How one letter from a competitor can make you dissapear from Google – and how to avoid it

One of the scariest things that can happen to a budding entrepreneur is losing their Google listing. Just imagine, a listing that previously may have brought you hundreds of visitors a day suddenly vanishes, and all that business that was being generated from that position vanishes overnight.

There are a number of reasons why your Google ranking could be affected – and it has caused untold stress to many business owners – however today I want to talk about one situation that is particularly insidious – because it can be brought on by your competitors! And no, I’m not talking about the old ranking battle – where you and a competitor battle it out for #1 and #2 position. No, what I am referring to is how a competitor can completely wipe you out from the competition!

How can they do that? With a DMCA complaint.

What is a DMCA Complaint?

A DMCA complaint, by standard dicitonary terms is:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

In laymen’s terms – if a competitor finds content on your website that is infringing copyright – he can notify Google – and Google will TAKE YOUR OFFENDING PAGE OFF.

Now, just to clarify:

Google will only take down the specific page that has a copyright infringement – so let’s say you have a page called Gardening Supplies which lists some products that you sell online – and one of the images is lifted from a magazine – that particular page will no longer be visible on Google’s search results.

It is hard to avoid becoming vulnerable to DMCA complaints if you have thousands of products in your store.

If you are building a small 6 page website you are safe – just ensure that the images you use are either yours – or obtained legally – such as buying them from iStockPhoto. However IF you have an online store for example, and you have thousands of products (and thousands of images) – there’s a high chance that one of those images could be stolen.

This opens up your website to being flagged as a copyright infringer with Google – and having your listing terminated.

Your listing is not restored when you remove the offending image

A DMCA takedown notice is no joke – EVEN if you remove the infringing image your penalty stays on. The only way to relist your website is to go to [url goes here] and explain to them (very politely) how you see the errors of your ways and have removed the offending image.

This is a tactic used by some businesses to destroy their competition – and it’s not just DMCA takedowns but license numbers too

If you own a business and you notice one of your competitors is using an illegal image – you can inform Google and have their business taken offline. This is not just limited to DMCA takedown notices – if you are a security company and you do not have your Security License number displayed prominently you can be fined thousands of dollars.

You may not even know you’ve been blacklisted

If you are ranking for 20 high traffic keywords and one of them drops off – if you don’t know where your traffic comes from you won’t even know you’ve been blacklisted! Google will not inform you.

I hope this has brightened your day.

Good bye.

Check the DMCA notice at the bottom of search results

If your website is not showing in a search results page look for this:

google_dmca

at the bottom. This message means Google has manually blacklisted a page due to a copyright infringement.

Lodge a DMCA Counter-Notification Form

Go to this link and inform Google that you have removed the infringing image – and tell them you won’t do it again!

Note: you may want to get someone who is a professional at this, you may say the wrong thing and delay the amount of time it takes to get your website relisted.

Talk to your data entry staff – and tell them to use licensed images

It is not your fault your website was delisted – if you have thousands of products in an online store there is a high chance the data entry person used an image from eBay/Google Images etc. when inputting products, or while updating an image slider.

In summary – be smart and don’t give your competitors the opening to take you out of the game. Better safe than sorry!

5 Important Passwords You Need to Have For Your Website (That Your Developer Hopes You Don’t)

When engaging a web developer it’s important not to fall into a common trap – having someone else control your business.

You wouldn’t let your accountant hold your information without having a copy so why would you let your web developer control parts of your website without having access?

This is an issue that has happened so often that I thought I’d write out a blog post that would be relevant to everyone that currently owns a business that has a web presence (which is pretty much everyone).

While you may get along with your web developer now – how do you know that 3 months down the track you guys may have a disagreement, or he may disapear on holidays without informing you – what if he just disappears (rare but it can happen).

What happens then?

What would happen if your web developer disapeared right now – how quickly could you put another developer in charge of looking after your website?

Below are 5 important pieces of information you need right now to ensure that you have CONTROL over your business website (and your business):

cPanel Password

Your cPanel password will allow you to have access to your website database. This database will hold the content of your website (if your website is run by a database, which most websites are these days). The cPanel will also allow you to do cool things like setup new email addresses for staff, or shut off email addresses for staff that have left.

FTP Password

This one is a bit less important, since you change this password in the cPanel – however the FTP (file transfer protocol) – will allow you to change files on your website. A lot of times you will not have to bother with this – but sometimes you may need to modify a file directly – having the FTP password will help you. In most cases, if you have the cPanel and the FTP password – should your developer suddenly become unavailable – you’ll be able to switch over the website resposbilities to another developer without too much issue.

CMS Password

The CMS (Content Management System) is the front end administration interface that will allow you to easily make changes to your website without too much technical know how. If you’ve ever seen a screen like this:

Blog-Image-02

You’ll know what a CMS system looks like. WordPress is the most popular CMS but no matter what CMS you use – you’ll need to have a copy of the login credentials. By the way ensure you have the superadmin (top level) login details, not just the ‘editor’ login details.

Sometimes your developer may give you the login details for a CMS which will only allow you to edit pages for example, however will not give you the ability to change top level menus or install extensions to your website. Should the developer dissapear and you don’t have the top level CMS access – it could become a slight headache.

Analytics Access

Google Analytics will allow you to see how many visitors come to your website. Most web developers will be able to easily install Google Analytics tracking on your website. However in many cases you may not all ready have a Google account so the developer will setup an Analytics account under his name to track your visitors.

This is not a big deal per se – but you must ask him to grant your email permission to view your Analytics reports. Basically should the developer disapear and you need a special report for your visitor tracking (for example, how many visitors come from a particular advertiser) – you will be hard pressed to get this information unless you setup a new Analytics account (and this means your old data will be lost).

Oh, and if you don’t have Analytics installed on your website yet, do it now! How can you improve if you don’t know where you currently stand?

Hopefully that gave you some clarity about exactly what ‘keys’ you need to have a copy of, just like running a warehouse, you wouldn’t let your employees have access to any areas you don’t, right? So why should it be any different for web development?

As a client you have a right to request and receive this information. Should the web developer present excuses for why he can’t give these to you then there’s a high chance that you’ll have a hard time getting this information if eventually you decide to switch web developers.

Oh, and backup regularly!

Salesforce vs SugarCRM – The Cloud and Hype vs Reality

Recently I’ve been developing a custom CRM solution for a client using SugarCRM and it’s got me thinking about the whole ‘cloud’ term and how companies have confused consumers as to exactly what it means.

Just as full disclosure – I’m developing a CRM solution for a client on his own server using SugarCRM. If those buzz words are giving you a headache I can understand.

You can read what “cloud” is here: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-computing.htm

And you can read about SugarCRM here: http://www.sugarcrm.com/

What I wanted to do though is to educate the consumer (that’s you) about what all this cloud business really is.

The whole ‘cloud’ phenomenon really blew up a couple of years ago where everything started to be delivered in the ‘cloud’ or in other words online. For example you could have your employees submit timesheets “in the cloud”, you could manage your customer database and marketing “in the cloud”, you could pretty much have all your business data “in the cloud”.

The whole cloud thing was pretty good, and it helped businesses save money and have a less stressful experience, and of course the companies who were able to establish themselves in their niche (DropBox for “cloud storage” for example) made a lot of money.

Everyone was happy.

The actual “cloud revolution” was started by Salesforce, and you have to remember that these guys marketed the hell out of it, it wasn’t like they made this killer app and everyone jumped on it, they applied a killer marketing strategy on top of what was, essentially a fairly straightforward service – a customer database that could be accessed online. Of course, there’s more to it then that but you get the idea.

So I just wanted to point out a couple of things when it comes to CRM’s and the whole cloud phenomenon (I’m using CRM’s because that’s what everyone automatically thinks about when you mention the cloud – since Salesfroce has such a strong marketing position in everyone’s minds – I guess because they were on the scene first and called their service ‘cloud software’).

So below I will write some simple facts that will probably not show up in Salesforce sales materials but you should know, here they are:

Fact 1: You Pay Until You Die

If you are paying $150 – $500 a month for a CRM system you pay that until you die… or your business dies. In other words if your business exists for the next 5 years, at 5 years * 12 months * 500 =

(5 * 12) * 500 = $30,000 for the life time value of the product

Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about “how awesome” it is that you’re only paying $500 a month instead of paying a developer $5,000 to make some custom software.

Fact 2: You Can’t Touch Nothin’

If you are buying into a CRM plan on Salesforce, the application lives on Salesforce’s servers. This means it’s a ‘hands off’ policy when it comes to modifying the software.

Now sure Salesforce allows customizations to an extent, but at the end of the day they only allow customizations within the paramaters of what they leave open. This might be fine for you, but if you are looking at a system that integrates with your site content you may have a problem.

Fact 3: If The Business Falls, Or the Price Changes – You’re Out of Luck

I’m not saying Salesforce will collapse in the next 10 years, highly unlikely. But what can happen is prices can change, and should anything happen all your business data and processes are tied up with the company. Not a big deal but I thought I’d point it out.

Fact 4: That $30,000 is out of the box

This is another thing people lose sight of. Remember how I made that rough calculation that if your CRM software costs you $500 a month then over 5 years you’re looking at $30,000?

That’s a big number, and with Salesforce’s packages, even having as little as 3-4 users can put you at that rate.

However what I didn’t mention is that the $30,000 that you end up paying is for an out of the box solution. Understand this – Salesforce does nothing for you.

In other words they grant you access to an out of the box application and say “Good luck”. Now if you want help customising it, creating custom code then they’d be happy to help you for an extra fee.

Think about that next time you think you’re being smart going on a monthly solution.

Fact 5: You Pay Through the A$@ for every new user

This is the other thing to consider. Let’s say you start with 4 users on a CRM system at $400 a month. That might be okay for you, but let’s say you expand to 8 people, and maybe have 4 people part time. Now you have to fork out an extra $800 a month. As your business expands so does the length at which Salesforce reaches into your pockets.

Now granted if you’re expanding you may have money to the point that it really doesn’t matter, but let’s be real – $800 a month is money that you could be spending on other parts of your business.

—-
Now, alternatively you could get a self hosted solution with SugarCRM Community Edition (or another open source CRM system like vTiger and have a developer customize it for you).

Now let’s look at those facts:

Fact 1: You Pay Until You Die

New Fact: you only pay for the initial installation and customisation of the CRM system. Now, you get your CRM installed on your server and after it’s installed you don’t pay a monthly fee (except for your web hosting, which you’re paying anyway).

If the initial development cost is acceptable you’ll be in a good position.

Fact 2: You Can’t Touch Nothing

New Fact: Touch away baby. The CRM software lies on your server now, which means you have access to everything.

Heck if you wanted you could have a big smiling image of your face come up whenever anyone logs into the CRM to deliver some big brother type speech (exagurrated example but you get the idea).

All the code for the CRM software lies on your server.

Fact 3: If The Business Falls, Or the Price Changes – You’re Out of Luck

New Fact: since you own all the code the happenings of the outside world don’t affect you. Let’s say you install SugarCRM Community Edition on your server and the SugarCRM company closes down.

Not to worry, your code and your company is safe.

Again this is unlikely but it’s worth mentioning.

Fact 4: That $30,000 is out of the box

New Fact: If you were to spend $30,000 on initial development you would have a true monster tailored to your business and processes. Really $30,000 is over kill and you could have a custom developed application for much less ($2k-$5k range) but the point is, at least when you pay that money you’re getting a developer who will work on customizing the environment to your needs, rather than just a monthly plan to rent an as-is software.

Fact 5: You Pay Through the A$@ for every new user

New Fact: with a self hosted CRM solution, you could have 1,000 users for all you care and it wouldn’t make a difference, you can have as many users as your database can hold.

—–
Finally I want to end with one note: it’s not how good the CRM system is that you use, it’s how well you can utilise it. I’ve worked with a number of clients through a number of CRM solutions, and unlike those salespeople at Salesforce I actually worked to not only plan the sales software, but also implement it for a client.

However besides that, just think long and hard before you jump on the cloud train. Because once they got ya, they got you. I believe in owning everything if possible, and if the price is right why not?

We're still paying our monthly fee because we thought we were smart lol

We’re still paying our monthly fee because we thought we were smart lol

 

Scientology, small steps and how videos converts the heathen

Recently I went with my friend to the city and we walked past the Scientology centre on George St. They had recently expanded and for some reason my friend wanted to do a “stress test”. Now keep in mind this guy is a Muslim and I don’t think he was considering joining Scientology, but I guess our boredom level had reached epic proportions so anything to break the mundane would do.

stress_test

Anyway while my friend was sitting getting his stress test done, all I could do while waiting for him is to sit on the couch this Scientology centre had, which was looking out at the telvision which, no suprise, was playing Scientology videos. The “brainwashing station” if you want to call it that.

Anyway I assumed when I sat down, I would watch a bunch of videos about how awesome Scientology is and I had all ready put a mental block on myself that I wouldn’t be “swayed” (full disclosure: I’m not a very religious person).

Anyway, no matter what you want to say about Scientology these guys know how to market and promote themselves. If you consider all the religions in the world, Scientology is probably one of the few major/semi major religions that has not spread its gospel by force/violence. They have something much more valuable up their sleeve.

Actually it’s pretty amazing that not only has Scientology expanded their George St. offices, they’ve also recently finished renovating their centre in Castlereagh Street. The fact that Scientology is (or seems to be) expanding is pretty amazing considering:

The book ‘Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief’ – was a book that fully exposed the inner working of Scientology which went on to sell a ton load of copies and was named Book of the Year by the Washington Post.

The popular cartoon South Park had exposed their secret belief system which they had hidden from the world

Typing ‘Scientology’ into Google brings up a result on the 1st page for a website called xenu.net, which again is completely negative towards Scientology and exposes their many practices that many people at the top of Scientology would probably not want to know

The point that I’m trying to make is that Scientology has a pretty poor PR record, and yet despite this has not only persisted despite this but flourished.

I’m not a Scientologist expert but what I can comment on is the video I watched while I was waiting for my friend to finish his stress test. As I said before I was expecting some Scientology propaganda but what I watched had me nodding along.

Let me explain.

The video I watched was broken up into two parts (you can call it two scenes). The first scene was about ‘communication’ and the second scene was about the ‘touch assist’.

Let me break down these two scenes.

Scene #1:
The scene starts with a businessman giving a presentation to another 4 business men. The voice over says something along the lines of:

“Your skills as a communicator largely determine your success in business and in life”

Here’s the thing, even though I may not have believed in Scientology I had to nod along, who is going to disagree right?

Then the video went on, the African American business man (who was presenting) finished his presentation and all the white guys clapped. Everyone was really happy with him and as he walked out of the office they were following him along like a cheer squad.

Then you see a timid guy sitting at his desk who sees the star presenter (let’s call this timid guy Timid Mike) and he tries, rather poorly, to get the star presenter’s attention (let’s call him Star John). Anyway John ignores him (or maybe doesn’t hear him) and continues on his victory walk along with his cheer squad behind him.

The shot turns to Timid Mike who is sitting there, defeated for not having been heard.

After this they showed a small demonstration of people talking to each other. You can view it from 2:40 below:

The video called the guy who was talking the ‘Cause’ and the person receiving/listening the ‘Effect’, and then it talked about ‘Distance’ being like, if there was less distance the effect was more likely to be effected (or the person was more likely to hear you).

It was actually a simple concept, something you might find in one of those business management books, but just like that Scientology had slipped in one of their concepts into your brain. I was sitting there nodding along, everything seemed to make sense.

Now it was time for Scientology to bring out some bigger guys, in the context of the situation.

Scene #2: The Touch Assist

I hunted down this video on the internet and you can watch it below:

This video is genius, as far as taking someone who is a complete fresh newbie from the street and converting them into a believer, the maker of this video has to be commended.

Since this blog post is dragging on I’ll be quick. Basically the idea behind this video is that when we’re injured we can do things to either quicken or slow down our recovery (for example – we can eat food while recovering instead of starving ourselves).

However it goes one step further to show a technique called the touch assist that can quicken a recovery. Basically if you sprain your ankle the idea is you would have someone touch you on the shoulder, then the other shoulder, and then on the chest, asking you if you feel those points and then finally touch you on your injured ankle. The whole thing takes 5 seconds and is probably completely without medical basis, however the great thing about it is that it only takes literally 10 seconds.

So just like that, with a small investment you’re in! Once you do the “touch assist” you’ve taken a step towards becoming a Scientologist.

They don’t ask you to buy materials, or register for a course, or change your whole belief system. Just try the “touch assist”.

And that is good marketing.

Just like when someone lands on your website you don’t ask them to buy your product/service (unless it costs $1), you just ask them to give you their email address, then you might send them a couple of emails and then ask for an investment fo $10 – $99, then slowly you build up that trust and you end up hitting them with your service.

Scientology understands this concept and so does every good marketer – the small steps. The scene on communication may have simply wanted me to agree with what they were saying. That was a small step, agreeing with something Scientology says (after all it can’t all be wrong), then the next step asks you to try a touch assist which would only take 10 seconds.

And I assume just like that, along with the free stress test which is another low risk entry method, Scientology is able to take you through the hoops of being a full member.

You can say what you want about Scientology and I’m not going to get into a thing where it’s a religous debate – but they understand marketing, and just because you don’t agree with a belief system or an organization doesn’t mean you can’t take a pgae out of their book when it comes to getting what you want.

P.S. I found part of the communication video below if you want to watch it:

A Client’s Greatest Fear – Why Some Clients Make the Leap, and Others Don’t

Recently I’ve had a client who stopped midway through when a website was 90% complete and started being totally impossible.

Basically he wouldn’t reply to my emails for 2 weeks, then come out of nowhere and complain that the website was running late.

He’d try to cause arguments and threaten me with mediation (even though I did nothing wrong).

At first, I was like, ok this client is insane, but now that I think about it – I have another theory, something a bit more “deep”.

I think secretly the client is afraid, and what he’s afraid of is not that this website that I’ll make for him will be a failure, it’s that the website will be a success.

Why would someone be afraid of that?

Well here’s my theory. I remember when my business started doing really well, and I was increasing my income and one week I made a lot of money – now granted this amount was from a bunch of jobs some of which had taken a month to do, but still it was cool to receive all that money in one week.

But instead of saying “Ok, cool, I made some good money this week, I’m going to go buy myself a nice chocolate bar and continue on” or something along those lines, I started sabotaging myself. The next week I hardly got any work done, I missed deadlines on purpose, and the reason – which I now understand from talking to my psychiatrist (which I see every week) – is that I had an idea in my head about how much money/success I could have, and if that number increased I felt that I was either:

a) Being a fraud/ripping off my clients

or

b) I was unworthy of the income and should do whatever necessary to put things back to the way things should be (the proper order order of the universe)

This type of mentality is really bad when it comes to being self employed – because some weeks you make good money and some weeks you may crap money, you can’t sit on your thumb when you have a good week because the next couple of weeks could be dry.

Anyway.

The point that I’m trying to make is – and this is going to sound a bit conceited, but I think when the clients went with me they didn’t expect to get the quality of work that they did, the website looked good, it functioned good, everything was setup. And suddenly they had to confront their fear that if this website were to go up, and they were to do the marketing they planned their income could increase quite a bit. And so this fired off their schemas (which is a psychological term for emotional critters that live in your brain and lie to you about reality – it’s a long story). So what does the client do? He needs to do something to stay at the level at which he’s all ready at – so one of the best ways to do that is to get on bad terms with your developer.

The one trait I see, the difference between the clients that I have that become successful (and long term clients that keep coming back for more stuff/upgrades for their site) vs. the ones that fall off is that the ones that get to the level where they should be are the ones that get over this initial fear.

It’s that fear when you’ve composed your message to say your new site is launched and you’re hovering your mouse over the ‘Send’ button in your email campaign manager, knowing it’s going to go to 5,000 people in your industry. Knowing that everything you worked for hinges on this moment, that you could have f$#@ed up and written a typo, and so you check your email 50 times before you send it (yet for me, for some reason there’s always a mistake I find right after the email is sent and it’s too late – which by the way is that schema playing up).

Anyway the point I’m trying to make is that some clients make that leap and get over their fear, and others get consumed by it. I think that’s the one biggest difference I can find. It’s not that some clients are incredibly intelligent, most businesses I work with don’t require a lot of brain power to operate – or at least not Einsteinein levels – but they do require you to use initiative and do what you’re not told to do.

And unfortunately for some, they’ll never get over their small fears, and will continue to play small, arguing with me over a $30 invoice to the point where I just chuck them – and they move on the next web developer and start the process all over again. I can relate because I’ve been there with the contractors I work with.

Playing small, thinking you’re not worth it are feelings that are so deeply embedded that most people would rather admit they don’t exist – and those people are the ones most susceptible to it. Those are the ones that never confront their fears – kind of like an alcaholic not admitting he has a drinking problem – and so they self sabotage the moment they get close to their goals, and that’s how they stay small.

This is just a phenomenon I noticed as I worked, and it’s something I’ve noticed in myself and this is my theory behind it ^^. Maybe you can look at your life and see how this relates to you, because it is definately something that I’ve had to (and still continue) to struggle with.

Annoying Client Vol. 1 – Late with Everything, Somehow My Fault

So I should probably preface this by saying most of the clients I work with are great, and if not great at the very least logical.

There comes a time when after you’ve been working long enough that you’re going to run into some a$@#les.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, but if you are a potential client and you read this and you nod along saying “Well what’s wrong with that?” then chances are we are not going to get along.. so in a way it’s a good way to filter out clients that are going to be a nghtmare.

So anyway let’s get righ to it, I’ll have a heading for every client situation – also note as ridiculous as some of this stuff sounds I am not exagurrating this, so it’s not some comedy piece, all though at times it will sound like it.

So, in no particular order:

#1 Throw the whole website out because I wouldn’t transfer the domain

I had a client that I started working with who wanted me to build a very complex site and make an iPhone app. We started out and had a really good relationship, we even met up from time to time at a bar and talked about how the website was going.

Finally the client had released payment for the website side of the project and I started working on the iPhone app.

Finally the iPhone app was about 90% complete and I asked the client to provide feedback on it to get it to a final stage. All in all I was proud with the work that I have done and how little issues there were with the project.

So anyway, 2 months after the site is finished the client decides to actually take action and call the payment provider eWay to setup payment processing on the website. The client also decides to send me yet another spreadsheet to import into the website, which me, being the sucker that I am, agree to do for free, in exchange for getting 50% of the iPhone app invoice. Make sense so far?

So then he sends me this spreadsheet on let’s say Friday and I tell him that it should be imported by Monday (as I didn’t really have anything to do on the weekend). So come Monday I had imported the spreadsheet but there were a couple of issues left. So this client calls and starts crying to me and talking about how I have delayed the website. Anyway I let him whinge, it was no big deal, as long as I got my 50% of the invoice once I had done everything I needed to it should have been fine.

So after I had done my part (which included updating the website to comply with eWay guidelines) – eWay had told the client that the website was registered under Head Studios (domain and hosting) and that they would need a letter from me to authorize this company to use eWay as a payment processing platform on a domain owned by me.

Now the client freaked out that the domain/hosting was not under his name so he called me and requested that it be transferred to him.

I told him I’d be happy to transfer the domain/hosting over to his name once the iPhone app was finalised (since I had finished 90% of it and still hadn’t gotten paid anything). Now the client was having none of it and started saying s#@t like “Don’t f##k with my business!”

I told the client that I’m not f#@$ng with his business and I just want to get paid for my services, and at the end of the day he can still launch his site and take payments and have everything work even if the domain was under my name, so there shouldn’t be an issue.

So here’s where the story gets weird. We had a conversation about this domain issue but at the end of the day I thought the client had dropped it, and since my part of the work was all done and I hadn’t heard anything from the client, I was assuming we’re just waiting on eWay to approve his site.

Now lo and behold this guy calls me one morning about a week later to basically tell me that:

1) They no longer want to work with me
2) The domain issue left a “bad taste” in his mouth
3) They all ready have another developer who’s been working on making the site and he’s 1/3 my cost
4) They’re upset that their site is not mobile compatible – remember this is 2 months after he approved the site and released the deposit (not to mention that a mobile site was never included in the agreement)

Hmm… that’s interesting. I enquired further about this other so called developer who was making what I did at 1/3 the cost. So here’s how the convo went:

Kosta: “Wow, 1/3 of the cost. That’s really good, but can the website have the feature of importing the data like mine and matching it up to all the unique fields” (I’m not going to get too technical here but I had custom wordpress fields and repeater fields and wrote a script to populate these from an Excel file)
Client: “Yep! He’s all ready done that and I’ve imported a couple of jobs and it works!!”
Kosta: “Wow, that’s really good… can I see this website?”
Client: “I don’t have to show it to you!!”

Ah, so it’s the old “I have someone else who can do a better job then you at a better price but they are invisible and I cannot show them to you!”

What can you do with these people?

At this point I gave up on this client. Either he was trying to play for me an idiot or he really did find a developer that was going to screw everything up for him.

Anyway I’m chasing him up on my costs to develop the app and the silver lining is that I learned a lot on the project – but for a simple issue of a domain not being in his name (which I had assured him by email would be transferred) he threw away the whole site and started with someone else. Talk about a bad business move.

A sad day for all. That’s what you call lose-lose.

What a depressing blog post aye?

Well it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in this world. I bring the bad and the good unlike others who sugercoat everything.

Peace.
P.S. I never did get the iPhone feedback, it’s been 4 weeks now – I’m sure he’ll email it to me in 2 months and then complain that I’m delaying the project. Same old story man.
P.P.S. I have sent the client an email with our original agreement and asked him where I had gone wrong and what part of my obligation I didn’t fulfill, of course there has been no response as to the old ‘avoidance’ tactic.
P.P.P.S. if you’re going to pretend like there’s someone out there at a better rate/service than me, at least put some effort into it. Pay some random $100 to say that he’s charging you $1 for an awesome site lol.

When Companies Lie About What They’ve Done – Marketing Testimonials

Thought I’d take a quick moment to vent – is that ok with you?

The thing I wanted to vent about was testimonials on marketing agency sites and a common strategy that’s popping up amongst digital “agencies” that’s complete bullshit and should be illegal.

Ok, so here’s how it works.

Have you ever been on a nice looking “digital agency”, “SEO Agency”, “Website Development” company or really any company that creates digital assets and more so offers the service of looking after your marketing?

Now it’s been shown that the least trusted people in the world are marketing people, right under (or is it just above) used car salesmen. The reputation is well earned. I’m not going to sit here and talk about how I’m a saint and I’m above it all, I’ve bullshitted a little here and there – mostly when clients ask me if I can do something, and I have no idea how to – and I say I can. But what I’m going to tell you is much worse than anything I’ve done.

Basically, imagine you’re starting out in this ‘marketing’ or even ‘web development’ field. You don’t have any work that you’ve done in the past, you’re pretty crap really, you’ve never achieved any results – and you don’t want to work to build a client portfolio and put in the hard yards. What do you do?

Simple.

You go to 5 companies that have done good work in the past, maybe they’re overseas or in another state. And you say to them:

“Listen, can I house your work on my site and pass it off as my own? Then if any work comes in I’ll make sure you get a piece.”

And so these 5 people say to themselves, why not, it can’t hurt.

Now these 5 people don’t know that you’ve approached the other 4 offering the exact same offer but by the time they realize it’s too late.

In either case now you have a website that looks like you’re the who’s who of marketing because all these companies are in your portfolio.

Except the problem is they’re not.

You didn’t go out and chase, and make the deal happen with these clients.

You didn’t go through and walk the ropes with these clients from beginning to end.

You didn’t end with the client being satisfied and leaving a testimonial.

All you’ve done is used other people’s work.

And that’s why you don’t have any testimonials on your website.

So next time you see a company that says they’ve worked with Sony or whatever, ask the guy you talk to who exactly at Sony he worked with and sit back and enjoy the stammer and attempted topic change.

How dare you ask me questions that expose my mask!!??

How dare you say facts that expose my mask!!??

This is how I increased leads by 400% for a multinational client

I used to read these advertisements you see where companies say “Increase your leads by 400%” and would think – ok, I smell some bull s#$t. That is until I got the results myself.

So here is the thing – sometimes a very minor change to a website, a small element can completely blast open the amount of leads it receives.

Instead of blowing theory on you I will show you a real world case of a change I made to a client’s website. Here is a popup for a client of mine:

popup_example_brooker

This comes up automatically when a user visits the site and you can check it out for yourself at brookermarine.com.au.

Now, this popup is linked to a CRM system (the fields are what we call Web to Lead – so those fields are entered as a new Lead in the CRM system).

Unfrotunately for privacy reasons I can’t divulge too much information – as far as how much leads they’re generating, but here’s what I can say – the amount of leads the company used to generate per week they have started generated per day, or if I want to be more conservative – every 2 days.

The concept is really simple:

  1. Get in the user’s face when they land on your site
  2. Request their contact details (this could be email and phone or just email)
  3. Give them something in exchange for itoh and one more thing
  4. Make sure it’s a layover popup, not an actual new browser window that pops up – the reason is for this is that many browsers don’t allow your website to create new browser windows and it just doesn’t look as good anyway

In order for this to work you need 2 elements:

  1. A good chunk of traffic all ready coming to your site (no point getting in people’s faces if there’s no faces to get in front of)
  2. You have something to give away – if you’re anywhere near established you’ll have something to give away, it doesn’t have to be something amazing. For example the example I used above was a simple PDF brochure, I mean that’s not even like something informative, you’re basically getting the same info that you’re getting on the site from the brochure.

BUT

If anyone is actually in the market for a Brooker boat are they going to pass up on a chance to have a nice PDF brochure?

Here’s another example that I’m making for a client –

webinar-popup

Notice the red text for 2.7+ hours and immediate access. People want it now! Not that you’d make them wait anyway but it can increase the conversions by a little bit. This popup should do even better because you’re getting 3 videos which you otherwise wouldn’t have access to – this is a legal site and so these 3 videos are going to be interesting to the target audience (maybe not to you) so I expect this to do very well, and if it does I’ll be sure to talk about it (if it doesn’t I’ll just quietly pretend it never happened and clean up the evidence that I tried).

So, if you’ve got:

  1. Good traffic coming to your site
  2. Something to give away for free

You could be looking at a potential gold mine here.

By the way my rate to set all this up for you (auto responder, graphics, text fields, implementation into CRM) is $649. If you are indeed a large client and you have the opportunity to blow up your leads $649 is a drop in the bucket. But that’s my rate for now.

However whether you go with me or someone else (or, in a lapse of sanity decide to do this yourself) you have all the info you need. Whatever you do just don’t procrastinate.

Proof how useless SEO companies are

Maybe someone somewhere has had a thought that big SEO companies have more experience or whatever the 2 bit salesman tells you on the phone.

Firstly, I’m not an SEO expert by any means but the more I see how useless these established companies are the more it makes me lose faith in the human race.

Notice I say the word ‘established’.

Simple story – we had an ‘established’ company working with a client for a period of 3 months, charging out $600 a month (so by the time they came to me they had all ready spent $1,800 with this company). Here are the results:

google_webmaster_tools_results

Something I need to point out to you – I started working with this company on the 22nd February. Yeah, not to boast but that’s all me.

This company had charged the client $1,800 so far. What did they do? I don’t know, but I know what they didn’t do:

  1. They didn’t submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools
  2. They had every title as ‘Online Store’ instead of the company name (I mean at least put the company name in the title)
  3. They did not have any keywords in the title pages whatsoever

Here’s where it gets interesting – even though the SEO company had failed so miserably in getting results, and it was clear they were duds, they still had the gall to chase up the client for the 12 month contract – in other words even though they were doing nothing, they still wanted the client to continue paying the $600 a month for whatever they claimed they were doing.

So from this day forward I will say I am not an SEO guru/expert – but I’m better than these lost souls.

P.S. I’ve gone against publishing this company’s name, only because of my respect for the client and I don’t know what their contractual terms are, but rest assured the second this company takes its teeth out of my client, with the client’s permission I’ll blow this whole thing wide open. It makes me sick.

Viral Video: even old media is taking notice

Today there was an article in the Daily Telegraph about viral video and how marketers are taking advantage of the new trend in online video dissemination. There was talk about whether it was ethical for an advertising agency to disguise their marketing in what at first sight seemed like a genuine organic, grass roots campaign.

The article is worth a read and is available by clicking the link: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/secret-sell-brands-exploit-viral-videos-20110224-1b61p.html

Also, as a side note, I thought I would include the YouTube viral videos in this post that were referenced in the article with a brief caption on each:

The Shaving Helmet

This was eventually ousted as a hoax by a shaving cream company.

Hell Pizza: Interactive Zombie Game

A promotional online video campaign for a pizza chain in New Zealand. Beware this one is quite long and actually allows you to pick your way through the adventure similar to a pick a path book.

Old Spice Commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZOm2YhOI4c

If you haven’t seen this you would have had to be living under a rock (especially if that rock was not in the United States and did not have a wireless internet connection). The commercial above was actually created for television however the Old Spice campaign had no idea how much attention the clip would garner online. In fact the clip was so successful that Old Spice followed up with an online only campaign of the Old Spice guy answering questions from Twitter users, one of the clips can be seen below:

Carlton Draught: It’s a Big Ad

Sometimes when it comes to online viral success, nothing beats a huge budget and a bit of humor.

NAB Bank Break Up

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BZl21_2tuo&feature=player_embedded

I actually did a blog post devoted to NAB’s online efforts in a previous blog post which can be found here. Even though this runs the thin line of being cheesy however I respect it for its audacity and embracing of new technologies.