

Sometimes we come up with new ideas, products or directions and they need to be actioned NOW. Maybe because financially we need to, or perhaps it's a small window of opportunity that someone else will fill if we don't act right away.

That means we have little time to make really good preparations and build the confidence building collateral our prospects might look for to justify calling us. So we wing it!

Wouldn't it be nice, just sometimes, to have the luxury of time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Do you do cold calling?

The quality (or lack of it) of cold calls I seem to be receiving lately is upsetting.

Nobody really likes to receive cold calls I'm sure, so is it not vitally important to excel in that call to make sure you get the result you are looking to achieve?

I had yet another Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company call me this afternoon.

Without introduction to who they were, they proudly told me that my website wasn't ranking a particular keyword phrase and presumably would have gone on to tell me that they could get it to number one in the Google list within a week.

They obviously hadn't done their homework as the phrase is one of the most competitive on the internet and I have only one sub-page deep in my website targeting it. So the chances of that being sustainably achievable in a short time scale without resorting illegal methods that could potentially get me removed from the index completely - are zero.

Not only that, but they had based their statement simply on the fact that I have, as a short term test at the moment, a Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign running that targets the phrase.

They didn't ask me what my business goals and plans were and how that keyphrase fitted in with them, nor had they looked at my website to understand what I was really about.

You might get a good idea of how that call ended today. I should have offered to mentor their sales staff perhaps, but I didn't get their company name and when I called 1471 the number had been withheld, surprise, surprise!

I'm occasionally asked to run call campaigns on behalf of my clients, often targeting very high powered individuals within global industries who have an even shorter fuse than me! But I get through and get the job done because I take the time to research and find out what they are up to and what they really need.

Every business needs to do some cold calling at some point and if it's going to be successful it needs care and thought to get good results.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't make it difficult for your website visitors

Tolerance levels are low. Patience is short. Not accepting that in our prospects can ruin the chances of a sale.

This morning I found a great system to help people with their web marketing. Really impressed with it, I searched around the site to see if there was an affiliate program for me to recommend it onto my contacts and clients.

Then I encountered - 'The Form'

It was lengthy and had a fair splattering of agreements that I had to agree to, which I had expected when money is involved. But, each time I tried to complete the process, it threw up messages saying that something was missing.

OK, that's reasonably normal, but what I hadn't noticed was a message in small type at the top pointing out something else I'd missed in addition to the main error it had highlighted. Not only that, but each time I had to re-accept all the agreements by ticking a bunch of boxes again.

After five attempts to say I was getting exasperated would be an understatement and just about to ditch the whole thing. It's a good job it was a damn good product otherwise I would have been long gone! I do wonder how many potential affiliates they lose?

It strikes me that they hadn't asked someone outside of the business to fill in the form as a test. If they had, it surely would have come to light.

Do you have a form or your site? Have you really looked at the messages that appear if something goes wrong? What about the page that they get taken to once completed? Is it clear what will happen next? Is it clear that the process has been successful?

Website visitors COST MONEY to attract - don't throw that money away.

If you need help or advice on your website marketing contact me via my website here: