Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Why I started a part time professional job site

Henry Ford is attributed to introducing the 40 hour work week in the 1920s, not so much for the health of his employees, but so employees would have enough free time to go out and realize they needed to buy stuff.

So much has changed since the 1920s, it’s always seemed a bit ridiculous to me that we largely stick to the 9-5 mantra. As a designer, I often find that 4 of the 8 hours at work are spent looking blankly at a screen, and 90% of my work is done while sleeping, on a run, or talking to someone. Work simply doesn’t fit into the required hours and as a country trying to push a knowledge economy, it’s time to re-think the 40 hour work week.

That’s not why I started Limber though.

Many years ago, I started my entrepreneurial career. It failed so badly I wince at the term entrepreneur when it is applied to me. I find it embarrassing because the very idea of starting a business since then has felt exhausting and I know what a big fat failure I am. As a result Ive played a minor role in some awesome ventures (like MyTours), but largely left them in the very capable hands of others.

At the beginning of this year, I started thinking that life has become very easy. I remember the days when I used to look blankly at people complaining about how stressed out they were while vaguely wondering if just never getting out of bed again was a viable option. Its been so long since then, I found myself complaining more and more about the hardships of getting up for a run, how annoying a family member is or how stressed out I was doing a job that is really just not that stressful.

It felt like time to do something different. I looked to blogging for inspiration, and got fairly stuck in for a time. I talked to heaps of people about heaps of ideas and realised that for the first time in almost a decade the idea of starting a company was not only not terrifying, it was exciting. In the past decade Ive learned so much and when I sat down and had an honest think about where Im at, I realised that Im no long a worn out 23 year old, completely overwhelmed by the scale of the mess Id created for myself. Im older, Im wiser and actually quite tough. It was time to start something again.

But that’s not completely why I started Limber.

It was during a conversation with a bright, intelligent and driven woman who was wondering how on earth she wont be left behind if she has children, that it came to me. She was me. There’s a million of us around who for various reasons want to have children, work in interesting jobs and still have time to breathe. We dont want to take 5-10 years out then arrive back in the workforce several steps down a ladder we spent ages climbing.

I looked around more and more and more and more people came out of the woodwork. People like my dad, who finished his career about as far up as you can get. His experience and skills are so valuable to growing businesses, yet his interest in the golf course and their pre-conceived ideas about hiring people at that level (i.e only on a full-time basis) meant he just stopped working.

It had never fully occurred to me before the huge mine of expertise we lose through those two groups alone by sticking to this model of ‘important’ work having to fit into a 40 hour model created before most people alive today were even born.

Thank goodness Toni Barrett agreed and together with Jim Donovan we pulled the business together over two meetings.

We’re 3 weeks after a soft launch, we’ve listed over 130 professional part time and flexible jobs and were growing remarkably quickly. We’re offering free job listings while we build more momentum and we need more candidates to sign up.

This is one of those simple ideas that everyone seems to have had, and I really think its time has come.

I’d love to hear you thoughts!

Making it cool (or not cool)

I watched the Facebook movie. I’m not sure how ‘true to life’ it was, but I one thing I loved was the focus on how important it is to have something ‘cool’. We talk about ‘building buzz’ and all these other marketing, techie terms for ‘cool’, but it was funny to realise, that at the end of the day, the ONLY thing that matters in a successful web app is how cool it is.

I wonder if that’s actually why the internet took off – it inspired a bunch of people who weren’t traditionally ‘cool’ to create stuff that would send their cool factor to the stratosphere – and indeed being cool seems to be a fundamental reason why we now have Facebook, which is even more funny, given that the main reason people use it is to show off how cool they are.

This realisation was was quickly followed by hearing about how they are now playing Mozart in some of the dodgy areas of Christchurch – apparently the sound is so disgusting to the dregs of society, they move on and stop committing crimes in the area.

This tactic seems to have been wildly successful in ‘un-cooling’ the area significantly enough to massively impact behavior, in much the same way as the founders of Facebook believed ads would affect the site.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here, but it feels like there’s something in that.

Gaga…. Really?

Someone on Facebook commented the other day that they don’t ‘get’ the hype around Lady Gaga.

In amongst the lively and lengthy debate, another person posted a link to this article, which I honestly believe is the biggest piece of academic drivel that I have ever forced myself to read… A quote that REALLY shows how hard this woman is trying to force a largely irrational popular sensation into some kind of feminist academic definition is:

How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualised and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…

I’m not a Gaga fan, I actually don’t really care one way or another, what did strike me as particularly humerous is how it doesn’t matter how little logic actually comes into play in any phenomenon, someone is always trying to find meaning in it.

It got me thinking that most outrageously popular internet stuff is not popular because we have lost our ability to communicate, or that we have lost our identity or any other number of conclusions that it seems people have tried to draw in the past regarding human behavior… it becomes wildly popular because it is FUN. I wonder if us humans really have all the issues that academics and the like think we do, or if underneath it all, we are actually quite simple creatures.

How do you deal with awful, disgusting, and mean things written about you on blogs?

I don’t have the fame or profile required to warrant anyone bothering BUT I was just talking to someone who is concerned that someone has posted pictures and horrible (extremely) untruthful comments about them on a blog.

After a quick look, I think it’s a pretty spammy blog and I’m not even convinced the article makes sense, but I think having your mug smack bang in the center overrides the ability to ignore it… And the person they are ripping apart is pretty (justifiably) upset.

What to do?

I’d tend to ignore it myself, but when you are someone that might get Googled a little and the link is number 4 on page 1, I can imagine leaving it there would be a little soul destroying.

Is there any way you can report the page to some internet god?

Or do you just get active on Facebook, Linked in and any other site that is bound to rise up the Google ranks fairly quickly for your name?

Or do we just have to accept that internet loonies are a part of life now and unless you have the time money/inclination to find out who they are and hunt them down through legal channels, you just ignore it?

Successful Social Media Marketing

The reason Im not a millionaire is because when people say things like ‘how about we make a website where people can upload and share video on the internet’, my first thought is ‘no one would possibly ever use that!’

It ruins YouTube for me. Every time I go there (or hear the word ‘Farmville’), I remember that I have no understanding of people and what’s important to them.

The internet moves so quickly, but we adapt quickly. You actually have to sit and focus on how life used to be a year/2 years/a decade ago to realise just how differently we behave and socialise and buy stuff now.

People are starting to ask me more and more about running social media campaigns. Everyone wants a Facebook Page but few people know how to avoid trying to stuff new media full of old marketing techniques and even IF they manage to get people ‘liking’ them, the impact of all that time and effort on their bottom line is minimal at best.

The good news is that IF you are likable, interesting and offer something of value, you can get a lot of eyes on your brand/product/service for small change, the bad news is there is a fine line between try hard and popular beyond your wildest dreams.

For those of us who find the whole thing fascinating, it’s really cool to watch marketers becoming more clever with how they use social media to attract customers, and watching customers using and enjoying the power they have gained to ensure companies are answerable to them.

I LOVE coupons!

There are a tonne of coupon sites popping up. Until yesterday I paid little attention to them.

But I read an article the other day about how you should do a quick search for coupons WHENEVER you buy something online… It changed my life!

My latest two purchases, I would make regardless of discounts, so when my quick searches resulted in 20-40% off the price, it was a nice little deal sweetner. It’s amazing what you find on the internet. I’m never buying anything again without coupons. It’s just so EASY!

My favorite coupon sites:
http://www.retailmenot.com
http://www.tjoos.com
http://www.vouchermate.co.nz

Does Search Engine Optimisation just Equal Good Marketing?

Quite often customers ask me to make sure their site ranks at number one on Google.

After Ronan heard my reply one too many times, he sent me an article that rips apart the notion of SEO. I agree with basically every part.

Unless SEO experts partake in some of the more ‘dodgy’ SEO activities, what they generally do is good web marketing.

As I tell my customers, good SEO is not necessarily the best and/or only strategy. Many websites sell products and services that people probably don’t even search for, rather they find referrals from trusted sources – i.e other complimentary websites.

If you take a 3 pronged, manual approach that relies on your genuine interest and knowledge in your chosen topic, then you can boost traffic from not only search engines, but from others sites that your audience go to:

  1. Frequent content updates on your website – This could be to a news section or blog, but any updates help Google see that the site is active help. This is also good website practice to encourage return visitors and avoid a website that is static and uninspiring.
  2. Research and use Targeted keywords – This requires determining the terms that are most frequently searched for to find products like yours and using them throughout the website AND on any links you make back to the website.
  3. Links to your website from other relevant websites – Quite often these can be added by searching for websites that talk about complimentary services. If these are blogs, you can add insightful, relevant comments to articles and link back to your website. This is a good way of getting traffic both from the website and boosting your search engine visibility

There are still a lot of misconceptions about SEO, and I think one of the big ones is that Google is your only option for driving traffic to your site. You do not have to be listed at the top of Google to get good quality leads to your website… The ‘invention’ of blogging has long since proven that. If you treat the web as an overall marketing tool, Google will appreciate your efforts, but you will also get traffic from potentially better sources.

What Mark Does Your Website Get?

Courtesy of Lance Wiggs, I came across Website Grader (which I REALLY want to call Website GradR, due to it’s web 2.0ness).

It’s awesome.

There has been some controversy over whether or not the 6,000 odd links pointing to Decisive Flow are the high quality ones I think they are, or if they could in fact be (shock horror) junk. However, other than that, it’s a cool simple tool that gives you a nice insight into how well your website is doing marketing-wise.

As Lance points out, there are some things that should be taken with a grain of salt, but I reckon it’s worth the 5 minutes it takes to generate the report.

And yes, this post was written at 7.12pm on a Friday night. First time I’ve worked this late on a Friday in ages. Not sure I’m a fan.