The 4 Basic Pillars of a Successful Online Local Marketing Plan

I recently wrote about the many challenges small and medium sized business owners face while constructing and implementing a successful internet marketing plan. The often insurmountable challenges we pointed out were ‘time’ and ‘money’. Small business owners are consumed with what they do best; operating their business and making sure their customers are satisfied. In addition, many owner/operators also manage the marketing direction for their companies and do not have substantial budgets for advertising and outside marketing services.There are still local businesses that have virtually no online presence, but most have tried at least a few forms of online marketing. For example many businesses have a website, built by a neighbor’s son or the local web design company and may have even set up a Facebook page. Perhaps they even have one of the large PPC (Pay-Per-Click) firms running a Google campaign for their company. Most small business owners have put together their online marketing strategy over a period of months or even years and have purchased a few services along the way from outside marketing companies. As any good business person would do, they try to keep the parts that are working and get rid of the parts that are not yielding results.The inherent problem with this type of “hit or miss” strategy is that the success or failure of an individual online marketing strategy is often interdependent on the strengths or weakness of other parts of your online presence. Let’s discuss the four main components of a local online marketing plan.The Four Pillars of Success: Marketing Plans for Local BusinessPillar One: Targeted Web TrafficHaving a business website posted on the web is not going to create traffic from prospective customers all by itself. Websites need to be marketed in order to generate a steady flow of traffic for your business. Many business owners have the common misconception that having the prettiest website is somehow going to translate into a successful website. If I had to choose between a gorgeous website not positioned to gather traffic versus a simple, perhaps even ‘ugly’ website, that is positioned properly to gather significant local web traffic, I would choose the latter.What is Targeted Web Traffic?Local business websites can receive targeted web traffic from a variety of sources and methods. Let’s first discuss what the term targeted traffic means. In the most basic sense, targeted web traffic could be defined as a web user who visits your site that possesses at least one criteria or characteristic that you believe would fit within your definition of a potential customer. An example could be as simple as their location. If your business sells pizza or dental services, you might be interested in any consumers that live within 5-10 miles of your business, but you would not be interested in consumers that live 1,000 miles from your business location. Another example of a targeted web user is someone that is specifically searching for your product or service or has previously expressed an interest. The point we are making is that your goal as a local business marketer, is to position your website to receive traffic from local consumers that have (or are likely to have) interest in your products or services.Paid versus Free Web TrafficLocal web traffic comes from a variety of sources and all of them should play a role in driving targeted traffic to your business. There are some sources that you need to pay for on a per click basis or per impression basis and others that can be free, provided that you do the necessary legwork to position your website to take advantage. Developing an efficient mix of web traffic for your business will take time but this is the first part of a local marketing plan. The purpose of this article is not to delve too deep into the benefits or pitfalls associated with any specific source of targeted web traffic but rather to demonstrate that traffic is only one part of an overall marketing plan. Web traffic is only valuable to your business if your website has the ability to effectively engage with visitors and provide a mutually beneficial experience. If your web visitors reach your site and leave within 5 seconds, there isn’t much benefit to either party.Pillar Two: Websites that Engage and Convert Your CustomersThe manner in which your website presents your business to web visitors has a profound effect on how efficiently your site will help potential customers take the next step in engaging with your business. Website visitors will typically decide in a manner of seconds if they are on a page or site that can satisfy their needs. Most websites will fail this first test and lose potentially valuable traffic before ‘the game’ even begins. This is often referred to as ‘relevancy’. Simple, if your site doesn’t instantly appear to provide the information, services, products etc. that the web user is interested in, they will move on to a site that does. The second and equally important requirement for a successful local business website is ‘engagement’. Visitors must be enticed to take the ‘next steps’ with your business. This can be accomplished with a variety of simple techniques and is also a topic that will not be covered in great depth in this article. The point we are stressing is that the quality of your website design, from a marketing perspective, plays a significant role in the success a local business will have in converting web traffic into new customers.Pillar Three: Tracking, Analytics and TweakingInternet marketing is part science and part art, but the results are pure math. Your business pays real money to engage in internet and offline marketing efforts and you are expecting new customers that pay you real money as a result. The entire marketing process needs to be measured, tracked and periodically studied. This is the only way to make adjustments to your marketing plan in order to make as cost effective as possible. A few basic procedures can be implemented on your website and in your business workflow to give business owners the tools to monitor how well marketing efforts are performing and where change can and should be made. Tools can be used to help determine how well your traffic is performing, how well your website is performing and even how well your staff is performing. When you spot a weak part, you at least know where to make some tweaks. In addition, if you are using an outside marketing professional, they should be able to provide assistance with this, as opposed to just selling you one piece of the puzzle. The cost of a click or an impression may not mean that much to your business, but the value of web lead, a customer phone call or a store visit that results in new business is meaningful. The bottom line is you must have some concrete method to measure your marketing outcomes in order to determine if you are spending your money wisely.Pillar Four: Customer CommunicationThe internet has made inexpensive and free tools available for even the smallest local business owner to engage in an ongoing conversation with potential and existing customers. Businesses that are not taking advantage of these tools are leaving too much money on the table and certainly not maximizing the benefit (e.g. new business) they can extract from web visitors. Direct response may be your businesses primary goal, but not every potential customer you engage with is ready to make a buying decision immediately; but they may be ready in the near future. You will want to make sure your business is on “the top of their mind’ when they decide to move forward. Tools such as email, social media and even your website can be used to maintain an ongoing conversation with your prospects, so when the time comes for them to make a purchase, your business is positioned as a top choice and is easily accessible. To make this a reality, your web traffic, your website and your tracking need to be in sync with each other.Successful local marketing plans are built over time and are not about the latest “fad” or “get rich quick” scheme. Creating a winning formula for your business and one that can have staying power can be achieved by first understanding the basic components of success. This article only covers this “tips” of the four essential “icebergs” you will need to explore, but successful business plans must be laid upon solid foundations.

3 Benefits to Using Cloud Yoga Business Software for Your Yoga Studio

A Fictional Tale of Two Yoga Teachers:Wendy and John are each starting a yoga studio. They have their space, a website, and recently opened for business.They also chose to administer as much of their business as possible on computers (who doesn’t these days). They each have a laptop so they can be mobile, or so they think. They also have a desktop in their studio.Students are coming to their classes and they’re delighted by this. Yet, they both desire more students. Their business is in a growth stage.When not teaching classes and chatting with students, they’re on their computers taking care of the financial aspects, marketing, curriculum / class planning, and overall administration of their business.When they started, they weren’t sure the direction their business would take so they held off buying any specific business management software. Instead they used Word and Excel to take care of their software needs. So far their software set up is working okay, but they see the writing on the wall how something more sophisticated could save them time.Wendy and John go online to start looking at yoga business software options. They’re pleased that there’s a lot of options. Of course options mean making a decision.Wendy decides to go with a cloud computing software platform while John opts for an installation software option.Wendy’s option requires that she pay a monthly cost to use her software. John likes the fact he only pays one time for the software.Wendy logs into her software account through the Internet and sets up your software for your business. It takes a few days to get familiar with it, but within a week she has her software working for her with a class schedule set up and she’s put her student contact information into the database. She also set up her autoresponder email account and integrated it with your student contacts.John installed his software on both his laptop and desktop computer. He opted for no server and instead figured out how to network the two computers together so when a change is made in one computer it’s reflected in the other computer. He spent about a day getting his software installed and networked.


Like Wendy, he takes a few days inputting his student contact information and formatting his class schedule in the scheduling software. His email software is separate, but he’s managed to integrate it using an APP with his installation-based yoga business software.Fast forward 2 years. Both their yoga businesses are doing better than ever. Each of them hire 2 teachers to teach designated classes and a receptionist. This growth required more computers for their staff. Wendy, simply upgrades here software to add another user. Her staff simply logs into the software through the Internet.John buys another license and then goes through the installation process. Now he must network another computer. He’s read that using a server is a good idea, but has no idea how to set up a server. Given his business is growing, he decides to hire a networking consultant. After buying a dedicated server and paying networking consultant fees, John spent $1,500. His software also upgraded 6 months ago and so he paid $300 in upgrade fees.As their businesses grew, both Wendy and John started selling some retail items in their studio and on their website. They also discovered how effective email marketing is to student retention and growing their business. Wendy’s online software platform offered e-commerce, credit card processing, and integrated e-mail marketing software. She was able to set up her stores and beef up her e-mail marketing quickly.John leased credit card processing hardware, bought a license for e-commerce software and continues to use his original e-mail marketing software that’s integrated with his student contact database.At this point Wendy’s entire yoga business software is centralized and accessible over the Internet. John uses several software services that are installed and networked among his computers. As John’s business grows, his computing needs become more complex and he now has his networking consultant on speed-dial.He now budgets annually for computer consultant fees – something he never anticipated. He of course has heard about cloud software and is now interested in making the switch, but is reluctant given the amount he’s invested in his desktop installation software. He’s going to wait and see.Wendy pays a monthly fee for her service, but is pleased with how easy it is to add new users and grow her business with hardly an interruption in doing her core activities – which is teaching yoga and marketing her business. In fact, Wendy is considering opening another yoga studio knowing aside from finding and designing space, here business is easily duplicated at another location.John would love to expand to another location, but is concerned about the expense of expanding and managing his business so that all his business information integrates seamlessly between his multiple locations. He puts expansion on hold.About Cloud Computing SoftwareWhat is Cloud Computing Software?It’s software that’s hosted by the software company. When you sign up, you get an account and all your software is handled on the cloud – that is hosted and powered by the company’s servers – not your servers. You simply access it online.The biggest reason business owners are reluctant to use cloud computing is the ongoing cost. Most cloud computing software platforms charge monthly to use the service. This ongoing cost is understandably a concern, especially for new businesses. The last thing you want is to be committed to ongoing costs if at all possible avoided.However, when you look at the long-term of your business, and your software in particular, there’s ease-of-use and expansion to consider. With installation software you must always consider the upgrade costs and potential for paying consultants to maintain and grow your network. These unforeseen costs can be hefty in the long run.
3 Key Benefits to Using Cloud Software for Your Yoga Business Software


1. Access it AnywhereBecause it’s accessible over the Internet, you can access your entire software set up wherever you have an Internet connection (which is pretty much everywhere these days).2. Integrates it with your WebsitesA quality cloud software service for yoga studios makes it easy to update it simultaneously with your websites. For example, when you make changes to your class schedule, those changes are immediately reflected on your website where you post your class schedule. There’s no need to go into your website(s) and manually make the changes (assuming you remember to do this).Also, if you have e-commerce on your website selling gift certificates, yoga class packages, and perhaps gear and apparel, when you make pricing changes (or any changes) in your software, it’s immediately reflected in your website(s).3. No installation and networking costsThis is a biggie. Many business owners when starting out with buying software tend to undermine this. With cloud computing you don’t have to worry about installation and networking your software. As you can see from the above Tale of 2 Yoga Teachers, John’s software costs escalated beyond what he anticipated because of unforeseen consultant costs. This is common with specialized business installation software. Networking software among computers is not an easy task and usually requires an expert to do it well.Will your yoga business fail by not using cloud computing yoga business software? No, but it could make administration and growth more difficult.

Book Ghost Writing As a Process

It’s an interesting relationship between a book ghost writer and her client, the book author. The client has the original ideas for the work, and the ghost writer is there to bring them to full fruition. In other words, they work on the book together, with the book ghost writer being a professional who does most of the actual writing of the book, while the client only assists with the ideas.Well, not exactly. There’s more to it than that. In fact, the client or original book author is an integral part of the process, and in fact is writing his own book through the book ghost writer. Book ghost writing is a process, which I’m going to try to break down for you my way, fine-tune experienced after over a decade of book ghost writing. It begins with the client, and is finished through the work of the ghost writer.The client starts the process, after contacting and hiring the ghost writer, by signing a book ghost writing contract with the writer outlining everything important, such as the legal rights of both parties, who exactly keeps the copyrights, who gets the credit for the book or shares it, etc. Then the client makes a small deposit, such as $5,000 to start, for keeping the professional writer’s time open to work on the book. This can be a completely non-refundable deposit, or half of it can be refundable under certain circumstances, such as the client cancelling the project or the book ghost writer being unable to begin work on it.Once the project begins, a great first step is for the client to create a book outline and a time line laying out the book’s contents in chronological order. These documents can be sketchy at first, worked on more and filled out later, even being expanded into a table of contents as a further guide for working on the manuscript. Each document only needs to be about one page long. They engrave nothing in concrete, and each can be altered to suit the needs of the overall project.


Next, emails containing attachments in Word or Word Perfect documents, and in my case I prefer to work in Word, are exchanged between the client and the writer. The client starts this by typing out from the beginning of the book until the end, in gradual stages as needed, the book’s contents as envisioned. This can be added to later, and fully edited and rewritten by the ghost writer. Basically, the client at least needs to lay out the ideas of the book as expressed by him, and then flesh them out somewhat for the writer to have material from which to work.The book ghost writer can do light to heavy research and add related new material by using the resources of the Internet and the local library system. The emails and phone calls between both parties assist the professional writer in shaping, creating, editing, rewriting, proofreading and fully completing the book manuscript. Along the way, the client or book author shares ideas, tells the book ghost writer how he wants his manuscript laid out and written, gives the writer details of the book, and supplies more general ideas and guidelines about the book’s materials.It is best if the client sends all of the actual information to be worked on with his ghost writer in several email attachments, rather than sending them over the phone or in the bodies of emails as written copy. Some background materials can be on real paper, but generally ghost writers can’t work from handwritten notes, and while some ghost writers use scanners and can scan in typed documents, it’s easier to already have the documents in electronic format. MS Word is the most common software.Phone calls can be made on a regular basis; you can also arrange Skype conferences and IM or instant message meetings. It’s best for a book ghost writer to always have written records, albeit electronic ones, of everything, so I try to avoid phone calls except for using them for info about the project, not the project itself, or to bring each other up on what’s going on in general. I like to have everything in emails and attachments whenever possible. It’s something solid and reliable in front of me, which I can check on all throughout the project.The client basically lays out the book’s ideas and overall structure, and the ghost writer fleshes everything out and edits it into a professional, readable, polished book, also properly formatting the manuscript and preparing it to be presented to a literary agent and then a commercial, independent, boutique or self-publisher. The book ghost writer may only ghost write the work in progress, and a separate copy editor and even a separate proof reader may be hired to go over the finished manuscript; or the ghost writer may offer included editing and proof reading services. I do this myself when I ghost write, including the price of editing and proofing the manuscript within the overall book ghost writing price. However, if you can afford this, it’s always wise to hire another outside book editor for a second set of eyes.The client may ask questions or raise concerns with the book ghost writer at any time during the book ghost writing project. This should be encouraged by any professional writer in order to facilitate the process of creating a solid, well thought out and well written manuscript that reads smoothly, has few typographical or other errors, has been thoroughly fact checked by both parties, and is otherwise ready to present to an agent and then a publisher. The writer’s job is to help the client, the original book author, to craft a book that reads if needed as though it was written by the author client, or at least one that reads professionally well. The ghost writer may work in either the client’s voice, which should come through in the client’s original writing, or in her own voice if the book author doesn’t mind some added creativity in the process.


Also, credit for the work may be shared, with the book ghost writer’s name being featured on the cover under the famous “As told to… ” method underneath the book author client’s name. Or the ghost writer can be not mentioned, with all credit, royalties and success going to the author client. In either case, the advance payment made to the professional writer is her main resource, as the thrust of writing a book for someone else is to make a living at helping you to produce your book project. The writer deserves the relatively high pay, as the book project often lasts from three to six months or longer, and the client is supposed to receive a well written, beautiful, awesome new book, one which hopefully will sell to its selected markets.At our company, we have many resources at our disposal which involve assisting you in finding an agent and publishing your book, and methods for marketing, promoting and selling your book. We can also guide you to our partners and other networks outside our company which will assist you in arranging book advertising and sales. You may already have business or personal sources you can also use to promote sales.One last thing: remember that you aren’t writing a book only for yourself, or even just your family and friends. You’re creating a wonderful work of art for both its readers and your long-term posterity, so you should aim for capably reaching out to its audience. Keep your readers forever in mind, trying very hard to write more for them than merely for you, your dreams and your book ghost writer.

Systems Thinking in ‘ORGAN’-Izations

What is systems thinking? Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. That definition and many like it are found all around the internet, but do we know what it looks like in action? I found it confusing in many cases due to these same resources stating that a systems thinking approach is the opposite of breaking a larger system down into its parts to be analyzed and/or improved. It is my opinion that using a systems thinking approach in an organization is a balance of both.I’ve read a lot about tearing down these functional areas as if they are some kind of barrier standing in the way of a systems approach. I am going to disagree with this and state that we simply need to work with them differently. I strongly agree with the need for these teams, but the information within should be openly available to all other teams and the communication paths should be directly available.In every business we have a product, service, solution, etc… to provide to someone and in many it is important to have expertise organized into functional teams within the organization. These functional teams need to be in place for organizations to provide important pieces such as expertise, accountability and responsibility. Building a culture of relating these functional teams to systems that are part of a larger system and promoting collaboration between these systems is how I would describe getting your organization to a systems thinking approach.A systems approach provides many things from efficiencies and cost savings to feedback loops and product improvements. It can even have a positive influence over morale.After recent discussions on systems thinking I was looking for an example of an organization that utilizes a systems approach effectively. What I realized is that not only is the human body a great example of many things working together for a common goal, but that we study and teach on this subject recognizing each of these parts as systems working together.If you were to look up the Human Organism and write down the highlights, you are probably going to write something like skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, etc… See the common factor?


Now hold that thought and let’s look at the human body as we look at our own organizations. Imagine a standard org chart with organ systems breaking down into each system (nervous, muscular, digestive, etc… ), then to the organs themselves (heart, lung, liver, etc… )From atoms to molecules to organelles that form cells which form tissue which leads to organs that make up an organ system and results in an organism.If the body worked vertically it probably wouldn’t function let alone be what it is today. The body maintains our functional groups that allows for expertise, responsibility and accountability; but still has many interworking systems.Notice that when we speak of the functional teams that make up the body, we refer to them as systems. The body has 11 major organ systems, but what you cannot display in such a standard org chart representing the body is the overlapping of these systems. Nearly all of the major organs of the major systems have other organs from other systems connected to them. Notice that I said there are 11 ‘major’ systems. Choose your belief here, but whether fantastic evolution or a genius creator, the need for interworking systems was obviously not overlooked. I listed some organs that fall under their organ system, but what happens when I ask you where the hypothalamus resides? It is a gland so let’s say its functional area is the endocrine system, but it’s function is being responsible for the activities of the autonomic nervous system. This happens to us everyday right? Your software developers are not writing software to develop software.We’ve decided that with the org chart of the human body if you will, it needs a system to link the system, hence we have what is known as the neuroendocrine system. This is found again and again throughout the human body where functional areas overlap. The muscular and skeletal systems work so closely and are dependent on each other for optimization of movement and support that we have a musculoskeletal system. Genius right?The musculoskeletal system is not a whole new functional area of the business with new management, etc… Consider instead that it is a space where representatives from both systems come to collaborate on their ideas of how to reach the common goal and then returns to their own system.Aside from not addressing dependencies from multiple functional areas to optimize the outcome, silos cause other issues in the organization. Regardless what your functional area is, it is better than the others right? If you are an installation tech, you could meet your goals if development had it together and if you are in development your product is fine if only your installation guys were smart enough to implement it.We’ve got to tear down these silos and interact. Every decision made in a functional system is going to change the overall system. If your change is not matched and/or countered by other changes the result has changed. What a standard org chart (silos) doesn’t do is help us identify where a problem is or visually instill the idea that what one does has a greater consequence to the common goal. As an example, let’s assume you have hypoglycemia.Well, hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Now you have double vision, fast heart, nervous, shaking, sweating, etc… Each system is reacting. If you take medicine to rectify the symptoms without understanding the true cause you could damage your pancreas or cause other systems to work harder to counter the new effects while not actually curing the problem.Hypoglycemia can be caused by medications or alcohol so it could be the fault of the mouth. If not the mouth maybe the overall digestive system for not breaking down the carbohydrates or back down in that functional system to the pancreas for not producing insulin. Maybe it’s the blood stream and maybe it’s that the liver and/or muscles aren’t storing glucose properly. It very well might be a digestive system problem, but unless we understand how systems overlap you might of just replaced your director of digestion when in fact the problem could of been any one of circulatory, muscular, or endocrine systems.Similarly, defects in the muscles and bones can be the result of neurological problems, metabolic or vascular disorders, nutritional imbalances, etc… If any one of the systems that make up the human body were to over/under produce or change what it does all together, it can drastically change every other system and the overall result of what they were previously working together to do.


The body has 5 vital organs being the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Scroll up if you need to, but I’ll just tell you that the blocks are red and each resides inside of a functional system. What?! The brain isn’t higher than bones? All of these systems work together and due to this the information uses the nervous, muscular, circulatory, and other systems to share information where they overlap and transport it to another system it interacts with. If you were to put your hand on a hot surface the body reacts by sending signals to other parts of the body. Your muscles contract to pull away, it notifies your brain of the incident, your blood pressure increases while you breath heavier, your pupils dilate, and you start releasing hormones like adrenaline.Many systems in the body just worked together to notify, react and rectify and it did so by communicating within interworking systems rather than all information leaving the critical areas and coming back via the same point it went it out. Good thing or you might just still have your hand on a hot surface waiting for that single point of communication to be available.Any living organism is amazing, but remove any one system or even tamper with it without proper communication to the others and if you are still alive, you’ve just caused cancer.To do this an organization needs to instill a culture of collaboration and team building so that the vital organs can work together while the functional manager acts as a servant leader to keep his experts focused, trained, and with the tools they need to do what they do.With all of the communication that the body has going on, you can provide it with the right nutrients and not only is it healthy, it becomes self healing when the unknown arises. Shouldn’t your organization be self healing?