Even if you’ve been working online for years, everyone has questions about the different disciplines of online marketing from time to time. If you’ve hit a brick wall sometimes it can be difficult to get the sort of detailed feedback you need to help you break through.
There are plenty of places you can go, like Linkedin Answer’s section to ask for help. But more often than not the answers on Linkedin and other forums are general bits of information people give to help put you back on the right track, and it’s just not enough.
Once a week, I will answer one question in as much detail as a person can stand. By no means am I suggesting that I know all the right answers, or even will take the best approach. But I will put my experience to the test to help make another website better.
Today I help Elie Kochman go about creating a public image.
This week- Elie Kochman of Optimal Upgrades (blog.optimalupgrades.ca) asks:
Elie did the right thing and followed up with a personal mail. This is where the real fun begins ;-)
Thanks for your answer! I’ve heard of Third Tribe Marketing, but haven’t yet figured out how the community would fit into my business perspectives. It would certainly be great, though, to have people to give honest feedback and help on the efforts in developing a business.
Answering the questions regarding what I do, and what I want to be doing, is something that I’m currently working on clearly defining, and is going into the re-branding. As you say, it should be clear and up-front in all branding what it is that’s being branded.
I hear what you’re saying about Third Tribe. All I can really say is that there is such a wide array of people that are so supportive of each other, and come from a wide variety of back grounds, that I’m not sure how I’d be able to run my business without having such a supportive group. The focus of the community isn’t necessarily focused on self promotion, but more on helping each other by sharing techniques and giving feedback that works, because at the end of the day, everyone there is a business owner, and there are struggles we all have…
But enough about the 3T…
So I just did a quick scan of your blog to see what I could come up with. I warn you, this may come off as harsh, but these are all things to seriously consider when creating a public image. Reading through some of your content, you create some good content, but, if you’re going to rebrand… I think you have more work ahead of you than you really know.
First impression, the design doesn’t in the least bit communicate what it is that you do. I know this is something that you’re working on, so I’m not going to brow beat you about this.
But having a design that will visually communicate what you do, is like putting on a good suit for a prospective client meeting. Your website is the most important aspect to creating a public image.
Second- Advice for small businesses…?
It’s too vanilla. It doesn’t actually say anything… Are you giving advice on accounting? Marketing strategy? Growth strategy? Going IPO?
What kind of advice are you giving?! and what credentials do you have to give that advice?
What is at the essence of what you do?
I call myself an Online Marketing Strategist not because it sounds cool (well maybe a little…) but because it’s easier than saying “I’m a Community Builder, User Interface Designer,Video Producer, Information Architect,Viral Marketer, P.P.C. Manager, Music Creator, Reputation Manager, Site Auditor, Project Manager, SEO and Link-builder”
You still with me? ;-)
Next- your tagline
Helping small business owners think about the issues they face on a daily basis
I’m sorry, but again no.
I don’t need any help thinking about issues I’m having on a daily basis. Maybe SOLVING some of the issues I’m having on a daily basis, but even then, those issues change on an hourly basis.
Some of my issues right now:
Finding the right Video editor
managing client expectations
See what I mean? Really I don’t need help thinking about any of this, I’m already thinking about so much that it doesn’t give me room to think about much else.
Maybe something like
Real Small Business
Problems Solved Daily.
It’s still ambiguous, but it gives a better expectation of the content on this site. Real Small Business also has that double meaning, and people like that.
The next, and most important question you should have is what kind of small business owners are you looking to target? What industry? what is the size of their business? how many employees? Who’s reading your site, the owner of the business or the employees?
“Who?” is on your site is the biggest element to consider in your re-branding effort.
If you want any more help with any of this, let me know, I’d be more than happy to lend my services or network to help.
Thank you for your honest opinions – I appreciate it, as it will really help me going forward. I’m aware of the scope of work – but still, one step at a time, always looking up and forward.
I have a couple points, though, and some questions, if you don’t mind.
First, the title is actually “Advice for Small Business Owners”, not “Advice for Small Businesses”. So I think that does indicate who I’m targeting with my articles.
The tagline does need work – I’m not quite sure how I’m going to rephrase it, but you’re absolutely right, the focus should be on the fact that I provide ideas or suggestions for solutions, not just thoughts about the problem. (As an aside, of the 5 items you listed as current issues, I’ve written about 4 of them and touched on the fifth indirectly.)
I’m not sure exactly when you looked at my site, as I switched it between two themes this morning, resulting in some information being lost from the display. There was (and now is back) a paragraph about myself. Do you feel that more is needed? (I’m still in the process of editing the various informational pages on the site, one of which provides much more detail about myself.)
In regard to your last point, my answer is ANY small business owner looking to grow/expand their businesses. How would you suggest I might approach presenting that with my branding?
Again, many thanks for your input! It’s really appreciated!
Thanks for responding! Sometimes I know I can come off too strong so I appreciate that you’re still open to my opinion (which really is all I can offer, in the end it’s all up to you. Oh the beauty of owning your own business ;-)
While I appreciate where you’re coming from on your title, from the standpoint of instant acknowledgement, I’m still not convinced that it’s as effective as it could be. The local comic book shop is a small business as is the mom and pop store as is the family run restaurant down the street. Some may identify themselves as a small business some may not. Which leaves the possibility of being overlooked still rather large.
In order to be truly effective with using something like “Advice for small business owners” angling your articles to be industry specific might help gaining both and noteriety as the go-to guy for “Small business” related issues. This can be time consuming in the research portion, but well worth it in the long run.
I’d love it if you pointed me to those 5 articles, I’ll take any help I can get ;-)
The site that I was looking at this morning was the black and grey theme, I just checked over and I like the green theme that your going with a lot more. I think you’re on the right track with this theme. My opinion, there is too much information being offered right away. There are a lot of words in a small font, which as a first reaction is really intimidating. That’s just in general. Maybe break up your content by using more header tags in your articles, as well as images. I have suggestions on how to get images and build your network out at the same time.
The other thing you could do for your bio (including pearing it down) is to include an image to yourself (your default image is great for this) and a bold heading to draw attention to it (if that’s where you want people to look that is)
with your newsletter section I would also include some sort of icon to indicate email, and a way to visually acknowledge that is where I can subscribe to your Rss feed.
To touch further on what I was saying earlier, If you’re really going to target ANY small business, than the best approach would be to give industry specific advice. The content can pertain to apply to any industry, but the angle should use different industries as the metaphor to explain the point.
You started to do this a little bit with the True cost of mistakes, as it related to webdesign, and I would have liked to see the metaphor used more throughout the post, relating this problem with this issue, as it relates to webdesign (and by webdesign, I actually mean everything.) By changing the title to “True cost of mistakes in Web design” you’ve done a few things. 1.) you’ve targeting web designers who find valuable advice they can relate to (and possibly store in their brains to remember to share with others) and 2.) you’ll be driving in varied niche in a variety of fields.
It’s an indirect way of showing everyone they have the same types of problems BECAUSE they were ballsy enough to work in small business. I’m sure the theme park owners can commiserate with the cost of making mistakes as the computer guy can appreciate what it’s like to be running specials to attract new business.
At the sake of sounding pitchy, this is the type of feedback I’ve come to expect on Third tribe. Without a doubt, there would be other people who would give detailed advice that could totally disagree with what I’m saying, but also be valuable. Just some food for thought…
Thanks for taking the time to give me this detailed review.
First, the articles where I talk about your questions in particular are (some closer matches than others):
- Time Management (Task Management): http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca/2009/02/task-management/
- Networking: http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca/?s=Networking There are 24 articles on a variety of networking-related topics
- Growth: http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca/2010/05/just-say-no/
- Finding a video editor (loosely touched upon here): http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca/2010/04/freelancers/ and http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca/2009/03/saving-money-on-an-it-solution/
- Managing Expectations: http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca/2009/11/the-art-of–management/
Second, the new look is part of the rebranding, and I’m certainly open to ideas for how to improve the new look to make a better impact on my audience. The effort doesn’t scare me as much as lack of direction, so the more ideas I hear, the clearer the plan becomes.
I’ll be digesting some of your ideas over the next few days, and see what it turns into. Some ideas I’m sure I’ll be using, such as writing articles very much targeted toward a particular subset of my audience, for exactly the reasons you described below.
In regard to joining Third Tribe Marketing (the pitch doesn’t bother me, especially as it’s come along with some great advice) it’s something I’m going to seriously consider, and be sure to use the link you sent me so that if I do sign up, you’ll get the credit for it.
Again, thank you for your input – I really appreciate it!
To see Elie’s blog after improvements go to optimalupgrades.com
Your call! What do you think? Should this be part of a weekly series?
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