ProfitMeister readers, friends, family and peers know I prize the phrase: “Walk your talk.” The mantra reminds me to be the advice I look for. It pains me to admit my website does not pass the test I give to clients (see my post of 9/12/08 – Internet Respiratory Infections and Other Problems).
How can this be? The problem developed gradually. Like many entrepreneurs, I began with a brochure website and then added a content management system. I did some things right and am embarrassed to recall others. In an effort to “fix it,” I created something unwieldy that went from ok to awful.
This problem isn’t without precedence. Many businesses take a webmaster’s recommendation and are left to flounder with unfamiliar options, technical widgets and/or an onslaught of ongoing charges. I provide fixes for clients in similar predicaments with their websites. However, when my online media room fails to reflect the advice I give, I move into the category of disconnect.
In a July 1 post entitled “Walking Your Talk Requires Taking Your Own Medicine,” I congratulated myself on updating the brochure side of my website and described ten steps I took; from today’s perspective, a mere 90 days later, I’m confident I didn’t take big enough steps.
- You can’t fix a broken website. It makes no sense to spend money shoring up bad to better. So I’m asking for your indulgence as I reinvent the entire thing. Welcome to the big step.
- For the next two weeks, my blog posts will be non-existent as I transfer posts, pictures and links from Blogger to WordPress. Again, salute to the big step.
- My newsletter and special reports links will not work as I dump a messy and dysfunctional database system and move to the industry’s respected aweber service, complete with autoresponders. Thanks to my friend and marketing troubleshooter, Mary Schmidt for continuing to prod me to make it right. Welcome to my big step, Mary.
- You’ll see a re-design for ProfitMeister and MyConnectingPoint that reflects what I’ve learned from experience and from my coaches. Once again, I’m walking my talk and I promise, it’s a big step.
- I look forward to your comments. I promise to do my part to keep the conversation going. Yes. Sigh. It’s a big step.
Trade Shows? You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. New Mexico’s largest networking event for business women, The Celebration of Excellent Women, now eight years strong, continues to grow and caused me to think about trade shows in general.
Once yearly for four hours women come and go, shop, talk, eat and meet and greet at an event emphasizing women-owned businesses. It’s an opportunity to connect with acquaintances, meet new people, and review products, services and organizations. I left with a strained voice, the result of talking over loud, live music. Note to organizers: set the speakers to project at an angle and turn down the volume.
Because the din was overwhelming, the audience couldn’t really hear the excellent women introductions. In 2007, a program insert summarized accomplishments of the eight honorees. That insert was unavailable in 2008 and I, for one, missed it.
Even schmooze events like “Celebration of Excellent Women” require preparation, care and organization to be successful. Most vendors at this show stood, greeting potential prospects (hugging them in many instances) and discussing business in an animated way. The atmosphere was charged, positive and friendly. Suggestions/comments:
- Promotion in a number of traditional publications touted the show. Around 505, for example, ran a promotional piece entitled “Make Networking Work for You,” which focused on show organizer Diane Furie. Promotion in new media seemed to be lacking. Next year, target some local blogs. Get more younger women involved.
- Include an online media room on the website and link to media coverage; use the site to showcase former “excellent women” and invite suggestions for future shows.
- Put more focus on the honorees. Include a summary of the “excellent women” in the goodie bag.
- Speaking of goodies, the bag contained numerous brochures, special coupons and pens. And the bag itself was sturdy and highly usable.
- At the event, two food tables seemed like a good idea; unfortunately, traffic flow didn’t agree. Some of the booths behind the spread were simply overlooked, another example of reality interfering with theory. (Incidentally, owners of the booths in the back were NOT happy; stand by for complaints.)
- The stage showcased prize drawings and recognitions, such as those for excellent women. The overly loud sound caused some distortion which was distracting.
- Even though this venue was larger than last year’s, it was still crowded. Someone referred to The Celebration as a “hug fest” and I’d have to agree.
- I loved seeing old friends, meeting new ones and connecting with causes and organizations that have fallen out of my current circle. What a fun time.
- The overall feel of the show was fun. Great job, ladies!
As a card-carrying member of the do-it-yourself club, I tell my clients they need to be in control of their website rather than being held hostage by a webmaster. Good advice if you can take it. My challenge isn’t finding the problems. It’s fixing them.
Based on some of my own experiences with the internet, I devised a simple diagnostics test you can use to check for problems. Here is a do-it-yourself web audit of the simplest variety.
- Can visitors navigate your site easily, smoothly and quickly?
- When you click on the header for your page do you automatically go home?
- Does every link on your site work?
- Is anything underlined that is NOT a link? On the web, the underline communicates link at a glance, so visitors expect the underline to be a hyperlink.
- Do all icons (print, pdf, and email) work?
- Did you limit yourself to one or two fonts and then use those fonts on every page consistently throughout the site?
- Have you viewed your web page in different browser environments such as AOL, Internet Explorer, and Firefox to ensure its consistency?
- Have you used a repeatable image as background? No matter how cute or closely tied to your message, the image is likely clutter that interferes with the readability of text.
- Have you proofed every page, dialed every phone number, tried every contact or signup sheet, and clicked through to every link?
- Does your site look professional with high quality graphics and quality photos combined with text?
As you answer these questions, every hesitation or no answer constitutes a potential problem. Like any illness, unresolved issues weaken the immune system or the website. Too many troubles can create a respiratory infection and even the tiniest illness can morph into a major problem if left unattended.
What to do? Call the doctor. Call the webmaster? I know the frustration of waiting days for a response. Remember the prescription, “Take two aspirin and go to bed?” I want that solution.
Making the customer connection is easier when a niche audience is involved and the customer is defined for you by the niche. Take ballooning, for instance. Ballooning, a niche sport, involves hot air and gas balloon enthusiasts. While participants in the sport live all over the world, Albuquerque is generally regarded as the headquarters for balloon events because the Duke City is home to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest gathering of hot air balloons.
- AIBF celebrates its 37th year in 2008
- 2008 festivities also include the 40th Coupe Gordon Bennett , the oldest air race in the world
So, when the Fly New Mexico! Aviation Division published their 2008 Aviation Events Calendar, it was likely an oversight that there was no mention of AIBF in the October Activities:
- October 1 – Tucumcari Rotary Club Airshow and Open House, Tucumcari Airport
- October 4-5 – Amigo Airshow 2008, Biggs Army Airfield, El Paso, Texas
- October 10-11-12 – Land of Enchantment RV Fly-In, Dona Ana County Airport
Even more embarrassing, at the bottom of the calendar is the following message and no link to AIBF exists: “For a fabulous website calendar with aviation events from around the world, go to http://www.deltaweb.co.uk/asgcal/index.htm
Take a promotional lesson from the publishers of Fly New Mexico! newsletter: It’s all about the details. Check your details. Proof. Check again. Then, ask yourself: “Have I covered the most obvious detail on my calendar?”
When several of my co-authors of our new book, A Guide to Getting It: Branding & Marketing Mastery, got together recently to talk about ways to get the message out, we decided the best way to introduce ourselves and the topics we have written about was to give people an opportunity to ask us their most challenging branding and marketing questions!
When we got to the part about what to charge, it was unanimous that the roundtable calls should be no-charge. So, for two information-packed hours, you can have an opportunity to ask questions and receive personalized answers from a group of professionals who make their living coaching business owners to excel at their branding and marketing efforts.
If you are interested in masterminding and brainstorming with a team of women marketing experts who can answer your most challenging, costly, and pressing questions, this is where you will want to be September 8th and 22nd, at 4 p.m. EST, 1 p.m. PST.
To register or read more about this remarkable opportunity to get your questions answered by a panel with over 100 years of combined marketing experience, go to www.clarityofvision.com/marketingroundtable.html
If you’d like to send us your questions, enter it in the comment space on the registration checkout form, or post your challenge here. We’ll cover it on the calls!
This post might be better subtitled, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Do tasks shape priorities or do priorities dictate tasks? The answer depends…
I spent Labor Day reviewing my calendar, planning the month of September and asking myself questions related to intensity.
Intense, one of those adjectives popular among entrepreneurs, Baby Boomers and the Irish, means susceptible to strong emotion; emotional: an intense person. Not surprisingly, my September is colored with intensity:
- “What’s the next step?” asks Cynthia Morris. She lives large, doing the daring things that most others only dream about. Cynthia, currently in Lisbon, has just completed a large project and is beginning to work on the BIG goal for 2009. She’s intensively creative, exhibiting a high degree of creative ideas, and easily making the leap to believing I can tackle and complete the project by simply calendaring it.
- “Get neutral,” commands Valerie Compton. “Strengthen that core.” Training without intensity makes no sense in Val’s book. She lives yet another definition, strenuous or earnest, as activity, exertion, diligence, or thought: an intense life. Exercise without intensity is a waste of time for Val.
Intensity works. Changing the intensity changes the experience. My September commitment involves intensity. By whatever words you write it: “Take it up a notch,” “Pump up the volume,” “Work smarter not harder,” are some of the phrases we repeat to ourselves with the intention of building intensity.
There’s a fine line between planning, researching and doing. ACTION. In this world, nothing does itself. Regardless of promises made in The Four Hour Work Week or outlined in the classic Think and Grow Rich, there’s no substitute for action.
How’s your September shaping up? Do you know what one thing you must do to move your business, your project, your idea forward? What’s that next step?
Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away. Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984)
Now, take action. I dare you.