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.

The Role of Change Management in Successful Information Management Solutions

IntroductionImplementation of Information Management solutions necessarily brings change to any organization. Business practices, role and relationships all affect the way in which people work and interact on a day-to-day basis. Whether the driver for implementation is for productivity, compliance or risk reduction there is always the need to consider what impact there will be on user communities.Document and records management practices in organizations are not often front-of-mind for most managers and employees and asking them to think about information in a different way or even at all, as a corporate asset requires a fundamental mindset change. This will take many employees out of their comfort zone, impact on their confidence and competence to perform the work and creates a situation where individuals can sense a loss of control in their work context.It is natural that most people initially react with caution with concerns about their future, security and where they will fit in to a new order of things. In any group there will be 10% who are excited by the prospect of change and at the other end 10% who will resist change regardless. This means that there are 80% who can be influenced one way or the other.The successful implementation of an information management system extends far beyond the design and implementation. It extends beyond the support and operation. Effective information management requires a fundamental mind-shift by stakeholders and everyone in the organization that relies on information in their work activities. This shift needs to be carefully executed to create a requisite culture in which information is appropriately and thoroughly managed as a key organizational asset.What is Change Management?Change management is the art of influencing the majority to positively accept and commit emotionally to the change. Many of the issues arising as a response to change can be real or perceived and are closely related in a cause and effect network. Either way, they need to be addressed to avoid resistance or rejection of the change. This requires a combination of communication, understanding, mentoring, coaching and general support with the aim of building trust. It is from this position of trust that the task of building the work culture required for successful information management begins. The ’4 Cs’ of change management help us think about the change from an effected user point of view.Comfort People are creatures of habit and develop patterns of working within a comfort zone of daily activities.Control Changed practices may cause a loss of control over daily routines and activities. This may come through changed reporting lines or responsibilities which can evoke a level of discomfort.Confidence The introduction of new practices may undermine employee confidence in their ability to perform. Some may see this as challenge, for others it can be stressful. Often the introduction of computer equipment is something that can be discomforting. Some people, particularly older workers may have no experience with computers and can cause self doubt over their abilities to learn the new skills required.Competence To be able to operate in a changed work environment there is always an element of re-skilling required. This necessarily means that current skills, often developed over an extended period of time will need updating or may become redundant. This uncertainty can impact on an employee’s competence and ability to perform.The management of the complex web of responses, issues and perceptions requires focused attention. The skills of a change manager are built on an understanding of human behavior and the change manager’s role is to assist people to understand the change and what it means in personal terms and has been proven to be a significant success factor in building Information Management capability.Why is Change Management important?As volumes of information inevitably grow and our regulatory obligations increase amid the ongoing business pursuit of productivity, we cannot afford to waste the opportunity to exploit the benefits of information management solutions.Studies repeatedly show that a key risk in the success or failure of information management solutions is stakeholder resistance to change. Through an investment of time and effort in preparing the user community for the coming change the chances of resistance are lowered. In short without a disciplined approach to managing stakeholders through the change then realization of anticipated benefits is put at risk. This has impact on business productivity, staff moral and the bottom-line. So it would seem logical for us to deploy our information management solutions in the most effective manner.Some common Change Management pitfalls of an IM solution implementation


We are seeing an ongoing consolidation of the information management vendor community and a subsequent convergence of the underlying technology. There is a growing recognition by organizations that an information management capability is needed. Further, audit activity frequently highlights any shortfalls in performance and organizations react accordingly.The selection of an information management solution is an important corporate investment and common pitfalls addressed by change management include:Focus on TechnologyIgnoring the emotional needs of users in the rush to get the technology in place can create a real project risk. Many organizations with an information management solution already in place experience a negativity of opinion towards the system. Often the cause of this perception can be traced to an initial technical implementation focus that neglected the needs of those who consequently struggled to apply new functionality in their work activities. An effective change management approach including awareness building and communication can turn this perception around.Recognition of the Business importance of InformationThe low profile that information management has in most employees’ minds can be an issue. We are all busy and in the scheme of things ‘filing’ is not front-of-mind for the majority of employee’s striving to keep pace with everyday work pressures. Document management and filing, can fall down the priority list partly because of work pressures and partly because of limited awareness and can be seen one of the things that ‘should’ be done’ rather than something that ‘must’ be done.Organizations recognising the business value of information as an asset can then raise awareness of its importance and manage it accordingly. An increased awareness of this importance should also influence the planning of information management system deployments.Business Case and BudgetThe business case for information management is focused on risk, mitigation, and productivity. However; many benefits are intangible and have an indirect impact on the bottom line. Unfortunately associated costs are very tangible and visible.Consequently, there are challenges in the development of the business case as it can fail to excite the financial fundamentalists who view the whole undertaking in terms of an unavoidable cost that must be minimized. For the uninformed, change management activities can be seen as non-essential and result in budgets being set to minimise cost adding to the risk of failure.Although not unique to Information management implementations these above factors can create significant project risk. Change Management techniques are designed to address the human behavioral issues that can adversely impact on project success and as such, are a necessary inclusion in any deployment activity.What are some Change Management best practices for an IM solution implementation?When it is apparent users are not participating in Information Management practices an objective assessment can identify a way forward that is usually cost effective and will meet organizational needs within a much shorter timeframe. This assessment must take an independent and holistic view of the situation from multiple perspectives.This assessment must identify the root causes of any associated issues and develop a clear strategy to build the information management capability required. There are a number of common elements that have emerged as issues with information management implementations that have nothing to do with the incumbent technological tool and the strategy developed must consider how these are to be addressed.The capability assessment framework enables organizations to holistically assess information management practices and to identify improvement opportunities that will build capability. This is achieved by benchmarking current organizational practice against best practice in each of the dimensions of the framework. The best practice benchmark criteria in the framework have been identified through experience with multiple organizations across industry sectors and geographies, and are augmented through industry collaboration and global academic research outcomes.The dimensions of information management identified in the framework are defined as follows.StrategyBest practice organization’s should have a clear strategy relating to its management and use of information The strategy clearly defines the content and structure of the information, how it is to be governed and applied to support the primary business strategy.ContentWe can assume that most organizations have the information content that is required to manage their business. If this is not the case then it is difficult to envisage the organization operating successfully or at all. However, most organizations suffer from an ad-hoc approach to the management of this important asset. Best practices relating to managing this content start by having an inventory of the content, a consistent architecture governing naming conventions, taxonomy, where content is held, how content is held, i.e. hard copy soft copy formats and who can access what categories of information.ProcessDue process governing how information is created, stored, accessed and communicated is fundamental to the governance of enterprise information.Governance is the combination of processes and structures implemented at management level to inform, direct, manage, and monitor the information management activities of the organization. This consists of clear policy, procedure and business rules guiding information management practices. These must be developed in context of the organization’s business activity and be clearly communicated to stakeholders.Information management governance also includes the development of business classification schemes, taxonomy, naming conventions and rules governing the creation, storage, protection, communication, sensitivities, use and appropriate destruction of information.CultureThe manner in which information is treated and perceived in an organization is reflective of organizational culture. Best practice organizations have clear understandings and norms recognising the importance of information as an asset. This mindset needs to be pervasive across the organizational culture and is fundamental to induction and staff development initiatives.Change management during information systems implementations is a clear best practice aimed at creating the cultural awareness and mindset required.RelationshipsOrganizations operate within a network of relationships with stakeholders. These stakeholders include customers, suppliers, regulators and industry bodies. Best practice organizations have clear understanding and service level agreements with other stakeholders in order that corporate record keeping obligations are met and to ensure information is shared appropriately and to the level required to maximize efficiency.ServicesThe application of Information as an asset is fundamental to the services or products offered to the market place. Best practice organizations embed value-adding knowledge and information into services to maximize attractiveness and utility. Corporate discipline ensuring the validity of information shared is necessary to mitigate risk of non-compliance and avoid potential litigation.TechnologyInformation technology is fundamental to the management of the information asset. Clear and consistent architectures, data and information structures, security and operational tools indicate a mature approach to information management. Best practice organizations have clearly defined architectures.Change Management Best PracticeThe capability assessment framework facilitates benchmarking against specific best practice indicators. The absence of any of these indicators provides an opportunity for the organization to improve. Over and above these specific indicators the following themes have emerged as overarching best practice in change management as information management capability is developed.GovernanceAs discussed above governance is the combination of processes and structures to inform, direct, manage, and monitor information management activities. This includes effective record keeping practices. It is important that organizations develop governance practices as early as possible in implementation projects. This often means putting governance in place prior to specification, selection and deployment of a technology solution. This has a double benefit. Firstly: stakeholder’s become familiar with information management expectations and the requisite culture begins to develop; and secondly; the organization gains the opportunity to refine its governance structures prior to full deployment.Information Management SystemThe selection of an enabling information management technology to meet performance and functional requirements should follow a diligent approach. It is best practice for selection criteria to consider wider information management architectural needs. The functional richness of available solutions can allow the retirement of duplicative products providing islands of functionality. Workflow or WebPages are common examples of these islands where products have been acquired for a single one-off purpose and are unable to integrate with core applications. Once configured and deployed the new infrastructure can provide the opportunity to create an integrated technology architecture thereby reducing support cost.PilotsThere are many examples of high cost, high-profile failures in the information technology industry. Often this can be traced to over-ambition and a big-bang approach to deployment.Implementation of Information Management capability within well defined scope delivered in incremental steps provides many benefits. Primarily incremental implementation through a series of pilot deployments allows adaptation of the solution based on real experience before attempting to conquer the world. Many organizations are benefiting from the adoption of this approach.


User FocusThe inclusion of change management activities focused on preparing stakeholders to take on the reformed work practices mitigate against risk of stakeholder resistance. This involves considering the emotional needs of all stakeholders to ensure that they feel in control, are comfortable and have the confidence and competence to execute new work practices. For many stakeholders the learning of new skills and changed role and responsibility provides enhanced career opportunity.ArchitectureMost of the solutions available in the marketplace offer rich functionality to manage documents and content in a web-based environment. Full use of the functionality on offer can simplify the technical architecture and realize savings in licence and administrative cost further justifying investment.Change Management Roles and ResponsibilitiesThe change manager works very closely with stakeholders and it is important that relationships based on trust are established. The personal attributes of a successful change manager are empathy and patience. The role and responsibility of the change manager is focused on understanding stakeholder needs, building an awareness of the need for change and supporting these stakeholders as they transition to new work practices.Some key responsibilities for the change manager include communications, setting up reporting and communication channels, participating in business process reform, workshop facilitation, staff training, mentoring and awareness building. In short, any activity that interacts and prepares the user community to participate in reformed work practices.Regardless of the scale of undertaking information management projects require a change management capability. In large scale projects there may be dedicated change management resources. For smaller scale projects this role may be a part-time or shared responsibility. The change management role can in many instances be a shared role across the development. Sometimes this can be provided through a corporate change management function. Regardless of how the role is resourced it is essential that it is included.Many routinely conducted project activities such as workshops, interviews, training and presentations are in fact change management opportunities as these events they are interactions with stakeholders. They therefore present the ideal opportunity to develop the relationship of trust between the project team members and stakeholders.It is important to avoid the situation where contributing stakeholders feel as though they have been sucked dry for information by technical people. This can be avoided through the development of awareness of the importance of the project team/stakeholder relationship thereby maximizing the value of this contact time.Further, ‘champions’ can be identified from within the stakeholder community. This provides a critical change management input. As these champions are representatives drawn from the stakeholder community their roles can be a very influential and positive contributor to project success.SummaryResearch shows proves that higher levels of user acceptance and greater use of installed solutions are achieved when deliberate change management activities are included in the implementation work plan and life cycle. Best practice in change management is focused on the early involvement of stakeholders and on building a trusting relationship. Accordingly, leading organizations have recognized its importance and routinely allocate resources as projects are plannedFor most organizations there is the opportunity improve information management performance. A place to start is through a benchmarking assessment of information management capability against best practice to identify how to realize available benefits by learning from the success of others.This paper has emphasized change management and the resultant outcomes and opportunities as best practice. The selection of an information management solution is an important corporate investment. For those organizations considering implementation and for those that have current infrastructure in place, there is the real opportunity to maximize return on investment and to create a work culture that displays the requisite information management behaviours.

Publishing Choices For Writers – Self-Publishing Print on Demand, Introduction

Under the self-publishing umbrella, there are many options for writers when they are considering how they want to get their work out into the general public. Traditionally, authors were limited with either working with a traditional publisher, or finding someone to help them self-publish their work. As discussed in other articles of this series, there are many different ways for authors to get their work out there depending upon each author’s individual needs.In the past, whether an author worked with a traditional publisher or self-published, hundreds of their books needed to be printed at any one time. With the advent of new technology, writers can now actually see their work in print prior to printing without sticking them with too many unsold copies of their book. In addition, they have the option to print a copy of a book only when one is sold. Authors can do this through Print-On-Demand (POD) technology.


Print On Demand, as the name implies, allows an author to print as small a number of copies as they want, whenever they want, through a digital printing process. Because the book is being printed digitally, there is no need to set up the traditional offset printing presses, which would be cost prohibitive for a single or a just a few copies of a book. Once the set up is done for the digital format, it is done and can be used repeatedly whenever the need arises.Print On Demand solves many issues for new writers not being published by a publishing house. For example, prior to getting their work out to the general public, authors may want to have an advance review copy of their book for either their own review or to send to a book reviewer. Having an established book reviewer give a good review of a book prior to full printing is a good indication as to ultimately how many copies should be printed. In the alternative, a bad review might indicate the need to go back to the drawing (or in this case writing) board to clean up the work.Also, Print On Demand solves the storage issue for books for both a publisher and an author. In the past, whether published traditionally or self-published, when a book was done, there were copies hanging about until sold. Both publisher and author would have to warehouse them which could get expensive, although the author usually ended up with hundreds of books on their kitchen table or in their basement. With Print On Demand, a book is only printed when needed.


At the same time, in order to see a copy of their book in print prior to printing the larger number of copies, an author would have had to pay an absorbent amount of money to a printer to get the single copies. Now, it is usually just a small set up fee to the digital printing company and an author has a book in print.All the above are some benefits of Print On Demand. However, it is not the answer to all publishing ills. In the other parts of the POD series I will discuss some negatives that may be deciding factors on not going with Print On Demand publishing.

Purchasing a New Automobile

Should you be considering the purchase of an automobile, there are some common traps that you will be smart to elude. Continue reading to find out how you can obtain the best deal from your bargaining.As you are dealing with a salesperson at an automobile dealership, you want to make certain that you maintain the position of control. Making sure that the salesperson is aware of the fact that you are looking solely for the best price with no regard for loyalty to any dealership should keep him off balance. You must drive the dialogue.As you affirm your place as the one controlling the negotiations, do not forget that the salesperson is not your buddy. Do not establish an amicable relationship with a salesperson until you have signed the forms and the deal is done. Up to that time, he is just representing the dealership in your particular business deal.


The salesperson surely will try to create a friendship with you since such a personal empathy will increase the probability that you will agree to unfavorable prices and terms. It is for this reason that you must maintain the relationship as a serious business transaction.Performing some research before you go to the dealership will help your bargaining position. Check the newspaper for advertisements showing prices for the automobile in which you are interested. You can also obtain good insight by finding the Kelly Bluebook value of the vehicle.Should you be determined to discover just exactly what the vehicle is going to cost, find several previous customers who purchased the automobile you want and examine the terms of their sales contracts. With this data, you can calculate the best cost for your automobile by contrasting baseline price plus the cost of add-ons.


Remember that the dealership needs your business more than you need the dealership! They cannot simply scare up another customer, but you certainly can locate another dealership should you not get satisfactory terms.Lastly, do best to exude confidence via your speech, actions and even your stance. Demonstrate to the salesperson that you have no self-doubt whatsoever, and he will not have the opportunity to use it against you. Do not forget that you are in charge! And never agree to buy the vehicle until such time as you are satisfied with both the vehicle and the terms of the sale.