All posts by Catherine Juon

An educator at heart, Catherine enjoys applying her expertise as an executive and long-time online marketer to help fellow entrepreneurs. To that end, she wrote the book on how to put all the pieces of online marketing together called "Internet Marketing Start-to-Finish", and speaks at both advertising industry and entrepreneurial events. Outside of the world of SEO and executive coaching, you'll find Catherine hanging out with her husband and two teenage boys, and triathlon training.

Some How To’s on Setting Up a WordPress Blog (From an SEO Perspective)

wordpress-logoI often recommend WordPress for websites because it’s one of most the ubiquitous platforms, well designed to support your SEO efforts, and generally inexpensive to set up. If you are setting up a WordPress blog on your own, there are a few choices to make, some of which could affect your findability in the long run. These common questions will help you avoid some common setup “gotchas”.

Q: Where do I set up a WordPress site?
A: You have two basic choices: 1) a free WordPress.com site, or 2) paid hosting through an independent hosting provider.

1. Free WordPress.com hosting. There are a few catches to free WordPress.com hosting. If you’re going to want your site to “do” stuff, chances are WordPress.com won’t suffice. This is because you won’t be able to upload plugins (part of the magic of WordPress in the first place) and you won’t have a lot of control over the design (including being stuck with an advertisement for WordPress.com in your footer). For a list of other differences, this article does a nice job: 4 Reasons You Should Never Use WordPress.com (And 4 Reasons You Should).

2. Other (paid) hosting providers. If you know you’ll need more features than WordPress.com provides, then you need to choose a web host. While you could setup WordPress on any web host, you’ll have far fewer headaches by choosing a dedicated WordPress web host. A few WordPress web hosts are listed in the article above; personally, I use WP Engine. Their basic version starts at $29 per month, which includes all the bells and whistles I want: great customer support, automatic site backups nightly (so you can easily roll back to a previous version of your website if a new plugin mucks things up), and they automatically install all WordPress updates, with no charge to me. At one time in my life I provided web hosting, so I know what goes into it – the amount of service I get for $29 per month is amazing.

Q: If I already have a website, do I need to get a new address (e.g. URL) for my WordPress blog?
A: So glad you asked! As a matter of fact, you do not want to get a new URL in most cases. (That would fall under the category of establishing a new brand, which is typically beyond the means of most early/second stage companies.) Instead, you’ll want to use one of these two popular conventions for naming your blog:

  • http://www.MyCoolSite.com/blog -or-
  • http://blog.MyCoolSite.com (for this you would set up what’s called a “subdomain”)

For all practical purposes, choosing one convention over the other is a matter of preference. The reason we want to use your existing site name is to channel all of the “Google Juice” from your blog into your website, helping your existing site, as well as your blog.

Q: What about using a WordPress.com URL such as http://www.MyCoolSite.wordpress.com?
A: As with the question above, you want the “credit” for your great content to benefit your company – not WordPress.com. To achieve that, you’ll want to choose one of the naming conventions above (in the second question). If you use WordPress.com to host your site, you’ll want to set up what’s called “Domain Mapping” to point your free WordPress.com blog to your existing site. There’s a small fee per year for this service ($13 as of this writing), which is absolutely worth it. (If you went with a different hosting provider as discussed in the first question, this doesn’t apply to you.)

Q: Where can I learn more about WordPress SEO?
A: The WordPress.com team has developed a great reference here: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/seo-on-wordpress-com/

Good luck on your WordPress adventure!

Build a Powerful Story with this Business Storytelling Workshop (and Discount)

Screenshot 2014-03-19 11.13.33One lucky friend of Beyond Startup will attend a day-long Entre-SLAM business storytelling workshop at half price – for only $62.50!

Who needs to attend this workshop?

Any entrepreneur working on growing their business and finding it challenging to get media attention, customer orders, employee buy-in, etc. As workshop leader Christa Chambers-Price puts it, “Too often, entrepreneurs get lost in ‘companyspeak’: PowerPoint slides, dry mission statements, and product ‘rah-rah’. If you are struggling with this, you are not alone. If you are seeking ways for your business to have a more effective, memorable impact on your market, come prepared to go on this new journey with Entre-SLAM.”

This one-day workshop will challenge you to:

  • Explore how to use the twists, turns and bumps of your business journey to build authentic connections;
  • Declare and embrace what it is you’re really trying to accomplish with your business;
  • Learn how to harness the principles of a well-told story to get folks rising to their feet with applause instead of ignoring you;
  • Play with your new business narrative and adapt it for other media, pitches and team building.

Too often, entrepreneurs get lost in ‘companyspeak’: PowerPoint slides, dry mission statements, and product ‘rah-rah’. If you are struggling with this, you are not alone.

After this workshop you will have:

  • Learned why perfecting your business narrative is an important tool of leadership
  • Clarified and strengthened your understanding of your core brand and what it is you’re really selling
  • Explored and prototyped case studies of effective business storytelling from highly successful entrepreneurs
  • Examined how to effectively adapt and apply your business narrative to a variety of purposes

I’m hard pressed to think of a better investment in growing your business. An all day workshop like this for $62.50 is an absolute steal. Be the first to email me (catherine @ beyond-startup.com) to receive your discount; others register here: Entre-SLAM Registration.

Dates and Locations:

  • Bamboo Detroit: Saturday, March 22, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • New Foundry | Ann Arbor: Saturday, March 29, 2014 – 9:00 – 5:00pm
  • Incu-BAKE | Lansing: Saturday, April 12, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • D:hive Detroit: Monday, April 21, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Grand Circus | Detroit: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm

Happy storytelling!

Online Sales Scorecard, Part 2 – Sales With High Variability

Buckets for organizing your salesQ: How do I fit my kind of sales on an online sales scorecard? Putting a number of sales (like 5) doesn’t “fit” my business. My sales are highly varied in size (some are $15k some are $500k) so I could need LOTS of little ones or one BIG one to meet my sales goals in any given month.

A: This is great! You’re already breaking down your sales goals and grouping them in different buckets. Pat yourself on the back for being ahead of the game, and then we’ll talk about why it’s valuable to think in terms of your quantity of sales, and how to manage counting sales in a case like yours.

Why to count quantity of sales

Going back to the old adage “What gets measured, gets done”, we want to measure the number of sales because that’s the number we ultimately want to increase. (At least, that’s the assumption this is based on, as my clients often need to diversify their base of customers as much as they need the dollar value of sales to increase.) In online sales, the thing I can help you influence most directly is the quantity of sales. The amount of those sales is more directly influenced by other factors such as the types of products or services that particular customer is interested in, etc.

How to count quantity of sales

Since you’ve already starting categorizing the different types of sales you need, counting them is a simple matter of measuring them in those same buckets. I’d be careful not to get too ambitious about breaking down sales into every product or service you offer… At this early stage of online sales development, we don’t want to get so detailed with counting that we lose time to grow the numbers.

We want to think as broadly as possible about our sales buckets, which are already framed nicely in the question above as essentially “small sales” and “big sales”. That means all that’s left to do is figure out a break point between those two categories and start measuring sales in those two buckets. There’s no need to sweat getting the breaking point exactly right, as over time you’ll see trends that will tell you if your breaking point is good enough or needs tweaking.

How counting quantity of sales impacts counting leads

Unless your incoming leads obviously fit in one bucket, it’s just fine (in fact, advisable) to track a single number of leads. At the beginning of an online marketing program, we want to measure how many new leads we’re getting into the system, and start increasing that number. Later on, we’ll want to use data we’re collecting in other places (Google Analytics, Google AdWords, HubSpot, etc.) to start influencing who we’re getting as leads – right now, we want to focus on getting more leads, period.

Good luck with your scorecard!

Food for thought from ZingTrain on Gen X, Y and Purpose Driven Business

purposeThis morning Dean Tucker spoke at ZingTrain as part of the 2014 Speaker Series on the topic of Gen X & Y. The biggest take-away for me:

Creating rock star teams and high-performing businesses isn’t about HR figuring out how to cater to the whims of each generation – fundamentally, it’s about building a purpose driven business. It just so happens that Millennials are more driven by purpose than traditional command and control structures. Leaders that build purpose driven teams (vs. profit driven) are Level 5 leaders who naturally embody the qualities that appeal to millennials – and plenty of other employees. It will be a great legacy of the millennial generation if their disenchantment with command and control gets businesses to think differently about how they operate, and to begin shifting focus in business from profit to purpose. I for one, hope they succeed.

Creating rock star teams and high-performing businesses isn’t about HR figuring out how to cater to the whims of each generation – fundamentally, it’s about building a purpose driven business.

This mornings lesson got me thinking about the practical “how to” aspects of becoming a purpose driven business, as I know plenty of business owners seeking to move in that direction.

So lets pretend you’re one of those entrepreneurs who wants to shift to being a more purpose-driven business. Where to start?

If you want more context first:

If the vision stuff still sounds to touchy-feely (or you’re definitely not an anarchist):

  • Start with Gino’s “Traction” or “Get a Grip”. The focus in his books is all business, even though the fundamentals are the same: purpose, values & vision.

If you’re ready to start NOW:

Good luck!

Don’t Miss the Boat! Build an Online Marketing Scorecard (Part 1)

After a number of conversations lately around questions such as “How is my online marketing doing?” and “How do I know if I’m doing a good job?” I think it’s time to introduce the concept of using scorecards to measure your online marketing progress.

A scorecard comes from the practice of Open Book Finance. In essence, it’s simply another version of the old axiom “what gets measured, gets done.” In Open Book Finance, you take the time to figure out what numbers will make an impact on your business if you focus on them, and then report on them in regular team huddles. Your online marketing benefits from the same focus and rigor.

Once you decide to create a scorecard, the next logical question becomes, “What should be on my online marketing scorecard”?

If you are not already collecting data about your online marketing, the most basic place to start is by measuring visits. While I typically wouldn’t keep visits on the scorecard long term, if you don’t have anything, it gives you an easy number to grab from your Google Analytics and get started. I believe it’s more important to get started and build the habit of “keeping score” than to get caught up in finding the “right” metrics, as they will evolve over time anyway.

As I am most often working with B2B clients with long sales cycles, the key metrics I recommend next are usually leads and sales.

How you define a “lead” and a “sale” also tends to evolve over time. In the beginning, start by tracking whatever method you are currently using to receive online leads. Leads often come through an email link, or contact form, which makes adding them to the scorecard a simple matter of counting the submissions received each month. (Bonus points if you are able to track by week vs. month as you start your scorecard.) If some leads also come via phone calls, counting those phone calls would be an eventual goal, but is rarely easy enough to consider incorporating into version 1.0 of your scorecard.

If you are thinking that you have leads coming in at different stages, and want to capture that information – congratulations! You are already ahead of the game. We’ll tackle those kind of details in a later post. If you can start tracking leads at all, that’s a win, and we’ll call it good enough for version 1.0.

What good will tracking leads and sales do, you ask? Well, grasshopper, that right there is the magic of online marketing.

We talked earlier about how what gets measured gets done, right? More to our point, we might say what gets measured gets improved. The more data we have about what influences a sale, the better we can influence further sales. Every single point in your online sales process is a step to be improved, and a step that can ultimately lead to more sales.

Two of the biggest end points in the online sales process are leads and sales, making them key numbers to track. Eventually, you’ll work you way forward in the process to measure where leads came from so you can also start spending more effort in areas that are generating leads, and less effort in areas that aren’t.

Good luck creating your online marketing scorecard!

Corp! Magazine Contest for Leading Companies in Digital, Science & Technology

Corp-Magazine
Corp! magazine is running a call for entries to find Michigan companies and educational organizations leading the way in Digital, Science and Technology or ” DiSciTech”. There are two primary categories of competition:  

  1. Innovative and growing companies (and educational organizations) in research and applied science such as Alternative Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Life Science, and many more.
  2. Any type of growing company using digital marketing in innovative ways to support their business such as mobile technology, blogs, webinars and more.

The nomination deadline for  DiSciTech is coming up fast on February 7, 2014. Learn more and apply at the Corp! website.

 

Q&A: Your favorite marketing resources?

questions and answers - Q&AGot a question about online marketing or second stage companies? Send it in, and you may see your answer posted here!

Q: What are your top 5 books on social media? One on analytics and measurement would be great! Also, are there any marketing newsletters/blogs you regularly read? I’d like to find new sources of education/inspiration.

A: Some of my favorite books on online marketing include:

  • The Science of Marketing (data on what social media techniques are most effective, & when)
  • The B2B Social Media Book (yes, social media works for B2B)
  • Trust Agents (for any online marketing to work, trust is the foundation)
  • Web Analytics 2.0 (for a primer in analytics)
  • Persuading Scientists (if you’re marketing to engineers / other technical professionals)

These and more can be found in the Beyond Startup Bookstore.

Some great online marketing blog resources include:

Based on your interest in analytics and measurement you may also want to check out the following blogs:

Good luck!

Opening Up Opportunities for Female Entrepreneurs – E&Y Winning Women Competition

ernst-and-young-logoWhile many female entrepreneurs acknowledge the feeling of facing unique challenges, MIT professor Fiona Murray points to research that it’s more than just a feeling. Even “when women are founding similar types of innovation-driven businesses, evaluators are less likely to show interest in their businesses,” she said. Massachusetts Institute of Technology News Office Article.

Murray also looked at scientific advisory boards, and found “women faculty are much less likely to be on these boards. When we look at women and men scientists [and I would add – likely the general business population] with similarly high-profile careers, women are not participating at the rates you would expect. My own interviews suggest that this is not because they are turning down opportunities, but because they are much less likely to be invited to join.”

Understanding this gap, Ernst & Young designed the Winning Women program to go beyond the typical award recognition, building in one-of-a-kind networking opportunities such as participation in the invitation-only Strategic Growth Forum held in Palm Springs each winter.

“Our Entrepreneurial Winning Women program helps bridge the gap for an area we call ‘the missing middle’ — those second-stage women business owners whose companies have emerged from the start-up phase but face a crucial inflection point in their growth journey. By providing the right information, networks and guidance, we’re able to help these talented women access capital, identify strong business advisors and put the processes in place to radically expand their companies,” said Kerrie MacPherson, Ernst & Young.

Nominations close June 28 – Nominate and/or apply to the E&Y Winning Women Program now.

Criteria include:

  • Woman business owner (at least 51%) who is the founding CEO of any privately held for-profit US or Canadian company less than 10 years old.
  • Company must have reported at least $2m in sales for each of the last two fiscal years.
  • 2013 pplicants must be able to attend an intensive two-day orientation/ preparation session on October 24-25 as well as the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum, November 13–17 in Palm Springs, California. Attendance at both the Orientation and Strategic Growth Forum is mandatory.

Creating a Company Vision – And How it Helps Hiring

Man on the MoonAs an entrepreneur, you’re naturally driven – hence the reason you created a company around your passion and expertise! When you start hiring, it’s easy to assume others will share your passion; or alternatively, to believe that job skills are what matters most.

Both strategies tend to lead to frustrations with fit. The single most powerful way to improve fit in your hiring process is to create a company vision. The best company vision is inspiring; both achievable – and a stretch. It gives meaning to a days work, and a greater purpose to the task at hand. Lest that sound too new-agey, it also holds practical value in terms of helping potential employees self-select. Here’s an example based on a well-known company in Southeast Michigan – Zingerman’s.

Let’s pretend you’re on a job search and looking for a job in a restaurant. You find an opening at Zingerman’s, and read the Zingerman’s 20/20 Vision. If you’re passionate about great food and all the details that go into it – from relationships with growers to fanatical customer service – you’ll feel instantly at home. If on the other hand, you think they sound a little bit TOO crazy about food, chances are you’ll skip applying for a job there and head somewhere else. Viola! A strong vision creates a self-selecting screening tool.

To learn more about the Zingerman’s way of creating a vision, attend their workshop: Creating a Vision of Greatness.

Another example of great company vision that sticks with me is from NASA – what the Harvard Business Review calls “The Man On the Moon Standard“. You can read about their analysis of why it’s so great; in my humble opinion the best part is hearing the example of a man who was asked what his job was at the Kennedy Space Center. This man, a custodian, wasn’t sweeping floors – he was “putting a man on the moon”. THAT is the sign of an inspiring vision.

Ready to create your vision? I appreciate it’s no small task, so here are a few more resources to help:

  • First off, make sure to carve out some real alone time to think. After all, a vision is unlikely to come to you in the break between your 1 pm and 2 pm meetings. Use a weekend if you must, but give your brain a chance to switch gears and get in creative mode. The harder you’ve been cramming 2001 tasks into a day, the longer break you’ll likely need to create space for ideas to flow.
  • Check out the downloads on Jim Collin’s site. Among them is the Vision Framework. About 8 pages in are examples of BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals), which are effectively the same as a Company Vision.
  • For more context about why vision is so critical to the ultimate success of your company, take a look at the review of Patrick Lencioni’s new book “The Advantage” by the Awesome Culture Blog. Feel free to read the book, too – this review simply serves as a nice summary if you happen to prefer the Cliffs Notes version.

Good luck creating your vision!

Meet the Founder of the Entrepreneurial Operating System

entrepreneurial-operating-system-logo

Today, Wednesday, May 15th, is a great opportunity to meet the founder of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Gino Wickman. Gino recently co-authored a new book with Mike Paton, “Get A Grip”. They will be celebrating the book launch together with the EOS community from 6-8pm at Barnes & Noble, Troy, Michigan.

Mike and Gino will sign copies of the book throughout the evening and will say a few words at 6:45 p.m. All are welcome — feel free to invite friends and colleagues. Proceeds from the sale of books at the launch will be donated to Winning Futures, a Michigan non-profit preparing youth to succeed through mentoring and life skills programs.

[box type=”download”] Order Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable . . . Your Journey to Get Real, Get Simple, and Get Results and Gino’s first book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business on Amazon. [/box]

See you there!