01. February 2017 · Comments Off on White Hats, Pink Hats, Black Hats… and the White House · Categories: Blogging, Digital Marketing, Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

White Hats, Pink Hats, Black Hats and the White House

Many of us in tech tend to be introverts.  We are passionately engaged with our clients. We feel  and experience deeply but you would never know it as we are reticent to speak up, or cause controversy in order to avoid a drop in web traffic, fewer consulting gigs, or trolls from high school taking issue with a mildly progressive meme involving the color pink.  When Googlers this week finally started “marching” in support of immigrant colleagues, this made me smile and also remembering fondly an SEO conference from several years ago.  The SES event we attended involved a meet and greet icebreaker  which involved identifying your firm as to whether it was “white hat” or “black hat”.   “White hat” meant you used technical skills that were above board, slightly less aggressive in order to earn higher rankings but none which would trouble the search giants such as Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go or Facebook.  “Black hat” meant you were not above being scrappy and slightly nefarious by using keywords hidden in white fonts, misdirected pages, buying followers, or other questionable tech tactics.  We were provided real cowboy hats during the event and instructed to both wear them and mingle.  Surprisingly, it was a 50/50 color spectrum.

But when you have always leaned “white hat” and have turned down more gigs than you have accepted due to questionable client ethics, there comes a point when you need to actually wear your sheriff’s badge and come clean.

In the early 90’s I both interviewed and processed grants for disaster victims, for women at risk who had been violated and burned with cigarettes in the trafficking industry, human rights activists in foreign jails housed in horrendous conditions,  and health professionals who had their hospitals and lifesaving equipment bombed by political factions.  Later, as a case manager and small business developer, I went on to help refugees impacted by similar events try to build small family microbusinesses in order to escape tough working conditions from jobs they had to accept once they had been admitted to the US.  Many of these tiny businesses made it.  Some did not.  I was new to understanding the impact of PTSD on many of my clients and looking back wondered if stronger mental health support would have allowed more of these families to thrive.   One client had been chased by gangs with knives through the jungles of Togo.  He was heartbroken to be separated from his wife.  A large man with a broad smile, he came to my office and cried when he was placed in a job with a meat packing plant.  Idealistic, but inexperienced, it took me several years to understand that the knives in the meat packing plant were probably not helping him recover from his experience of being hunted in the jungles of Togo.

So…as I saw people unjustly detained and then finally “making it” through the gauntlet at so many airports in these United States this weekend to cheering crowds, I was haunted by the man with the broad smile.  He never had a crowd to greet him, just me.  And this is how we continue to work.  If we can cheer for your success (and the standards are high) then you qualify for a sheriff’s badge with our “white hat” team.

For someone who has yet to make our “white hat” list, it was indeed surprising that instead of doing a breaking news event on regular television networks, 45 opted last night to switch to Facebook Live.  Maybe he was hoping for a sea of pink hearts rather than angry smiley faces in order to give him his needed mandate.  We are hoping that he received what he needed.   So many do not.

Mountain Woods Media, LLC is both a white hat and progressive firm and will forever remain so.  Pick your hat, giddy up, get out there, design a cool sign, and in the face of injustice, do say something.

~  Leigh M. Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

14. October 2016 · Comments Off on Avoiding the Unprofitable Time Suck in Your Business · Categories: Blogging, Digital Marketing, Mountain Woods Media, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , ,

Does it always seem like there’s never enough time to get everything finished in your business day? Where does the time go?

Sometimes, for business owners and operators, there always seems to be a “fire” that needs to be put out. An upset customer or client; some employee drama or your regular six-month check-up at the dentist, etc. and just like that your day is gone.

What happened?

Actually, you probably accomplished quite a bit during your busy day, but if you feel like you are burning the midnight oil; working weekends, etc., and still falling behind on getting work accomplished, perhaps there are some things you can do – and other things you should cut out – to help make your day more productive.

For instance:

  • Stay off Facebook and other social media platforms. This is such a huge time suck. A post here; a picture there and before you know it you’re comparing bushy squirrel tails to Donald Trump’s hair.
  • Constantly checking e-mail. Again, this is also a time-wasting task. Checking e-mails and immediately responding to them gets you off-track. It also lets the receiver of your email know you’re available for a back-and-forth e-mail conversation. Try to get into a habit of checking your e-mail once in the morning (when you get to the office); once at lunch and then at the end of the day.
  • Get organized. If you can, plan tomorrow’s tasks and “to do” list at the end of the day. Then, when you start your work day, you have a plan. Follow the plan.
  • Try to avoid other distractions. This includes checking sports scores; playing online games; scanning the news websites; watching YouTube videos, etc.
  • If you schedule and conduct meetings, sales calls, etc., schedule them for less than one hour. If you’re hosting a meeting, get to the point and move on quickly. Your clients will appreciate it, too!
  • When possible, conduct meetings via mobile phone or through an online meeting software platform. This will save a ton of unproductive travel time.
  • Take your lunch. Not only is this a budget-minded issue, but going to a restaurant; ordering a meal; waiting for your meal, etc., also burns 45 minutes or more per day.

Are you guilty of any of the aforementioned time sucks? Trim it back. Get things done. Be more productive and more profitable.

Are You an ExpertAre you an expert?

Recently, we attended a two-day e-commerce conference in Ohio covering a variety of topics from pricing strategies to selling and beyond.

However, in one particular workshop session, the speaker told the nearly 100-person audience that they needed to convince themselves they are the “expert.” She even went to the extreme to ask everyone to repeat (out loud) over and over again “I am the expert.”

Seriously?

This is so wrong on many levels:

  • You are NOT the expert if you need to convince yourself that you are the expert.
  • You are NOT the expert if you need a self-proclaimed marketing expert to tell you that you are an expert.
  • Repeating the phrase “I am the expert” doesn’t make you an expert in anything.
  • Chances are good if anyone claims to be an “expert” that they are only trying to either convince themselves or the prospective customer, client, etc.

Can you tell how much we can’t stand the word “expert?”

Here’s how you can really become an expert, guru, ninja, etc. in your field:

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk. Your actions; knowledge of the subject matter and helpful advice will eventually make you the “go to” person in your industry.
  • Listen, study, and learn. Stay up to date on new topics, trends and information.
  • The more you share information and other tips to help your customers and clients, the more you’ll be recognized as an actual expert.
  • Write a blog. Write articles. Consistently create and publish YouTube videos, etc. These are the kinds of things that eventually make you the expert.

Claiming, shouting and repeating that “I am an expert” in such-and-such (insert topic here) is amateurish and unprofessional. It many cases, it turns off your prospective customers.

Instead, let your posse; your customers; your clients; your Facebook Fans; your Twitter followers make you the expert. Make yourself THE person they want to seek out to help them solve a problem or find the right product or service for their business.

Conference organizers – and conference speakers – please, no more “I am the expert” lectures. OK?

 

11. March 2016 · Comments Off on Is Yelp Advertising Worth It for Your Particular Business? · Categories: Digital Marketing, ORM, SEO · Tags: , , ,

Mastering Yelp Promote Your BusinessWe’re not sure if it’s a great deal or not, but Yelp is now offering one free month of Yelp Ads when you sign up for a 12-month advertising package.

Hmmm…

If you’re really “working” Yelp – updating your business profile; adding photos; earning good reviews, etc., – you might not need to commit to a year of Yelp advertising. You also need to evaluate if Yelp Advertising is worth it for your particular business niche. And, if you’ve never tried Yelp advertising before, perhaps you should give it a go for a couple of months before seeing if it’s worth blowing 12-months of an advertising budget with Yelp.

Here’s how Yelp Ads work:

Let’s say you own a local pizza restaurant and you sign up for Yelp Ads. Then, anytime a user conducts a search for “pizza restaurants” (inside of Yelp) your ad appears within the search results. This could be beneficial especially if your business listing isn’t appearing among the top search results in your local area.

In addition, if you’re running Yelp Ads, then all ads from other pizza competitors aren’t appearing in your Yelp Business Page or within your Yelp search results.

A 12-month advertising package also earns your business an “enhanced” profile that includes a photo slideshow and a customized call to action button.  This can be helpful if you don’t have time to build a sophisticated widget and want something that stands out digitally.

Is Yelp desperate for more sales?  Based in San Francisco, Yelp has fairly expensive overhead and a large call center to support and is expanding.  Yelp is also publicly traded and required to make a profit for it’s shareholders.  Their ads can be pricey compared to other advertising media you may want to evaluate.  As always, look at your advertising and marketing expenses from all angles and by all means don’t fall for a high pressure sales tactic if you call and inquire.  Also don’t over commit by throwing your entire marketing budget at Yelp if you call after worrying about one bad Yelp review.  Budget your ad dollars across your entire marketing cycle and build up momentum and traffic across multiple digital channels.

If you’re curious, you can visit Yelp.com or call (1-844-202-8082) for more information. The 12-month advertising package offer expires March 31, 2016.