Archives for February 2011

What Social Media Gurus Do Not Want You To Know

If you don’t have a Facebook page your local small business will surely go under. If you’re not buying PPC AdWords, you’re bound to fail online. If your website doesn’t rank number one in your niche for local search, you may as well close up shop. These are the types of things I hear from social media marketing and seo gurus day in and day out.

Is It True?

There is a diner restaurant in the same mini mall center as my Los Angeles chiropractic office. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. It is a family owned business (one of two locations) that was started in mid-2001. Certainly a time when businesses already had website, but it wasn’t necessarily the most popular thing for local businesses to do. During lunch hours and especially on weekends, good luck trying to find a parking space anywhere nearby, the lot is packed, and so is the restaurant.

For breakfast and for lunch (hours the place is best known for) the restaurant appears to always be bustling with clientele. The weekends even more so, with lines of people piled out the door, waiting for a table so they can get full on massive bacon avocado omelettes, homemade salsa, and pancakes that are almost the size of manhole covers.

Do we have a team of social media gurus to thank for all the restaurants success? Was it their highly optimized and localized restaurant website? Is that their Facebook page, their LivingSocial, or Groupon online coupons that are driving masses to their business?

The Words Don't Fit the Picture

Being someone who has a bit of interest in local search, social media, seo, and even running a small business, I find places like Ronnie’s Diner fascinating. They do have a website, which looks inspired directly by Café Meaty Yummers. The address is an image file, and the menu is offered in PDF.

Aside from the site, there are no Web promotions, no online coupons, no discount meals, no Facebook pages, no twitter accounts, no Foursquare specials, and no personal Ronnie’s blog with posts about how he regularly puts his back out stuffing all that cash into his mattress every week.

It’s not that the owner is not interested in search and social media, he may very well be. We’ve had a conversation or two in the past on the topic, and left it at that.

What’s His Secret? Serve good food and listen to your customers.

I go to the chiropractor (hard to believe eh?) and guess what? My chiropractor doesn’t have a website, a Facebook page, a twitter profile, a blog or anything else online that talks about his business (other than the times I’ve mentioned him in the past). He does have an e-mail address, it’s an AOL account.

When I go to see him, do you think he’s sitting behind his doctor’s desk just waiting to get me adjusted? He’s not, because he’s crazy busy adjusting other patients. The guy sees more than 400 patient visits per week on average (for you non-chiropractors, that’s about four times the weekly average most chiropractors are seeing), and he’s only the second best chiropractor in Los Angeles.

So what is his secret? He’s great at what he does, provides good service, keeps his fees affordable, and asks all his existing clientele for referrals. Did you get that? Like clockwork, he asks every single person that comes to his office, to refer someone else. He tells them he would appreciate the opportunity to help them be healthier.

He doesn’t buy PPC advertising (I don’t think he even knows what it is), he doesn’t buy Facebook ads, he doesn’t participate in any online coupon specials (he doesn’t even participate in any off-line coupon specials). He simply goes to work each and every day (Monday through Saturday for about 26 hours total) and provides chiropractic adjustments to all those that want them. Think his model will be crushed by social media?

My Mother Was Right

Years ago my mom ran one of the most successful catering operations on all of Long Island, she has since retired but the principles that made her successful in business still apply today. As a caterer in New York, she organized parties, gatherings and weddings, for mayors, governors, presidential candidates, celebrities and even large Italian families. Ever watch someone put on a party for 10,000 people? She was an absolute master in the philosophy, science, and art of what she did. I grew up in the surroundings of her catering and food industry world of New York and that’s where I first learned about service.

How do you turn a group of a one 100 hungry people, who are waiting 45 minutes for a table, into raving fanatics? Four words.

Drinks on the House

Walk into the kitchen on any given night and you may had mistaken her for a military drill sergeant. Witness her out on the restaurant floor and she was loving people up. There was so much emphasis on service, it would drive the average employed person into hysterics. Trust me, I spent many hours in those kitchens, and if a drop of au jus sauce was dripped on the plate where it shouldn’t be, that plate wasn’t going out of the kitchen. Food was served hot, it was served in an organized fashion, and the place ran like it was a thing of magic.

Growing up in that environment, I experienced hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of smiles. Happy wedding goers, successful bar mitzvahs, presidential campaign galas, you name it, I worked them. And it all came down to one thing.

Service

As a chiropractor, when I say I serve God by Serving Mankind, I mean it. Yes, I have the convenience of social media and seo to help me better communicate with my clientele, but when it really comes down to providing them the very best, it’s a hands-on job. No amount of Internet marketing is going to replace the skills I’ve developed in my 16 years of chiropractic.

Service is a Hands-On Job

Will social media grow your business? No argument from me there. Does a successful social media campaign equal success in business? Does the number of Facebook friends or twitter followers determine whether you’re going to be able to put your kids through college?

It doesn’t matter whether you run a restaurant, flower shop, chiropractic office, bed and breakfast, or casino. Unless you’re employed at the Mustang Ranch in Reno Nevada, never forget the first rule of business.

Don’t Suck

Dr Mikes PubCon SEO Conference Guide

Imagine this… you’ve spent weeks planning and organizing to attend and speak at the PubCon search/social media marketing conference. Moments before Brett Tabke is about to introduce you as the morning keynote speaker, you reach into your pocket to grab a breath mint, only to realize you’ve forgotten them in your other suit jacket. Not having a mint isn’t the end of the world, but still your mouth becomes suddenly dry, as you remember that suit jacket also holds the USB stick containing your slide presentation. Good thing you uploaded your talk to the PubCon website weeks ago, or did you?

PubCon Las Vegas Keynote Speakers

PubCon Las Vegas Keynote Speakers

I don’t suspect you’d go as far as to forget your keynote presentation, but even the most savvy search engine optimization and social media professional has likely forgotten an item or two at home, that had they remembered, could have made their conference experience more enjoyable. If you asked them, they would likely share what they’ve learned with you, on how to get the most out an event like PubCon. Not only on what essentials to bring, but how to successfully go about meeting others. With that mindset, I created this guide as a resource for those attending PubCon, with the hope that your time networking, will be both productive and successful.

A few years back, I posted on 5 PubCon Badge Essentials, which included items such as business cards, vitamins and gum. While the name tags have changed, I’d still consider most of the items as essentials today. Packing plenty of chewing gum and/or breath mints is a great strategy. You won’t go wrong bringing enough to share with all the people you’ll meet.

Get to Registration Early – The obvious benefit is that you’ll avoid registration lines, but I’d like to share some of the non-obvious benefits as well. Early in the day is a great time to introduce yourself to conference organizers, say your thank you’s to those putting on the event (especially if you’re speaking), volunteer yourself should they require assistance, get first pickings at breakfast, and have time to plan your day. Also not so obvious is that keynote speakers are often times early and available (I have found this to be true in conferences across multiple industries), providing you an opportunity to introduce yourself before the crowds arrive.

Optimize Your Immune System – If you’re attending a PubCon event during cold and flu season, there is a strong likelihood you’re going to come in contact with plenty of people that have just gotten over a case of influenza, or are just beginning to show early symptoms of a common cold or flu.

Chances are you’re going to be out late, may likely not get enough sleep, and are going to be consuming more caffeinated and alcoholic beverages than you are accustomed to. Compounding that is the hotel/conference air-conditioning, changes in weather, airline travel, and the not so nutritious conference continental breakfast (sugar+carbs+fat).

Pretty much everyone’s immune system is going to be slightly compromised, so why not take the necessary steps to ensure the best outcome? If you’re wearing a jacket and layers, you can always remove something if the conference room gets too hot. If they’re pumping in the frigid A/C, and you’re not dressed for it, you’re off for a bad start.

Between the time you read this and conference time, the best thing you can do is get plenty of sleep, practice your best nutrition habits, increase your vitamin intake, keep your alcohol/caffeine consumption minimized, and do whatever you can to stay healthy.

With the airline travel, hopping in and out of cabs, and people you’ll be shaking hands with, washing your hands with soap and hot water goes a long way. Hand sanitizers are your second best option. Lots of us travel to conferences by plane, so we are restricted to the amounts of fluids we can carry, but quite a few local supermarkets and pharmacies carry 4 ounce or less sanitizers. It’s also not unlikely to find sanitation stations (antibacterial hand wipes) in both the conference center and the hotel lobby.

Perhaps you may think I’m a bit excessive on being healthy and staying healthy, but trust me, a week after PubCon, you don’t want to be in the group that’s tweeting about the post-conference plague. The week after the conference should be your most productive, and if you can avoid it, don’t sabotage your opportunities by getting sick.

Charge It! – This one is simple yet essential; plug in all your electronic devices before going to bed, and bring your phone/laptop charger to the event. Even if your device holds a charge all day, you could well be helping out a PubCon buddy that isn’t so fortunate. At PubCon (and after parties), smart phones and laptops are used heavily, so bring them along, and bring them fully charged.

Make Yourself Useful – This moves away from the what to remember to bring for yourself category and into the what you can do for others category. Extra breath mints, hand sanitizer, iPhone and Android chargers, power strips, and even WiFi cards, can make you a superstar amongst your friends (and those soon to be). If you live in the area and are going to be driving to PubCon, you can really take this opportunity to task.

If you live in the conference area, you may even consider using your own vehicle to get a few people to and from the conference center, since hotels aren’t always nearby. Build on that by offering a ride to after-hours events, and sometimes most importantly, getting people back to the hotel after hours. Obviously, if this is the case, you’ll want to stay sober. Nothing wrong with being a designated conference driver.

One of the non-obvious reasons this is also important, is that so many of us spend time communicating with each other online, but we spend little time face-to-face. Being a friend in the real world can go a long way in cementing relationships, which may result in your next big client opportunity, next new job in the field, or reciprocity at another event.

Taxi Please! – (aka put some reciprocity in the bank) If you’re from out of town and/or prefer to be drinking, you can still assist others in getting around (and get yourself there too). This next tip was also something I discovered while attending PubCon events.

Consider sharing a taxi as a great way to get a few minutes with someone you may want to know better, or a friend you want to catch up with. I’m not suggesting you stand around waiting for persons who you want to meet to arrive before grabbing a cab, but if the opportunity presents itself to grab a cab as a group, take it. My philosophy is the persons you got in the cab with are those who you want to meet anyways, so you can’t go wrong.

While heading to the hotel, conference center, or after-hours network event, attendees are going to introduce themselves. In a professional and polite way, make sure that everyone in the cab knows your name and what you do before you arrive at your destination. When the taxi arrives at the destination, pick up the cab fare. Most people are not going to forget that you did so.

Smile For The Camera – Being someone that’s taken lots of PubCon photos (2010 Las Vegas, 2010 Dallas, 2009 Las Vegas), I’m admittedly biased on this one, but I feel it’s too important not to skip.

Whether you are speaking at PubCon or simply attending, don’t be shy for the camera. Over the years, I’ve noticed many attendees transform from the T-shirt wearing webmaster crowd of the early 2000s, to well-dressed business professionals representing some of the largest and most successful SEO/Social Media firms the world now knows.

I have discovered (mostly by accident) that well taken, professional looking photos of PubCon speakers and attendees, are more likely to appear in blog posts, be used as twitter avatars and social media profile photos, and I’ve even seen them appear on the pages of CNN.

Rhea Drysdale (of Outspoken Media) and my PubCon photography on CNN

Rhea Drysdale (of Outspoken Media) and my PubCon photography on CNN

To those that have made use of my photography, many thanks for the links, which brings me to the next topic in this PubCon Guide…

Buy Drinks Not Links – The last time I checked, the head of Google’s Web Spam department, Matt Cutts, prefers drinking some sort of clear carbonated corn syrupy beverage (possibly referred to as Sprite), but he has also clearly stated that he prefers people don’t offer him gifts, so I wouldn’t present him mass bottles of soda and cookies.

Like Matt, not everyone drinks alcohol, but at search conferences we are not limited to alcohol, since plenty of people enjoy caffeinated beverages as well. Buying coffee drinks for conference goers might actually be a more affordable alternative for you, plus conference goers are more likely to be sober, and may actually remember that you bought them a drink.

Take for example Michael Gray, you’d make his day if you brought him a Pepsi Throwback or even Red Bull. Bring Kate Morris a Mint Mocha Creme Frappachino and watch her smile. For Carolyn Shelby, an Iced Venti 2 Sweet’N Low Americano, will brighten her day. BTW, all 3 are PubCon Speakers.

Be On Twitter – I almost forgot this tip, and it’s super important for PubCon goers. Typically, the hashtag used will be #pubcon, but check the official PubCon Conference Blog and listen to presenters for alternatives. I’ll be speaking on the panels… Real World Secrets of Local Search, State of Local Search, and Interactive Site Reviews : Local Targetting Focus. I’m on twitter frequently, and you can follow me @chiropractic.

See you at PubCon!

Make Money Writing Short Paragraphs

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Make-Money-WritingMake Money Writing ..short paragraphs!

The advertisement reads… You don’t have to be a trained author to make money writing. Hundreds now making money every day on short paragraphs. I tell you what to write, where and how to sell; and supply big list of editors who buy from beginners. Lots of small checks in a hurry bring cash that adds up quickly. No tedious study. Right to sell, right away. Send for free facts.