October 19, 2010

Manage Expectations

After a long hiatus, I felt it was time to put pen to paper again and share a sentiment that is frequently quoted around the 1300 Web Pro office:

“Manage Expectations” 


As consumers, we have all been let down by businesses. Sometimes we struggle with how we had such a poor outcome when all our friends talk about how great the business is.

Conversely, every business owner has let down a customer from time to time. More often than not, the customer that ends up being unhappy is one that the business has well and truly gone above and beyond for.

The root cause of these issues is quite often not that the seller is a “bad business” or the buyer is a “bad customer.”

The root cause is often that the seller did not manage the buyer’s expectations properly.

This process of “managing expectations” is not a negative one. It is simply making sure that everyone is on the same page.

It doesn’t necessarily mean every gory detail has to be spelt out in overwhelming detail, and it certainly isn’t referring to the infamous “Fine Print.”

It doesn’t have to be written down, although having good literature to leave the buyer with can ensure the entire team is communicating a consistent, clear message.

When developing new products and services, the Pareto Principle (a.k.a “The 80/20 Rule”) tends to kick in. In the sales spiel, marketing collateral, and terms of trade, the business owner is concerned with addressing the 20% of situations that cover 80% of the sales.

To properly manage expectations, the business owner must address the other 80% of situations in order to keep the other 20% of customers happy. Trust me, the extra effort in properly documenting things and educating your team will be worth it in the long run – “short term pain for long term gain”.

Oh, and on the odd occasion, when we kind, generous business owners decide to go the proverbial extra mile, we must “manage expectations” by ensuring the customer understands he or she is getting an extra few inches. If they know they got three inches for the price of one, they’ll likely be happy!

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Facebook: facebook.com/1300webpro

June 01, 2010

Words That Work

One of the most critical aspects of any marketing material is the words.

Unfortunately, advertising copy is all to often an annoying afterthought that gets cranked out at the 11th hour.

Below I give a few tips on ensuring your ads, websites, flyers, etc. have effective copy. But first, a bit of background...

As website designers, one of the most frustrating things is when we work together with the client to come up with a brilliant site, only to see the site get filled with ineffective text. (This, of course, was the genesis of our website copywriting products).

A recent example of text we wrote for a customer is "Toowoomba's best kept dining secret."

We were designing new signage for a Toowoomba restaurant and convinced the business owner to allow us to stray from the traditional "Business Name, Phone Number, Opening Hours" sign to having "Toowoomba's best kept dining secret" in big maroon letters.


The response has been beyond imaginable. By chance, my partner and I were having dinner there the first weekend after the signs were put up and it was packed. We wrote this off to it being a long weekend, but asked the business owner to quizz people "where did you hear of our restaurant" when they came in.

The increased volume at the restaurant has been sustained, and the impromptu survey confirms that the signage is the source.

Out of curiosity, if you have seen these signs, put a comment on this article. Did you know of the restaurant beforehand? Have you gone there since seeing the signs?

Tips for effective copy
  1. Keep it short and sweet -- less is more.
  2. Include a benefit of one of your points of difference and a call to action -- why are you better, and what do you want me to do about it?
  3. Focus on one point per marketing piece.
  4. Use color, font,     spacing    , bold, italics, etc. to control the reader's focus.
  5. Choose synonyms wisely -- which do you support, the proposed "huge mining profits tax" or the proposed "resource tax restructuring?" Two different news publications referred to the same taxation changes in these two ways.
  6. Always triple-check spelling, grammar, and make sure web links work.

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Facebook: facebook.com/1300webpro

May 20, 2010

See how easily video can "punch up" a website

1300 Web Pro recently had the opportunity to work with Toowoomba Financial Centre to redesign their site.

At our initial consultation, we suggested integrating video into their site to help make the website a bit more interactive. Chris and Dennis from TFC agreed, and we got the opportunity to work with our friends at Evolution Studios to produced a really great website.

This week I thought I would do a quick "video blog" to share our experience with Toowoomba Financial Centre with you.


Please click here to have a look at Toowoomba Financial Centre's new website and leave a comment below with your thoughts!

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro

May 12, 2010

How to be told when your business is mentioned on the Web

Once per week, Google sends me two e-mails. The first lets me know what people are saying about "1300 Web Pro" and the other tells me what "toowoomba web design" websites have popped up lately.

Google sends these two e-mails free of charge. This service is called "Google Alerts."

From the horse's mouth, "Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic." In other words, they are e-mails that contain the new search results for a given phrase you would type into Google.

When I get the Google Alert for "1300 Web Pro" each week, it does not send me the roughly 70,000 results you get when searching for "1300 Web Pro." I usually get two or three listings, perhaps our updated blog or Facebook page, or where a customer has mentioned us.

Google.com.au Search Results for "1300 Web Pro":

Example of Google Alert for "1300 Web Pro":

One single relevant result for the week!

Several uses for Google Alerts include:
  1. Making sure no one is using a trademark you own
  2. Keeping an eye out for new competition
  3. Identifying when people have said nice things about your business, so you can respond and say "thank you"
  4. Identifying when people have complained about your business, so you can hopefully resolve the issue and get rid of the bad word of mouth
  5. Spotting when your business, industry, or competition are mentioned in the media.
  6. Finding relevant news and blog articles to forward to your customers and prospects.
Needless to say, #3 and #4 can really make your business look like customer-service superstars!

On a personal front, you may find Google Alerts handy to keep an eye on your favorite sports team, celebrity, or musicians.

Setting up Google Alerts takes literally less than five minutes. Simple go to:

http://www.google.com.au/alerts

And fill out the form:


You can elect to receive updates daily, weekly, or "as-it-happens." If you enclose your search term in quotation marks (""), Google will look for an exact match of the multiple words which is handy when you are looking for your own business name.

If you have any outside-the-box uses for Google Alerts, please consider sharing them in the comments section of this blog post. Likewise, if you try and set them up and run into problems, leave a comment and one of us at 1300 Web Pro will try and give you a quick hand.

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Facebook: facebook.com/1300WebPro

May 04, 2010

Nothing sells like a Slogan.

Logo design and branding are lesser-known parts of what we do at 1300 Web Pro. We regularly design logos, and help form brands for both startups and established businesses. One part of the process that clients often treat as an afterthought, much to my chagrin, is the slogan.

This is potentially a great loss, because the slogan (or tagline, or memory hook, or motto, or catchphrase, or whatever) is generally a brand’s time to shine.

A business’ name and logo are often simply ways for clients and prospects to identify the business. This is certainly important to the business, in the same way that the word “James” is important to differentiate me from most other humans.

However, the word “James” doesn’t tell you anything about who I am or what makes me unique. Likewise, a logo or business name often doesn’t tell a consumer much about what makes the business special and unique.

Even in the best case scenario, a name will generally still only give a trivial piece of information, like “James is a boy” or “Great Wall Motor’s sells Chinese cars.”

A slogan, on the other hand, is a business’ opportunity to sum up their all-important "Unique Selling Proposition" or "Point of Difference" right off the bat.

The starting point to a creating a great slogan can simply be the answer to the question… “Why should I deal with you?”


A few examples… 
Dick Smith Electronics – Okay so you’re like Harvey Norman or The Good Guys?
Talk to the Techxperts – Ohhh! Your staff are experts in technology, not just regular old electronics salespeople.

Qantas – Um, isn’t there supposed to be a “u” after the “q”?
Spirit of Australia – Ohhh! If I fly on you I’ll be with a bunch of fellow Aussie’s, the pilot will speak English, you’ll serve Bundy, and I won’t have a 3AM stop over in Tai Pei.

Chartered Accountants – A band of accountants.
Number 1 in Numbers. – Ohhh! So a chartered accountant is better with numbers than a regular accountant. That sounds beneficial…

Federal Express – I think they move stuff around the country.
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. – Ohhh! You mean they do overnight deliveries that actually get there the next day?

US Army – Why would I want to get shot at?
Be all you can be. – Ohhh! I’m not really reaching my full potential until I’ve risked life and limb to defend my country.

1300 Web Pro – You’re phone number is 1300 932 776, and you do websites.
Websites that mean business. – Ohhh! A website from you guys will sell more widgets, make my phone ring, find me staff, and show up at the top of Google.

Last but not least, I give top honors to this bus advertisement I recently saw in Auckland:
Monthly Meter Reads – You read monthly, my electricity company averages… it’ll all come out in the wash.
We charge you for what you actually use. Precisely. – Shock! Horror! I am paying for more electricity that I actually use? All because my electricity company is lazy? The mongrels!


Summary

Every business should have a slogan. That slogan must drive home the business’ unique point of difference. The slogan must define that single most important benefit a customer will get from picking you.

Does your business have a slogan? If not, slot in half an hour with the team and start batting ideas around. As long as you stay focused on that all-important unique point of difference you can’t go wrong.


Want more? Check out this article, "Slogans That Are the Real Thing," at BusinessWeek.

What are some of your favorite slogans? What slogans leave you wondering: “Huh?” Join me in the comments section and share your slogan thoughts.

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/1300WebPro
Twitter: @1300WebPro

January 19, 2010

7-Step 2010 Business Kickstart

Welcome to the start of another calendar year. At 1300 Web Pro we’ve psyched ourselves up for another big year. Hopefully you and your team have also come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to power through this post-recession year.

In today’s article we’re going to settle back in with a quick list of seven things you can do to give your business a kickstart for 2010.

These are all things that real life 1300 Web Pro clients are doing right now and should each take no more than a few hours (in some cases only a few minutes).
  1. Do a mail out
  2. Clear excess stock
  3. Create a 1-page Internet marketing plan
  4. Review your signage
  5. Get an IT health check
  6. Chase old accounts receivables
  7. Review your loyalty program
Do a mail out
Old-fashioned snail mail remains one of the most effective marketing tools out there. It is targeted, affordable, and the results come quickly.

Direct mail campaigns are one of the many non-web things that 1300 Web Pro offers our clients. We can design flyers, arrange printing, arrange mailing lists, and even get the letters stuffed and sent. We did a flyer and magnet campaign to 2500 local businesses last year for a new business, and their phone has literally been ringing off the hook.

Stay tuned next week for a detailed article on running an effective direct mail campaign…

Clear excess stock
If your business has obsolete models, scratch and dents, or simply too many of something, get rid of it!

Clearing excess stock will free up cash that can be used for marketing campaigns or buying new stock.

Create a 1-page Internet marketing plan
Like it or not, the Internet is going to continue to play a bigger role in business and consumer purchasing decisions in 2010. It’s no longer enough just to create a static website and leave it to gather dust for several years.

Sit down with your team, and create a simple, 1-page Internet marketing plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure you’re covering all your bases.

Here are a few headings to get you started. If you don’t know what some of the headings are all about, call us on 1300 932 776 and we’ll give you a quick heads up.
  • Company website
  • Company blog
  • Facebook Fan page
  • Twitter updates
  • E-mail broadcasting
Review your signage
Is the signage outside your building and on your company vehicles exciting, engaging, and informative? Do you have blank spaces that would be better used with a bit of additional signage?

Particularly if there is a bit of traffic outside your business, or if your vehicles spend a bit of time on the road, this is always an easy way to make your brand more noticeable.

1300 Web Pro can help design signage for your business. If you’ve driven past our premises on Mylne St and noticed our signage, you’ve seen what we do.

There are many great signwriters in Toowoomba, and with digital printing, one-off signs are more affordable than ever.

Get an IT health check
Slow, grumpy computers make for slow, grumpy staff.

If you don’t have a proactive arrangement with your IT provider, your business is likely suffering from unnecessary overheads.

Now is also a good time to review your backup arrangements, and make sure that business data is safe. With prices dropping in hard disks, backup software, and offsite backup systems, you may be able to get greater piece of mind without spending too much money.

Chase old accounts receivables
Just like clearing excess stock, debtor lists can be a source of extra cash. It’s time to get on the phone and get outstanding accounts sorted out.

Advance Debt Recovery is a new Toowoomba business, and a 1300 Web Pro customer. For those tricky customers who simply won’t pay, it might be worth giving them a ring. They are professional, courteous, and fully licensed.

Review your loyalty program
Customers and friends of 1300 Web Pro are familiar with our Birthday and Anniversary Club. We send out Intersection Restaurant gift vouchers to club members on their birthdays, their partners’ birthdays, and their anniversaries.

Make sure you have some sort of program in place to say “thanks” to your loyal customers, and to keep in touch with them so they remember to stop by.

As always, I welcome and appreciate your feedback. Please visit our 1300 Web Pro blog and share your 2010 Kickstart ideas!

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro

Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/stefantell