International Marketing Alert!

“Hey, Dude” is not necessarily the way to go!

My recent experience with a talented marketer in Lithuania was both painful and rewarding. He was friendly, exuberant, and knew his stuff. Unfortunately, he couldn’t spell. And he thought that television-speak was standard English. He wrote to me directly because my LinkedIn page mentioned expertise with international communications, and he was beginning to think that he might have just a small problem in that area. I suggested that he send me samples of some of the email newsletters he’d sent out so far. He told me that he thought they were perfect, and he couldn’t understand why his great leads were not converting.

The Target Audience Is Everything

Once I’d had a chance to review the samples, I called him and said, “It looks like you are targeting some pretty sophisticated people at American magazines and other media outlets. Do I have that right?”

“ABSOLUTELY!” he whooped into the phone.  “And you are trying to convince them to publish articles by writers whom you represent, is that right also?”

“You got it!” Then he paused and said, “If you got it right away, how come these smart, sophisticated people don’t get it?”

Taking a deep breath, I asked if he had gotten any responses at all to his mailings. “No!” he bellowed. “So, what’s their problem?”

Ouch. He was young, smart, and perhaps just a tad arrogant. Probably good at what he did, but we were about to have a very painful conversation.

The New Yorker or Honey Boo Boo?

Taking my cue from his bold manner, I said that, “You don’t have to write like the ‘New Yorker,’ but you have to do better than ‘Honey Boo Boo’.” Silence. Profound, insulted, offended silence. But he didn’t hang up! Finally, he spoke, saying, “My English is very good! Everyone says so.”  Well… not quite everybody.

English Is English, Right?

“Your spoken English IS good,” I agreed. “But not good enough to hit the mark you have chosen.  When you are writing in English, you need more than conversational skills. You need to master the basics (like punctuation and spelling). But you need to go beyond that.”

So What’s a Nuance??

“English is a language that can be subtle and full of nuance (shades of meaning). In addition, English idioms like ‘raining cats and dogs’ or ‘under the weather’ might make no sense to someone whose first language is not English. But if you are going to be a star communicator, telling your story to people for whom English is mother’s milk, then you’re going to have to step up your game.”

More silence. Followed by a deep sigh. “I have no idea what you just said, but I need to know if you can help me. What would you charge to just fix up my messages so they work?”

Teach a Man to Fish?

Well, that was progress. He accepted that the problem did not lie with his potential clients. Instead, there was a disconnect between those clients and his ability to tell his story. A misalignment between their language, their style, their rules – and his. They were probably uncomfortable with messages that said, “Hey, Dude!” as if the recipient and the writer were – well – dude buddies?

I asked him if he really wanted me to re-write everything he wrote from now till eternity or if he was willing to invest some time and effort in learning how to do it himself.  We agreed to try both options.

To find out how my friend from Lithuania learned to “step up his game” and write for an audience that demands English at its best, contact me at +1.813.781.5842 or at your marketing team

In Search of Magic and Silver Bullets

magic wandMany of us can only see patterns in our lives and in our work when we stand still long enough to look past the surface and see what’s been happening underneath. I don’t mean look at our business revenues (we’re always doing that), nor our success at losing weight (another popular metric), but our approach and our attitude toward the complex moving parts of our lives.

It takes a lot to make me stop and look around, but some life changes slowed me down enough to look around.

One of the first things I noticed during this time is that I have a long-standing habit of looking for “Silver Bullets” (aka magic) in the form of a person, an experience, a business partner, or a new idea.

Basically I have always been on the lookout for something that would make a big difference in my ability to succeed in business and in life.  That doesn’t mean I sat around and twiddled my thumbs.  Working hard has always been deep in my DNA, but I still had the sense that there was something outside myself that was “the answer.”

Leaving the corporate world and starting a business back in 1996 was a Silver Cannonball – bigger than a Silver Bullet but still not large enough to create the life shift I was looking for.  And there were other Silver Bullets along the way – a business partner who turned out to be a mistake; a training program full of new ideas that inspired – then disappointed.   A book that got me all pumped up about new approaches – then slipped to the back of the bookshelf with those that went before.

Lucky for me, I’ve learned to ask myself how I can really know if the latest bright shiny object or experience or person on the horizon will be the thing that works a miracle.

Between now and year end, my goal is to look both inside myself and outside – not for a Silver Bullet – but for a path that makes sense to me.  And reminded me that spending 12 hours at the computer is neither a business nor a life – and something has to change.

I hope that friends and readers will come with me over the next few weeks as I try to discover what that new path looks like and where it leads.  I don’t want to simply push the same old pieces around on the chess board (with a new business plan or a new marketing plan).  Been there, done that.  This time I want to change the game.

If you’ve been on this journey too, please feel free to leave a comment.

When Google Doesn’t Love You Any More

when-Google-doesnt-love-youPeople who call me for marketing help often emphasize that their website is “just fine.”  The site in question may be five years old, look like a brochure, provide no connection to social media, no opportunities for interaction – but it’s just fine.  Google may have given up on it long ago because it’s inactive, has no keywords and gets no traffic.  But the site owner persists in believing that it doesn’t matter.

Usually I hear this from people who are firmly convinced that they do not get business on the Internet.  They get it from their network or an alliance relationship or just word of mouth.  And I’d believe them if it weren’t for the fact that they want to talk to me about growing their business.   Whatever it is they’re doing, it isn’t meeting their growth goals, and yet they are adamant in refusing to put the website in play.

Very often they want a brochure. Or a postcard mailing. Or collateral for a trade show.  Hey, I’m game.  I can do that.  My question is — when someone receives your postcard, attends the trade show or gets their hands on your brochure, where will they go to check you out before making an appointment?

And if they misplace the postcard or the brochure and want to find you, how will they do that?  They may have a recollection that you offer a particular service, so they get online and search for it.  Good news for them – they’ll find lots of people who offer that service.  Bad news for you – you won’t be one of them because your site is DOA.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter where your business comes from.  Your prospects will want to “vet” you and make sure you look like the kind of individual or organization they want to work with.  Guess where they’ll go to find out?

For a complimentary consultation on whether your website is positioned to help you or has joined the great cyber graveyard, call me at +1.813.781.5842 or send an email to your marketing team.

Attention CEOs: What Do You Want Under Your Tree?

Christmas tree

If you ask a group of CEOs what they’d like to see under their company Christmas tree this year, the responses would probably be pretty consistent:  most CEOs want to grow revenue, build market share, improve visibility, and generate more qualified leads.

Most probably have a business plan (based on last year or the year before or the year before that).  Depending on their business model, that might work – or not.  If they do business in a small town where you essentially pass the same $100 bill around from lawyer to banker to baker to pharmacist, then referrals and long-term relationships rule.  A movie like “It’s a Wonderful Life” reminds us of a time when things worked that way.  But for most of us, those days are over.

A more promising plan for today’s world might say that getting the “presents” you want under the tree means paying attention to the things that have radically changed in the last five years – and even in the last year.

In the holiday spirit, we have some recommendations for your next business plan – as symbolized by your holiday tree!  For example:

Hang a BLOG on your Tree to build visibility on Google.  Your email newsletter is great – but Google can’t see it.  A bright, shiny blog reflects many happy returns back to you!

Add a LinkedIn profile to your virtual tree to connect you to others and create another opportunity for you to shine.

A funny little bird ornament representing Twitter will allow you to share your blog posts — just TWEET them!

Consider hanging a Keyword Grader (ask me how!) to assess the power of your web site’s keywords.

A company Facebook page adds yet another way to get noticed – by Google.   Well worth the time it takes to hang this particular ornament.

The bottom line is this:  if you’re not rich yet and your company is not yet doing what you’d like it to do, think about adding some visibility by showing up in the many places that a visitor might look for a business like yours.  Google’s out there looking – but if you’ve failed to recognize the many ways to “ornament” your business, they’ll have a hard time finding you.  And that means some disappointing results under your tree in the new year.


Getting Found

My company has used technology to leverage marketing efforts since 1996.  Today that translates to Inbound Marketing.

An easy way to explain Inbound Marketing is to say that it’s rather like playing the childhood game of Hide and Seek, except that instead of hiding, you do everything you possibly can to GET FOUND.

If you were playing Hide and Seek and wanted to get found, you might wear vibrant, vivid colors.  Hide in plain sight.  Or give your hiding place away by talking from behind a tree about the good things that could happen if they find you!  The Inbound Marketing version of Hide and Seek is taking the actions that will help you to GET FOUND on your web site, on LinkedIn, on your blog, on Facebook and Twitter.

With that in mind, I discussed with my client the many different ways to GET FOUND.  Her response was that she doesn’t want to do “all that marketing stuff” – she’s very good at cold calling and could do that on a regular basis instead.

And yet, and yet – the meeting turned out to be a surprise for me!  She’d hired someone to do a one-shot Search Engine Optimization of her website.  Now, first of all, anyone who thinks that technology in general and Google in particular are going to stagnate after her SEO is completed should look at the history of the last few years.

Out of curiosity, I posted a question on LinkedIn, asking experts on inbound marketing and SEO to weigh in on the issues of whether a one-shot SEO effort is a legitimate strategy.  The comments were consistent — SEO is not a destination but a journey and can be a successful one-shot only if the client takes over responsibility once the vendor is gone.

The comment that made the most sense to me came from Billy MacDonald, Inbound Marketing Consultant at HubSpot, who said (some years ago):


An estimate is 25% of how you rank is based on on-page SEO (how well you tell search engines the content on that page) and 75% is how much authority you have for that page (number and quality of inbound links going back to that page).

The best way to acquire inbound links is to create remarkable content. Most SEO companies will not be producing content for you. You need to produce new content regularly to acquire these valuable inbound links, so SEO never ends. You’ll also want to be adjusting your on-page SEO and specific keyword for each page based on the results you get from traffic to each page.

My advice would be to develop a strong content creation strategy and stick to it. One of the more effective ways to do this is be active in blogging.”

So why didn’t I ask her this simple question:  “If you’d rather do cold calls and you don’t believe that getting found is important, why are you going to spend money on an SEO project?”.

Lesson learned:  Don’t let surprise stop you from sharing what you know, even if it seems to be too late.   You never know if expert advice might be remembered and appreciated on another day.



Had a meeting last week with an existing client, hoping to develop a pro-active plan for Inbound Marketing activities.

I intended to begin the meeting by letting my client know that I am opening a new location. An Internet-based business allows me to work from just about any place, but I still wanted to show respect by telling her in person.  Painful surprise — she already knew because someone else told her.

It was only when I spoke with my Sales Coach later that the full impact of that exchange became clear to me.  (I’m very good at Marketing but years of Word of Mouth business allowed me to learn about Sales very late in the game.)  Anyway, his response to this story was that my client might think I was deliberately trying to hide something from her.  “I would never do that,” I groaned.  “But,” says my Sales Coach, “She may not have believed that.  So what’s the lesson?”

The lesson is that everything I do should be transparent – clear as glass – to my clients.  If something changes, I should be on the phone, letting them know immediately.  Whether it’s taking on staff or adding a new location or anything that might affect my ability to serve them well, they have a right to be the first to know.

Lesson learned:  Be transparent!