Sean Branagan Talks About Marketing

I went to a presentation here in the Syracuse area today for a series called “Talking Business: A Conversation With…” Basically it’s a monthly interview series with local business people who’ve done well. They’re interviewed by a moderator, then questions are allowed to be asked by the audience.

Today’s presenter was a gentleman named J. Sean Branagan, president of a company called Communigration, which is a PR & marketing firm for technology companies.

I love going to things like this, but especially today I enjoyed it because he talked about his concepts of marketing for small businesses. This is what he does, but those small businesses have very expensive and specific technology, which of course means he’s competing against fewer people for very big dollars, and he has to find ways of standing out from the crowd while still addressing the potential clients needs.

He talked about his process for coming up with the right message to get across. He starts out by writing a 50 word statement of some kind. Then he whittles that down to 25 words. Next he whittles it down to 10 words, and finally he shoots for 3 or 4 words that fully capture just what a company does. His thought is that if you can come up with a way to tell people what you can do for them with a super short statement, and are ready to back it up with more information once you’ve hooked them, then you’ll succeed where other businesses that do what you do fail.

It makes a lot of sense, especially if you pay attention to TV commercials. Nike’s “Just Do It” is probably one of the best known 3-word phrases in the world today. “Coke Adds Life” was one of my favorites from way back in the day. One of our local community colleges has the phrase “We Build Futures” that’s very popular. Remember State Farm Insurance, “Like A Good Neighbor”? And even Mazda’s “Zoom Zoom” stands out; you know what the commercial is about as soon as you hear that, even if you never hear the name of the product.

Can this same model work with an online business? Unfortunately, no one thought to ask this question, including me, while he was up there. I tend to believe that branding of some fashion is imperative to helping one establish an identity of some sort, though. Google’s first page is unique with only their name; so is Yahoo’s. YouTube might have been as popular a site if it had been called “Upload Your Movies”, but it might have been overlooked also. Trying to find a way to capture the eyes and attention of a visitor to your site just may help them stay for a little while, and if it does, you’ll have the opportunity to make money in some fashion, and that’s never a bad thing.

It was a wonderful presentation, and it got me thinking more and more about what I can possibly do to make my sites visually more interesting, as well as finding something more to captivate their eyes. I’m Just Sharing,… heck, I still like that!

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Subscribing To RSS Feeds

RSS stands for “really simple syndication”, and basically it gives people an opportunity to follow new content from websites or blogs that are often changing what’s being presented on the site. For instance, if you notice on the top right side I have a little icon giving people the option to syndicate my blog, so that they will be informed every time I write something new. I want people to subscribe to my blog so that my message will spread, but there’s reality that many people may not quite know what RSS feeds are.

The video below talks about it in a little more detail, as well as how to use it witnin Internet Explorer. I use a separate program that’s not associated with my browser called Feedreader to put all my feeds into, and it’s free.


After watching that, I hope you decide to subscribe to my feed; I won’t be mad if you do. 🙂 Meanwhile, I can’t take full credit for finding the video, so I thank Barbara Ling for writing about it on her blog.


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Twitter’s On My Nerve, And I Just Got There!

I’ve been on Twitter for less than a month, and I’m already starting to get irritated with it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Sure, I came to it kicking and screaming because, like most people, I just didn’t quite get the concept. Basically, it’s fast and immediately blogging, or more like quick notes of what you’re doing at that moment. You’re only allowed 140 characters, including spaces, to say what you want to say; this makes you think just a little bit more concisely, which is hard for someone like me who wants to go on and on.

Once I started, it just grabbed me and I thought it was pretty neat. I found a few friends to follow, and as time went on, people started to find me, people I didn’t know, and that was neat. What happens is that you can follow people throughout the day and they can do the same to you. I’m following 3 or4 more people than follow me, but that’s okay. At least half the time I post a link from a new blog post, whereas 25% of the time I’m putting out a thought, and the other 25% I’m talking to someone.

One of my friends introduced me to TwitterFox, since I use Firefox, so I didn’t have to always sign onto the Twitter site I thought that was pretty good also, until I started getting these strange messages, “rate limit exceeded”, with a different number all the time. I thought that was odd, and asked my friend about it, but he said he hadn’t noticed it, probably because he’s not as anal as I am at looking at stuff. I also noticed that, quite often, the light blue “T” of TwitterFox that’s sitting at the bottom of my browser goes red, and that’s when you know it’s down.

I tried to figure out what the problem was, couldn’t, deleted it and reloaded it, and nothing was solved. I then went to Google and did my research, to see if anyone else was having the same problem. And that’s when it hit me; it’s not Twitter Fox at all, it’s Twitter. It would seem that it’s experiencing the same problems that both Facebook and MySpace experienced with rapid growth, which then brings on server issues. Just this past weekend Twitter announced they’d had a major server crash and were rerouting things, but they never fully shut us down, or so I believe.

So, though I’m still going to be “twittering”, I have to admit that it’s not fun when I go to post a message and everything is frozen. And it doesn’t matter whether I use TwitterFox or log onto the page and try to post something; when they’re down, they’re down, and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, I know the visits to this blog have increased since I hooked up on Twitter, so I’m not going to complain too loudly. They haven’t increased on my other blog, though; I find that interesting.

Anyway, if you ever get the urge to follow me on Twitter, just click on this link. I don’t think I’m going anywhere for awhile. You can learn more about it by checking out this link to eNetworking 101.

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Let’s Talk About Commission Junction

As you’ve noticed easily enough, with most of my posts I have some sort of affiliate link or product at the end of each one of them. Most of them come from Commission Junction, and that’s who I’m going to talk about this evening.

Commission Junction is one of the largest big name affiliate programs out there. There may be affiliate programs that have more products, but Commission Junction deals with some of the biggest name companies and personalities. For instance, I’m an affiliate marketer for products from companies such as Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, GoDaddy,Kodak, and NBC/Universal. They have almost 2,200 different companies that people can do advertising for, including the one at the end of this post.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about affiliate marketing thus far; I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. I know we’re not really supposed to talk about things we haven’t done well yet, but so be it; the fourth wall is down, and I’m now George Burns talking to the audience.

I haven’t made a lot of money through CJ, their nickname. I’ve made some, enough so that I even got a check once. Truthfully, you don’t have to sell a lot of product in order to make some money. However, you have to sell some, and it would seem to be much harder than just putting up a link of some kind that looks pretty, possibly flashes, and hoping people will click on it. I know this because I check the statistics, and I see very few clicks on these bad boys ever. As a matter of fact, almost all the money I’ve made has come through 1&1, which probably means someone who knows me needed hosting and decided to help me out a little bit; thanks friends!

For one of my sites, I’ve created pages that highlight some of the products, and tried to show a nice range of prices. On another site, I’ve put a couple of products on one side of each page, hoping the picture might entice someone to click on a product to see what else a site might have. And here, as well as on other sites, I’ve posted the affiliate links with the company name, figuring one of them might click with someone one day.

Of course, sometimes CJ, or their affiliates, don’t help me much. For instance, companies are known to move around their images, and of course sometimes they discontinue a product, or a link. It’s easy to always check the links on your own website, but I don’t go around testing the links to the products on a regular basis because I don’t want to skew the numbers that tell me how many people are checking stuff out; not like it’d be all that many anyway. And there are enough companies that keep dropping me as an affiliate because I live in New York, or some other stupid reason; hard doing internet affiliate marketing sometimes. 🙂

Still, I can’t say any of this is Commission Junction’s fault. I know there’s a formula somewhere, and I’m going to keep trying to figure it out. However, I will say that CJ has some wonderful companies it represents, and if you’re a true affiliate marketer, and know better than me what you’re doing, you should check them out.
 

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Thoughts About Facebook

On my Reviews of Everything site, I wrote a review on Facebook, around the same time they started advertising.

Now I’m more months into it, and I’m still wondering about the overall value of Facebook as a true social networking site. Here’s my issue; there’s not much networking going on at all, let alone socializing. The site is replete with groups that either are set up to recruit people to become friends with, or groups whose overall purpose is to satiate their lascivious tendencies (go look that one up; not a word I get to use often).

I’m certainly not a prude, but there are only be so much of this sort of thing before one gets bored. I’ve created two groups of my own there. One is for support of people who have diabetes, as I do, and the other is for people to post their blogs and talk about blogging in general. On one of the groups, I have maybe 25 people who’ve signed up, but mainly it’s just me talking and posting links to news about things related to diabetes. I can’t get a conversation going to save my soul. On the other group, some people are finally sharing their blogs, but no one wants to talk about anything, only to share their blog. On that group I don’t necessarily mind so much, as I love looking at new blogs, but I can’t believe people would join these groups, then have nothing to say.

I only have one friend on Facebook who’s actually found a group that has people who have real conversations, and it’s more of a group that does the same work as she does, so of course they’re talking shop. I’d love to join a group in one of the industries I’m a part of myself, but every group I looked at had no one talking to anyone, only a lot of people posting links to try to sell something.

Frankly, if this is what social networking is about online I’m kind of depressed. There was more conversation back in the old BBS bulletin board days; how many of you remember that? Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, Black Planet, Izania,… nope, so far I’m not all that impressed.

Of course, I’m not leaving Facebook any time soon, because of only one thing; that Scrabulous thing, the game that’s actually Scrabble. Now that I can’t get enough of, and if that’s all I have, then so be it. It’s not overly social either, but at least it’s fun.

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