If You Can’t Keep It Up, Your Site’s No Good to Anyone


Imagine this: You live in a world where storefronts aren’t a guaranteed commodity. Sure, you have a store full of goods. And you’re paying rent to the landlord. But periodically and unexplainably the store just disappears.

It might be minutes, it might be hours. But anybody who was inside is suddenly standing on the street in bewilderment among more bewildered people who were about to enter the store.

It sounds like a weird dream or a parallel universe, but it’s just the internet.

Downtime is the scourge of the internet (right up there with all kinds of cyber attacks and malware). The cost of downtime is enormous.

A single hour of downtime costs 98% of businesses $100,000. The largest organizations could see $1-5 million in lost revenue.

But even $100,000 is not a sum to trifle with.

Downtime is definitely something you should avoid at all costs. But how can someone run a business online and not experience downtime?

Scroll onward, friend, for I have a lot of things to tell you about avoiding downtime.

1. Why The Hay Do Websites Crash?

There is a host of reasons why a website will crash. It could be a server problem, a code problem, a terrorist problem, a criminal problem.

What is for certain, no website is safe. Even Google goes down sometimes.

But why?!

Because machines are made by humans. And nothing humans create is perfect. So far we haven’t created self-repairing computers despite all attempts (RIP self-repairing computer).

In essence, computers break down. And even the most complex computer network will need repairs at some point.

While cloud technology and copied files across multiple servers have mitigated this problem somewhat, we still see websites go down.

Not only do machines break down, humans make mistakes. Side note: this is why I’m in favor of self-driving cars.

Incredible people write code for the internet. Something I really don’t have the patience for.

But those people (I know a lot of them) aren’t perfect either. And they will make mistakes in their code.

Sometimes, you don’t have to take down a website to fix these things. But other times, the code is part of the underlying processes running a server. In those cases, you have to take down the whole server to fix the problem.

There will also be times when a problem doesn’t get flagged. These can be detrimental if let fester for too long.

So, TL;DR? Humans aren’t perfect, therefore the internet isn’t perfect. Websites crash sometimes.

2. Wait? Did My Website Just Crash?

The first thing to do is make sure it isn’t just you.

But sometimes, what seems like a crash is just a user-end error. Check if it’s your browser by using a different browser. Press Shift while clicking on the refresh button to be sure you’re not seeing a cached version.

Try other sites to make sure it’s not your internet connection. These may seem like common sense things, but in panicky moments common sense can disappear entirely.

Damage Control Time

If it isn’t you, begin damage control. Your website crashed. Don’t panic.

If you have APIs installed, you might be able to go back and find out for how long. If not, you may not know.

Either way, you need to contact all your customers and let them know you still exist. Create a simple email to send out to everyone who might use your site.

Let them know about the outage and that you’re still there for them. Apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.

You should use social media as well. Get the word out as fast as you can so the situation can be remedied soon.

Get ahold of your hosting provider. They may have a clue what’s going on at their level. Make sure you’ve kept good on your hosting payments. The downed site could be your own fault (hopefully not).

Don’t let your hosting service get away with dawdling. They should have an estimate on when the server will be up and running again. If not, find another hosting service.

Lastly, be sure to pause all your online advertising.

Your PPC campaigns and ads are inbound links. If you’ve been successful in your advertising campaigns, you will have traffic coming from these links.

You don’t want your good name tarnished by allowing traffic to a broken site.

3. Ok, So How Do I Stop It From Happening Again?

There are a few things you can do to make a crash less likely.

Get A Great WordPress Hosting Service

WordPress is behind the scenes on about 25% of all the websites in the world. Some 75 million sites trust WordPress hosting services for their business.

That’s one heck of a commendation.

But what factors should you look for in a hosting service to ensure you rarely experience a crash or any kind of downtime?

Speed

You want to know how fast it goes. And speed will determine if people stay on your site or bounce out.

Not only will slow hosting possibly deter customers, it will tank your SERPs as well. Google isn’t very forgiving with slow websites.

All The Features

You want the best APIs and email accounts and forwarding services available. You should have top access to your server as well.

Security

This is probably the most important aspect. You want to know that your host has a verifiably secure system. This will prevent attacks from taking down your site.

CDN Services

A content distribution network uses the cloud to cache and delivers your site to customers. It’s meant to prevent a crash due to large traffic volume.

It boosts your website’s speed. Your visitors will be able to quickly access your content no matter where they are in the world.

Backup Hosting Services

In case of a crash, you need a backup. And a backup hosting service will serve perfectly. That is, as long as you’re always transferring backups to the backup server.

This should be a different service just in case the primary servers go down.

And be sure the backup server is in a different location. With the prevalence of natural disasters and wars, you never know if your server will even exist tomorrow.

Conclusion: It Happens

You’re most likely going to experience a tiny bit of downtime at some point. It’s best to prepare and hope for the best.

Otherwise, if you’re caught with it down, you won’t be able to perform. And we all know what happens in those cases.

Have you had trouble keeping your…website up? Let me know how you handled it in the comments below.



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Network Security Is Key: Customers Only Trust You Once


Data is the new currency of the digital age. If you think your internet experience is free, think again. You actually trade in valuable coin when you use Google and Facebook.

Our information is valuable. And when we give away our information in exchange for services, that which we don’t give away becomes like diamonds or platinum.

Cyber criminals aren’t looking to steal dollars or Euros or Yen. They’re looking to steal information. And if your network and website aren’t secure, you’re essentially giving away your customers’ valuables.

Today I’m going to talk about how to virtually lock your door and keep the cyber criminals out of your network.

1. The Lay of the Land

It’s 2017 and despite much effort to stem the tide of cyber criminal activity, we’re all still vulnerable. Even the largest companies experience data breaches and cyber attacks.

Sometimes these breaches happen because of human error, as was the case with Verizon this past July. Human error caused names, numbers, and PINs to become publicly available online.

But human error is the least of our concerns. In the third quarter of 2016, there were 18 million new malware samples captured. Over the course of 2016, we saw 4000 ransomware attacks every day. And the percentage of phishing emails went up a full five percentage points.

In essence, cyber security is getting harder, not easier. And it’s not the time to get lazy and forget about network security.

2. It Begins With You

The first thing you need to eliminate is human error. At least as much as you can.

Human error will always be a problem. People will make mistakes, but proper training makes these mistakes rare.

This is where you begin, with you and your team. Find a webinar or a training course. Educate your team on cyber security.

What kinds of things does your team need to know?

  • Password best practices
  • How to recognize malware
  • Proper email protocol
  • How networks work
  • How to secure a network
  • The value of customer data

You can eliminate a huge hole in your security if your team follows protocol. Even if one team member decides they don’t give rat’s hide about security, you are vulnerable to an attack.

3. Secure the Base

Your own business wifi network is the second stopgap for network security. Many businesses don’t know how to secure their own local networks.

Offering free wifi to your customers is tempting, especially if you have a physical store front. But with the advent of 4G cellphone networks, free wifi is wholly an unnecessary perk.

Keep your wifi network secure. Do not give out the password to anyone who isn’t trained in your network security protocol. And change the password often.

This is one of the best ways to keep your business wifi network secure from attack.

Also, make sure you have a sign-in system or a visitor management policy if you run an office. Not only is this important for physical security, it’s important for network security.

If someone can get inside your office and find an unlocked terminal, they can access your network and data. If you’ve ever seen Mr. Robot, you’ll understand how easy it is to infiltrate a network if no real world security is present.

Your Netgear router login needs to be impervious to cracks. Find a password encryption software and make a router password that would take years to crack.

Change this password monthly.

If your company is big enough, you may want to consider hiring a floor marshal. Someone who is trained in recognizing potential threats and strange individuals who do not belong. They can question these people and help ensure your company’s IT infrastructure isn’t compromised.

4. Bar All the Doors

If your business were in a bad area of town, you would bar the doors and windows, right? Imagine your computer network as a set of doors without locks.

If each computer on the network had no antivirus or antispyware software, thieves could just walk right through and steal information. Each computer without these types of software is a vulnerability in your network security.

It might seem obvious. But it’s one of the most important parts of your security plan.

5. Update All the Things!

You may think that network security is an IT problem. It’s not. Network security is a business problem. And if you’re solely relying on your IT guy to remember to update everything, you might get into some deep water.

Ask your IT personnel for a list of update times. What should be updated?

First, if you use a local server, keep it up to date. There will be constant security patches. If your IT professional can give you a list of updates or at least a schedule that shows they’re checking on updates regularly, you can rest assured your server is secure.

Second, every terminal in your business needs to be updated at least quarterly. Most software does this for you. But it’s always a good idea to have a human check in on the progress and reset things if necessary.

Router updates don’t happen as often, but they do need to happen. Replace your routers every other year to keep up with the latest security features.

6. Backup! Get Backup!

If a breach does happen or ransomware hits your company, you need to be able to access your data to restore it. If you’re not backing up customer data, you could lose it forever.

42% of businesses hit by ransomware don’t recover even if they pay the ransom.

The only way to be sure you can restore data is through a constant backup plan. It depends on how often you receive new data as to what constant means in this case.

Some companies back up data daily. Others only need weekly or monthly backups.

The thing that matters most is consistency. Don’t miss a backup date. Ever. Or you’ll be really sorry.

Conclusion: Secure It Good

The risk of losing it all is too great. Customers trust us with their data. And if you breach that trust even once, your company is screwed forever.

Don’t be that company. Secure your network right now.

What do you do to keep your company secure from attack? Let me know in the comments below!



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The Wise Advice From a Very Successful Internet Marketer


This is an amazingly awesome and wise post that my friend Justin Goff of Gym Junkies put on FaceBook.  I have posted it with his permission.

If I could sit down with all the recent high school and college graduates and impart some wisdom on them, this is what I’d tell them…

  1. School doesn’t teach you shit about how to manage, save and invest money. The amount of money you KEEP will have a major impact on your quality of life until the day you die. So it’s worth learning the basics. Simply sticking money into your 401k or an index fund from the day of your first job will put you far ahead of everyone else. Money compounds over time, and you can’t make up for missed years. The smartest thing to do is to start saving and investing NOW. Starting at 22 is much better than starting at 32. If you want a simple roadmap, read the Bogleheads Guide to Investing. It’s easy to understand and you’ll be ahead of 90% of investors by simply reading this book.
  2.  I’ve been both broke and rich. If you think you’ll be happier or more fulfilled with a lot of money, I can tell you that you won’t. Having money is certainly better than not having money. A flat tire when you’re rich is an annoyance.
    A flat tire when you’re broke is a catastrophic event. I encourage everyone to be as wealthy as they want to be, but don’t count on money to fill some type of void in your life, because it never will.
  3.  Your job will take up the majority of your day. Make sure you you put REAL thought into what you want to do and how you want your life to run. The best job you can have is something that you enjoy, that you find fulfilling, and that you can make good money doing. If you’re lucky enough to find that, then hold onto it.
  4.  The secret to making a lot of money is to find one highly-paid skill and become a master at it. Being a jack-of-all-trades is not as profitable as being GREAT at one thing. If you had no other skills other than the ability to write hit pop songs, you’d be very, very wealthy. Nobody in the real world cares if you’re well rounded. I can’t tell you one thing I learned in algebra, biology or latin class. But I’m damn good at writing sales copy, and creating sales funnels for online businesses – and I made a lot of money by simply being very good at that one skill.
  5. The best time to take a risk is when you’re young. If you want to start your own business, or change jobs or freelance, then do it while you’re young and have no responsibilities. If everything falls apart, so what…Go get a bartending job at night if you have to to make ends meet. If you think it will be easier to take a risk down the road, you’re dead wrong. Once you have bills, kids, a mortgage and a good paying job, the chances of you leaving your job and doing something else is 0%. You have too much responsibility at that point. So if you have a passion for something, or if you want to start something on your own, do it while you’re young.

I’m sure there’s more I can add to this, but these were a few of the “big ideas” that I wish I would have known when I was younger.

What would you add to this? What’s something you wish you knew when you were graduating high school or college that you know now?




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5 Ways to Start Earning Money from Home in 2017


At one point or another, you probably thought about the many different ways you could potentially make money from home. Before the internet, your options were quite limited. You had the choice of stuffing envelopes, being a telemarketer or holding Tupperware parties on the weekend. They all sound very fun and entertaining, but if you can’t figure out a way to start making money from home in 2017, you just simply aren’t trying hard enough.

Thanks to the power of the internet, anyone can make money online — and I mean anyone. Even people in third-world countries with limited internet access have mastered the process. It also doesn’t even have to do with intelligence or being a coder or site designer, it’s more about dedication to yourself and making it work, more than anything else.

Just take a look at Jeremy’s iconic Adsense check that still gets massive views and attention today. Don’t focus on the check and its six-figure amount. Instead, focus on the story and dedication it took to get there, then build the Shoemoney brand and blog into what it is today. Once you see what possible, it’s then time for you to take action.

To help with this process and get you inspired like never ever before, I’m going to highlight five working methods for you to start earning from home today.

Start a Dropshipping Business

Starting a business is a serious decision, and it’s also one that often comes with a lot of responsibility, experience, and upfront costs. However, as I mentioned earlier, the internet has completely changed everything about the way business is done in the world today.

One such method for generating income from your own home is dropshipping. The concept is just like any other business model where you are selling online, except you don’t need to actually hold any products or ship out orders. Oberlo, has developed a tool that makes finding products and importing them into your ecommerce store easy breezy. It has excellent guides on dropshipping and an easy to use chrome extension. You’re literally few clicks away from importing and automatically fulfilling orders.

  • Lower starting capital – anyone can start their own e-commerce business using dropshipping without having to break the bank or get an expensive loan. It’s a case of supply and demand – you only purchase the products you will definitely sell. As you manage your own profit margins you can play the market and use branding and persuasive copy to drive up the retail value of your products.
  • It’s low risk – Every new business venture comes with its own risks, but dropshipping is less risky because you’re not locked into expensive stock or retail premises. If things don’t work out the way you thought they would, you are not stuck with loads of products you have to offload.
  • Wide selection of products – you can sell so much more through the drop shipping model because you don’t have to stock anything and you can change tact fast.
  • You can do it from your own home – you don’t have to worry about running a warehouse or stocking your products so you can manage your business from your bedroom. You have more independence and flexibility.

If you ever wanted to start a legitimate business from home but didn’t know what direction to take or didn’t have the necessary startup funds to get started, dropshipping and selling online is definitely a great option to consider.

Affiliate Marketing is Alive and Well

Over the past 20 years, one of the biggest developments in the world of online marketing has been ‘affiliate marketing‘. The concept here is simple. Site owners and online marketers receive a commission for any leads or sales they generate and refer to another company. A perfect example of this would be Amazon, as they have an affiliate program of their own — which was also a huge contributor in making them the powerhouse they are today.

To get started with affiliate marketing, all you need is a website or traffic source. There are plenty of marketing and monetization methods to choose from, so you are going to want to invest some time in familiarizing yourself with the process. Such methods include pay per click marketing, media buying, social media, content creation, email marketing and much more. Once you have an idea of how you’d like to promote an offer, you can then join an affiliate network like Shareasale to start connecting with different brands and finding products or offers to run.

That’s affiliate marketing in it’s most simple form, but when you start to dive into its complexities and full potential, you will see how billions of dollars are generated with it annually. If this is a route that you would like to take, I would definitely recommend learning as much as you can about affiliate marketing before getting started, then when you are ready, start with a very small daily budget until you start seeing a profit and understand how to build out successful ad campaigns.

Start a Website or Blog

One of the easiest, fastest and most affordable ways to make money online, is through the use of a website or blog. While it might be extremely fast and cheap, it’s also a bit of time-consuming process — this is when considering you might not have a full business model in place or any funds for advertising.

The good news is, starting a website or blog is now easier than ever thanks to the power of WordPress. This free software makes it possible for anyone to go live with a site of their own, with basically no technical skills required. If you know how to send an email or write a Word document… you can have a site of your own.

When it comes to actually making money with your blog, you have a few options to choose from.

  • Write about products and services you can promote through affiliate marketing
  • Run Google Adsense on your site and make money from ads served by Google
  • Create tutorials or guides for people to follow, then earn off their actions
  • Build out a site that shows off your expertise or skills and profit from it

The most important thing to remember when starting a website or blog is that there are already over a billion active sites on the internet today… and they are all generating content. It’s not enough to simply create a site and put it out there, you need to actually provide value and then find a way to get it in front of the right audience. In many cases, bloggers will start with a site of their own (without the intention of making money), then it will lead to new opportunities, a loyal following and even some financial gain in the process.

Freelance Writing in Your Spare Time

On the internet, content is king — and everyone always needs more of it. With such a demand for new content from websites, brands, and blogs around the world, there are also freelance writer marketplaces that fulfill thousands of dollars worth of writing jobs daily. Whether it’s through an advanced and professional job site like Upwork, or a dedicated writing marketplace like TextBroker, there is a lot of money to be made in the world of freelance writing.

So, how can you get started with the process? Simple, all you need to do is join any of these writing marketplaces, create an account and then start getting to work. As you complete new writing jobs, your profile and rating will continue to come together as clients leave feedback on your writing styles. The better your content and writing skills, the more you will earn on a per-word basis.

You likely won’t get rich of freelance writing, but you can definitely earn more than a $1,000 per month in your spare time, and you can slowly get better and better at it. If you are really great at writing and can type fast, you should invest some time in creating a site for your services and bring clients in-house so you can earn even more money.

Sell Your Old Junk on Amazon and eBay

The easiest and most obvious way to start making money from home is to simply start getting rid of all the junk around the house that you no longer need. I already covered how you can make money with Amazon as an affiliate or even if you wanted to start a dropshipping business. However, did you know Amazon will also allow you to sell individual products through their site as well? It’s true — and there are plenty of other sites that make this extremely easy as well, such as eBay or mobile apps like Let Go.

One of the biggest problems people have when trying to figure out their financial situations and how to make money is simply eliminating any excess costs they have. This same mentality applies for all of the junk you probably have laying around your house that you don’t even use or remember. Even if you only get 10% return on everything you sell, you are cleaning up the clutter while adding some extra money in the process. Not to mention, once you start selling a few items online, you might just get addicted and really start making some good money on the side!

Plenty of Ideas for Making Money from Home in 2017

Having been in the industry for over 20 years now and always being an entrepreneur at heart, I’ve seen and tried many different ways to make money online… nearly all of which can be done from the comfort of your own home. At the end of the day, if you have the work ethic and dedication to make it work — you are going to find success.

Each of the methods above is completely legitimate and I highly recommend you try at least one of them if you are still yet to ever make any money online. Make 2017 the year you can say you made your first dollar online.



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How Attending the Affiliate Summit Made my Employees and I Millions of Dollars


10 years ago I attended affiliate summit east in Miami. At the time I was not familiar with the conference.

My friend Kris Jones told me it was a really great and emerging conference owned by 2 people that have worked in the affiliate industry for years.

I had only attended SEO (SES, Pubcon, etc…) conferences prior and while I made great friends, it was worthless for affiliates.

So I definitely wanted to check this out.

Long story short I met a company there that was interested in my new startup – AuctionAds which was an advertising network around eBay. Even though the company was only 4 months old they expressed interest to buy it.

I had never thought about selling it and thought they were full of crap but my friend Kris Jones explained to me what I was doing and why it was so sexy to get scooped up. And in his words “I bet you get an exit shortly”. It was exciting that it could happen although I was pretty certain it wouldn’t.

I talked to our point person at eBay and told them, semi jokingly, we had a party inquire about buying AuctionAds and they said before we did anything wait until she ran it up the flag pole to see if they were interested. Well that started a bidding war that went back and fourth VERY quickly.

3 weeks later, my 4 month old startup, sold for millions. I can’t say exactly how much due to NDA but I can say that everyone that was a full time employee at the time I gave a million dollars to.

In the years since, the conference has been invaluable to me. To get face time and discussions with people that you either wouldn’t have met or have been trying to get to them but stuck with all their people in the company and can’t get to them has been priceless.

Let alone the great sessions. Yes even I attend sessions. Even though most of the time they don’t exactly apply to what I am doing I always see an angle of it that I can take action on immediately.

I can’t recommend the event enough. Directly from the sessions or indirectly from the highest quality people that attend , no matter where you are at in your business, I guarantee it will yield a huge ROI.



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What Internet Marketers Can Learn From The Lannisters


The Lannisters are a lovable lot. They live high above the sea in a highly defensible castle and they are the wealthiest Great House in all of Westeros.

Everybody wants to be a Lannister. But not everybody is willing to do what Lannisters are willing to do.

That’s your first lesson in marketing. Do what others are unwilling to do. That’s the only way to get ahead.

But there are more things to be learned from the most ruthless Great House in Westeros. And I’ve got plenty of Lannister chicanery to back me up.

1. Strategic Alliances

When the Lannisters joined forces with the Tyrells, they were able to hold back the invasion of the Baratheon army. And they, like the kings of old in our world, married their children to each other to strengthen their alliance.

I won’t advocate you marry your first born off to some rich marketer to foster alliances within the marketing world (unless it will make you tons of money…then maybe…) I will, however, suggest you make alliances within the marketing world in other ways.

Creating alliances with other marketers will expand your reach. You can start by finding people within your existing network who might benefit from an alliance with you.

You can offer to team-up with someone and cross-share each other’s content. Of course, this will only work if you actually have shareable content. If your content sucks, then good luck creating alliances.

If the Lannisters didn’t already have strong armies, fortresses, and money, nobody would care to ally with them. You have to already possess great content to share and proof you can boost someone else’s interests in their own Game of Thrones (this means an audience of some sort).

2. Think Like Tyrion Lannister, From a Different Perspective

I’d like to think Tyrion Lannister would appreciate a little joke like the title to this entry. But he may just prefer to have my throat slit instead.

Tyrion Lannister is the craftiest and the shortest of the Lannisters. He also thinks differently than his brothers and sisters.

Tyrion alone was able to see that facing the enemy head on would be foolish. Instead, he fortified King’s Landing while using fire to destroy the enemy fleets.

He is a man who didn’t let his size limit his imagination or his ability to drink.

Likewise, as a marketer, you should think outside the norm. You have to be crafty like Tyrion.

Be on the lookout for non-traditional marketing madness. If you are a small company and you’re outnumbered on the battlefield, this kind of thinking will keep you ahead of the competition.

What are some things connected to online marketing and yet aren’t traditionally “online?” How about text messaging?

Redbox is a prime example of a company that thought outside the box. Their Mobile Text Club is brilliant. You opt-in to their messaging services and they give you a free rental.

And then for the rest of your life (unless you opt-out), you get random promotional texts. Usually, buy one get one free coupons are included in the promotion.

3. A Lannister Always Pays His Debts

While their heraldry is a lion and their motto is “Hear Me Roar,” House Lannister became known by a different motto. “A Lannister always pays his debts.”

The Lannisters were known as a trustworthy brood (as long as you were on their side). They took an “if you scratch my back” sort of approach to life. And because they were so rich, that scratch usually came in the form of gold.

In the online marketing world, leads and customers will only trust you if you payout on your promises. When a lead gives you the information you seek, you owe them something for their trouble.

Go ahead and promise some sort of reward for information. Information is the best reward for information. And you can give them this information in the form of an e-book or a very useful pamphlet.

You could also reward your leads and customers with coupons. Remember the Redbox Text Club? They have some pretty loyal customers.

If you’re trustworthy, then you’ll have the most loyal customers in the kingdom.

4. There Is No Middle Ground

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” — Cersei Lannister

What Cersei said to Ned is the secret behind Lannister success in the world of Westeros. They were never lukewarm about anything they did. They were either cold or hot.

In whatever you do, do not hesitate. You are either fully committed or not.

You are either generating traffic or you’re dying. There is no middle ground.

You are either bringing leads or you’re dying. You get the idea. If you’re not willing to be highly competitive and work hard to get those leads or traffic, then you’re not fit for the game.

It’s that simple.

Of course, there are ways to make it easier on yourself. And that’s where the cunning of Tyrion Lannister comes in. Brains over brawn at times will carry you further than if you just threw money at a situation.

In fact, the Lannisters are solid proof that sometimes being rich isn’t the answer. Sometimes pure knowledge and connection are all you need to survive and stay afloat.

In fact, here’s a resource you can use to get ahead in your own Game of Thrones.

6. Create a Budget and Stick to It

The Lannisters used money to get them farther than any other house. They saw major returns on their investments.

In fact, Tywin Lannister is #12 on the Forbes “Fictional 15 List” for this very reason. He was able to loan Baratheon enough money to put on lavish events for his soon to fail Kingdom and then turn around to fund an insane war on three fronts.

But this could be the ruin of the Lannisters. They aren’t particularly sticking to any sort of budget as war in Westeros rages on.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you shouldn’t be like Tywin Lannister. Don’t fund massive campaigns, even for your closest allies, that could put you on the brink of bankruptcy.

Instead, learn to budget for your marketing campaigns. Don’t ever go over budget. You’ll see better returns on your money if you’re not swimming in debt.

Conclusion: Be Like the Lannisters Sometimes

It’s up to you. Judge whether the Lannisters are a house to emulate or not.

Do you think the Lannisters have some admirable qualities marketers should adopt? Let me know in the comments below.



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13 Key Benefits of Digital Marketing (Infograph)


Every year the business market is getting more and more competitive. Therefore, business owners should remember that the best way to attract customers is to go online.

In the modern era, most people like to access the information via internet. Since digital marketing takes place online, it is accessible to global audience.

With digital marketing, you can increase your business’ online visibility 24/7. Hence, it would be easier to be more interactive than ever.

Make sure that you communicate with your customers on a daily basis through your website, e-mail and social media. It helps to build the brand reputation in a very short period of time.

Digital marketing allows you to explore into the individual’s interests and preferences. It can help the marketers to tailor the fruitful marketing strategy. The positive feedback enables marketers to differentiate their services in a highly competitive market.

A well-planned digital marketing campaign can reach the right customers at a much lower cost. Besides saving marketing costs, there are also several advantages of digital marketing. It also provides reliable reports that show you the shift in results without any delay. Through this type of marketing, you can check how many people opened your email or clicked a specific link.

Digital marketing allows the entrepreneurs to monitor their competitors’ tactics. Unlike traditional methods you can see in real time what is or is not working for your business online.

With real time data, predicting and realizing ROI would be much easier. It provides them a thorough idea regarding the measures that are to be taken hotfoot.

Just go through the following infographic developed by MyTasker and get to know 13 benefits of digital marketing.




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Case Study: Inside the ChaCha Startup Failure


A few years ago, it seemed like startups were crawling out of every nook and cranny of the Internet. Of course, they had plenty of inspiration.

We still see some of the more successful ones operating today. Facebook, Skype, Digg.

But there were hundreds, if not thousands, that started up and then went out of business a few short years later. Cha Cha out of little-known Carmel, Indiana was probably one of the most infamous examples.

They came on the scene when Internet search was still in its adolescent years. Things like Siri, Cortana, and GoogleNow didn’t exist back then.

ChaCha saw a niche to fill — and they really tried to fill it. Maybe they ended up trying a little too hard. Fortunately, we can learn from their mistakes. 

ChaCha: The Bad Idea That Raised Tons of Money

Let’s get one thing straight: ChaCha was a horrible idea.

But at the time, it must have seemed like a good idea to investors Jeff Bezos. It also appealed to Compaq Computer founding CEO Rod Canion. Same for veteran Silicon Valley investor Jack Gill.

ChaCha raised over $10 million in investment capital in 2007! They must have had some great digital marketing.

What was the idea behind ChaCha that was so enticing? Human-powered search.

Keep in mind that Google hadn’t refined its algorithms and ranking signals just yet. So, searching the Internet was akin to digging through old library catalogs with the help of a robot. And the library catalog cards are filled with spammy links to awful business websites devoid of content.

But you could still find the information you sought on your own if you knew all the tricks.

ChaCha attempted to make search easier by allowing users to outsource search to real people sitting at their home computers.

How It Was Supposed To Work

You logged on to a chat interface and connected to a ChaCha representative. (Think MSN Messenger-style chat.)

You’d tell the representative what you wanted to search for and they would find it. Simple.

It seemed like a great idea. You could have expert searchers on the other end. They would have the requisite skill set to find the information, right?

Was ChaCha Really That Good?

The problem was, the only people in 2007 who actually understood how to search for real information on the Internet had framed Masters Degrees hanging on their walls.

If you really wanted to find something online, you needed a library scientist.

The regular Joe who applied to ChaCha probably didn’t have a degree in Library Science — or any other science, for that matter. Those people were probably working in real libraries someplace, making real money.

Instead, you got people who didn’t even know what Digg.com was.

As well all know, the Internet is also fertile ground for practical jokes other kinds of pranking behavior. So, the poor ChaCha “guides” (yes, they called them guides) received more prank requests than legitimate requests.

And why not? Just look at the ridiculous things people ask Google even today. Something about the anonymity of search makes us feel like middle schoolers again.

And while the human powered search idea was interesting enough to garner the attention of investors like Bezos, it still failed.

Why?

Why Did the ChaCha Startup Sensation Fail?

ChaCha even added the ability to text questions to their guides early on to allow users mobile capabilities. And if this had been 2005, we might have seen ChaCha succeed for a while.

But this was 2007. The iPhone was gaining popularity, and Google Android wasn’t far behind.

Competition came at ChaCha from both sides. This quickly dissolved the pain point users went to ChaCha to solve. You had Google launch their Panda algorithm in early 2011. This massively improved Google’s search engine.

Then you had other, more efficient human search and aggregate data collecting services like Mahalo.com. These companies put a lot of pressure on ChaCha to perform and gain more users.

But ChaCha couldn’t keep up. They faced massive scaling problems. Plus, their quality control was extremely poor.

At 55,000 part-time guides, most of them remote at a time when remote was hard to do. At the end of the day, they couldn’t give quality search results.

And users didn’t just want useless sound bytes and random lists of facts. They wanted answers to more subjective questions sometimes and more in-depth search results.

And ChaCha couldn’t pay their employees enough for such detailed research. Because of this, as we mentioned, nobody with the expertise to find great content was going to apply.

Google soon swallowed the search market whole.

And the desire for “human-cultivated” answers just petered out. And when your core idea no longer has traction, you either adapt or die.

The problem is, if you don’t see the tread wearing off your tires early enough, you’re only left with the “die” option. And that’s exactly what happened to ChaCha.

Why Didn’t ChaCha Try to Adapt?

They did try to adapt. But it was much too late for the poor Indiana startup.

They seemed to be going in a great direction with their text and voice service addition back in 2008. And in 2009, they raised $12 million and restructured their corporation.

They even launched an iPhone app in 2011 to keep up with the mobile revolution.

And ChaCha launched a “Buzzfeed” type website called “Social Reactor” that died with the next Google Algorithm update. Meaning they missed the contemporary website design and development setup by then-current trends.

Nothing seemed to work. Although they were cash-flow positive for a few years, nothing stuck. And their inability to really move out of startup mode coupled with real structural and quality control problems scuttled their very expensive ship.

What Lessons Can We Learn from ChaCha?

While there was no way ChaCha could have known the future. They could have at least hired a real expert or two for quality control purposes.

And a startup’s ability to adapt is a huge determinant in their future success. “Adapt Or Die” should be your motto if you’re looking to build a startup even today.

If ChaCha appeared on the scene even five years earlier, we might see some form of their service here today. But they failed to adapt and they died a fiery death.

Are you looking to build a startup in the near future?

 



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5 Epic YouTube Marketing Fails (And How to Avoid Them!)


YouTube: it’s the second largest search engine on the planet. Why wouldn’t you want to leverage that kind of audience?

But it’s also one of the most competitive ad markets on the planet. And if you fail on YouTube, you fail miserably.

I’ve got your back, however. I’m here to present the five worst YouTube marketing failures in the history of advertising. (And I’ll also show you how to avoid them.)

1. The Chevy Cruze Millennials Ad (Failing to Understand Your Audience)

Millennials get a bad rap. We’re known by many stereotypes.

Time magazine actually named us “The Me Me Me Generation” in an inane attempt to sell their magazine to baby boomers (probably the only people who read the print version of their magazine anyway).

And many of us are pretty frustrated about the incessant denigration of our ilk. Yet, while we like to take to social media and gripe about the unfair stereotypes, we don’t need a car company sympathizing with us while trying to sell us a car.

Chevrolet tried this tactic and failed miserably. They even went as far as to bring in some “real millennials” to “connect” with their audience.

The commercial centered around a fake focus group study. It rapidly switched back and forth between several groups of millennials. These included a Miley Cyrus look-a-like, a guy with a man bun (so 2015), and two mustachioed hipsters wearing broad-brimmed hats fit for Ranger Smith or a Canadian Mountie.

The host of the show immediately said: “Since you’re millennials…” What? Couldn’t we tell you’re stereotyping a generation just by the absurd costumes you’ve had these people wear?

And then he proceeded to show supposed stills from a potential car commercial featuring stereotypical Millenials. Of course, the real “millennials” scoffed at every picture.

The ad concluded with the host asking, “So, millennials don’t want an ad that tries to appeal to them, they want a car.” And an airplane hangar door split open in front of these said Millenials to reveal the new Chevy Cruz.

It’s fairly obvious that Chevy doesn’t get the millennial generation. But it’s also fairly understandable why they tried.

Don’t Use Stereotypes

If you do a quick Google search of the word millennial, you’ll see hundreds of posts about millennials. Go to Ahrefs, and you’ll see these articles go viral almost instantly.

It’s super tempting to use generational conflict and stereotypes to boost your YouTube marketing campaign. But if you don’t get it just right, you’ll miss the mark.

Instead, appeal directly to your audience without naming your audience. If you want to appeal to millennials, just do what you would do for any other generation, entertain us or inform us.

Don’t try to sympathize with your audience or you might inadvertently make fun of your audience.

2. And 3. Pepsi’s Kendal Jenner Ad and the Secret Deodorant Ad (Trying Too Hard to Be Socially Conscious)

If you were on the internet this year at all, you would remember the tone deaf Kendal Jenner Pepsi ad with perfect clarity. (And apparently, Kendal and Kylie want it forever on YouTube despite Pepsi pulling it from their own channel.)

But this was a perfect example of a business trying to be socially conscious and failing miserably.

I won’t go into too much detail here. But suffice it to say, Kendall Jenner and a commercial full of generic protestors approaching a line of smug New York Police officers to assuage their fears with Pepsi didn’t go over too well with Pepsi’s target audience.

Secret Deodorant also took on social issues poorly this year with their #stresstest campaign commercial “Raise”.

It features a young woman with nerdy glasses, flustered blonde hair, and a disheveled blue suit and white blouse pep-talking herself in the mirror. She’s trying various “male boss approaches.”

It’s a cliche film bathroom moment. After a minute of talking to one’s self, the character hears a toilet flush in one of the stalls.

The person in the stall comes out and there’s an awkward moment while they wash their hands. Then they say, “You can do it.”

As the character leaves, words appear on the screen. “At 3 o’clock Lucy does her part to close the wage gap.”

Avoid Social Issues

While this could have gone in my number one slot, it’s also a social issue. While you want to appear socially conscious, commercials like the ones above come off as patronizing.

I’d say avoid social issues altogether. But if you want to run ads featuring social issues, highlight how YOU are being socially conscious. Don’t try to “be bold” and “make a stand” with some message.

You are in grave danger of missing the mark and offending the group you’re trying to help.

4. The McDonalds Channel US (Going Too Big, Even for McDonald’s)

The content creator game on YouTube is fierce. Nearly 300 hours of video gets uploaded every minute.

So, unless you’re paying to get your content in front of eyeballs or you have an amazing, out of this world social media presence, relying on entertainment content to rival the likes of Spike or RedBull won’t get you anywhere.

This is the story of McDonald’s Channel Us. Yeah, you read that right, even McDonalds, with all their clown shoes full of money couldn’t make an entertainment channel for young adults fly.

Why? Because they aren’t an entertainment company, they’re a burger joint. And unless you partner with a major entertainment brand like Spike, you’ll take more time gaining a YouTube channel audience than it’s worth.

I’m not saying don’t create a YoutTube channel. But YouTube marketing should remain just that. Marketing.

Don’t try to produce edgy shorts or fun facts listicles hoping to “make it big” on YouTube unless you’re a professional video production company. You can do those things, but don’t bank on the fact your channel will become the next YouTube sensation.

Stick to the stuff of ad rolls and you’ll do just fine.

5. The Coopers Religio-Political Blunder (Mixing Religion, Politics, and Your Company)

This should be a no-brainer. But controversy is tempting.

In March of 2017, Coopers, an Australian beer company, came under fire for a Bible Society ad. It featured two liberal Australian politicians debating marriage equality while drinking Cooper beer. the company claims it didn’t sponsor the ad.

This has “wrong” written all over it and I really shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t mix politics, religion and business in a YouTube marketing campaign. Just don’t.

The beer company in question has since distanced itself from the ad, even though evidence suggests otherwise.

YouTube Marketing: Stay Safe Out There

The main lesson to learn from all of this is stay safe. Know where your boundaries are when it comes to YouTube marketing campaigns.

Have you experienced any YouTube marketing failures? Let me know.

 

 



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They Can Run But They Can’t Hide: Win Sales With Facebook Messenger


There was a time when you could disappear off the face of the earth. Nobody could track you down without a private investigator under their hire.

Today is quite different. Everyone has a miniature communicator in their pocket replete with discrete recording devices and a GPS tracker.

Anyone can contact you anywhere at any time. If you look at the Verizon coverage map, you’ll see there is virtually nowhere to hide.

And that’s great news for internet marketers!

It means your ability to market directly to a consumer anywhere at almost any time has grown exponentially over the past ten to fifteen years. And tools like Facebook Messenger have accelerated the process.

No other online personal messaging service is as invasive as Messenger. Any other app wouldn’t get away with an overlay bubble that takes up one tenth of your screen.

But we are all so addicted to everything Facebook that we don’t seem to mind the messenger bubble floating there (until it actually gets in the way and we fling it off into the ether space).

But how does a business take advantage of this oddly welcome invasion into the lives of future leads and customers? Can you really use Messenger for marketing without driving away your leads due to spam?

I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely possible. And over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to show you exactly how to take advantage of this unusual marketing tool.

1. Facebook Messenger Ads: Better Than Billboards

Ok, that title was a bit of a red herring. Of course, you’re not going to use billboards as an internet marketing technique.

But the creepy predictions about billboard-like advertising in the 2002 film Minority Report haven’t come true in the real world (nope, Captain Crunch still isn’t waving at me from my cereal box). But they have in the online world.

While physical billboards peel and remain neglected, digital ads such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are booming. The world has embraced invasive advertising wholesale. And it’s an incredible thing!

Facebook Messenger is the newest internet marketing service on the playing field. Yes, the Messenger app has been around since 2011. But just last year (2016), Facebook began testing ads in Messenger.

So, if you’re the kind of person who hates seeing ads at the bottom of every mobile game and app you’re using, don’t worry, it’s not like that yet.

But if you’re an internet marketer, this news means internet marketing gold. Why? Because people spend years of their lives on Facebook Messenger!

WhatsApp and Messenger users send 60 billion messages a day. Nobody has really calculated how much time that would take. But even if it took only two seconds to write and send each message, that would equal almost 4000 years spent messaging people.

And even if WhatsApp took up half of those messages, that’s at least 2000 years of time people are looking at the Messenger interface. And I can guarantee just by looking at my own messaging habits that it’s way longer than 2000 years.

But this era of Facebook Messenger ads hasn’t arrived yet. However, you can still use messenger right now as a means of winning sales and garnering leads.

2. What Do Facebook Messenger Ads Look Like?

While you might be envisioning some weird version of spammy pop-up ads, Facebook Messenger ads don’t really work like that (yet). They are actually more like regular Facebook ads than you might imagine.

The Messenger app interface is still ad free. An ad for Christian Singles Dating doesn’t pop up when you’re messaging a potential date.

But a couple of new marketing features involving Facebook Messenger currently exist. And they’ll bring you big returns especially if you’re already using Facebook Ads for marketing.

Two Kinds of Ads for Messenger

Most ads online including Google AdWords and Facebook Ads will send you to a website landing page or a Facebook page. This is the traditional method of funneling customers onto a sales page.

And tradition is awesome! It’s what gave us apple pie a la mode and horribly-croaked Christmas carols in blinding blizzards.

But tradition isn’t always the most effective or expedient method to funnel customers. Sometimes you need a way to quickly answer a lead’s questions and get them closer to buying.

Destination Ads

This is where the destination ad comes in. A destination ad will send your leads to the Messenger App instead of a website or Facebook page.

Why is this valuable? It gives the customer a direct line to your business. And it encourages a conversation.

If someone clicks on the link, they most likely already have questions and want to ask them. It takes out the frustrating few steps of going to a site, finding the “Contact Us” link and filling out all the requisite info a site wants before they let you answer the question.

And while you may not be able to answer the person right away, your lead or customer will feel like they quickly contacted you. But be sure to promptly reply.

Within the next 12-24 hours is a preferable response time. If you don’t answer, your opportunity will fizzle like a spent 4th of July sparkler and your lead will wander off somewhere else.

Sponsored Messages

This is an opt-in only method meaning customers need to have already messaged you through Facebook Messenger before you can use this option. If they have already messaged you, Facebook allows you to send them a certain number of sponsored messages.

The limited number is a good thing. It means nobody will be tempted to spam the heck out of their customers and ruin this rare gem of a marketing opportunity for everyone.

And it’s really a great opportunity because your customers already began the dialogue, all you have to do is guide them toward a sale. And you need to guide them gently, oh so gently, because people can unsubscribe from your sponsored messages if they think these messages are too obtrusive.

I’m thinking this method might even completely replace e-mail newsletters someday. (Actually, I’d predict quite soon because how many e-mail newsletters do you actually open on a daily basis? I’d bet a kidney it’s not very many.)

3. How to Use Facebook Messenger Ads

Now that you know what I mean when I say Facebook Messenger ads, let’s examine how to use them to make loads of sales without driving away customers.

As I said before, you have to be gentle with your customers. But you also have to offer something of worth or get people engaged in an actual conversation.

The two types of ads that use Messenger play hand-in-hand. Destination ads start the conversation and sponsored messages continue the conversation.

It’s akin to building an e-mail subscriber list but slightly more personal and direct. Contact and instant connection are some of the worth you’re providing with destination ads.

Unfortunately, you can’t send a direct message to a particular customer with sponsored messages. Facebook keeps track of who messaged you and you send a blanket sponsored message to the whole list.

But you can see the messages that already came across to help you tailor a blanket sponsored message that will either answer common questions or offer solutions.

Take remodeling company, for example. You could run a destination ad asking people to sound off on what part of their home they would remodel right now if they had the money.

If you get answers, you don’t have to even aggregate the answers, each one will be different. But you could send a sponsored message saying something like “Hey! That’s a great idea! How about we come out on Wednesday and do a free estimate?!”

Sudden sales potential right there! You already know the pain point of a very specific audience. And you’re getting the solution literally right in front of their noses.

4. How to Stay Prompt

If you’re a one man show or you have a small team, you might be wondering how do you stay prompt when responding to customers.

You might not be able to afford a large customer service team, but you can afford a chat bot. Meet ManyChat, a Messenger chat bot you can try out for free.

It’s a really easy interface. You essentially give permission to ManyChat to chat for your page and you’re off to the races.

You can quickly program a chatbot that will respond just like a customer representative would for your company. And it will save you the headache of having to respond to every one of your leads in a timely manner.

While ManyChat is free, you might not want everybody knowing you’re using a particular bot. You can upgrade for $10 a month. You’ll see all ManyChat branding disappear and gain a bunch of extra tools as well.

Start Hitting Those Sweet Sales

Once you become an expert at balancing the two kinds of Facebook Messenger ads, you’ll be raking in the cash. I guarantee this is a more effective method of marketing than email subscriber lists.

And it’s easier! Do you have any experience with ads using messenger? Have you seen great returns? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 



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