Simple Advertising You people are idiots.


Evaluation- Computer Services

My work is about walking your customers through the communications in your advertising and converting them to clients. A lot of advertising doesn’t actually sell anything, but I like to keep that as a priority right from the start. Website work typically begins with some SEO tuning, and I work a very organic plan. Once the SEO is working: there are steps that shoppers follow, from initial discovery and interest to trust (and purchase). People need to see different things for each step, starting with punchy headlines and ending with comforting messages and an invitation for the client to speak. If people feel like you will listen to them, then they will talk to you.

Here are the basic evaluation questions:

1. Check basic keyword search effectiveness. Your keywords are going to work best when you target geography. I can tell you this about technology services on the web– it’s an extremely competitive keyword space. Bay Area is very broad, San Jose is more do-able. If you really think that SEO will get you results, you need to prepare for some work. In many cases the words on the pages are enough, but I know from previous clients that tech services aren’t that easy. To work safely, you’ll need to go and manually create at least dozens of relevant links
2. Evaluate Advertising Copy (the text on your pages). Much of the text is well written and I like the list of things that clients ‘GET’ on the home page. My feeling is that for many small businesses your text won’t translate into understanding however. Some statements like these might help: “All of your employees can be using exactly the same software– by lunchtime tomorrow.” -or- “By delivering current software to your computers over the internet, your business can stop buying new PCs and start working more effectively” -
3. Quick Summary of what’s right and what’s wrong with your design work. The design has very good appearance, the pages load quickly and the information matches up well with what I expect to find on each page. I don’t find any flaws so long as you have the capability of changing pages yourself. I did find a minor grammatical error in one of your titles: “the client” should be “the clients”
4. Are the materials on your website ready for use in other media? Yes, largely your copy with above changes should work as print advertising. As long as you have the logo in either a very high resolution or in a vector format. I particularly like the three columns on the home page as that translates nice into a tri-fold brochure.

There are some peculiarities about your line of work that have me thinking about a particular plan for you. I’ll follow up with a brief second email with those details.


Proposal- Computer Services

Because of the competition in the internet space around what you do, I'm going to recommend that you NOT pursue SEO work at this time. Instead, I think you would see better results to take some of that money and simply buy Google results. Google lets you decide what your budget is for the month in advance and you get very good tracking about what is working and what is not.

The other recommend that I have for you is to put together some very targeted in-house mailings using a simple brochure and some clear follow up. The main concern that I have with Search Marketing your business is that your clients might not be smart enough to know what to call your product. They will understand it once you present it to them, but they might not go look for it. This is something that you say on your own solutions page.

Here's my basic proposal: I'll fix the writing on your site so that potential clients can more easily understand what you are selling. The writing will be good on page SEO work, but I'll be clear with you that it just won't get you traffic. What the writing will do is lead to a more direct request for contact and should help you pre-sell. Your pages need a much stronger closing statement asking for the business. I'll also help you through the Google process. We'll focus on getting you customers close to home. The writing work will include creating the brochure using Illustrator but you must supply graphics. Here is a link to an example:

Website (plus brochure) Copy Writing $400
Internet Account Management $100 (this is half price)
Brochure Layout No Charge
Total $500 (cheap!)

I think you have a great business idea and a local provider of services like you can do some great sales. It's exciting to see someone working to get out of the break-fix computer biz. The chief attribute of your business is that it is locally owned and controlled. Big businesses operate at a distance and aren't willing to be as responsible as you. Your prospects should hear that in your marketing materials and again in your sales work: "Local Operations Equals Accountability." I know it's counter intuitive, but yours is a product that is best sold person to person.

I've got some time Friday Morning.


Results- Computer Services

The work that the client was requesting (SEO) was probably not going to help their business. Search Engine Optimization is the process of making sure that the search engines find your site first for particular words. NeighborWave staff are experts at SEO, but in this case we knew that it wouldn’t help the client.

The client in this case is a small computer services company. What the company sells is not just your basic PC repair and configuration work. They sell a product that lets a small business owner pay a few dollars each month for the computers that they need. The difficulty in this case is that their intended audience doesn’t understand their product. The entire market isn’t yet looking for what they sell, so SEO can’t really help them.

The client is now marketing directly in a very old fashioned way. They use printed advertising as mailers and follow up their mailings with telephone calls. They are also attending different networking events for small business. On the strength of their presentation in their sales brochures, they’ve been invited as speakers for two Chamber of Commerce meetings in two different cities. As the attendees from these meetings become clients, their word of mouth is going to be amazing.

As a secondary effort, we have also begun some low cost experimenting with using Google Adwords pay per click to generate leads. Eventually, the marketplace will understand their product. When the market is ready, their SEO is already in place.


Photography Website Advertising

This is the emailed Advertising Advice that we sent recently to a one man freelance business. He's a photographer.

What I don't seem to find on your site is "me".

  1. I am just a guy that doesn't know much about art and I need to buy the services of a photographer to help me get something done.
  2. I am the mother of a lovely daughter and she is about to: get married, graduate, join a facial tattoo coven, Quinceanera, Bat Mitzvah, shave her head.
  3. I am a web designer and to I want license some very unique images for a local business's website.
  4. I am an agency designer and to I want license some very unique images for a national campaign.
  5. I want to buy one of your pictures for my office.

Don't wait for clients to inject themselves into your business. Tell them (and show them) that you have made your business for their situation. Show me "me" in your business. What can I buy from you? Be specific. Ad messages need to attract, inform, sell. You have the attract down pat, but you don't inform about business, so it's hard to sell.

Do yourself a favor and forget the word marketing. Just advertise. Advertising is two things: message and placement. Everything that you say and show on your site is message. Everything that gets your site found is placement. In the 21st century, placement = Google. This year, there are no other placements.

Secondary Marketing is when someone is holding your business card in their hand decides to go to the web address printed on it.

Primary Marketing is that people find your site with Google, visit and then buy something.

To use your site as secondary marketing, you have to spend a lot of time getting yourself into crowded rooms with your product on the wall and a continuous supply of business cards right next to the frame.

As primary marketing, websites work with Google in one of two ways. You pay for clicks using Adwords  -or-  they give you visitors through the organic search results. Either way for your business category is likely to cost cash money, not just time. Adwords is easy, you just sign up and start working on matching your placements and messages. The organic search results (the free clicks) come through SEO* work.

Tip 1. Even if you are a home based studio, add your business to Google's Local Business Center. It's free. Then, modify your contact page and tell people that you work from home and tell them that they may not drop in. What you get from this is a placement on the Google Maps listings. Don't do this until you've corrected your pages to show me "me" in your business. Except for that one business directory, avoid internet directories and yellow pages like the plague. Other directories hurt you because in the online world they appear ABOVE YOU in the search results. Do not list with online directories--only Google's Local Business Center.


Free Website Evaluation

How very sneaky to call it 'website' when it's really marketing... but, isn't it?

We don't succeed until our clients and friends succeed. Marketing is an important and profitable part of any business plan. If you don't really have a plan, don't worry-- that's very common. Send us your website address in an email and we'll take a look at what you have. Or just ask us your question-- lately we've been hearing from established businesses about their long standing yellow pages advertising. Any question is fine with us. You will only hear from us by email and only as you request it. Simply email us at the address below with your website address and say: "What would you do with this?" We'll take a few minutes to look your stuff over and we'll type up a brief report to make some suggestions that should help your advertising.

This is some really good stuff. Our favorite response recently was this quote from someone's boss: "Wow. They did this for free? Where did you find these guys?"

What you get is a response to you by email with answers to at least the following questions. Our list may a look a little different than some companies. That's because we innovate by using a broad set of skills to get ALL the parts of your advertising working well. And we won't even interrupt you with a phone call--it's all in writing for you.

  1. Check the basic keyword search effectiveness. Does Google's database understand your site and can an ordinary person find your business?
  2. Evaluate Advertising Copy (the text on your pages). Can customers understand what you will do for them? Will it sell? Do your messages move a prospective customer from attraction to interest and then on to action?
  3. Summary of what's right and what's wrong with your design work. Are the pages ordered well and do the graphics appear correctly?
  4. Are the materials on your website ready for use in other media? You should ALWAYS have the option of using your advertising materials for any media.

Want To See What What We Do For Free? Case Studies.


Absolutely Free Marketing Help?

We take our work together seriously. NeighborWave is a company that is built around the personal. Ask us a question and we'll send you some pretty good info-- for free. It's our way of letting you know that we take YOU seriously, too.

Here are samples of the free evaluations done for two companies. One a Computer Services firm and the second a Building Contractor. There are 3 pieces for each: Evaluation, our Proposal, our Results.

We do not keep a mailing list and you will receive no phone call unless you request one. We do not share either client or prospect information with anyone.

Computer Services Marketing Evaluation

Computer Services Marketing Proposal

Computer Services Marketing Results

• • •

Contractor Marketing Evaluation

Contractor Marketing Proposal

Contractor Marketing Results


A Green Marketing Question

Someone at a Bank in The Midwest emailed asked us for ideas about a "Green" checking account. We really appreciated Colleen's good intentions, so we figured out a real, detailed answer to her question. We'll answer your question, too. Just ask.

Green Financial Products?

"About that green question... I normally limit questions to strictly 'advertising' (which is a task), and don't wander very far into 'marketing' (which is decision making/management stuff). Green is somewhere in between. What I would suggest is looking through your product offerings with one of your VPs and find some stories in your existing product line that have helped people adopt a real life green practice. Since financial products aren't a green practice, show your products accomplishing things green for real people and tell that story separately.

In short, don't label it a green product unless it helps
a person accomplish something sustainable.

Quick hint: berm and log homes are weatherization to reduce use, but solar conversions and wind power are co-generation to make power on site. Co-generation is a much stronger 'green' story. Do NOT market 'green' to women. Women already get it. A Guy in a hard hat is probably the strongest image to have next to a message about using your products to accomplish something green. Local contractors that specialize in this work should know your bankers.

Weatherization products are about cost savings, but there is an easy "feel-good" green element. If you want to get some real traction for your XYZ and ABC products: show your viewers the money. Saving money sells, and green feels good. Show them some figures about dollar savings BUT include some info about the reduction in carbon footprint. First let them know that your product is excellent and will save them real money, then let them feel good that there is a green benefit. "We got this great loan that let us buy insulation and efficiency windows, and then... Gosh, we found out we saved the planet!"

If your company is feeling like there is strong enough interest in your area, they might even re-brand some products so that they can be marketed specifically as green. "Special" Loan products for Solar Panels and Windmills might even get you in the news if you find a way to get the new loan programs 'endorsed' by a local government or even organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce. Your board looks pretty well qualified to get you plugged in with some folks outside the bank to promote some community and goodwill kind of efforts by making them newsworthy. The task is to get news attention for the new green project but keep some attention on the loan program that made the project possible. All news organizations have people that have to come up with human interest stories. Greening homes and businesses can let them punch their ticket for this week's article or broadcast. You get to call it PR, they call it news.