How to Avoid Squinting at Your Smartphone

Are you like me? Do you find yourself squinting at your smartphone to read it? Or maybe you can’t read the menu in the restaurant any more? (Ever stick the menu under the bar track lighting, or put a candle over the menu to read it? You’re not alone.)

Well, the maker of your iPhone or Android phone feels your pain. There are a number of features on your phone that make it easier to read the text on the screen, or even off it! So, I took these tired old eyes and chatted with accessibility features for farsighted people with Rob Caldwell on 207. You can watch the segment below! 👇

Here are some of my notes from the show. They’re focused on the iPhone because that’s what I own. If you want information on the Android you can buy me one and mail it to flyte, c/o “The Rich Brooks.”

Larger Text

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text. Turn on Larger Text and then you’ll see a scroll bar that allows you to change the text as necessary. Works on many, but not all apps.

Zoom

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom. Once you turn this on you can use three fingers to double-click on the screen. That will create a zoom window that you can navigate around with three fingers. Click outside the zoom window to hide it.

Speak

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech. Turn on Speak Selection. Once it’s on, whenever you select text, along with Cut, Copy, and Paste, you’ll have a Speak option. Choose it and Siri will read to you. 

Magnifier

Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier. Once this is on you can triple-click the home button and your phone turns into a magnifying glass, complete with a slider for increased magnification. 

Attaching “Cheaters” to your smartphone

Under my iPhone > ThinOptics case. I hate bulky iPhone cases. However, I recently purchased a pair of ThinOptics cheaters (readers) that attach to the back of my iPhone. They’re so slim I don’t even notice them, but they work great. Not for long-term reading, but for that menu in the romantically-lit restaurant, they’re just the ticket.

In Conclusion

It sucks getting old! I hate having to buy cheaters by the five-pack at Amazon! But, at least there are some nice features on my phone that make it easier. Any other thoughts on how to make smartphone browsing easier for farsighted people? Let me know in the comments below.

The Power of Scarcity in Marketing and Advertising

The Power of Scarcity

Do you want to motivate your prospects or clients to take action? There are few things as effective as scarcity when it comes to marketing your product or service. 

A few weeks back I found myself at one of those all-day seminars put on by a national company that offers workshops on everything from Project Management to Excel to Managing Difficult People.

I wasn’t enjoying myself. Over the course of the morning I had learned little about Leadership, Team-Building, or Coaching Skills. What I had learned was available in countless blog posts, ebooks, and podcasts, all for free.

During the lunch break I took my car to Jiffy Lube and decided that afterward I’d either return to the office or find a coffee shop and catch up on some emails. However, Jiffy Lube turned my car around in record time and I saw that as some sort of sign that I should return…so back I went.

The afternoon was no better. 

Here’s Where Scarcity Kicks In

In fact, the afternoon was worse, because the presenter went into a long infomercial about becoming a member of this national seminar company. This membership, he told us, would let me attend every seminar they offered for a full year free of charge plus tons of free on-demand content from their member-only website. Normally, the membership was $499, but if we bought at the workshop it would only be $199. 

Now, I got to thinking: $199 was a pretty good deal, because the workshop I attended was $249, if memory serves me. Not only that, I could go to countless seminars over the year on a wide variety of topics designed especially for business people just like me! If I went to just one seminar a month it would be like saving $2,789 over the course of the year! Plus, all that free content on their website? All the free worksheets, training videos, how-to’s, and so on?!?

Of course, I wanted to sleep on it. And of course, I couldn’t. The presenter was unapologetic: “Is it good tomorrow? No. It’s an incentive.” I had to admire the brass ones on him for being so transparent.

I didn’t want to miss out. I didn’t want to pay an additional $300 for hesitating. I was sold.

And then….

I remembered that I didn’t want to come back after lunch. I remembered that I had learned almost nothing during the day on a subject that I’m certainly no expert on. I realized that the documents and videos on their website were probably similar to ones I could watch for free on YouTube. I realized that if I attended a seminar each month I’d lose a day of productivity each month. Or almost 100 productive, billable hours over the course of the year. 

Yes, I’m all for sharpening the ax, but my ax was as dull as when I walked in.

The spell was broken, but I couldn’t help but notice how close it had come to working. I almost bought something I didn’t want or need because of the fear it would be taken away, or at least the sweet deal would disappear.

Now I could just sit back and watch the master at work (because it was definitely working on the other people at the seminar.) I share it with you because you maybe can learn from it.

How He Sold Scarcity

Signing up for any membership can be tricky, and the least hiccup can cause “cart abandonment,” so he walked us through the process, having us take out the paperwork that had been included in our packet. He showed us exactly how to complete the paperwork and reinforced that he would stick around as long as necessary after the event to make sure that we could sign up today to get the discount.

There were some upgrades, so he talked us through our “preferred investment choice.” This wasn’t an expense, it was an investment. 

He had earlier determined that there were a few people who were already members in that day’s class, and had already confirmed that they thought it was a great investment. So he asked those people, “is it worthwhile?” in this very public setting and of course they all gave it a big thumbs up. (Would any one of them have stated it wasn’t a good deal and they had wasted their money…especially after being asked so publicly?)

I want to state for the record that I have no problem with how this company marketed their membership. Assuming they felt it was worthwhile (and I believe wholeheartedly that this facilitator did, compensation or not), then why wouldn’t you try and make it easier to buy in?

Scarcity can be created out of any limit, self-imposed or otherwise. 

  • Scarcity can be based on time: “the last cruise of the day boards now!
  • Scarcity can be based on availability: “we only have six seats for the masterclass!
  • Scarcity can be based on money: “the early bird pricing goes up at midnight!

The Downside of Scarcity

Unfortunately, scarcity can easily be abused. Some marketers create false scarcity, telling you there are limited seats for a webinar that can hold thousands of people, or a TV commercial that tells you you’ll receive a free gift if you order in the next ten minutes, when actually everyone who calls gets the same free gift.

Even if the limits are real, scarcity can be manipulative if your product or service isn’t valuable or worthwhile, but you prey on your audience’s fear that they’re missing out. (That’s FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.)

And if you pull the scarcity lever too often, it loses its power over your audience. Just ask the boy who cried wolf.

How to Use Scarcity Well

Assuming you believe in your product or service, there’s nothing wrong in using scarcity as a marketing or sales technique. You may, in fact, have a limited number of Tom Brady bobbleheads for sale. 

When it comes to events, people will wait until the last possible moment to buy tickets to keep their options open. To properly fund your event, you may need to incentivize early ticket purchases by offering discounts that are time sensitive. It’s a great deal for people who know they want to attend the event.

Also, humans have a natural resistance to spending money, even when it’s in their best interest. Sometimes, we have to incentivize them to overcome this resistance. Again, it’s manipulative if your product offers no value. But, if you have a product that will improve their lives, or their jobs, or their relationships, it’s imperative that you help them overcome their fear of loss and take a chance on what you have to offer. 

Real World Examples of Scarcity in Marketing

We put on intimate “marketing masterclasses” here at flyte…small groups interested in hands-on learning on subjects like Facebook Ads, SEO, and Google Analytics. They are limited to six people at a time because we’ve found that this is a great number of people to work with. Also, with two instructors, that’s the maximum number of people who comfortably fit in our conference room! That’s real scarcity.

The Agents of ChangeWe have our annual Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference every September…a full day event with digital marketing experts from around the world that takes place in Portland, Maine, and online. Putting on an event like this takes a lot of time and money. We have bills to pay that come due long before the event happens. So, we need to get people to make a decision about an event in September starting in April. To incentivize them to give us money early we discount their tickets (early bird.) In fact, every month the prices go up, constantly incentivizing people to “act now.” If we didn’t do that, people would wait until the last possible moment to buy tickets, and we’d have no idea if we would have 100 or 500 people trying to get in the door.

Small classes, limited runs, online courses that only open registration for two-weeks…these are all examples of how you can use scarcity in your own marketing and advertising?

So, what do you think? Are you currently using scarcity? If not, would you consider adding scarcity as one of  your marketing tactics? Let us know in the comments below…but act quickly! The comments section closes tomorrow!

(No, not really.)

Rich Brooks

The Breakdown: The Social Media Marketing 2017 Industry Report

social media breakdown 2017

The 9th annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report is out, filled with information and advice that can help your business succeed online. What are other social media marketers doing? Where are they spending their time and ad dollars? What is the future of social media marketing?

Social Media Examiner has been releasing their Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report for nine years. First things first, thank you to Michael Stelzner and his team for putting together an amazing report year after year. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, we’ve put together a list of our biggest takeaways below.

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WordPress Security in Two Minutes (Give or Take)

WordPress SecurityDo you worry about your WordPress security? Do you wonder if hackers, spammers, or other ne’er-do-wells are able to hack into your website and do damage? Get up-to-date information on securing your WordPress website in the article below and put your mind to rest.

I’ve heard–mostly from non-WordPress developers, that WordPress is prone to hacks and malicious scripts and attacks. This isn’t true. The fact is that WordPress is by far the most popular CMS (content management system) on the planet for good reason, and powers anywhere from 20% to 25% of the world’s known websites.

Because there are so many WordPress sites out there, there are naturally going to be more WordPress sites that get hacked. The sheer number of them make them an inviting target. However, a few logical steps will keep your WordPress website safe.

Last week during staff our lead developer, Andy Woznica, shared with us how we can keep our WordPress sites–and those of our clients–safe and secure in a world of hackers, spammers, and ransomware. It was so good I asked him if I could share it with all of you.

He consented.

I’ve kept his original document mostly intact. Feel free to read it with an English accent, as Andy’s from London.

**********

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Digital Marketing for Small Business…Demystified

Digital Marketing for Small Business

Do you find digital marketing confusing? Does it always seem like there’s something new—like SnapChat or Facebook Live—that you’re expected to master? Does it feel overwhelming, and there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done the social media gurus tell you to do?

After 20 years in business, and 500 plus websites and digital marketing campaigns under our belts, these concerns have been raised by a large number of the people who have come into our offices. 
 
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to digital marketing. Different businesses and industries need different strategies, tactics, and even strategies to reach different audiences. Even best practices don’t always equal best results. 
 
However, in working with all these businesses over the years, I’ve developed a framework that works for almost every small business, and I think it will work for you, too. The name has changed over the years, but while working with my book coach as I wrote The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, we hit upon a name for the framework that I feel is going to stick. 

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Next Year We’ll Be Able to Drink Legally – flyte Turns 20

flyte turns 20I’d like to say from the very beginning that I knew flyte was going to be going strong two decades later. 
 
But that would be a lie.
 
When I started flyte new media—then “b1 communications”—out of my bedroom in my apartment in Jamaica Plain, I gave myself maybe two years before either programmers learned how to design or designers learned how to program and I would be forced to get a real job.
 
But here I am, twenty years later, still running that business. 
 
So much has changed in that time, while other things remain the same. I wrote about search engine optimization back in 1997 in one of my first print newsletters. 
 
Maybe I’ll just leave that there. If that doesn’t sum up “the more things change, the more things stay the same,” I don’t know what does.
 
My chosen career is in an ever-changing, fast-paced industry. Over the years flyte and our crew has had to adapt. Learn new skills while dropping others. We’ve added email marketing, blogging, content creation, podcasting, and of course, social media to what we offer our clients.
 
We’ve built sites using certain technologies that years or even months later seem obsolete. (R.I.P., Flash, Cold Fusion, and DreamWeaver.) We’ve needed to adapt to a “mobile first” approach to websites, as more people spend time on their phones than their computers. 
 
Our desktop computers have had hard drives and floppy drives, zip drives and thumb drives, CD players and DVD players. They’ve been able to write to discs and they’ve come without even a disc player. 
 
Yes, a lot has happened in 20 years. And there’s no way I would have made it to this anniversary if not for the work of a lot of amazing co-workers and clients over the years. Businesses don’t succeed because of the efforts of just one person.

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Twitter Ads vs. Facebook Ads: The Social Advertising Smackdown

Twitter ads vs Facebook ads

You may have  run Facebook Ads and Google Ads, but many people often forget about Twitter Ads.

At flyte, we have many clients that heavily rely on Facebook and Google to drive traffic. However, they’re ignoring the opportunities of advertising on Twitter. A majority of Twitter users use this platform for news, sporting updates, product/service updates, and to join in on conversations on all of the above. Personally, I use Twitter to follow many digital marketing experts and sporting analysts. I always need to know which player will help my fantasy football team win (3 Time Champ)!

Lately, we’ve been interested in branching out from advertising solely on Facebook and Google, and seeing how Twitter ads fare. After running some similar campaigns, I wanted to share some data from our most recent Facebook Ad vs.Twitter Ad test. I have to admit, I was surprised at the results.. It’s almost as nice as finding twenty bucks on the sidewalk.

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How Do I Set Up a Facebook Ad Manager Account for My Client?

Setting Up Facebook Business Manger

Are you using Facebook for your business?

Do you have a business page setup?
Are multiple people accessing your business page?
Are you managing several Facebook business pages?

Then you need to set up Facebook Business Manager. It is more secure than adding people’s personal accounts to your Facebook page or Ad Accounts and keeps the pages and ad accounts you manage in one central location. (more…)

Talking “The Lead Machine” on 207

Rich Brooks Talking About the Lead Machine on 207

At this point I’ve been on 207, the evening news program on the NBC affiliates in Maine, at least 50 times, talking about everything from online safety to smartphone photography to best recipe sites. 

And under my name, in the byline, they’ll often say “Tech Guru,” “Tech Expert,” “Area Man,” or “Call Police – Do Not Approach.”

But never has it felt as sweet as when they used the simple word, “Author.”

I had the opportunity earlier this week to go on 207 and talk about my new book, The  Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, which was a blast. I even got a shout out for my editor, Lisa Canfield, at the very end. 

Lisa, I hope you’re listening!

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

The Lead Machine BookHow long does it take to write a book? I can say it took me sixty hours, or ten months, or six years, or twenty. Depends how you look at it.

Sixty hours.

 
I had heard from countless people that writing a book was the most difficult thing they ever did. That it was an absolute grind. That it was as painful as giving birth. 
 
Based upon what my mother has told me about about my own birth, I knew this couldn’t be true. First of all, she was in labor for twice as long as it took me to write the book.
 
Regardless, I actually enjoyed the process. Because I work better with goals, I started a spreadsheet that tracked my progress. It included five columns:
  • Date
  • Hours Spent
  • Total Words
  • Words Written (that day)
  • Words Per Hour
Having the date in there was a clear reminder—and visual reprimand—if I missed a day. 
 
I had promised myself that I’d work at least an hour a day on the book, and for most days I did. 
 
I wrote the first draft in Google Docs so it was easy to get a total word count at the end of each session. I then set up a formula to compute and enter the Words Written for the day. 
 
Finally, the spreadsheet calculated the words per hour I was writing, and also totaled my average, which turned out to be just over 1,000 words an hour. This kept me motivated to keep my head down and focus on my writing during these sessions.
 
Having the spreadsheet definitely held me accountable and was part of the reason I was able to write the first draft in sixty hours. (Fifty nine point five, if you want to be exact.)

Ten Months

Of course, the writing is the fun part. Editing is the work.
 
At least it was for me. When I completed the first draft, about a month earlier than I had expected, I followed the advice of my friend, my book coach, and author of The Profitable Business Author, Julie Ann Eason, who told me to take two weeks off from the book. Get some space and let everything settle.
 
Fourteen days later I walked into Staples, printed up the manuscript and put it in a blue binder. Per Julie’s recommendation, I read the book out loud to myself, marking it up with a red pen. 
 
I killed that red pen.
 
There were parts of the book that were unclear, repetitive, or just didn’t make any sense. There was bad English and worse puns. There was grammar that didn’t look, act, or smell like grammar. 
 
There were also some nice surprises. A number of times I read a passage that I didn’t remember writing and it made me laugh out loud. 
 
That wasn’t the last time I had to read the book. Once I completed it and made the changes to the digital file, I handed it off to an editor who reviewed and marked up the file. I then had to read the book again and agree or disagree with her changes.
 
Once I got the book professionally formatted I had to read it again, to pick up additional mistakes. That process actually took five iterations, but I can promise you I didn’t read it through each time. 
 
I also went through a process getting the cover designed. The designer I hired created three versions based on my input, each with a unique piece of stock illustrations that was meant to represent the idea of the book. Only after seeing them did I realize that I wanted an original illustration that would represent the book and no one else could use. 
 
So, I turned to my friend Josh Fisher, who had done the designs for the Agents of Change as well as some other art for me over the years, and he came up with what can only be described as a Lead Machine.
 
Once that was completed, I uploaded everything to CreateSpace (to turn it into a paperback that can be sold on Amazon) and KDP, which turns it into a Kindle book.
 
Because sometimes the upload gets wonky, you’re supposed to read through it again to find mistakes, both for the paperback and Kindle version. I skimmed. 
 
They never tell you how often you’re going to read your own book before publication.
 
Funny aside: I was using CreateSpace to upload my paperback to Amazon, but it was taking too long and I was getting distracted, so I decided to come back when I had a bigger block of time.
 
Two days later I returned, only to find out not only had I completed the process but I’d sold two copies! Perhaps not the most auspicious of beginnings, but it was cool to see that two people had already purchased copies without me promoting it.
 
When I told my younger daughter, she immediately told me that it was she and Grammy Mar who bought them. (She was kidding.) (I think.)

Six Years

Ever since 2010 I’ve included “writing a book” on my annual goals list. Usually right at the top. 
 
Why it took so long I can’t say. I got busy, things came up, I spent my time working on other projects. I’ve got plenty of good excuses, and even more poor ones.
 
When I finally realized that not having a book was holding me back professionally, I decided to get serious. For me, that meant hiring a coach. I’ve found that often it’s important to have skin in the game. Once I started paying Julie for her one-on one-coaching, something clicked inside me and I got to work. 
 
I’m not suggesting that everyone needs a book coach to get the work done, but sometimes making a personal investment is the motivation you need to move forward.

Twenty Years

That’s how long I’ve been doing this. Or more specifically, it’s been twenty years since I started building websites and marketing businesses online. Hundreds of clients, over a dozen employees, and countless hours blogging, podcasting, optimizing, and marketing later, I had enough experience to take the book that was in my mind and bring it into the world. 
 
In that time I’ve worked with so many people, businesses, and organizations. Each one different, each one unique, and yet there was one thing that seemed to connect them. The need to generate leads online, whatever “leads” meant to them. 
 
By working with such a wide variety of businesses—boat builders to business consultants, furniture makers to dentists, innkeepers to authors—I started to see a framework that almost every business could use to make sense of their digital marketing. What I call the BARE Essentials of Digital Marketing:
 
  • Build – How to build a platform where you can turn visitors into customers
  • Attract – How to drive qualified traffic to your site, with a focus on search, social, and digital ads
  • Retain – How to stay in touch with people after they’ve left your site
  • Evaluate – How to measure and understand your site traffic, social engagements, and other marketing campaigns to determine what’s working and what’s not
 
What happens now
 
The Lead Machine - How Long Does it Take to Write a BookThere’s still work to be done. The promotional push (of which this blog post is part.) The launch party, where books will be signed and bourbon will be consumed. An attempt to get the book into local bookstores. And a whole lot more. 
 
It turns out writing is the easy part when it comes to authoring a book. 😉
 
If you’re looking for a good read (he says, biased,) and want to generate more leads from your website, consider grabbing a copy of The Lead Machine from Amazon.
 
If you have any questions about the book, or about the process of birthing a book, please let me know in the comments below.