Tag Archive | "business"

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There ARE no Shortcuts!

Posted on 07 September 2012 by John Britsios

There’s an old saying that says “You get what you pay for”. Very few people will argue the logic of it, but very few give it any consideration when selecting service providers.

Maybe they just feel lucky.

The Economic Reality

It’s true that many of us need to save money whenever we can, and it’s also true that even if we can afford it, we usually like to pay as little as possible. But just as there are risk/reward analyses that we have to make every day, there are also cost/value analyses that need to be considered.

Whether we’re buying a house, a sports coat or paying someone to clean our carpets, we will subconsciously judge the cost against the value, and determine which option best aligns with our needs. That may mean quality, reliability, time-frame – any number of things – weighed in balance against the cost.

Sometimes, we have to settle for less in one regard, in order to satisfy a greater need. That’s fine. We look at the cost vs. value, make our decision and live with the consequences. But other times, we may have to pay a little more in order to get the value we really need.

So why do so many companies take the cheapest way out, when they’re investing in an important aspect of their business? Do they not recognize the value?

Do they think they’re lucky, too?

The Necessity

These days, most successful businesses have a web presence of some sort. Some are highly sophisticated ecommerce sites and some are very basic blogs. The extent of their effort may depend on the nature of their business, their financial ability or their goals.

But talk to the CEO of any successful on-line enterprise, and they’re likely to tell you that they invested significant time and money in developing their website, and they’re not sorry they did.

There are many costs that can go into putting together a vibrant web site. Designers, coders, graphic artists, copywriters, domain registration, hosting, in-house administrators… it can be a long list and none of them are free.

Once the site is launched, there’s blogging, social media management, outreach, SEO (search engine optimization), conversion optimization… yet another long list to run up costs. To be a piker on any one of these items can turn your investment in the others into a waste.

ShortcutA person would think that any business would refrain from publishing poorly-written, ineffective copy on their site. Yet millions do it every day.

A person would also think that no business would hire an inexperienced SEO to put their site in front of the public. Yet millions do it every day.

And you’d think that no business would settle for third-rate work on the design of their web site. Yet millions do that every day, too.

Are those that took the cheap route surprised when they get less than stellar results from their investment? Almost invariably, yes.

Yet, each of those surprised managers, CEOs and business owners has almost certainly heard “You get what you pay for” more than once before they made a decision based solely upon cost.

And many of them will make the same mistake, over and over again.

Making the Right Impression

As long as we’re bringing up old sayings, how about “First impressions are the most lasting”? There is much truth in that one, as well. That being the case, is it wise to introduce our business to the world like a vagabond, dressed shabbily and needing a bath?

For most businesses, possibly excluding the most prominent brands, the web site is the first impression a prospective customer will have of the business. Favorable or not, that impression will stick in their mind, and it will affect their decision to buy… or to go elsewhere.

So it makes good sense to present our business as well as we possibly can. Leaving them with the impression that we’re cheap, semi-literate or just uncaring is not the way we want to be remembered.

The Consequences of Being a Piker

Shoot in the footTaking the piker’s way out can have very unpleasant results, regardless of what area you decide to cut corners. Low quality copywriting, ineffective SEO techniques, toxic link building methods, and an in-your-face social media style can all contribute to wasted time and money, and an ineffective web presence.

It can get much worse than just ineffective, of course. Google has become very critical of what they consider to be “spammy” techniques of web site promotion. It’s nothing new that they frown on it… the news is how much more aggressively they’re going after it.

The Penguin algorithm unleashed earlier this year made link building a hazardous profession.

Webmaster now must be extremely careful about anything that can flag their link profile as suspicious. Penalties recovery takes a lot of time and effort and can be an extremely difficult process.

The “O.O.P.” (over-optimization penalty) is a manual penalty, and seems to often hit sites in conjunction with the Penguin penalty (which is algorithmic, rather than manual), complicating the recovery process even further. If your optimization efforts are too obvious, you may be vulnerable.

And the Panda algorithm, introduced last year, specifically targets “thin” or low-quality content. Panda wiped out a lot of low quality sites and networks.

All three of these have made web site promotion more challenging and have accented the absolute necessity of using only providers that are current on the “safe techniques and won’t get your site penalized.

If you insist on taking the cheap way out, and using low-dollar providers for your design, copywriting and SEO, be prepared to pay the consequences. At best, you’re throwing money away and wasting your time and energy, while your competitors outdistance you.

At worst, you’ll spend months trying to get your website back in a position that any potential customer – if you ever can.

The lesson to be learned here is “There ARE no shortcuts!” Delivering quality is the safest way going forward, and will yield the best results.

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What is Your Idea of Online Professionalism?

Posted on 31 August 2012 by John Britsios

Like child-rearing and broccoli, if you ask 50 people what they consider to be the basic tenets of online professionalism, you’re likely to get 50 different answers. But it should be safe to say that professionalism is less subjective than broccoli… or even child rearing, for that matter.

Basic Decency

There ought to be at least a few basics that most people can agree upon, at least in what is euphemistically called “polite society”. For instance, here are just a few that I’d (like to) think most people would buy into:

  • Don’t attack a person’s faith;
  • Don’t make fun of their disabilities;
  • Don’t laugh at their loss of a loved one;
  • Don’t tell them how ugly you think they are.

To commit any of those faux pas would be fairly obvious departures from what most people consider to be “acceptable” behavior, and most of us would be appalled to see someone treat another that way. But there are other ways of presenting oneself inappropriately, without being directly insulting or abusive.

Inappropriate Actions

Some of those slightly less blatant methods might include:

  • Acting in a condescending manner to someone because of their race, gender or sexual orientation;
  • Deliberately ignoring someone for any of the same reasons;
  • Making sexually suggestive remarks or unwanted overtures;
  • Using vulgar or profane language in an inappropriate setting.

In limited circumstances, some of those last can be somewhat subjective, too. But since we’re talking about online professionalism, it should be obvious that we’re making some assumptions.

For instance, we’re talking about individuals that are either conducting business online or that do so at times, and are not totally incognito (which does not imply that said behaviors are acceptable, as long as nobody can identify you).

We’re also assuming that it’s not a setting among a casual group of friends, where certain behaviors might be considered forgivable because of the relationships between the parties.

And most of all, we’re assuming that an individual might reasonably expect a certain level of behavior, because of the open or public nature of that behavior.

Reasonable Expectations

So where does that leave us? We’re in a situation in which a businesslike demeanor can be expected, rather than a bunch of drinking buddies in a bar, and there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to expect to be on the receiving end of:

  • Sexual innuendos or overtures;
  • Vulgar or profane language;
  • Insults or abusive behavior;
  • Any form of discrimination.

That could mean we’re in a place of business, or possibly have business representatives calling on us, either in person or by communication.

Or it could possibly mean we’re in a gathering, where attendees expect to conduct business of some sort.

Finally, it could mean we’re watching a business presentation, such as a conference, webinar or media broadcast of some sort, where virtually anyone might be listening.

In any of those cases, it’s reasonable to not have to be subjected to any of the eight offenses listed above.

The Bottom Line

So, if you receive any of the above from someone that is not one of your drinking buddies, in any sort of environment that can’t be construed as strictly personal, there is something terribly wrong. That would include abusive emails, raunchy jokes, unwanted flirtation, discriminatory comments or actions, F-bombs during a phone conversation, conference or broadcast… the list goes on.

In short, such things are grossly unprofessional and shouldn’t be endured.

In a “no holds barred” forum or chat-room, it’s one thing – people presumable know what to expect – if they choose to stay, that’s their call. But lacking that knowledge and agreement, such things are totally inappropriate.

When a listener may be listening while he works, and his co-workers are suddenly treated to a series of F-bombs, the offense is compounded. If a listener is connected at home, and his wife or children may be within hearing distance, the situation is the same.

In such circumstances, any value that the broadcast might have had to offer may be lost, with the listener electing to skip that benefit rather than subject others to the language. And more importantly, any professional credibility that the broadcaster might hope for can be lost as well.

A Plea

Please, people – if you’re sharing any sort of content with an audience, think about that audience. If you hope to be seen as a professional, then you need to act like a professional. If you can’t do that, your own credibility will suffer for it and you may find others beginning to avoid you.

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