Tag Archives: Website Content

I Got a Fever for a Testimonial



“Can I have a witness….Can I have a witness?”


Ah, the beloved testimonial, proof positive that you are as good as you think you are, that your product does in fact please people and everyone should trust what you say.


So why don’t more people ask for testimonials?


I think there is inherent doubt in all of us. In some, it’s hardly noticeable, while in others, it stands there and demands to be out front and noticed. There is a hesitancy to ask if someone likes your work or your product because they might just say, “no.”


But the testimonial, the witness to your company and what you work so hard to achieve, is like a gold mine. Testimonials foster trust in you by those you want to sell to. Testimonials are what can bring great satisfaction to your work. I’m not sure anyone out there starts a company just to make lots of money, although there is nothing wrong with making lots of money. It’s just that money alone is somewhat empty. But when someone makes a point of telling the world how great you are, why it’s almost a religious experience, a sure fired boost to the ego.


Here’s a big no no I’ve seen. To have a “Testimonials” page on your website and there’s no testimonials. Whoa, that is like a huge red flag saying, “can somebody please like me and what I do?” It’s better to un-publish that page so it can’t be seen rather than have a website visitor try to see what people are saying about you and find a big fat Zero!


Social properties like LinkedIn, make it easy to ask for testimonials but better yet, give someone you know a recommendation and they’ll likely give you back a recommendation. Or at least you hope they will.


So go ahead, ask for the testimonial. Can I have a witness?


What are your thoughts?




Copyblogging 101

Taking an exam

Do you remember back in school when you were taking a big test – also the most quiet time of any school day – and you could almost “feel” the eyes of the person next to you stealing looks over at your work to see how you had answered a particular question? The natural reaction was to take your non-writing hand and casually put it over your work in a way that made it impossible to see your answers. This was of course unless it was this really cute red-headed girl named Tricia who I had a huge crush on and for whom I would have crossed a bed of burning embers. She could have any answer she wanted!!

Over the last few years, there has been a cataclysmic change going on concerning published content and material covered by copyright, especially on the Internet. The old saying, “What goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet” is definitely true, however with the propagation of content around the world, it becomes extremely difficult to monitor whether someone is “trying to copy your answers.”

I have blog readers from all over the world and for all I know, someone may very well have copied and pasted content from my posts into their website and claimed it as their own. I certainly don’t have the means to investigate the millions of blog posts that are put onto the Internet every day to see if someone stole my content so how am I supposed to protect what is rightfully mine? Guess what, you can’t.

This may be quite discouraging to you aspiring authors who envision one day publishing a book but the fact is, there are millions of bits of information put out into the world every day, of which 1% could easily be saying the same thing in a slightly different way and therefore construed as copying. But who is really capable of a completely, totally, original thought?  Aren’t we all influenced in subtle ways by every experience we have, and therefore when a thought does come, are we absolutely positive we came up with it? Or, as is more likely the case, the idea was planted in our brain by some experience and our thought is really just our spin on it.

Seth Godin, in his blog “Originality” says that those who truly are the idea creators, the ones who come up with that completely original thought, are generally shunned by society as being weird, crazy, out-of-touch, eccentric or just plain off their rocker.

This article isn’t about condoning outright plagiarism, and for those that do steal, there is a special and very warm condo reserved just for you in the after-life, right next to the lava river and scenic volcano, where you’ll become very familiar with a pitchfork.

No this is about being sure to give credit where credit is due. If you want to put your spin on an idea that you got from someone else, be sure and give them credit. Anyone’s idea can be improved upon in a thought provoking and interesting way, one that has your special experience and flavor.

I’d love to know your thoughts and if you need help with a strategy for blogging, please get in touch with us, we would love to help.


Your Outsourced CMO


So How Do Your Customers Show They Love You?

Customer love is the food of business

February is the month for LOVE. I am pretty sick of the constant use of  “I ‘heart’ chocolate” or “I ‘heart’ foreign films” or even “I ‘heart’ you!” Can’t you just say the word, LOVE? Wouldn’t it be great if all of your customers would break into simultaneous voice singing, “I Got That Lovin’ Feeling?” Would make you feel pretty darn good about what you’re doing, right, even though I think if every single one of your customers says they “love” you, maybe you’re not pushing the limits of your offering enough.  Think about that one – although maybe that’s fodder for another blog post.

As a key component of every Strategic Marketing Plan I write, I like to interview several customers of my client to see not only what they thought about the “purchase experience” but also about how they first found my client and if they would recommend their products or services to others.

Recently, as I was contacting customers for my client, I ran across one who literally gushed love for my client’s work. Everything they did was “exceptional” and when I asked if there was anything specific she could say that would have made the experience better she said, “Absolutely not, they did everything I asked plus things I didn’t know to ask. I really believe in these guys!” Wow, nice testimonial huh?

This, of course, got me thinking about how to really leverage this recommendation, make it something special, bring out the human side.  How could I make this even more powerful than just putting her comments in a “Testimonials” section of the website.  Of course, Video!!

There’s no doubt about it, video has come of age and with the technology and software available to everyone, the price has gone down as well.  It is my belief that a marketing strategy which incorporates the use of relevant video, especially on the website, is and will continue to be successful.  Here’s why:

Why Video?

  1. Pictures are worth a thousand words, videos are worth a million
  2. It is a great way to put a human face to an inorganic thing called a “company.”  It is a way to show there are real people that work here.
  3. If your customer is giving a testimonial, they are also real people with real problems that you solved.
  4. It is a perfect way to incorporate storytelling.  Read my blog, “How to Use Storytelling in Your Marketing Message.”
  5. Search engines, in particular Google since they also own YouTube, love video and now incorporate video into their “blended search results.” As Benjamin Wayne says in his article “How To Use Video SEO to Jump To The Top of Google Search Results,” Google will index 100% of all website videos and you are 53 times more likely than traditional web pages to receive an organic first-page ranking.

So, now we’ve determined that video should be something you implement on your web presence, but how can this be executed?

Executing a Website Video Strategy

  1. Why not have a video of that incredible testimonial we mentioned above?  Give your customers a powerful way to show they love you.
  2. Be sure that you are not “selling” but rather educating or providing content that viewers will value and want to come back for more.
  3. Try the method of the interview, where someone off camera is asking questions.  The person on camera will likely be more at ease when providing answers.
  4. Be sure to rehearse what you are going to say so it doesn’t ramble on
  5. Be brief and concise. Keep the videos to 90 to 120 seconds, nothing more because no one has that much time.
  6. Release new videos over time, not all at once, to derive the most search value.
  7. Make sure that the videos utilize proper descriptive titles, proper keywords, a text transcript, links to related material and useful metadata so the video can be indexed by the search engines.

Come on, this is yours or your customer’s chance to be a star, use video to really boost your marketing message and get results.

All my best,


Your outsourced Chief Marketing Officer

Could Your Marketing Budget Lose Some Fat This New Year?

Weighing in on a scale

It never fails.  Right after we ring in the New Year, they start coming out of the woodwork;  every possible kind of solution to the problem of how the holidays forced us to loosen our belt buckles.  Each claim is a “sure thing,” guaranteed to bring back the svelte and lovable you.  As they say, fat is not phat!

What a great analogy to an overweight marketing budget.  Why not use this time of the year to get out the magnifying glass and really analyze whether there’s not some areas of fat in your marketing spend that could be trimmed out?

  1. Start with Yellow Page advertising. If you’re doing it, stop.  Nobody looks at that book anymore and landfills are full of unopened directories.  If you are addicted and are afraid you just can’t do that, then cut it to its minimum and see if your worst fears are realized.  My thinking is, nobody will notice and sales will not be affected.
  2. Take a hard look at any print advertising or direct mail you’re paying for.  I’m not saying it’s not working but these are hard mediums to measure success on.  Consider using a unique telephone number or establishing a PURL for each ad.  What is a PURL you ask?  It stands for Personalized URL or many refer to it as a unique landing page on your website which corresponds exactly to what was in the print ad or direct mail piece.  Using your website analytics, you can then measure actual responses to your ads and can then justify the expenditures there.
  3. Unless you have an incredibly extensive website with a shopping cart of tens of thousands of items, or the security of your website is mission critical, you probably shouldn’t be spending more than a couple of hundred dollars per year for hosting.  I’ve run across small businesses spending $500 per year!  There are some very good hosting solutions out there for under $80 per year.
  4. Speaking of websites, if you are paying a webmaster to make each and every change that is needed to keep your website content fresh, that’s fine but there may be a better solution; it’s called a Content Management System and means that you can make those changes yourself without having to understand programming languages.  Now, this may not be for everyone.  Some business owners just don’t have the time or notion to do this.  But, if you want to save some money, this may be for you.
  5. Pay close attention to the analytics on your email campaigns and websites.  It could be that you are spending a lot of money and time and getting no email opens or a ton of website “bounces.”  These events mean that nobody is paying any attention to what you’re saying.  Some changes and further testing are warranted.
  6. Have a strategic marketing plan.  Lack of a plan is a sure way to end up going in a lot of worthless directions throwing money at anything that is shiny.  If you have a plan there is a purpose for everything you do.  You will have specific objectives associated with each activity and you can make changes quickly as needed based upon measurable results.

It’s time to get that marketing budget fit and trim.  Don’t wait, because just like last year, 2011 will fly by and before you know it, we’ll be looking at 2012.

All my wishes for a prosperous New Year, and if you feel like you could use a “marketing trainer,” let us know, we would love to help.


Your Outsourced CMO

5 Common Website Mistakes

Having evaluated and been a part of the creation of at least fifty websites, I have learned some fundamental rules that should be a part of every website, regardless of the business or industry.  Many, many business owners that I talk with, who built their websites some years back have fallen into making some of the same mistakes and I thought it might be helpful to bring some of these up now.  Website development has changed pretty dramatically in the last few years with a strong move toward websites that invite the visitor to participate and become engaged.  Gone are the gaudy, Flash-driven websites that were more show than substance.  Here’s my list of common mistakes:

  1. Not building your website on a Content Management System. You’ve heard the story before, “My webmaster, who built my site, decided to move to Tahiti and now I can’t get anything done.”  Or, “Every time I request a change, it takes three weeks before it happens.”  Unless you are a programmer and understand HTML or XHTML coding, always have your website developed on a Content Management System or CMS.  This will make it as easy as typing in Microsoft Word to add content, upload images or add additional pages.  There are a number of CMS platforms, some free and some that cost.  There are advantages and disadvantages to all CMS platforms so be sure you understand what you’re getting and that who you hire knows the platform well.  The main thing here is that you are in control.
  2. Not owning your website domain. I can’t tell you how many times I find that an owner’s website address (or domain name or URL) is registered in the name of their webmaster.  If this is the case, even though it’s your business, you have absolutely zero control of that domain name and for all intents and purposes, you are not the owner.  If you have spent years building equity and recognition of that domain name, yet it is in someone else’s name, you could be held hostage.  Always have your name and address as the “administrative contact” and your website developer as the “technical contact.”  That way they can talk to the domain registrar on your behalf, but you are still the owner.  If it’s not that way now, stop reading and call your webmaster and request the change, now!
  3. Keeping your website content static. If you don’t keep the information you have on your website fresh and new, there is no reason for someone to come back to your site and be exposed to any new offers or specials you may have.  They’ve seen all they need to.  Your site is just an electronic brochure.  Plus, if your site stays static then the search engines will also have no reason to come back and index the content of your website so you will not be rewarded with inclusion in the “first page” search results.  Search engines crave new, original content.  Blogs, news releases, white papers and announcements are all good ways to keep your content updated and changing.
  4. Not having a number of methods for collecting information about your visitors. Some experts claim that there should be up to four ways to capture critical information about the people that come to your site.  This can be in the form of having them register to receive a newsletter, request a contact, download a free whitepaper, receive a coupon, or enroll in a seminar.  By collecting this data, you can start to build a database of potential buyers, who although they may not be ready to purchase now, could be later and by knowing how to reach them, obviously with their permission, you can stay in front of them with future offers or information.  It’s always important to be building your pool of leads.
  5. Making your website difficult to find information or to navigate within. When it comes to your web presence the rule of thumb is to keep it as simple as possible.  Visitors to your site need to be shown where to find the information they are looking for.  They need to be guided as to what you want them to do.  Everything, especially the navigation, needs to be very intuitive and straightforward.  This is not the time to test how smart your visitor is.  Some would say to keep it to about the third grade level, and this would include the text as well.  The old K.I.S.S. principal definitely applies to websites.

Here’s a bit of a bonus as well.  In today’s world, everyone is using search engines to find the people, information, companies and locations that they are looking for.  If you cannot initially do a full Search Engine Optimization of your site, budget for that down the road but at least make your site is as “search friendly” as possible.

I hope this helps and if you have comments, please let me know.

David Soxman

The CMO Outsource