Stop, Calibrate and Listen

We toss around the phrase, “random acts of marketing” a lot here in the agency and creative world. Five years ago I posted the following:

Actual marketing advice I gave a client this morning who had their modest budget greatly expanded: Take some advice from Vanilla Ice, “Stop, calibrate and listen”.

Cheesy? Yes. Seriously, take a look at where you are. Is your messaging on point? Have you done market research, what are you missing? What is the strategy, both short and long term? What is working well, and more importantly why is it working? Often we only analyze what isn’t working, not what is. Tweak refine. Get the messaging right. Make sure you spend your budget efficiently, not wildly.

Randomly throwing money into marketing is great for marketing agencies that work on commission and media companies trying to sell you something, but increasing their profit doesn’t necessarily increase yours.

After decades of working at agencies of all sizes and specialities, one thing remains constant: Marketing is about more than one ad, one channel and one advertising opportunity. And, marketing rarely, if ever, is successful with out strategy. [Sure there are exceptions, and yeah, people win the lottery once in a while, too.]

The best marketing is customer service. Very few companies have the marketing budget to out spend the consequences of bad customer experience. It goes hand in hand, most marketing studies reveal areas where clients can improve their service and communication with their current customers.

As a search expert, I can send you all the clicks you can afford. But if your website, your store and your service aren’t up to par, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. To be successful, you have to understand where you need to improve, take the necessary steps, then consider marketing.

Required WordPress Maintenance

Over the last three months, I’ve encountered four WordPress sites that were hacked or completely unresponsive that required immediate attention. In each of the four instances, the reason was the same: Failure to update WordPress, Themes and Plugins.

That is right — in each of the four instances, simply updating the code-base, plugins and themes would have prevented the sites from being compromised.

Additionally, each of the four websites that were impacted failed to have a regular backup procedure. Luckily, the sites ere reparable. If these sites had not been repairable, years of blogging and content development would have instantly vanished.

Development vs Maintenance

Website development is costly, both in terms of time and money. Most web development contracts are considered complete at launch; so once the site is live, ongoing updates are generally not included. In this case, if your site is hijacked several months after launch, you will likely be billed to resolve the issue.

Obviously, this is a source of frustration for the client and the development house. Clients think the developers created a faulty product, while the developers feel they delivered a product that wasn’t properly maintained.

An Ounce of Prevention

Not all security breaches are preventable, nor will all servers function properly 100% of the time. That said, hackers are known to exploit known vulnerabilities, thus routine maintenance is often all that is necessary to protect yourself.

Create a schedule to update your WordPress core files, plugins, themes and databases.  In the event of catastrophic meltdown, you will have all the ingredients to recover your site.

Jim Carlson dot Net offers WordPress maintenance and backup services for those who prefer to manage their business, not their website. Call (715) 301-0098 for a consultation. 

The Blame Game

I recently attended Martin Atkin’s : Band Tune Up at the Madison Media Institute in Madison, WI. As I mentioned in my previous article, Sharpening Your Music Skills, I’m a firm believer that musicians must educate themselves and take control of their career.

One of the most important lessons Martin stated was simple, “Stop blaming anyone for anything. Everything is your responsibility”.

I can’t tell you how many musicians I’ve heard complain about: The club stinks. They didn’t promote me properly. The audience was lame. My people didn’t show up. I need someone to sign me. Someday I will be discovered…

Find a better club. Promote yourself. Build your audience. Play for the 2 people who showed up as if they were the last 2 people on Earth. Record yourself. Sign you, to what? Be discovered? There are millions of bands on MySpace, Facebook and ReverbNation ‘waiting’ to be discovered. Create momentum for yourself, no one will do it for you.

Martin went on to say, “Nobody gives a f*%# about what is important to you, except you”. Read that again.

If you want to succeed in the music business or any business for that matter, learn all you can and take control of everything. It is your career on the line, and if you fail, there is always someone waiting to take your place.

Sharpening Your Music Marketing Skills

Years ago when I was dreaming of a career as a successful musician, I attended a music seminar by the (now) late Shad O’Shea and purchased his book, “Just For the Record“. [I loaned the book to ‘someone’ and really wish I had it back…..] Shad pretty much covered everything I needed to know, from publishing to releasing an ‘album’, and thoroughly explained the in’s and out’s of the music industry.

Years later, I released my “Out of Fashion” CD by using the techniques he had taught me. To be fair, I was never a mega folk rock star, but I enjoyed modest success. And ‘for the record’, the marketing skills I used to promote myself actually led to my internet marketing career.

Why am I telling you this? Musicians who want to be successful need to be educated. In my two decades of performance, I have seen talented musicians fail because they didn’t take the time to understand how this business works. In contrast, I’ve seen moderately talented musicians (myself included) have pretty successful runs simply because they understood the music business.

The Death of a Blog

I’m guilty. Ive broken the golden rule of blogging: Write frequently.

It is funny, I preach this simple commandment to my clients. I tell them how important it is to keep providing their readers information, or you will lose them. Have I lost you?

Quite frankly, it is easy to get caught up other business activities and personal issues. So what’s a blogger to do? Here are some ideas that I’m hoping to use to keep this blog current:

  • Set aside time on your schedule to write. Keep your appointment with yourself.
  • Write a series of articles and ‘post to the future’. Have them in reserve, mix it up.
  • Invite guest bloggers. No one knows everything, bring a new voice to the table.

So what have I missed? What do you do to ensure you post regularly?