Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Utilizing SEO: Strategy

seo wwwPart 3 of 3

Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and executing an SEO campaign:


Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the first page is because you want people to come to the site and look at your content, then buy what your selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design your site between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well.

Patience is a virtue

SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t.


Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up to date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances.

By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 defined a Glossary of Key SEO Terms. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

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Friday, February 5th, 2010

Utilizing SEO: Why and How?


Part 1 of 3

Used to be, the company with the biggest Yellow Page ad won the local search wars. Businesses vied for newspaper ads above the fold, billboards at prime intersections, drive time radio and prime time TV.

Now, when print media is experiencing cutbacks, layoffs, and declining readership, it comes as no surprise that businesses are turning to online marketing alternatives to reach customers. Where many print media companies require a minimum commitment to display an ad over so many issues, website space and domain names can be purchased for low annual fees. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on sites like Google and Yahoo allows site owners to set their own budgets and targets when setting up campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the new normal for businesses looking to compete in the 21st century. Once a niche product, SEO will continue to gain ground into the near future. According to the “Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics” report from eMarketer, $1.5 billion was spent on Search Engine Optimization in 2008 – a number that is expected to increase 153% to $3.8 billion by 2013. (Source:

seo chart

Taking even a fraction of money from your radio or print budget and setting it aside for online strategies can have a profound effect on the visibility of your business. Be sure to research the best SEO companies to determine what services are offered and which company is suited to meet your needs.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explains why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Subscribe to receive Part 2, SEO Glossary, and Part 3, SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

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Thursday, December 17th, 2009

How To Make Your Website Stick

Room with a wall of tv screensConsumers have a lot to look at these days. We’re exposed to several thousand advertisements and websites each day, yet we remember very few of them – despite billions of dollars spent on advertising.

How can you do a better job than your competition at attracting your consumer’s attention?

  1. Be brief. Decide what to leave out. Be selective about what you say. Pick one point and stick to it, because that’s all the consumer will remember anyway.
  2. Be bold. Have you ever surfed the web while listening to music, or watched TV while eating dinner? On your usual drive home from work, you can easily chat with an old friend. But while driving on an unfamiliar street in a strange city, we need to stop talking and take in what’s going on around us. Your consumer may be multitasking, too , and is likely to ignore the expected. An unexpected element grabs attention.
  3. Be clear. The Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams, once said, “The price of clarity is the risk of offense.” Clarity leaves little room for vague impressions and enables your consumer to see your brand real. Posing and hype don’t hold up in today’s marketplace, yet many marketers fear telling the truth. Would you dare say who your brand is not for?
  4. Be sustainable. Once you’ve attracted attention, you must sustain it. Your marketing must grab the consumer and never let them go. Continue to make your website interesting, or consumers will go somewhere else.
  5. Be relevant. Make sure the attention-grabbers on your website and advertisements are relevant and don’t distract from the main point you want consumers to remember.

What do you want your customer to do? You want them to focus on your brand and your message. You want them to think of you first and best when they have a need for your particular product. You want them to remember why you’re different and how you’re better than your competitors.

Let us help you be attractive.

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Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Four Freedoms

On January 6, 1941 President Roosevelt forever changed to direction of the nation.

He single handedly added freedoms beyond the American Constitution. It was never implied Americans should expect freedom from “want and fear.”

While these are wonderful ideals, as “rights” they are ridiculous.

It is written, “‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

This ancient instruction was given as individual responsibility for one man to care for another.

Clearly, freedom from want and fear was not talked about here.

In 1943 Walter Russell’s monument “Four Freedoms” was dedicated in Madison Square Garden. Four times this same year The Saturday Evening Post ran covers depicting theses freedoms.

Norman Rockwell gave us a vision of the America that could be.

I wonder if he truly believed these freedoms to be rights?

Later in 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt repeated these rights to the United Nations in General Assembly Resolution 217A.

Four Freedoms have gone on to take on a life of their own. Marvel Comics even created a superhero team called the Fantastic Four. Their headquarters? You guessed it, Four Freedoms building.

So, what does this have to do with retail? Everything!

Discovery of your untold story is foundational to speaking life into your business.

When you have tickled the brain of your customer, when you have provided them with a struggle they can share with others, when your words allow their shared hopes and dreams for the future to appear possible, and when you have won their hearts, you can count on their mind to follow.

Customers always buy with emotion and then justify with intellect.

Can you hear retail freedom in your future? Would you like to talk more about this?

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

History does repeat.

491 years and 18 days ago, the 95 Thesis was nailed to the door in Wittenberg. In its day, this was the means of inviting scholars to debate important issues. Not a single person took the challenge.

A decree condemning the views was issued. The decree was later burned. The rest is history.

Eight or so years ago Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger bought their 95 Thesis to the marketplace in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

I’ll not force feed 95 points down your throats.

However in dealing with some important copy writing today, the kind that has family’s lives hanging in the balance, I was moved by how little some have changed.

Clearly we continue to miss the main idea from these authors, who wrote, “Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.”

Here are only a few of their thoughts. If you would like to see all 95, you can read them here. Surely you can find the time.

#4 Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

#11 People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

#14 Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, and literally inhuman.

#15 In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

# 24 Bombastic boasts—”We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ”—do not constitute a position.

#61 Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is.

#75 If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

#91 Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future.

#95 We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

I beg you in the most human of voices to hear this mad man’s voice from the wilderness and respond. Call me, email me, snail mail me, or comment right here on our blog.

Please join this conversation. Your business life probably depends on it.

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Monday, October 20th, 2008

Recession Survival Kit, Part III

Today I spoke to retailers at the High Point furniture market. We discussed the two types of customers. They are transactional and relational.

I’m often asked, “Which one is best?” Or, “How do I attract this type or that?”

There’s more than one answer.

Every person has a transactional mode and a relational mode of shopping. And the “right” thing to say can be determined only when you know which mode the shopper is in.

Intentionally or unwittingly, most companies target either the transactional shopper or the relational shopper.

Who have you been targeting? We have just the answer if you are interested.

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Sunday, October 19th, 2008

How to survive a recession

This week in High Point, North Carolina, furniture retailers from around the country will be asking, “How do I survive this recession?” Come find out what’s working on Tuesday at 2:30 pm in the 12th floor resource center.

There are actually six things- no, seven things your family business can do in a recession. The first is to undersand that there are two types of shoppers, transactional shoppers and relational shoppers. Together we will explore both, and I’ll post more about them later this week.

Here are five traits for transactional shoppers.

  1. They live for today’s transaction and give little thought to the possibility of future purchases.
  2. Their only fear is paying more than they have to. Transactional shoppers are looking for price and value. (PE-P=V)
  3. They enjoy the process of comparing and negotiating and will likely shop at several stores before making their decision to purchase.
  4. Transactional shoppers do their own research and don’t need the help of an expert. Consumer Reports are published primarily for the transactional shopper.
  5. Because they enjoy the process, transactional shoppers don’t consider their time spent shopping to be part of the purchase price.

Sound familiar? If so, you are most likely a transactional advertiser!

If you’re wondering what your next promotion should be, contact me. R&A Marketing has the best solutions in the furniture industry.

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Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Social Media

Foul language shouldn’t be needed to make your position clear.

No one has ever accused me of of being a prude. In fact, just the opposite is more likely the case.

The use of bottom rung slang is no longer my style. Today’s post is an exception because, after an exhaustive search, I’ve not been able to find another way to better explain this new style of marketing.

Today I met with Rex Williams and Keith Miller to discuss Keith’s website, book store and most importantly his upcoming book. We talked at length about ideas.

Thanks goes out to Rex WIlliams for the courage to finally make the post. I’ve been saving it for weeks because of the foul language.

As for the bad language, I’m truly sorry. Get over it!

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

A Tale of Two Brains or Three?

It has been said men likely think with their head, rarely think with their hearts, and sometimes even think with their…

I wonder which brain locks in on the same-old-same-ole advertising ideas. Who’s run this? Have you seen this somewhere else? What terms make it work best? Should the warning signs be yellow, or should we use stop sign red?

These are NOT made up questions. These are asked weekly.

Below is the response to a real client situation. Hang in there. You might get a really good idea.

IQ- Impact Quotient is simply an ads power to deliver its intended results. The impact quotient of an ad is certainly affected by outside issues. Ads don’t deliver in a vacuum. (You know this.) A few things to keep in mind are product purchase cycle, media delivery vehicle, share of voice, etc…

Here is an example of each:

Restaurants verses furniture stores is the first. We humans need three squares a day at least, and we buy a new set of bedding once every 10-15 years. Regardless of the quality of message visa vies IQ the impact of the restaurant ad will happen quicker. It is not likely a person is going longer than several hours without food, but even if your mattress is bad you’ve slept there for years and another several nights won’t matter.

The store has to decide between newspaper and radio. They decide because they read the newspaper each day, “their customers do as well.” But we know the customer only reads the special food section on Thursdays and advise radio as the best option for the campaign. The radio campaign would start Monday and play 4x per day 6a-5p. (We know MMJ is a radio listener of course.) So by the weekend the NP ad has made 1 impression if the entire customer base read the paper, while the radio would have played 20 times and probably reaches a 3 or 4 (impressions) in the market.

Share of voice is the last example I’ll give you. Hometown Furniture decides they are going to run their annual ½ off the warehouse sale next week. The event if studied closely has been losing sales volume each year for the last 3 years, but the volume is better than thinking-up some new event that might be untested, so they just keep on running it. Cool! But the same week the competition decides they are going to running a store remodeling event at the same time. The store remodeling company spends 20% more than Hometown the same week and although the events both feature terms, and discounts the 20% extra promotion drowns out the ½ off warehouse promotion.

Urgent messages making “a limited time offer” raise the impact quotient for customers who are currently consciously in the market for the product, but the lower the impact quotient for customers who are not currently in the market. The brain is a very smart organ. It refuses to store information that isn’t relevant. Therefore, you cannot establish a long-term brand position with a series of short-term “limited time offers.” The only thing that will be remembered long-term is “never buy from these people unless they’re having a sale.”

Also remember the eyes and ears are not only separate organs, but also connected to entirely separate parts of the brain that gather, process, store and retrieve memories in entirely different ways. One commonly held myth is that we remember “more of what we see than what we hear.” In fact, the opposite is true. Visual memory is fragile, but auditory memory is involuntary and long-term. This is why we can sing along with more than 2,000 songs we never wanted to know.

Far more important than your choice of media is your choice of message. I realize as an old advertising guy you might believe research into the “right” media is as important as message. I simply disagree. A furniture store can only handle a maximum of 120 ups per sales person per month. So in the case of a store like Hometown that might have 15 salespeople on the floor, they only need 1800 visitors. I believe a well crafted message is far more likely to get Ms. Jones to the store. Hype terms and discounts combined with limited time offers, or mass flight TV or radio schedules, or double truck newspaper ads won’t move a person an inch who isn’t already interested in the product.

Regardless of the offer Ms. Jones isn’t going to jump up and suddenly decide she must have a sofa this weekend! The right message delivered over the right buying cycle results in long-term growth of sales.

As you can see, there is no perfect answer. The choices that yield the greatest results today will likely yield the lowest results long-term. And the most monotonous thing in the short run is the most powerful thing in the long run.

But that’s just how life is, isn’t it?

Writer’s note: The information here has been gathered over the past 11 years studying at The Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas. If you’re feeling drawn to learn more and want to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, check out the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop. For $3,000 plus travel you’ll be able to experience this study for yourself. I’ll tell you one thing; life sure begins to look different once you understand these principles.

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Furniture Fairy can’t protect your family

The Las Vegas furniture market is filled with great product introductions and a record number of retailers looking to fend off the summer blues. I was nicely surprised to NOT hear people complaining about how difficult business is. While it is clear things are tough, solutions come from engaging in each opportunity.

Two different stories from market will work nicely to differentiate you from everyone else in your market. One is exciting and positive and the other should scare the crap out of each of us.

First is the opportunity to partner with HGTV to become the preferred home furnishing retailer in your market. In case you are not aware, HGTV is far and away the most respected brand for women looking to decorate their homes. You can learn more by visiting HGTV/NHFA Preferred Retailer Program Details or by contacting me for the details.

The second story catching my eyes and ears deals with the safety of your Ms. Joneses. Amazingly, 33% of the leather product coming from Guangzhou Has Unsafe Formaldehyde Levels resulting in an 11 year old girl being hospitalized.

I quickly connected the dots between these two stories, have you? Being a preferred HGTV retailer gives you creditability with Ms. Jones. Being a preferred retailer provides you a platform to let your local market know the dangers of buying leather from this Provence in China. You can be an authority and a family watch dog in one fell-swoop.

We will gladly help you write persuasive copy. Your story will stand head and shoulders above the product and price nincompoops in your market. If you win the hearts of your customer their pocketbook will follow.

Want some help?

PS- I don’t know about you, but this China story reminds me of a great exchange from Tommy Boy.

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