We're happy to bring you a holiday season special episode of the Business Catalyst podcast!

If you'd like to subscribe to the BC Podcast each month, you can find us on the iTunes store here or by simply searching "BC Podcast" from iTunes itself.

Listen to the podcast:

Simply click the play button below to stream the podcast via your browser.


Alternatively, you can download the podcast in .mp3 format for offline listening.

In this month's episode:

  • Meet Product Manager Eddy Chan -
    • Learn what he does at Business Catalyst
    • Hear an update on the future of the platform
    • Get the latest on cool new features coming in the next system release
  • A quick sales tip from Business Catalyst's Erin Murray
  • Brush up on some emerging web technologies over the holiday season
    • HTML5
    • CSS3
    • jQuery
  • A HTML brain-teaser - do you know the answer? Post it in the comments section and we'll reveal the correct answer in next month's episode.

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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of Online Communities running on BC. This time we're looking at "Amplify Your Voice" as a strategy for your Online Business. This means that you're selling a solution to increase publicity for a cause or organisation. In particular we're focusing on sites using Blogs, Email Marketing and RSS, in synergy, to achieve this. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Blogs as a Marketing and Publicity Channel

Small business owners and organisations are now using blogs to publish content to attract new customers and keep them interested. Blogs should be used as part of a broader, integrated Marketing strategy, where customers are alerted to blog and announcement updates via Email Marketing, and RSS Feeds.

Here are some cool examples of BC powered blogs:

Artsprojekt - reaching artists worldwide...

This stylish site by Level9 Design aims to "liberate artists worldwide" and keeps in contact with it's community by way of blogging. The Artsprojekt team use a BC Blog to post interviews, promote competitions and announce new products. If you look at the bottom of the right-hand side bar you'll notice a 'Email This' form which is an example of the 'Refer-a-Friend' module being added to the site template.

Dubbo City Council - media releases via blogs...

Dubbo City Council
Created by Bos Web Systems, this local Government site uses blogs and announcements to publish media releases and news, bringing the local community together. New content is displayed on the home page via an Announcements module, increasing blog visits. It's a great way for Dubbo council to keep in touch with it's constituents compared with the traditional mail-out that most other local Governments have.

Rob Munnik Productions - creating a media stream using a blog...

Community Productions
Joi Design has customized a BC blog that Rob Munnik & Community Productions use to post embedded video episodes of their weekly Television series called SchoolsInc Television. Embedding video on a blog is an easy (just copy and paste the HTML embed code from the video site of your choice) way to create your own media stream, like having a personal TV Channel.

Using Email Marketing to Increase Blog Traffic

Don't expect people to automatically come and visit your site when you make updates. You'll need to use Email Marketing and RSS to push updates to your audience. As part of an integrated marketing approach, "Subscribe Me " and "Tell a friend" forms can be used to capture users in your CRM database, whom you can email on a regular basis to tell them about site updates and news.

If your audience isn't interested in giving their email address to you but still wants to be updated then you still have the option to provide an RSS channel for them to subscribe to. 

Selling the 'Amplify Your Voice' Strategy To Your Clients

This strategy is about keeping an open and constant flow of communication between your client and their customers, so prospects are not forgotten, and neither is the business. Nothing is more powerful than fresh, high-quality content in attracting an audience. Make sure you make the most of it by using a combination of of Blogs, Announcements, RSS and Email Marketing so you can regularly update your audience on what's new!

In the next post of the series, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that automate Customer Service for their Clients.

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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of eCommerce shops running on BC. Luckily for you, there's more to work than just building online stores with products, catalogs and checkouts. This time, we're looking at sites whose main focus is building an online community.

Part 2 - Build Your Community

"To build an online community, you'd need to nurture a social site with a discussion forum and post regular news on a blog to keep visitors coming back. Make a space for photo-uploads to show what's going on in your community, post podcasts of speeches or presentations for your visitors to download in a members-only area. Make sure members know about your site and that they contribute as well!" - taken from the BC Blog, last October.

Community Sites on BC

Why would you build a community site? Traditionally, not-for-profits like churches charities and government organisations used these to get their message out. However we're now seeing savvy marketers use online community sites to drive traffic to a product/service or a cause. The community (in the form of a blog, forums and anything else user posted) generates credibility and fresh content that attracts and builds an organic following. Let's have a look at a few:

Youngstown Metro Church - a modern online community...

This non-profit site by The Media District takes church community building to the next level by empowering visitors to contribute through the forums, prayer wall (comments) and a mini-site called metro-connect that's a dedicated portal for registering as a church volunteer or a family group. The site is centered around the blog on the front page which is used by the staff to post news and share thoughts. There's also a media page where you can download podcast sermons as Literature items. The whole gamut of BC features being used here to achieve an immersive user experience.

Best Buddies Australia - a simple charity site...

Best Buddies Australia Thumbnail
A more conventional not-for-profit site to help those with intellectual disabilities socialize and find employment, Best Buddies was built by Bos Web Systems. They've used secure zones to create the 'Buddy Up' login area for members and they've used eCommerce to allow donations and merchandise sales to raise money for the community.

Evolution Through Vacation - community sites as a marketing strategy...

Evolution Through Vacation
So far we've showcased a church and a charity, now comes the community site that's part of a marketing strategy to drive more sales - this type of site has been gaining traction for several years and is now reaching the mainstream. Check out Evolution Through Vacation by Osmond Design. Using BC Blogs to publish content, E-Commerce to sell their 'e->v' guide and email marketing to send a regular newsletter, this site also has a neat modal photo uploader for users to submit their own photos. Photos are sharedusing a Flickr flash slideshow (presumably the site owner vets and moves photos from their own site onto Flickr).

Selling The Online Community Site To Your Clients

These are some fantanstic examples to follow when building an Online Community. The main focus here is for users to be able to interact in some way - contribute their own content, register to become a members, communicate with other site users or the site owner and these are the topics you should be talking to your prospects about. Media and marketing are about having a conversation and presenting your prospects with a community site proposal will illustrate a clear need to upgrade from their 3-4 year old ecommerce-only or brochureware site.

In the next post of the series, we'll be looking at how BC Partners are using Blogs and Email Marketing to amplify their voice- and be heard.

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Brett Welch | BC

Never Too Expensive: A Guide To Selling True Value.

"You're too expensive."

Sound familiar? I'd bet that every business owner has heard a customer say this, be it true or not.

Before we dismiss this and start justifying that our price is just right - or even worse, discounting - let's think about the last customer who told you that you were too expensive. What were they thinking? Why? How could you have changed their minds?

This is a question that gnaws at the mind of many business owners, and, when confronted, the natural reaction is to make arguments as to why you aren't overpriced. You'll make comparisons. You'll draw analogies. You'll give discounts. And maybe you'll ultimately win the customer over. Hooray, and well done. You've got the sale.

But here's the not-so-obvious bit: your customer made a decision about the price your product should be... before they actually learned your price.

In other words, their price was set before your price was revealed. They made a decision about what they were willing to pay before you told them what you wanted them to pay.

And that means that you could have changed their minds before they even saw the price.

A Traveler's Expectations

A couple of years back I lived in Beijing for about 6 months while studying. As with most travelers who find themselves in country where they have a currency advantage, I found that many everyday things were much more affordable. Catching a taxi cost around a tenth of what I'd usually pay; eating out was similarly inexpensive. With less walking and more luxurious eating habits, my waistline started expanding pretty quickly!

My perception of what was expensive and what was cheap was set by my expectations of what I'd be paying at home - what I was used to paying for the same service or product.

It wasn't long before my perception began to change. I began to evaluate things more natively, and Chinese prices became their own benchmarks. My thinking became: "this restaurant is expensive compared to the one around the corner" rather than "this meal is so cheap compared to my local noodle joint back in Sydney".

This set up me up for a terrible shock when I got back home, since everything was suddenly insanely expensive! Over time this feeling fades and a $10 meal is no longer highway robbery. But the point remains - my price expectations changed because of my environment. How much I was willing to pay went up, then down, then up again... all based on my perception of value and worth set by my environment.

So - what are your customer's perceptions of value? What are they comparing your product to, and what experiences might they be drawing on?

Welcome to Wal-Mart

When you go to Wal-Mart, you expect low prices. Everyday low prices is their mantra; their advertising emphasises this endlessly, or once did. Walk into one of their cavernous stores and the endless aisles with their intentionally not-yet-unpacked pallets of goods on sale scream to you that you're in a warehouse. You're one step closer to the supplier. You're cutting out the plush middle man. You're saving money.

This is a well crafted image that gives you the feeling that you're being frugal. Doing battle with the crowds and walking half a kilometer back to your car translates to saving money. Your expectation at Wal-Mart is that prices will be low because of the environment you're in, the experience you have and because their branding and marketing tells you that they will be.

Luxury stores are the exact opposite - spacious and clean, with neatly spaced merchandise and wide racks made of sturdy materials. Each bag perches on a pedestal arranged just-so. The store looks and feels pricey, the staff are insanely fashionable... you already know that the products here aren't cheap.

How is your marketing and your store's look and feel conditioning your customer's expectations of price?

What's that?

You point at a strange looking wheeled object in your friend's loungeroom. You ask your friend:
"What's that?"
And they respond:
"That, my friend, is the most advanced vacuum cleaner in the world; completely automatic and cleans the house itself. It's a Roomba."

Now you're already wondering how much it costs; you want one. And who wouldn't want a Roomba, they're freaking cool.

But what if your friend answered differently, saying:
"That's some vacuum cleaner my mum got me for my birthday. It's a little spooky and doesn't work properly. Who wants a little robot running around their house pretending to vacuum things?"

You might disagree with your friend's statement about robots, because robots are awesome. But the lack of a testimonial or recommendation in that statement devalues the product. The way that you as a marketer or you as a user talks and presents your product makes a significant impact on perceived value.

How are you talking about your products? In your marketing materials, on your website, on the phone... are you actively using words that convey the value?

Your Checklist: Expectations, Images, Words.

My three stories above illustrated these three core points. Let me recap.

Expectations. Your expectations about a product and it's price or quality are shaped by your experiences with comparable things.

Image. The look and surroundings of a product affect the perceived value of the product.

Words. The words and attitude you and your customers take when describing the product affect the perceived value of the products.

That's it. If people are saying you're too expensive, then you've messed up on one (or all) of the above three.

A Note on Expectations

You'll notice that expectations can be a sticky one; what if my customers have paid $2 for an apple all their life, but I want to charge them $10?

This is almost another topic entirely, but this is where good old marketing wisdom kicks in: think about positioning. This isn't a $10 apple. It's an organic, GMO free, fresh-from-the-farm-picked-by-my-mate-joe $10 delicacy. And you're displaying them on a nice wooden table, in a moulded recycled carton, shining from the fine mist you've just sprayed on them... now that's a $10 apple.

A Final Word: Be Honest.

If you set the wrong expectations, or build the wrong Image, or wield the wrong words, it will come back to bite you. After your customers buy, they'll be disappointed. And that ultimately means you lose.

Which is why I'm truly not - and wouldn't ever - advocate building the wrong expectations so that you can charge more. That sort of strategy may yield a short term gain, but using good marketing to cover up a less glamorous reality is not a business strategy - it's a con. And that's not what I'm suggesting you do at all! :)

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Brett Welch | BC

Keeping it Real, Part II: Get "Real Life" Market Understanding.

Every marketer understands their target market, but how intimately you understand them varies. Getting involved with customer support teaches you a lot about your target market, and lets you intimately understand their needs, wants and motivations.

You'll learn not only what they want to use your product or service for, but why they want to use it. You'll learn the language they use to describe it and how they see it. There is no better way to hold a mirror up to your company than to talk to your customers about their experiences with your product.

Take Carol, for example. Carol is a customer of ours that I've helped on a few occasions with technical support. And she's taught me a lot about our market - while some of it isn't news, it's confirmation that our approach is correct. For example, here's a few things I know because of my support interactions with her:
  • She needs support. Free technical support and the ability to talk to us during our support Q&A webinars is a big reason that she loves us.
  • She loves to learn. She's constantly exploring and learning more about functions in the system she could use, and she really appreciates our business advice (not just tech advice). This has influenced our blog's direction and our technical documentation's direction to include a little background, too.
  • She doesn't know what a CMS (Content Management System) is. She just works on her website. This isn't a surprise and we don't use that acronym ourselves, but it's a good example of how you can glean knowledge of how customers talk and understand your product.
These traits are common to a large chunk of our market, and there are many more. We've got several customers that we have interacted with over time, and they've become archetypes of our target market.

So after all your effort doing support and customer service, let's say you've gained a deeper understanding of your product and your target market. Now we can put that to work in our marketing messages.

Creating a More Authentic Message.

After my experience with customer support, I've definitely gained a great deal of understanding about our product and our customers, and I would expect that most marketers would find the same thing. Doing support at GoodBarry, I can say that I have:
  • Better understanding about which features our customers use the most
  • Greater appreciation of the areas of the system are easiest to use and which are harder.
  • Knowledge of the strengths of our products, according to the customer
  • Better understanding of what motivates and excites customers
Now your product or support may be different to GoodBarry's, but I would bet that similar benefits would be gained anywhere.

To put it simply: I can see the product in it's true form, as it really is - not in an academic light. This then feeds directly into our marketing messages, making them far more authentic for our audience.

So how can you create a more authentic message?  By applying those lessons you've learned from your time with your customers. By using that authentic experience and true understanding you gain from dealing with customers after they've purchased, you can create marketing messages that:
  • Set the right expectations - just as my laptop technician did.
  • Communicate the most attractive benefits of the product - as Carol has shown us
  • Better motivate your prospects to buy - by using the language the customer uses and the benefits they find most attractive in real-life usage.
And most importantly, these marketing messages are true and authentic - so they don't disappoint.

Word of Mouth Marketing That Sticks and Stays.

The best thing about authentic messages: customers repeat them. If they don't agree with your message they'll make up their own, which may or may not be favorable to you. But if they do agree with you, they'll just repeat your message. It's easier that way!

Real marketing messages that aren't mere puffery and positioning but true representations of the benefits of your product spread smoothly and are accepted easily. Authentic marketing messages are a big part in successful word of mouth marketing.

Some Caveats and a Final Word

Maybe you're involved in customer service every day, and if so that's great. My primary role is as a marketer, but I'm also involved in support and training at GoodBarry. And I'm confident that this has helped improve our product and hone our messages.

Of course, not everyone can do support or customer service. Technical support in some organizations requires some serious knowledge that marketers might not have. But what you can do is sit next to them, listen to their customer calls or read their support tickets. Maybe you can pull the support team into your next marketing meeting and see what they think of your ideas.

Traditionally, marketers have worked with sales and legal departments, but the customer service team is too often ignored. These guys are at the forefront of dealing with your happiest and unhappiest customers, they know your product inside out and can tell you in five minutes the best and worst things about your service.

My key point is that as marketers, you should engage and understand the customer service side of your business. Talk to them, sit next to them, try doing their job for a day or two.

Trust me, it's worth it.
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Brett Welch | BC

Increasing Online Conversions: The Window Shopper Syndrome

Every business owner wants to increase conversions. Whether it's trying to get browsers in your street level clothing store to buy, or website visitors to add a product to their cart, we're all playing a game of converting browsers into buyers.

Naturally there are some browsers in your shop that are really quite serious and almost ready to buy. And there are also various degrees of browsers. I'm going to bunch all the browsing customers and call them Window Shoppers - ranging from completely uncommitted passers by to browsers in your shop tugging at a new sweater.

Recently I was in a store that I had no intention of buying anything from. As I walked through the store casting my eyes around, I started wondering:

How could this store's owner turn ME into a buyer?

Which leads me to a second thought. If I'm in your store I'm 1000 times more valuable than someone in the street, even if I have no intention of buying today. Why? Because you have my attention. It's your shop, your staff and your message. You should have a pretty good chance of converting me. Maybe not today, but one day. Buying decisions are often cumulative things.

But before we get too deep into this, let's try and get inside the head of a window shopper.

The Window Shopping Syndrome

While this would apply to both online and offline stores, I'm going to focus on ecommerce, or online stores. In this context, a window shopper is someone browsing your ecommerce store.

Window shoppers, the lovable little creatures that we are, share some similarities in the way they think. I've identified two things that are true of online window shoppers (By Brett's hand-waving theory of common sense and reasoning).
  1. They're actually looking for a product they want that you have, but they're not ready to buy yet. This is sometimes called pre-shopping - finding out information and prices etc before the purchase.
  2. They're interested in some information that you have, or just like to look at the latest widget thingy-ma-bob. They're a fan. In any case, they're not buying anything in particular, but you probably sell products or have information that they're generally interested in.
Thankfully when your shop is online your visitors are usually fairly targeted already. You're not so likely to get people wandering onto your website who are just waiting for their tardy friend.

So if that's what they're, how can we keep them happy? How can we convert these browsers into buyers - even though they're not really thinking of buying?

I think there's two things to accept up front:
  • They probably won't buy today.
  • They might buy in the future, but you can't be sure.
With that in mind, we've got to come up with ways so that they remember us when they DO want to buy.

3 Tactics to Increase Conversions: Recruit the Window Shoppers

Use Email Newsletters to Snag Future Customers

Have you got an email newsletter? Throughout your site, think about how you can prominently display your newsletter. Explicitly ask your website users to subscribe to your newsletter.

Use wording to incentivize the sign up - remember, you have to answer their inevitable question "why should I sign up? Phrases like "Sign up to receive updates on our products" are okay, but not as good as "sign up and receive discounts inside our monthly newsletter". Make sure you follow up on these promises though!

Give the Fans Even More Great Content

Search engines love content; so do fans. If you have reviews and comments on the latest iPod, it will be of interest to iPod fans. Write honest reviews of your products. Take photos and post them. Make videos showing you using the product or service if possible, and put them on YouTube. These things make your site a hub of information for people, and make you their top-of-mind store to buy their favorite widget from.

Build a Community

People like to hang out. They like to discuss and post their thoughts. Give your visitors a reason to stay! You can use Forums - why not link your forums to your products, so that people can discuss particular products? Or you could simply enable comments on your online store so that people can tell others what they think.

The 4Cs

Most of these ideas are easily derived out of the 4Cs framework - it's all about Content, Credibility, Conversion and Customer. Remember to keep what your customers are looking for right at the top of your list of priorities, and you'll be heading in the right direction.
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I've been writing for the past few weeks on a problem I've called the Broccoli Problem. Broccoli problems are everywhere, and if you want to grow your business, you need to find them and remove them. The classic Broccoli Problem is embodied by my aunt and her son's objection to eating Broccoli:
Broccoli may be good for me BUT it tastes terrible.

Last week I wrote about Removing the Negative - how to remove the problem altogether. This week I'm going to discuss my third strategy: how you can simply embrace the problem and move on.

Embracing Your Broccoli Problem

This is probably my favorite strategy. It's super simple: that guy doesn't like the taste of broccoli, no problems. Just go and find someone who does! This strategy is about finding a better target market - the possibility is that you've just landed in the wrong market, and your product is better suited to another market. 

This one's rather interesting, because sometimes you don't necessarily need to embrace the problem itself, but rather you need to find people who at least  don't care.

Unfortunately though, it doesn't always work; my aunt couldn't exactly go and swap her son. That said, there are many Broccoli problems that can be solved this way.

Think about Diet Cola.

Diet Cola may have less sugar HOWEVER it doesn't taste as good as regular Cola.

You can fix this Broccoli problem by simply finding people who care more about the health benefits and less about the taste. Most broccoli problems can be solved this way, although sometimes it's not optimal to do so. 

Consider every single statement I've written about in the past few weeks - all of them could be solved by embracing the problem. You just need to find the niche of people who care more about the positive side and much less about the negative side. Problem solved.

Fixing your Broccoli Problem

So, what's your broccoli problem? Chances are you have a whole bunch of them and they all sound and look different. The key is to pick out the most commonly repeated ones, the ones that you think are holding your business back the most, and address those issues with the appropriate strategy.

Good luck broccoli hunting. Next week I'm going to end my affair with Broccoli with my final post on the subject - how to choose the right strategy for YOUR broccoli problem. 

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Brett Welch | BC

Your Business and The Broccoli Problem (II)

Last week I wrote about how you can grow your business by identifying the "Broccoli Problems" in your business. To quickly recap, a "Broccoli Problem" comes about when you're selling your product - the product has an obvious benefit that the prospect accepts. But the prospect also has an objection, which you need to overcome. So for my aunt and her son, the Broccoli Problem is:

Broccoli may be good for you, BUT it tastes terrible.

Now, onto the second strategy for dealing with a Broccoli Problem...

Removing the Negative.

Sometimes you can entirely remove the objection after the "however". This is impossible with Broccoli -my aunt couldn't exactly genetically engineer a broccoli plant to taste like french fries. Generally, you should always consider removing the negativer first, before any other strategy.

Think about this Broccoli Problem:

ABC software will help you grow your business HOWEVER it's difficult to use.

The best way to tackle this one is to remove the "However" factor altogether; fix your software so it's not difficult to use. This requires effort and is difficult and costly, but it's the honest-to-god best solution as well. There is a caveat here however. What about this Broccoli Problem:

ABC software will help you grow your business BUT it's too expensive.

"Ah ha!" one might say, "I can remove that one!" 

Whoa. Slow down Tiger.

Pricing is part of a larger picture, with positioning implications and cashflow impact. Maybe you SHOULD make it cheaper, but be careful - perhaps Repackaging the Negative is more suitable.

Overall, Removing the Negative factor should be considered. These factors (the removable ones) are often the hardest to fix and the hardest to even identify, but they also carry the most rewards.

Next week, I'll move on to the third strategy: Embracing It.

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Brett Welch | BC

Your Business and The Broccoli Problem

My Aunt Susan, being a good mother, wants her son to eat Broccoli because it's healthy.

My cousin Ben, being a typical boy, doesn't want to eat Broccoli because it tastes bad. 

This gave me an idea, which I'm going to call "The Broccoli Problem". My aunt has very valid reasons to give her son broccoli - it's for his health. But her son resists - also for valid reasons that are relevant to him. The son will say:

Broccoli may be  good for you BUT it tastes terrible. 

Now Broccoli problems are everywhere, always contain a 'However' or a 'But' and are nearly always subjective (you complete the sentences) :

Lower taxes may stimulate a stagnant economy, HOWEVER ...

Your girlfriend may have a wonderful personality, BUT ...

George W. Bush may be a great leader, HOWEVER ...

I'll remain silent on how I'd complete those sentences, but here's where I'm going with this: The Broccoli Problem is a marketing problem that you probably need to think about. Complete this sentence:

Your product/service may be of great benefit to the market, HOWEVER ...

That's why I'm writing this post. Every business has, or once had, a Broccoli Problem that they have to solve. So, how did my Aunt solve hers?

Easy: she diced the broccoli up and baked it into a tasty Lasagne. To this very day, her son still doesn't realize he's eating a plateful of Broccoli Lasagne. 

This is one strategy of dealing with a Broccoli Problem - repackaging the broccoli to counteract the negative after the HOWEVER. I can think of two more strategies and I'm sure there's more:
  1. Repackaging the Negative.
  2. Removing the Negative.
  3. Embracing the Negative.

Repackaging The Negative

This is what my Aunt did - she put the broccoli in a tasty Lasagne, which negated the broccoli's taste while still passing on the health benefit. That's repackaging the negative. In business, a classic case of a repackaging the negative is the age-old payment plan. Think about this Broccoli problem:

The Prius is an eco-friendly, stylish car, BUT I can't afford it right now.

Imagine you're on the car lot saying this to the saleswoman. She'll shoot back "Ah, but have you heard of our payment plans?" By doing this, she's effectively negated your 'however' factor by repackaging the car in an easy to digest payment plan. 

When you repackage something, you're not changing the product itself. You're not changing the broccoli - you're changing the way it's presented, the nature of the deal or how the product is sold. Repackaging strategies nearly always revolve around ideas like:
  • Cost amortization (payment plans)
  • Bundling (selling X + Y + Z together)
  • Splitting (Selling X + Y separately instead of as one)
So you can see we're not changing the product. We're changing the way it's sold. That's repackaging. 

Repackaging a Broccoli problem isn't always the best solution, but sometimes it's the only solution you can feasibly implement. That's where the other two strategies, Removing the Negative and Embracing the Negative, come in.

I'll cover the other two strategies in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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Brett Welch | BC

Street Cred is for Rappers, Net Cred is ...

Rappers Need Street Cred. So you need... Net Cred?

What's street cred? The urban dictionary of slang gives us this definition:

Street Cred
Short for street credibility (n) -
repsect(sic) from urban communities. usually something essential for making it big in the rap world.

Now if I may offer a definition of Net Cred:

Net Cred
Short for internet credibility (n) -
Respect from the online community, with tacit acknowledgement that the information or propositions you present online are real and somewhat trustworthy. Usually something essential for making it big online.

Unfortunately, Net Cred isn't really measurable - it's more a feeling people will get when they land on your website.

Think about this: when you're surfing the web, you're often looking for something. It might be a gift for your sister, some information for a project, or news on your favorite singer.

Sometimes you'll find something suitable, but then ask yourself: "Can I trust this website?"

That's when the website's Net Cred comes into play; the more apparent the site's Net Cred is the more likely you will buy the product, use the information or believe the news.

Zooming in on Online Businesses for a moment - for every business, there are some basic building blocks of Net Cred that can be (and should be) used pretty easily. If you are a business owner, here are some things you can add or do to your website to lend a basic level of Net Cred in the eyes of your visitors.

  • Your physical office address. Real companies have real postal addresses - so tell people about it!
  • A phone number. Your customers might not call it, but at least they know they can, if they want to.
  • Watch your spelling and grammar. It's simple, but important. If someone has too many spelling mistakes and poor grammar it's too easy to be dismissed as amateur.
  • Think about presentation. Your website should look good. It doesn't need to be a work of art, but spend some time, effort or money to ensure your site is well laid out and easy on the eyes. Either use a professionally designed template (as our online business builder does) or get a designer to put something together.
  • Make sure your site displays nicely on all browsers. Too many sites only work on Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), and not Firefox or Safari. Websites need to work across IE, Firefox and Safari for mac users - if your site doesn't display correctly to your potential customer, they will not buy from you.
  • Add an About Us page. About us pages are commonly read by people trying to work out if they should trust a company. Make sure you have one! It should tell the prospect 5 important things about your company: who you are, where you are, what you do, why you do it and how you do it.

That's 6 things - and there's loads more, no doubt.

The point is simple: credibility is a huge question when your customers land on your website. You've got to make sure you are communicating your credibility effectively - or you'll lose them lickity split.

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