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Best of 2012: May

Our series of highlights from this year’s articles continues with the best half dozen from last May, as well as a couple of complementary quotes. Enjoy!

1. Twenty-five years ago, I’m sure I would telephone (or walk to speak to) people 10-20 times a day at work. Now it’s down to a handful, yet I might send 20-30 emails. So I’m in communication with people more often, but through the more arduous medium of writing. This might not be so bad if we were brief in our written correspondence. Few of us are, however. We’re almost embarrassed to send a two-line email, as if it might be considered rude.

2. Most businesses get most of their website visitors from Google, yet few regularly monitor if their site is indexed properly there. The simple process for checking is to go to Google, get it to list how many pages from your site it has in its index, and judge whether or not that’s about right. If it’s not right, you really need to get on the case.

3. Once you’ve got a White Paper written, you can use it as a brilliant way to attract visitors to your website and collect details from visitors who might otherwise remain anonymous. All you have to do is to list the ‘problems’ which your prospects have, and put a writer together with an appropriate company expert, to thrash out a White Paper based on describing the situation where your company’s products are – presumably – so effective. For a few hundred pounds you can get yourself an excellent piece of marketing collateral which will work on your website for years, and which your sales team will just love to have in their armoury.

4. There’s no point in being top in Google for “blue widgets” if nobody ever searches for that term (perhaps because your customers all refer to the product by another name). The key is to find the search terms which provide the lowest effort to reward ratio. And one of your best friends here is Google’s “Keyword Tool”, designed to help AdWords advertisers (who, don’t forget, are targeting hundreds or thousands of search terms permanently).

5. Anyone in business who looks at their website analytics will probably find “Google” as the number one source of visitors (with the possible exception of those companies investing significantly in an AdWords campaign). But it’s surprising how few people are monitoring the volume of traffic from Google on a long-term basis, and even more surprising how many of them are not really looking at the important data. Here’s what you should be doing: it’s quite straightforward.

6. Do your company’s products sell themselves? Are they simply so good that you only need to tell your prospects that these products exist, nothing more? If so, you’re very lucky – and probably rather deluded. For the rest of us, it’s going to be necessary to make claims, albeit ones which – I hope – can be substantiated. So, given that it’s necessary in our promotional material to give prospects reasons why they should become customers, why do so many of us do it so half-heartedly? “One of the leading suppliers of…” is probably the wettest statement I can imagine in marketing.

My favourite quote of the month:

“In 2012 I think I can safely say that no directory is worth being in, whether in print or on the web. Seriously, when was the last time you used a directory even to look up an address, never mind to source a supplier? Even the directories from reputable publishers only survive because nobody’s brave enough to point out that the emperor’s got no clothes.

Oh, and a bonus for the weekend: “Presumably the only companies not running AdWords campaigns are those with an active Sales Prevention Policy in place…”

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