May 2016
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The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
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Google Searching - Did You Know?

 

Google Searching - Did You Know?

Ten years ago using a search engine like Google seemed simple. Type in a word, several words, or a phrase, and like magic one of the four or five first items listed was what you were looking for. These days type in just about any phrase and you will be wading through millions of results, many of which will be several years' old and/or not relevant to you.

If you're often frustrated that you can't find what you are looking for when using Google, here are some tips to help you discover the true power of Google. This is the first of two articles on improving your searching using Google; watch for more advanced search tips in a future issue.

What's no longer in use

In this article we can only touch the surface of what Google is capable of in terms of allowing you to refine your search parameters. One thing to be aware of is that Google often changes the way you can search; many people for instance still use the + symbol (actually called an operator) before a word to ensure it is included - this no longer works as Google uses the symbol for other purposes such as Google+ or for searching blood types as A+.

Another operator no longer used is the tilde (~) this used to make Google include an expanded list of synonyms for your word(s). So, if you had a string of three words and wanted the search to show synonyms for only one of the words you could add the tilde before just that word. To do the same thing today, you will need to put any words for which you don't want synonyms in the search between quote marks and let Google automatically supply synonyms for the other words.

Home page basics

If you've entered your search words and have the results, you can now do several refinements. Immediately under the search box, you'll find the following terms: All; News; Images; Videos; Maps; More; and Search tools. These will all help you refine your search; most are self explanatory such as click "News" and you'll get current news items relating to your search terms. Click "Images" and you'll see images related to the terms. And so on.

It gets a little more interesting when you click on "Search Tools" - this will allow you to search by country, by time (i.e. in the past month, past year etc.) and also by either "All Results" or "Verbatim." The latter search criterion appears to be almost unknown by regular uses of Google, but is nonetheless very useful. When you do a normal (All Results) search Google 'improves' your search terms by including synonyms and ignoring some words. If you switch to "Verbatim" searching you will get closer matches to your search words, or phrases. Try it and see if it works for you. Some people think that it has the same effect as enclosing a phrase in quote marks, but that is a misconception as it doesn't provide results for the exact phrase, just the exact terms. Oh, and as a bonus, it reduces advertisements.

Advanced Search Criteria

Google allows you set up your base search criteria by visiting the following page https://www.google.com/advanced_search. This page will allow you to refine your search to a far greater degree than by choosing your preferences using the home page menu.

In a future article we'll provide you with the shortcuts to many of these search criteria refinements. Happy researching!

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Google Searching - Did You Know?

 

Getting Personal with Your Customers

Marketing has always been about finding new tools, or ways to excite potential buyers to buy what we have to sell. Personalization is becoming an increasingly important tool. Consumers expect an increased level of personalization in their interaction with businesses, whether it be online, or in person.

Getting Personal Online

According to various surveys, over 50 per cent of people purchase books online. If you are a book lover, bookstores are cool places to hang out, so why are so many consumers buying through online stores? Is it purely convenience? In part yes, but it's also because companies such as Chapters/Indigo dial in to what their customers like to read. They send customers emails announcing new books (including the ability to pre-order) written by their favourite authors, along with suggestions based on the genres they like to read.

Bricks and mortar bookstores need to compete with this level of personalization by zeroing in on their regular customer's likes and dislikes. The ability of online stores to personalize their offerings by monitoring our buying habits and encouraging us to engage with them by telling them our likes and dislikes, gives them an edge - a big edge. Personalization is a powerful purchasing motivator, one that both those selling online, and those selling direct to consumers, would be well advised to consider as an important marketing stratagem.

When Coca-Cola got personal

It's not difficult to find examples of successful personalization campaigns; Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign was a big hit a few years ago. This iconic brand swapped its logo on bottles for a name, in fact over a thousand of the most popular names. A further 500,000 names were made available through the 'Share a Coke' online store, where you could type in your own name and purchase bottles in packs of six.

The idea was that people would share their Coke with people who mattered most to them. It was one of the company's most successful marketing campaigns with 150 million personalized bottles sold. People warmed to the idea quickly and shared more than their Coke, they shared stories, selfies and special moments. In terms of social media, the results were astounding: 998 million impressions on Twitter and 235,000 Tweets! Coca-Cola took a global brand and made it personal. That's a powerful thing and something any company can emulate no matter if it's a global leader or a corner store.

Relating more closely to your customers

Prospective buyers will relate to your brand in a more personal, more emotional level, if you can relate to them to one-on-one. Think about a typical email approach. What works best, an email with no salutation, or one that opens with your name? Of course, just having software input the name of the recipient in a mass mail out (beware the fairly recent Canadian anti-spam laws by the way) is not enough; you have to build a personal relationship with the prospect. There has to be a reason why s/he, should look at the email in the first place. People open emails that mean something to them - ones they find useful, rewarding, or entertaining. A regular buyer of books from Chapters/Indigo will look forward to an email from them, as it may be announcing a new book by their favourite author.

Building a relationship with individuals in your potential market is vital because you need to learn what they are interested in, on an intimate level. You need to know about their preferences, what makes them tick, what gets them excited and emotionally involved - you are looking for them to buy into your brand. It's all about identity - theirs. It's about your story and their story coming together. It's about them believing you understand them and are personalizing your approach to them - perhaps even personalising your product or service to meet their specific needs.

The best form of marketing is one-on-one because no matter how hard we try; one-size-fits-all is simply no longer effective to today's sophisticated consumer. The new social media age, along with new technology, is allowing us to market to individuals on mass. And no, that's not an oxymoron!

The simple fact is: when we personalize the shopping experience (across all channels and devices), we make it easier for prospective buyers to find products they want to buy. And you can take that to the bank!

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Google Searching - Did You Know?

 

Coaches Corner - Overcoming the Fear of Failure

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear."
- Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books)

Often the barrier to people starting a new business or changing their career is the fear of failure. The real question is what will you feel if you do not start or change? What does that failure look like?

I recently read some entrepreneurs' thoughts on failure. Many talked about learning from their failures. In our society, we may say we learn from our failures but do we? Often we are risk averse, therefore we do not to take some risks that may result in failure or success. How often have we heard of some well-known entrepreneurs or business people who "failed" many times on their way to success? It does not mean we invite failure into our lives; it does mean that our relationship to failure needs to change from shame of the failure to learning from it.

Here are some questions which may help you overcome the fear of failure.

What would it look like if you didn't make the change in your career, or start the new business? What does failure look like? What is the price of inaction? It is worth remembering that regrets can be worse than failures. Most entrepreneurs would tell you that the real failure is not trying something.

What do you fear? How may that fear be holding you up from achieving some great business or life goals? Often, when you really think about it, the fear is not life threatening, it is more about the fear of the unknown, or fear of change. The idea of the shame of failing in the eyes of others becomes too great and stops us in our tracks. It is important to acknowledge our fears, overcome the avoidance, and take the first small steps towards our dream.

How are you prepared to succeed? What does success look like? What steps do you need to take to move towards it? It becomes a shift in thinking, from dwelling on the fear to focusing on being successful. Do your research, create a solid business plan, look at all possibilities, and focus on the steps to growth.

What are you going to do to keep focused on the goal? How do you keep your "eyes on the prize?" Many people keep their mission statements or visions close at hand so they can see them on a daily basis to keep them inspired. Having measurable goals is another important way to gauge your progress. Whatever you do, get in the habit of focusing on your dream.

Who can help you? Accountability and sharing your vision with others is a good way to keep on track. Others have travelled this journey so do not be afraid to ask for assistance, advice and support. Finding a coach or mentor is a good way to bring an outside viewpoint.

These are a few ways to help you overcome that fear of failure and move towards the success you desire.

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching

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