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Find out how to make your Web site, blog and other online efforts successful through effective search engine optimization and online marketing. I’ll cover topics like marketing and establishing goals, effective keyword research, avoiding SEO mistakes and tactics that may cast you as a spammer, an overview of pay-per-click advertising, incorporating social networking and social media as link building tools, and more. Each class is chock full of practical information, real-world application, and tips for today’s business owners.

The six-week, 18-hour class starts on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Register now at UNLV Continuing Education as seating is limited!

Providing customer service that brings people back to your store or Web site isn’t rocket science or doesn’t have to cost you anything – only motivation and desire.

I recently stopped at the Bentley’s Coffee on the corner of Charleston & I-15 for a small jolt of caffeine after a pretty intense morning. Imagine my surprise when one of the baristas bounded out of the coffee drive-thru to get my order…instead of waiting for me to reach the window or me waiting for the two cars ahead to pull away. With a “Hi there, what can I getcha?” and a quick clarification that their $1.50 coffee is a 16-ounce Americano (not drip), he made me feel as if he was happy to see me…and to serve me.

Not only did they get a 50-cent tip for a buck-fifty drink (more than double the standard 15% tipping rate), they’ve got a new customer.

So how much did it cost Bentley’s Coffee to acquire a first-drive, drive-by customer? Because of the priceless positive attitude of their employee who took joy in helping a customer, not a monetary cent.

How can you apply this to your business? Start thinking about it now so you can get new customers tomorrow.

Are you not getting the results you want from your email marketing? Is the open rate dismally low? Do you feel your “deletes without opening” rates are higher than the actual number of emails you sent out?

KEY TIP: make sure your content isn’t hidden in images

The security settings in programs like Microsoft Outlook can prevent the downloading of images, thus showing broken image links throughout your email message. Unless your recipient knows you, trusts you and is really interested in what you have to say, chances are they will simply delete the email. You’ve probably done the same thing yourself.

That’s what I just did with an email from a Las Vegas restaurant I’m not familiar with. Instant death to that message.

KEY TIP: Add copy to the very top of the email that tells the reader what your email is about

By inserting a couple lines of copy at the beginning of the email that succinctly describes your topic, you’ll put your readers at ease and give them a reason to open your email.

Remember, everyone has attention and time deficit syndrome these days. Make it easy for your readers to take the action you want by eliminating obstacles like using images to hold your email content.

By taking steps that will increase your email’s open rate, you on the road to increasing conversions.

Corporations and other businesses spend billions of marketing dollars each year to entice consumers to buy their products or services. Bottom line to all the messaging: “we want your business.”

But what happens when the reality doesn’t match the marketing promise? Could you be doing the same thing in your business?

Community Bank of Nevada and Wells Fargo Bank are two excellent examples of how reality is vastly stronger than a marketing message.

I mourn the passing of Community Bank of Nevada because, as one of its many non-business customers, I appreciated being appreciated. The staff at the Sunset branch always greeted me by name, something that always surprised me since I wasn’t a daily or even weekly customer. I enjoyed being able to talk with a teller in a normal voice level without the nearly sound-proof security Plexiglas in the way. Best thing of all – again for me as a customer – was the lack of long lines even on Fridays. I could walk right in the front door, get my business done, and be on my way – in and out – perfect for the busy professional like myself.

So you can imagine my confusion and disillusionment when I stopped at the Wells Fargo branch on Eastern, north of Tropicana, to handle some business for a vacationing client.

The door I tried entering through was “Exit Only” and it took me a few moments to comprehend the signage. In effect it said that access to the bank was limited to the other side of the building.

With no sidewalk or safe walkway around to the other side of the building, I got back in my car and drove to the back. Good thing I did. Another customer nearly got flatten by a speeding motorist wanting to use the ATM.

At the entrance, I was then faced with figuring out how get inside. A disembodied voice told me to wait for the green light. That’s when I realized this was a double-entry security entry with a metal detector. The voice told only one person could enter at a time. Okay, but what about the elderly woman leaning heavily on her cane? Could she make it through on her own?

After a process of green light-red light, I made it inside, feeling as I had entered the inner sanctum of a most holy temple. The exit process looked a little easier but I could help but wonder if its security setup would encourage hostage situations.

The Wells Fargo staffer at the door greeted me warmly, though I could tell she was bracing herself for another irate tirade from a customer. The tellers behind their Plexiglass shields looked just as uneasy. No one would comment on the new security measures or answer any questions about them. I could only speculate and wonder if this is the wave of the future for banking.

Despite its excellence in customer service, Community Bank of Nevada failed because of being under capitalized and having an increasing amount of bad commercial loans on its books.

But, if these new security measures that shout “I DON’T TRUST YOU” are widely implemented, how will Wells Fargo continue to attract customers based on marketing messages of “Welcome, we want your business”?

Only time will tell.

DATE: Monday, July 6, 2009
TIME: 5:30 – 8 p.m.
PLACE: UNLV Paradise Campus, Room 140
ADDRESS:  851 E. Tropicana Ave., Las Vegas, Nevada
COST: $59

To be successful in any business endeavor, you not only have to keep on top of the latest trends, developing markets and changes in the marketplace, you have to know what your competition is doing to get the very business you’re working hard to get.

Wonder how you can still meet the demands of managing your day-to-day operations and still have time to keep an eye on what your competition is doing?

In this class, you will learn the online techniques and tools you can use to monitor what your competitors are doing, what keywords they are using on their Web site and PPC campaigns, what is being said about them, and so much more. Imagine having some of this important data sent to you automatically!This is information you need to know to stay ahead and in the game.

We’ll also discuss ethics – gathering the competitive intelligence from sources readily available online and how to avoid situations that would compromise your personal and professional integrity.

REGISTER NOW TO SAVE YOUR SEAT: Call (702) 895-3394, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or go to course description page at UNLV Educational Outreach web site and click “Enroll Yourself.”

Are you looking to increase conversions and the overall effectiveness of your landing pages whether they are for your PPC campaigns or a page on your Web site?

I will share the secrets of successful SEO copywriting and page design that will increase your sales, conversions and brand perception by avoiding “keyword stuffing” in your copy and creating a focused landing page.

In this hands-on class, you’ll apply what you learn in class to building an effective landing page for a pay-per-click campaign (for products, services, promotional efforts or message driven) beginning with knowing who your target audience is, how best to communicate with them and set objectives. From there, understand the importance of keyword research, writing effective action-oriented copy, key elements in page design, and the importance of testing page variants to improve results.

You’ll present your page in HTML or another format for feedback from your fellow students and me.

This class is perfect for site owners and Web designers as well as professionals in advertising, marketing, sales and public relations with limited HTML knowledge or experience. We’re focusing on how search engine marketing and optimization can improve Web page performance.

This course is offered through the Internet Design & Technology certificate program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas Educational Outreach.

  • Dates: Tuesdays, May 12 – 19, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., & Tuesday, May 26, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Location: UNLV Paradise Campus (PAR), Room 140
  • Fee: $115 includes parking permit and 0.5 CEUs (3 sessions)

Register online at http://edoutreach.unlv.edu or by calling (702) 895-3394. For more information about the Internet Design & Technology certificate program, call Kyle Yahiro-Okino at (702) 895-4490.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Is it just me or are you, too, feeling pessimistic, angry and frustrated?

As a business communicator, I need to keep up on the latest news about the economy, business, world affairs and the like to better serve my clients. But seeing and hearing stories of people losing their homes and savings, corporate executives getting bonuses from their U.S.-taxpayer-bailed-out employers, local gaming institutions filing for bankruptcy, the conflicts along and beyond our border…<sigh> it certainly can be overwhelming.

I can feel the anxiety here in Las Vegas, a city struggling to deal with being on so many “Worst of” lists when it’s been on the “Best of” lists for decades. You can see our residents’ frustration by watching how they are driving – ever faster, zigging in and out of traffic, zooming up behind you, etc.

With all the reports and examples of doom and gloom, who can blame business owners and senior management for cutting back on expenses – including employees and their marketing efforts (a topic for another post) – because they are fearful that the bad luck or hardship befalling their neighbors and competitors will happen to them.

The problem is fear-based thinking only makes those problems worse and makes for a miserable quality of life.

I believe it’s long past due for adopting a new attitude, one that looks for the silver lining in the terrible black clouds everyone keeps talking about.

No, no, no, no. I’m not going “airy-fairy” on you.

I’m not about to say ignore what’s happening around you and go on living like it was 1999 (or some other by-gone era). But I believe what Ventura County reporter Michael Sullivan recently experienced supports my suggestion.

Your attitude colors your world. Think bleak thoughts and your world will be bleak. Think thoughts of possibilities, ideas and beauty, then your world will feel a bit lighter, brighter and bolder.

Physicist Albert Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Metaphysicist Ernest Holmes said quite succinctly “Change your thinking, change your life.”

So let’s start today – right this very moment – with thinking differently. Let’s look for the possibilities, solutions, ideas – all those “silver lining” things that will energize our minds and souls. Yeah, it’ll be tough especially when we’re surrounded by all the negative chatter. It’ll be like adopting a new habit. But I believe it’s well worth the effort.

Perhaps this quote from American humorist Will Rogers sums it up the best, “An economist’s guess is liable to be as good as anybody else’s.”

To me, that means we’re in control of our outlooks on business and in life. Let’s make it a positive one.

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