Igor Soshkin's Posts (52)

  • HOW WE DELIVER A 7 MONTH PROJECT IN 7 DAYS

    For six years, we had a challenge on how to provide WOW customer service, without paying WOW bucks for it. I feel confident that we finally found the right system, and I think there is a lot to learn about how you can implement something similar in your own business by learning from our experience.

    CUSTOMER SUPPORT

    Last year we had a significant number of clients leaving Shopping Cart Elite. The number one reason for leaving was because the client never launched their website. Some tried for weeks, some tried for months, but they never launched it. Some of them took 5 hours of support from us, some took 50 hours before quitting. When we calculated the numbers we realized that if we put the total amount of hours we spent on customer support into completing the end to end process for our clients, we would have spent the same amount on payroll. Except we would have happy clients with live websites, and we would have an incredible retention rate.

    As Seth Godin wrote, “The only purpose of customer support is to change feelings. Not the facts, but the way your customer feels. The facts might be the price, or a return, or how long someone had to wait for service. Sometimes changing the facts is a shortcut to changing feelings, but not always, and changing the facts alone is not always sufficient anyway.

    If a customer service protocol (your call center or complaints department or returns policy) is built around stall, deny, begrudge and finally, to the few who persist, acquiesce, then it might save money, but it is a total failure.

    The customer who seeks out your help isn’t often looking to deplete your bank account. He is usually seeking validation, support and a path to feeling the way he felt before you let him down.

    The best measurement of customer support is whether, after the interaction, the customer would recommend you to a friend. Time on the line, refunds given or the facts of the case are irrelevant. The feelings are all that matter, and changing feelings takes humanity and connection, not cash.”

    Our competitors have HUNDREDS of customer service representatives on payroll doing STUPID WORK, and I mean stupid as they deliver ZERO value to their customers because they can’t truly help them. Helping customers would mean involving developers, designers, data managers, project managers, etc. the only thing our competitors do is stall the client from moving forward. Just because they answer the phone when you call, doesn’t mean a thing.

    I don’t want to make this post about our competitors, but if you want to read more about it, you can read an excellent post here.

    GOAL TO ELIMINATE CUSTOMER SUPPORT

    We wanted to eliminate customer support, so we decided that if we do ALL THE WORK for our client then 100% of the customer support should be eliminated. We thought, how awesome would it be if a client comes to us and requests 7 months of work, and we can deliver it in 7 days. We wanted to do the graphic design, data, store setup and custom development in 7 days or less. Of course, we knew that won’t happen overnight, but that was the goal. At the time, we only had 12 staff members, and in six months we scaled to 60 staff members to achieve these results.

    By month two, the 7 day goal was VERY FAR from reality. Our average launch time was 90 days, and it took over 200 of combined customer service hours to get results for each website.

    Keep in mind that we DO NOT CHARGE FOR THE SETUP. We do everything for free for our clients if they commit to a one year agreement.

    We designed systems, software, processes, we hired extra staff, managers, etc. and the best we got was 60 days to launch. THIS WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE and I REFUSED TO ACCEPT THAT.

    The main problem was that even though we were doing all the work, we still needed to provide customer support. Clients had specific requirements, questions, etc. and we had to keep them in the loop the whole time to keep them happy.

    The reason it took so long to launch was due to the communication delay between departments and the clients.

    EMAIL IS DEAD

    When we would try to communicate with the clients via email, we had all kinds of problems

    1. Emails would not get delivered all the time or go to spam
    2. There is a minimum of 1 hour and up to 2 days delay getting a response
    3. Email responses would get lost
    4. Email responses would arrive to the wrong person
    5. By the time email was responded the dedicated worker was already doing another project

    We had to get rid of the emails and think of something different.

    SUPPORT TICKETS IS DEAD

    Shopping Cart Elite has a built in support desk, so we spent two months overhauling it to make a CRM / PROJECT MANAGEMENT software out of it. It worked! But not for everything

    1. It was much more organized
    2. Emails would arrive to the support desk and never get lost
    3. Emails would merge into specific tickets which would be linked to the correct project
    4. Department Manager would own the tickets and assign staff to be accountable for the work
    5. A centralized daily and weekly report was created to show the big picture of all the projects for our COO to review

    Everything seemed perfect, except we still had the same problem with emails. We would ask the customer to fill out help forms (tickets), and replies back and forth would take forever. We even implemented an email open tracker to confirm if the client viewed the email or not.

    The support desk made us much more organized and well informed, but we were still very far from 7 days.

    TELEPHONE IS DEAD

    We decided to hire account managers, which would be accountable to bridge the gap between departments and the client to try to get to that 7 day mark. What ended up happening was the Account Manager became an Account Messenger.

    He would do STUPID work running after clients and being the broken telephone between the client and the department managers. Sometimes the client was busy, or not available, and the account manager couldn’t keep up.

    When we did a survey on all the existing trials on what they thought about our customer support, we got a BIG F. 95% of the clients were upset.

    DEDICATED & PERSONAL LIVE CHAT ROOMS

    I refused to accept that all of this work will go to shit, and it will become a failed attempt to launch clients in 7 days. So I started thinking about the core problem.

    The core problem was that even though we were doing all the work for the client, the fact that the client wanted to feel like they are a part of the team didn’t change, and the client was RIGHT. He should be a part of team especially during the building stage.

    In today’s world, clients expect everything to be DONE NOW! We want fast food, fast delivery, and fast RESULTS.

    So I figured why don’t we replace EMAILS with SKYPE! Which will give us LIVE, ON DEMAND communication between all departments. We will allow communication between the Support Desk to work with Skype instead of email. This way whatever needs to be recorded in archives can be placed right into the ticket, and whatever is chatter can be ignored.

    Fortunately we were already in developing an intelligent chat that would make Shopping Cart Elite work with Skype, so it was a perfect fit.

    We made our clients go on Skype and be available all the time during the building stage, we created a chat room on Skype and placed all department managers, COO, CEO, account managers along with the client into each chat room.

    If the client had questions, the right person was there. If anyone from our team had questions for the client, the client was available as well. IT WAS GREAT!

    Immediately after implementing this new process, everything started to shine. We were able to lower the launch date down to 30 days from 60 days overnight. I realized that the biggest factor for the delay was COMMUNICATION due to OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY.

    In addition, the dedicated chat rooms allowed everyone to learn more about their departments. As I would reply to the client, or another department would speak to the client everyone was on the same page. I asked the account manager to start compiling frequently asked questions and making a document for the whole company to learn more about what clients ask and how to answer their questions.

    ON OUR WAY TO 7 DAY LAUNCH

    The picture is a lot clearer now, all we have to do is to fine-tune some of the processes, tweak the software, hire more staff, and we will reach our goal for “LAUNCHING A NEW CLIENT IN 7 DAYS”. We plan to have this in place by first quarter of this coming year, and if we meet that goal, then it would have officially taken us ONE YEAR to implement this strategy.

    It was a long way coming, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

    Looking a real ecommerce partner - Try Shopping Cart Elite Today

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  • Remarketing with TEA Software

    WHAT IS REMARKETING?

    Mark goes to Amazon to buy a new TV, and then he changes his mind and goes to CNN. Then all of a sudden Mark starts seeing Ads for the TV from Amazon on CNN, how is that possible? Well that is called Remarketing, and Amazon is Remarketing to Mark.

    Remarketing lets you show ads to visitors who've previously visited your website as they browse the Web. When you use remarketing, you can install a JavaScript code on a category of webpages that you want to promote. That JavaScript is referred to as a “TAG” (as in tagging someone to find them later) or a “PIXEL” (an invisible image pixel that triggers the tag). Some marketers say “FIRE A PIXEL” (as in shooting the visitor with a pixel, and then the pixel will tag them), and if they want to stop remarketing to that visitor they call it “BURN A PIXEL” (as in destroy the pixel that was tagged on a visitor to stop remarketing to that visitor)

    Here, is an example of remarketing, you could add a “TV” tag on all of the webpages where you sell televisions. You can then create an Adwords campaign to show highly relevant messages (such as ads displaying a remarkable offer on TVs) to people who've visited your webpages on your website, and you can show the ads across other websites that have Google AdSense installed.

    If you still don’t get it, here is an animated video explaining in more details how Remarketing works.

     

    WHY USE REMARKETING?

    Remarketing is a powerful way to stay engaged with your target audience. Presenting them with highly relevant ads and offers across the Websites that they browse daily.

    This ensures that your brand is on top of their mind when they’re ready to buy, and it can radically improve your return on investment (ROI). You can combine different targeting methods, such as interest categories, demographics, or keyword campaigns.

    Another use case is you can install a remarketing tag on a popular third party Fashion blog, and if you wanted to expand the reach of your fashion brand, you could target only women between the ages of 18-24 who have not yet visited your site (but did visit the blog), and present them with an offer that is tailored to them.

     

    REMARKETING DONE WRONG

    The popular remarketing agencies and their affiliates want you to believe that you must remarket to everyone. Of course, they are telling you to do this because they make money from it, the more you spend the more they make.

    Marketing companies who sell remarketing services are like stock brokers, it’s not their money, so they take high risks without consequences. They usually go by this saying “What is the worst that can happen? We lose the client, big deal there is thousands more to go.”

    Most marketing companies use the most basic analytics to measure the ROI. They simply tag everyone and hope the conversions will pay off the advertising expense, and if they don’t then they start spending less until the client realizes it is a waste of money and quits.

    Even those that make money fail to realize how much money they are wasting. Here is an example of how remarketing will fail miserably. A potential client called us about TEA Software, and wanted to learn how we can help him with his remarketing campaign.

    His website was getting 300,000 unique visitors per month, and he was planning to invest $15,000 per month to retarget the clients.

    First I told him that he had a problem with the budget because if he was to target all 300,000 he would have to spend at least $2.00 per visitor over a month to make the remarketing effective. If he was serious about it, then his budget would have to be $600,000.

    Using the formula found on the bottom of this page, we concluded that out of 300,000 visitors he would only need to remarket to 7000 of them, and at 40% conversion rate he would make gross profit of $120,000. Even if he was to convert at only 10% he would still come out positive every month.

    If he was to target the wrong 7,000 visitors he would have a high risk of losing money or barely breaking even. If he was to target all 300,000 visitors, then he would clearly lose most of his budget as the number of real customers would not change. Even if he paid for all 300,000, he would not get more than 7,000 customers that would consider buying from the website.

    The biggest money waster in remarketing is fake human like bot nets and poor engagement traffic (visitors who never intended to buy from you). The bots browse your site, you tag them, and then as they browse the rest of the internet they deplete your budget. The poor engagement visitors (who have no idea you are remarketing to them) would get extremely annoyed seeing your ads all over the place and start telling their friends that your company is creepy, and your company put a virus on their computer.

     

    USING BIG DATA PSYCHOGRAPHICS TO REMARKET

    TEA software is able to detect bots and other threats, along with poor engagement visitors and AVOID tagging them for remarketing. That automatically eliminates 60%-80% of visitors that you would remarket.

    The next question is how do you choose whom to remarket to from the remaining traffic, and what kind of ads should you be showing them?

    TEA can be used to create compelling segments by mixing Threat Analysis, Visitor Behavior, and Predictable Psychographics.

    For example let’s assume that we have verified that “Visitor A” is a real human (low threat score in TEA), “Visitor A” is clearly interested in your product (high engagement in TEA), and visitor A engaged with your price drop down right before leaving your website (Psychographic). Assuming there is more visitors like “Visitor A” we can create a rule to tag them.

    The idea is to predict why “Visitor A” did what he did (psychographic), and come up with a remarketing resolution for it. In the case of “Visitor A”, you may want to fire a remarketing pixel at them right after they engaged with the price. If “Visitor A” happens to checkout than the remarketing pixel would be burned if “Visitor A” did not checkout than the remarketing pixel will be left alone.

    For “Visitor A” segment you might want to have a remarketing pixel that will trigger a banner advertisement for 10% off coupon that expires this week. If the visitor happens to click on that ad, using a shopping cart like Shopping Cart Elite you can trigger a smart discount that will be driven by a referrer tag in the URL, that will automatically enable the discount, apply the discount on the website for the visitor, and it will also acknowledge that the discount was applied as a banner on top of the website.

    TEA software is programmed with a dozen rules for remarketing, you simply enter the JavaScript for each rule to segment different ads, and it does the rest for you.

     

    REMARKETING COMPANIES

    If you are looking for remarketing companies, here are two excellent resources to look at:

    Remarketing Reviews from Moz

    Remarketing Reviews from FindtheBest

    Remarketing is at its early stages, but if you think it’s creepy, you haven’t seen creepy yet. You will be seeing a lot more creepy in the coming years when technology, big data, and AI gets bigger, and

    Remarketing on Google Glass

    Co-Founder of Wired describes Remarketing

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  • Why I (CEO) do Sales in our Company

    Some of my potential customers get periodically surprised when I (CEO of the company) answer the sales phone line. After a few seconds of silence not knowing what to say to a guy that they’ve watched on YouTube for 5 hours, they ask me “How come the CEO of Shopping Cart Elite is doing phone sales instead of running the company?”

    The answer is, I am running the company and I enjoy sales. On average, I try to make time to speak to three potential customers per week. If you were one of the lucky ones that got surprised and asked me that question, then you will enjoy reading this very detailed post on WHY I do it.

    When I speak to clients it helps me better understand how the customer perceives our brand, and sometimes I get a really good idea for content for the blog which covers the customer’s pain point.

    Truthfully there is even a bigger reason why I do it, and here is the full story.

    THE BEGINNING

    When we first started in the eCommerce back in 2001, it was just two of us, me and my brother. Since there were open source shopping carts on the market at the time that would NOT work for our new business, we decided to create our own.  We had $20,000 to start the business and by 2005, when we reached our peak gross sales of three million dollars before we realized that we hit a dead-end. We were paying $125 per hour for data entry and data management, which today is a minimum wage job. There was no way of getting inventory levels from our drop ship suppliers; there was no technology to automate the product synchronization process between multiple marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.

    It was frustrating that we were paying thousands of dollars for security consulting to address server issues and audit the software for compliance. We had to hire in-house designers to update the website at $60 per hour. When we had to address random website issues, test new releases, and pay for servers, our monthly expenses exceeded $40,000 in development. These unnecessary expenses were depleting our profits.

    In 2006, we officially stopped growing. We realized that for us to continue growing we would have to hire more engineers to automate parts of our business, and therefore more expenses on the payroll. As the economy started to slow down, we had to find a new way to address our software and technology needs. Paying half a million dollars each year for a small eCommerce business was ridiculous. We sold our eCommerce company and started to focus on figuring out a permanent solution for eCommerce businesses.

    A NEW JOURNEY

    When we sold our eCommerce company, we made it a goal to take everything we’ve built thus far and create the world’s most sophisticated shopping cart. We wanted to address everything that stopped us from growing beyond three million dollars per year. I am extremely passionate and deeply involved in this technology problem. Being an eCommerce expert, I knew what the eCommerce industry needed.

    The industry needed a platform like eBay and Amazon but for eCommerce websites. The platform would use the same template that can be re-skinned allowing us to uniformly enhance the technology every month and everyone could benefit from the enhanced features without affecting the graphic design.

    There are over 500 shopping carts on the market, and none of them were addressing the problem that Shopping Cart Elite was trying to solve because if they did then all of the Fortune 500 companies would be using them instead of paying million for custom software development and third party plugins.

    OUR HUGE OBSTACLE

    We took Shopping Cart Elite out of BETA in 2009 and started marketing it. We decided, what the heck! We have an extraordinary product, and it will sell itself. So we funded a $50,000 marketing campaign and felt truly confident that we were on the right track.

    Two months later, we signed up 40 clients at $99 per month, and $50,000 disappeared. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to sell software, and I couldn’t believe people did not see the value for what we’ve built. New entrepreneurs did not want to invest any more than $99/mo. They presented questions such as, “how do you compare with Go Daddy $9.99 Shopping Cart, and why is your hosting $29 while this other Shopping Cart is only $15”.

    How do you answer that question to a complete novice who has no idea what he is talking about? People only hear what they want to hear, you can’t try to explain complicated technical terms, it doesn’t work. At one,  point I sat through a four-hour conversation arguing with an individual about why it makes sense to buy our $99 per month software instead of $9.99 per month from Go Daddy, just to LOSE his patronage at the end. It was apparent twenty minutes into the conversation that I had lost him in the details.

    What made me frustrated is how other companies were closing ten million dollars per year with less powerful software, and we couldn’t even get past $100,000 a year.

    I dropped my daily responsibilities, bootstrapped the development of Shopping Cart Elite from savings, and hit the books on how to sell software.

    I invested hundreds of hours in every marketing course, and out of all the courses, there were only a few that actually made a difference.  I only regret that I wasn’t introduced to these courses and principles in the very beginning.

    In 2010, after implementing the new strategies, our company closed over a million in sales compared to $250,000 a year prior.

    Today, we are a team of sixty, and as our software gets more sophisticated more clients join us. The most recent bundle we released called www.groproject.com put us on a path to close eight figures without actually charging the client.

    TAKE AWAY

    I am going to list a few courses, books, strategies that helped us A LOT and perhaps it will help you.

    • eMyth – (www.emyth.com) Helped us reposition our company and brand to focus on the right type of customers. They helped us create a real brand for Shopping Cart Elite which created a culture in our company. Once the brand and culture was embraced we were able to get our marketing and sales team (including overseas staff) to become as passionate about the product as the founders.
    • Traction – (Traction) Helped us get our shit together as a company, today we implement every strategy in the book, and this is our company bible.
    • Jordan Belfort – (Wolf of Wall Street) This guy is a monster, closing $1.5 billion with a few dozen high school students in the 1990s. There is no better teacher in the world that can teach you sales. He has a movie coming out played by Leonardo DiCaprio this year that I can’t wait to watch. I took his $5,000 training course that is worth every penny (Yes I do own a copy of it and MAYBE… you can borrow it if you become a client of ours).
    • Oren Klaff – (Pitch Anything) His course is complimentary to Jordan Belfort, closing $400 million in venture deals he is a great sales and marketing teacher. His techniques inspired us to write the Shopping Cart Elite Pitchdeck as well the Shopping Cart Elite PowerPoint Presentation.

      Speaking of the PowerPoint vs. Sales Script vs. Winging It

      • Winging It – If you are a talented sales person you can try to do your own thing and sell on the phone. Usually you end up missing critical points in your pitch, you don’t say the right things, and your sales conversion will not be consistent. In addition, you will never scale because you can’t teach others to be you.
      • Sales Script – Even though Jordan Belfort preaches a sales script, I could not do it effectively and neither could my staff. Even though I was able to pull it off to sound natural, I got extremely BORED with it and didn’t want to sell anymore, it took the fun out of selling. What was worse is my staff sounded like retarded robots reading the script, and reading scripts has been so overplayed by telemarketers in boiler rooms that most of our customers can detect it right off the bat. We do still use scripts for call center appointment settings, but not selling.
      • Power Point – Not just any power point, but an illustration only with no text. I used to pitch Shopping Cart Elite via Screen Sharing and the potential client would look at a black screen 80% of the time. After watching this video, I realized that I am not utilizing the most powerful sales technique “Emotional Visual Triggers”, and then I got a brilliant idea that if I made illustration images only with no text, than the whole sales staff could relate to it like a story.

    My three year old memorized a story by using visual cues from a book, and after three days she was able to tell me all about it without even referencing the book. I figured if a three year old can do it, then our whole sales team can do it. All I had to do is write a compelling visual story.

    IT WORKED! I am able to hire a marketing consultant and he can be as knowledgeable as me in just 2 days by using the visual PowerPoint and telling the story in his own words instead of using a script.

    If you are pitching anything, physical product, service, or products. You should implement review all of the courses above and start with a visual presentation for your product.

    WE CAN HELP YOU BE MORE PRODUCTIVE, BY AUTOMATING YOUR DAILY GRIND
     
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  • This is the story of how this blog became a Technorati Top 100 Business Blog in just 1 year. I even took a month off!

    Join me on my journey and I will share everything I did with you step by step over my shoulder!

    I have managed to achieve quite a lot with the blog in the last year-

    • 632,452 page views
    • 31,715 hours/3.6 years spent reading my posts
    • Won 5 major awards
    • $73,334.09 profit
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  • Working Too Hard And Not Getting Anywhere

    A True Story about Dave, how a switch in business models led to his company being bought by AOL

    Dave had previously founded an ad server company, and he had seen the need for better targeting of display ads on the Internet. His idea was to build a companion to an ad server that could collect behavioral data and target display ads to the people who actually wanted to see them. This became known as behavioral targeting. The business model was to sell the behavioral targeting engine to publishers who would then sell the behavioral segments to their agency customers.

    The software cost between $10k a month and $20k a month. Dave closed a few big deals early on and got validation of the product and the market from that. But it got harder and harder to close these deals as publishers were wary of coming out of pocket big dollars on a new technology that they weren't sure would help them make more money.

    After six or nine months of disappointing numbers, Dave said the team is "working too hard and not getting anywhere." He suggested that the company try a new business model in which it would operate the targeting engine in the cloud and sell the advertising in an ad network model and then share the revenue with the publishers.

    Dave slowly but surely pivoted the company into an ad network. And once the business model pivot was completed, revenue took off. In less than three years after the business model pivot, the company was doing $50mm in revenues and was bought by AOL for $275mm.

    The moral of this story is sometimes you have the right product but the wrong business model. Fixing the business model can fix the company.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/159UrVF

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  • How do you define Strategy?

    Strategy takes what you want to achieve and develops a plan to get there. From strategy you can develop tactics and implement them.
    For me, strategy is as much about what you are not going to do as what you are going to do.

    Strategy also involves how you are going to differentiate from competitors. Competitors are a given in business. How you compete with them will define the business.

    Companies derive competitive advantage from how an organization produces its products, how it acts within a market relative to its competitors, or other aspects of the business. Specific approaches may include:

    •     Differentiation, in which products compete by offering a unique combination of features.
    •     Cost, in which products compete to offer an acceptable list of features at the lowest possible cost.
    •     Segmentation, in which products are tailored for the unique needs of a specific market, instead of trying to serve all consumers.


    Strategic thinking can be seen in other disciplines outside of business. Two areas I have studied carefully are sports and the military. Winning teams and winning armies have often won because they have out strategized the losing team. You can see that in the Revolutionary War when Washington was outmanned and outgunned. And yet his strategic moves put the British on the defensive and eventually won the war.

    Don't think you are going to win in business with a better product, more capital, or a bigger team. You can't just throw resources at a market and expect to win. The winner in a market most often has the best strategy and exectutes it well.

    So read up on strategic thinking, I would recommend Drucker. Make sure that your company has both mission and vision (goals) and a strategy. It's too easy to skip from goals to tactics and you will not be well served by doing that.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/159UrVF

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  • 10 Ways to Improve as a CEO of a Startup

    A Startup requires multi-tasking, work prioritization, and decision-making, with no entourage of assistants and specialists. That’s why Fortune 500 executives usually don’t survive as startup CEOs.

    First you have to learn to accept total responsibility for things that happen to your business, just like you are responsible for everything in your personal life. Maybe you are comfortable with having a spouse in control of your personal life, but couples running a business are high risk.

    If you recognize yourself in these clues below, you probably won’t have as much fun running a startup.

    1. You often feel overwhelmed and out of control. There is always more to do than time to do it. Usually the stress people feel does not really come from having too much to do, but from having to make decisions on what to do first, and not setting reasonable targets.

    2. Starting many things, but completing few. Productivity is all about the ability to complete tasks. It requires tradeoffs and decisions, to declare that something is finished. Get in the habit of finishing what you start. Perfectionists need not apply.

    3. You like to defer big things until later. If you catch yourself deferring important tasks, in favor of smaller easy things, that’s a management problem. Adopt a “do it now” motto, and tackle your to-do list in priority order, rather than crisis order.

    4. Over-thinking and second-guessing yourself. If you spend more time thinking and worrying about a task, than doing the task, then you are not managing yourself. Don’t waste your precious creative energy. Finish items, and get them off your mind.

    5. You get defensive at the slightest criticism. Some people feel pain and high stress with any negative feedback or suggestions for improvement. They react quickly and emotionally with rationalizations and justifications for their actions, and find active listening very difficult. You need a thick skin to be an entrepreneur.

    6. Avoiding new opportunities due to fear of failure. Real entrepreneurs look at every new opportunity as an exciting and new-life experience. They are energized by the risk, and learn from every failure.

    7. Always counting your weaknesses. Good business leaders never criticize themselves for their weaknesses. Smart ones recognize their undeveloped skills and higher potential, but they are confident that they can change, and constantly work at it.

    8. Lack of confidence and enthusiasm. If you have a “downer” day at least once a week, and can’t remember the last time you were truly enthusiastic about something in your life or work, you are not ready to manage a business. Self-confidence is key to success.

    9. You like to work alone. Every business and every relationship is a team effort. Loners hide from others because they don’t want anyone to see that they are not in control. Make an effort to network with others to stay informed and contribute, but not dominate.

    10. Admit to being a control freak. Believe it or not, many people who don’t manage themselves very well are control freaks, when it comes to their business and other people. Practice the art of delegating and the joy of being spontaneous.

    Managing yourself effectively is the best preparation for managing a new business. It means you understand yourself, and are likely able to read other people and understand them, leading to a trusting relationship with your team and your customers.

    More importantly, managing yourself gives you a deeper understanding of what you value and how you define success. It means that you can make the hard choices about your real goals in business, and help you reach those goals. Above all, you will be able to truly enjoy your successes.

     

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  • When it's your Product not your Staff

    If you aren't growing, its likely to be a product problem, a strategy problem, or a competition problem. I have rarely seen a management team problem be the reason for lack of growth. 

    Company building is not this simple, but I do like to think about it terms of two stages. Getting the product right and customers/users scaling. Then scaling the company and the team. If you aren't doing the first, you mostly don't need to worry about the second. There are occasional team issues in the first stage you need to deal with but they aren't the big thing you need to focus on. The big thing you need to focus on is the product and its fit with the market. 

    These issues can play themselves out again when the company is larger, or companies can lose their way, or their product lineup can get stale, or competition can enter the market and change the dynamics for users or buyers. Once again, you need to focus in on getting the product right and making sure that it is providing value to customers/users. 

    In all of these situations, it is tempting to think the issue is the team and that turning the team will fix the problems. Team issues are largely scaling issues not growth issues. And it's critical to be able to recognize which is which because fixing the wrong problem can be devastating to a company.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/159UrVF

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  • Building the Company vs. Building the Business

    BY FRED WILSON (source: http://bit.ly/159UrVF)

    This has been a theme of mine since Roelof Botha put it in my head a few years ago. He said that entrepreneurs should approach building a company with the same passion that they have for building a product.

    I've been thinking about scaling the team a lot this week. There are parts of building the team that are like designing and shipping a product. And there are parts of building the team that are like growing the service over time.

    Putting together the initial team, creating the culture, instilling the mission and values into the team are all like designing and building the initial product. It is largely about injecting your ideas, values, and passion into the team. You do that by selecting the people carefully and then working hard to get them aligned around your vision and mission. Putting a product into the market and building your initial team are largely about realizing your idea as something tangible. That tangible thing is your product and your team. They go hand in hand. The team builds the product and the product is a reflection of them and you.

    Once you have a successful product in the market, you need to turn your attention to scaling it. The system you and your team built will break if you don't keep tweaking it as demand grows. Greg Pass, who was VP Engineering at Twitter during the period where Twitter really scaled, talks about instrumenting your service so you can see when its reaching a breaking point, and then fixing the bottleneck before the system breaks. He taught me that you can't build something that will never break. You have to constantly be rebuilding parts of the system and you need to have the data and processes to know which parts to focus on at what time.

    The team is the same way. Your awesome COO who helped you get from 30 people to 150 people without missing a beat might become a bottleneck at 200 people. It's not his or her fault. It could be the role has become too big for one person. Or it could be that he or she can't scale to that level of management. Think of this problem like a part of your software system that worked well when you had 1mm users per month but is breaking down at 10mm users per month. Both need to be reworked.

    How you fix your system and how you fix your team depends on the facts and circumstances of the problem. There is no one right answer. The key is removing the bottleneck so the rest of the system can work again. When it is software, the problem is a bit easier to solve because it doesn't involve moving people around and the emotions that creates. But that's what a manager does and good managers do this often and they do it well.

    It is harder to instrument your team the way you can instrument a software system. 360 reviews and other feedback systems are a good way to get some data. And walking around the company, doing lunches with managers who are one level down from your senior team, and generally being open to and available for feedback is the way you get the data. When you see that someone on your team has maxed out and the entire system is crashing as a result, you need to act. That could be breaking the role into parts, that could be reorganizing the entire team, or that could be removing the person and replacing them, or it could be some other solution. Whatever it is, it needs to be done or the company won't function as well as it can and should.

    In summary, many entrepreneurs are engineers and/or product people. They intuitively get how to build and scale software systems. They may not intuitively get how to build companies. Fortunately, as Roelof pointed out to me, there are some similarities. And by understanding them and internalizing them, you can become a better leader and manager.

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  • OWNERSHIP vs. ACCOUNTABILITY

    I’ve created a system for our staff that can solve every scenario that can result in dropping the ball on the client. You can use our system for your internal operations, and it will solve many of your problems. I highly recommend that you watch the video below because it will give you a clear path to organize your company today. You can check it out here.

    We use this system to launch our clients, and specifically we address "The Little Things" that can start a fire into a full blown fire blaze.

    LITTLE THINGS COUNT

    Seventy percent of all Shopping Cart Elite clients demand little things specifically for their website that may not be available out of the box in any shopping cart. These little things play an enormous role for every business. For example, product filters, inventory rules, inventory syncing, checkout countdown, integrations, etc.

    The only accountable owner who can successful launch your website, and own the complete END TO END PROCESS, is a Shopping Cart platform that is willing to do modify the core every time if necessary to launch every client they sign up. Most clients require these little things to work in order to have a smooth end to end work flow in their business. This is THE MAIN REASON why you are constantly putting out fires in your eCommerce business because the workflow is broken and the system is not complete.

    Shopping Cart Elite built the software from the ground up, we own our hardware, we integrate the two together, we OWN the complete END to END process to launch your website in 30 days, and we do not charge a setup fee to do that. We can AUTOMATE EVERYTHING in 30 days or less for you because of this precise reason listed above. All we ask of you is to fill out three forms that will take you 30 minutes, and we do not need anything else from you until to launch you on Shopping Cart Elite.

    This is as easy as it can get, and we can’t wait to speak to you about how we can help your business grow to new levels. Don’t settle for mediocre, always aim for perfection.

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  • How to grow a million dollar company

    Growing a business is a lot like sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. Imagine a 40 year old sailor, named Sebastian who had always dreamed about captaining his boat across the Atlantic Ocean. His resources were limited. He couldn’t afford to buy the biggest boat, and neither can he staff a crew for his ship. So when our sailor set out for his brave voyage across the vast ocean with his small, one man boat, his chances of success were not the highest. However, what the sailor did not have in resources, he made up for in planning and experience.

    Sebastian had a plan in place for everything. He knew what needed to be done, and how he was going to get them done. Whether the weather was rough, or there were sharks lurking, Sebastian had worked out a system which would enable a small boat with a single sailor to sail across the Atlantic. He went for practice runs in the harbor. He tried and tested all his plans in different conditions and perfected all his techniques. He eventually developed a system where he could accomplish all his goals.

    After months of planning, reading and practicing, Sebastian was ready to make the journey. In the first couple of days, he had to deal with all sorts of problems. There were storms, rough waters, and sharks, but those things did not matter because Sebastian had a pre-planned system to deal with them. Eventually, his thorough planning and systematic approach was the reason why he was able to sail across the Atlantic all by himself. Everyone said it was impossible for a sailor with limited resources, and a 14 foot boat to sail across the Atlantic. Just like it’s not impossible for a startup business to grow to a million dollar company.

    Small businesses, like Sebastian, start out with limited resources. They struggle to grow for the first couple of years before being caught up in a web of financial and managerial problems that stunt their business growth. Customers end up unhappy, employees get upset, and you the entrepreneur, start wondering about what needs to be done to solve the problem. In some cases, you may succeed in solving the immediate problem by stepping in yourself. However, stepping in to do every business task is not the job of the entrepreneur. You cannot assign small tasks to yourself because you are needed to grow the company.

    It’s a vicious cycle because every time you think you figured out a problem and solve it, another one crops up and you have to deal with it. No matter how hard you try, or what you do, it seems like you always to go bed at night thinking, “Why aren’t we growing?” Sebastian knew that he had his share of problems and that he had to work out systems if he wanted his journey to be successful. When your business is not growing as quickly as you expected, it’s not because of the problems it experiences; it is because of your lack of systems. If Sebastian had no system worked out, he would have either drowned or been eaten by sharks.

    In the case of a business, lack of systems, mean that it cannot identify the tasks it needs to do, or the people it needs to do them. Without systems, you can hire people without having any clear idea about what you need them to do. They might need training, but you have no system in place for that. You need things done within deadlines, but there is no system in place for that. You need your employees to be responsible for their actions, but there is no system to which they are accountable. The business eventually drowns in its own problems, and when this happens, the business stops growing.

    I know that this is the problem because I had to face it myself. One year ago, Shopping Cart Elite had 12 employees and was experiencing 30% growth, which for our industry was pretty slow. We had the potential for growth, but we were not getting there because our internal operations were inefficient, and the problems that were being created were eating us alive. As the person leading the organization, I had a lot of knowledge about running a business, but I could not implement it properly. It was only after reading a couple of eye opening books that I realized where my business was falling behind. The advice from these books is utilized by companies like Apple, Microsoft and other Fortune 500 Companies.

    In this video, I talk about the books which give you step by step instructions on how to create systems like the ones used by multi-million dollar organizations. Furthermore, I talk about the systems we use in Shopping Cart Elite, how we create them and how they stimulate business growth. Another crucial topic I cover in the video is identifying the right type of person for the job. In my business, I saw that certain roles needed to be played by certain personalities, and I utilize a remarkable systems to test whether every new recruit is right for the job. This system is so efficient that I can figure out anyone’s personality after talking with them for about two minutes. This is extremely helpful for recruiting workers overseas and hiring the right person for the right position.

    Of course, you can also use this system to stay clear of workers with certain personality types, and this alone saves 40% of the hassle in the recruitment process. Watch the video to learn more about the system I use to hire company staff. Now that you have, or are trying to build, the right system for your business and you know the kind of people you need for your business, how do you actually hire them? Like Sebastian, how do you implement those systems and ensure business growth? How do you recruit the right people to help you weather any storm, to survive any shark attack and grow to be a million dollar company?

    I personally would love to see your company grow, and I have no problem sharing Shopping Cart Elite’s exclusive recruitment guide. Not only do we deliver the world’s most sophisticated eCommerce platform, we also want to help our clients grow on it. We have prepared another video revealing our recruitment process. Furthermore, we would also love to show you how to build your company’s systems, and give step by step instructions on how to fine tune it until it's totally automated.

    As the C.E.O of Shopping Cart Elite, I have developed these systems (some of which took 5 years to build) because I want to deliver the perfect eCommerce solution to our clients. I want the Shopping Cart Elite platform to help businesses cross any ocean. Small or medium, any business using Shopping Cart Elite has the potential to become a million dollar company.

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  • launch your website, get a website live, live website
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  • You have all the good intentions to grow your business, but you keep complaining that due to the lack of features or the fact that many of the features are not working the way they should is stopping your growth. The reason this is happening is because you keep using commodity shopping carts like Big Commerce, Volusion, 3Dcart, Shopify, etc. as if they are the only option in the market.

    Let’s look at a real world example, let’s say you a professional street racer. You see all the fanatic ads about how fast the Honda Civic can be, and how many accessories you can buy for it. You figure, hey I’ll just buy the Honda Civic for 15k, I’ll buy an Air Intake, and maybe later I will upgrade it with a turbo. Sure the Honda Civic will go from 0-60 in 30 seconds to 0-60 in 10 seconds, but IT IS STILL A HONDA CIVIC.

    When you pull up next to Corvette which can cost three times as much, the stock Corvette will annihilate your turbocharged Civic.

    All the commodity Shopping Carts are equivalent to a Honda Civic, and all their app partners are equivalent to the accessories that you can put on the Honda Civic. By the time you finish buying all the accessories for your Honda Civic, you will pay twice as much as what the Corvette would've cost you.

    OPEN YOUR EYES TO YOUR PROBLEMS

    A decent size client called me last week who has been using Big Commerce platform for years. He has gotten to the point where he is no longer looking for a Honda Civic Shopping Cart, but trying to find which platform can solve his pain points that Big Commerce caused him to experience.

    His complaints for Big Commerce are as follows:

    1. Discounts can only be per whole order, not per item. So if you have a flat rate discount, or item level percent discount you can’t use this shopping cart.
    2. There is no way to have multiple wholesale levels for different customers. (Even if there was a way, it would be useless because of the point I made above).
    3. Data is not QuickBooks friendly, even when they use their app partners. (You can put a turbo on a Civic, but it is still a Civic). The main issue is QuickBooks requires orders broken down by line items and BigCommerce just passes the total sum for the order which is useless for book keeping such as calculating taxes, shipping, etc.
    4. The sales reports and performance reports are so pathetic and inaccurate, that they need to email BigCommerce once per month to get that information from them.
    5. You are unable to change the order status language, when an order is just processing, BigCommerce is saying it is “Fulfilled”. So customers are confused why it is fulfilled with no tracking number and they bombard the phones with complaints. BigCommerce has no way to change that language and does not want to bother with it when the customer calls them.
    6. Inventory system does not support combo products, the client has three SKU that make up a part and BigCommerce will only support one SKU.
    7. There is no way to attach Sales Rep on an account to know what commission to pay out and who made the most sales each week.
    8. Setting up coupon codes is as basic as it gets, there is no option such as BUY X GET X at no charge, making themselves rather useless.

    The list goes on and on, we get lists like these from hundreds of customers each month that are complaining about their pain points with their commodity shopping cart.

    Commodity Shopping Carts make it sound convincing on paper. They say “We have Coupons, Inventory, Wholesale Levels, this and that”, but when it comes down to using these tools there are pure VAPORWARE.

    It doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful business using commodity shopping carts, but it does mean that you will only grow to a certain point before you hit a brick wall right in your tracks. You will also experience extreme frustration, and even consider shutting down the company altogether.

    You need to open your eyes that you got persuaded by compelling marketing that a commodity shopping cart is right for your business, when it is everything BUT.

    HOW IS SHOPPING CART ELITE ABLE TO SOLVE ALL THE PAIN POINTS

    To start, we didn’t wake up one day like the executives of the majority of commodity shopping carts, who never ran an ecommerce retail business in their life, and decided to start a Shopping Cart. We actually operated multimillion dollar ecommerce retail and wholesale business for five years (2001 – 2006). We were in business when commodity shopping cart just started going back to 1999, when Volusion just started. We decided to build our own shopping cart system in-house because of all the problems we’ve faced were unable to be solved by the commodity shopping carts.

    Even today, they wouldn’t be able to solve our problems that we had back in 2006 because between 2001 and today, nothing changed with the commodity shopping carts. They keep adding lipstick (app partners and added value features) on a pig (commodity shopping cart) which will still leave them being a pig.

    In 2006, we learned our lessons on what we could have done differently and better. We applied our experience and knowledge in building Shopping Cart Elite.

    One of the things that we’ve learned is that we don’t know everything. Even though the solution is relevant for us today, it can all change tomorrow as we get bigger clients who require us to change the core. This happened in our own business as our company grew, we required more and more automation that we never even considered. We decided to build a flexible core infrastructure on Shopping Cart Elite that will allow us to make changes to the core without affecting the clients.

    The idea we had was that if we need to make changes to the core of the software, we would be able to do the changes in the future, and migrate all clients to the new core without them being effected or even knowing what happened.

    Changing the core of the software when you have 1000s of clients using it is equivalent to doing repairs on an airplane that is mid-flight traveling 600MPH. If you do something wrong, you will break the engine, and it will crash, killing everyone. I am not even kidding about it, changing the core of the software while having clients rely on it in production, and keeping everything in sync during migration is THAT BAD.

    Of course, we have backups in the worst case scenario, but I am sure no one will be happy to have their website down for 24 hours, just to see no changes, and then repeat the process again in a week.

    Shopping Cart Elite is known for doing weekly releases for new features instead of waiting one year like the commodity shopping carts. So if you need an enhancement to Shopping Cart Elite, we can roll it out every week because it doesn’t affect the core, it is just an enhancement.

    As you know we haven’t done a release in over a month now because we found another flaw in the core infrastructure, and we had to start the repairs at 600MPH in mid-flight. The core problem we found was with Shipping, you can read about the enhancement here – Smart Shipping. We did all the modifications to roll this feature out, but we also had to test the old (25 million lines of code) features to make sure they work. The testing took as much time as it took writing the enhancement.

    Every Shopping Cart Elite app was touched to address the new workflows, and we also improved Batch Shipping, Order Assignment UI and Performance, as well as more shipping related features.

    Usually we pull the trigger to do a release every week, but we are unable to do this when we touch the core, and thus it is taking longer than usual. Not only do we have to test everything, but some of our API changed as well, and we have clients who are relying on using the APIs for their ERP system. The roll out needs to happen all at the same time, so we need to coordinate with the API clients.

    OUR COMMITMENT

    BigCommerce and other commodity Shopping Carts will never enhance their Shopping Cart system to fit your business because they do not have the core infrastructure designed to make such enhancements. They would need to go back to the drawing board and start all over to make that happen which is not an option for them. They are all pouring money into marketing, and milking their clients.

    They know this, and this is why they will remain commodity shopping carts. If they had another way they would not be wasting their time and money on support, they would not be listening to all the complaints and losing clients, what they would do is fix all the issues, but THEY CAN’T!

    They would not be able to roll out API replacements, and coordinate with all their clients to transition because they are too large.  Bigger is not better, some of their clients that hired consultants to do the integration, no longer have that relationships because those consultants are long gone. Changing the core of commodity shopping carts would be a tremendous nightmare for the company thus you should not expect any changes from them.

    Shopping Cart Elite is not a commodity Shopping Cart, and we designed our core infrastructure to give you the flexibility to come to us and ask for any kind of automation feature that will help you scale, and WE WILL NEVER SAY NO OR IMPOSSIBLE, which is what you are used to hearing from your commodity shopping cart.

    We will do whatever it takes to deliver on our promise to our clients, which is “Automate Everything in 30 Days” and create the “World’s Most Sophisticated eCommerce Solution”. If that requires us to change the core like we did this quarter, then be it. It will be done, and we will not stop until we reach the sophistication level that will allow you to focus on ADDED VALUE tasks to customers and nothing else.

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  • BRANDING: Does your brand look small?

    Don't take this personal, but if you have this problem I offer a great way to fix it towards the bottom.

    You spent a ton on your website graphic design, and your brand looks awesome to you. However, your company doesn’t look particularly appealing to your visitors.

    Your about us webpage sounds as if you’re a one man show, the last post on Twitter is from last year, the last Facebook post is 4 months old, and your last blog post is two months old. Most of your published content is mediocre at best. You have no reviews about your products, and when I called your customer service I got someone who was not inline with your brand. You might have a fantastic looking website, but it is not consistent with all of your social media properties. You do not have a consistent voice in your brand, and as a result, you fail to deliver on your commitment to your customers.

    Does this sound like you, or maybe you are in a worse situation because you don’t even have a brand, commitment, voice or look and feel that you once imagined you would have.

    Most businesses have a branding problem. If you feel that your ideas are not working out for you, your employees are not performing the way you want them to, and your customers are getting different quality of service from all the different people within your company then you have a gigantic PROBLEM. You end up overworking every week because you cannot count on your employees. Your brand has a giant HOLE in it because all the ideas are in your head and not on paper.

    What you feel about your brand and your company is NOT what your employees feel, and it is certainly not what your customers feel. It is all inside you, and it is trapped in dogma. You will never going to sleep at night feeling relaxed and confident about your business until you get it all out on paper and share it with your employees and customers.

    If you need help with your branding, try eMyth and go through the first two courses. I promise you that it will change your life.

    BRAND AFFECTS EVERYTHING

    Whether your customer interaction is via email, phone or social media, you want to make sure that your customers and your employees do not have any doubts about what your business is actually about. 

    Your brand should be a roadmap to how the customer will feel after interacting with you. Let’s say you sell auto accessories, and you hire 10 customer service staffs members. If you have no branding, that means each staff member will act the way they feel is right. For example, let’s say a customer is upset because he got a damaged part, how would you handle the situation, and how would your 10 staff members handle it.

    You might say, well it is crucial to keep the customers happy while the next guy will say we have to follow the policy, so I don’t get in trouble regardless if the customer is happy or not, and the next five guys will just blow the customer off. How you would handle your customers need to be transitioned to all of your staff, so they have a framework. If you will say, regardless of what happens, the customer has to hang up the phone and be happier than before he called you, then you don’t need to write 1000 page documents about all the scenarios. Each staff member can use their charm and talents to accomplish the end goal.

    THIS IS WHAT I WOULD CALL BRANDING IN ACTION.

    After reading this email, you should start thinking about your business brand, and how you want to interact with current and potential customers. You need to start thinking about “how” you want your business to appear to the rest of the world. This is the mental picture you want to inject in people’s minds every time they come across your company.  This image should be consistent with your website, blog, and social media accounts so that customers and employees can easily relate to it.

    Secondly, if you want to build your business brand, you need to execute your brand commitment. You need to make a promise that immediately puts your business in the spotlight. Customers expect a satisfactory experience from you, and you need to deliver it. For example, you can improve the customer service of your company, or promote company reviews. However, you also need to make sure that your employees participate in the branding process, so that they know what they are supposed to deliver to customers. They might need training on customer service, but unless you start branding your business, there is no chance of improving performance.

    Once you have decided on the promise you will make to your customers, you need to promote your business brand on social media, and on every other channel that allows interaction. You need to brush up your blog to make sure that it has jaw dropping content that people would bookmark instantly.  This content needs to communicate your brand commitment to customers, and enforce the “voice” of your company.

    HOW WE APPLIED BRANDING TO SOCIAL MEDIA

    I wanted to launch a Social Media campaign for Shopping Cart Elite, but I personally had no time. As a systems company, I also knew that I can’t just hire an inexperienced worker to become a leader, and have her lead the social media campaign. I had to create a system from scratch and experiment with it.

    Around this time, I was introduced to eMyth, and realized that I needed to take the “voice” of the brand that was in my head, and put it on paper, so the new social media manager can relate to it.

    The branding document for Shopping Cart Elite is 4 pages long, however, here is the summary of the document (keep in mind we are in the middle of re-branding which will be completed by 1/1/14):

    Brand commitment is: Shopping Cart Elite will solve our client’s everyday labor intensive, sleep depriving daily grind for their online business in 7 days or less by hiring the right people that can deliver consistent WOW results.

    Voice: eCommerce Scholar for growing online businesses

    Look and Feel: You can finally… (You can finally enjoy a vacation because SCE runs your business)

    Unique Value Proposition: Automate Everything in 30 Days

    Once we got the branding down, it was time to get everyone to embrace it.

    A husband was at a romantic dinner with his wife, when the wife asks the husband “Honey, why don’t you ever say I love you anymore”. After a few seconds, the husband replies, “But honey, I told you I love you when we got married, and I even gave you my vows”.

    Just like a wife would expect her husband to say I love you daily, this is how often you should be repeat your brand to your team to make sure they never forget it.

    Now I know you have a problem with social media, and I am not here to remind you and moan about it. I always suggest answers to these problems.

    I made a video for our client on how to implement the social media system, you can watch the tutorial and see what I did. This took 7 months to build and 3 months to experiment and fine tune. It is now complete, and it works. Besides the video, there is also tools, formulas and supporting courses to go with it.

    Social Media System

    After you watch the video, and you want to take action. First you will need to go through eMyth branding because there is no way you can implement this without a brand in place.

    Then you can reach out to us to see how Shopping Cart Elite can help your business. During the call, you are welcome to request the social media system from the representative you speak to, and they will have it handy to email it to you.

    I call it this the bait value proposition. I will give you our company’s confidential tested system that took months to build, in exchange for less than an hour of your time to show you what else we can do for your company. I think it is a fair deal.

    BUSINESS VALUE

    It’s fun to imagine how much your business is worth. It's not as much fun when you find out that for all the energy you poured into it, a business broker or potential buyer can't see the value you can, or thinks your number is unrealistic. The worst thing is when it turns out as is most often the case, that your business isn't sellable at all.

    No one will want your business if it doesn’t have a brand, or software that can support it. A Shopping Cart that wastes your time on redundant tasks instead of automating them will look very unattractive to a buyer. A shopping cart that is unable to organize your team by using software tools like an integrated support desk with CRM will FAIL your business.

    Shopping Cart Elite is an eCommerce solution which will empower your brand by removing the daily grind from your life, and creating an automated system with every feature you need to connect with your customers. We have built our software from the ground up to support your brand.

    So if you want to mark your spot in the minds of your customers, you need to get things on paper and communicate them to your employees. Then you need a system like Shopping Cart Elite to support those ideas by organizing the workflows and systems to make them happen.

    Fill out the form below and start branding your business today.

    ti

     

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  • Launch your Product like a Boss

    If you have less than five products, then you have to sell them LIKE A BOSS. We ran an experimental program last year with only four clients. One made it till the end thus far, his name is Richard Steward from www.greenfrontierswater.com

    Richard invested into a turnkey program called GRO Project, where we promised him the world and beyond. He even said that our program was too good to be true, but after researching our company, and seeing our A plus track record, he went with his gut feeling and signed up.

    Well, we delivered him what we promised, but it wasn’t easy.

    Richard invested money, one year of his time, and 1300 hours of hard labor into the program while working a full time job. It was a long way coming, and with our help we have finally launched him.

    Here is what we did for him, Target Market Research, Branding, Website, Design, Data Migration, Website Setup and Fine Tuning, Introduction Launch Video, Website Content, Pitchdeck (Ideas, Content and Design), Writing & Proof, Landing Page Email Campaign, Marketing Training, Operations Training and much more.

    Richard is a Champion because he came through with what he promised, Commitment and Perseverance to launch this project no matter how long it would take or how much more it would cost from his initial investment. Richard did most of the content re-writing on the Pitchdeck once the ideas were implemented.

    The target market is aimed towards Healthy Moms and Healthy Moms to be.

    I highly recommend that you check his website, watch the video, and read the Pitchdeck. Hey you may even like his product, and get it for your family.

    If you are interested in launching your brand on Shopping Cart Elite, we can do the same for you as we did for Richard. Website on the World’s Most Sophisticated eCommerce Solution, Video production, Custom Landing Pages, Pitchdeck, Branding, Revamp the whole nine yards.

    Just fill out the form below to speak to someone on our team on how we can help your business grow

    VISIT GREEN FRONTIERS WATER

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  • Testimonial for Shopping Cart Elite

    I found a really good blog post that was written by Kristin Trout, one of our clients. I’ve asked her if I can share it in my newsletter, and she agreed. Keep in mind that we did not ask her to write about this, and she didn’t even tell me that she wrote it. I randomly found it by using Google Alerts.

    Here it is:

    I’m always amazed when people with full-time, professional careers tell me they want to “put up a website to earn extra cash in their spare time,” and then look to me for some directional advice. I don’t even know how to begin the conversation, except to candidly spew out the hard-fast truths, so I say nothing except good luck with that.

    While I admire the spirit of the American Dreamer, I myself am one, it hardly comes without at least some measure of scoffing or eye rolling from me. “Putting up a website” is such a prosaic statement. You are OPENING A BUSINESS. Do you even know what that means? Nothing about opening a business is part time and nothing about it should be approached so casually with the idea of earning “extra cash”. Think about it. When was the last time you got stellar results from a project you worked on by giving it your “spare-time” effort?

    I’ll go ahead and answer for you – NEVER.

    The average American Dreamer predictably makes the rookie mistake of buying into whatever piece of advertising garbage floats across his computer screen, or does a minimal amount of research before succumbing to someone else’s sales jargon. Start a website in 24 hours! Traffic guaranteed! Earn money! Be wealthy! Lay on the beach with fruity drinks in 30 days while your business runs itself! Not even close. Our minds have an amazing capacity to ignore staple pieces of common sense information such as, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And in the case of “putting up a website”, you should run, not walk, in the opposite direction of anyone or any company that promises you fruity drinks in 30 days.

    Opening a business whose marketplace is a global interface, aka an “online business”, is one of this decades biggest challenges for entrepreneurs because of the constantly changing and evolving climate of online business. The average Joe simply doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Ignorance is NOT bliss! Ignorance is well, ignorance and will not make you or your business a success. Walking blindly into a business venture that could sink you and your family financially should not be approached without hundreds of hours of research and planning. And I did say hundreds. Your thinking, my website venture isn’t going to sink me because I’m only planning to invest $500 in it. You should take your $500 and go to a casino where I promise you’ll have a higher return on your investment.

    A common misconception is that setting up an online business is somehow less work then a traditional brick and mortar. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth and almost always elicits a knee jerk reaction from me, forcing me to bite my tongue.

    Let’s take Jane Entrepreneur for example. Jane is a full time working professional and earns $60k a year. That $60k a year barely pays the bills and Jane needs a second source of income. Jane’s a millennial and since she has been exposed to computer technology her whole life, she mistakenly feels confident in her ability to open and operate an ecommerce store. The problem is that Jane hasn’t done her homework and has no idea what the hell she’s doing and naively jumps in with both feet. Here’s how it plays out for Jane.

    Since Jane hasn’t learned anything about ecommerce, she takes the bait from the first website promising the fruity drinks. She pays $500 for a domain and a template. Jane’s in business! Not hardly. It takes Jane about 10 minutes in the admin panel for her frustration to boil over. She realizes she doesn’t understand ANYTHING and that her $500 didn’t buy very much.

    Since Jane works 8-10 hours a day at her “real” job, she quickly realizes she won’t have time to build the website herself. Oh wait, she doesn’t know how to do that. She needs someone to build out her entire website complete with inventory. She takes her hard-earned savings and blindly swipes her debit for $3000 knowing absolutely nothing about what she just bought or the company she bought it from. Excited about this decision, Jane put the project in the hands of a company who outsourced her project to India. A month later, the company delivers back to Jane a website complete with her inventory loaded. Jane’s in business!

    Not quite.

    Since Jane doesn’t know anything about web development, she couldn’t provide any guidance to the company about how to design or structure her website. She doesn’t like the design, the logo, the colors, the navigation, the category organization, the product display, the checkout process, and the entire look and feel. She’s also wondering why there is absolutely no sales copy or text anywhere.

    Jane doesn’t even know where to start.

    She’s $3500 invested, more confused as ever, and in way over her head. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg for Jane. She doesn’t know the first thing about developing a website, much less getting traffic to it, if she can even manage to get past the first hurdle. And what happens if she does get traffic to it (and trust me, this will NOT happen on accident)? Jane works during the day. Who’s going to answer the phone, process the orders, manage the orders, do the accounting, handle returns, deal with difficult customers, status checkers, order inventory, etc..? Her investment now owns her and she is forced to make it work or lose her $3500 investment.

    How can Jane make it work? Jane needs to learn how to run a business before she tries to start one. Herein lies the problem with so many others like Jane. They don’t see the big picture. Your website is only a platform to market your business. Your website is NOT your business, but rather a tool to market your business.

    If you’ve made it this far in this blog post, you might be travelling down a path like Jane.

    STOP.

    You can avoid being in the 50 percentile of first-year failed start-ups. Research supports that 46% of failed businesses fail because of INCOMPETENCE. Jane was incompetent.

    You can avoid going down a similar path by taking the right steps that will set you and your business up for success instead of failure. You must read and study. Then read some more. Then when you’re burned out on reading, go for a walk and come back and read something else relevant to what you’re trying to do. Aside from Google searching, books “on-tape” are awesome, you can download them on audible.com and get through a lot of information quickly. Every business start-up should read the E-Myth Revisited, followed by Traction. That will be a great start for you.

    When you get to the website part, forget all the garbage platforms promising fruity drinks and proceed directly to Shopping Cart Elite. I just saved you 30+ hours of research on shopping cart platforms. Not just the most advanced shopping cart platform on the market today, but you will learn from revered thought leader, Igor Soshkin, creator of Shopping Cart Elite. I can promise you that no other company will care about you, your business, your marketing plan, or ultimately your success. Shopping Cart Elite provides a true road map to success for your business, but it’s ultimately up to you to put the time in. And this is where those hundreds of hours come in. What I’ve learned as a SCE client has not only changed the way our business thinks, strategizes, and implements, but it’s changed me personally, too.

    Put the time in, do your homework, and level-up your incompetence so you can have the business you dream of having and eventually earn the right to those fruity drinks.

    Kristin T.

    Read more…
  • SMART PACKING WITH SHOPPING CART ELITE

    bin packing,3d bin packing, bin, bin problem, packing, ups, fedex, usps
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  • SEO Blueprint

    If you’re like most SEOs, you spend a lot of time reading. Over the past several years, I’ve spent 100s of hours studying blogs, guides, and Google patents. Not long ago, I realized that 90% of what I read each doesn’t changewhat I actually do - that is, the basic work of ranking a web page higher on Google.

    For newer SEOs, the process can be overwhelming.

    To simplify this process, I created this SEO blueprint. It’s meant as a framework for newer SEOs to build their own work on top of. This basic blueprint has helped, in one form or another, 100s of pages and dozens of sites to gain higher rankings.

    Think of it as an intermediate SEO instruction manual, for beginners.

    Level: Beginner to Intermediate

    Timeframe: 2 to 10 Weeks

    What you need to know: The blueprint assumes you have basic SEO knowledge: you’re not scared of title tags, can implement a rel=canonical, and you’ve built a link or two. (If this is your first time to the rodeo, we suggest reading the Beginners Guide to SEO and browsing our Learn SEO section.)

    How To Rank SEO Blueprint

    Table of Contents


    Keyword Research

    1. Working Smarter, Not Harder

    Keyword research can be simple or hard, but it should always be fun. For the sake of the Blueprint, let’s do keyword research the easy way.

    The biggest mistakes people make with keyword research are:

    1. Choosing keywords that are too broad
    2. Keywords with too much competition
    3. Keywords without enough traffic
    4. Keywords that don’t convert
    5. Trying to rank for one keyword at a time

    The biggest mistake people make is trying to rank for a single keyword at a time. This is the hard way. It’s much easier, and much more profitable, to rank for 100s or even 1,000s of long tail keywords with the same piece of content.

    Instead of ranking for a single keyword, let’s aim our project around a keyword theme.

    2. Dream Your Keyword Theme

    Using keyword themes solves a whole lot of problems. Instead of ranking for one Holy Grail keyword, a better goal is to rank for lots of keywords focused around a single idea. Done right, the results are amazing.

    Easy Keyword Research

    I assume you know enough about your business to understand what type of visitor you’re seeking and whether you’re looking for traffic, conversions, or both. Regardless, one simple rule holds true: the more specific you define your theme, the easier it is to rank.

    This is basic stuff, but it bears repeating. If your topic is the football, you’ll find it hard to rank for  “Super Bowl,” but slightly easier to rank for “Super Bowl 2014” - and easier yet to rank for “Best Super Bowl Recipes of 2014.”

    Don’t focus on specific words yet - all you need to know is your broad topic. The next step is to find the rightkeyword qualifiers.

    3. Get Specific with Qualifiers

    Qualifiers are words that add specificity to keywords and define intent. They take many different forms.

    • Time/Date: 2001, December, Morning
    • Price/Quality: Cheap, Best, Most Popular
    • Intent: Buy, Shop, Find
    • Location: Houston, Outdoors, Online

    The idea is to find as many qualifiers as possible that fit your audience. Here’s where keyword tools enter the picture. You can use any keyword tool you like, but favorites include WordstreamKeyword SpySpyFu, and Bing Keyword Tool and Übersuggest.

    For speed and real-world insight, Übersuggest is an all-time SEO favorite. Run a simple query and export over 100 suggested keyword based on Google’s own Autocomplete feature – based on actual Google searches.

    Did I mention it’s free?

    4. Finding Diamonds in the Google Rough

    At this point you have a few dozen, or a few hundred keywords to pull into Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

    Pro Tip #1: While it’s possible to run over a hundred keyword phrases at once in Google’s Keyword Tool, you get more variety if you limit your searches to 5-10 at a time.

    Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Tool

    Using “Exact” search types and “Local Monthly” search volume, we’re looking for 10-15 closely related keyword phrases with decent search volume, but not too much competition.

    Pro Tip #2: Be careful trusting the “Competition” column in Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This refers to bids on paid search terms, not organic search.

    5. Get Strategic with the Competition

    Now that we have a basic keyword set, you need to find out if you can actually rank for your phrases. You have two basic methods of ranking the competition:

    1. Automated tools like the Keyword Difficulty Tool
    2. Eyeballing the SERPs

    If you have an SEOmoz PRO membership (or even a free trial) the Keyword Difficulty Tool calculates – on a 100 point scale – a difficulty score for each individual keyword phrase you enter.

    Keyword Difficulty Tool

    Keyword phrases in the 60-70+ range are typically competitive, while keywords in the 30-40 range might be considered low to moderately difficult.

    To get a better idea of your own strengths, take the most competitive keyword you currently rank #1 or #2 for, and run it through the tool.

    Even without automated tools, the best way to size up the competition is to eyeball the SERPs. Run a search query (non-personalized) for your keywords and ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are the first few results optimized for the keyword?
    • Is the keyword in the title tag? In the URL? On the page?
    • What’s the Page and/or Domain Authority of the URL?
    • Are the first few results authorities on the keyword subject?
    • What’s the inbound anchor text?
    • Can you deliver a higher quality resource for this keyword?

    You don’t actually have to rank #1 for any of your chosen words to earn traffic, but you should be comfortable cracking the top five.

    With keyword themes, the magic often happens from keywords you never even thought about.

    Case Study: Google Algo Update

    When SEOmoz launched the Google Algorithm Change HIstory (run by Dr. Pete) we used a similar process for keyword research to explore the theme “Google Algorithm” and more specifically, “Google Algorithm Change.”

    According to Google’s search tool, we could expect a no more than a couple thousand visits a month – best case – for these exact terms. Fortunately, because the project was well received and because we optimized around a broad keyword theme of “Google Algorithm,” the Algo Update receives lots of traffic outside our pre-defined keywords.

    This is where the long tail magic happens:

    Long Tail Keywords

    How can you improve your chances of ranking for more long tail keywords? Let’s talk about content, architecture, on-page optimization and link building.


    Content

    6. Creating Value

    Want to know the truth? I hate the word content. It implies words on a page, a commodity to be produced, separated from the value it creates.

    Content without value is spam.

    In the Google Algorithm Update example above, we could have simply written 100 articles about Google’s Algorithm and hoped to rank. Instead, the conversation started by asking how we could create a valuable resource for webmasters.

    For your keyword theme, ask first how you can create value.

    Value is harder to produce than mere words, but value is rewarded 100x more. Value is future proof & algorithm proof. Value builds links by itself. Value creates loyal fans.

    Value takes different forms. It’s a mix of:

    1. Utility
    2. Emotional response
    3. Point of view (positive or negative)
    4. Perceived value, including fame of the author

    Your content doesn’t have to include all 4 of these characteristics, but it should excel in one or more to be successful.

    A study of the New York Times found key characteristics of content to be influential in making the Most Emailed list.

    New York Times Most Emailed
    Source: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528077\

    7. Driving Your Content Vehicle

    Here’s a preview: the Blueprint requires you create at least one type of link bait, so now is a good time to think about the structure of your content.

    What’s the best way to deliver value given your theme? Perhaps it’s an

    • Infographic
    • Video series
    • A new tool
    • An interview series
    • Slide deck
    • How-to guide
    • Q&A
    • Webinar or simple blog post

    Perhaps, it’s all of these combined.

    The more ways you find to deliver your content and the more channels you take advantage of, the better off you’ll be.

    Not all of your content has to go viral, but you want to create at least one “tent-pole” piece that’s better than anything else out there and you’re proud to hang your hat on.

    If you need inspiration, check out Distilled's guide to Viral Linkbait or QuickSprout’s Templates for Content Creation.

    8. Title – Most Important Work Goes Here

    Spend two hours, minimum, writing your title.

    Sound ridiculous? If you’re an experienced title writer like Rand Fishkin, you can break this rule. For the rest of us, it’s difficult to underplay the value delivered by a finely crafted title.

    Write 50 titles or more before choosing one.

    Study the successful titles on Inbound.orgMashableWired, or your favorite publication.

    Headline Formulas Work

    Whatever you do, read this fantastic post by Dan Shure and the headline resources at CopyBlogger.

    9. Length vs. Depth - Why it Matters

    How long should your content be? A better question is: How deep should it be? Word count by itself is a terrible metric to strive for, but depth of content helps you to rank in several ways.

    1. Adds uniqueness threshold to avoid duplicate content
    2. Deeper topic exploration makes your content “about” more
    3. Quality, longer content is correlated with more links and higher rankings

    I. Uniqueness

    At a minimum, your content needs to meet a minimum uniqueness threshold in order for it to rank. Google reps have gone on record to say a couple sentences is sometimes sufficient, but in reality a couple hundred words is much safer.

    II. Long Tail Opportunities

    Here’s where the real magic happens. The deeper your content and the more in-depth you can explore a particular topic, the more your content becomes “about.”

    The more your content is “about”, the more search queries it can answer well.

    The more search queries you can answer well, the more traffic you can earn.

    Google’s crawlers continuously read your content to determine how relevant it is to search queries. They evaluate paragraphs, subject headings, photographs and more to try to understand your page. Longer, in-depth content usually send more relevancy signals than a couple short sentences.

    III. Depth, Length, and Links

    Numerous correlation studies have shown a positive relationship between rankings and number of words in a document.

    “The length in HTML and the HTML within the <body> tag were the highest correlated factors, in fact with correlations of .12 they could be considered somewhat if not hugely significant.

    While these factors probably are not implemented within the algorithm, they are good signs of what Google is looking for; quality content, which in many cases means long or at least sufficiently lengthy pages.”

    - Mark Collier The Open Algorithm

    This could be attributed longer, quality content earning more links. John Doherty examined the relationship between the length of blog posts on SEOmoz and the number of links each post earned, and found a strong relationship.

    Links based on wordcount

    10. Content Qualities You Can Bank On

    If you don’t focus on word count, how do you add quality “depth” to your content?

    SEOs have written volumes about how Google might define quality including metrics such as reading level, grammar, spelling, and even Author Rank. Most is speculation, but it’s clear Google does use guidelines to separate good content from bad.

    My favorite source for clues comes from the set of questions Google published shortly after the first Panda update. Here are a few of my favorites.

    Google Panda Questions

    11. LDA, nTopic, and Words on the Page

    Google is a machine. It can’t yet understand your page like a human can, but it’s getting close.

    Search engines use sophisticated algorithms to model your sentences, paragraphs, blocks, and content sections. Not only do they want to understand your keywords, but also your topic, intent, and expertise as well.

    How do you know if your content fits Google’s model of expectations?

    For example, if your topic is “Super Bowl Recipes,” Google might expect to see content about grilling, appetizers, and guacamole. Content that addresses these topics will likely rank higher than pages that talk about what color socks you’re wearing today.

    Words matter.

    SEOs have discovered that using certain words around a topic associated with concepts like LDA and nTopic arecorrelated with higher rankings.

    Virante offers an interesting stand alone keyword suggestion tool called nTopic. The tools analyzes your keywords and suggests related keywords to improve your relevancy scores.

    nTopic

    12. Better than LDA - Poor Man's Topic Modeling

    Since we don’t have access to Google’s computers for topic modeling, there’s a far simpler way to structure your content that I find far superior to worrying about individual words:

    Use the keyword themes you created at the beginning of this blueprint.

    You’ve already done the research using Google’s keyword tool to find closely related keyword groups. Incorporating these topics into your content may help increase your relevancy to your given topic.

    Example: Using the Google Algorithm project cited above, we found during keyword research that certain keywords related to our theme show up repeatedly, time and time again. If we conducted this research today, we would find phrases like “Penguin SEO” and “Panda Updates” frequently in our results.

    Google suggests these terms via the keyword tool because they consider them closely related. So any content that explored “Google Algorithm Change” might likely include a discussion of these ideas.

    Poor Man's Topic Modeling

    Note: This isn't real LDA, simply a way of adding relevant topics to your content that Google might associate with your subject matter.

    13. Design Is 50% of the Battle

    If you have any money in your budget, spend it on design. A small investment with a designer typically pays outsized dividends down the road. Good design can:

    • Lower bounce rate
    • Increase page views
    • Increase time on site
    • Earn more links
    • Establish trust

    … All of which can help earn higher rankings.

    “Design doesn’t just matter, it’s 50% of the battle.”
    -Rand Fishkin

    Dribbble.com

    Dribbble.com is one of our favorite source of design inspiration.


    Architecture

    Here’s the special secret of the SEO Blueprint: you’re not making a single page to rank; you’re making several.

    14. Content Hubs

    Very few successful websites consist of a single page. Google determines context and relevancy not only by what’s on your page, but also by the pages around it and linking to it.

    The truth is, it’s far easier to rank when you create Content Hubs exploring several topics in depth focused around a central theme.

    Using our “Super Bowl Recipes” example, we might create a complete section of pages, each exploring a different recipe in depth.

    Content Hub for SEO

    15. Linking the Hub Together

    Because your pages now explore different aspects of the same broad topic, it makes sense to link them together.

    • Your page about guacamole relates to your page about nachos.
    • Your page about link building relates to your page about infographics.
    • Your page about Winston Churchill relates to major figures of World War II.

    Linking Your Content Hub

    It also helps them to rank by distributing PageRankanchor text, and other relevancy signals.

    16. Find Your Center

    Content Hubs work best with a “hub” or center. Think of the center as the master document that acts as an overview or gateway to all of your individual content pages.

    The hub is the authority page. Often, the hub is a link bait page or a category level page. It’s typically the page with the most inbound links and often as a landing page for other sections of your site.

    Center of the SEO Content Hub

    For great example of Hub Pages, check out:


    On-Page Optimization

    17. Master the Basics

    You could write an entire book about on-page optimization. If you’re new to SEO, one of the best ways to learn is by using SEOmoz’s On-page Report Card (free, registration required) The tool grades 36 separate on-page SEO elements, gives you a report and suggestions on how to fix each element. Working your way through these issues is an excellent way to learn (and often used by agencies and companies as a way to teach SEO principals)

    On-Page Tool

    Beyond the basics, let’s address a few slightly more advanced tactics to take advantage of your unique keyword themes and hub pages, in addition to areas where beginners often make mistakes.

    18. Linking Internally for the Reasonable Surfer

    Not all links are created equal (One of the greatest SEO blog posts ever written!) So, when you interlink your internal pages within your content hub together, keep in mind a few important points.

    1. Links from inside unique content pass more value than navigation links.
    2. Links higher up the page pass more value than links further down.
    3. Links in HTML text pass more weight than image links.

    When interlinking your content, it’s best to keep links prominent and “editorial” – naturally link to your most important content pages higher up in the HTML text.

    19. Diversify Your Anchor Text - Naturally

    If Google’s Penguin update taught us anything, it’s that over-thinking anchor text is bound to get us in trouble.

    When you link naturally and editorially to other places on the web, you naturally diversify your anchor text. The same should hold true when you link internally.

    Don’t choose your anchor text to fit your keywords; choose your anchor text to fit the content around it.

    Practically speaking, this means linking internally with a mix of partial match keyword and related phrases. Don’t be scared to link occasionally without good keywords in the anchor – the link can still pass relevancy signals. When it comes to linking, it’s safer to under-do it than over-do it.

    Choose Descriptive Anchor Text

    Source: Google's SEO Starter Guide

    20. Title Tags - Two Quick Tips

    We assume you know how to write a compelling title tag. Even today, keyword usage in the title tag is one of the most highly correlated on-page ranking factors that we know.

    That said, Google is getting strict about over-optimizing title tags, and appears to be further cracking down on titles “written for SEO.” Keep this in mind when crafting your title tags

    I. Avoid Boilerplates

    It used to be common to tack on your business phrase or main keywords to the end of every title tag, like so:

    • Plumbing Supplies – Chicago Plumbing and Fixtures
    • Pipes & Fittings – Chicago Plumbing and Fixtures
    • Toilet Seat Covers – Chicago Plumbing and Fixtures

    While we don’t have much solid data, many SEOs are now asserting that “boilerplate” titles tacked on to the end of every tag are no longer a good idea. Brand names and unique descriptive information is okay, but making every title as unique as possible is the rule of the day.

    II. Avoid Unnecessary Repetition

    Google also appears (at least to many SEOs) to be cracking down on what’s considered the lower threshold of “keyword stuffing.”

    In years past it was a common rule of thumb never to repeat your keyword more than twice in the title. Today, to be on the safe side, you might be best to consider not repeating your keywords more than once.

    21. Over-Optimization: Titles, URLs, and Links

    Writing for humans not only gets you more clicks (which can lead to higher rankings), but hardly ever gets you in trouble with search engines.

    As SEOs we're often tempted to get a "perfect score" which means exactly matching our title tags, URLs, inbound anchor text, and more. unfortunately, this isn't natural in the real world, and Google recognizes this.

    Diversify. Don’t over-optimize.

    22. Structured Data

    Short and simple: Make structured data part of every webpage. While structured data hasn’t yet proven to be a large ranking factor, it’s future-facing value can be seen today in rich snippet SERPs and social media sharing. In some verticals, it’s an absolute necessity.

    rich snippets

    There’s no rule of thumb about what structured data to include, but the essentials are:

    • Facebook Open Graph tags
    • Twitter Cards
    • Authorship
    • Publisher
    • Business information
    • Reviews
    • Events

    To be honest, if you’re not creating pages with structured data, you’re probably behind the times.

    For an excellent guide about Micro Data and Schema.org, check out this fantastic resource from SEOGadget.


    Building Links

    23. The 90/10 Rule of Link Building

    This blueprint contains 25 steps to rank your content, but only the last three address link building. Why so few? Because 90% of your effort should go into creating great content, and 10% into link building.

    If you have a hard time building links, it may be because you have these numbers reversed.

    Creating great content first solves a ton of problems down the line:

    1. Good content makes link building easier
    2. Attracts higher quality links in less time
    3. Builds links on its own even when sleeping or on vacation

    If you’re new to marketing or relatively unknown, you may need to spend more than 10% of your time building relationships, but don’t let that distract you from crafting the type of content that folks find so valuable they link to you without you even asking.

    90-10 Rule of Link Building

    24. All Link Building is Relationships - Good & Bad

    This blueprint doesn't go into link building specifics, as there are 100's of ways to build quality links to every good project. That said, a few of my must have link building resources:

    1. Jon Cooper's Complete List of Link Building Strategies
    2. StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
    3. Citation Labs
    4. Promoted Tweets
    5. Ontolo
    6. eReleases - Press releases not for links, but for exposer
    7. BuzzStream
    8. Paddy Moogan's excellent Link Building Book

    These resources give you the basic tools and tactics for a successful link building campaign, but keep in mind that all good link building is relationship building.

    Successful link builders understand this and foster each relationship and connection. Even a simple outreach letter can be elevated to an advanced form of relationship building with a little effort, as this Whiteboard Friday by Rand so graciously illustrates.
     

    25. Tier Your Link Building... Forever

    The truth is, for professionals, link building never ends. Each content and link building campaign layers on top of previous content and the web as a whole like layers of fine Greek baklava.

    For example, this post could be considered linkbait for SEOmoz, but it also links generously to several other content pieces within the Moz family and externally as well; spreading both the link love and the relationship building as far as possible at the same time.

    SEOmoz links generously to other sites: the link building experience is not just about search engines, but the people experience, as well. We link to great resources and build links for the best user experience possible. When done right, the search engines reward exactly this type of experience with higher rankings.

    For an excellent explanation as to why you should link out to external sites when warranted, read AJ Kohns excellent work, Time to Long Click.

    One of my favorite posts on SEOmoz was 10 Ugly SEO Tools that Actually Rock. Not only was the first link on the page directed to our own SEO tools, but we linked and praised our competitors as well.

    Linkbait at its finest.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/13UrAwJ, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that has can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog. 

    Read more…
  • You start selling products on Amazon and grossing fifty thousand per month in sales. You are absolutely killing it until one day, two of your competitors mysteriously show up and hi-jack your Amazon listings.

    You did all the hard work in creating the listings, sell the products, generate reviews, and then they just swoop in and steal it all from you. All they had to do is copy your ASIN number using a software such as Easy Data Feed and map those ASINS to their own products before submitting them over to Amazon. As a result they will link their products with their cheaper prices to the listing you’ve created that already have reviews.

    Even worse, is when the manufacturer makes a deal with Amazon and sends the product directly to them, so Amazon can do the fulfillment, and next thing you know your product is being sold by Amazon at your cost with free 2nd day shipping.

    Actually there is even a worse scenario, you started your business less than two years ago, and after doing everything you possibly can with marketing, social media, email marketing, pay per click, etc. You are not making sales, and you start to realize that your industry has been commoditized, and the only way to succeed is to focus on volume of sales and not profit margins.

    Wait a second… there is one more scenario that is worse than all the above. You took this test and realized the fact that your target market is a bunch of price sensitive Amazon loving hagglers that spend one month doing price research, and then they still try to nickel and dime you to get their $25 product.

    WHAT NOW?

    Run, Run, and Run while you have the chance. Unfortunately for one of my clients, it is not an easy decision. He has a brick and mortar store and his use to the healthy 30% - 50% profit margins. His taking a stand that it is not all about the price; it is about your brand and your customer service.

    He has a valid point, and maybe he can even make it work. But he has two problems,

    The odds are not in his favor because his market is unhealthy as it has been commoditized. There are people making millions in sales without knowing a thing about branding or customer service, and the only reason that is happening because of what they are selling.

    If the customer does not have money and you don’t have a strong unique value proposition then no matter what you do with your brand, your sales will suffer. You only have a chance to make this work if you truly know what you are doing, and can genuinely identify what makes your value proposition better than your competitors to make it in an unhealthy market.

    We were able to pull this off with Shopping Cart Elite even though our industry is commoditized with hundreds of Shopping Carts, our value proposition is that we can automate everything in your business in 30 days or less. In addition, we are able to solve most technology challenges because Shopping Cart Elite is truly the most sophisticated Shopping Cart in the world.

    Other companies pull it off differently; Coca Cola spends hundreds of millions on advertising. Their secret is they have so much High Fructose Corn Syrup (50 tablespoons of sugar per can) in their drink that they literally get you addicted to it. They know that once they acquire a customer, they will make money on you on a recurring basis.

    Amazon does the same thing, they can sell almost at cost, but they know that the lifetime of your business will translate into a lot of revenue.

    All of these companies use a metric that is equivalent to lifetime value of the customer and not a profit margin on one sale.

    HOW DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE THAT YOU ARE IN A CRAPHOLE

    If this test shows you are 50% or less success rate, Amazon Prime is selling your product, you have done absolutely everything you can on the product sales copy, and you are still not converting your real high engagement traffic that you actually pay for (ex: Google Shopping Traffic) then you are in a craphole.

    You have three options at this point:

    1)      EXIT

    2)      SWITCH TO VOLUME BUSINESS MODEL

    3)      SWITCH TO WHITE LABEL BUSINESS MODEL

    EXIT

    You’ve probably seen some businesses for sale on Flippa that have been declining. They may seem like legitimate deals, but they are probably in a situation where they are executing the exit option.

    You should consider selling your business because there is a ton of people that would buy a struggling business with hopes of reviving it.

    OUR EXIT STORY

    Let me tell you a personal story about our previous company that was in the aftermarket RESTYLING auto parts industry for cars. Restyling including body parts such as Body Kits, Fenders, M3 Mirrors and Exhaust tips, etc. The reason I mention restyling and cars because that particular segment got hit the hardest in 2006.

    Here is what was going on (And still is). China offers Chinese manufacturers 13% - 17% rebate for exporting goods overseas. So what the Chinese manufacturers started doing was open up warehouses in US and ship directly to their own warehouses.

    Let’s say a Fender costs $5 to manufacture, what the Chinese manufacturers would do is send the fender to himself and declare it as $150 each. He would go ahead and pay the taxes when it arrived in the US, which is a few hundred dollars. In return, China would pay the manufacturer 13% of the declared value or $20 for that same fender that actually cost $5.

    So the Chinese manufacturers were able to ship garbage into US, bring it into a warehouse and even after paying for Shipping and taxes, the landing cost would be $0. In fact, they made money for sending garbage into US.

    Then these factories started recruiting their comrades to open more warehouses to store all of this garbage. After all how can you beat “FREE” product.  

    What these people did not understand is the basics of Supply and Demand. As more and more of the same product entered the market, the less of demand there would be for it. This started in 2003, and by 2006, these distributors started to go bankrupt because they couldn’t throw away 20,000 SQ FT of garbage for free, and you still need to pay rent, employees, etc.

    It was bad enough they were selling products at no charge, and trying to make a buck on shipping. But, once they went bankrupt, and the liquidators came in they were literally handing out the products to avoid the disposable cost.

    When we realized what was happening, we immediately diverted our focus on brand name products, which were heavily commoditized due to Amazon, eBay and others. We did not want to get into the volume business model, so we exited the industry.

    The point of the story is you don’t know what is going on in the background with Amazon or your suppliers. They all need to survive, and they will all back door you the first chance they get if things are not going well for them. If you have a gut feeling that your industry is doomed, then it is time to rethink your strategy.

    You need to decide to get in bed with them by finding a creative way to work together, or get out.

    VOLUME BUSINESS MODEL

    It might not make sense for you to sell something at a 5% profit margin. However, if you do the math it might actually make sense. For example, there is a seller on eBay that I know of that sells wheels at 5% profit margin after all the fees. He sells three million dollars per month on eBay making 150,000 net profits.

    The idea has to be tested because it is all about numbers and economics. How much can you sell, what is the acquisition cost, and what is the overhead (returns, employees, etc.). I wrote an excellent article on how Wayfair did it with drop shipping, and if you have the cash flow then it may work.

    If you do not have the cash flow to fund this type of operation, and there is no way for you to get a NET account from your supplier or borrow a loan, then this will not work.

    In addition, you have to be an expert in building operational systems. Before you go into the volume business model, try to make it work in theory first.

    I also highly recommend that you take my eBay course which covers how to steal competitor’s sales data to predict what will sell.

    WHITE LABEL BUSINESS MODEL

    Honestly this is my favorite business model because it has the most profit margins per sale. There are four types of white label business models

    1)      White Label Drop Ship – You would take a product that has no brand, slap your brand on it and have it drop shipped to the customer.

    2)      White Label Manufacturer – You would look up where your competitor, distributor or manufacturer sources their products from overseas and you would go to that manufacturer direct. Ask them to give you the same product with your brand on it. Then you would sell both your brand and the competing brand on your website.

    3)      Switch and Bait – If you do #1 or #2, you would then focus all of your attention to win your brand over your competitor brand. If you think that’s shady, than you should not be surprised that all the fortune 500 retailers are doing it. You can sell your own house brand and even openly say that this is exact the same manufacturer that makes it.

    If your customers are already price sensitive amazon loving hagglers than they will love you and your new brand, along with your cheaper prices.

    I always tell people don’t judge a product by its cover. Just look behind on the nutritional chart, most of the house brand products have exactly the same ingredients as the brand names. You got to be a complete J-A#$ to think that they are different products. Go to the store and look at the toothpaste, they all contain the same level of poisoning fluoride, the only difference is they use some poisoning food coloring to make it look pretty.

    4)      Affiliate Reseller Get in bed with Amazon. Sell products for the same price as Amazon sells. Then use your Credit Card to order the product from Amazon and have it drop shipped directly. By using your Amazon affiliate link, you will get six to eight percent commission for the referred sale, as well as three percent kick back from the credit card. If you can automate the ordering process with a piece of software such as Easy Data Feed, then the cost of doing business this way will be minimal, and you are making your 10%.

    Inside Shopping Cart Elite you go view the performance reports, and start with the most viewed products. Divert traffic from these products to your white label products using promotional banners. You will see your sales sky rocket overnight. Here is a screen shot of what the report looks like.

    If you want to get more ideas on the white label business model, it is covered in this course here.

    As you can see we know eCommerce very well, we are EXPERTS IN ECOMMERCE because we literally experienced it all over the last decade.

    Shopping Cart Elite can help you grow your business. We will use our knowledge, software and marketing systems to solve any of your challenges and make sure you out grow your competitors.

    Fill out the trial form below to speak to us today. TRY SCE FOR 15 DAYS

    Meet Tom Video - Shopping Cart Software Comparsion
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  • Mark was an average guy with a steady 9-5 job. He had insurance and two vacation weeks every year. He had just bought a house in the suburbs, and was planning to buy his second car. Despite living a life of moderate luxury, Mark was deeply unsatisfied with his professional life. He was a born leader and an innovator, and a regular desk job just didn’t cut it. Mark realized that it was time for him to move forward and start his own business.

    Mark identified a need in the market for a particular product and had designed a business model around it.  He used his life savings to start his business. His idea was brilliant, and there was no reason for it to be unsuccessful.

    Three months after the launch, Mark was facing difficulties. His promising product was not delivering, despite and his business model was crumbling.

    One year later, Mark was forced to file for bankruptcy. His business had died a miserable death. Mark was not alone, thousands of startups just like Mark’s die in their first year.

    I meet online business owners every day who face the exact problems Mark did. They have identified the starting point and destination on their roadmap to success, but they cannot choose their road.  You need to design and optimize how to run your business on a day to day basis, without having to work 100 hours every week.

    The road you take needs to be a complete business solution. A solution that automates your business like Shopping Cart Elite.

    Shopping Cart Elite is the most sophisticated eCommerce solution ever designed because it minimizes the amount of man power you have to invest in your business by automating business tasks. You can track and update your inventory, optimize ad campaigns and track the progress of your employees from a single platform.

    If your business were an engine, Shopping Cart Elite would be the mechanism that makes sure that all the individual parts are working properly.

    In fact, we have also developed a formula to help predict your chances of success.  Use the chart below to see if your business has at least a 70% short term success rate. If you do have 70% or more and you are not growing on your current platform, then DO NOT WAIT! The window of opportunity will pass.

    How to Cross the Chasm from Startup to Enterprise

    Use our chart to avoid making the same mistakes Mark did. Don’t let your business die in its first year. Let’s build your business today using Shopping Cart Elite.

    Read more…