Tuesday Travels: The Inside Scoop on Google Plus

 

Google Plus is

Sign of Go...ogle!

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

all the rage the last few weeks. And, of course, the limited invites make it even more desirable.

I’m in (thanks to a triiibes friiiend), and I must say I really like it so far.

Much more intuitive than Facebook (think of Facebook as Windows and Google Plus as Mac, if you like).

All my life’s a circle

You manage your contacts  with circles.  And, you can control who sees what.  You can share with everyone, or you can select people by circles. So, your marketing circle doesn’t have  to read your RV travel tips.

And, your book reading friends aren’t bored by your baseball addiction. More like real life (unlike Facebook, which indiscriminately broadcasts everything to everyone).

When you “circle” someone, you follow what they post.  When someone “circles” you, they’re following your posts.  It’s easy to add pictures, and you get unlimited Picasa storage too.

Tutorials, Tips, and Cheat Sheets:

Google Plus 50

Using Google to Source Ideas

Hands on With Google Plus

Google Plus User Tips

Google Plus Cheat Sheets

Google Plus in 15 Minutes a Day

Google Plus Opt in and Opt Out Settings

Google Plus Photos Tutorial

Is Google Plus the Ultimate Content Marketing Platform?/

Advanced Secrets of Google Messaging

More Google Messaging Tips

Google Plus Privacy and Informaiton Control

Are you in Google Plus?  Is it easier than Facebook?  A latecoming wannabe?  A sign Google is taking over the world? What do you think?

Marketing Lessons From My Cat

What’s a cat got to do with marketing your business?

My cat, Paris,  has some very definite ideas on the subject.

Meow! Meow!

When he wants something, he asks for it.  He doesn’t think about it, wonder if it’s OK, or he’s causing too much bother.  He just asks.

Lesson:  if you want someone to do something, ask them.

Meowing, Leg Rubbing, Jumping on the Keyboard

If meowing doesn’t work, he tries rubbing against me, or jumping on the keyboard.  If I ever type  www1111111qqqqqq on this blog, you’ll know why.  Use multiple methods to reach your prospects and interact with them.  Some people prefer email, others like RSS feeders or blogs or white papers.  People also learn in different ways.  Most of this blog is text, but I’m working on a new marketing plans made simple program that will have both text and audio.

Lesson: use more than one marketing tactic

Nap regularly

Take a break every once in a while.  Look back at what you’ve done, and analyze what’s working. Especially if you’re a one-man (or woman) band, give your brain time to relax.

Lesson:  you can’t be brilliant every day, all day

Feed me!

If he wants food, he’ll start meowing, then run right over to the food dish.  It’s absolutely clear what he wants.  Your instructions, and your marketing, should be clear too.  Show people what you want them to do.  If your search is broken, it’s hard to buy.   If you can’t tell, have someone else test it. Use clear language too.  If you don’t know your customers’ lingo, learn it – talk to them the way they talk, in terms they’ll understand (rank higher in Google, not WS3 compliant).  As,  you can see, Paris wants to reach Francophones.

Lesson:  less friction means more sales

Squirrel!

It’s easy to get distracted when a squirrel crawls up the fire escape or a bird flies by.  However, the cat is safely inside, and the squirrels are outside.  No matter how hard he tries, he’ll never reach them through  the double-paned windows.  The latest trend or toy may work for you  (or not).  Don’t chase after it just because it’s new.  Think about whether it fits into your business, your personality, and what your clients are doing.

Lesson:  just because it’s bright and shiny doesn’t mean you should spend five hours a day on it

Create stories

Like most cats, Paris likes milk.  He’s always trying to get at the little pitcher of milk for my morning tea.  First, he jumped up on the desk, then he tried to put his nose in the pitcher.  When it didn’t fit, he dipped his paw in the pitcher, tipped it over and lapped up the milk. Businesses need stories too.  Show your personality in your writing and your marketing, rather than being a copycat (sorry, couldn’t resist).

(Note: he only did this once… and I let him because it was funny… once… now I put the milk where he can’t get it)

Lesson: say and do things that make you memorable

Plan your attack

If you see something you want to catch (a cat toy, a twist tie), approach it slowly.  Calculate how far away it is, whether it’s likely to run, and the best angle of attack.  If you’re marketing a product, make a plan.  Put the cart and horse in the right order.  Who will you approach? What will you do? How will you close the sale?

Lesson:  know what you want and how to get it

Be picky

Cats are notoriously finicky.  They’ll eat the stuff in the blue can, but not the green can. The pictures on the boxes both look fine to people, and the food does too.  It’s the cat’s opinion that counts.   When developing your marketing, pick a niche.  Do what appeals to the people in that niche, not what appeals to everyone (or to you).

Lesson: market to your tribe (not everybody)

Photo credit: me

Cool Tool Festival: 28 Essential Tools for Creatives

paint chips

Image by Anosmia via Flickr

Want free tools for your business? These 28 handy helpers save you time, improve your marketing, and make life less stressful.

Five free tools to help you get more traffic, check your rankings in Alexa and Technorati (sites that track blog popularity), and learn more about the people who visit your site.

1. Web Site Grader

Web Site Grader reviews your site, checks your keywords, and tells you how effective they are.  It will also give you your ranking in Alexa and Technorati.

2. We We Calculator

A computerized version of my One Minute Marketing Test.  Paste in some text from a sales page or your front page.  Find out whether you’re talking mostly about yourself (or about your prospects).

3.  Quantcast

A tool that estimates the traffic and the demographics of visitors to your site (male/female, education level, age, etc).  You can use it for other sites too.

4.  Google Keyword Tool

Type in some text and find out how many people (approximately) are looking for those search terms each month.  Useful for writing posts and doing some research before you start a site or invest in AdWords.

5.  Google Wonder Wheel

Use the wonder wheel to find related search terms.  It gives you a visual representation of search terms, related terms, and how they connect to each other.  You’ll find it under the “more options” button.

6. Bubble.Us

Free mind-mapping software. If you’re visually oriented (like I am) this is a great way to organize information and ideas. It’s like a flow chart for creative types.

7. Tiny Url

If you want to send (or post) a long, messy URL, try using this shortener instead. It’s a lot less cumbersome, and you can even customize it.

8. ScribEfire

See something you want to quote on your blog? Or get a quick idea while you’re browsing. Use ScribeFire to drag and drop text into a post (without opening your blogging software). Or, save it for later use.

9. Wordoid

Stuck for a name for a new service or business? Plug in some words and wordoid will come up with suggestions for you.

10. Google Goggles for Gmail

If you’ve ever wanted to “undo” an email you should not have sent, this tool is for you. Google Goggles makes you answer a math question (eeek) before you send an email. Set it for late night (or all the time).

11. Font Finder

Got a mystery font? This site can help you identify it. Answer a few questions and the computer will find your font.

12. Jing

This free tool takes a quick screen capture video – five minutes or less. If you need something longer, you can get Camtasia (not free, but not expensive).

13. Jott

Turns voice messages into emails. If you leave yourself a message, or someone leaves you one, it automatically appears in your email box (no typing).

14. Basecamp

Great for collaborating with people who are spread out in different cities. Keeps your notes, edits, and project management tools are in one place.

15. Maczot

Woot for Macs. One great deal each day.

16. Make Your Own Buttons

Make your own call to action buttons in photoshop. Plus, another one especially for buy now buttons.

17. Ebook covers

Make your own ebook covers for free. Takes a bit of practice, but it works.

18. 3-D Box.

If you want more ebook options, try BoxShot 3D software. It’s not free (and Mac only), but it will save you a lot of time.

19. Google Link Tracker

Once you finish that ebook, you’ll want to know if anyone is clicking the links back to your site. Great when you want to spread a free book or article.

20. Zemanta

Find images for your blog posts without leaving WordPress. Zemanta “reads” your post and tries to find images that match. Or, you can type in the words you think are relevant, and have it search for you.

21. The wayback machine

It’s not just for Mr. Peabody anymore. Get your own time machine – and go back and find old versions of your site (or someone else’s) on the Web. It also has photos, old movies, and public domain books.

22. Scribd

Sample book chapters, free (and paid) ebooks, forms and templates – many at no charge. Upload a free ebook of your own and use their traffic to spread it.

23. Dryicons

Free icons in lots of different styles, from glossy to rather scruffy. It’s got blog icons, e-commerce icons, and holidays too.

24. Compfight

An improved Flickr search tool. It shows a full page of photos, plus their sizes (so you can find one that fits your needs without more clicking). You can choose by license too.

25. Veer

A stock image site, but one with photos that are more quirky and interesting than usual. Prices start at $1.

26. Free ideas

Out of ideas? Type a word into the inspiration generator and get photos, quotes, videos, bookmarks, songs, and tweets that match the word.

27. Web launch checklist

A step-by-step guide for publishing a web site. It’s got a list of everything you need to remember (so you don’t have to remember it). It’s also easy to pass along to someone else.

28. E-junkie

An online shopping cart. E-junkie processes the orders, takes the credit card (or paypal information) and notifies you when you’ve made a sale. Use their affiliate program to help other people sell your books too.

What do Baby Showers Have in Common with Marketing?

Baby Shower Cupcakes
Image by clevercupcakes via Flickr

A long time ago (the baby girl is now a teenager), I went to a friend’s baby shower. Her other friends got her lots of lacy dresses, a bassinet full of bows, plenty of frills all around.

I, on the other hand, got her something completely different. It was a sporty outfit from The Gap. I think it may have come with baby-sized sunglasses.

Why? Because I knew my “customer.” My friend just wasn’t a ruffles and lace kinda gal. She hated all those frills.

Her other friends got her what they liked. I got her something she would like.

It’s OK to do what you like if your audience is just like you (for example, you’re a geek marketing to other geeks). However, if you’re a geek marketing to lawyers, you’ll need to understand what lawyers want and need. You’ll have to learn to speak a bit of legalese, and watch your use of tech speak. You may be excited about new server software. The lawyer just wants to know that her network will stop crashing. Sell the software as a solution to the crashing, not as super-cool new software with redundant backups and offsite mirroring.

See the difference?

Develop a profile of your ideal customer. Know what they want, and give it to them. They’ll love you for it. They’ll stay longer too.

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Lamborghini or Hyundai?

lamborghiniA-list blogger and successful social media consultant Chris Brogan posted a logo design project on 99Designs a few days ago. Then, he tweeted about it.

All hell broke loose.

If you don’t know, 99Designs is a design contest site. Businesses post a project, with a budget, and entrants submit work. If they win, they get paid. If not, they worked for free.

The small business reaction

Judging from the comments, small businesses love it. It’s cheap! It’s fast! There are lots of options! They think, “Hey I can get something that looks nice and I don’t need a second mortgage on my house!”

What designers think

Experienced designers hate it. It’s spec work! It devalues my art! It looks like crap! Would you ask 50 contractors to build a new den on spec?  Or trust your operation to an amateur brain surgeon?  What about the story of your company? Or how the colors and fonts express your philosophy?

They insist that you can’t just get a logo in one format. You need different versions for larger/smaller or print/web uses.

All true.

However, railing and ranting (while immediately satisfying) won’t change anything.

How to charge more for your work

If you want to get higher prices for your work, you need to better communicate and to better educate your clients:

  • why you are worth
  • who your market is (and isn’t)
  • why buy from you
  • what  you offer that cheap designers can’t (in business terms)

Specialize - pick a specific market (a niche, more on this coming later). Focus on them. Ignore everyone else.

Brand - use some of those branding skills on yourself. Are you the Ferrari of designers? Or the Smart Car? Why do people choose you? What do you bring to the job that other designers (or that cheap designers) don’t have? How are you remarkable?

Extra value – why knowing the difference between EPS and and RGB matters. And why one logo format doesn’t work for all media (web, trade show banners, brochures, faxes). A logo that looks OK online might look like a mud pie printed out in black and white.

Copyright /Due Diligence - a designer logo is the client’s alone – not ripped off from someone else’s site or work (legal fights are scary and expensive).

Skip the “I’m a professional, I have years of experience.” You are, and you do. That’s not what matters to the client. What matters to the client is whether you give her what she wants – to feel better, look better, earn more, be more successful.  What are you really selling?

Here’s the thing. Lamborghini doesn’t really sell cars. They sell status, luxury, sex appeal, and VROOOOM.

Hyundai sells cheap, reliable, and super guarantee.

Are you Lamborghini or Hyundai? Does Hyundai care about Lamborghini’s buyers? No. Nor vice versa. They ignore each other.

Show them why a real designer is worth it. And try to understand when they want to make the logo bigger!

Share your thoughts

What do you think about this debate?   Does cheap or spec  work hurt designers?  Does it matter what the “cheap” people do? What other ways can you approach the problem?

Image thanks to omniNate