Website Marketing lesson from ‘The Apprentice’

I was watching the latest episode of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” on Sunday night and was intrigued by two multi-gold medalists, Summer Sanders and Michael Johnson, facing off as Project Managers.  FWIW, I was just as intrigued by Donald’s awful comb-over.  The guest judge for the project was Gavin Maloof, owner of the Palms Casino, Sacramento Kings, and countless marketing ventures.  The task at hand was to create an Advertorial for the new Norton-LifeLock bundle package.  It was interesting to watch the two teams take opposite approaches to the task.  As an aside, an Advertorial is:

Advertorial = Advertisement + Editorial

Michael Johnson’s team put together a ton of wordy content in very small font.  Gavin Maloof’s criticism really stood out to me as a marketer.  He shared that the advertorial was too verbose so nobody would read through it.  His two key points were a) you only have 2 or 3 seconds to grab a reader’s attention and b) there was way too much copy for an advertorial.  In summary, Michael Johnson’s team followed the equation:  Advertorial = Advertisement + Editorial

Summer Sander’s team put together an advertorial with full sized images on each page and very little ad copy.  The pictures themselves were compelling and well put together, however Norton-LifeLock representatives and Gavin had a major concern… there was no phone number!  The Print looked great but there was no way for potential customers to contact the company.  In the end, Summer ended up with an off equation: Advertorial = Advertisement + Editorial

(view the advertorials here:

Ultimately, the Norton-LifeLock representatives decided they need to combine the two advertorials to make an effective final print.  What does this have to do with your website succeeding?  Nett Solutions reviews hundreds of websites’ a month to see if they are a good fit for our advertising campaigns.  A majority of our prospective clients fall into two camps.

Camp Michael – Too Much Copy:  Some websites contain so much copy and content it loses the attention of the visitor.  Gavin was right when he said we only have a couple seconds to capture someone’s attention.  If your website is too wordy, people will click the ‘Back’ button and leave before you have a chance to sell them. 

Camp Summer – No Call to Action: We have seen many aesthetically pleasing websites without a call to action.  If you offer a service, your phone number or contact info should be strategically placed on each and every page of your site.  If you sell a product, you should have an easy to navigate shopping platform and eye catching messages such as “Free Shipping if you buy now!” 

Which camp does your website fall into?  If you need a set of fresh eyes to review your website and optimize your advertising, give us a call and we’d love to help.   Just click on the ‘Contact Us’ link above.

–          Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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The Internet = “trendy and oversold” HYPE?!?

I stumbled across this article written in 1995 about the future of the internet. It is a definite MUST read as it prophesies the “trendy and oversold” hype of the internet concept. Take a minute to read it and have a good laugh.

A lot can change in 15 years, can’t they?

– In 1995 acid washed jeans were in. In 2010, MEN are wearing super low rise, skinny jeans.

– In 1995 a best picture nominee was Babe. 2010 has Avatar in 3D/IMAX special effects.

– In 1995 Juno was a major email service provider. In 2010 Gmail is the new Juno & Juno is now a movie about teen pregnancy.

– In 1995 Saint’s fans wore paper bags over their heads. In 2010 the Saints are no longer the Aints.

– In 1995 Prince’s lyrics, “Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999,” had relevancy. In 2010 Prince no longer has a name, but rather a symbol.

– In 1995 Jay Leno hosted the Tonight show. In 2010, the host is Conan O’br… um, nevermind.

Working for a couple dot-coms during the 90’s I remember the e-commerce hurdles we had to overcome. Very little online credit card security existed, those who trusted online transactions were sparse, internet access was limited, and e-commerce software lacked sophistication. Online sales were just a blip on the radar.  I even remember looking for a new office suite and making sure our broker noted “T1 connections”, and “internet ready” as key criteria. In 15 short years, the tables have turned.

As marketers, we try our best to track the pulse of the marketplace. Our local paper (I read the online version, Mr. Stoll) has a section tracking local retail businesses. Here are 10 of the 15 most recent headlines:

• MainPlace store closes
• Disneyland store to close
• Struggling O.C. mall up for sale
• Bella Terra finds replacement for Circuit City
• Retailer to close 165 stores
• O.C. movie theater owner files for bankruptcy
• Sam’s Club closes O.C. store
• Crate & Barrel closes O.C. store
• O.C. surf shop closes, women’s discounter opens

A whopping two-thirds of the most recent posts in this periodical section are reporting closures or financial distress of brick and mortar businesses. To say this is the end of traditional retail businesses would be foolish. However, I do believe all businesses need to take advantage of the symbiotic relationship between their building storefront and their e-commerce storefront.

Multi-channel marketing has finally arrived. comScore reported that online Holiday retail sales reached $29.1 billion, an increase of 4% compared to 2008, and it was the traditional brick & mortar retailers who were pushing online deals from Black Friday through Christmas. (Note: this jump occurred while overall retail spending declined during the year). In the winter of 2009, retail stores finally embraced the multi-channel mentality.  A combination of: Foot traffic, search engine ad campaigns, eye-catching online display ads, mailers, coupons & customer support via Facebook, and announcing free shipping on Twitter has helped many businesses keep the doors open.

The benefits are just as powerful for local service businesses as they are for national retailers. Research from Nielsen Online shows that 82% of users search on engines like Yahoo! and Google to find a local business, 50% of internet users turn to the search engines FIRST in order to find a local business, and 40% of the searchers will use geographic keywords (city/state name) in their query. Local services can’t just rely on word of mouth.  Taking advantage of online advertising channels such as search and display will enhance your growth. Our team is always open to strategizing with you.

– Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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“I don’t want Yahoo!(or MSN/Bing). I only want Google.”

One of the first questions sales teams face when meeting a prospective business for the first time is “what does your company do?”  We explain that Nett Solutions is a SEM who provides prime sponsored listings on Yahoo! and Google.  Over the past two years it seems there is a Pavlovian reaction to this statement which automatically triggers a response of “I don’t want Yahoo!  I only want Google.”

I believe that statement is a fallacy in the advertising world built upon subjective feelings rather than objective logic.  I am not here to argue Google’s market share or to downplay its incredible success.  In fact, Google tends to be my personal choice for search.  I am simply sharing the perspective that it is not wise to neglect Yahoo! in an ad campaign.  We have reviewed numerous metrics from our clients showing that some Yahoo! ad campaigns return a better ROI than Google.  In each of these instances Google certainly showed more volume but the relative ROI percentage leaned in Yahoo’s favor. 

I am a thirty-something who decided to re-enter the world of academia and pursue my MBA.  I was dumb enough to register for a Finance course my first semester… not the wisest decision after a decade long  layoff from school.  Now, if you detest finance as much as I do, this blog will bring you nightmares and may cause you to break out in a cold sweat.  On the first day of class our professor was refreshing our cobweb-laden minds about the topic of Capital Budgeting and Net Present Value (NPV).  As a quick Finance 101 review, NPV is simply the present value of all the future cash flows of a project you are considering.  In laymans terms, let’s say you wanted to buy a $100,000 machine for your business.  To see if it is worth buying you want to calculate what the total estimated future revenue of that machine is worth in today’s dollars. If the NPV is positive (ie: worth more than $100,000) you should buy the machine since it more than pays for itself.  If it is negative you should reject it.

So we calculated the NPV for three Projects and the answer came out as:

NPV of Project A = $3,986

NPV of Project B = $2,129

NPV of Project C = -$813

The professor asked the class “As a manager, which project do you want for your company?”  The entire class blurted out a knee-jerk reaction of “Project A”.  The professor immediately asked again, “As a manager, which project do you want for your company?”  An insecure and subdued, yet still unanimous “Project A” was given by the students.  After asking a third time, we caught on.  As a manager you want BOTH project A and B since they both bring in a positive cash flow! 

I believe this is a good parallel to the way people view Yahoo! and Google.  Sure, one may bring about more volume than another but as long as they both bring about a positive ROI or cash flow you would be foolish to ignore one over the other.  Whether it’s Yahoo, Google, print ads, or online display ads, all advertising channels will bring about different ROI’s.  As long as the campaign is putting more in your pocket than what you spend you should continue to go with it. 

Yahoo! just released their Q4 earnings report and announced their revenues topped analysts estimates.  Sales totaled $1.26 billion.  This surge in revenue was attributed to a rush in online spending.  Remember, search engines only make money when people click on their ad network.  People are clicking on Yahoo! whether you want to believe it or not.  According estimates from organizations like comScore Inc., Yahoo! still holds nearly 20% market share.  That’s 20% of the opportunities you may be missing out on if you have written off Yahoo!. 

Cheers and go Team USA!

— Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google.  We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of:  marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians).  Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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Google & Tiffany’s… two peas in a pod

Some things in life are best left simple and pure.  According to my wife, some examples are: Tiffany’s blue, a simple black cocktail dress, a kiss goodnight, her favorite pair of jeans, a baby sleeping and a classic Chanel handbag.  Yes, she used the “handbag” card one week before Valentine’s day… and no, I don’t plan on buying her one.  My list of things that are beautiful in their simplicity?  USC Football jerseys (apologies to my UCLA co-workers), cheeseburgers, ‘65 Shelby fastback Mustang, backyard BBQ’s and that 15 year-old, hole-ridden, one-size-too-small,  favorite t-shirt that the wife always tries to throw away.

All these things reveal beauty in their classic, timeless, simple states. A major contributing factor in Google’s rise to dominance has been their ability to grasp the fact that people can indeed find beauty in simplicity.  It is widely believed that the average American is targeted by over 3000 ads and exposed to hundreds of them on a daily basis.  Ad space dominates our surroundings and it is no different in the online realm.   In a cyberworld cluttered with advertisements and widgets, Google continues to exercise its motto to “think backwards” by displaying beauty in simplicity.  I noticed a recent change in the Google search page.  Traditionally, the page would look something like this:


Google simplified things even further by removing all the peripheral links to reveal a pure, clean, simple search page:


The peripheral links in the image above don’t appear until you take action by moving the mouse over the page.  You can call it the anti-AOL or the contra-Yahoo!.  I simply call it beautiful.  Note that I am speaking purely from a search perspective.  A company like Yahoo! finds its strength in their network/portal.  When it comes to search, Google continues to deliver by sticking to one of their 10 philosophical pillars:  “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.”  That one thing is Search and the newest change to the homepage embodies this philosophy.

We often speak to e-commerce businesses who try to jazz up their site with way too much text, animation, dizzying color patterns, or overwhelming ads.  It should be well noted that potential customers and site visitors want to find the info they are searching for quickly and easily.  Simple, clean pages do wonders for website conversions, visitor satisfaction, and bounce rates.  The next time you give your site a facelift, I encourage you to take a lesson from Google and consider the ‘less is more’ approach.   You can always give us a call so we can discuss strategies for your website.

While we’re on the subject of Google ads, I hope you were able to catch the Parisian Love Super Bowl ad this past weekend.  I tend to judge Super Bowl commercials by watching faces of the viewers around me rather than how I personally react.  I noticed the faces of the viewers at the Super Bowl party were absolutely intrigued by this commercial and actually enjoyed watching it.  There was no humor, celebrity spokesman, or special effects.  It was simple yet captivating… how fitting of Google.

On a personal note, this commercial is the one that got my vote:

  • Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google.  We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of:  marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians).  Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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It’s a new year with new mountains to climb.

This is a fun and interesting time to begin a new blog series.  The first two months of the calendar year always excites me because its earnings season, the aggregate holiday sales numbers are posted, the Super Bowl ads are creating buzz, many New Year’s resolutions broken by now, and the New Year generally marks a fresh start for everyone.    This new blog is designed to address current events in a way that is informative and applicable to small & medium sized businesses.    

As an internet marketing company we feel a high level of responsibility towards not just creating a good ad campaign, but also helping our clients succeed in their day to day business operations.  We have the opportunity to speak with 100’s of new SMB’s every week.  This allows us the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the American business environment and offer fun & interesting blog topics that pertain to all aspects of the business.  I understand words like inflation, recession, and unemployment raise barriers when making business decisions.  I am faced with these similar decisions on a daily basis.  At the same time we believe there is opportunity all around us.  Our goal is to help businesses continue to grow during these challenging times. 

On a personal note, I believe in people.   I believe the small and medium sized American businesses must spearhead the charge out of this recession.  I believe American’s may not have greater dreams that those in other countries… but I believe we live in a country that provides the best platform to achieve those dreams.   Our passion is to use advertising and marketing to make dreams happen.

  • – Michael Won

Nett Solutions is an SEM working with Yahoo! and Google.  We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of:  marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians).  Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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SEP is Good for the Search Engines, Too!

You have a favorite search engine, right?  You probably chose one or two by avoiding those that delivered the least helpful information.  Over time some of those less effective search engines have disappeared.  To avoid losing relevance, it’s important for the search engines to make sure that their search results are accurate and meaningful.  The SEP model helps them accomplish this goal.  Our staff at NettSolutions has the resources and the know-how to help you choose search terms that most accurately describe your business and most effectively draw buyers to your website. 

As an Authorized Reseller for Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and their affiliates, Nett Solutions provides companies worldwide with top placement in the 1st , 2nd or 3rd sponsored positions, generating the targeted traffic that translates to real, bottom-line results.

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Keyword Strategies From NettSolutions

Without a true understanding of what people are actually typing into a browser to find a particular product or service, many businesses make the costly mistake of guessing which terms they think people would use to search for what they do. The vast majority of the time the way people actually search varies significantly from what businesses assume.

The other error that can be even more costly to a business is assuming that a high search volume automatically means more business. Just because a search yields a high search traffic volume it does not necessarily mean targeted traffic or qualified leads.

For example a tradeshow design firm might purchase the keywords “trade show” and receive an exceedingly high volume of people searching that phrase, however many of these people will be looking for trade shows to attend. Broad terms are searched heavily but they do not necessarily get the click throughs and conversions that more targeted keywords would yield.

Nett Solutions looks at more than just volume. Our focus is to give you a targeted strategy that will yield qualified leads that are more likely to be searching for exactly what you have to offer

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Nett Solutions’ SEP is Proven & Measurable

Nett Solutions’ simple, straight-forward approach is both proven and measurable, alleviating the need for constant monitoring that is increasingly complex and costly for business owners. With fixed placement and fixed monthly billing, you can effectively manage your Search Engine Campaign within a constantly changing landscape. You can not be moved or outbid, and you are protected from becoming a victim of click fraud as cost is not based on click-throughs.

Nett Solutions’ knowledgeable and experienced specialists are trained to research terms based on your industry, your company and specifically your goals to create a package that is targeted to bring you the business results that matter.

Our specialists will:

  • Develop a personalized keyword campaign specific to your business and your objectives.
  • Generate detailed descriptions of your business to enhance the quality and frequency of your visits.
  • Assist you in creating and achieving realistic short and long term goals.
  • Maximize every advertising dollar spent and optimize your campaign to bring you
    the greatest benefit.

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Why Choose Nett Solutions over other Search Engine Marketing Solutions?

Search Engine Marketing has a wide array of choices to get you noticed, however no other solution can guarantee position AND cost.  Having such a simple, straightforward solution means you can get back to your real business and not worry where and when your ad is showing up!

What can you expect with NettSolutions?

  • Positioning in 1st , 2nd or 3rd Sponsored Placements 24/7
  • 12 Month Rate Guarantee
  • Month-to-Month Contract – 3 month minimum
  • First Right for Placement Renewal
  • Custom Descriptions – With the ability to change these
  • Unlimited Clicks
  • No Need for Costly & Complex Management
  • Positioning where the vast majority of Clicks Occur
  • Monthly Billing
  • Ability to upgrade package at any time
  • Exceptional Service – Always.

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The Nett Solutions Difference

Search Engine Placement (SEP) is a relatively new approach to Search Engine Marketing, which is why many companies immediately confuse it with other options such as Paid for Placement and Search Engine Optimization.

Nett Solutions was among the first companies to work with the top Search Engines to offer Guaranteed Fixed Placement as an option back in 2003, and continues to be one of just a handful of SEP providers today.

Nett Solutions employs high level search professionals and offers continuous training with an emphasis on effective strategies for your business. Our goal is to not just get you traffic, but to make sure that traffic is targeted so you can achieve outstanding results.

With guaranteed placement in one of the top 3 sponsored positions, you no longer need to worry about bidding for placement, or being moved out of your position. With unlimited click-throughs and a flat rate pricing model you also do not need to worry about fluctuating costs, making the budgeting process much easier. Now you can relax and get back to your real business, knowing that your placement is assured.

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