Take a (practical) vacation for your business

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

“I don’t have time to get away! This is 7 days a week!”

I know. It’s busy season. The sun’s shining and you’re making hay.
But have you been questioning your marketing or overall business strategy lately? Are there things about your business you’d like to change?

So why “practical”?
To be fair, you don’t have time for a vacation to Disneyland.

A practical trip would be something like this:
Take Friday off (or better yet, Monday). Go to a similar environment to your hometown, but drive; say at least 3 hours. Take your spouse, or go it alone. Visit businesses similar to yours (if possible) and pay attention to the vibe in that community. Business owners that know how you feel will likely appreciate a conversation with you, so find a way to strike one up. But be casual. Don’t go in with your notebook and interview them as competition. Don’t judge, just be you, on a short vacation and show genuine interest in them. It really does work.

We can learn a lot from a little. Take a little break and hopefully you can find the value in taking a day or two off to think about why you’re in business, where you’re wanting to end up and how you’re going to get there.

There’s nothing wrong with your website.

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

How many times have you watched a forum discussion where participants can “hide behind the screen,” turn into something, well, destructive? Try asking for constructive criticism on your website on a forum or open discussion board and it’s a safe bet you can count the posts on one hand before the “authority” shows up. The authority that tells you you’re terrible, that they’re awesome, and so on. We love that guy.

In the web world we are all experts. Knowledge is one Google Click away.

You, as a small business owner, KNOW that your website can be better. You have areas you want to see grow, things changed, pictures updated, etc. Whatever it may be, your hyper-exposure to the content on your website leaves you in rare company.

There is nothing wrong with your website. This is, admittedly, a different perspective on the photos from 2002, the stock photo guy with the blue-prints in his hand, the hands “collaborating” on something we don’t really get. You get the point.

Improve your web presence by taking a systematic and simple approach. Refresh the things that bother you. You know in your gut as a business owner what is or is not representative of your business for May of 2010. Make changes.

You shouldn’t need to spend $65 / hour for every change. Find that Web Developer that will work with you. Nathan Lyle and his Team at the Web Maestro often work on quarter hour rates, and are ridiculously efficient.

Perhaps it’s time to jump in and take ownership of some Google Search real estate.
Well, that’s what we do, and we offer our thoughts for free.

And we’re constructive. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with your website. We just want to change a few things.

Categories: Uncategorized

Clean up your Facebook Wall.

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

So many things to complain about, so little time. Well, to clarify, this isn’t really a complaint, more-over a suggestion to help you regain a bit of anonymity in your Facebook Lifestyle.

Let’s talk about your wall, and the story it tells. Sure, we’re all friends on Facebook, right? I mean, we all know each other so well. Why shouldn’t we leave the last 4 years of our Wall Posts up for all of our Friends to see? If you haven’t done so recently, go take a look at some of your friends’ walls. For one, I don’t feel too comfortable with Facebook leaving EVERY MOVE I MAKE available for my entire Friends List to see.

Simple, yet effective for keeping things a little less “public” would be to delete the wall items that are no longer relevant to your “social circle”. Unless you truly trust all 450 of your “friends” it might not be a bad exercise to get your wall history in check. Sure there are other ways to monitor and control this information via Facebook, but the reality is, no action is more definitive than deleting the stuff that no longer needs to be posted for all to see.

Click on your name next to your profile picture in the news feed and scroll over all the line items on your wall (to the right) and you’ll see the “remove” button. Click it and confirm the deletion.

May the cleanest wall win!!!

Spokeo and You.

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Everybody calm down. You’re going to be ok.

So my latest string of Facebook News Feed Panic is all about “Spokeo” and the personal information that we all of a sudden can’t believe is on the web!!! Really? Are you REALLY; a) that surprised, and b) that threatened? (seriously, think about the people you know who have been harmed by the availability of their basic information)

First off, yes, sites that are built to make money off of sharing information we’d rather not have shared rank uber-high on the lame scale. But to break into a Social Frenzy over the realization that our information is out there, is, well,
out there.

Some food for thought:

When you go to Spokeo to remove your “name” you have to do a couple of things:
1. You type in YOUR NAME. Now, why would you do that? The probability that any of the information they have about you is accurate is very, very low. If anything, you might consider Googling yourself. The fear mongering will lead you to believe that they (Spokeo) know your credit score (they don’t) and that they know where you live, what you do, what you earn, etc. Newflash friends: this isn’t new information. Just another site causing a News Feed hiccup.

2. You have to enter in YOUR EMAIL to remove your name. Well, let’s hope you have a few alias emails you can use and get to effectively enough to validate “post name removal”. Don’t give them a good email, please!

Point is, everyone is really taking all of this privacy stuff a bit too far. Please, protect yourselves. Be smart. Common sense can go a long way. Ultimately you should accept that if someone really wants to find information about you, they might do so with a few more utilities than Spokeo.com.

Now, go clean up your Facebook Wall you sloppy heathen!! I can see everyone and everything you’ve interacted with over the last 5 years and my have you been busy.

A few recommendations to follow for basic, common sense Facebook Security:
1. Don’t put up your full birthdate (think Identity Theft)
2. Don’t list out your day to day operating schedule!
3. Clean up your wall. 😉

And whatever you do, don’t go typing your name into 123people. You might actually find something about yourself.

9zero6 at Overland Expo. Virtual Business / Face to Face.

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Overland Expo is an incredible example of the relationships built both socially between enthusiasts, and the loyalty between Consumers and Service / Product Manufacturers. Many of the individuals representing either a company or themselves have had “online relationships” here that are finally producing a first time Face to Face introduction.

Oddly enough many initial introductions start with “what is your username on Expo” or some other forum. The looks on the faces when one realizes, hey, I’ve known you for years, I’ve just never met you…that’s priceless.

The Internet Works.

Unfortunately business can grow, slow, adapt and confuse almost overnight. Coupled with the dynamic of a Lifestyle and varied expectations, companies are hard pressed to understand how they are performing on the web. Tracking sales is a decent metric. If you’re making money and you’re happy with that, great.

If you’re more intrigued by data, then maybe some time with 9zero6 would be an eye opening experience. Keyword research, competitor analysis, understanding what potential customers are actually searching for in order to find your website and / or landing pages. That’s what we do.

You built a stock website, and 9zero6 can modify it for you. We can improve your web-capabilities to hit target markets, gather statistics to measure effectiveness and help to accept the realities that this is a tough business. You’ve got work to do, and we can help. We WANT to help. 9zero6 does not carry the typical industry overhead of a large office and huge payroll, so our price-point is untouchable by the competition.

I’ve been around this “Overland” industry since the dawn of forums. Watched a select few grow, and the vast majority fail. Seeing the resolve on the faces of vendors here during Overland Expo is refreshing, a beacon of light from the hard working Small Business Owner and mid-sized companies that are the backbone of our economy. Let’s work together, let’s grow together. Contact 9zero6 Today to improve how you see the Web, and how the Web see’s you.

About 9zero6:

U.P. Overland Co-Founder, Tom Dolaskie IV, started 9zero6 upon moving back to Upper Michigan after spending 11 years in TX, FL and CA. You can learn more about U.P. Overland, Tom and Kristian’s trip to Amado, and just what we’re trying to do to promote a sustainable form of Adventure Tourism for the U.P. by checking out the U.P. Overland Website, Forum, and Facebook Fan Page.

Check out the U.P. Overland Expo Page

A Logo, A Brand, An Identity…

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I have much respect for the professional graphic designer or graphic artist. So much can be done with a solid visual foundation. Image IS Everything. Branding is…..wait, what??

Interesting experiences were had today discussing the challenges of having a business named, having a logo created, branding your services and hoping that customers understand what you offer. Each side of my conversations (with several different individuals) led me to further question this “logo vs. branding” conundrum. If you’re in the creative field, you know what I’m talking about. Greta Berg of Company B Graphics wrote a great article about it in The U.P. Web Maestro’s December Newsletter.

I’m not going to re-write Greta’s article. I think it says all that needs to be said about the subject. I just want to add from my experiences in naming a business or two, that sometimes we think our name is the answer. Other times we aren’t concerned with the name as much as being great at what we offer, which will gain the name industry recognition. From this “name” comes a Logo. Right?

My advice? Follow your instincts first and foremost. You have to look at the sign every day. You have to answer the phone, send emails, visit your website and Facebook Page and so on. But consider the input of the creative professionals. They don’t know your industry or business, they know how to deliver a message that can captivate your market; visually. Starting out with a professional look can only make being professional that much easier. If you’re hitting road blocks in Logo or Name Creation, improve communication. Ask questions instead of giving answers. Dive into the web for inspiration.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal. Today is never a big deal. The present will pass.
But this Logo, this Identity, this Brand….if you’re lucky: It’ll last forever.

An Internet Marketing Blog Should Be…

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Whatever you think it should be. And hopefully it works for you.

Here’s the deal, and excuse me if this seems a bit blunt: I’ve gotten a couple of comments from apparent SEO snobs who’ve felt compelled to “expand” upon what is written within the 9zero6 blog. Unfortunately, these comments aren’t targeted toward what I consider the proper 9zero6 demographic; the Upper Michigan Small Business Owner. This blog is basic, and written for the “non-SEO” experts in mind.

If you feel compelled to spend time writing comments on our blogs (which is actually appreciated) please try to keep in mind we are writing for the everyday business owner that has better things to do than read about SEO all day.

I have enough big words and acronyms to deal with as it is…keeping the blog simple is a must. 😉

Categories: Uncategorized