I thought the goal of networking groups was to network!

My friend Kevin Knebl recently posted this on Facebook. There is a lot to learn here about how to use social media…

GAL: “I post all the time but I don’t get many people liking, commenting, or sharing my posts. How do I get more engagement on my Social Media posts, Kev?”
ME: “Do you ever attend networking events, Gal?”
GAL: “Yes.”
ME: “How do you get people to be interested in you at the networking events you attend?”
GAL: “No one really seems that interested in me or what I do. They all seem to just want to talk about themselves and their businesses.”
ME: “Why do you think that is?”
GAL: “I don’t know. I thought the goal of networking groups was to network.”
ME: “A communication tool is only as effective as the communication skills of the person with the tool.”
GAL: “Huh?”
ME: “A networking group is a communication tool.”
GAL: “I never thought of it that way.”
ME: “Social Media platforms are communication tools.”
GAL: “Okay.”
ME: “A communication tool is only as effective as the communication skills of the person with the tool.”
GAL: “You already said that.”
ME: “Yes, but you didn’t understand it. You still don’t. And that’s okay. Most people don’t have good communication skills.”
GAL: “How can you say that?”
ME: “Look around.”
GAL: *silence*
ME: “Are you good at what you do?”
GAL: “Yes.”
ME: “Then how come […]

Amazon vs. Walmart: Why it Matters to Small etailers

Whenever there are competing products and services, the customer often wins with lower prices, better service, and even free shipping. That is certainly the case in the battle between Amazon and Walmart. With Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, we can expect the consumer to benefit with their grocery purchases as well. The long term plan of course is to have Amazon drones deliver groceries to your door. Or for larger deliveries, Amazon’s self-driving delivery cars.

As Amazon targets Walmart’s grocery dominance, Walmart has been doing the same by ramping up its overall ecommerce push, having recently acquired apparel retailers Moosejaw and Modcloth. Last August, it paid $3 billion for consumer products retailer Jet.com. To compete with Amazon, Walmart has lowered its shipping prices to zero when you place an order for $25 or more, without the need for an annual prime subscription. Amazon followed suit and dropped its free shipping threshold to $25.

Amazon has been beating Walmart at it “everyday low-price guarantee”. Walmart responded by calling in the major consumer suppliers — from diapers to clothes to TVs — with an offer they couldn’t refuse: Either cut their wholesale prices by at least 15 percent off, or Walmart would limit their presence in stores and create its own branded products to compete with them. Amazon, never afraid to cut sales margins by increasing volume, has responded by selling even more CRaP, an inside Amazon acronym for “Can’t Realize a Profit” products.

We know this is good news for consumers, but how does it affect you? If Amazon […]

You Will Never Sell Anything on Your Website

It is extremely unlikely that you will ever sell anything on your website. Does this mean that having a website is a waste of time and money? Clearly, with the number of websites that are online, we all know that you must have a website if your are going to be taken seriously as a business. But never sell anything? That’s pretty harsh.

I’ve talked about this before – somewhere between 80% and 97% of all ecommerce websites fail. You read that right, your chances of success with your online store are as low as 3 percent! Why? The thought process of most business owners is, “How can I get on page one of Google?,” but the reality is that getting on page one of Google has very little to do with being successful with your website. Perhaps you think, “I just need a celebrity endorsement!” In fact, this type of “if-only thinking”, that magic will happen in your business, is the cause of most online business never realizing their potential. The truth is that most online businesses fail. People put up new websites every day and never sell anything.

I’ve been saying this for years, but it still bears repeating: The internet is not a magic pill. You can’t just put up an eCommerce website and expect to make money – you have to work it just like any other business. In fact, you may have to work at it harder than other businesses models. Since people can’t see you or your products, it is often harder to establish enough of a know-like-trust factor to get them to send you money online.

Let all of this sink in for a moment. If you are not willing to put in the time to working your website, consistently creating new blog posts, writing product descriptions, taking photographs, creating videos, sharing on social media, interacting via live chat, sending out email blasts, promoting your products on Instagram, developing a following, etc., etc., etc. – your website will fail. You will never build up enough traffic to it for it to sustain itself, much less make you money. Having a website is a committment and requires a substantial amount of work.

By now you might be thinking, “Forget it..If it requires that much work, I just won’t bother.” Or maybe you are thinking the exact opposite: “It must be my web designer’s fault! I’ll just get a new website that is optimized to get more views.” Are you […]

Instagram for Ecommerce

Instagram is one of the hottest social networks right now.  It’s visual, it’s quick, it’s mobile and it’s pretty simple to use. If you’re running an e-commerce store, you really can’t ignore Instagram. Instagram is an image sharing site, much like a mix between Pinterest and Snapchat. Since it was acquired by Facebook, it has grown to have a massive number of user and is still growing.

  • 700 Million+ people worldwide use Instagram every single month. (150 Million on Pinterest)
  • 400 Million+ people worldwide use Instagram every day.
  • 80 Percent of Instagrammers follow a business on Instagram.

But Instagram can be limiting to a business owner due to the fact that it is a smart phone-only app. You can consume content on your laptop, but you must use your phone to sharing. If you are taking photos with your phone and sharing those photos with your friends, you are using the app exactly as it was intended to be used. But if you want to add text to your images, run them through PhotoShop, and do other types of editing, using Instagram becomes messy at best. One way around this is to edit your photos on your computer, then email them to yourself and save the attachment. Try this instead:

Download and install “BlueStacks” on your computer. BlueStacks is an Android emulator. Once it is running, go to the “Play Store” and install Instagram.

Now you can open and run Instagram on your laptop, and you can post files directly from your computer. Problem solved!

There are several reasons why Instagram is important to your online business. Perhaps the most important is […]

Marketing in New Dimensions: 360 Degree Video

360° immersive video technology is the most engaging form of online content available. Consumers are curious and love to explore and engage. By including sight, sound, and motion, consumer’s senses are stimulated in a multitude of ways. Now there are NO LIMITS – you choose what you want to see.

Of course, 360 degree videos have been around for some time. Disneyland popularized it with their “Circle Vision” attraction in 1967. The technique uses 9 cameras, arranged in a circle. The cameras are usually mounted on top of an automobile for scenes through cities and highways. This is how Google “Street View” is created. But most small business owners don’t have the financial resources of Disney or Google.

360 degree videos are not just for real estate walk-throughs anymore. They are being used for security, sports, concerts, movies, games, travel, and yes – ecommerce! 360-degree video opens up new avenues for deeply immersive advertising that invites the consumer in to engage with a personalized brand experience. Behind-the-scenes videos such as metal casting or candle making work particularly well in 360. Certain products, like cars, are very well presented in a 360-degree video, offering potential buyers a unique impression of what it feels like to sit in a new model. Fashion, cooking, vacation rentals, massage services – just about anything can be more engaging with a 360 degree video.

I’ll be the first to admit that 360 degree video for the typical consumer is still in the early stages of development. Most affordable cameras in the market are first-gen products with flaws, quirks and limitations. More mature high-end equipment costs well in the high five or even six figures. But consumer-level 360 degree video is here, and it is […]

WARNING: Global Ransomware Attack

If you’ve done your best to stay away offline for the past two days so you could actually enjoy your weekend, you undoubtedly now find yourself trying to catch up on all the news surrounding WannaCry ransomware. This unprecedented malware attack began sweeping the globe late last week, and security researchers estimated that nearly 57,000 computers in more than 150 countries were infected by the end of the day on Friday. While the spread of this terrifying ransomware was slowed on Saturday, it was hardly stopped. As of Monday morning, more than 200,000 systems around the world are believed to have been infected.

WannaCry is far and away the most severe malware attack so far in 2017, and the spread of this troubling ransomware is far from over. This virus attack targets the Microsoft Windows operating system. The virus is spread through a phishing scam. If you’re not familiar with the term, phishing scams aim to either infect your computer with malware or to steal your personal information, including account passwords. Scammers accomplish this by […]

Online Security Continues to be a Concern

Do not think that you are not vulnerable just because you don’t use NextGEN Gallery or WordPress – the fact is that ALL software can be hacked. If the US government and major corporations can get hacked, be assured that you are a much easier target. If you have an ecommerce website you must take responsibility for it. Here are a couple of recent issues you need to be aware of.

Researchers find “severe” flaw in WordPress plugin with 1 million installs

Per ARS Technica:

More than 1 million websites running the WordPress content management system may be vulnerable to hacks that allow visitors to snatch password data and secret keys out of databases, at least under certain conditions. […]

Influencer Marketing

This past weekend I had the honor of speaking at the Rocky Mountain Gift Show at the Denver Mart. Much of the presentation revolved around digital advertising, but one of the areas that sparked a lot of interest was influencer marketing. You can view the entire 1 hour seminar at https://youtu.be/CrMi37e7J1E

Let’s start by discussing what an “influencer” is and why this is so important to your marketing. Basically an influencer is a brand advocate and niche promoter. All social influencers have these three basic characteristics in common, to varying degrees:

  • Reach: Ability to deliver content to a target audience
  • Relevance: Strength of connection to a brand or topic
  • Resonance: Ability to drive a desired behavior from an audience […]

Seminar Announcement for the Rocky Mountain Gift Show

The Rocky Mountain Gift Show at the Denver Mart, is the region’s premier platform for wholesale buying opportunities in the gift, home, jewelry, resort and related industries. Everyone attending the Rocky Mountain Gift Show is invited to participate in complimentary educational seminars. Greg Jameson, author of the best-seller Amazon’s Dirty Little Secrets, will be the featured speaker on Saturday, February 25th from 2pm to 3pm. His talk, “Energize Your Website with Digital Ads” contains all new material to help you get the most out of your internet presence. You are encouraged to attend this free event (note: you must have a retail sales tax license to get into the Mart). The Denver Mart is located at 451 E 58th Ave, Denver, CO 80216. […]