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6 Important Things I Learned at the Grow Smart Business Conference

by Monika Jansen on November 9, 2010

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What a fabulous conference the Washington Business Journal and Network Solutions organized this past Friday!  Bases on the 14 ½ pages of notes I scribbled in my trusty little notebook, I think it’s fair to say that the speakers were really amazing.  I learned an incredible amount—and the networking opportunities were par none (I even have a couple of leads on projects for my own business!).

My only disappointment: I couldn’t attend every session, as there were 4 tracks (Marketing, Small Business Finance, Technology, and Entrepreneurship) with 4 sessions each; the sessions took place concurrently.  I attended 3 marketing sessions and 1 technology session.

Here are the top 6 things I learned at the conference:

Marketing is the new customer service. Author and speaker Barry Moltz started out his funny and engaging presentation by saying there is a general culture of bad customer service in this country.  Any of us who have had to deal with a cable company can enthusiastically agree with this!  He went on to say, “In a world with no boundaries, the only sustainable competitive advantage is excellent customer service.”

Supercharge your website’s SEO by including long tail search terms. During the session on Stories, Content, and the Search Engine Sword Over Your Head, both Liana Evans, CEO of LiBeck Integrated Marketing, and Deborah Ager, principal of ClickWisdom, LLC, talked about the importance of long tail search terms in getting found by search engines.  (Long tail search terms refer to more descriptive search terms like “warm waterproof hiking boots” rather than just “hiking boots”.)  The larger your website, the more opportunity you will have to include long tail search terms.  To ensure your site includes appropriate keywords, try using Scribe, a powerful search engine plug-in.

Optimize your videos, podcasts, and blog posts for search. We all know that videos and podcasts are awesome for search engine results.  But I did not know that you need to include a transcript, so thank you again to Liana Evans and Deborah Ager for sharing this!  It does make sense, though: search engines can’t “read” video or audio.  Also, be sure the url of your blog post is the title of the blog post rather than numbers, as numbers mean nothing to search engines.

Visit business app libraries. Let someone else vet business-related

Ramon Ray Speaks Enthusiastically About Outsourcing

mobile apps for you to save you time, frustration, and money.  AT&T houses a sort-of app library called the Small Business Application Recommender Tool that is full of apps they have found to be useful for small business owners.

Convert browsers to buyers by offering useful content. Want to turn your web visitors into leads?  Give potential customers a really good reason to get in touch with you.  Place calls to action on every page of your site that offer a consultation, educational materials, and/or, as Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, put it, “your best stuff”.   In order for them to get this information, though, be sure you have them fill out a form to obtain their name and email.

Outsource! Ramon Ray, editor of smallbiztechnology.com, offered really useful technology tips during his short, but extremely energetic presentation, on 6 Rules for Tech Success.  My favorite: Leverage the expertise of others to grow your business.  If you do everything yourself, you will spend a lot of time and energy working on projects that you are not good at or solving problems you are not qualified or experienced to solve.  Let someone else who is good at it do it!

Image Credit: GrowSmartBiz conference Sponsored by Washington Biz Journal and Network Solutions goo.gl/nakf9 (cc) Shashi Bellamkonda www.shashi.name Social Media Swami Network Solutions

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