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Have You Ever Wanted to Name a 250 Million Dollar Government Ship?

For most of you, the obvious answer is YES.  A bucket list item like naming a quarter of a billion dollar ship doesn’t come around every day. Thanks to Great Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council you now have the chance.

And since they asked the internet, the whole internet, we have some incredible options already but one name stands on the shoulders of giants – a name that already has 80,000 more votes than any other.  This name clearly brings to mind the immense price tag of this ship, the important polar research it will be doing, and Great Britain’s hundreds of years of proud naval history.

RRS Boaty McBoatface

If you want to upvote that name or choose one of your own, now is the time. The contest continues until April 16th.

Boaty

A Note

You may have noticed (or been thankful) that I have been noticeably absent from the blogging/newsletter world for the last couple of months.  I’m both humbled and embarrassed that some of you even noticed and asked me what had happened.

While I was legitmately ‘busy’, I was also finishing up a fantastic family trip to Disney World.  I will certainly be more active during the second quarter of 2016 and depending on whether or not you enjoy reading these, you can take that as either a promise or a threat.

The Work

It really has been a fun start to 2016 and we have been fortunate to work with a number of different clients.  One in particular, Allusions, asked us to create a new lead generating Look Book and I think it really came out great.

Thanks to our design team and some incredible client feedback, we were able to pull together this Look Book in less than 2 weeks and it is now downloadable online when a visitor fills out a form on their website.  In just a short time, it has generated leads from interested visitors (the main goal of the Look Book’s creation), several of which have led to sales.

Other Stuff

I wanted to give a special shout out to Delivra for hosting the B2B Marketers of Indiana in March.  If you missed the workshop that was given, you can read the follow-up blog here.

Finally, if you have stuck around this far you must really be my target market (my mother and/or good friends) or perhaps you are a masochist.  Either way – you’re appreciated!  For your persistence over adversity, I’m providing (especially for fans of Breaking Bad), the true and incredible story of The Walter White of Wichita.

Thanks for reading!
-Cody

Bowling League Involvement Has Dropped 40%

Hey gang,

Long ago I read an article that argued that American’s were becoming less social, less engaged, and less aware.  Specifically the prestigious author whimsically pointed to a 40% drop in bowling league involvement as a simple indicator of this loss of societal capital.  That article has stuck with me for years since I read it.

When I saw that Indiana local voter turnout was the lowest in the nation in 2014 as only 30% of eligible voters voted (where I live in Marion county, the turnout was 25%), I wasn’t surprised to see that Indiana in 1954 (also a mid-term election year), voter turnout was 62.6%.  It seemed to prove the bowling league hypothesis right – Americans are simply less engaged.

This month, I personally joined a bowling league (coincidentally, it is a heck of a lot of fun) making me think once again about the article.  Upon further reflection, I realized the article’s argument simply couldn’t be true.  In an age of a billion people being connected on Facebook, 10 million neighbors being connected on Nextdoor, and millions of people volunteering (and raising more than a hundred million dollars) for nonprofits they care for each year, the problem isn’t Americans being less engaged and social, it’s the disenfranchisement by an institution they feel they receive little benefit from taking part in.  In 2016, I urge you to do one of two things to do your part to turn things around.  Get out and vote when the time comes, or for all that is good and holy, join a bowling league!  Better yet, do both.

Let me 
explain something to you. Um, I am not "Mr. Lebowski". You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

The Work

It’s been a great start to the year for Sharp Guys’.  A lot of the work we have been doing over the last 3 months has moved away from being website-based work to digital lead generation for our ongoing client base.  Exciting results to come in the form of a case study but unfortunately not much cool imagery.  In lieu of website imagery, I’ll instead give you a link to the awesome and epic story of the how the dancing inflatable tube man came to be.

Other Stuff

I wanted to give a special shout out of thanks to Gerry Dick for joining the B2B and AMA this month at Ice Miller for a chat.  We had over 60 attendees and will be looking to do more joint ventures between our two marketing groups in the future.  If you are a marketer or know of one that would be interested in joining an awesome networking group, check out the B2B and/orAMA websites and get details on upcoming events.

Hope you all have a wonderful February.

Cody

A Weird Thing About Selling Your Car With No Heat During WInter Time

A weird thing about selling your car with no heat during winter time – no one wants it.  I started thinking about this 2 weeks ago when my car forced me to.  It suddenly stopped producing heat and I, after opening up my hood for 2 minutes and glaring at the radiator’s incompetence, decided there was very little I could to except glare one last time.   After learning that the cost to fix the problem would cost more than the cost of some gloves, I did what cheap non-mechanical people do – I bought some gloves and decided to sell the car and buy a new one.  Quickly I found out that selling a car in the winter without heat (even in 55 degree weather) wasn’t as easy as eating a whole pizza by myself in one sitting (this is my metric for difficult, yet possible situations I excel in).

Often times Sharp Guys Web Design provides long term solutions tlo companies with both short term and long term problems.  This car selling experience made me think yet again about how important it is to provide some heat (often in the form of lead generation) to the chilled to the bone companies I am working with.  I commonly speak to a potential client that needs leads now but has a website that lacks pizazz (I believe pizazz is the quality Google looks for most in a website) but needs to build a new website before I can begin working to help them with leads.  That’s like telling my potential client, “Good news, your car will have no heat during the dead of winter but you are just going to love how ice cold the air conditioning will be this summer.”

Lately I have been moving to temporary solutions for people’s lead generation problems – pay per clicks ads and email being the two main channels.   If you provide solutions that will cool your client’s with lemonade on the hottest day of the year but they are stuck smack dab in winter, maybe you should think about doing the same thing.

One More Thing

This month is unique in that the format for the email is entirely changed and really has nothing to do with the normal stuff I have done in the past.
Look for the brand new Sharp Guys’ newsletter in 2016 and in case I don’t speak with you before the end of the year, I wish you an incredible end to the year.  Best wishes – Cody

These Are Some of the Ways This Email Were Going to Start

Hi again gang,

Sometimes people ask me how I write these emails and usually I tell them that I simply sit down and write for 10 minutes but the truth is, I often write a whole bunch of stuff I never use.  This month I wanted to share with you some examples of the stuff I usually write before getting to the slightly better stuff I like to believe I usually end up with (if you are wondering, this month you get no slightly better stuff).

Subject line 1: How Fallout 4 is Like Marketing

Fallout, if you haven’t heard is a post-apocalyptic game series that began in 1997. Since Fallout 4 came out a couple of weeks ago, it has shipped 10 million+ copies. Over 18 years the series has went from having a great story with horrible graphics to a decent story with pretty nice graphics.  In all 5 games (they didn’t number one of them), the game starts with the same line – ‘War never changes’.

The idea being people are people regardless of where you put them in time, place, circumstance – they will still fight with each other.  In the same way, no matter where you put marketers in time, place, circumstance we will try and find ways of communicating to a prospect (thankfully our version simply has fewer nuclear bombs but sadly fewer cute dog companions).

Subject line 2: My 6 Year Old Can’t Wait to Flip the Calendar to Next Month

Every month my daughter begins the process of counting how many days it is to the next month.  She absolutely loves the idea of moving to the next month – maybe it has something to do with the calendar’s usage of cute furry animals but I think it mostly relates to her optimism for life and her excitement for what is next.  Usually by the end of the month, I’m groaning that I didn’t get enough done and I’m thinking about all of the ways I should have used my time better. In other words, I’m simply regretting the month I had instead of looking forward to the future I can build.  I think this month, I’m going to use my daughter’s method.

Other Unused Subject Lines:
3) The Secret Life of Bats
4) Marketing Made EZ – How to Use ‘Words’ Like EZ Instead of Easy
5) Sometimes I Keep My Coat on While Working Because I’m Too Lazy to Take it Off

The Work

Lots of clients to talk about but I thought I would go with potentially the most useful.  Steve Scully’s Fireplace Service is for those of you that have a fireplace, know what it is supposed to do (light on fire) but have no idea how to make it happen (this includes yours truly).  Take a look at Steve’s new website and let him help you keep your house nice and toasty this winter.

Other Stuff

This January, the B2B Marketers of Indiana and the Indy AMA are doing an awesome meetup with Gerry Dick.  Get all of the details here and sign up before the tickets sell out.

Thanks for reading all.  Hope you all have a truly wonderful December.

-Cody

How Much Does a New Website Cost? No Beating Around the Bush

How much does a new website cost?

$5,500 is Sharp Guys Web Design’s standard website rate and it goes up from there depending on your company’s unique needs.

But even a number that seems refreshingly clear can be muddied by questions like – what is a standard website?  That is a GOOD question (half of our clients end up getting standard websites but the other half have more complex needs) which is why I want to bring up the things we ask when we start chatting with someone about a potential website project.

These aren’t all inclusive but give us a MUCH better idea of how we may be able to help a client (the questions below assume this will be a redesign of an existing website).

  • Do you sell products directly on your website (eCommerce)?
  • Does the information on your current website represent your company’s processes and products as they currently are?
  • Do you need content or imagery created for a new website?
  • Who else, besides yourself, will be included in moving forward with a new website?
  • Are there websites out there that have functionality you wish you had?  Which ones?  What functionality?
  • Who are some of your competitors?20_questions_1954
  • Did a company design the website or was it done in house?
    • If it was a web design company, are you still working with them?
      • If so, are you paying them for ongoing maintenance?  What’s included?
  • What is the main goal of your website?   –   lead generation / brand awareness/eCommerce?
  • In an ideal world, how much time do you/your team want to work on your website once a new website is built?
  • Do you currently track your website’s traffic?
    • How?
  • How many leads/how much revenue does your website currently provide?
    • Do you know your cost per lead/sale?
    • If you were able to generate x leads per month, what would that mean to you/your company?
  • Are you tracking the number of leads you received from your existing marketing campaigns?

A company’s answers to these questions can help us learn if this will be an eCommerce website (much more time consuming), require ongoing maintenance going forward, require us to create content, etc.  All of these things will obviously determine our pricing and whether or not we may be a good fit for a client.

I hope by pulling back the curtain on our process a bit, it helps bring clarity to a question that seems to always have a long, drawn out answer.  And if you are a web developer/agency and find some of these questions useful, please feel free to use them.  It is ALWAYS better to have a good understanding of a client’s actual needs than to treat every website project like a nail waiting to be hammered by standard pricing.

How Do I Get More Traffic to My Website?

Often times this is the first thing a business owner/marketing person is interested in when we chat. It can be a good question but let’s take a step back. Do you simply want eyeballs on your website’s content? Probably not unless you earn money by the eyeball. Most likely, you have an ulterior goal that most businesses have for trying to do something hard – revenue. If that’s the case, I would challenge you to not worry about getting MORE traffic to your website – at least until you have analyzed some data.

Things to look at in your current data:

1) How much relevant traffic are you receiving on your website from your target market?

For example, if you run a business that only caters to Indianapolis patrons, you probably don’t care about traffic from San Francisco. In that same vein, if you are receiving a ton of traffic from Indianapolis-based visitors yet your website isn’t generating any leads or revenue, that data point should hit you like a lightning bolt. You already have the right people coming to your website – why aren’t they converting to leads or revenue? You can also look at visitor engagement metrics like time spent on the site, bounce rate, etc. This is a much better jumping off point than simply trying to push for more traffic that may or may not be targeted.  Plus, even if they are targeted visitors, if your current website isn’t converting people from that same target, why would it be different for the new folks you bring in?

2) How many leads/how much revenue is your website currently creating?

Most companies don’t do a good job of figuring this out. If that’s the case for you, make it easy on yourself (until you implement more rigid controls). Simply find the number of website forms that came in over the last year (count old email notifications if you have to). Then look the at the total number of leads you received last year. Divide the number of website leads by the number of overall leads. That’s the percentage of leads coming from your website. Then take that percentage and look at your overall revenue. If we pretend that website leads convert at the same rate and have the same per deal value (generally not the case but better than nothing) then we can come up with a very basic guideline for how much revenue your website produced.  Used in tandem with the first data point, you should be able to get an idea of how much more your website can produce if you bring in twice as much targeted traffic.

One more thing

Perhaps it’s easier than that because you haven’t received any website leads over the last year. Make sure your website’s form are actually working (simply fill out the form and make sure you receive an email notification). You wouldn’t believe how many times I run into a company that hasn’t had a working contact form and they never knew it. Imagine how many leads and how much revenue was lost. If this happens to you, don’t imagine that – it will depress the heck out of you. Instead, fix it right away.

Back to the original question – how do I increase my traffic? Resources – money, time, etc. and unfortunately it isn’t a quick fix. To substantially have ongoing traffic increases that are lasting you are going to not only have a great website and content foundation but keep it up. Generally a mix of on-page optimizations, PPC, SEO, and email marketing is the right path to go.  The percentages for each of those efforts is dependent on your budget, short and long term goals, and what type of business you have.  Sound hard? It is. All of your competitors are fighting for the same traffic and Google makes it increasingly more difficult for small businesses to simply do this without an excessive amount of hand holding or paying them money. However, it can certainly be done.

If you get nothing else out of this blog, please remember this – it is always easier to take the traffic your website already receives (especially traffic that can potentially generate revenue) than to use resources for traffic that may or may not generate revenue.

Why Google Analytics Should Cost $100 a Month

No, I don’t think Google needs more money. However, spending money typically has the benefit of leadership wanting to know what they’re getting from it. That would mean that people would have to start looking at their Google Analytics data to find out what they can learn in order to appease the boss. They would soon find, the things they can learn can easily save or create thousands of dollars of revenue per month for a small to midsize business. So few small to mid-market businesses use Analytics appropriately that creating a system where an ongoing monthly payment is required, seems to be the best course of action to get their attention.

I don’t want to punish companies that are actually using Google Analytics appropriately.  That’s why I propose a waiver for companies that set up goal/conversion tracking and log in every once in a while.  See, I’m not crazy.

As a small business owner I know it’s ridiculous to ask Google to start charging companies for something that’s already free (they 1367605556619516744already did that when they took our ability to see which keywords people searched for and converted into a lead/sale and moved it strictly to Adwords). I also know that Google may initially lose a number of companies to free sub-par analytic software’s, but inevitably everyone would come back.

Here’s my thinking – enough companies would start paying attention and using Google Analytics appropriately to tell all of their friends about what they were able to do and get out of that data. They would learn how to track their leads appropriately, learn how to figure out which pages on their website need improvements and/or have inefficiencies, and they would learn how to use small amounts of data to make a large impact on their bottom line.

Then again, I’m dreaming. Google is more than happy to continue just collecting all of your website’s data, analyze it themselves, and make a huge amount of revenue on the data they glean.

I refuse to sell out and make this email about Halloween (and other lies I tell myself)

We are just days away from one of the fastest growing holidays in the holiday economy (did I just make that term up?) – Halloween!  Everyone loves to dress up, dress their kids up, dress their pets up, and dress their yards up – the Sharp’s included.  But what you may not know is that Halloween used to require dancing in order to receive candy.

ecdeba76-bdf6-446b-9585-e926af9930bb

Now THAT is something I think we can all agree is a shame to have been lost.

3 Digital Marketing Tools I am Incredibly Excited About 
In fact, I’m so excited that I am sharing them without my typical Payola fee.
  1. Dasheroo
  2. Crystal
  3. Hotjar
With these 3 tools you can use data to generate more sales and leads (Dasheroo), better connect with the people you work with or want to work with (Crystal) and analyze what is going well/wrong on your website (Hotjar). I would highly recommend anyone try them that is working to be awesome at both work and life.  You’ll look awesome at life because analytical thinking is widely regarded as a sign of someone really cool and awesome (source?).

The Work
Even though the sun has set on summer, we are still basking in the glow of some work that has
recently gone live.  One of my favorites is CPI.  This 62 year old Indianapolis-based company provides an array of products for companies like Beck’s and Dreyer & Reinbold, organizations like INDOT and the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and municipalities throughout the midwest.

Please Read This Stuff
I wrote a TON of words this month.  Some of them made it into the posts below.

Other Stuff

If you missed this B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting this month (you missed an AMAZING lunch at Ruth’s Chris) but are interested in networking, pizza or learning, you should really come to our next meetup on November 18th – the first time you come to a B2B Marketers of Indiana meeting is free!

As always, thanks for reading!  – Cody

How Answering 2 Questions Can Tell You if You Are Doing a Bad Job Spending Your Digital Marketing Budget

Answer these 2 questions –

  1. How many dollars have you spent this month on digital marketing (email, pay per click, SEO, social media, etc)?Breaking_Bad_logo
  2. How many leads/dollars of revenue do you know have come from these efforts?

Knowing the answer is $0 of revenue and/or 0 leads DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE DOING A BAD JOB. The important thing is that you KNOW.  Now you can change tactics to something that is more effective.

If you aren’t tracking this type of information in Google Analytics and/or your CRM, how can you wisely spend your digital marketing budget? Are you going on a gut reaction like some kind of TV cop character? “Spencer, I just have a feeling in my gut we’ll find the killer at the warehouse…” In digital marketing, gut feelings are out; testing is in.  Don’t worry if I just ‘called’ you a bad marketer – just because you need to work on this stuff does not make you a chronic bad marketer, you can fix this acute problem fairly quickly.

Here’s a few resources on the how to track digital marketing campaigns, why you want to, and whether you can afford digital marketing at all.

Guys, I know that it takes time and expertise to set up this kind of lead gen tracking and that it can feel untenable, but just remember how much easier KNOWING will make it when it comes to retaining and increasing your marketing budget going forward.  If you need help setting this stuff up once and for all, read about our ongoing website analysis and give us a call.

How to Track Website Conversions in Google Analytics Using DemandForce Embed Form

If you are a web developer and/or a lead generation person and you run across DemandForce, this may be helpful as of today’s date (10/8/2015).  In previous versions of the DemandForce, they provided an embed widget that offered the ability for their embedded form to return to another page on your website after someone submitted a form.  This made it easy to set up Google Analytics goal conversion tracking – a MUST HAVE for anyone that wants to see how and why they are bringing in leads.  Their new version of their embed widget no longer offers the ability to have a page return to a different page on your website – this functionality was apparently removed in lieu of…nothing. Their documentation has not been updated to reflect this nor do they have any other way of easily tracking conversions within Google Analytics. Perhaps then, their software reports on this information – nope, it doesn’t. So basically they had useful functionality but removed it. If you are like me, trying to find out why their documented return page variable, d3cp_appt_returnpage is not working, then this is for you.

The chat I had with the initial rep was unfortunately worthless as the poor guy didn’t have any technical expertise. I was passed off to their product team who wasn’t in the office yet and was to give me a call. Once they did give me a call, something great happened.  They told me that the functionality I was looking for was no longer supported but that they could ‘revert’ my embed code functionality back to the way it used to be.  Props to their original support person giving me a call back later the same day and getting this done.  Once they had reverted things back to the way it was previously, suddenly the thank you page I had created using the d3cp_appt_returnpage worked!  I was ecstatic.  The only issue is that the older embed form lacked some of the prettiness of the new embed form so I had to do some custom CSS changes which I gladly did.

So if you come across DemandForce, skip the hassle of trying to go through all of their documentation and testing to see why this isn’t working.  Give them a call and ask them to revert your embed code back to the one they used to use so you can properly track lead generation within Google Analytics.  Good luck!