Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brain Burning Brand Names Boost Business

A while ago, I wrote a blog post on the power of names. I won't repeat it here, except for the fact that, while branding may not be a priority for you, choosing a name for your business or product (even your domain name) is often the single, most important business decision you will ever make.

In this blog post I submit five characteristics of great brand names, which I call the five "S's." They are characteristics I encourage you to follow when coming up with a solid, long-lasting, and highly profitable name.

For starters, let me point out that the best names are names that are short, easy to pronounce, and easy to remember. They have considerable mnemonic value, which often translates into financial value.

A mnemonic is a device - such as a word, symbol, or sound - intended to assist in recall. If a name carries some mnemonic value, it will improve traffic, sales, and value to your business on its own. The more mnemonic a name is, the more valuable it is.

There are various reasons for this.

First, due to the growing overload of information on the web, people no longer have the time to search the Internet let alone pages upon pages of search engine results in order to find exactly what they want.

Sure, search engines will always have a place.

But more and more people would love to skip irrelevant search engine results. Many will in fact attempt to reach websites directly by guessing and typing plausible domains into their browsers.

(How often have you done this? I do all the time.)

Either that or, when do they use the search engines, they will search for specific names, especially those they remember or deduce, first - and do so before they try to search for something too generic or general, which might force them to wade through pages of search engine results to no avail.

Think about it. How easier would it be if they knew of a name beforehand and typed it into a search engine? How much more relevant would search engine results be?

You guessed it, a lot more.

Take, for instance, search engine trends, even trends that appear on the front page of social networking sites. When a current news item, hot topic, major event, or popular controversy crops up, the Internet becomes inundated with people looking those terms up. Search trends often include brand names, too.

Your objective, therefore, is to choose not only a good brand name but also one that burns itself into the mind of the marketplace. The brains of the people in your market. That's the power of being "hooked on mnemonics.

Nevertheless, while the availability of good brand names is shrinking, here are five basic guidelines to follow. Try to follow these as much as you can. I call them the "5 S's of Naming" (and yes, using the letter "S" is a mnemonic), which are:

1. Suggestiveness
2. Spelling
3. Size
4. Singsong
5. Scalability


1. Suggestiveness

First, choose a suggestive name, one that communicates the main benefit if not at least the nature of the product, business, or website. Benefit-based names have a multitude of advantages beyond ease-of-recall, including credibility.

Studies show suggestive names that instantly communicate what the product or business is all about, what's their purpose or benefit, in one fell swoop, can rapidly improve desirability, believability, sales, and of course, brand equity.

Look at some of the strongest brand names out there. You will notice that most of them tend to have a name in which the main purpose or benefit is suggested.

For example, "Jiffy Lube" means a fast oil change. "Band-Aid" means a bandage that comes to your aid. "Duracell" means a battery cell that's durable and longlasting.

Benefit-based suggestiveness applies particularly well to domain names. Why? Because if a brand name is already taken, you can resort to its core benefit or purpose instead.

For example, if you sought a financial planner and were given a bunch of URLs, would you choose nafep.com (which is an actual name, by the way)? Or InvestRight.com?

2. Spelling

Second, make it easy to pronounce and hard to misspell. If you must spell it, then scrap it. The moment you're forced to spell your business, product, or domain name when asking people to look you up, you've lost them already.

Think of the people trying to find your business, your product, or your website - whether they use a search engine or not. Make it easy for them to do so and avoid anything that impedes the proper spelling of the brand name.

For instance, avoid numbers, hard-to-pronounce words, or acronyms. Unless you are IBM, AOL, CNN, BMW, or some other, already well-known brand, avoid acronyms or initials at all costs - they are probably the worst of the bunch.

In short, make the name intuitive. I'm not just talking about unique names, either. Avoid generic words that are easily or commonly misspelled, which may impede traffic.

For example, if you have a wedding planner site, would you call your business "Marriages Made Easy"? Or "Weddings Well Done"? The two are good, but "marriage" can often be misspelled with one "R" instead of two.

(If you already have one and it's too late, hopefully it's not too late to register the misspelled domain to capture additional traffic - lest they go to a competitor, much less a site that might be less favorable, like some ädult site.)

On the other hand, if an acronym makes a name easy to pronounce, easy to remember, and shorter, then go for it. In fact, this is the third guideline.

3. Size

The shorter it is, the better it will be. For example, which one would you remember the most and have the least amount of trouble (or potential for error) in typing into your browser: YetAnotherHierarchicallyOrganizedOracle.com? Or Yahoo.com?

Long names can be counterproductive as it diminishes its mnemonic value. "Federal Express" is now FedEx. "FedEx" means a courier that express-ships your packages, federally. But since they now ship internationally, FedEx makes better sense.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

5 Reasons Why Most Internet Marketers Fail

When it comes to starting any endeavor, whether it be learning a new hobby or starting an online business, we all have to start at ground zero. We all have to start at the very beginning from the very same place. Granted, we each bring different skills and backgrounds into the mix, but for the most part we are all on equal footing at the starting line.

If this is the case, then we really have to ponder why is it only a choice few go on to succeed, while most people don't. Just what are the reasons why most online marketers fail? This is the core question that has to be answered if you want to fully understand Internet marketing and how it works.

What are these basic reasons?

What are the causes or stumbling blocks that hold many marketers and webmasters from reaching their full online potential? If we know these factors, we can learn how to avoid them and even overcome them in our own online marketing. These reasons can be a solid reference point or even a source of inspiration for any online marketer just starting out.

Speaking from the viewpoint of someone who has started from the very beginning with little to no knowledge of computers or even marketing for that matter, I can honestly relate to the beginning marketer. I even had to learn HTML from scratch in order to construct my own webpages. Probably my only advantage, I did have a background in art but designing webpages was completely different from anything I had done previously to starting in online marketíng.

But from my own experiences I have drawn some general conclusions about Internet marketing and why some people succeed while most people fail. So here in my honest opinion, are some of the main reasons why many online marketers fail:

1 - Overwhelmed With Information:

Perhaps, one of the biggest obstacles I faced when I first started my website - I was bombarded with so much information on how to proceed I didn't have a clue which direction to take or who to believe. Thousands of different info products telling you to do this, not to do that... so much marketing information to absorb that you end up scratching your head and looking like someone auditioning for a zombie movie.

Completely overwhelmed with so much information, many marketers or webmasters enter a state of paralysis where nothing gets done. You go from one course to another or from one method to another, without any real understanding of how to proceed or how to get a detailed blueprint to follow.

Information overflow can effectively crush all that novice enthusiasm and literally kill even the most eager of entrepreneurs. Anyone starting out must be aware of this obvious but insidious pitfall you have to avoid at all costs. One of the best remedies, simply try concentrating on just one or two marketing plans/marketers for all your information. Try to eliminate the clutter by just working on one marketing system. Just have a few key marketing resources you go to for information, not a hundred! And do your homework, only pick marketers who can back up their claims with observable results on the web. One obvious checkmark - just see if those marketers have top rankings for their sites for popular profitable keywords associated with their sites or products.


2.Lack Of Key Marketing Basics

There are some key marketing basics or fundamentals you must learn about marketing online. Internet marketing has some key elements you must get right or you will have a difficult task in succeeding on the web. Just simple factors you must get right or it's game over before you even get started.

Most marketers fail to realize the web is "information driven" and you must supply quality information or content in order to truly succeed. You must provide a valuable service or function to your visitors. You must help solve their problem. You must give them a solid reason to use your site or product. Quality content is and always will be King on the web.

You must also understand much of the web is "keyword driven" and you must construct your webpages to take full advantage of these keywords. You must have at least a rudimentary understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how you can use it to get top rankings for your keyword phrases.

3. Lack Of Time And Resources

Another major reason why many marketers fail is because they simply can't afford the time to learn and build their online business. Most people just can't stop everything and work full time online because they have bills to pay and families to support. It may take months, probably years, before you can build up a successful online business that gives you a comfortable living. The average person just doesn't have the time or the resources to spend months learning how all this works.

Keep in mind, getting a business or website going is probably the most inexpensive way to start your business. Domains are cheap. Web hosting is cheap. Web design is cheap if you can do it yourself... Compared to starting a business in the "real" world, creating an online business will only cost a faction of the normal expenses connected with starting a business. But the main problem is having the resources to pay your living expenses until your online business is profitable. Many beginning online marketers don't have these resources and the main complaint from these marketers: "I Simply can't afford the time to work at this online stuff."

One solution is to work at your online marketíng in your spare time and gradually build up your business until you can afford to do it full time. It will obviously take longer but you can still get to the same end goal.

4. Lack Of Necessary Skills

Actually, you don't need many skills to succeed online. However, one of the major skills you must have or you must learn is communication. You must learn how to communicate. The web is all about communicating your points to your visitors or viewers so you must acquire good communication skills.

It really helps your marketing if you are a good writer because you can easily get your points across with written text or copy on your site. Writing skills can be learned but many beginning marketers don't fully understand how important their writing skills will be to their success. You must be able to communicate on your site, in your newsletters, with your customers... might sound a bit obvious but you would be surprised at how many marketers lack this simple, yet necessary skill.

But don't fret, because once upon a time, the written word was king online - but not any more. Videos are rapidly taking the place of the printed word so anyone with a camera can now be a success online. Of course, you still need good communication skills even using videos, but many marketers have found this is a much easier way to communicate information about their site or product.

5. Lack Of Persistence

For me, one the most significant reasons most online marketers/webmasters fail, is because of a lack of persistence. They simply give up too soon. They try something for a few weeks, even for a few months and then they conclude this is not working and they give up.

Building a solid online business or viable website takes time, a lot of time. Just because your business is online, doesn't mean everything will fall into place overnight, it takes time to establish a customer base. It takes time to build your business relationships with others in your field.

Sometimes, it may take years before you see some solid returns. It was three years before I saw any significant revenue coming from my online ventures, and another year before I could summon enough courage to do this online marketing full time. If I had given up and not persisted at this web stuff, I would not be writing this article right now.

Building top rankings for your keywords in the search engines (especially Google) can take months, even years before you see any results. The real key is to be persistent and keep at it, day after day, until you get those top rankings. You simply must be persistent or you will fail.

In conclusion, having said all that, you must also realize there are plenty of exceptions to all of the above. There have been countless success stories on the web where someone has come up with a novel idea or product and become successful overnight. The web can provide immediate success for some, but for most of us, it will take some time and hard effort on our part to build a successful online business. Just try to avoid many of the pitfalls or reasons listed above and you will have a better chance of placing yourself in the success column.

>>Source of the story

Multiply Your Marketing Like a Virus

In today’s Internet, conversations are cropping up all over the place. People are talking. They are talking about products. They are talking about businesses. And they are certainly talking about their experiences.

When you look at how blogs, forums and social networking sites have exploded in the last few years, you can see how powerful word-of-mouth is. But the question is, is it all really important? Can it really help your business?

Yes.

And I’m not talking about traffic. And you don’t need to be controversial, either. I’m talking creating systems to leverage, manage and profit from the “buzz.”

Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful lead and business generation processes there is. Online, some people call it “word-of-mouse.” But we know it more as viral marketing.

Viral marketing is the process of implementing means or tools through which the knowledge of your existence self-propagates. Like a virus, your visibility spreads throughout a network of people who refer you to each other.

Notwithstanding the power of backlinking, traffic and SEO, viral marketing is key for a number of reasons. Success in the offline world is “location, location, location.” The Internet is no different. Your success depends highly on the number of locations you appear online - places on which your site, link, company or product name exist.

In essence, to expand your reach, you need to be in as many places as possible, talked about by as many people as possible and be in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

With viral marketing, there are three ways of doing it:

* Create content
* Create applications
* Create systems

The first is self-explanatory.

* Your content may be controversial or buzzworthy.
* It may create raging fans - or enraged enemies.

The second is simple: you create an application — whether it’s a video, audio, file, software, document, etc - that people can pass around, and thus proliferates the knowledge of your existence on the web through other people’s efforts.

I might write about these two at a later time. But for now, the one on which I want to focus is the third: creating a system.

Before I give you some examples, let me explain why word-of-mouth works wonders. Those who get to know you or to know about you through a third party grant you a higher level of confidence, credibility and loyalty. According to Dr. Robert Cialdini in his amazing book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” this is social proof in action.

Remember a dictum a mentor of mine once told me, which is: “Implication is far more powerful than specification.” In other words, if you tell people you’re the best, that you’re the leader in your field, or that your product is the best solution to their needs, your self-serving promotional bias makes it all suspect.

However, if someone other than you - whether it’s on a blog, in an email, on a social networking site or in person - says to another that you are indeed the best or that you do have the best solution to their problems, how much more believable will that person’s statement be? How much more credible and trustworthy?

The answer is “definitely more.”

Accordingly, word-of-mouth is not only important because it creates an awareness of your business (let alone traffic), but also it is important to the degree to which third party marketing indirectly communicates greater credibility, superiority and value of the products or services you offer.

In his book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” Al Ries stresses the importance of leadership and how that leadership is communicated.

According to Ries, people never buy the best - they only think they do. They usually buy the leader (or what they perceive as being the best). And that perception is often molded by what they are told and by what others do, not by what is fact or by what is being advertised.

Coke, for example, outsells Pepsi. But according to Ries, taste tests reveal that Pepsi is the better tasting brand. So, why does Coke still beat Pepsi in sales? It is not because it is the leader in the marketplace or promoted itself as such but because it is known as the leader. And the reason it is known as the leader is because Coke was the first cola “in the mind” of the marketplace.

It is the one most talked about, even to this day. When a person is introduced to cola for the first time, they are often told to try Coke. Restaurant patrons still ask for “coke,” even when Pepsi is the only cola served. Why is that? While other colas are bombarding them with marketing messages, people have heard of Coke first, and most likely from other people.

Consequently, if people hear about you from other people, and not some advertisement or pitch, this social proof will create not only a certain buzzworthiness about you but also an almost instant trustworthiness.

How do you do that? The most significant method is to be the first. If your business or website is unique, focuses on a niche or is the first in some category, the knowledge of your existence will spread quite naturally, almost like wildfire. It becomes viral in and of itself, in other words.

Now, I’m not saying you need to be new. I’m only saying you need to be unique. Or better yet, you need to be the first. Whether it’s catering an existing product to a new niche, or adding a new twist to an existing product, you become the first.

I said it before: don’t be the best, be the first. But more important, as Ries pointed out, “Don’t be the first in the marketplace, be the first in the MIND of the marketplace.”

That said, there are ways to use systems that will leverage the spreading of that message, on the other hand, which helps to multiply your marketing punch. Such systems both simulate and stimulate word-of-mouth advertising.

Networking systems, for example, include strategic marketing alliances, joint ventures, and affiliate programs. And unlike the more traditional traffic generators such as ads and search engines, these specific tools are much more effective since they are used by third parties and not by the original advertiser.

In these cases, people don’t find you. They are told where you are because someone told them about you - especially if that “someone” is a person whose opinion they value.

If you received a call, letter or email from someone you know (and especially trust) referring you to a particular company, how much more credible will that referral be when compared to a blatant advertisement coming from the company itself?

You got it. A lot more.

When we think of viruses, we remember when “Melissa” and “I Love You” hit the scene in the late 90s and early 2000s. No, they weren’t some kind of adult-oriented websites, but computer viruses (or is that virii?).

But here’s why they were so effective: the devious (or perhaps even brilliant) way these viruses worked was that, after opening the email attachment, it sent more virus-infected emails to the first fifty people in your address book without your knowledge.

While we are bombarded with spam and phishing attempts, and anti-virus warnings telling us to never open an attachment from an unknown person, how can we resist doing so when the email apparently comes from someone we actually do know (since the virus uses address books to multiply itself and even personalizes the email with that person’s name)?

We can certainly learn the way viruses work - and, in the same way, apply that process to online marketing.

How? Remember that good ol’ fashion process called “networking”? According to Jill Griffin’s wonderful book “Customer Loyalty: How to Earn it, How to Keep it,” we are more open, trusting and loyal when doing business with or being marketed by people we know - and we certainly refer them to others more often as well.

Networking grants you the ability to reach corners untapped - areas that would have been unreachable otherwise. I personally don’t advocate traditional networking (the simple, “I’m open for business” kind) because, in my experience, it hasn’t brought me anything substantial in return. While it can be a fantastic marketing tool, the way in which networking is conducted is often the reason why it does not produce any favorable results.

When you’re only networking, more often than not people will want something in return - otherwise, they will lose interest or stop sending referrals if you don’t take the time to recognize their efforts. A way to consistently reward others is to turn your networking efforts into systems - in other words, to develop strategic marketing alliances.

There are many ways to accomplish this. But the most effective forms of networking are those that are systematized.

A traditional network is one in which qualified leads that you can both share, or information about each other that is promoted to each other’s market, clientele or subscribers. This way, you can effectively cross-promote or share markets with each other. As long as your alliance logically shares a same target market but without directly competing with you, it could be potentially rewarding.

On the Internet, this technique is one in which a systematized method of cross-promotion between you and your alliance through a unique, joint marketing effort is created. It is also often referred to as a “joint venture.”

For example, this includes the coupling of complementary products or services in a single offer that’s exclusively marketed to each other’s market. While different, these offers are combined and marketed under the banner of a single promotion.

Whose product or offer can you bundle with yours to create an entirely new and distinct package?

In its simplest form, if your alliance sells a product to a market that matches yours, they can add to their offer additional products, services or bonuses from you, which may include an exclusive special offer for one of your products as an upsell.

But the best method I’ve found is when you create an entirely distinct product with those from two or more strategic alliances, amalgamating existing products from all companies into a single offer that’s sold simultaneously from your partners’ sites.

For example, you sell cookware online. You can easily team up with a publisher specializing in cookbooks and throw a book in the mix. While you raise the price and split the profits with the publisher, you instantly raise the perceived value of the cookware through a co-branded approach or a combined package of non-competing products or services.

Best of all, each of you market the “new” product separately while sharing in each other’s traffic, market, lead-base and referral-sources (i.e., your own respective networks, including affiliates, “fans” and even suppliers) - thus doubling the reach with the same marketing effort.

If they have their own distinct affiliate program, network of affiliates and fan base, including their own blogs for instance, they can leverage the knowledge of your existence quite rapidly. And vice versa.

Ultimately, by leveraging the efforts of others you not only propagate the knowledge of your existence on the web, but also you create trust and credibility. And if you cater to a new market, or offer a new product by taking an existing product and giving it a new twist, you also give yourself an extra dose of buzzworthiness, too.

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