Recently by Mike Moran

Every expert tells marketers that they must listen to customers. Fair enough. My problem is that too many of us misinterpret what customers are saying to us. I think we forget that customers are people too, and while some of them don't mind bluntly giving us a piece of their mind, most are at least trying to be civil and to protect our feelings. When we interpret what customers are saying, we need to keep that in mind.

My wife and I are in the midst of moving my mother-in-law from New York to New Jersey, and one of the things she needs help with is changing her car registration and driver's license. So, as you might expect, I headed to the Web to find out what to do. What I found from the New Jersey motor vehicle bureau has a lesson in it for many small business Web sites.

Someone once told me that all small companies try to look like big companies and all big companies to look more like small companies. I guess I once accepted that at face value, but I am starting to question it. My wife and I recently had an experience with our local car dealer that felt like a small company looking like a big company—it was a huge turn-off in multiple ways, and might serve as a cautionary tale for other small businesses.

I received an "interesting" e-mail the other day. It was an unsolicited offer, but it clearly wasn't spam. How do I know? Because it said right in the e-mail that it wasn't spam. I mean, how much more proof do you need?

I've worked with many large companies to incorporate video into their digital marketing, but I am not terribly proficient with a video camera myself. I'm hoping to add more video to my personal Web site over the next few months, but for now have only a handful of clips uploaded. So, while I'm not the most video-savvy person around, I do know one thing. I prefer the relatively unknown video service Vimeo over YouTube.

There's lots of talk these days about authenticity and transparency and lots of other feel-good ideas in marketing. I'm glad, but I am also skeptical, because I still see plenty of tricky "fine print" marketing. If your offer requires fine print, maybe something's wrong.

The Social Media Split Personality

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If you're like a lot of small business people, you've been hearing about social networks (such as Facebook), social bookmarking (such as Digg), and other social media stuff such as blogging and microblogging (Twitter). Perhaps you've dipped your toe in the water, jumped in with both feet, or maybe you're still at water's edge. But newbies and veterans alike struggle with what some people call the "Social Media Split Personality"--the decision of whether to mix your business and personal life, and just how to do that online.

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The Most Important Part of a Web Site

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I am constantly running into small business owners who are very concerned about the Web. They typically fall into two groups: those that have a Web site and those that don't. But both groups are concerned because they just aren't getting any business from the Web. The ones that have no Web site know why, but they don't know what to do. The ones who have Web sites don't know why, but still don't know what to do. Both groups need to understand the most important part of any small business Web site, but almost none of them do.

Personalization is a trend that big companies have taken to, but small businesses have lessons to learn, also. Personalized Web sites don't need to be a technological tour-de-force and they can provide simple benefits with simple effort. Find out what you can learn from a large company to apply to your small company Web site.

Helpful Marketing: A Case Study

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If you're wondering what's different about Internet marketing, check out Crucial.com, a site that sells computer memory chips. Boring? Perhaps to some, but it's the way they sell the chips that you might be interested in. Crucial decided that instead of hawking deals like evry other memory catalog, that they'd actual help the customers solve the problems that they have. Read on to see if you can apply helpful marketing to your business.















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