The Playing Field Has Changed Again

Online the World is your Marketplace

I was watching an exchange between MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Daily News’ Jon Stewart, when one of Jon’s observations hit me like a brick. He disagreed with Maddow on her statement that they were both in the same game of distributing news as entertainment. Stewart however considers himself “yelling from the stands“, while Maddow is operating on the Playing field.

With that observation I realized that news as a sellable item has come full circle. In the early days of exchange, news was an item in instant action, usually directly related to danger. Smoke signals, marathon man messengers, wild pony rides, news had an life threatening urgency. When the industrial revolution came about news expanded into longer term information. The telegraph challenged every horse and buggy or locomotive on their importance in the cycle of news, and the telephone took out the telegraph. Now that the phone has become digital the original media that brought us news have lost their relevance. Both Maddow and Stewart realize that they are not in the news business, because the essence of unbiased News is now Internet Territory, as in a 140 character newsbit on Twitter that says: G-20 in South Korea closed without decisions. That part was the news; what follows after that are nothing more than opinions, educated guesses and politically colored viewpoints, reporting to a specified audience if you like.

With the global internet speed, former “newspapers” try to maintain the resemblance of news distribution, but in essence their content boils down to triple time chewed and re-hashed opinions of events that were mostly covered with a ideological predisposition. I do regret that there are only a handful of former ‘news’papers left that have the financial ability to publish investigative reporting that may qualify as news.

But even though I have to admit that I hardly ever watch TV News or read a newspaper anymore, I’m still on information overload, caused by the thousands of information sites and immediate news sources that engulf me on the internet. Being bombarded with questions, statements, rumors and opinions about whether the economy is improving, or crashing, whether inflation is going to kill off our last nest eggs, should I buy gold or should I buy oil, or should I buy both. Where should I buy it? If the price of gold was $900 an ounce in August of 2009 and passed $1,400 an ounce last week, why do I pay $1,600 and am I buying a bubble run or will gold and silver go much higher? And if I buy, do I keep it at home, or at the bank and should I insure it? If I keep it in a bank depository, will Washington claim it like they did in 1933 and consider it an act of Patriotic Homeland Security for me to accept a useless dollar amount in return? What does it mean and who is right when issues like deleveraging and deflation projections for the next decade, attack my retirement nest egg?

Should I drink coffee, eat red meat and drink a glass of red wine or is it all just badly processed junk for my body? Is it safe to vacation in Mexico and what about the price for a European Vacation? What is a staycation? What?? Oh just staying home but visit a different local spot every day. How about an altercation…is that an alternative vacation?

In my ‘circle of friends’ we keep encouraging each other with the euphemistic expression “We’re living in interesting times”, and everyone enigmatically smiles as if it is old Chinese philosophy at the helm, guiding us through the rough times, always chanting Hope, Hope.

Crap! We’re living in dangerous times, escalating daily into the abyss of insecurity, desperation for many and most of all clueless on what the future will bring. The “experts” all have UNCHARTED WATERS in their daily vocabulary, as if that justifies all the terrible financial decisions made in the past twenty years of cheap money.

Never mind that I hold post graduate degrees in economics and marketing, have 35 years of experience in building and pioneering a great variety of businesses all over the world, not all of them successful mind you, and spend the better part of a work-day on the internet analyzing developments, decisions, opinions and global eco-political ramifications. I too, am often confused about where we are and where we’re going. But not by choice or free will.

The Principles of Big History

And when I am… I claw my way back to the Principles of Big History and go back to re-thinking the fundamentals of life and progress, with a deliberate allowance for technological advancements.

Why? Because Big History is a crash course in my connection to everything: earning a living, my family and friends, other people, the natural world, the rest of the cosmos. I find profound benefits in this increasingly larger perspective when I free it from the irony that our world has never been more interconnected, yet we typically define ourselves in the ways that divide us: national boundaries, culture, language, religion, race, education. We magnify ethnic and racial differences that in perspective are merely “storms in a glass of water,” isolated from time and distance.

The truth is that we are all united in the most profound ways, not just as a global community but as a cosmic one. -If you think this sounds a little like 1960’s Kumbaya, then it’s time to pull your head out of the sand and realize that it doesn’t make it any less true.-  Understanding the past allows us to think more clearly about the future. Understanding the cosmos is virtually impossible, considering that most people can now pronounce a Trillion dollar debt, but have no clue what the next step up from a trillion is called.

Embracing the Internet with Focus

With the advance of the internet, people with creativity now have a set of tools that can launch their ideas into a world of accepting niche markets.  With the internet our world has forever changed. Period.

Anyone who talks about measures of Protectionism, defies the fact that we now live in a Global structure. Good or bad, the entire world is from here on the playing field, the global market place. If you operate something as simple as an Ebay account, you’ll find yourself buying and selling to New Zealand, South Africa and all corners of the world. UPS, Fedex, DHL, the Postal Systems, they are all set up to ship and receive to and from the corners of the globe. If you don’t bury your head in the ignorant notion that only protectionism and patriotism are worth considering in your aim to have a prosperous, fulfilling and selfreliant life, you can make money all over the world, 24/7/365.

Embrace the opportunity!

Fundamentals require an understanding that you, and only you, can define and count on to change your destiny. And your destiny is not served by chauvinistic emotions that blur the global realities. You’re better than that. Being a globalist does not preclude you from holding onto and respecting local, regional or national traditions, it just makes you aware that your financial and emotional future plays on a global level. That’s were your opportunities for independent wealth building and happiness lie. And guess what? For the time being and in the foreseeable future, the US dollar is still the world’s reserve currency and English the default language of choice. We’re still the nicest house in the neighborhood, even though we could benefit from a fresh coat of paint. For businesses and people who think their product(s) or service(s) are only applicable in a local market, they may want to rethink that thought based on some simple observations in my household:

• We are entering the Holiday Season and I’m looking forward to possibly receiving a repeat of last year’s gift of a Dutch Cheese Selection, ordered directly from Holland via the Internet.

• My stepson here on Amelia Island turned 25 last week and his girlfriend ordered him his 2 favorite pizzas from Ferraros Pizza in Racine Wisconsin, 1400 miles north of here!

• My apprentice just wrote and produced a downloadable book that holds a wealth of information on how to prepare and celebrate the holidays on a strict (frugal) budget, which will be available to the rest of the world on the Internet in a couple of days, together with videos on tasty recipes for inexpensive dishes. The cost? $7.95. In the store it would have to cost $29.95 and another tree would bite the dust.

• My wife just yelled from upstairs that she sold an Alligator belt to a guy in Romania who wrote her a thank you note because he got a deal at $84 plus shipping.

Oh yes I can continue until the sun comes up with examples of how the world is now our marketplace. In our household we have learned that we do not need to rely on any Government Services in financing the Golden Years. We have that part of our future solidly in our own hands.

Five Days in January Bootcamp

If you’re ready to believe that, we can show and teach you in 5 days, how you too can conquer the world with your ideas and products. Consider signing up for our Five Days in January Bootcamp at Amelia Hotel at the Beach, where you will walk in as a novice and walk out with a fully operating website internet business, ready to guarantee you financial independence.

If you are interested in more information on the program, the dates and the cost, please fill out this form.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Five Days in January

Building a network online

On July 21 of 2010, social networking site Facebook topped 500 million members, or the combined population of North and Central America and then some… In a geographical context Facebook is as a virtual country, the third largest country in the world.
Last January that number was “only” 350 million and now in early November we’re looking at a possible slowdown with 530 million, give and take some undisclosed double registrations. Not even history’s biggest conquerors such as Attilla or Alexander the Great can boast these numbers.

Twitter is looking at 175 million users and YouTube has announced the latest upload data; every minute that passes, over 35 hours of video is uploaded to the video sharing website. In other words, YouTube gets over 50,400 hours (2,100 days worth) of new video content every day.

In my daily confrontations with customers and friends I keep insisting on not forgetting to put some effort in Twitter as most people don’t quite get the usefulness of Twitter. In today’s technology based world however I have learned to follow in the footsteps of those more in the know than I can possibly be. If Apple boss Steve Jobs interlinks his new iTunes baby “Ping” with Twitter, allowing Twitter users to connect their accounts to iTunes, than I know that mySpace is writing its obituary and Twitter has found its longterm momentum.

Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it a while back: “We didn’t design Facebook to be cool, we designed it to be useful.”  Some 500 million people, 20% of which are homegrown USA, agree with that statement. As long as these subscribers trust that Facebook will treat their data info responsibly, there is no reason for the Internet success story (so far) of the 21st century to wane or collapse.

More than 30 billion pieces of content (including web links, blog posts, news stories, and photographs) are shared through the site each month and its members spend roughly 700 billion minutes there.  The average Facebook user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.  And it’s not just the Y or Z Generations using Facebook.  According to a study posted by Pingdom, a significant 61% of its users are over age 35, putting to rest the idea that Facebook is just for the youngest, most tech-savvy generations.  Surprisingly, the average Facebook user today is 38 years old.
Here are some more interesting data:

•First Compare how forcefully Facebook overtook mySpace between October 2008 and October 2010

Skyrocket on the Internet

• Another interesting piece of information is that Facebook has about 1/3 of the US population as subscribers, but even that accounts only for less than 20% of its total global subscriber base.
Imagine that countries such as Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia rank high on their list. Also imagine how important this could be for travel and tourism attraction.

This was the status in January of 2010

Travel and Hospitality

The personal pages on Facebook are pretty much leveraged, yet many of the business pages are having a hard time getting people to “like” them.  I get the remarks quite often that business owners either don’t have the time, the technical or creative knowledge or the belief that being active in social networking makes a difference for their business. Especially in the hospitality industry there is a major disconnect. So here are a few observations that apply… thankfully not all, as some hoteliers and innkeepers do a splendid job.

For those who don’t, here are  some suggestions:

1. Your posts are boring because you’re doing all the talking.

Get your customers involved and ensure they feel a part of your hotel community.  The dictionary defines community as “a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society.”  Encourage your guests to post comments, pictures and videos of their stay at your hotel. A successful Facebook page listens to and actively engages its customer with organized, quality content and brand new, up-to-date information from not only its administrator but also its followers.  How well do you know your customers?  Are you asking them what they like, what they need, what they want?

2. You put a GPS in your car, so why not on your Social Media?

Why don’t you have a social media roadmap? If you don’t have a map, electronic or otherwise, chances are you won’t make it to your destination, especially if it’s in an unfamiliar area.  Social media works the same way.  No plan and, before you know it, you’re lost.  Every marketing plan should have a section dedicated to web presence and social media.  Here, by outlining your objectives, you can coordinate your marketing efforts and cross-utilize the various social media applications that will work best for each of your targeted market segments.  It is essential to know what you plan to do, how you plan to do it and, most important of all, why you are doing it in the first place.  All many people know for sure is that they should be participating in social media because everyone else is.  This reasoning didn’t work with your mom and it won’t work here.

3. You’re pretty much just like everyone else.

There are more than 5 million active Facebook business pages.  How do you stand out from all of the others?  Avoid using Facebook simply to post all of the packages you have on your website.  That’s generally a Romance package, Bed and Breakfast package and a Shopping package. You’re getting bored already?  Give your followers special perks and discounts that they can’t get anywhere else.  What about a free upgrade for the first 10 people that redeem the coupon?

4. You have not given your Guests a reason to keep you in their primary news feed.

Remember “If you build it, they will come.”  Step in your customers’ shoes and take a long, honest look at your business page.  Are the posts lively, compelling, unique, timely?  There’s nothing more deadly than a dull Facebook page.  If you take photos of your followers attending events at your hotel, tag them.  Most people have notifications that deploy an alert when they have been tagged in a photo album.  Make the most of your page’s tab settings by distributing special offers and coupons or holding contests and sweepstakes (be sure to follow Facebook’s full terms and conditions).  The idea of winning something, anything, is a great incentive to keep fans coming back for more, not to mention attracting new fans.  Reward your loyal supporters and don’t forget to remind your users to like and share.

5. Don’t even get a Facebook page if you can’t commit the time to work it.

There are enough excuses around why people can’t commit.  My advice is don’t do it if you can’t commit! Your Facebook page is a daily commitment, so if you aren’t ready, don’t go there.  For business pages there is a direct correlation between frequency of posts and number of followers.  If you strive for one post per day, you’re on track to creating a successful page.  Watch the activity on your page and post when your followers are most active, usually between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  Don’t know what to post?  There is a story in everything, just mix it up with observations, tips, travel-related topics, breaking news and, without fail, open-ended questions to inspire observations from your followers.
Remember that if you want to be liked, you have to be likeable.  Show your personality and have fun with your page.  It will create that sense of community so essential to social networks.

LinkedIn News

Oh and by the way, there are other social media sites to support your business…

Beginning of this month, LinkedIn rolled out its new Company Pages, enabling businesses to develop more robust presence on the site, as well as more control over those pages. Here is some information to help you take advantage of these new features.

Setting up a company page is free and the news is that LinkedIn added tabs that businesses will be able to populate with information at will: Careers and Products & Services (services previously at a cost) .On Company Pages, administrators can add content to the Products & Services tab and each brand will have a greater extent of control over what is displayed on their pages. These various products’ lists will be able to be showcased dependent upon which industry category your LinkedIn account is a part of. Businesses can also modify their pages to display the strongest recommendations to prospective customers in an attempt to exhibit the trust in their brand and accelerate the growth of their product.

Companies can also add videos of products and services to their pages and feature particular products more prominently than others. In turn, LinkedIn members can recommend and review a product or service on a company profile and their recommendations will surface on their own profiles as well. Company Pages will list the people who have recommended a particular product as well.

Five Days in January.

I would not be surprised to learn that you are confused and overwhelmed by the options and opportunities vs. the amount of time available to commit to a well laid out social media action plan.
If you are interested in learning how you can, you may keep the week of January 17-21 open for a very special “Five Days in January” program that team SearchAmelia is conducting at Amelia Hotel at the Beach, in which you will walk in with limited or no knowledge of an internet presence and social media plan, and walk out with a completely optimized internet business you are in absolute control of.

Among many other features the program includes a segment that explains and sets you up for Hootsuite, a social media dashboard for individuals and teams (companies) using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.
Stay tuned for details next week.

New Coupons for November Now Available

New Coupons for November Now Available

New Coupons Posted

New coupons for November are now available on SearchAmelia.com. Simply click on the “This Week’s Coupons” icon at the top of the page and you will enjoy savings from a variety of your favorite Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island businesses.

We here at SearchAmelia have you covered with coupons to save you money on ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery or Chocolates at Peterbrookes Chocolatiers, and then you can save on a calorie burning exercise class at CLUB 14 FITNESS with their valuable coupon.

Bridgeview Self Storage is offering savings for new customers and a finder’s fee to existing customers and Amelia Island Massage will work out the kinks!

Addition savings include Island Tribe Belly Dance, 5 Points Liquor Store, the Waterwheel Art Gallery and more!

Do you want your coupon added to our site for FREE? Give Lawrence a call at (904) 583-0658.

Read the Fine Print on Internet Purchases

Read the Fine Print on Internet Purchases

Know What You are Buying

We received an email from one of our subscribers this morning encouraging SearchAmelia to look into what they felt was a fraudulent scam being run by a popular book seller on the internet. So I took a look into www.hotbooksale.com and www.BestBrandValues.com and found their monthly membership of $19.95 is automatically processed if you purchase discounted products from their website and opt for additional discounts.

Buyer Beware

First, I went to www.BestBrandValues.com and saw an enticing page promising up to 30% savings on purchases. So, I clicked on “Games” and then selected “Visit SmartGamesShopper.com Now”. I just wanted to see what would happen if I wanted to purchase a game, so I picked the first one on the list adding “Heavy Rain” to my shopping cart. I then proceeded to check out. Sure enough, as I new customer I learned I could save $5.00 on today’s order and enjoy added benefits including free shipping. This is where you need to read the fine print. I could easily have clicked on “Sign Me Up” but instead I put on my reading glasses and read the fine print.

Sure enough, the terms of the offer included a 7-day trial of BestBrandValues that promised to provide me access to big discounts and savings. After the trial, a membership fee of $19.95 per month would be charged or debited by them to the credit or debit card I was to provide to complete my purchase. To cancel, I would have to call a toll free number within 7 days to avoid the $19.95 per month membership charge.

It was there in black and white, but indeed typed in a smaller font. I tried both websites that were provided to me by our SearchAmelia reader and sure enough, the $19.95 per month charge would apply if I didn’t cancel my membership within 7 days.

I have no idea how much you would have to purchase each month to make the fee worth the membership in savings, but for my household $19.95 per month is a steep membership fee that I would likely forget about canceling and in turn would get charged on my credit card. Our reader added that they had continued paying the membership thinking it was the fee for their satellite radio. When they realized they had been paying this membership fee for nearly 12 months, the company offered to only remove the current month and cancel the account. They offered no other recourse for the previous 11 months they had been charged over $200.00.

You must read the fine print whenever you purchase items on the internet!

So, please read the fine print on your purchases and always evaluate your credit and debit card statement each month to look for charges you may not be aware of.

Facebook Repainted Social Networking Yesterday

Facebook has taken off the training wheels in Social Networking

It is often said that most people these days start and finish their day on Facebook, so when Facebook rewrote the rules of social networking yesterday and addressed what founder Mark Zuckerberg called social networking’s “biggest problem”, it also addressed my personal biggest concern: how to share relevant information with particular people or groups based on their interests.

I have always argued that it is not cool to annoy all my friends with a daily entry of surf conditions the moment I walk off the beach in the morning.
Only my friends who are surfers and do not have access to that immediate information are interested and would love to hear about it.
So Zuckerman and his gang came up with the simple solution, for now at least: a new feature called “Groups” that allows users to segment their friends, or form specialized networks within Facebook.
This new feature is part of several changes designed to give Facebook’s half-billion users more control over the information they share, including updates, messages and photos.
With Groups, a Facebook user can now create a interest group and then invite his friends to join. Those users in turn can invite their friends to join. The groups can be public, closed or secret, and the users can control the levels of privacy of the groups. Users can have an email list, document sharing and group chats.
Although Facebook did not set an official limit on the size of the group, certain limitations will apply. For example chatting and the newsfeed functions are turned off or limited once a group gets beyond 250 people. I can hear the marketers of course, salivate over this kind of information as it focuses sharply on the quantity vs. quality story.
It’s a smart move in Facebook’s monetization plan as well as brands will now start paying top-dollar for what we call in the industry “first degree connections”.
A second new feature is a tool called “Download Your Information,” which allows users to download a file of everything they have ever uploaded or said or RSVP’d to on Facebook. That includes all wall messages and photos and with that Facebook also introduced portability of this information with a dashboard that shows users all the applications they have downloaded and allowed access to their profile, and what information that application has used.
This last feature is a genius preemptive strike against the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into social networks. Offering data portability to its users, while a clear benefit to consumers, will make FaceBook the poster child for the industry standards to meet or exceed.

At yesterday’s event, we truly witnessed Facebook’s coming of age as it kicked off of the training wheels and gave the clearest indication yet of how it intends to expand in the future.
Clearly, Facebook’s future is about user control, user privacy and user empowerment. Users can now download all of their data in a secure way and take it wherever they want. Facebook has parlayed its past mistakes around communicating user privacy into a massive strength, offering full empowerment to its users.
With the ability to tag friends – just like in the Photos product – and full email integration, Facebook Groups will be the most powerful group communication tool on the internet.
And here are a few ideas why (in my humble opinion) on how to leverage Groups for Businesses:
• Empower employees to share information within your company by creating a private Group. Why sign them up to a new service, while they already are on Facebook your employees are already on Facebook. Why take them elsewhere
• Create a private Group for your most avid customers. Empower your most loyal customers to meet each other, share information and talk about your business in a controlled setting. By doing so, companies can create a better sense of community and create a forum for idea sharing amongst customers that are most familiar with their brand.
• Create a private Group for your management team. Give your most senior employees the ability to communicate in real-time through a social collaboration environment that already exists.
• Create non-competing supplier groups and networks, especially in service industries such as travel and tourism.

Facebook has entered the next stage of its development and laid the foundation to build a massive monetized business far beyond the reach of Google and it’s now putting the pieces in place to scale over the long term.

John Mayer Quits Twitter for Tumblr

Superstar John Mayer quits Twitter

If a musician decides to quit a Twitter account with 3.7 million followers, than there can be only a couple of reasons. Fear, anger (frustration) or nostalgia!
Whether fear is installed through real events such as threats or encounters, or it was a slow build, nobody closes down a 3.7 million fan venue without a major reason.
Mayer’s Twitter account was of immense marketing value if one just considers that he only had to put up a 140 character announcement for an upcoming gig or tour and the event would be sold out in minutes.

If he, or his management, would want to announce new merchandise, credit or discredit rumors or even expose certain interests, a quick message would take the entire story viral and within 24 hours, anyone in the world with an interest in John Mayer would know about it. As a matter of fact, the story of him quitting Twitter is solid proof of the power of such a venue.

I know very little about the guitar man/singer John Mayer, although in the two or three clips I’ve seen of him he seemed like quite accomplished. I also seem to remember reading somewhere that he had something with Jennifer Anniston (hope I’m correct here as I’m playing the card of ignorance by not browsing for the facts) and that may have just pushed him over the Twitter edge, because Twitter is a double edged sword; if done correctly I can bring you financial and artistic satisfaction; if done wrong, you become your own worst paparazzi by revealing more about yourself then is healthy.

Mayer may have maneuvered himself into the corner where it becomes a major nuisance to always have to defend or explain your actions. Anger comes quick in a situation like that, especially when rumors are quickly validated as facts (Sounds familiar Tiger?).

Last but not least, the reason could be nostalgia, as more people are starting to realize that Facebook and Twitter expose an enormous amount of personal information on its subscribers, information a talented profiler can easily turn into most probable course of action if ever so required.
Whatever John Mayer’s reason for closing a 3.7 million follower database was, marketing and public relations wise it was dumb and senseless, because many of these fans will now turn away from him as they feel their loyalty was betrayed.

It would have been smarter to hand his account to an experienced blogger in his organization, someone who knew the pitfalls of exposing too much and would use it for responsible marketing efforts and charities. And here is why:

In the time I grew up, branding for mass marketing and advertising was the easy access route to the consumer, unless you were Business to Business, in which case there were a limited number of subscriber based trade publications available. Direct marketing as in buying demographic lists and sending out tons of direct mails was the only form of raw niche marketing available.
Today we know that nothing can build a business faster than developing a deeper insight into who your ideal clients are.
Going from selling to ‘everyone’ to selling to a 35 year-old female, divorced with two young children (under eight, girl, boy) in school, a family income over $75,000, a long haired dog, a second home in Florida, and reads Vanity Fair and People while keeping in touch on Facebook and Twitter and maintaining a professional profile on LinkedIn.
Knowing that information is invaluable while drafting your ideal client profile.
If each and every one of us had a list of personality traits like that, can you imagine what would happen to revenues, profits and the economy!

Did John Mayer act irresponsible to his management and his fans by quitting Twitter from one moment to the next or was he just fed up by the limitations of the site? He still has a facebook account with almost 2.4 million followers and interestingly his facebook exposed his tumblr account which gave as the last entry on Sept. 12:

Thank you all so much for making the Battle Studies tour such a huge success and a pleasure. I’m going to miss seeing your faces every night. Thanks for singing along. And for accepting me. You don’t know how good that feels. And thanks for the signs, the clever, funny, awesome signs. And for letting me play both my pop radio hits and a 15 minute long jam while giving it the same level of appreciation. Thanks for buying a ticket when money is tight, for waiting in traffic to both enter and leave the venue, and thank you for telling your dubious friends to come with you and see what this “Mayer” guy is all about. Thank you for being fans and thank you for giving me the awesome life I have.
Time to (try to) disappear for a while. Love you guys. A lot.

John

Who knows John Mayer, who gallantly defended teen star Miley Cyrus’s decision last October to quit Micro Blogging while swearing he was not, may have just been tired to try and put his feelings into 140 character headlines and realized that Twitter’s power and usefulness is only a link in the chain of social media marketing to the masses. Super stars however open up a can of worms by deliberately exposing themselves to fans as well as “haters”.

But don’t worry, John Mayer isn’t over the Internet. He merely changed venues when he opened a Tumblr account in April with a statement claiming, “Twitter Isn’t ‘Over’, I’m Over It.” Mayer says of Tumblr, “It’s the future of social networking if your image of the future features intelligent discourse. I love reading other Tumblr users replies, because they’re thoughtful by virtue of the fact that if they’re not, they’ll bring the intellectual property value of their own blog down, and that’s a commodity on Tumblr.” Welcome to a New Kid in Town.

Did the Internet delete one P from the Marketing Mix?

The P for Place in the Marketing Mix is changing its impact

Location, location has been a widely adopted keyword chain for every traditional brick-and-mortar business in the economy since the industrial revolution began.
Brick-and-mortar stores could (can) always differentiate from the competition through location. That’s why national chain stores in shopping malls group themselves with other ones that have proven to work complementary to their assortments and inventories. A restaurant downtown, in most instances, will make more money than the same chain in the middle of nowhere or next to an Interstate. Just compare the Cracker Barrel business model to Applebee’s for example.

Internet Created One Playing Field

With prime locations, business can or could overcharge to gain an edge.
In the marketing mix of 4 P’s (product, price, place and promotion), the one P for Place translates into Distribution/Location. But with the Internet, there’s no location. Everyone stands on a level playing field. Hence, price becomes the primary competitive tool. When competition occurs through price, margins are naturally squeezed. No one can overcharge based on location or convenience when another competitor is only a click away.

I was thinking about this last night while watching a movie we had rented several days ago from the local Blockbuster store. Usually we take a quick trip to a RedBox these days if we want to watch a movie, while still maintaining a membership to Blockbuster. The once video giant is a skeleton image of its former success and online competition is expected to force their brick and mortar operations out of business, sooner rather than later.

The brick-and-mortar video stores such as Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and Movie Gallery are all on their way out. Blockbuster has has dropped to penny stock status at 14 cents per share, while Netflix has a roaring share price of $139.
Blockbuster may not make it much longer as a storefront, but… I see some of these companies arise from the ashes of bankruptcy as  an online-only business and compete with Netflix on the simplicity of the business model.
So before you all start moving towards Netflix (everybody loves a winner) I have a warning about Netflix that will hurt its business model down the line.
After the brick-and-mortar stores exit the picture, new competitors will arise. And that’s where the problem comes in.Yes Netflix has an innovative business model, but it is also an extremely replicable model. Unlike Amazon and eBay where loyalty is created through interaction rating systems, Netflix has no customer loyalty program.

Loyalty and Networking Scale

The more smooth transactions you perform, the more other buyers and sellers trust you. Hence, the longer one uses the site, the better the interaction. If the customer left for another website, reputational benefit would be lost. And reputational benefit is what counts if your business model is based online. Just ask my wife whose 3,000 plus perfect transaction record on eBay makes her final sales prices for identical items on average 50-60% higher than if it was offered by someone without this transaction record. Would she ever leave eBay for another similar auction site? Not likely, as her reputational benefit would be lost.
Secondly, the internet is a numbers game. Amazon and eBay with only a handful of users would not do well. Every time I do transactions via one of our Paypal accounts I am reminded that this eBay owned online banker has now 224 million account holders on the planet and growing by the minute. The larger the network  of loyalty, the better longevity.

Netflix lacks this key component. There’s no advantage to more subscribers. Sure, the company will have more movies with increased revenues, but this is a matter of inventory. That is not a networking effect but rather an economy-of-scale issue. Also, Netflix subscribers have no reason to stay on the site. If someone offered a better price or service, the customer would be gone. These missing foundations will become a problem in the long run.
This story is not necessarily about Netflix but about any online business model depending on longterm and massive loyalty building, because price and service are the main competing factors in a world otherwise equal.
Online an existing satisfied customer is your bread and butter bottom line in a rapidly changing economy.

Can Anyone Make Money on the Internet?

Here is where John Canton lived on Saba, long before there was a road.

Today I reached a personal milestone. While going back through many archives of  almost forgotten internet marketing attempts, I found a blogpost I created in January of 2008 called www.fortunebound.wordpress.com and what is even more surprising I actually found the username and password to the backend of the blog, so I can post stories again. While re-reading the only story I wrote on that site I noticed that people had left dozens of comments from all over the world and the hit count was beyond my comprehension. Yet, it all stopped about a year later since no ore story was published and frankly no comment was ever answered.

What was particularly disturbing was the fact that all the comments asked for educational help. Simple questions from how to set up a Paypal account, to what is the essence for a successful eBay-er. I had built expectation and a bunch of people who had given me their email address as a sign that they wanted to hear from me. They gave me Opt-In approval, which meant I could pitch them anything for sale, I even remotely considered appropriate. I never did.

And in never doing so, I displayed the real problem of internet marketeers, which is creating a data base of people that want you to pitch to them.

In late 2007 early 2008, it was recommended guru behavior to have dozens of landing pages and mini portal sites, supporting your main internet presence. It’s a bit like what Amelia Island Plantation still practices or for that matter many of the corporate hotel websites. But that’s not really the issue for me today.
The issue today is that I decided to use this site to proof something to myself and finally start publishing the first of my 3 novels: The Saba Bank Conspiracy. Even though I started writing the story more than 15 years ago, the topic is very current, as energy and oil drilling have once again captivated our headlines.

My opening question on the blogpost was: Can you make money on the Internet? Well yes. 30 months later that is something we have proven time and again. My question for www.fortunebound.wordpress.com now is: Can I successfully publish on the internet?
Here is the link. Let me know what you think.

Marketing that Stands Out From Your Competition

Marketing that Stands Out From Your Competition

Marketing that Stands Out From Your Competition

There are many different aspects to a great marketing campaign and one of the most important factors is that your message stands out from your competition. This simple marketing strategy caught my attention when sifting through the plethora of over-sized political post cards I have been receiving almost daily in my snail-mail mailbox.

I have received no less than three glossy marketing pieces from the same politician bashing his competitor. I have news for you… if I had to vote tomorrow, without the time and the personal initiative to do a bit of research about the candidates, I would vote for his opposition. Why? Because I have seen the name of his competition more often, and more prominently positioned, than the candidate’s name! I get the impression that his campaign manager has authorized these enormous advertising expenditures because he has likely hired his brother’s roommate or his sister’s husband as a marketing consultant.

Here’s a tip: Make your ad different!

Know your competition. Think of automobile ads, they all feel, sound and look alike! Even the 30 minute info-mercials all look and sound alike! If you trust the person who is selling you advertising to come up with an idea for your ad, it is likely going to be something canned that they have readily available. These reps are not marketing gurus, they are sales representatives that work on commission. Their job is to sell you an ad and increase the dollar amount of their paycheck; not to create something new that motivates new customers into your business establishment.

The best way to stand out from your competition is to hire a professional consultant or a reputable advertising agency. But if you have to go it alone, keep your message unique and consistant across all media outlets during a given campaign, and never be afraid to listen to a new idea!

If you have news or information about our community that you would like to share, please send it to us by clicking here.

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Cruise Ships Full Speed Ahead on Social Media

The Social Media are buzzing about the Epic's on-deck amenities

“The consumer is now in control,” said NCL’s Executive VP Andy Stuart. “You can ignore it at your peril, or you can embrace it in a way that makes sense and creates value.”
With the upcoming July 4th official launch of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest cruiseship the Norwegian Epic, NCL has chosen the same social media marketing route that launched Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas” launch 7 months ago into the biggest exposure phenomenon in the cruise history.

To baffle readers with some numbers:
• On the day the Oasis of the Seas sailed into Fort Lauderdale’s Port of Everglades for the first time, “Oasis of the Seas” was the most searched term on Google.com;
• In the days prior, while the ship was crossing the Atlantic from Finland, more than 200,000 people tuned in over any 24-hour period to watch video of the Oasis captain — more viewers than for example Anderson Cooper drew on CNN;
• as of this week, more than 14 million unique visitors have made their way to OasisoftheSeas.com.

If we compare apples to apples, the success of the Oasis media launch can be attributed to more than its status as the world’s largest cruise ship. It was and is the result of a calculated campaign to promote the ship mostly through social media channels, ultimately letting consumers drive the Oasis to the mainstream media.

Social Media Rule

Smart marketeers have realized that the media landscape has been changing drastically and the right approach is to be ahead of the curve. The cosmic shift in consumer driven exposure, coupled with the decrease in financial means for traditional media to stay ahead of the news with original reporting, has made social media the current Emperor of Exposure.

While the Oasis launch took social media use to the highest level to date, other lines have been quick to follow suit.
– Norwegian Cruise Line, launching its largest-ever ship, the Norwegian Epic, this weekend, is aggressively using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter as well as an Epic microsite, all part of its broader social media strategy, while also using USA Today as the traditional venue with the largest internet presence.
– Holland America Line just launched a campaign on Facebook and Twitter titled “Countdown to Nieuw Amsterdam Launch.” In the 100 days before its July 4 delivery, the campaign is listing 100 reasons to sail on the newbuild. Itinerary-wise. This Sunday the ship will make its debut with a 10-night inaugural Eastern Mediterranean voyage with stops in Greece, Italy and Croatia. Nieuw Amsterdam will then sail a variety of 12-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries roundtrip from Venice or between Barcelona, Spain, and Venice. These cruises will visit ports throughout Greece, Croatia, Turkey and Italy.

What all the cruise lines are embracing is the idea that social media can drive the conversation about their brands further and more widespread than ever. Take for instance the fact that it was clear that the Oasis’ size and features would create buzz, but social media in the US alone moved that buzz far beyond the 18% of Americans who have cruised, to media outlets that normally would not cover cruising.
Today’s approach, arguably an intermediate one, is centered around the philosophy of serving the “inline” media as broadcast, print and online, with online being increasingly the initial mover. Another clear example of that shift was the earthquake in Haiti in January when traditional media got their cues from Twitter messages. The World Soccer Cup currently played in South Africa is actually overloading the Twitter channels as another proof of the change.

Brand Advertising on Traditional Channels Direct Now to Social Media Presence

Twitter is now called the “Best Push Button for the (Public Relations) World”. Everything that is communicated starts with a traditional press release and/or an online blog and gets pushed out with multiple tweets, facebook interaction and postings.
For the observant watcher it is obvious that lately brands even push their social media presence in their TV commercials as they invite the consumer to connect to their Facebook and Twitter presence as the in-between step to their website call to action.
The industry is moving so fast that even insiders are baffled.  Even though we, marketing specialists, still like to claim that “what starts online moves offline, and what starts offline goes online,” we are well aware that the speed effect is created by the consumer using the social media to push out the messages.

In the case of the Oasis, the website OasisoftheSeas.com was the central information portal, which used Twitter and Facebook to blast out information about the ship. Another important aspect of the viral success was of course the Contest attached to the launch which engaged the public far beyond traditional marketing. In the Oasis case it took courage from Royal Caribbean’s management to let a global naming contest decide on the ship’s name, an enormous departure from traditional marketing’s ‘celebrity baptism’ approach.

This social engagement with audience and future customers became a source for many other TV shows and online content, and it gave the public the opportunity to participate in something they are not normally asked to. It was a fascinating exercise to collaborate with your future customers and vacationers on what the ship should be named based on what they perceived the ship to be.
People in the cruise niche successfully embraced an enthusiastic base of online supporters that can be tapped to spread their messages. The email data base coming with this approach is gold in terms of future marketing efforts as well.

Of course not every industry has the level of engagement that cruise companies have with their customer base, which on average spends seven days, 24 hours each day with them, which is a considerable in-depth experience. From there it is much easier to activate and properly organize and push the online conversation to a point where it can’t be ignored, even outside the cruise community.
By comparison and as an indicator how Social Media enabled the Oasis to attract far more coverage than the Freedom of the Seas did when it debuted as the largest ship in the world in 2006, the Oasis launch had a lot fewer media people onboard the ship, yet the news coverage was hugely bigger than that of the Freedom. And we’re talking “only” 4 years. Apart from coverage by ABC’s “Good Morning America,” not one TV station outside of Florida came onboard the Oasis. Yet 200 TV stations around the U.S. aired video from the Oasis website.

A fair conclusion is that the consumer decided what they wanted to see, and they pushed the Oasis on news platforms. That ability not only makes a social-media-savvy audience part of a brand’s marketing team, it also shows the future for any type of business that can create substantial social engagement with its customer base, potentially and established.

Do you have a Twitter and Facebook account? If not, set one up and link your account to local organization such as www.twitter.com/searchamelia , www.twitter.com/ameliapromotion , www.twitter.com/aibluesfestival and www.twitter.com/warriorvacation.
Other ones to connect to are Sunsplash, consignamelia, shrimpfestival and many more. If you need a list drop us a comment note.

Digital Detox is the Wrong Prescription

This happens when Idiots get a hold of Statistics

Twitter and Facebook are not my thing as a means to have people get a grip on my personal life. However engaging people in social media to create value for others and myself is very much my thing. It’s a passion that creates ever widening and rising platforms of ideas and commitments.

A couple of days ago I read this article in the Financial Times from a contributing writer who found himself “cured” from Twitter and Facebook. The title of the article I think was Digital Detox. The writer in the article stated that he would reach the end of a 10-hour day and felt he had achieved almost nothing except for chasing his tail around the internet. Classic case of a unorganized mind I thought. I hoped he did not aimlessly spend too many hours of his time searching on porn sites, the poor soul. He obviously went into the whole internet machinery without a clear plan. But rather than accepting that his approach was flawed, he borrowed a lame excuse from a piece of pseudo scientific research that was recently published by Lila Davachi, a New York University neuroscientist.

Ms. Davachi studied ‘no less’ than 16 men and women, aged 22 to 34, by scanning their brains while they looked at three different pictures: an object, a face and a mountain scene. After viewing the photos, and while their brains were still being scanned, the participants were asked to lie still, rest and let their minds wander. When they were shown the pictures again, they were better able to remember them than they were before they took a rest – the daydreaming had improved their recall. Duh?? Based on this piece of kindergarten science her conclusion was that if you are not giving yourself a break, you are hindering your brain’s ability to consolidate memories and experiences. Bravo. What a discovery!

The writer of the FT article could now blame his failure on the Internet and Social Media as “his gluttony for digital media came at a price: a severe impact on cognitive function, in particular memory”.

Are you overwhelmed by Facebook and Twitter?

Even though the title peaked my interest for a moment, because sometimes I too feel overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort it takes to stay up to date in Cyberspace, my next thought about him was “loser”. You copped out. You followed the popular “in your face” trend without realizing that there is a message behind the madness. You didn’t quite get the expanse of what was given to you with respect to creating value. And so instead of following the calling, you declared defeat and went back glorifying the “good old days”, which upon closer examination never turn out to be quite as good as we thought.
The reason why I bring this up is because here in our daily functioning on Amelia Island and in Nassau County we often invite people to free workshops about social media and networking. We often hear that people complain of not having the time to engage themselves in what really is going to define their business in the very near future. And that is dangerous for their business success.

Success comes with value creation

Success requires knowledge, discipline, preparation, perseverance and preferably a long term vision. And…success only comes as the result of value creation. Whatever you create needs to represent a value to someone in order to be successful. We cannot make you do your share of social engagement. We can only warn you that if you don’t get engaged, you will lose. We can also teach you how to do the bare minimum to get away with AND we can teach you how to outsource social engagement in a believable and affordable manner. But if none of that convinces you to get active, your current competitor will beat you to the customer or a not even formatted future competitor will recognize your weakness and take over your business.

The phenomenon of social media is just now being scratched on the surface, but let me ask you a question: Do you think the medieval Crusades would have happened if there would have been telephone and TV at the time? Do you think South African Apartheid and Mandela in prison would have lasted as long as it did, if the internet would have been around? Do you think Dubai would have the tallest building on earth and Disney World would have 30 million visitors a year? Do you think the Oil Spill coverage and movement would have been as forceful as it is? And the whopper you may or may not like: Do you think Obama would have become President of the United States without social media engagement?

What social media are doing is creating new dimensions of engagement, politically and commercially. I think the power of social media will also give a new dimension to the value of team work, local, national and global as we can now:

• Build a network of experts, from around the world if so needed, and make it available for hire or for free, depending on the cause.

• Build a network of researchers and generate tested information useful to others.

• Build a network of market leaders and/or communities and represent them to advertisers, marketers and markets or recruiters.

We recently suggested a number of Consignment Shops on Amelia Island to join forces in a Campaign called Consign Amelia. If done right and open for creativity, the network creates an impact that is more than the sum of the individuals. Bars, restaurants, shops, attractions, they can all do the same and build a network with special features.

As Search Amelia we are directly or indirectly involved in initiatives, charities and services such as Micah’s Place, Joy to the Children, Warrior Vacations, European American Business Cub, Muscular Dystrophy, the Family Nurturing Center of Florida, The Amelia Island Blues Festival, the PEG Channel and some that I’m undoubtedly forgetting. All these organizations and charities are looking for funding to generate awareness and opportunity and increasingly we witness their fundraisers to be disappointing because their are only so many people and so much funding. But as a network of charities and service clubs with an internet social media power there is another dimension added.

I have been told that there are some 370 real estate professionals here in Nassau County all selling the same supply to almost the same demand. A well defined network of these professionals can use social media to expand the demand into new areas, territories and social groups, generating sales in combination with exposure.

Getting people and organizations in sync is the main project of our times

We spent half a day, mostly seven days a week in the bastions of cyberspace where people from every corner of the globe contribute, test and exchange ideas, create partnerships and business  solutions.
We often say, don’t waste your time re-inventing the wheel, just figure out what else you can use it for.
Our advice is to use a Critical Production Mode as your daily guide to accomplish creativity and business objectives without getting lost in Cyberspace. If you have a plan, you have time to do what needs to be done, successfully. But saying No to social media will put an end to your business. Guaranteed. Digital Detoxification is absolutely the wrong prescription at this stage of the game.

Workshop

On Monday June 28 we are organizing a Social Media Workshop for anyone who wants to learn and participate in tomorrow’s success. We will publish place and time later this week, but suggest you keep that evening open in your agenda. It is going to be worth it.

Taking your business serious may require a Social Media Manager

Are you pulling out your hair on Social Media?

Are you pulling your hair on Social Media?

While jobs are disappearing, literally to never return, new and never before heard of jobs sprout-up as a result of world wide web social media.

Well, what can I say, SearchAmelia has predicted on many occasions that the third industrial revolution and its major shift in how it will “create” new jobs is materializing in some of the most amazing ways.

During our semi regular bi-weekly free social workshops we have been hammering on the importance of social media and its networking capabilities for small and medium sized businesses in local and regional markets.

Lo and behold, the job market has a need for a new breed of knowledge. A job that can be done part time and most importantly: from your home office.

The sheer explosion of social media from Facebook business, to Twitter business and FourSquare, Ning and LinkedIn has been coming down the pipeline at such a speed that most small and medium sized businesses are “caught by surprise” as a total new job market segment has been created simply forced out of need to stay ahead of the business curve:

The Social Media Manager

Many small and midsized business entrepreneurs, as witnessed in our workshops, do simply not have the time to learn how to build, manage and profile themselves in the Social Media circus. And a circus it is but… unfortunately not getting involved means “Not Mattering Anymore” and you WILL loose out and could face extinction because your competitors are either more internet savvy or understand the importance of engaging with customers on social media.

Just as a refresher for some and an eye opener for others, Facebook today is the third largest country (if it where a country) in population with a little under 500 million users, responsible for over 40 billion sign-ins per month and well over 500 billion human interactions. Twitter is a distant second, but is gaining momentum regarding interaction and messages send and ranks now as the 6th largest, traffic wise, website in the world while youTube, not strictly a Social Medium, is adding 25 hours of video per minute, 24 hours a day, as people and businesses getting into high gear of personal branding.

Foursquare, Flickr (yes even them), Google Buzz are gaining traction in the circus and with more than 220,000 iPhone apps of which a good 20% are geared towards social media, as well as the development of social Android apps, the forest is growing into a jungle where trees are becoming more difficult to uniquely identify.

Social Media wild growth

What tools to chose? Which networks to follow? How much time is needed to maintain the social media status? How to push the products and services in the social marketplace? All good questions and this is where the Social Media Manager Job description and thus services come into play.

Google Search Results on Social Media Jobs

Google Search Results on Social Media Jobs

The job has grown exponentially in the last several months and consequently demand and job open positions is staggering. One small Job market website alone has over 17,000 Social Media Manager job openings listed.

A very recent survey shows that 91.5% of all small and medium sized businesses are considering a Social Media Manager while 85% who already have a social media manager have seen more than abnormal growth.

These are staggering numbers if one realizes that there are over 30 million small businesses in the US alone. Many small businesses share a Social Media Manager and consultancy fees totaling $10,000 per month for a manager are not abnormal.

Even if one considers that only one in 50 small businesses considers a Social Media Manager to take care of their social media needs, this would mean that 600,000 companies would be in a need to hire about 200,000 Managers in the next 3-6 months.

How serious is a Social Media Manager Job?

Let me put it this way… Marketing 101 book page one says: “What you don’t know you cannot crave for!” A fundamental mistake many businesses in pre-internet and Internet era make and are still making.

It doesn’t seem to sink in that you can be the most talented craftsman, the most accomplished accountant, the most knowledgeable realtor, or have the best merchandise at the lowest rates… if people don’t know about you or your business, you may as well hang a sign up on the door that states: “Opened my door for business yesterday, closed my door for business today!” And the sad notion is that all moneys went in preparation of the offices, tools of the craft and resources, yet nothing was reserved for creating awareness, personal or business.

Also unfortunate is that many people, not only entrepreneurs, think that the Internet is still a playground for teens, the internet is a waste of time and it is only for kids. They support their wisdom with excesses such as Farmville and teens pulling out their Playstation and Nintendo games and thus justify their business inactivity on the internet based on a fraction of what the World Wide Web has to offer.

Oh, sure they have an “Online Brochure”, yet many of them don’t know even their website URL (website address name).

As a result of this ignorance or being afraid of this global phenomenon, many business owners are hiding behind the “I’m too old to learn” and simply ignore that their customers are no longer reading newspapers or magazines, do not watch TV nor listen to the Radio but instead spend their time on a laptop.

If they would then they would know that their customers read blogs, read newspapers online, watch TV via youTube, Vimeo, Hulu and Dailymotion, search the gossip sites for the latest on stars and starlets, play a game here or there, do some Google or Bing searching on their hobbies, roam the online radio stations … and interact with family, friends, colleagues and engage with complete strangers via Facebook, Twitter and other niche market social outlets. Let’s face it, your customers and potential customers are online. But don’t believe me. Just be aware of the 500 million Facebook users.

So how serious is a Social Media Manager’s job? Until the next evolution of the internet is kicking into high gear and you don’t “have the time” or are “too old to learn” you’d better decide to hire a Social Media Manager, if you aspire wealth, health and visibility.

What does the Job entail?

Quite frankly, it is a very intense job that requires to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, tools and trends in the social media sphere. It requires next to social skills, writing skills and intimate knowledge of the business he/she represents, an undying drive to learn each and every intricacy of the social network tools. It requires adaptability to new circumstances, research and ongoing communication. An almost constant and never ending learning process awaits those that want to be successful in the Social Media Sphere.

To learn more about Social Media Manager, SearchAmelia.com will be hosting on Monday June 29 from 6-8 pm a special Social Media Management Workshop (RSVP required) at a suitable location based on the amount of attendance. We suggest to bring a Laptop with wireless access.

Bottom Line

Social Media is not a Fad, but a very serious business tool that may require some very special attention based on your enterprise.

We Will Keep Saying it Until it Irritates You

It's the Internet People

It's the Internet People

With the news that several Bed and Breakfast operations on Amelia Island have closed their doors for business, we set out to analyze why some properties do much better than others. Figuring out why some properties keep on doing well in an enduring recession and others are suffering and closing the doors is part of our background. Over the decades we’ve been involved in the economic ups and downs of tourism projects and areas in the Netherlands, Cap d’Agde France, the Canary Islands in Spain, Sardinia in Italy, The US Virgin Islands, St.Maarten, Anguilla, Saba, St.Kitts and Antigua in the Caribbean. It was a long route that brought us here to Amelia Island and its potential for tourism. Only one destination we advised was landlocked, all others were islands or ocean front resorts and destinations.

The remarkable part of all that expertise gathered over almost four decades is that with the arrival of the internet, every known leisure marketing and sales structure has completely changed. Traditional leisure values still rule, it’s the way they’re communicated that is different.

Besides of course financial management issues which is an unknown factor in this equation, the biggest reason why some properties do better than others is because the property’s management is unable to attract customers. Many hotel managers are still not up to speed on the power of the Internet or as Forrester Research states clearly- 90% of purchasing decisions begin online in the travel and leisure market-. That is 9 out of 10 bookings at least start on the internet. We will keep saying it until it irritates you.

To help you prepare for the upcoming year, we’ve assembled a number of hotel marketing ideas that may help you through the year. They say 80% of results come from 20% of the work. Who knows, we claim it’s more like 95% from 5%. Spend 5% of your time creating content and 95% promoting it.

  • So keep in mind to adhere to the following overall strategy
  • 90% of purchasing decisions begin online (Forrester)
  • Educated buyers now solve problems through Google searches
  • Marketing goals in the past: create brand awareness, target mass media, interrupt and repeat. Marketing now: create behavior change, create conversation, communicate directly
  • New goal: 100% engagement (not 2% conversion)
  • What should you publish online? Anything that saves people time and gives information that positions you as a good source. Understand what your customers need and want to know, and deliver it in a compelling way
  • What online channels does your demographic spend time in? Find out, then develop a strong presence there. Don’t make people come to you, put content where they already are online.
  • Think like a “content DJ”: use and reuse your content in many different formats: blog posts, email, newsletters, articles, PDFs, press releases, case studies, video, and social media updates
  • Spend the large majority of your time trying to reach the most likely buyers instead of the entire market. “The smaller the target, the bigger the bulls eye.”
  • If you’re small, you can be quick and nimble. Capitalize on that.
  • We have 3 jobs as marketers: obtain profitable customers, keep them, and expand their lifetime value
  • People admire complexity, but reward simplicity
  • Don’t do something unless you’re the best in your world at it. If someone else does something better, use their services. Focus only on what you do best, and outsource everything else.

Planning – The old days of wasting half of your advertising budget (or expenses if you don’t work from a budget are absolutely over.

  • The #1 failure in marketing plans: no clear measures of success
  • You must differentiate to avoid becoming a price-driven commodity
  • Not a lot of hotels know where their market position is. Define and position yourself.
  • On metasearch sites, hotels should move away from price commoditization by providing product-level custom messages to differentiate their offers
  • To find differentiating factors, thoroughly study the service you offer and interview the people that provide it
  • If you spend your resources like everyone else, you’ll get results like everyone else. Breakthrough campaigns often require unusual approaches.
  • Selling to your best guests is the best way to maximize profits.¬† Setup systems for recognizing and rewarding these people.
  • Identify and test the key strategies your marketing plan hinges upon. The more facts and research you can include in your plans, the better. Hard data is far more valuable than guesswork.
  • Decide what success means to you. It’s different for everyone.

The last question today is: DO YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER DATA LIST THAT CAN BE IMPORTED TO FILEMAKER PRO AND USED WEEKLY IF NOT DAILY TO ALERT CUSTOMERS AND POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS OF YOUR SPECIALS?

More about website demands, press, media and direct marketing tomorrow.

In the meantime this may not explain everything, but in our opinion there is a strong relation between success and website presence.

The following is a Website Grader comparison between the websites from the recently closed Hoyt House and the very successful Addison, an Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast.

Note the difference in their website rating:

The Hoyt House Bed and Breakfast

The Hoyt House Bed and Breakfast

The Addison on Amelia

The Addison on Amelia

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