Free Marketing Analysis

Free Marketing Analysis – If you don’t save, I don’t get paid!

make more moneyNow there’s a novel concept – put your money where your mouth is! How many internet marketing companies will work for free unless you make money? I don’t know of a single one. And how about results? Do you want tangible and understandable results from the marketing dollars you spend? (The others … ) Well, as you know there are no guarantees in marketing … because we know that 50% of marketing doesn’t work, we just don’t know which 50% … STOP IT NOW! You now have someone who is willing to do a complimentary (i.e. FREE) analysis of you entire internet marketing presence, including ROI on your existing marketing efforts … and you do not have to pay unless I can guarantee savings and improved performance. Why am I willing to do this? Because over the past few months I’ve shown business owners how to save well over a half a million dollars on mis-spent marketing dollars and direct those dollars either directly to their Bottom Line or to better performing alternatives! Then it dawned on me … why not actually get paid to do this?

The Method To My Madness

marketing geekI have been a great guy to a number of my clients. I’ve done internet marketing analyses (plural of analysis in case you wondered) for several businesses for a modest fee. Great … I’ve billed about $1,000 and saved those businesses at least $500,000. There must be a better way! I had a bunch of people tell me that I should get a commission on what I was able to save the business. Frankly, that just seemed too hard to do … I mean I would need access to their Google Analytics account, I would have to have access to their marketing bills, access to the reports they received from these companies … wait a second, this isn’t so hard after all! I’ll be the first one to admit I’m a bit of a geek. I worked in Engineering for over 30 years before I started my business, and it’s because I have a very specific process for analyzing the success and Return On Investment of clients marketing efforts that I’m able to be so confident to offer my services for free … with a catch. The catch? You pay me based on how much I save you. That’s right … I only get paid if you choose to implement the recommended changes AND realize the expected returns or cost reductions. But then again, I’m extremely confident I can save you money, and if I can’t – it will cost you nothing anyway – and you can feel very confident that your marketing efforts are giving you a great return.

 

A Real Example – AKA How I lost out on a LOT of money!

marketing analysisOK – so hopefully this confession of my stupidity will make some sense. Mind you this was before my “Aha” moment. I had a prospective customer who had a very nice Dentist’s Practice. He wanted to talk to me about re-doing his website. I was introduced to his office manager, who ran the show. I soon found out that his “free” website was “free” because of what he was paying the marketing company who hosted it. OK … I’ve seen it a dozen times before … they just didn’t realize how much they were paying for “free”! When all was said and done, we rolled up monthly, quarterly and annual fees to the total of around $15,500 a year. And to make matters worse, the amount of website activity was nil – I mean absolutely no business was coming in through the website for the $15,000 being paid out. When I sat with the office manager and reviewed this, AND THE BOGUS ADD-ON CHARGES THEY ADDED WITHOUT NOTIFICATION … my deal was won. I was going to get to design a simple new website and make … wait for it … $600 for the website, $150 a year in maintenance fees … and nothing else. To replace the $15,000 they were paying, I recommended a service I could provide for … $450 a year. So let’s look at a 5 year summary. With me, the new cost of all internet marketing – website design and hosting will cost the company $3,600. Without me, it would have cost the company $77,500. That’s $73,900 more directly to the bottom line in just 5 years. And – guess what – they get regular activity on their website from local residents looking for a dentist. So – what’s my new plan? I want to make a 30% commission for just the first two years on what I can save you. If I save you $30,000 over two years, I want you to pay me $9,000 over the first two years … and then the rest of the money is all yours. How will we know? We will have quarterly reviews of your account and activity. If you are serious about maximizing your Return On Investment and minimizing your out of pocket costs, you have to – absolutely have to – contact me today!

 

If you want a results based approach to how your business performs on the web – contact me. I will provide a complimentary review of your web presence (a $150 value) – and I don’t get paid a penny unless I can save you money!

 

 

internet marketingJay Sparling is a resident of Bridgewater. He started a Business Consulting company 5 years ago and continues to provide small businesses valuable insights and tools on how to be more efficient and profitable. Starting with a comprehensive marketing plan and business analysis, we can determine what priorities need the most attention – then get results!

I Want My Website To Be Found!

When it comes to website design, Buyer Beware!

website design for seoIn my line of business I often have to tell a business owner something they already know down deep … their baby is ugly. Well, not their flesh and blood baby – but their business website is ugly. Today was different! I had the opportunity to talk to a business owner who I was hoping to develop a strategic alliance of sorts – when I ran across a business that was a good fit for his services, I would recommend him … and conversely, when he ran across a business he felt would be a good fit for me, he would recommend me. We had a very lively and interesting discussion, and I provided him a technical analysis of his web presence. All in all, his website was very attractive, easy to navigate, easy to read … all basic staples in how I choose to design … but the underlying code was U.G.L.Y.  Why? the site was not designed to get found by anyone searching for his services.

I’m NOT Google!

Don’t worry folks – even as a website developer I’m not immune to the phone calls “from Google” – do you want to get to the top of Google Listings? For the most part those agencies are as full of crap as this guys site is UGLY. There – I said it. They don’t do much – if anything – to help your rankings – but they will be very glad to take your money! How about results? Is anyone willing to talk about results? Well – I am.

Herding Cats

business ownersAs many of you may realize … small business owners are really busy and often times just don’t have time to reflect on the results of what their marketing company is doing. I liken it to herding cats … controlling the business owners that is. No disrespect intended – it’s just the way it is … they are busy people and aren’t necessarily concerned with how well their website is performing, or how well their marketing campaigns are performing. Not only that, but most marketing companies lie with statistics (Yup – I said that) – so why care anyway? I have a different approach. My approach is intentional, purposeful, technically correct and effective … and it’s also not expensive … but like any “program” you need to be all in, or not at all. And here is my latest example …

The King Abdicates the thrown!

abdicatorI recently saw an old colleagues post about “delegation versus abdication” … without stealing his thunder, the simple difference in business (my wording) is the business owner who transfers responsibility without supporting that activity (abdication) or the business owner who transfers responsibility while supporting the activity. An abdicated task is a hot potato – no one wants it … a delegated task is shared and welcome. Why do I mention this? I was hired recently by a company that had abdicated the task of their Google Adwords campaign to none other than … Google. In plain language, that like giving the wolf watch over the sheep. Over the past several months,  the customer has maxed out the budgeted “spend” – but not seen any real return. I won’t bore you with other technical deficiencies with the campaign – but suffice to say it was impossible to track if there were any new leads associated with the campaign. I’m happy to say that this business owner (an international manufacturing company located in MA) chose to “follow the program”. Now, there are some things being done out of sequence due to timing and necessity … but here are the results of the first month-

Click Through Rate Improved 22.2%

Average Position Improved by 11.74%

Impressions were down by 30% (the reason this is a good thing is it shows that the ad was floated to a more appropriate set of prospects, versus just anyone on Google).

As we move forward, we will be able to look at real conversions (i.e. new leads) and compare the effectiveness of one campaign to another … and start focusing on what works best.

The Bottom Line

The most important thing we can accomplish to get measurable results is to get rid of the ugly baby website and replace it with a beautiful, technically correct, easy to navigate and high functioning website. The business owner with the very nice looking but technically UGLY site said it very well … “so my baby isn’t really ugly, but she won’t get very far in life, will she?” … To me, beauty is in the eye of the beholder … and my eye says a website has to “get you somewhere in life (business!)” to be pretty.

If you want a results based approach to how your business performs on the web – contact me. I will provide a complimentary review of your web presence (a $125 value) – but buyer beware – you too might have an ugly baby!

 

 

internet marketingJay Sparling is a resident of Bridgewater. He started a Business Consulting company 4 years ago and continues to provide small businesses valuable insights and tools on how to be more efficient and profitable. Starting with a comprehensive marketing plan and business analysis, we can determine what priorities need the most attention – then get results!

Reach Out and Make A Difference

It’s touched us all – Let’s Do Something!

Katherine's Little GirlsI remember like it was yesterday sitting in the crying room at our church with my then 2 year old. I met a beautiful young woman named Katherine. I liked her immediately because she spelled her name like my mother –  Katherine with a “K”. Outwardly she was happy and healthy with two beautiful children, a loving husband, a nice home – what else could she want? When we heard of her suicide, it struck my wife very hard. She had become friendly with Katherine during our stays in the crying room. It was unbelievable that this beautiful young woman saw no other way but to end her life …

Fast forward 5 years, and this young woman’s brother, Dave, has been awarded the honor of running in the Boston Marathon on behalf of the Samaritans. This organization has a suicide hotline that is covered 24x7x365 to offer help and a way out to anyone who feels the need to call. What Dave is looking to do is get the word out to 10,000 people. Originally he wanted to raise $10,000 from 10,000 people – a dollar a person – but unfortunately the minimum donation is $10. So I have a better idea – let’s try to get Dave 10,000 people donating $10.

Here are a few links to look at while you think about it … http://www.dreamydream.com/ – which is Dave’s blog. You should check it out – because you’ll see the sort of dedication to a cause that is like no other. Dave is training for the Boston Marathon in Eden Prairie Minnesota. Let’s just say it’s cold there! The other site of interest is Dave’s fund site https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson – which tells you the story again, but offers a nice green “Donate to this Fundraiser” button. Or you could just cut to the chase and click on the very same donate button as is on Dave’s Crowdrise site below!

donate

 

 

internet marketingJay Sparling is a resident of Bridgewater. He started a Business Consulting company 3 years ago and continues to provide small businesses valuable insights and tools on how to be more efficient and profitable. The development of “E-Plus Apps” was a natural progression from the website design and app development side of Sparling Business Development. It is a combination of the approach to improve organizational efficiencies while automating internal processes.

Search Engine Placement on Google

Is it important to show up organically in Google searches?

Small google iconIn a word, YES! … but the more important question is, at what cost? How about saving money and getting improved results? I’ll do a free analysis of your web presence to prove it! Having become quite fluent in the world of SEO and Internet Marketing (I hate it when people call themselves experts – see why later on …) I have come to realize it is not necessarily expensive to get to the front page of Google Searches – and stay there. Truthfully, depending on the size of the website, a properly designed 6 page website will cost no more than $900 … the additional cost for the “other SEO stuff” around $600 … and the monthly nut going forward would be around $100. I’ve written before about the “ABC’s” of getting found on the web … and have dozens of clients who are currently getting found and gaining new customers. And that, my friend, is the goal. To be able to measure the results in terms of new customers! I recently had a new client ask “why isn’t everyone doing this”? That’s where it gets complicated ….

Expert ButtonFirst … the experts … What I found when looking at the websites of local experts is they did next to no real SEO work. I know this because I wanted to learn from the “experts” – so I did automated analyses of their websites – and with very, very few exceptions, found they failed the majority of “Google best practices” for SEO.  I’m not talking about highly sophisticated coding … I’m talking about the most simple basics in the Google Webmaster recommendations! This lack of accountability was infuriating to me because they give the industry a bad name. What became clear very early on was that these same “automated tools” I use are the cornerstone of building a website with excellent “Design for SEO”. I have a checklist of no fewer than 375 distinct “SEO Design and best practice” items I consider when designing a website. How can I do this in such a cost effective way? Automated tools. Imagine a company with a tag-line of “It’s All About The Process” actually having one!

crowded fieldSecond … the field is crowded. Who do you trust? If I had a marketing company (like Dex Media, Hibu … and others) that offer “a free website with our internet marketing services” for only $300 … $400 … $500 … $1,000 A MONTH … that actually did what they said they would do, I’d probably use them. And – sort of like the Rite Window Commercials … how is this free? Hibu comes close … but you will pay dearly for it to be done right. Dex Media … not so much. If you are a Dex Media customer … talk to me. I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt I can provide better results at significant savings. To name a few “Dex” examples … a painting company saved $2,200 the first year … a Dentist saved around $8,400 the first year … an AutoGlass company is on track to save $6,000 its’ first year – and an insurance company is saving $7,200 a year – all with improved and measurable results. Why do I harp on “measurable”? There is only one way to say this (I never have been very diplomatic) – they lie with bloated statistics. I don’t – and for very good reason – the difference in activity on these companies websites speaks for itself.

Being seen on Googles first page is critical to being found on the web. 97% of all consumers use web searches when making a buying decision. 70% will be using a mobile device or tablet. Over 75% of users NEVER SCROLL PAST THE FIRST PAGE OF LISTINGS. If what I outlined as the cost to show up in Google in the first page is within your budget, you could really benefit from talking to me. If I can’t truly help you, I’ll let you know. That’s why I’m offering the free analysis. I honestly don’t want to engage with a company I can’t help because it could only lead to having a dissatisfied customer – and no small business needs that!

The Hook

Well, at least I make no bones about it … if you would like a no obligation, no cost appraisal of your business’s internet presence and some thoughts on how to improve your marketing – contact me. My personal pledge is that it will be a hassle and pressure free meeting experience for you.

internet marketingJay Sparling is a resident of Bridgewater. He started a Business Consulting company 3 years ago and continues to provide small businesses valuable insights and tools on how to be more efficient and profitable.

Google Imposters

How Often Does Google Call On Businesses?

google impostersAs of today – never – unless you as the business owner specifically call Google and ask them to. So who is it on the phone when “Google” is calling? Very simply put, they are imposters trying to sell a “Google Based” product or service. Not only are these calls unethical (unless you consider lying ethical), but in Google’s eyes, they are illegal. No one is authorized to use the Google name or brand other than … you guessed it … Google! So – why this blog? I actually consider these practices to be predatory and unethical enough to expose them for what they are and am going to provide some insight as to what you can do about it!

Is Chivalry Dead?

SEO specialistBusiness can be incredibly competitive and exhausting. No questions or illusions about that. But are ethics and common courtesy a thing of the past when it comes to business? How about an emphatic “NO”. Who we choose to do business with and how we choose to do business are personal decisions – and it doesn’t matter whether you are a “soloprenuer ” or working for a Fortune 500 business, it is a personal choice. You may wonder why these “Google Imposters” get under my skin so badly?  It’s difficult enough running a small fairly anonymous business – I mean I could change my company name to “Google Business Development” and say that Google is calling – but that approach goes against every grain of how I choose to conduct myself and how I try to help my clients conduct their business. Let me say that again – because I think it is a critical differentiator in how I market my business and the businesses I engage with – I will use every possible ethical advantage available – but at the end of the day I want all of the prospects my clients have dealt with to know they have been treated well. No high pressure tactics, no lies, no mis-leading messages – just the truth. Why? I believe today’s consumers not only “CAN handle the truth” – but actually crave dealing with a business that treats them like intelligent and informed consumers. The “Google Imposters” do not do this. They start with a lie, go directly to a bait and switch, and then charge exorbitant amounts for services that are, at best, poorly executed. How do I know this to be the case? I’ve had the opportunity to “clean up” after a few of these imposters.

What to do?

Just last week I was discussing this with Google. (No kidding –  I really called Google to ask.) Apparently Google is very well aware of these practices and are attempting to shut them down wherever possible. What can you do? Record the phone number that called you. That’s all – you don’t have to do as I have done and actually engage in a lengthy call process to find out more about them (which is also how I know how deceitful these characters are). Just get the phone number – and send it to me. I have arranged to act as the “local watchdog” with my contacts at Google – and have been invited to provide as many phone numbers as often as I can to them to help them shut down these imposters. So, if you have “Google” calling you – get the phone number and send it to me using my contact form.

The Hook

Well, at least I make no bones about it … if you would like a no obligation, no cost appraisal of your business’s internet presence and some thoughts on how to improve your marketing – contact me. My personal pledge is that it will be a hassle and pressure free meeting experience for you.

internet marketingJay Sparling is a resident of Bridgewater. He started a Business Consulting company 3 years ago and continues to provide small businesses valuable insights and tools on how to be more efficient and profitable.

Building a Marketing Plan

Building Blocks of a Comprehensive Internet Marketing Plan

I’ve recently been asked by a few clients what constitutes a comprehensive marketing plan. I thought it important to note that the business that says “It’s All About The Process”  actually has one! I look upon building a marketing plan in terms of building blocks – build a strong foundation then add to that foundation with several strategies. Test and measure the strategies to see what works best for your particular niche. I’m not naive enough to think that “one size fits all” – because there will always be exceptions – but this “set of blocks” is how I will typically build a clients marketing engine. By the way – each “block” is almost a blog in and of itself – so I have collapsed each one so you can pick the most relevant ones to you.

Search Engine Optimization
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Referral Marketing
On-Line Ads
Publicity
Offline Integration

Finally, the most important aspect of executing an internet marketing plan is prioritization. The order that the categories are presented is not necessarily representative of the order they should be addressed – aside from SEO. I honestly believe the cornerstone of any internet marketing campaign is the website. The most compelling ad that links to a dull, dreary or boring, or difficult to navigate … website … will kill that campaign. Instead, using your industry knowledge, your experiences and your gut feel select the strategies most likely to provide a positive return for what your marketing budget will bear. Have a way to measure the effectiveness of the campaigns because there is no “one right way” – what works today with one market segment could fall silently on the ears of another. Be prepared to shift direction, be flexible … be open to suggestion.

If you like my approach, feel free to Contact Us for a brief, no cost consultation.

 Sparling Business Development – It’s all about the process.

Strategies: Keywords
SEO

On-Line Ad Campaigns

        search ads

        display ads

        e-mail ads

        Social Media ads

Referral Marketing

        Reciprocal Links

        Affiliate Links

        Customer Referral Programs

Social Media Marketing

        join a conversation

        develop channels

Must Include!  

Customer Satisfaction

                Reputation Management

                Promote

                Respond

Publicity

        Content

        Commentary

        make your own news

Offline Integration

        alignment

Blog

About SEO Pretenders

Business is competitive … right? And any advantage needs to be exploited. Getting to be #1 on Google’s organic listing can be a great way to drive business … all pretty obvious comments … but at what cost?

With the release of Panda 4.0, Google has continued its’ trend of making their algorithm more and more content centric.  I have been saying for years that “content is king” – not keyword stuffing – or any of the other “Black Hat” techniques that so many legacy websites still employ. With Panda 4.0 this is even more true! Believe me, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do read articles about SEO and study Google Webmaster Rules. It was apparent a couple of years ago that the goal of Google was to provide its’ users with the most relevant listings possible. Relevance equals users. Users equals revenues because Google ads wouldn’t be worth anything without Google searches. As altruistic as the approach of requiring excellent and relevant content may sound, its really simple economics. More users equals more searches equals more ads.

I have written on “Our Approach” that the equation for SEO excellence is pretty simple. A+B+C+D+E=Excellent Web Presence – but be aware of anyone that tells you they can get you #1 rankings on Google … because “E” is “Time”. If all of your competition is doing “A thru D” at a very high level, and they have been doing it longer and continue to do it … then you won’t get that ranking! What is required?

A= Website with an excellent technical design and “Design for SEO”
B= Optimized Listings, Citations and Links
C= Relevance of and Activity On your website
D= Social Media
E= Time

Feel free to read the complete account on web presence on that page … it is an example of my “open book” approach. I believe transparency and accountability are critical to any business relationship. And this is why I ask “At what cost?”. I know virtually every business owner is inundated with offers to “improve their SEO” – heck I even get these inquiries! What I can say with all confidence is that I can provide better and less costly approaches to this improvement that are comprehensive … not focusing on only A or B or C or D … but A through D – and over “E” the results will speak for themselves. Listen to what the SEO pretenders are offering and compare! I am to some extent shocked and appalled at some of the “deals” I’ve heard are being floated out there. There are no shortcuts! Google demands excellence and excellence has a cost associated with it. I’m looking for other internet marketing professionals that share the same approach as I do. So far I haven’t found any. Even the one (one!) that I found that is close doesn’t go to the extent on the content as I deem necessary. Am I The Authority on the subject? No … I’ll save that title for someone like Matt Cutts at Google … but I can comfortably say I can tell the difference from an SEO Pretender and an SEO Professional – so if SEO is something you want to focus on in your businesses’ marketing plan, be sure you are engaging with a professional.

My next blog will be how to tell the difference!