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Posts Tagged ‘michael dougherty’


All Good Things Must Come To An End…For Now

December 31st, 2009 ::

In his post “Going, Going, Gone Social in 2009”, Joe Loong started with  “The end of the year is as good of a time as any to look back at what you’ve done, and this is triply true for bloggers.” I can say with full certainty that he’s absolutely right.

As I look back on my 2009, mainly on blogging for Network Solutions, it is with a bit of a heavy heart that this is my last post with GrowSmartBusiness, and for blogging for Network Solutions as a whole. It’s not for a lack of want on my part, but my focus is in one thousand places at once. Thanks to Shashi and Steve, I get an opportunity to explain what I mean rather than fade off into the background.

During the entirety of this last year, working with Steve, I’ve been working on a passion project that merges all of my loves (story telling, marketing, design, social media, movies, and science fiction (look…if you didn’t know I was a geek by now…)) into a great philanthropic adventure by creating a not-for-profit independent feature length film, “Browncoats: Redemption”. The focus of that film is to create fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness for, for five charities (Equality Now, Kids Need to Read, Dyslexia Foundation, the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center, and the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation) to date we have raised over six thousand dollars and brought people from all over the United States together for some amazing volunteer work. I’m proud to say Network Solutions has been behind Steve and I from the start and is one of the sponsors of the project. Their hosting package and domain help has been critical for a website about the film, browncoatsmovie.com.

Also back in June, I accepted a full time position at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as their Emerging Media Manager. This is going to give me a great opportunity to roll up my sleeves and show them the enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge of marketing, design, and social media that I talked about here. It’s a great organization and I am truly excited. I will have a lot to do, but some of the fun is that I help raise awareness of their actions, and cause, on their Twitter account @chesapeakebay and other social media avenues, as well as assisting with the technical side of their website cbf.org.

As you can imagine all of this has taken up a huge amount of my time and, more than once, caused me to miss some critical deadlines with my postings here. Like I said, I’d rather make sure someone that can be a bit more diligent than I try to be greedy and just take this spot. I would rather leave a door open to come back and guest post than wait till I’ve pushed it too far and have burnt a bridge. I also know that the content here on GrowSmartBusiness is solid and will continue to grow under Steve Fisher’s watchful eye.

I hope to connect with you sometime down the road and here your thoughts on my past posts. You might have learned something new, riff off of one of my topics, or even got inspired by one of them to do something new yourself. If you would like to keep following what I’m doing, you can reach me on my website wickedjava.com, on Twitter @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

And one last thing, I am asking you to make me a promise. In 2010, do something, just one thing, you’ve all ways wanted to accomplish and see it through to the end. Regardless of what people say (please make sure it’s legal), win or loose…I can’t begin to tell you how great a feeling that is.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Once, Twice, Three Times Trackable

December 29th, 2009 ::

Whether you’re creating a marketing piece/strategy, or getting into social media, you need to be conscious of how you will measure the success, or failure, of your endeavor. Like sending a package through UPS or FedEx, you’ll want to know your items were received and arrived. It could be the amount of emails you collected, the number of page views you hoped to achieve, the amount of sales you intend to make, or any number of reasons, but you need to be conscious, as you start your efforts, that you have a way to track your leads back to its source.

There are tons of ways you could to track your efforts. You could create specific urls to direct people back to a page on your website they could only reach by that marketing piece/effort, a phone number that is only used for that marketing piece/effort, or by the number of physical bodies that show up on the scheduled day. Whatever you choose, decide on what it will be before you get started. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked people how they determined the success of their piece only to hear “We didn’t think about that until after we printed it”.

I am not suggesting, in any way, that you should throw out everything you’ve created till now if you can’t track them. If there are pieces you have that don’t have a way to be tracked, find a creative way to make them so with the resources you have at your disposal. Here are a few creative ideas:

  • Use mailing labels on your brochures/postcards to update your information.
  • Call the places you’ve placed advertising with to see if you can alter the type in the next edition.
  • Place analytics tools, like Google Analytics, on your site to see where people visiting it are going.
  • Use sites like bit.ly to shorten, and track, the website links you put out in social media.

Once you’ve got the means in place to track the items, you need to determine what success means to your project, strategy, or piece. I’m going to ask you exercise some patience when it comes to tracking your success. Overnight success or an instant explosion of interest is not, and I repeat not, likely. It will take time, but you should determine what timeframe you are comfortable with or accepting of.

A little thought on how to figure out what success will look like. Please understand that it might take a few days for people to get a hold of your effort and that you can’t factor for people who many not be interested in your effort sharing it with others. There are multiple theories of success that you could use to determine your final outcome. One theory of success is the Pareto principle, often called the 80-20 rule, states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The 1 Percent Rule is another, and Wikipedia defines it as “the 1 percent rule or the 90-9-1 principle reflects a theory that more people will lurk in a virtual community than will participate. This term is often used as a euphemism for participation inequality in the context of the Internet.”

Lastly, please don’t think I’m saying tracking your items is a quick thing to do. Tracking your efforts is a task unto itself. You’ll need to set aside some time to review your statistics and outcome as they come in. This could be day to day, month to month, or an accumulative total in a year. It’s best to take a step back and remember it’s not personal, but in these numbers you can find what works and what doesn’t.

The last thing you want to do is feel like any piece you’ve created was out there with no means for you to know it works. I hope this post has inspired some ideas of how you could begin to track the success of what is working and what doesn’t. This is me giving you a bit of permission to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, but always give each thing you choose to do a way to measure it’s success.

I would love your thoughts on today’s post here in the comments or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Eight Things to think about before you use Social Media

December 24th, 2009 ::

Every day, more and more people become aware of the possibilities, successes, and capabilities of using social media as part of their marketing strategy. Some take the time to learn how to use the tools. Some will start blindly, get frustrated, stop using, and cry of it’s a failure/waste of time. Others will create accounts on the big social media sites, be less than passively involved, and ultimately forget they have them until someone asks a question.

With the people who are looking to get started using the tools of Social media, or are in the early stages of using them, here are Eight Things to think about before you use Social Media:

  1. Will this be a marketing tool or a customer service tool? People have a wide range of reasons to start using social media for their business. Often it is to promote themselves or their business, but companies, like Comcast and Zappos, have found that Social Media can be a great tool for improving customer service/experience.
  2. Are you the best person to take this on? Speaking of Zappos, their CEO Tony Hsieh, is their voice on Twitter. Not every CEO is the best person to be the online face of the company or organization. Chris Brogan, in his post “Develop a Strong Personal Brand Online Part 1”, wrote that you should “…remember that branding isn’t playing a role. Be yourself. It will become apparent rather quickly if you’re being someone that you’re not.”  This is the same whether it is a personal or professional brand. Deciding if you, or your boss, are the right person to be on social media is hard choice to make, especially when egos are involved, but depending on how you decide to use social media could make that choice for you.
  3. Do you have people around you that can teach you? Or is there someone in your company/organization that is already passionate about social media? Like Zappos, Comcast uses social media as a customer service tool, but instead of their CEO using it their Twitter account is maintained by Frank Eliason, Senior Director for Comcast National Customer Service. Because of Frank and Tony’s efforts, there have been a lot of companies following their format and finding success, and failure, in social media.  These are just two examples, but make sure that whatever your choice that the voice you choose fits the overall tone and attitude of your company.
  4. Are you willing to listen more than you talk? A big part of making social media an effective tool for marketing/customer service is the ability to listen to what your audience has to say as much as you intend to talk. People want to be talked “to” not “at”, so make sure that you find a balance between reviewing, responding, and posting.
  5. Do you have the time to focus on social media? Social media, like any other marketing/customer service effort, will take time out of your day. But, like checking your email or attending a meeting, if you believe it to be important to the success of your business, or your personal brand, you will find the time. A rule of thumb that works well for me is, and I can’t recall where I first heard it, “If you have time to schedule and attend a meeting…you have time for social media”.
  6. What social media tools will you use? Whether it’s wiki, blog, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other avenues you could choose from, you need to decide which will be the best one for you depending on who your intended audience is. Take a little time and do some research to see just where your intended audience is, and they may not be using social media yet, to see if your choice is worth the time before you jump head first.
  7. Are you patient? Just like finding the time for social media, you need to understand that it will take time. Unless you are already a well known individual in the public eye, and being a legend in your own mind doesn’t count, then it will take time to grow your audience. You are also going to have to live with some people either not buying into your idea or talking negatively about your company, or personal brand. Don’t try to judge your success by the successes of others, but don’t throw in the towel early because it’s not doing what you think it should. You didn’t start a company just to quit did you? Treat your social media the same way.
  8. What will you determine as success? Will it be number of follower (which I don’t recommend)? Will it be how often your messages are shared? Will it be how many of your followers take an action on your behalf/request? That is really up to you, but I implore you to be realistic about your goals. Remember, you will need patience, clear intentions, and an ability to weather the storm as it comes, but success is ultimately determined by you, your efforts, and your choices.

What I can tell you is that if you are looking for a quick solution, or instant boost in sales, then social media is not for you. There, I said it. I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that no matter who you are or what you do that you should jump on the social media band wagon, but I’m sorry that’s not true. It has to make sense for you, your brand, or your company.

I would love your thoughts on this post or if there are other things you think people should keep in mind in the comments below. You can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

The Beauty of Keeping It Simple…

December 22nd, 2009 ::

In my last post “What is this ROI thing” I posted that “…marketing really comes down to the simple questions we learned in school. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.” Did I shock and offend a few people by simplifying that? More than likely I didn’t, but I have found that people who get easily offended by someone exposing the initial simplicity of something are ultimately trying to keep everyone else from knowing how simple it is as well.

There is no reason, in my opinion, that someone should just put a shingle on their door and expect customers to expect to know they are there and open. There are a laundry list of reasons that most businesses don’t make it past the two year mark and over all I see that as poor planning across the board. I have known more than my fair share of start-ups or small business owners that have forgone a marketing strategy in their first year or two because they have viewed it as too costly, confusing, or complicated. When in reality, that fear kept them from reaching a wider customer base or audience.

You need to know how you are going to get people to learn about your great new product/service/Whatchamacallit. Simply just creating the same marketing pieces that everyone has (a website, a business card, etc.) won’t have your phone ringing and email box filled with orders. I wish I could say it was that simple, but it’s not. You first need to think of those six simple questions as you go into the creation of your marketing piece/strategy.

The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How will vary depending on what you want to do. Here are some great examples of starter questions for your next marketing strategy/piece, but feel free to come up with your own:

  • Who –Who will want this? Who do we want to know about our latest product/service? Who is going to purchase our [insert item/service]? Who will carry our message for us?
  • What – What will we use to reach/tell people about? What will we use to measure who successful this is? What will separate us from all the other daily noise that our audience receives? What will we use to track it?
  • When – When will we be putting this out? When is the most effective time for us to launch this? When will use to track the success? When do we review on how well this is doing?
  • Where – Where are the people we want to reach with this? Where will be put this that people may not expect? Where will we announce the product/place/thing/event? Where do we want this to take our business?
  • Why – Why are we going to do this? Why will the audience we are trying to reach care? Why are we using X over Y? Why aren’t we using multiple opportunities for people to reach us?
  • How – How are we going to create this? How are we going to measure the success? How are we going to get this out to our chosen audience? How often are we going to try this to see if it is successful at different times of the year?

I know I’ve kept this extremely simple, but the biggest reason for that is that the resources for you to create your marketing plan are already available to you on this site. Steven Fisher wrote a great piece that I view as a strong follow up to this post, the Guide to Writing a Killer Marketing Plan.

I hope you at least come away from this post with a sense that your first marketing strategy doesn’t have to be scary or overly complicated. When you are in your first year or two of business your time is very valuable, but by asking simple questions up front you save yourself some time and be better prepared for when you hire a designer, marketing firm, or whomever to accomplish your goals.

I am interested in Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions you’ve come up with. Please leave them in the comments below or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

What is this ROI thing?

December 17th, 2009 ::

I was considering calling this post “How much effort are you willing to be put into getting what you want”, but ultimately changed my mind because I wanted the people who have asked me the question in the title to dig a little deeper. Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations about Return on Investment, almost always just called ROI, with people interested in consulting work or at my day job.  I’ve come to the conclusion that most people throw this term around without thinking about all the different possible ROI there actually is. To start us all from equal ground, let’s check out what our friend Wikipedia defines Return on Investment as:

“In finance, rate of return (ROR), also known as return on investment (ROI), rate of profit or sometimes just return, is the ratio of money gained or lost (whether realized or unrealized) on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. The amount of money gained or lost may be referred to as interest, profit/loss, gain/loss, or net income/loss. The money invested may be referred to as the asset, capital, principal, or the cost basis of the investment.”

I know a lot of people that use the term ROI for their marketing, but Wikipedia calls it Return on Marketing Investment and defines it as:

“Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) and Marketing ROI are defined as the optimization of marketing spend for the short and long term in support of the brand strategy by building a market model using valid, objective marketing metrics. Improving ROMI leads to improved marketing effectiveness, increased revenue, profit and market share for the same amount of marketing spend”

Since the same simple acronym is used for a multitude of purposes, and equations to determine it, I can see how people get confused, discouraged, or laser focused on one aspect of a larger whole. When it comes to your marketing strategy, pieces, or tactics, the ROI is going to vary with each effort. I know this may sound like an overwhelming concept, but it really isn’t as bad as it might seem.  It really breaks down to a simple statement, “Is the result worth the effort”. Is that oversimplifying it? Maybe a bit, but marketing really comes down to the simple questions we learned in school. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

I can hear the cries now, “Mike you left out the cost aspect of it.” No, I didn’t. There’s a cost to everything. Whether it’s the amount of money that’s being put out or the amount of volunteers or paid employees taking their valuable time to brainstorm, create, implement and execute the strategy or piece. That, to me, is all part of the effort. So, as I asked above, how much effort are you willing to put into getting what you want?

You can determine that with a few simple questions. What is your ultimate goal/end result? What resources will you need to accomplish the goal/end result? Is the goal/end result worth the resources used?

You can make the answer to those questions as complicated or as simple as you want. For example, “the investment of passing out six thousand invitations is worth the three hundred people who actually attend, because the people who don’t will ultimately learn more about our party/product/services when they go home, use the specific url we created for the postcard, and research it.” Or another, “the investment of having my team of employees strategize for a marketing pieces is worth it because when the piece comes to completion they will have a greater sense of ownership of it and then want to help see it succeed in getting the x number of emails/sales/donations/etc. we want it to achieve”.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

You can get a marketing genius to come in and tell you that the Return of X minus the Financial Investment of Y divided by the Time Investment of Z hours is what your ROI will be. Ultimately, it comes down to how important, or valuable, the return is to you, your organization or company, your strategy, or success of your ultimate plan of world marketing domination. So, I’ll ask you the same question I have before, but in a different way, when you sit down to decide on your next marketing piece/strategy/effort is the return worth the investment?

I would love your thoughts on what ROI means to you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Anthony Edwards Gets #SmallBizCool

December 15th, 2009 ::

This is the final installment of #SmallBizCool from BlogWorldExpo 2009 for me and one that I am most proud of. Supporing worth while charities is something I’ve always been a big fan of. And when you find that a celebrity you like feels the same way…it is something magical. Rather than go into greater detail, let’s let Anthony Edwards himself explain why charity is so important and how he sees the new media landscape changing to better help support them.

Learn more about Anthony’s chosen charity Shoe 4 Africa or you can follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyEdwards.

If you haven’t had a chance to, check out Jill Foster’s #SmallBizCool interviews over at WomenGrowBusiess. You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

Kevin Pollak Gets #SmallBizCool

December 10th, 2009 ::

It’s time for another awesome installment of #SmallBizCool from the floors of BlogWorldExpo 2009. If you haven’t had a chance to, check out Jill Foster’s #SmallBizCool interviews over at WomenGrowBusiess.

One of the most memorable moments, for me at least, was Kevin Pollak’s part of the final keynote for the Expo. His insight into how social media has changed the landscape of media is insightful. Here he talks a little about why he thinks social media is cool.

Learn more about Kevin Pollak’s show or you can follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinPollak.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

Your Marketing Needs to Have a Target…

December 8th, 2009 ::

I wanted to call this post “Does Your Audience Have a Target on Their Back”, but I didn’t want to get people concerned that I wanted you to cause pain to your intended audience. Today’s piece of Marketing Knowledge Goodness is about the pretty simple, yet often overlooked, concept when you are creating your marketing piece(s)/strategy, the Target Market (Audience).

To get a definition out of the way, Wikipedia defines Target Market as:

A ‘target market or target Audience is the market segment which a particular product is marketed to. It is often defined by age, gender and/or socio-economic grouping. Market Targeting is the process in which intended actual markets are defined, analyzed and evaluated before the final decision to enter is made.

It’s a little wordy in saying this, but basically when you create a piece or strategy you should be thinking about who you want to receive and use/buy your product or service. Unless you are buying your own products…you should be the last person you want to draw the attention of. While you may think it’s cool, interesting, pretty, or a laundry list of other things…your intended target, or audience, may not. And at the end of the day, the customer who’s listening, using, and purchasing ultimately matters more than what you think. Harsh to say it, but it’s true.

Now this can be as generic as “I want to reach plumbers in the [insert your city here] area” or as specific as “I want to reach all the housewives between the ages of 24-35 with black hair that have two children between the ages of 1-6 who like lumpy oatmeal for lunch”. Either way, you are defining who the intended target, or audience, is and going to plan your content and design around appealing to that audience. Yes you are going to miss out on a larger number of people who don’t fit that definition, but are they really the people you want? Do you really want to just be able to say, “We printed 5,000 brochures and passed them all out?” Who are you trying to impress and what are you gaining by that? Or, would you rather say, “We printed 500 brochures to [insert specific target audience] and got a greater return on our investment”.

The next thing you need to determine, after you figure out your target audience, is what return on your investment you are satisfied with and how you plan to reach that. But that, dear reader, is a post for another time.

I’ll leave you with this, I was told by a client I was consulting for that you should “ignore coming up with who your target is because if you cast the widest net you’ll catch the most fish”. While the logic in that is kind of sound, sort of, let me ask you this, do you want to catch the most fish or the best quality fish?

For me, even if that means my numbers don’t look so hot on paper, I want the best possible value for my efforts. My rule of thumb is quality over quantity.

As always, you can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

If you have been reading this far, thank you and stay wicked.

BlogCritics and Technorati's Dawn Olsen Gets #SmallBizCool

December 1st, 2009 ::

I’m really excited to bring you another #SmallBizCool, thought up by the great Jill Foster of WomenGrowBusiness, from the floor of BlogWorldExpo 2009. I met so many great people there, but I really got a great interview Entertainment Editor of BlogCritics and Technorai, Dawn Olsen. Dawn and I shared a lot of laughs, but she gave a great insight into what BlogCritics is all about and a little into what’s new with Technorati.

You can learn more about BlogCritics and Technorati at their websites and learn more about Dawn.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

Eight Things To Keep In Mind For Your Websites Search Engine Optimization

November 19th, 2009 ::

If content is King then your Search Engine Optimization efforts are your King’s Herald. The guy who is out there, once people are listening, giving out the valuable information about your King. But instead of the shiny horn and scroll of lineage, the Search Engine Optimization Herald uses text and links to allow the web crawlers, the cute name for the automated programs that source out websites and index their content in their lists.

Let me be clear, this isn’t the silver bullet that will push your website to the top page ranking. There are a lot of variables that get that there and with multiple search engines there’s more detail than can be fit in this list of eight things.

What we’re going to go over today are just a few things that will help helps search engines, like Google, be able to better index your site.

1. Title each page with your business name and section title. – Search engines use your title as the top link so it only makes sense you would have your companies name here. Don’t get too wordy and try to fill this space with extra words to try to help. You have between 60 to 70 characters (that’s letters, spaces, and symbols) so use that space wisely.

2. Use keywords on your pages that relate to that pages content. – This is where you leverage your key points in your content to, initially, draw attention to your content. You also want to take this time to also include words and two word phrases revolving around your industry and target markets.

3. Give each page a description based on the pages content. Ok, we’ve gone over the title and keywords, but the description is on more part of the sight that most people don’t keep in mind as they are looking at a search engine. By definition, this is the text that the search engines will display below the link to tell you a little about the site you are looking to find. By describing the content on that page, and a little about your company. Just like the title of your site, depending on the search engine you choose, you have roughly between 156 to 250 characters (letters, spaces, and symbols) to relay the information you want. This isn’t the place you want to get cute and fill it in with words that will boost your site. Your keywords are for that.

4. Name every image…photos and buttons. - This helps for more than search engines. This will help the disabled review your site. By namin>g the alt attribute, commonly referred to as the “alt tag”, you are giving a corresponding text title for every non-text element on your site. If this isn’t making sense, find your local web designer and they’ll go on for hours explaining it. Or you can just shoot me a message.

5.Give your site…a map- Site maps are great, because they help you organize your site as you go through the creation process, but they also provide a page of reference links for the search engines to review your site. The site map will also give viewers a place they can go where there a clean, and clear, direction to the content on your site without all the bells and whistles.

6.Breadcrumbs aren’t just for the birds. - Breadcrumb Navigation is often seen just below the header, and navigation (if it is horizontal), and just above the title of the content. It is a great way for visitors to see the path that took them to this page, but this also provides additional links, just like your site map, for the search engine web crawlers to use when indexing your site. Breadcrumb Navigation will often look like this:

Home > Main Content > Sub Content

7.Leverage free analytics tools. – There are paid analytics tools, but just if you are starting out there are tools like Google Analytics available to you simply for the time of setting up a Gmail account. This will help you determine where people are going on your site and what keywords are working for your site.

8.Remember your King. – The content of your site (the text, the links you create, and even images) help your search engine optimization as well. You may be able to get away with just a title, keywords, a description, and a single image, but you’ll get so much further making sure all of the things we talked about above are in line with the content on your website.

These are just a few efforts that you can implement early on, or even in your current website if you haven’t yet, to help make your site more appealing to web crawlers. Remember, this isn’t the silver bullet to the top page rankings, but it will help.

You can also reach me on Twitter by following me @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.