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  • jeffswan 11:12 am on March 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    For The Love Of Popularity 

    I’ve once again fallen in love with networking.

    I’ve met great people through networking that have become friends, clients, and colleagues. The conversations, the experiences, and the learning have enriched my personal AND business life in a way that nothing ever has.

    I have profited by meeting clients, potential business partners, and have been invited to some killer parties…all because I had the courage to say hi to a complete stranger.

    Nothing in business can replace the satisfaction of meeting a truly interesting person. Sure money and power are cool, but can they really measure up to the intense excitement of a good (and engaging) conversation?

    I don’t think so. People are more interesting than profit. That’s why I’m getting back in touch with what makes me happy – meeting great people. See you at the next event!

    Disclaimer: I really like profit too🙂

     
  • jeffswan 12:05 pm on January 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Is “Free” Really That Enticing? 

    “Free” as a marketing concept is starting to lose its appeal. When I read Free: The Future of a Radical Practice a few months ago, I was caught up in the hype and believed that giving away your product for free actually works as a marketing tactic. However, in recent months I’ve considered that the companies who give away their primary product tend to have a more difficult time earning profit and ultimately just exist to exist.

    Take Facebook for example. Right now the number of Facebook accounts make it the 4th largest country in the world. The WORLD!!! Yet, as recent as 6 months ago they weren’t even turning a profit. Can you imagine running your business with 300 million customers and not enjoy one dollar of profit? It’s insane! The company has been around since 2004, and has enjoyed over $716 Million dollars invested all to start profiting 5 years later. How many businesses can afford to wait 5 years for their investment to pay off?

    If you start your business with a profitable model from the get-go, you will earn a living right from the beginning. You may not be the next Twitter or Facebook but you will ultimately earn a living by providing real value for your customers. Every day you will go to work knowing that what you’re doing matters to your clients enough that they’re willing to support you with their hard earned money. Free is good as a marketing tactic, but is it really a solid business model? I say no and will continue to provide value for my customers and accept payment in return.

    If you’re reading, thanks to my clients who have given me their vote over the past year. It’s been a pleasure working with you all and I look forward to helping your business grow for years to come!

     
  • jeffswan 9:51 am on November 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    What Does Good Year and Web Design Have In Common? 

    In my day-to-day work life, I come across hundreds of people who still feel that a web designer has to be master of everything from Information Architecture to Search Engine Optimization. I always wonder why people would try to get all this talent from one person, but I think it makes sense when I think consider my time marketing for a BMW dealership in Winnipeg.

    As a car fanatic, my first summer at the dealership was heaven. I was able to learn so much about cars, parts, and accessories that I had wondered about for years! One thing I never really realized is how marketing can cause some serious safety issues for consumers. Here’s a little story that explains why:

    I asked my new boss about tires as I was thinking about buying a new set for my car. Living in Winnipeg, I knew I needed something for the winter but only had the budget for one set of tires. Therefore I was interested in All Season Radials. My boss then proceeded to tell me how All Seasons are a compromise that can seriously hinder safety.

    In the summer, they’re too rigid to provide solid traction on the heated road surfaces, while in the winter, they don’t grip the ice and snow properly leaving you to slide all over the road (yes, this actually happened quite a few times to me). So while purchasing a ‘do-it-all’ approach to tires gives the consumer what they want – good in the winter, good in the summer – inexperienced driver can be placed in extremely dangerous situations due to lack of grip in either weather extreme.

    Considering this situation I look at the companies seeking the do-it-all designer in the same way. If you’re expecting a person to be a rockstar designer, information architect, AND SEO expert, something’s going to give. You will end up with either a fantastic design and mediocre traffic, or a well thought out site that doesn’t read well, or worse.

    In general hiring experts for each discipline results in the strongest website package. With dedicated resources at each stage in the design, development, and marketing process, you’ll have the full attention of a specialist that can maximize your website’s potential.
    Consider your website like your car. If you put All Season Radials, they’ll be ‘good enough’ all year round, but once you hit a patch of ice your ‘good enough’ tires slip up and cause a crash. With a website, you can have a ‘good enough’ designer who will create a decent looking site that may not convert or get you site traffic. Saving a couple bucks at the beginning could seriously harm your long-term marketing goals.

    So don’t slip on the ice of mediocrity. Hire an expert that will take the proper care in each area of your website design. In the end your website will be safe from road hazards and ultimately save and/or make you money in the long run.

     
    • photodreamz 5:46 pm on November 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting post. I’d tend to agree with you about employers unrealistic expectations when hiring someone in web design / marketing / seo etc etc. They tend to want someone that can do everything really well. Its one of the few industries out there like this. When you look at a Doctor for example they usually specialize in one field. Unless its general practice but even then a general practice doctor cant know “everything” without research or learning it first.

      As someone with limited experience I find the amount of experience employers want, and the “all in one” experience they want to be extremely frustrating. If we are truely expected to be everything, they should offer us more then 12.00 an hour. 80,000 dollars a year would be a better starting point for that kind of knowledge and experience.

      But everyone starts out somewhere. I use my downtime between contracts and jobs to keep learning, but sometimes find that a little overwhelming. Since there’s so much to learn!

  • jeffswan 9:46 am on November 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Drupal, Free Marketing, Intellectual Property, Joomla, Low Cost Websites, Open-source, Wordpress   

    Why Open Source is Good for You 

    Many ‘Old-School’ companies cling to the — of intellectual property like a security blanket. In the digital age, consumers are sick of it and have all the tools available to get what they want for free when they want it. That’s why it just makes sense to ‘give away’ software to the people that want it. There’s always the consumer who wants more, therefore the Upgrade model will always work.

    For those who don’t know, open source software is the tech industry’s real version of the free trial. It allows consumers and businesses to use software that a company creates for free through a general public license (http://ping.fm/rYmnK). That means anyone who wants to can use the product for their own personal or commercial use. The business model usually attached to it is that a company offers a free version of its software and provides paid upgrade options that include more features. Usually the free version has all you’ll ever need to create a great website or program, but every now and then the upgrades are REALLY COOL!

    I use open-source software on a regular basis for my business. We create website based on open-source software like Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal all the time because it SAVES CLIENTS MONEY!! It’s easier for me to sell a client on a $5,000 website that uses much of the same technology as thousands of other websites out there than to create a completely custom app every time (would cost well over $30,000 for even the cheapest of sites).

    Not only can I get more bang for my clients’ bucks, but I can also provide them with low cost security and usability upgrades in the future without spending my company resources to build them. It allows us to focus on what makes us valuable to consumers and focus on web design and marketing. Leave the software development to the, well, software developers!

    I’ve only described why it works for me (selfish I know). There are many reasons why it can work for the software developers as well. Let’s talk awareness – give something away for free and people find out. They post it all around the web, blogs and news sites pick it up and talk about it. It can even show up on Tech TV shows, the local news, and huge conferences attended by many of the industry’s elite. People love the ‘generosity’ of developers who offer open source, and the more demanding consumer will always pay for the upgrade.

    As a business model it makes sense for the developer, the re-seller, and ultimately the end user. It saves money for the latter two and provides good will (and free marketing) for the former. With the amazing amount of choices in the market today, it just makes sense to let the product speak for itself. After all, “if you build it [and give it away for free] they will come”!

     
  • jeffswan 8:30 am on November 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Facebook and Twitter Apps for Xbox 

    As gaming becomes more and more connected a fancy little add-on to your Xbox 360 dashboard allows you to connect with friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Does that mean I can instantly publish my high scores?

    Xbox Live is an amazing tool that is pretty much the ultimate in social media. You can connect with like-minded gamers from around the world while enjoying hours and hours of entertainment.

    With this new application you can change your status online, send tweets, and view photos right on their console. Considering the amazing imagery in Xbox 360 games I can see this really taking off in a great way! Who knows where this application will go next?

    Read more at http://ping.fm/gi0gp

     
  • jeffswan 10:25 am on October 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Design is Useless! 

    Website design is useless if you don’t do it right. Pretty graphics and animation can help when you’re bragging to your friends of how cool your website is, but does it help drive business? That’s something most people miss when considering website design. They miss the reason they’re getting a website designed in the first place – to drive business.

    I go by a very strict philosophy of “Do what works, and not what doesn’t.” When it comes to design, I feel that you should focus on those things that will actually improve the user experience and lead to a higher rate of conversion. All else is just fluff that’s only useful for the aforementioned braggarts.

    When you visit a site that doesn’t give you the information you want, do you really care that it’s playing cool music or that the images are sweet? No, you don’t. The most popular website in the world is barren of any style or color (anyone heard of Google?) It’s popular because it works and it gets people the answers they want.

    So you’re probably wondering, why the rant from a web designer? The answer is, I’m not a web designer. I help people market their business online with websites that convert. If you’re looking for a graphic designer that knows how to code a webpage, go to Craigslist and find someone willing to work for table scraps. Come to me if you want to drive business with your webpage.

     
  • jeffswan 3:24 pm on September 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    5 Cheap Ways to Make a Great First Impression 

    As a lighter follow up to my previous post, here’s a few ways a guy like me can make a great impression on the cheap:

    1. Shine your shoes
    Instead of buying a brand new pair of dress shoes for an important meeting, shine an old pair. People can rarely tell the difference in black shoes anyway unless they’re really watching (then they’re not listening to you anyway).

    2. Buy a really nice dress shirt
    Go without a suit jacket and tie to a major event. It’s a nice style and is no longer considered a fashion faux pas. Saves you the cost of buying the jacket and the discomfort of wearing a tie!

    3. Smile
    Does this really need an explanation?

    4. Meet Clients at their Office
    Even if you have a nice office, I still recommend this one. It shows you offer great service if you do, and covers up your less-than-stellar office if you don’t.

    5. Turn off Your Phone
    Show that you respect your client by giving them your undivided attention. Don’t worry, the text will still be there when you’re done!

     
  • jeffswan 3:13 pm on September 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Image Is NOT Everything 

    As I spend much of my work day meeting with new and current clients, I find it interesting to see how many people are throwing out the old rules of image when it comes to working together. I visit clients daily who embrace my preference for shorts and sandals just as they too take casual Friday and extend it to the rest of the week.

    I find that moving beyond the physical appearance and getting to the heart of why we’re meeting together is an extremely effective tool for a great working relationship. Instead of relying on a fancy car and the latest cell phone to show my worth, I provide value based on my experience and what I have to offer clients – expertise.

    I know what I’m doing and I have a passion for sharing this knowledge with other people and companies. I genuinely want their business to succeed and I given the chance, I will use every tool I have to make it happen. So when I show up at your office in jeans and a t-shirt, don’t judge. I will help you grow your business and maybe even inspire you to let loose a little bit. Who really likes to wear ties anyway?

     
  • jeffswan 9:58 am on July 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    4 Steps to a Great Night…Or Not 

    Oh what a night I had last night. It was entertaining, surprising, and unique. I’m still trying to figure out if it was any fun. Either way it was a night to remember in downtown Vancouver.

    Step 1: The Thunder Storm
    One thing I was really missing that Winnipeg and Miami had in common was a good thunder storm. For a city that is known for it’s rain, Vancouver sure doesn’t have many of these. But true to form, the view from our downtown highrise sure was spectacular. The sky lit up with lightening and rumbled with the sound of thunder, taking me back to some of my favorite summer nights back home.

    Step 2: The Fireworks
    Now, another benefit of living so close to English Bay is that we can see the Symphony of Lights Fireworks straight from our apartment. Think Canada Day time 5 with epic music blasting and you have a wicked display. So immediately after the thunderstorm let up the fireworks started filling the sky with booming cracks and bright lights. It was awesome!

    Step 3:The Scene of the Accident The Accident
    Here’s where the night turns surprising. At 3:00 am, I wake up to the sound of a big thud and glass breaking. As I look out the window I see a car had smashed into an apartment window across the street from my building. Trying to figure out what happened I sat and watched the ‘action’ from above for about 30 minutes. I never really did figure out what happened. My guess was a drunk driver though.

    Step 4: The Fire Alarm
    Immediately after the tow truck finishes filling downtown with amazingly loud screeches while taking away the car from Step 3, the fire alarm in our building went off, causing a flurry of confused apartment dwellers (including me) to fill the streets in front of our building while watching the fire department douse a flame on a fourth floor apartment. After this sleeping became an issue as I stayed up until about 5:30 am.

    Needless to say this was an eventful night. I’m not sure whether I liked it or not – certainly could have used more sleep, but it was definitely a weird coincidence I won’t forget. The bottom line is that if you can stand the noice, living downtown is always eventful.

     
  • jeffswan 4:05 pm on July 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Apparently We’re All Liars 

    I had another guerilla reading episode last night at the local Chapters. This time I decided to read All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin. Great book so far! It made me think about the stories I tell people day in and day out and checking myself to see if they’re actually the truth. It’s easy to get caught up in your own hype some time but it’s good to reflect on what you’re promoting when you’re in business.

    One part in the book explains that the truly remarkable brands are ones that tell a story. People believe these stories because they want to believe and enjoy every moment of their experience with their favorite brands. It makes it okay to buy a $5 cup of coffee and to spend $100,000 on a 2-seater sports car in a winter city.

    So why do marketers do it? Why do we tell people they’ll be healthier if they drink a particular type of bottled water, or stronger if they eat more suppliments? It’s because the immeasurable differences these products make in our lives benefit our most important possession – our ego. By catering to the beliefs that consumers have for themselves and their favorite brands, we make their world a better place to live in.

    Substance and reality is old news. Without a quality product or service, your brand will not last. But to be truly remarkable you have to appeal to the inner beliefs of your customers. Tap into their psyche and watch how passionate they can be about your brand. Stroke their ego and watch them pour into your store with their wallets wide open. The best part is they’re doing it willingly. They’ll reward you with their business because you get it. You make them feel good about choosing you.

     
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