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  • jeffswan 10:17 pm on July 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    FREE is the Magic Word 

    Why Was This Book Not Free?

    Why Was This Book Not Free?

    Tonight was an amazing date, and it was nearly FREE. I only say nearly because my girlfriend and I stopped at Starbucks for a cookie (she loves them)! Other than that we had a great night exploring the neighbourhood and reading free books at the local Chapters – I was actually reading one about “Free” as a real business.

    In our 3rd effort in two weeks, we attempted to see a movie at the local theatre only to find it sold out as we got to the front of the line. Is that weird that it happened three times in a row? Anyway we didn’t get to see our movie again but in our normal fashion we didn’t let that stop us from having fun. Instead we decided to spend the evening finding great books that we can never seem to find at the library.

    Ironically enough my eyes were drawn to a book called Free: The Future of a Radical Price. As I took the book into the corner and read the first three chapters I had to chuckle at my gaining the knowledge in the fashion the book described. I’m such a rebel! While I would really enjoy being able to buy the book, here’s why I didn’t.

    Firstly the book’s entire subject is about how the Internet has created a culture of people (myself included) that are used to getting quality goods and services for free (Facebook, Google, etc). With the library down the street giving me acccess to 50 books at a time why pay $30 for a book?

    Secondly I really just don’t have the free cash to be spending that much on one book that will take me two days to read between work and sleep. The value proposition is just not there for me.

    Finally I have a nasty habit of reading between the lines. I felt as if Chris Anderson was speaking to me with his analysis of Freenomics as he offers many users information for free subsidized by the paying users. It made me feel like I was being the sucker that was ‘subsidizing’ the free readers with an abnormally high price. Not only that but it also made me abnormally aware that Chapters was only allowing me to ‘freely’ read their product in the hopes that I buy it.

    Enough about the book though. While I did take away a great deal of useful insights from my limited read, the story is about me having a great night with my girlfriend at a cost of a $2 cookie. I’m sure that the folks at Chapters aren’t happy that I walked out with nothing in my hand with my wallet firmly placed in my pocket, but hey – we had fun. That’s really all that matters right?

  • jeffswan 7:27 am on July 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bing, Google, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Optimization, SEO   

    Who Wants to Bing? 

    Is Bing the Next Best Thing in Search Engines?

    Is Bing the Next Best Thing in Search Engines?

    Anyone who watches TV or surfs the Net has heard about a new “Find” Engine from Microsoft called Bing. Since MSN Search and Live Search were a complete bust, Microsoft decided that they would take the time and effort to create a new brand from scratch and add a touch of relevancy to their search algorithms. It will be interesting to see if Bing can creep into the Internet sub-culture much as Google has over the past decade or if it will slide into irrelevancy like so many other Microsoft initiatives. The question is, Who wants to Bing?

    When Google came out, everyone wanted to try it. The founders were found scrambling to raise the capital to buy enough servers to keep up with the growing amount of search users visiting their site everyday. It literally transformed the way we search for products, services, and information online. With the many advancements in Internet technology and the many attempts by strong competitors like Yahoo! and MSN, Google has remained the strongest following time and time again, even as it gets more and more cluttered with different mini programs (like Google Maps, Youtube, etc.) and Pay Per Click advertising.

    Bing will have to provide something special that people are begging for. I’m wondering if they did their research! Of course, it really does look pretty cool. It has a sort of 2005 “Futuristic” look to it, but the sleak and simple design really helps you forget it’s a Microsoft product. The changing backgrounds are a nice touch but still don’t really seem to add any value to the search experience. What I find truly interesting however, is how the content is organized on Bing. A simple search for “Google” comes up with ‘News about Google’, websites of Google, “Google Services”, “Google Downloads” and more. They seem to really want to lay the gauntlet of choice for their customers. The jury’s still out on whether that’s a helpful feature or a hindrance to quick and easy results.

    So what does it mean for businesses that want to be found on Bing? As much as we Search Engine Optimizers want to believe that we know what’s going on it will take months of research, testing, and constant tweaks to our marketing campaigns to learn how to optimize sites for Bing. According to their web master resources it shouldn’t be much different than optimizing for Google, except that Meta tags, Page Titles, and URLs don’t seem to matter nearly as much as quality content and relevant backlinks. We’ll keep diligently learning and hopefully as Bing takes away a bit of that search market share, we will be best equipped with the knowledge to help our clients show up first. Until then I pose the question, “Do you want to Bing?”

  • jeffswan 8:47 am on June 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    My Partners Are My Strength 

    A business is only as strong as its weakest performer. In a small, transparent company such as Blackwave, there’s no element of bureaucracy standing between the client and our staff. No place to hide under monotony. We must be on at all times and be as creative and productive as our customers expect us to be. That’s why we’re very careful about choosing the right development partners.

    For those that don’t know, Blackwave is a small group of experienced and talented web designers, programmers, and marketers that have come together to create sweet websites and branding solutions for our clients. By eliminating the need for a traditional office with loads of overhead, we are able to give clients the best and most creative service while passing off our cost savings to them.

    Recently we partnered with a sweet development company out of Vancouver that will help us serve clients at a higher caliber of service. We can now create custom websites for all ranges of needs from a simple brochure site for a small business to an enterprise level system for a large corporation. The opportunities are endless to maintain our core promise of providing affordable website design services at any range of customer needs.

    This sure is a sigh of relief for me as it will make it so much easier to serve the enterprise level clients. Adding this to my arsenal of great website design is going to make for a fun summer!

  • jeffswan 7:29 am on June 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, Social Media,   

    Can Twitter Actually Fatten My Wallet? 

    Does This Represent What Social Media Is?

    Does This Represent What Social Media Is?

    Since I began using Facebook early last year I’ve been hearing the hype about how Social Media is the next big thing in business. I can see a lot of people ‘getting rich’ of Twitter and things like that but I have not met many successful business people who get the bulk of their business online. I would really like to see how it’s done and what the results are.

    I believe that if you use social media properly you can make solid connections that translate into offline meetings. This can lead to business as long as the right fit is there. However, it requires a great deal of care to maintain authenticity in a relationship in order to move forward to the business stage. You have to say what you mean and mean what you say!

    Many people believe they can throw up an automated content generator on their social media platforms and voila! More business. Instead people see right through it. They can tell if all you do is Re-Tweet people’s original thoughts and never offer your own, or add someone as a friend and pretend like you’re not just trying to get them to buy something off of you.

    There are some that do this well, but most just come across as dishonest and spammy. I challenge anyone out there that can give me an honest, straightforward way to get more business using social media. I know what works for me. What works for you?

  • jeffswan 3:57 pm on June 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Another Weekend in Paradise 

    Sometimes I have to step back and reflect on where I am and why I’m here. I moved to Vancouver for the promise of nice weather, great people, and solid business prospects. Never thought I’d end up getting all three! This weekend pretty much solidified that I made the right decision.

    Saturday involved my three favorite things (Hockey, BBQ, and Pools) all with a healthy dose of partying. I’ll quote my friend Chandler when he said “Living here is like paradise.” That’s exactly how I feel.

    Think about it for a second. Yes, my rent is twice what it was in Winnipeg and groceries cost a bundle. But when I leave my apartment everyday, I take it all in with a smile on my face. It is a great way to live!

    So after yet another weekend of fun, I’m wondering how I ever looked at my wallet before I looked at the quality of my life. Choosing to live first has significantly improved my life. I would advise my friends back home to consider moving out west, if not just to hang out with me just one more time 😉

  • jeffswan 9:02 am on June 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    5 Ways To Improve Your Website ROI 

    Your website should be design to reach your marketing goals. These simple elements can go a long way to improving your website conversion, lowering administrative costs and improving customer service effectively increasing your website’s ROI:

    1. Contact Form
    Replace your email address on your contact page so you can ask qualifying questions of your potential clients (example).

    2. Click to Call
    Encourage action now by offering a quick and easy way for people to contact you by phone (example).

    3. Clear Call to Action
    Tell people what to do when they get to your site! Sometimes it’s not as obvious to customers as it is to you. Highlight your desired action by adding a clear and attractive action button (example).

    4. Automated Order Fulfillment
    For the eCommerce companies out there, adding an automated system for order fulfillment can reduce time, human resource costs, and improve accuracy of order fulfillment.

    5. Interactive FAQ
    Improve customer service and cut down on timely phone calls with an interactive FAQ. Your customers (and your agents) will thank you! (example)

    These are just a few ideas to improve your website ROI. Look at it as another salesperson who can take orders and provide customer service and you’ll see that the dollars invested in solid website design can go a long way in improving your bottom line.

  • jeffswan 10:59 am on June 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    My Life in the Fast Lane 

    Back a few years ago, I used to have to sit down and think of what I was going to do in my day to fill up the time. I would look at the clock and see 2:00pm and think, “Three more hours to go?” Now I look at that same clock and say “Three hours. That’s it?!?!?”

    Life sure has picked up the pace on me. With so much responsibility and work to do, I’m actually getting back into the mode that made me so successful as a Product Expert at Future Shop. My senses are sharp, my brain is focused, and my goals are clear.

    It almost feels like I’ve been bitten by the productivity bug that has transformed me into this crazy work machine. My only challenge now is to learn to step away from business and enjoy a nice, relaxing lunch. Well, there’s no time like the present to start learning. Going to lunch. See you in a bit!

  • jeffswan 12:37 pm on May 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Training and Development   

    What Recession Concessions Are You Making? 

    What’s the first thing business owners do in a recession? Make cuts. By cutting staff, training, and marketing, managers intend to lower costs and ride out the recession. I challenge you to invest more in the aforementioned services so you can position your company to be stronger once the recession ends.

    By taking the time to learn and improve your company’s capabilities you will help boost your value over competitors in a market so focused on making cuts. I’m not saying to start spending all your money and time on marketing and training, but to use the extra time you have (due to slow business) to make your organization better!

    A few cheap tricks include taking a little time out of each day to read an article or two. Blogs are free to read and there are many experts out there willing to give advice. Maybe take the time to enhance your product or service and re-evaluate its effectiveness in current market conditions. Who knows what a little introspection can do for you.

    I’ve heard from countless business owners that say they’ve cut their marketing budgets and are focusing 100% on referrals and repeat business. That’s great, but what happens when the well runs dry? When the new business stops coming in how do you survive?

    Although cuts are necessary for many companies’ financial well-being, you don’t need to cut down on marketing activities, maybe just marketing spending. Find unpaid alternatives or investigate marketing solutions that could work better than what you’re currently doing. You’ll find that this recession can be a blessing in disquise by helping your company come out on top!

  • jeffswan 8:49 am on May 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    I Found $40! 

    Last night I was walking to a business seminar at and I found $40. It was a momentus occasion because it seemed to signal a renaissance in my approach to business.

    Instead of thinking about how I’m going to go out and get money, I’m going to let it come to me. I started my sales career at Future Shop where they spent millions of dollars in marketing to get customers to come to me. Closing was easy because the customers already wanted to buy!

    As VP of Business Development for BlackWave Creative, I have been seeking business diligently to moderate success. It’s time to take it up a notch and give people reasons to want to work with me. Here’s a couple reasons they should:

    1) I love helping small businesses with their unique marketing challenges.
    2) I owned a small business that had its own challenges so I understand how to overcome them.
    3) I love to create websites, marketing plans, and strong web copy.
    4) I am passionate and attentive to details (good combination)!
    5) I know there is a better way to promote your business online and I can help you find it

    Enough boasting, but I just wanted to let you know who I am and why I’m in this business. Thanks to Christina from Citrus Coaching Solutions for putting me back in touch with this part of me. She’s a great professional coach by the way!

    I look forward to seeing my new approach grow and take shape. Finding $40 on the street doesn’t happen everyday. I’ll be sure to take this lesson to heart and use it in my pursuit of changing the online landscape one small business at a time!

  • jeffswan 8:36 am on May 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Marketing, Qualified Business,   

    Say My Brand Is Awesome PLEASE!!! 

    I was reading an article called Drones at the karaoke lounge of design about how there are so many talented designers out there that don’t necessarily understand how to produce effective design. It makes sense. I meet people all the time who’s eyes light up when I mention I create websites and watch their smile turn to a frown as I mention that I won’t do their site for free. Would I ask a Real Estate Agent to sell my house for free? I could, but it doesn’t mean that she will do it!

    The influx of new (and talented) designers into the market and the existence of Craigslist can be both a blessing and a curse for companies who need websites. On one hand there are more options at much better prices then there has ever been. On the other, what these customers don’t realize is that they’re likely getting what they’re paying for. There is a difference between ‘nice’ design and ‘effective’ design.

    Every business is different but the one consistent factor I’ve noticed is that they all want to do more, better, and faster. That’s why they end up talking to me. Sure they want an ‘Awesome’ looking site with a cool brand, but the bottom line is that they’re spending the money on a website because they believe it will make them more money in the end. Done correctly a website will do just that!

    A website’s primary purpose is to get you MORE, QUALIFIED BUSINESS. Emphasis on the “Qualified”. Sure a flashy design that makes your customers go ‘Wow!’ is pretty cool. But does it get them to buy? Ask your designer how his design will encourage your site visitors to act. Ask him where visitors are supposed to go on the page and what links he wants them to click when they’re there. The importance of these answers is more than you know.

    Your website has the potential to be your company’s most effective marketing tool. Choosing a quality web service provider is an extremely difficult task that takes great care and consideration of the end result. So do your research. Check out your next designer for qualifications and ask for results. Look through the beauty and see the business behind design. Do this and you’ll have an ‘Awesome’ brand that gets you more business!

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