There is a lot of talk in the news these days about the difficulties facing small business owners around the world. Nowhere are these difficulties felt as deeply as in the travel industry. The rapid growth of the control of travel by big business with its multi-billion-dollar internet and advertising power has caused many small travel business owners to be pushed aside.
December 28, 2012
August 5, 2009
Not sure how many of you are following me here, but just wanted to let you know that i am now hosting this blog outside of WordPress, so the address to find me is http://proseotalk.com … yeah, just the same, but without the wordpress bit.
And there is new content over there, so hope you visit and keep on visiting.
thanks for reading me,
July 24, 2009
Well might you ask – over the years the catchwords of professionalism, credibility and reputation have all been very important in corporate communications in particular.
The words passion, dynamism, excitement, connection, engagement and fun seem a lot way away from the often stuffy world of corporate speak.
But finally companies are coming to realise that what readers/viewers connect with is real people – connecting the way real people connect.
Which is not through carefully selected sentences from the corporate phrase book. Stilted, formal, corporate brand speak that endeavours to never be personal, never be “inappropriate”.
But in reality, that kind of word-smithing takes the reader so far away from the humanity that should be behind it … if they even stick with it long enough to get the point.
Chances are that today’s readers will simply scan the words, not even try to understand, and move right along to something more engaging.
Because there is always something more engaging – be it a viral video, a i can haz cheezburger image, the next tweet popping up on the screen … or your competition, who have somehow managed to capture the essence of what they have to offer in a way that is far more dynamic and interesting than your approach.
So how do we build trust?
Ok, so if you shouldn’t be building reputation and trust through stuffy language, stilted layouts and anonymous photo library images, how do you do it?
Your potential clients need to know that other people have used your products and services, and that they got a good result. They were happy with your service and would recommend you to their friends, family and associates.
We are all very familiar with this formula by now. Amazon.com and eBay were among the very first e-commerce sites to make it popular. It is the new democracy – the equalizer, particularly on the auction sites, where the opportunity exists to provide mutual feedback.
Whatever the structure, users of a service and consumers of a product now have the opportunity to share their experience with the whole world, but especially other potential consumers of that same product or service.
(Actually marketers have been using testimonials for many years, but the web makes it possible for those recommendations to be read by a massive audience, and for readers to dig down and find out much more about the recommenders than ever before.)
Which is great.
Especially great for you if what you are offering is up to scratch.
- So let’s assume that it is (and if it’s not, you are making your best efforts to get that issue sorted asap) … customer feedback, testimonials and case studies on your website are a great place to start building that trust.
- Awards for excellence, innovation, success are also great – make sure you have them up there. And if you don’t have any, think about entering ones in your industry sector.
- Stories from local media about your business doing well are also great ways to share a third party view of your company. Make sure you include a News section that not only has room for your own press releases, but also has room for you to put up any media mentions.
- Links to and from your site from other reputable sites are also valuable ways to build trust by association.
I am sure you can think of other ways to build trust on your site – pictures of your products/services being used in the real world; feedback widgets like Trip Advisor that give travellers the chance to give feedback on hospitality providers around the world; forums and blogs with commenting facilities and the chance to offer real time customer service through the net. So many different ways to demonstrate that people trust you, buy from you and come back again for more of your products and services.
Of course you don’t have to use them all, and you don’t have to put them all on your site right from day one. But there is a great selection here of ideas to get you started and give you something to work towards.
So tell me, if your site is already up and running – how do you build trust?
July 23, 2009
So if you create this fabulous looking site – or pay someone talented to do it for you … how do you populate it with all that content that reflects your passion for your business?
Keeping in mind a combination of the basics of good communication, great usability and searchability is a good place to start.
Don’t overwhelm visitors to your site with too much information.
Unless they give you permission – so keep it simple, concise and interesting to start with, with clear and logical calls to action – then have opportunities for them to dig down and read more detail if they choose to.
Of course your content will be impacted by your objectives, your product or service, and your potential audiences – so I am assuming you have those things clearly defined already.
For instance, if your site is going to be primarily educational/awareness raising, then the style of communication will be very different from an e-commerce site where your priority is the maximum number of conversions to sales.
Make it intuitive and logical.
Which means you will have to do some testing – on yourself of course as you scope it out, but ideally also on some people who might be your target audience. Work out how they will logically want to use the site, where they would most likely expect different kinds of information to be. Make sure your most important information on each page is “above the fold” – ie they can see what you want them to see without having to scroll down the page.
Don’t reinvent the wheel.
As tempted as you might be to make your site “different” from everyone else’s, when it comes to the way you label important parts of your site in your navigation, remember that you only have your visitor’s attention for a few seconds at the very beginning and they want to be able to quickly find what is of interest to them.
Don’t get over-clever with your headings, because many visitors will not waste time trying to work out what you are talking about or pointing them to. So although it might seem boring, just remember that familiar means easy to use.
Remember your home page is not the only entry point.
Many people make the mistake of focusing all their creative and content mojo on their home page, assuming that this will always be the first point of entry for visitors. Don’t. If your site is easily searchable, with each page optimised for its content, then you will get visitors landing all over the site. Keep that in mind when you are writing. Make sure it is always easy for people to work out where they are and what your site is about.
If grammar and spelling are not your strongest suit, get it checked
This may seem obvious, but how often do you visit sites with grammar and spelling mistakes in the copy? Get it checked by more than one person, and if they happen to be Scrabble champions or otherwise anal about spelling, so much the better.
Retain your passion throughout
You know how it is when you are learning a new skill. It feels very mechanical and laborious, and sometimes it can be very difficult to hold onto your inspiration at the same time. Don’t worry – like anything new, soon most of the process will become automatic and it will stop getting in the way of you sharing what is really important with your online audience. Aim to include something that excites, inspires or motivates on every page of your site.
That’s enough for now.
Knowing when to stop writing is part of the art form … so I think that is enough information for one session. More in my next post. Meantime, feel free to comment or share examples of sites you think are well written, easy to use, or simply full of passion and inspiration.
Thanks for reading me.
July 21, 2009
Some of its inner workings at least.
For a long time I have been thinking about starting a blog that provides a chance to share some of the things I have learned along the way about marketing and communications.
For many years (I started in PR early in 1987) I struggled with the label PR consultant – and even after being their parent for 17 and 19 years, my sons still don’t really understand what a PR person actually does.
That’s because when a PR person is really doing their job well, they are invisible. Ironic really – biggest marketing problem you could ever have – no visibility. But, the fact that the industry survives and thrives is largely due to referrals between those businesspeople in the know. And these days, a lot more profile due to the fact that bloggers are now being exposed to the PR practitioners skills.
So one of the interesting things about transferring my skills to the world of SEO and online content is that to an extent, SEO is really the same. If you are doing it well, it is seamless and invisible to the casual viewer.
Ultimately, great SEO helps website owners create awesome content that naturally draws lots and lots of viewers, keeps them in the site for a while, encourages them to come back, and inspires them to recommend your site to other people.
That’s what works.
So what do you do as a business owner if you don’t have that kind of website?
My suggestion is to spend some time with yourself (and your business partner/s, senior staff, stakeholders) really thinking about what it is that inspires you about your business. What keeps you in the game, what do you have to offer your clients or customers on a daily basis?
Once you have worked that out – and you might record it in pictures (of happy, excited customers perhaps), words, video or audio … then it’s time to really get creative about how to instil that inspirational content into your website.
If you are excited about what you have to offer, then other people will pick up on that if you communicate it well.
Thing is, communicating something exciting is hard to do with words alone. The more ways you can convey that excitement via your website, the better.
- Think tangible.
- Think interactive.
- Think compelling images that are worth more than thousands of words.
- Then find the right web maestros to help you make that happen.
Get it done, then keep feeding it with your personal source of excitement and inspiration. Don’t just put it out there and forget about it. Treat your website like your children – it needs your care and attention every day.
So that’s it.
My first post in Stream of Consciousness SEO … and it was!
Look forward to streaming some more with you very soon.