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an great example of network marketing

The divide between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama doesn’t end with years and ideology. It also exhibits itself through the Internet. According to an MIT Technology Review article written by David Talbot, Barack Obama has managed to create the best online political machine the nation has ever seen. John McCain, on the other hand, doesn’t use email.

Highlights from the article:

Many of the 2008 candidates had websites, click-to-donate tools, and social-networking features. But the Obama team put such technologies at the center of its campaign–among other things, recruiting 24-year-old Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook, to help develop them.

(During the crucial Texas primaries), 104,000 Texans had joined Obama’s social-¬networking site, http://www.my.barackobama.com, known as MyBO. The month before, the freshman senator from Illinois had set a record in American politics by garnering $55 million in donations in a single month.

McCain’s site is ineffectual for social networking. In late June, when (the author) tried to sign up on McCainSpace–the analogue to MyBO–he got error messages. When he tried again, he was informed that he would soon get a new password in my in-box. It never arrived. “His social-networking site…was very insular, a walled garden. You don’t want to keep people inside your walled garden; you want them to spread the message to new people.”

Social networking has already proven itself to be the early 21st Century’s great equalizer. Could it effectively be expanded to the White House? I hope so.

I also hope that big corporations like GE and AT&T embrace social networking as a means to dialogue with their customers. Can you imagine a customer service desk where issues and solutions are displayed on Twitter? Or a government that networks in its citizens above and beyond sterile updates?

It could be a different world. But in the meantime, it’s all about politics.


society of word of mouth conference

resources on small business blogs

Small Business Blogs

It stands to reason that budding businesspeople would be attracted to Weblogs, those do-it-yourself publishing sites that embody the very spirit of entrepreneurism. What do blogs add to the small-business dialogue that a whole host of magazines, cable channels and Web sites don’t? In addition to transmitting news, industry gossip and occasional rants, the best small business blogs offer interactivity, allowing readers to chime into the dialogue with their own bright ideas. There are, unfortunately, too many small business blogs peddling the same prosaic resources you can get from a simple google search. The better ones at least offer fresh insight on the mundane and first-hand accounts from the entrepreneurial front lines. — Lea Goldman

Forbes Favorite – Forbes Favorite Forbes Best of The Web pick – Forbes Best of The Web pick
Read our Review for: Visit:
Duct Tape Marketing Forbes Favorite www.ducttapemarketing.com/weblog.php
All Business Blog Center Forbes Best of The Web pick www.allbusiness.com/blog/metablog.asp
Church of the Customer Forbes Best of The Web pick customerevangelists.typepad.com/blog
Fresh Inc Forbes Best of The Web pick blog.inc.com
Small Business Trends Forbes Best of The Web pick www.smallbusinesses.blogspot.com
BusinessWorks businessworks.blogspot.com
Entrepreneurial Mind forum.belmont.edu/cornwall
Small Business Brief www.smallbusinessbrief.com

marketing the invisible

The transformation from a manufacturing-based economy to one that’s all about service has been well documented. Today it’s estimated that nearly 75 percent of Americans work in the service sector. Instead of producing tangibles–automobiles, clothes, and tools–more and more of us are in the business of providing intangibles–health care, entertainment, tourism, legal services, and so on. However, according to Harry Beckwith, most of these intangibles are still being marketed like products were 20 years ago. In Selling the Invisible, Beckwith argues that what consumers are primarily interested in today are not features, but relationships. Even companies who think that they sell only tangible products should rethink their approach to product development and marketing and sales. For example, when a customer buys a Saturn automobile, what they’re really buying is not the car, but the way that Saturn does business. Beckwith provides an excellent forum for thinking differently about the nature of services and how they can be effectively marketed. If you’re at all involved in marketing or sales, then Selling the Invisible is definitely worth a look.

From Library Journal
“Don’t sell the steak. Sell the sizzle.” In today’s service business, author Beckwith suggests this old marketing adage is likely to guarantee failure. In this timely addition to the management genre, Beckwith summarizes key points about selling services learned from experience with his own advertising and marketing firm and when he worked with Fortune 500 companies. The focus here is on the core of service marketing: improving the service, which no amount of clever marketing can make up for if not accomplished. Other key concepts emphasize listening to the customer, selling the long-term relationship, identifying what a business is really selling, recognizing clues about a business that may be conveyed to customers, focusing on the single most important message about the business, and other practical strategies relevant to any service business. Actor Jeffrey Jones’s narration professionally conveys these excellent ideas appropriate for public libraries.?Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

yahoo seo – support

Everything you need to see great results from your advertising.

For more details on each feature, and to view visual examples and demos, click the tabs below.

See what Yahoo! advertisers are saying about Yahoo! Search Marketing…

  • “The geo-targeting feature was exactly what we had been waiting for; it lets us target our specific markets.”—Veronica Muth, Search Marketing Manager, Telogis
  • “The new features provide us more granularity and analytics; the new platform delivers big in this area. It also makes for much more effective use of the time we spend managing our campaigns.”—Bruce Telkamp, Senior Vice President of Marketing, eHealthInsurance
  • “I’ve been using Yahoo! ever since I put my business online, and Yahoo! Search Marketing drives most of my rentals.”—Stewart Hines, Owner, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach Home Rentals

social networking for your business

Social media marketing is a fast-growing innovation, tapping into the rising influence of user-generated communities such as blogs, wikis, networking, and bookmarking sites.

By joining these active communities, you can build relationships and promote your products and/or expertise.

Generally, online social networks attract members who bond over shared interests and opinions. That creates a clubby and trusted group of virtually connected friends or associates. So when a member or blogger recommends your product, commends your service, or endorses your comments, it results in powerful “word of mouse” referrals.

Alternatively, if you make the effort, you can develop your own following on social media sites as an opinion-maker, authority, adviser, industry analyst, or wry observer.

As a result of getting noticed in all the right places, you can generate leads and convert those leads into sales.

Tip: However tempting it may be, don’t assume a fake identity to talk up your company (unless you’re being an obvious jokester). It’s bound to boomerang.

User-generated communities aren’t just for kids anymore

Don’t think this strategy only suits niche markets. Social sites are exploding across the Web.

The most popular categories tend to be communities where you create and share information, such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Bebo, Squidoo, and Tagged. Or it can be those where you bookmark useful or fun sites for other users, such as Digg, del.icio.us, or StumbleUpon. Visit this page for a broad list of social networking and media sites.

Visitors to social media sites jumped a staggering 774 percent between 2006 and 2007, according to a 2007 comScore study. And the Pew Internet Study reports that some 50 million Americans are reading blogs. What’s more, adult interaction in social media is significantly on the rise.

Choosing your online megaphone

For small-business owners, the social media horizon is broad indeed.

Like much of search engine marketing, social media marketing doesn’t cost much in dollars. But it does require time and effort to:

* investigate sites;
* create and monitor content;
* track traffic and referrals;
* refine efforts to improve results, and
* keep at it until you have an impact.

Here are some proven ways to start stirring the pot. You’ll learn more as you go.

1. Contribute to a community whose members mirror your customers. By checking into the comments, forums, and profiles of a community, you can determine member interests, locations, and a rough sense of demographics. Once you’ve identified a community that matches your preferred customer, there are a number of ways to get noticed.

For example, Irina Patterson runs an event-planning business from her home in Miami. She often posts on the local craigslist and, she says, gets great results. “It is a community that responds almost instantly. You can pose a question, share a resource, ask for a barter deal or ask for advice. You can target specific geographic areas, which is important for a service business like mine.”

Patterson makes sure her posts link back to her company Web site.

2. Become a commentator on a well-trafficked blog in your industry or field. Don’t ignore the blogosphere. According to Technorati, the blog search engine, nearly 97 million blogs were being published as of mid-2007.

Get familiar with a few blogs compatible with your business. A good start is a search on Technorati as well as visits to your industry or professional associations and trade journals to see what they serve up.

Make sure you’re up-to-speed on the blog’s tone, issues, and attitudes before you chime in. When you start generating reactions, you’ll know you’re hitting nerves.

3. Create a viral video campaign. Online videos are now cheap and easy to create and upload, notes search engine marketing consultant Susan Gilbert at JoomlaJump.com.

Produce a video of two to three minutes that dramatizes or explains your online site or your market niche and yourself. Then upload the video to MSN, YouTube, or other video communities to drive traffic to your Web site, Gilbert says.

If you link the videos to community pages on social bookmarking sites, you create a little network that search engines will find. Next thing you know, you’re getting referred traffic and, potentially, more customers.

4. Join a professional networking site (or two). These can be hit or miss, depending on what you market and how you work the community. For professional services such as PR and consulting, it can generate leads. Check out examples such as LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Facebook, and Biltmore Who’s Who. Then branch out to others.

5. Launch a blog. This is the most obvious idea, and, no question, online templates now make it easy to create a blog. Run a search and you’ll find options. What’s hard is to gain traction and keep posting lively content (with a link to your company site, of course). See these tips for starting a blog.

6. Become a dedicated gamer. Game for this? Depending on your wares and customer profile, engaging in the multi-user online gaming community can be a rewarding way to draw traffic and viral referrals, says Marian Sabety, at Wyndstorm, a social network technology marketer.

One of the largest is World of Warcraft, but new ones pop up frequently.

Unless you are already pulling lots of traffic, first gain experience with some of the above tactics before starting a blog. Once you have the hang of it, you’ll know more about leveraging the power of a personal blog.

Finally, remember to add value rather than to merely advertise your product. To make social media marketing work, you must enjoy being part of the community.

your online reputation

Today’s consumer is smarter than yesterday’s consumer, and with the technology available to make educated purchasing decisions efficiently and quickly, Web-savvy buyers are making the most of the tools they have at their disposal. Online reviews are permeating the Web in all shapes and sizes, from reviews of a local pizza shop to posted commentary on a new piece of software. Consumer-generated content is the new word-of-mouth advertising Learn how you can enhance your email marketing program today. Free Trial - Click Here., and its increase in popularity is attributable to the simplicity with which reviews can be posted on virtually anything.

In today’s connected world, business hours don’t exist, and consumers seem to have less free time. Maximizing the time they do have is important, and more consumers are looking to the Web to find that trusted merchant for that item or service.

However, risks can be associated with this new dynamic in purchasing behavior for the consumer and the merchant. For merchants, when a qualified consumer is looking for the best and most trusted vendor of a particular product, reviews can be skewed. The very nature of consumer-generated content on the Web suggests that in some circumstances, unknowing merchants are at an enormous disadvantage.

For consumers, non-authentic reviews can be misleading. Consumers can be swayed by an overwhelmingly positive review and select a merchant based on that alone, potentially overlooking a trusted, reputable merchant.

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Managing Purchases and Reputation

While educated consumers often are cautious about where and how they make purchases online, most consumers simply don’t know which merchants are the most trustworthy. This can represent an incredibly dangerous situation, where the consumer can put him or herself at risk for shady merchants to take orders without the intent to fill them. Additionally, there are untrustworthy merchants who set up shop specifically to steal from novice consumers who freely offer their personal and credit card information, thinking they are making a simple purchase. Much of today’s cybercrime is directly attributable to the uninformed consumer.

However, an informed and experienced online consumer knows where and when to make purchases on the Web. Experience can mean everything from regularly making purchases on a certain site to paying bills online regularly. It’s important for consumers to know where and when to provide personal information while making any purchase online, and consumers can make those determinations through online reviews. Consumers who post online reviews are often helping other consumers find reputable merchants.

For merchants, understanding today’s consumer means knowing consumer behavior and knowing where consumer-generated content is posted, relevant to their business. Smart merchants know that it’s essential to comprehend the increasing number of sites that feature reviews and the power they have within the business community. When reputable merchants are actively involved in the world of online reviews, they are typically much more successful than those who aren’t paying attention. Those who are paying attention most likely will have embarked on a reputation management program, where they are proactively managing reviews with their customers.

The world of reviews can impact merchants in any number of ways. Any person — a competitor, a highly emotional (and perhaps irrational) customer, or even someone who has never done business with the merchant — can post a review, whether it’s authentic or completely inaccurate, and this can sink a small business HP LaserJet M3035 MFP series -  Starting at $1,599. Save up to $500. Click Here.. Conversely, a merchant who understands the value of consumer-generated content and decides to take proactive measures through an effective reputation management program can manage content.

This is perhaps the easiest way for the merchant to not only have a say in what’s being posted online but also attempt to resolve any real gripes that might be posted elsewhere. Effective reputation management platforms typically consist of an easy and automated way to collect, manage and promote authentic customer reviews on their sites.

Best Practices for Managing Your Online Reputation

Today’s Web-savvy consumers are looking for a few key features before they buy online that merchants should employ, such as the following:

  • Site Security and PrivacyThe Web can be an enormous maze to navigate for online purchasers. Security typically plays a major role in consumer and merchant confidence. In fact, a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project study reported that 75 percent of participants do not like sending personal or credit card information over the Internet. Despite this fear, almost 70 percent of the respondents feel that shopping online saves time, and almost 80 percent feel it is convenient, the report also states.Secure sites should have trust seals like VeriSign (Nasdaq: VRSN) Latest News about VeriSign, or McAfee Latest News about McAfee, which ensure that a Web site is safe and that a consumer’s personal information will be protected. It’s not just the seal or the logo that represents this level of trust; it’s the authentication or validation technology behind it. Only a handful of companies can truly secure an online transaction or verify that a Web site employs safe practices.
  • Customer Reviews and FeedbackConsumers look for online reviews and feedback of businesses. They share experiences and opinions about businesses across the Web, and more than 80 percent of those who read reviews said that their purchasing decisions have been directly influenced by those reviews, according to Deloitte & Touche.Consumer-generated reviews, especially if authenticated (i.e. via e-mail or other authentication techniques) and validated by a third party, are a powerful tool and can provide valuable insight into a merchant or product. Consumers look for online reviews and ratings about brick-and-mortar businesses, as well.

    On the flip side, always highlight to visitors that you’re open to customer feedback, by making it easy for consumers to actually give you feedback, and by being proactive by asking for it at every relevant opportunity — for example on checkout pages, outbound e-mails and other customer communications.

  • Policies and Contact InformationThere’s nothing worse than being promised a gift to arrive by a certain date and then not getting it in time or simply not getting the product ordered. Shoppers can determine the quality of a business by the way it handles any customer complaints or disputes.A reputable business should display contact information clearly, including a physical address and phone number; have strong return and refund policies; and provide a mechanism to collect feedback and resolve any disputes that may arise. Additionally, bonded merchants guarantee purchases with a bond from a trusted third party.

Consumers don’t always arrive at a retailer’s site directly or with previous knowledge of the site. By providing security Free Trial. Security Software As A Service From Webroot. information, online reviews and displaying clear policies, consumers will have a better handle on the business itself, feel more confident, and can make more informed shopping decisions.