Photo by Emily Tishhouse
Catherine Juon, Co-Founder & Catalyst of Pure Visibility
, has worked in the Internet space for nearly 20 years. Her experience includes work on the first website for Ford Motor Company’s Engineering Information Systems department to helping fortune 500 companies develop their online marketing strategies..
An entrepreneur who is adept at aligning business goals with Internet marketing strategies, Catherine founded Stretch Media, which eventually merged with another local technology company. She went on to co-found Pure Visibility to focus on results-driven search engine marketing. Catherine’s expertise helps Pure Visibility’s clients integrate online strategies that leverage online advertising
, search engine marketing
and social media
Catherine’s community involvement includes work with the Michigan Innovators and Great Commission Air
, as well as several economic development boards in Saline, Mich. She serves on the financial development committee of the Washtenaw County of the American Red Cross and has served on the board of directors for the Ann Arbor Ad Club
, The Society for Technical Communication - Southeast Michigan chapter, Women Business Owners of Southeast Michigan
, and the Rational (IBM) User Group for Michigan.
Follow Catherine on twitter at twitter.com/cjuon and become a fan of Pure Visibility at facebook.com/purevisibility
That question turns out to be a great conversation starter, guaranteed! In the crowd I surveyed, the belief tended to be that pinning management style on gender would be tough without formal research. On the other hand, there was no question that operating a women owned business – especially in the high tech industry – presents unique opportunities and challenges
If you’re lucky enough to be a high tech, woman owned business in the Ann Arbor area, there’s no doubt the opportunities outweigh the challenges. We’ve got an incredibly supportive business community here – no matter what kind of business you’re in. It’s hard to describe, but there’s an over-riding feeling that the whole town is rooting for you. Maybe it’s that Michigan spirit carrying over from football Saturdays, or perhaps it could be more largely attributed to the Midwestern ethos… but it sure feels like there’s something truly unique happening here Ann Arbor.
For example, Ann Arbor is home to the only chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) that is centered around high tech. Typically, groups like these operate around the concept of exclusivity (as counterpart groups such as the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) do), but our local community felt so strongly about supporting each other that they chose to ‘break the rules’ and put competitors in the same room.
The benefits to groups like this are huge. Wondering if it’s worth the crazy paperwork to become a woman certified business? Ask for a show of hands and you’ve got an instant answer - along with offers of help if you run into bumps in the process. Trying to win a defense contract? You’ll soon be sharing best lobbying group in D.C. You name it, and you’ll have it, without hesitation, even if you’re competing for the same ‘pot’ of money.
As one local WPO member, Michelle Crumm of Adaptive Materials puts it, “If I build you up and make you #1 in your industry, that doesn’t make me #2, that makes me #1 in a different way.” It’s hard to capture that feeling on paper on a way that doesn’t sound sappy, but that kind of support is quite typical of what you’ll find in Ann Arbor whether it’s through groups specifically supporting women in business, or tech companies, or entrepreneurs in general.
In fact, there are so-o many more organizations for entrepreneurs in tech locally that I put together a list of them awhile back; you can the list on our Pure Visibility blog, and I’m happy to keep adding to that list if you find anything missing!
Now that we've talked about the driving force of an online sales engine - a good, solid website - we can talk about how you're going to measure the output of that engine. There are two things I really love about online marketing, and being able to prove what's working is one of those things. (I'll save my second love for the close of this article.)
To prove what's working, we've first got to benchmark where things are at now... And to that, we've got to be able to measure what's happening now. And to do that, we need to understand what's important to measure in the first place... Which means a huge part of our job is "simply" ensuring that your online sales engine is well-instrumented for the right things.
All this talk about measuring things may not sound too sexy at first blush, but you can trust me on this one - if you're an entrepreneur, being able to watch sales or other leading indicators count up is exciting! If you'd like to be able to do the same for your site, here are a few general rules of thumb to get you started:
- If you don't have it already, get Google Analytics installed. It's free, it gets more powerful every day, and even if you don't know what to do with the data right now, at least you're collecting it to have it "in the bag" when you’re ready.
- If you care about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the so called "free" listings that represent most of the results on a search page, you’ll also need to install Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo! Site Explorer. Both tools provide direct feedback to you about ways improve your positioning - without having to hire a consultant.
I do feel compelled to say that “free" is one of the biggest misnomers ever. If there's a search phrase worth owning, you're going to have to work for it, and on top of that, you're going to have to deserve it. If you're a large corporation in a highly competitive market it will take both effort and time. Consequently, you need to know that you’re working to own words that will eventually show you the money (we call that process a linguistic analysis or word market assessment). Remember that farming analogy from the last article? This is where the practice of planting, cultivating, and nurturing comes in. The more competitive a phrase is, the more dedication, faith, creativity and elbow grease that will be required to own that phrase.
- If you’ve got an offline sales process (which most of our customers do), you’ll need a system for tracking basic information about the people who contact you. If you don’t already have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, get one now. Even enterprise systems such as salesforce.com now offer a free option, so there’s just not a barrier to entry like there used to be.
- If your offline sales process typically includes in-bound phone calls, you also need to measure calls. These days, you can order a toll-free number for practically nothing, and the more numbers you are willing to pay for, the more granular your tracking can be. It’s possible to get to the level of dynamically substituting different phone numbers to track each market channel (“free” listings, vs. AdWords, etc.), or you could even give every visitor to your site a unique, trackable phone number. At the very least, you need one number that gets placed on your website and ONLY on your website, so that you know when that phone rings, it’s a lead that is a direct result of your online sales efforts.
- Last but not least, make sure your web site includes a contact form. Not just an email address, but a countable contact form that captures information and preferably automatically submits it to a CRM system such as salesforce.com like we talked about earlier.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything you could possibly measure, it serves as a handy quick-start guide that illustrates the depth and breadth of measurement tools the are readily accessible today. It’s an exciting time to be in internet marketing!
I love the measurability of internet marketing – of being able to prove that things work. I also love how internet marketing enables us to fulfill our core mission at Pure Visibility - to "Improve the quality of life and abundance in Michigan and the Great Lakes." There is no better way to create abundance right here in our backyard than to help entrepreneurs, corporations and non-profits learn to leverage the internet to reach a broader audience, and to get more out of the audience that they already have. I couldn't possibly have a more rewarding job! Thanks, Concentrate, for helping spread the word to local businesses about how to leverage the internet for growth!
Caution – continue reading only if you’re prepared to deal with wild enthusiasm for growing businesses right here in Michigan, right now!
How can I be so excited about growing businesses in this economy? Because I’m watching businesses buck the trend and grow every day! I’m watching Michigan manufacturers and other local companies reach global audiences in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed possible only a few years ago.
What’s even more exciting about this trend is that the technology that makes this possible is accessible to practically every business. Your business in the industrial park around the corner has access to many of the same tools and technologies as the Fortune 500. The playing field has never been so level. But it won’t be long before that shifts (it’s starting already!), so the time to figure out how the internet can help your business grow is now.
I can’t promise a get rich quick scheme – on the contrary, I only seem to know how to make money by working really hard. It turns out to be pretty darn handy that I grew up on a farm and learned the practice of planting, cultivating, nurturing, harvesting, measuring and improving year after year – because it’s the exact same process I help clients such as Total Security Solutions
(a manufacturer of bullet-proof glass in Fowlerville, Michigan) navigate through every day.
Online marketing takes the same kind of dedication, faith, creativity and elbow grease as farming. When you get one of those postcards in the mail about how you can set up an online advertising account in virtually no time, that’s only half the story. It’s not hard to set up an online advertising account – the hard part is making it make money. ;-)
The good news is, there is no big secret surrounding how to make sales online. Once again, farming turns out to be good training. You’ve got to pay attention to each point in the process and work on improving it. Everything works together to generate higher yields. In our case, we call that system an online sales engine.
An online sales engine starts with a good, solid website. I’ve learned (the hard way) that even though our ad copy is important – it means nothing if it doesn’t take a potential buyer to a page that just grabs them out of their seat. But please don’t think I mean that it has to be flashy. Au contraire!
That “landing page” where a prospect first gets to know you must speak to your prospect in THEIR language. (That’s worth an article on its own – the science of linguistics is a large part of our world…) Your landing page must connect the dots from the need that the buyer wants to fill to your solution. Understand that if you don’t paint that picture, someone else will – and they are only a few clicks away. Your landing page must provide explicit and compelling means to take action… And that action needs to be measurable.
There’s a lot more to say about measurement, but only so many words left in this article. So let me leave you with another key concept about the measurement of online sales that tends to raise a lot of eyebrows. Did you know that it’s possible to track the effectiveness of online ads – even if the sale happens offline? It takes a bit of elbow grease to set up a system that “closes the loop” like that what, but when you do – the feedback you get is pure gold.
If you’re curious to learn more about how to create an online sales engine of your own, join us for “Donuts and Search Marketing.” It's free and, frankly, most people don't come in to become clients but rather get some guidance. We serve only the best donuts (from Washtnenaw Dairy, of course!) and we’d be happy to help you improve the yield of your online marketing!