Feeling stale? Ideas are the life-blood of your business, and you can generate as many as you need on demand. Discover easy ways to generate fresh ideas which you can use today.
Feeling stale? Ideas are the life-blood of your business, and you can generate as many as you need on demand. Discover easy ways to generate fresh ideas which you can use today.
Content marketing is HOT for a simple reason. It’s cost-effective. You get an awful lot of bang for your content marketing buck.
If you’re thinking about using content for marketing, you may confine your ambitions to blogging, and Facebook pages. While there’s nothing wrong with that, consider broadening your horizons, to info products.
Blogs and social media pages have a big challenge: they’re ephemeral. You can create a wonderful, traffic-generating blog post, which gets a trickle of traffic for years. While it’s valuable, and can do a great deal for your business, it’s still just a blog post.
A book on the other hand is a book. Suddenly you’re an author. At a more humble level, a white paper or a report is a product. It’s a discrete entity. It’s not that I have anything against blog posts and the like. Heaven forbid. I’ve been blogging since 2000, and loved blogs while other businesses were still scoffing at “online journals.” A blog’s wonderful, but info products are entities.
Let’s look at creative ways you can use info products in your business.
Want to become a thought leader in your industry? Write a book. Seth Godin is the pattern card for thought leaders in marketing. The man’s a genius, no question. Authors are respected.
No time to write a book? Hire a ghostwriter, or write a white paper, report or short ebook.
You can generate income from info products in many different was:
Speaking of traffic: Google isn’t the only search engine which sends you traffic. Aside from Yahoo and Bing, consider that Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube are search engines which can send you traffic.
Podcasts and videos are popular info marketing tools for this reason: traffic.
As we’ve said, a blog post is just that. Hundreds of thousand of blog posts are created each day.
If you create an info product however, it’s something for your site visitors to download, pass around, and keep.
Info products build your brand. Produce a book, and you’re an author… an authority. Produce ebooks, or a magazine, and you’re a publisher as well as a business person.
As 2014 speeds towards us, many more businesses will use info products like magazines to publish regularly to build their brand. I love Twitter, but a tweet has a life span measured in seconds. Every info product you create builds your brand now and in the future.
We’ve mentioned Seth Godin. He’s an info product powerhouse, who understands marketing and publishing. His reputation rests on a sold foundation of books.
In the early 1990s, if you strolled into a bookshop, you saw brick-sized software manuals stacked to the ceiling. Yes, they were necessary. I can remember reading my Lotus Agenda manuals as if they were holy writ.
Those manuals were also content marketing. Businesses displayed those manuals on bookshelves.
Nowadays you don’t have to kill a forest. You can use ebooks to enhance your sales. Think about what you wish your customers knew about your products. Create a downloadable ebook to tell them.
Most products lend themselves to a workbook or two.
Selling T-shirts? Create a workbook which shows customers how to draw their own designs onto your T shirts. Then create a contest for the best designs.
In real estate? Create a workbook/ journal/ app to help your clients to move house.
Your business produces a mass of research and stats. Use that information to create white papers and reports.
Tip: get creative with this. If you can’t stand to read your own white paper, your customers won’t read it either. Use straightforward language, and don’t be boring.
Your videos and podcasts are info products. By all means upload them to YouTube. Don’t stop there however. Make the most of them by compiling them into downloads on your own website, where your customers can find them easily. Info products you create to teach your products also promote your products – and they’re info products in their own right.
Techsmith for example does an amazing job with their tutorial videos as you might expect from a software company devoted to helping their customers to create images and videos.
Here’s what I like about the way Techsmith handles its tutorials: they’re entertaining, and informative, as well as being inspiring.
So there you have it – ten creative ways to use info products in YOUR business.
Discover my info product creation service.
Google’s 15 years old, and like any teenager, it’s changing fast, and turning into an adult. A VERY smart (and somewhat scary) adult.
If you were online when Google was born (aka “the good old days”), you considered that search engines were indexing machines and relaxed. You simply went to town on keywords, and called it done. Your websites ranked, your content was found, and all was well with the world.
Happy days. Things were much simpler then.
A hummingbird is an itty bitty nectar-drinking bird with a super-fast metabolism.
Google told us the name come from being “precise and fast.”
With Hummingbird, Google brings together personalization (Google knows who you are and where you live), semantic search, and mobile search.
Tip: if your website’s not optimized for mobile devices, do that now.
Google’s always been focused on delivering fast and relevant results. Now it’s going a step further. It wants to become your personal assistant:
Personal Assistant Vs. Information Retrieval
You can clearly see where search is acting less and less as information retrieval and more as a personal assistant. Apple’s SIRI leverages semantics as well, initially using it to enable interoperability and the scheduling of services when a natural-language query is initiated. Google Now has similar functionality.
Lots to love, right? But how will Hummingbird affect your search engine traffic? No one knows, because Hummingbird isn’t just an algorithm update, it’s a completely new algorithm.
The good news is that Hummingbird was live for a month before Google announced it, so if you didn’t see a massive change in traffic, you probably won’t.
Let’s look at three things you can do to thrive with Hummingbird.
Mark Fagan, of iProspect, said:
(Hummingbird) may represent a step change in the way that SEO practitioners optimize content, since there will be less focus on the exact phrases used and more on the underlying meaning. It’s all about trying to deliver better search results for consumers, which is a good thing.
It’s vital to understand your target audience, and the intentions behind their search queries. Cut loose from keyword-focused content creation, and think of your audience’s interests and needs.
Check Google’s content guidelines too.
Does Google trust you? Google wants to know you, and the people who know you, and the people you know, so start using Google+ if you aren’t already doing so.
Here’s an excellent article on why you should be doing that:
The addition of real people to the Google search algorithm and the ability of the algorithm to learn what people really like, and want, will result in the best companies, products and services rising to the top in both search rankings and business. Competitors with poor products and services will fade way regardless of size. This is not something that can be fixed by throwing money at it.
Chris Kilbourn wrote about SEO in the age of Hummingbird:
So what does all this add up to?
If you don’t want to spend your time following Matt Cutts around like a lost puppy, then here’s what it boils down to: DO create great content for real people and DON’T try to trick them. OK?
In summary, if Hummingbird works as it should, you don’t need to worry about anything other than running a great business, and promoting it well, both online and offline.
While it can be a revenue generator for some businesses, that’s only one reason you should engage and and build a presence there.
Here’s the most important reason: as we’ve said, Twitter is a real-time social network. If you ever need to get the news out right now, you’ll be glad you’ve got a global megaphone.
If you Google “twitter saved lives” you’ll discover that Twitter’s been used effectively in many different kinds of social emergency. While we hope that none of us ever need to use Twitter in a life-threatening situation, it can happen.
What about a business emergency? Here’s a proviso:
While Twitter has had remarkable results in times of crisis, companies that jump in just when an emergency is breaking have joined too late. Their customers don’t know they are there.
Let’s look at five tips which will help you to fall in love with Twitter. The more you use it, the more effective you’ll find it.
If your first reaction to Twitter is “huh?” don’t worry about it. Everyone feels the same way at first. The easiest way to get started is to import those of your contacts who have Twitter accounts. Twitter itself has some useful “get started” tips.
Start tweeting. You can tweet news, tips, quotes, fun information, images, videos… anything you like.
Check your competitors’ Twitter feeds. What are they tweeting about?
Over a few days, as you use Twitter, you’ll begin to see patterns, and will develop your own ways of using it.
Thanking people is easy to do, and it’s appreciated as much on Twitter as it is everywhere else.
Thank fellow users for tweets which you find helpful, for retweets, for mentioning you, and for fun tweets. Mentioning someone (@username) means that they will see your mention if they’re following you.
You can search Twitter via the search field at the top of your Twitter page, and also via Advanced search. Here’s Twitter’s list of Advanced search operators.
Search on keywords relevant to your business. Follow useful accounts, and favorite and retweet tweets.
Share entertaining, as well as informative material. Inspire your followers with quotes, and images.
Twitter lists are powerful: you can form your own groups, either public or private. These groups can consist of anyone you choose, even if you don’t follow their account.
You can create lists for customers, media contacts, competition monitoring – anything you choose. If you’re interested in a topic like SEO, for example, you can create a list of your favorite SEO bloggers.
Twitter can be a powerful business tool. The more you use it, the more useful you’ll find it. You never know, you might just fall in love with it. :-)
Join Angela on Google+, and on Twitter: @angee
Flipboard is fun to use, so why not use it to curate content? We’ll be talking about content curation this coming week, so get up to speed with Flipboard’s magazines.
Are you using Evernote? This app has to be one of the best-kept business productivity secrets. It’s amazing.
I keep my life in Evernote, and yesterday I had cause to be glad. My modem died, so I had no Internet connection other than on my phone, but I kept right on working on my iMac. Everything was there in Evernote. Projects I’m working on, client notes, research data.
Although I spent a couple of hours rushing out to buy a Wi Fi hotspot (BAD Telstra — a three to five day wait for a replacement modem? Curses…) — I had a productive day, thanks to Evernote.
As soon as I got online again, Evernote updated itself with all the new material I’d created, and with the changes I’d made to notes.
Although most people I talk to haven’t heard of Evernote, it has millions of users. According to this February 2013 article in Bloomberg:
Evernote says it has 50 million users around the world (a third in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 a day. Operating on a “freemium” model, the company makes money primarily from the sliver of that user base that pays $45 a year, or $5 a month, for a souped-up version with more storage capacity.
Many people are aware of how useful Evernote can be, but did you know that you can also record audio notes in Evernote?
As this article, 8 Pro Tips for Evernote Power Users reports:
“Create Audio Notes
Creating an audio file is another way you can take full advantage of Evernote’s multimedia note-taking capabilities. To do so, create a new note and click the audio button, which is located on the top right for both the desktop and mobile versions of Evernote.”
You’ll find a community of Evernote devotees on Google+, so if you need help with Evernote, don’t hesitate to ask.
How do you use Evernote? Share your uses here, or on Google+.
Can’t think of a business name? What about your surname?
You’re starting a new business. What will you call it?
After you brainstorm, and have some hot contenders, don’t forget this tip from: 3 tips for choosing a name for your startup business | MYOB Blog:
“Make sure you can get the domain name.
This will probably be the ultimate determinant as to which name you go for; you might have a brilliant name for your business, but if you can’t make it work from a web domain perspective, then you’re pretty much back to square one.”
Yes — get the domain name.
An aside re domains: you are developing a website, aren’t you? Craig Reardon reports:
According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, Australian SMEs operating a website numbered a paltry 38% – 2% higher than the same time the year before, but a whopping 9% lower than the peak of 47% in October 2010.
Tsk, tsp… (yes, that’s me, tutting.) If you’re thinking of foregoing a website, shame on you. Social media can’t replace your business’s home on the Web. Social media is ephemeral. You have no control over what happens there.
OK, mini-rant over, back to business names.
Here are some ideas to help you to choose the perfect name.
As with Chanel, you can’t really go wrong using your own name. If it’s a common name — or if someone’s already trademarked it — you’ll need to tinker with it. Just add another word or two. :-)
It worked for the Eveready Battery Company, and for many other businesses.
Just brainstorm lists of words associated with what you do. I’ve found it helps to create a giant list of words on a whiteboard, and leave them up for a few days.
No whiteboard? Get a couple of pads of sticky notes, and write a word on each note. Stick the notes onto the wall, where you can study them.
Snicker — here’s Sheldon and Raj, studying…
Just look at the words, for a couple of minutes, and then go on with your day. You’ll find that your subconscious mind gets in on the act, and the perfect name will come to you as a sudden inspiration.
You can’t get much weirder than “Google” or for that matter, “Apple” as the name of a computer company.
Spend a little time studying mythology. I’ve got a couple of very old books I received as presents in my teens. I often use them for naming purposes. You’ll find lots of mythology books in the Reference section of your local library. You can also use free texts from Project Gutenberg; example: Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens.
A tip: be wary of using foreign terms as a name. If you don’t speak a language, you won’t be aware of slang terms in that language. The name you choose could have a lovely dictionary definition, but mean something totally different to native speakers. The results can be… unfortunate. Yes, it happens. I know of a couple of cases, but my lips are sealed.:-)
Naming your new business is just as much fun — or more fun, than naming a baby. Good luck with it. :-)
In The future of payment technology: New systems that could help your business Yolanda Redrup said:
Speaking to the Australian Payments Clearing Association last year, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens said elements of Australia’s payments infrastructure are “a bit dated”.
“It is very clear that both individuals and businesses are demanding greater immediacy and greater accessibility in all facets of their day-to-day activities,” Stevens said.
Dated is right. However, there are new companies which may have payments systems which could meet your needs.
Let’s look at two of them.
Pin Payments was founded in 2011. You don’t need a merchant account to use it, and the price is reasonable: $50 a month, plus 3% and 30 cents per transaction. You can accept payments in an app, as well as via your website.
From the pricing page:
Foreign currency transactions will be automatically converted to Australian dollars before being transferred to your bank account. The conversion is completed at a retail foreign exchange rate of 4% on top of the wholesale interbank rate at the time of the transaction.
You can sell both physical and downloadable products via Selz. Pricing is easy: it’s 5% plus 50 cents per transaction — no monthly fees.
Selz has a Seller Series on its blog, relating seller experiences.
Julieanne Wallace said of Selz:
Selz has been amazing in helping me to sell my products, and I have recommended it to other authors. I spent an entire day researching and investigating the many stores that one can use to add to websites. In the end, Selz was the easiest to work with, saving me a bucket load of time, and the FAQ page answered all of the questions that I had about the Selz product.
Although I usually don’t have problems writing because I’ve trained myself out of blatant procrastination over the years, I can get side-tracked. I decide that although I need to work on Project X because a deadline’s looming, it’s far more important to work on Project Y.
To force myself to work on Project X, I’ve been using Write or Die. It’s a fun app which has several Modes. I love Kamikaze Mode, because if you don’t keep writing, your words start disappearing. It’s a giggle; a real antidote to boredom.
Write or Die has a free Web version, as well as a paid download for Mac and PC. It’s also available as an iPad version. Give the free Web version a try, but beware Kamikaze Mode.