Archive for the ‘Online marketing’ Category

Small business has a crucial advantage over big business

I read Mike Moran’s epic Search Engine Marketing, Inc to learn the fundamentals of search marketing, and have enjoyed reading his blog since. He has posted recently on the question Should Small Business Ditch The Web. He doesn’t agree with that sentiment, and neither do I.

Small business isn’t ditching the web because it is disadvantaged. Its quite the opposite. By the way, I worked 5 years for IBM (in Australia). Its a great company, but I decided to leave to start my own business precisely because the web offers such incredible *advantages* to small business (reading Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail was what did it).

Rather than disadvantage, small business has a crucial advantage over big business. Large businesses often already know how to engage with not only their home country market, but also a global market. Now small business can as well. And transform their business in the process. It might mean changing a product or service. But there are enormous opportunities that come from the accessibility of new markets, either national or international.

Today, someone can launch a global business with zero capital investment. That is a truly extraordinary change.

#1 rankings on top keywords is not a pre-requisite for strong business outcomes. That said, top rankings can be achieved by small business, but it does take persistence and a strong emphasis on content marketing.

A small business can benefit greatly from search engine marketing. Right now many web sites are built on poor foundations (from a search engine perspective), and small business suffers from that. Curse the advertising-centric folk who captured ‘web site design’, and roll out impenetrable (for a search engine) flash, javascript and other ways of hiding good content from search engines. But it won’t take too long before this turns around. A good search engine platform with good content is a very powerful combination for small business.

Small business wont’ be ditching the web en-masse any time soon.

Rising in the search rankings through back links

In his blog post on search engine optimisation, Glenn included an important point about link-building:

“Another big clue the search engines use as to how relevant your web page is are the other web pages that link to you. If 5,000 golfing sites link to your golf page, the search engine will see this as more relevant that another golf page with equally good content, but no ‘back links’.”

What does this mean for a small business like yours?

I asked Elizabeth Fleetwood, who runs Hobart Historic Tours, about the importance of link-building to a business like hers:

“Link-building is huge for a small business. It appears that websites are noticed according to the links one has. The search engines are becoming so sophisticated that it is now no longer simply a matter of how many links, but whether they are relevant – i.e. from related organisations.”

Elizabeth builds her network of links by looking for other sites that are relevant to her business, and then setting up reciprocal links. She suggests starting with businesses you deal with regularly, or who have a high status within your industry.

“If this means talking to many different people and sharing industry experience/info, that is all very good for everyone.”

I would take this a step further by recommending two other important strategies:
1. Good, relevant, authoritative and regularly updated content on your site will help equally relevant and authoritative sources to find you and link to you as a natural part of their own content.
2. Linking to pages and blog posts that are useful to your audience, and commenting on posts in other blogs, will naturally bring you to the attention of those sources – again encouraging them to link to you.

Thanks for your input Elizabeth – you won yourself a back link!

Is your website building your business?

You know that online marketing is essential to your business – but did you know that many websites are no more effective than brochures piled up in a warehouse?

Imagine you’re off on a fishing trip to capture that ever-elusive barramundi.

You’re enjoying the beautiful weather, the stunning scenery, the lapping of water against the boat – but you’re not catching a thing – not even a nibble. Yet there’s another guy in another boat across the bay hauling in one after another.

Why? Simply because he’s done his research and he knows where the barra are biting.

It’s like that with a website.

You can put thousands into a new and beautiful site – but it’s unlikely to get more than a few nibbles (visits), even fewer bites (enquiries) and virtually no catches (bookings).

So how do you get your website in the right place? How do you get it in front of your target audience so that they find you, bite and book?

That’s where online marketing makes the difference between having a brochure in the warehouse, and having a dynamic presence that builds your business.

So if you’re planning to revamp your site, want to know more about marketing online, or want to upgrade your site with online marketing tools built in, get in touch with us.

Take a look at our Hidden Jewel national winner’s site, which is already enjoying great results in terms of traffic.

Using video to talk to journalists and clients

For the launch of their Internet video chat service in Australia, SightSpeed used their own product to prepare a video for us to distribute to journalists along with the press release.

Now that this quality of video communication is available in Australia at an affordable price for small business, it makes sense to consider using it in your publicity and marketing campaigns too.

As well as including a videolink with your press release, there are many ways of using visual communication to engage the interest of both media and clients in a more direct and personal way.

Use video in your email campaigns, on your site, in your media pack, and in your blog, and consider uploading an experiential video onto social media sites such as YouTube.

For small businesses unable to physically reach a widespread clientele, this is an important step in online marketing.

Sound marketing advice for tourism operators

Tourism Australia’s latest round of research has led to a profile of the travellers most receptive to – and most likely to book – Australian travel experiences.

Described as ‘experience seekers’, what’s really interesting is Tourism Australia’s advice to tourism operators on how to communicate with them when marketing the experiences they offer.

In its recently released Australian Experiences Industry Toolkit, Tourism Australia explains that “copy should be conversational in tone …, addressing the reader directly as you would in a conversation”.

The tone “should be informal, relaxed and not too polished”.

They talk about telling stories that “highlight ‘authentic’ and unique experiences”, and teaching something new about the destination.

They advise tourism operators to “share local secrets that only Australians would know… and offer an insider’s knowledge on travelling to and within Australia”.

This is an excellent description of the kind of communication that’s going on right now online, via email, blogs and social media sites – the perfect media for direct, conversational and authentic communication with lots of opportunities to share inside knowledge, expertise and news.

Tourism operators are increasingly using online media to market directly to their audience, as travellers increasingly search online when they are planning and booking their holidays.

Tourism Australia’s own research (published Feb 2007) shows that over 70% of international tourists to Australia researched and booked their holidays online in 2006. And the figure for domestic tourists is over 50%.

This is why we’ve developed services specifically for tourism operators to publicise and market online more effectively – and capture the huge proportion of those ‘experience seekers’ searching the web.

You’re never too small for an online newsroom

Have you ever visited a corporate website and been impressed by all the head-spinning self-praise? Something that always helps raise a profile is having a media page on the site – also known as online newsrooms. This is the place to store:

  • press releases relating to the company with links to the releases themselves and relevant images available for download
  • links to media coverage achieved
  • a press pack with essential information on your business for journalists, including contact details and images

There’s a much more important reason for this than just growing your head bigger. Having press releases and news about you on your website also enhances your online presence, keeps the news available over an indefinite period, and increases the chance of both journalists and potential clients finding information that interests them.

For example, Google News works by trawling sites looking for news content, and press releases are a likely target. Journalists also search online when preparing articles or looking for stories to fill space. And the additional content provides more search terms to capture potential clients browsing the net.

So – far from being a corporate spin – an online newsroom makes sense for any business, however small. And if you don’t have any press releases to upload, you need to start preparing your first one now. We recommend distributing one press release every three to four months.

PR Influences has some useful advice about online newsrooms. Although aimed at larger businesses, a simplified version of what they recommend is certainly worth considering. And David Meerman Scott makes the point that a newsrooms are no longer the territory of journalists only, so prepare your content with your potential customers in mind.

Take a look at our Client Press Releases page, which lists and links to all our clients’ releases and sites. This is not only good for our clients but showcases what we do and provides a service for journalists searching for stories. Next I will be creating a page documenting media coverage of PublicityShip itself.

A very simple structure for online newsrooms that any small business can follow entails:

  • a page linking to each release about your business,
  • probably one page of images for download, although you can place specific images at the foot of each release,
  • a page showing media coverage received,
  • if you have a media or press pack – an online version in your newsroom.

And make sure your contact details are easy to click.

Of course it helps to be working with a self-managed site so that you can upload each press release and series of images quickly and without the cost of a web administrator. Our platform allows for this, thanks to OM4 – our online marketing business, which will be officially launched shortly.

The domino effect of online news

Seen yourself in the local paper lately? Feel good? Before you sit back and bask in your fame, check whether the story is also appearing online. Otherwise your content won’t go much further than the paper’s immediate readership.

This might be enough for a micro-business servicing a tight local area, but in our experience, most businesses – whatever their size – can benefit from reaching a much wider audience.

We always submit our press releases to online news sites and post them on our own site to attract online searchers and browsers. There are both dedicated news sites such as and and specialist sites with news sections.

Many print publications have an online version and feed into one another, while broadcast news is becoming challenged by user-generated sites like YouTube – something you have to take seriously if your target audience is within the Y generation.

Getting your content onto these sites will help to bring you higher up in the search rankings more often, and there’s the domino effect that doesn’t come from traditional media so quickly.

For example, as one of the most respected news sites for the travel industry, eTravel Blackboard content gets picked up by numerous other travel sites, spreading news around the industry and the travel community at large. And this can happen very fast.

Two of our Hidden Jewel winners now have their press releases on this site (Anangu Waai! and Bookabee Tours), and it will be interesting to watch the domino effect in action.

So if you’re after the domino effect and your local newspaper doesn’t have an online component, consider a different media outlet next time, and look at specialist news sites too.

When PR doesn’t work

Guy Kawasaki has posted an interview on The Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn’t Work. The list comes courtesy of Margie Fisher of, who also gives us a practical lesson in how to do PR! Great article Margie, and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of business benefit from Guy’s interview.

Some bloggers and commenters seem to have read the Top 10 article as being an attack on PR clients. I didn’t see it that way at all. The headline is well constructed to get attention. Maybe it would make better sense if it read ‘When PR Doesn’t Work – the Top Ten Reasons’ (more accurate, but nowhere near as effective as a headline). Margie (and Guy) know that PR can (and does) work. Just not always. Understanding what is going wrong when it doesn’t work is useful.

Some commenters also seem to think that PR is no longer important. Hmmm. Not so. We work heavily in both PR and online marketing. My observation is that the best of the online marketers know only too well the value of ‘old school’ publicity. For example, have a look the recommendations on Starting From Scratch, on Under $100 and see how many of the top SEO folk recommend getting a profile IRL (in-real-life). And if you follow the online marketing community, you will see that a focus on online as well as offline profile is seen as very important. So my take is that you need to get your message out, period. Use offline and online channnels. And that means understanding and utilising the New Rules of PR and Marketing.

The confusion around how to do PR in the new online environment reflects the rate of change in the area of PR & marketing- it is phenomenal. I’ve been almost twenty years in technology and business consulting, and have seen major upheavals in a lot of industries as technology shakes up the value chain. The technology led changes now taking place in the sales & marketing domain are going to make a lot of industry ‘revolutions’ look tiny by comparison. In sales and marketing, we’ve only just started. Expect to see dazed and confused marketing & PR managers (even from tech companies) wandering around saying ‘what the heck was that?’.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

You need to find out about the New Rules of Marketing and PR.

Back in July last year, I asked the question Is the Press Release Dead? That post was triggered by a great eBook just released called The New Rules of PR. The eBook went on to make it into the Marketing Sherpa Hall of Fame for viral publishing campaigns in 2006.

The New Rules of Marketing and PRDavid Meerman Scott has now published the follow on from his eBook, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and in the process redefined publicity for book launches.

The old rules of publicity apply to getting your story into newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. And publicity in these media is still tremendously powerful.

The new rules of PR and Marketing relate to getting your story out online. Using the Internet to issue press releases is one way. Blogging,, Flickr and other social media are others that are relatively well known, but there are a dizzying array of new options that are emerging.

In launching this book, David has given a great example of how powerful online book launches can be. If you look at his launch post, you will see he generously cites the input of a wide range of people (myself included, thank you David). Its an authentic step on his part, no doubt about that. But it will also generate huge sales for his book, as bloggers can’t help but be interested (even if just a bit) when you blog about them – this post is evidence of that! If you are thinking of publishing a book or eBook, you need to look at the strategy of blogging to involve others. Not only can they improve your content, they may just help you publicise and market it as well!

By the way, I haven’t read the book yet, but based on the excellence of Cashing in With Content and the free eBook The New Rules of PR, I think its going to be great.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR are also the story of PublicityShip. We started our online company with a good understanding of how public relations works. Julia is degree qualified in the field, and worked long enough in public relations in Sydney (some years ago now) to understand the ideals as well as practicalities of PR. Jane’s experience as both a journalist and editor was then rounded out with our team of freelance journalists.

My area of expertise is business and technology – specifically, how business can use new technologies to address new opportunities. A small experiment in blogging for small business – to complement our publicity offerings – rapidly turned into a commercial product all of its own (and we have taken these down from our PublicityShip site in preparation for dedicated launch sites). Blog enabled websites have turned out to be a hugely effective way for small business to get its message out. And a great platform for online marketing. And as we have invested more in the WordPress platform, we are about to introduce new services for medium to large business as well.

At the core of all this change is the fact that the web log enables a new style of communicating. Personal and conversational communication. Websites are static by nature. Web logs are active. We are only now starting to understand what the new medium is capable of. For publicity and getting a positive message out, you need to consider them.

Measures and metrics for niche blogging

Niche blogging will eventually change the way people measure the value of blogs. Most of the media attention for bloggers is based on high volume blogs, as measured by traditional website metrics (unique visitors, pageviews) and blog traffic metrics such as Technorati.

But for a small business owner who runs a niche blog with no advertising and yet gains a lot from each new customer, a very small amount of traffic can lead to enough conversions to make a huge difference to his or her business.

Niche bloggers don’t all care about massive amounts of traffic. A highly successful niche blog won’t show up in the top anything at Technorati, and may never get a high page rank. But they have an audience, in many cases a highly profitable one in their niche.

So, if you are a niche blogger, don’t be disheartened by the metrics of the big sites. Track your new clients, track your acquisition costs. Measure and test. And enjoy the benefits of niche blogging!

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