SUCCESS STRATEGIES

Ideas and Information You Can Use To Grow Your Business

Thoughts, Ideas and Observations by Buck Lawrimore, Company President

Strategic Planning In The 21st Century – What Works Now

strategic planningStrategic planning evolved in the second half of the 20th Century, after World War II, as a way to apply methods that worked effectively in warfare to peacetime situations, especially in industry. Today the world is so different and fast-changing, old-style strategic planning can be a self-defeating waste of time, money and resources, yet certain fundamentals are still valuable. It is important to understand what works now in order to make good management and leadership decisions in the 21st Century.

A Quick Review Of A Half Century

Strategic planning was found to be highly effective in post-war American industry. Ford Motor Company employed a brilliant man named Robert McNamara to lead its strategic planning efforts, and many improvements in productivity and profits were achieved. As word of strategic planning’s power spread, more and more companies adopted it, with generally positive results.

What these early practitioners did not realize is that strategic planning was working because it was being applied to companies, primarily manufacturers, where all the key variables were under control, under one roof. Raw materials came in one end of the plant, workers modified and assembled them, and cars and other products came out the other end.

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Emails Not Getting Through? New DMARC Rules May Be The Reason

dmarc-graphicDMARC is a new standard for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance” (more at http://www.dmarc.org). Basically it means that if you or your website or your software send an email where the “from” field is not the same as the domain actually sending the website, then AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and others are likely to consider it spam and bounce it back.

This is a special problem for blogs and websites like this one which are running on WordPress. If you send an online contact form using your own email address such as janesmith22@gmail.com or johnbrown44@yahoo.com, the email message is “actually” coming from the site where the contact form is located, such as Lciweb.com in our case.

Big email servers see that incoming message, compare the “from” address with the actual website address, and BOING! back it goes, never reaching the intended recipient(s).

So the fix is simple (once you know how): Change the online form so the “from” field uses a real email address like contact@thiswebsite.com, and add a new field (also called “additional header”) where the customer’s email address goes, and – Voila! problem solved.

I just did this fix for a client’s WordPress site, after a good bit of research to understand the problem and the solution, and thought I would share it with all my friends and followers out there on the worldwideweb. Go and do likewise!

Create Your Own Branded Blog-Website To Promote Yourself Online

Internet-web-design
More and more people come to us at Lawrimore Inc. wanting to establish an identity separate from their company website, or to stick their toe in the entrepreneurial waters without taking a lot of risk. This is important especially for people who work for big companies or want to offer consulting services.

When people first meet you or hear your name and want to learn more, they are very likely to Google you or use some other search engine. From that point forward, you control the impression they get. It’s like having a big online business card. Everyone needs one because in the 21st Century you are a brand, and the value you offer to the marketplace as either a business owner, employee or solo practitioner needs to be made clear in your own branded website.

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Google Selects Charlotte Area For Possbile Ultra-High-Speed Fiber Network

The following announcement was received at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, by the editors of CharlotteAreaNews.com, owned and operated by Lawrimore Inc. We are excited to share this news with our readers and followers.

A few minutes ago, Google announced that Charlotte is one of nine metro areas around the country that might get access to Google Fiber, an ultra high-speed fiber network that lets customers use the web at speeds that are up to 100 times faster than basic broadband.

It takes a lot of collaboration with cities to build a new network. So that’s why, over the next few months, Charlotte will be working closely with Google on a joint-planning process, to determine what it would take to build a new fiber-optic network in the area. Later this year, Google will provide updates on which cities will get Google Fiber. You can read more about this announcement — and about Google Fiber — on the Google Fiber blog.

Google chose to work with Charlotte because there are many business-savvy and tech-friendly entrepreneurs in the area, and Google would love to see what these innovative Charlotte residents could do with a gigabit network like Google Fiber.

Over the last few years, gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, with dozens of communities working hard to build networks with speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today. People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority. Hundreds of mayors from across the nation have stated that abundant high-speed Internet access is essential for sparking innovation, driving economic growth and improving education. Portland, Nashville and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a key pillar of their city plans. And Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, declared in June that every school should have access to gigabit speeds by 2020.

We have long believed that the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it’s fantastic to see this momentum.  And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks.  So we’ve invited cities in 9 metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.



We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’re going to work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.

We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.

While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network.  In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog by industry expert Joanne Hovis.  Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.

We will be your local contacts for getting in touch with the folks at Google Fiber going forward, so please let us know if you have any questions. If you are interested in Fiber updates, signup here.

Thanks,

Billy Warden / 919.412.0630

Tired Of Being Tracked Online? Try This Private Browser

epic-browser-imageWe learned about this ultra-private browser today from MacInTouch.com, but it also works as well on a PC. Funded in part by the Washington Post, this browser not only blocks all attempts to track you and stick you with ads from where-you’ve-been, but also allows you to use a proxy IP address so those darn tracking sites can’t even tell where you’re coming from. Here’s the short brief from MacInTouch:

Epic Privacy Browser has been recently updated. The free browser from Alok Bhardwaj and Hidden Reflex is designed specifically to provide comprehensive privacy protection, while also providing fast performance. It blocks a huge collection of tracking mechanisms; offers a built-in proxy system to hide your IP address (shown as a green or red plug on the side of the address/search bar); and uses its own, private search engine to protect privacy while earning commissions on searches). (SeeEpic FAQ for more details.) Free and open-source, Epic 31.0.1650.63 (188037) is built on a Chromium foundation and runs on Mac OS X 10.6 and later” as well as on PCs.

Want private browsing? Get Epic.

What Is Content Marketing? How to Understand and Use It Profitably

What Is Content Marketing?
How To Understand It And Use It Profitably
By Lawrimore Inc. – Lawrimore.com

Content Marketing is the new way to get higher search rankings and increased sales by creating useful, informative content that is appealing both to your target markets and also to Google and other search engines. Content can be in the form of web pages, blog posts, long articles, white papers, videos, social media posts and tweets, public relations – almost any form of media that can be “read” by people and  search engines.

The new emphasis on Content Marketing is largely a result of recent changes in how Google ranks websites – so important because a top rank in Google, Bing and other search engines can be worth thousands or millions of dollars in increased revenue for a company or organization. How do you best take advantage of these changes in the ever-swirling world of online marketing and social media so that your company comes out on top with increased sales and an improved brand reputation?

12StepContentMarketingPyramidThe answer is not to focus entirely on Content Marketing on the Internet but to integrate all forms of marketing with your corporate goals and strategies in a step-by-step process we call the 12-Step Content Marketing Pyramid (a larger version will be shown below). But don’t worry – the process we explain here is so simple any business, large or small, can follow it.

By following these steps, you can drive your business from its vision and positioning at the top, to meeting with new customers and closing sales at the base of the pyramid. In between are 10 key steps to take advantage of all that Content Marketing and other marketing strategies and tactics have to offer. One might argue about the sequence of the steps, perhaps, but the series we have outlined is logical, easy to understand, and actionable. Most importantly it includes all the latest strategies and techniques to win solid rankings with the search engines as well as sales in the business marketplace.

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Content Marketing Strategy – Three Ways To Approach It

content-marketing-graphicContent marketing is hot today, in part because Google and other search engines demand it for high search engine rankings. Human beings are also looking for good content as millions of searches are performed every moment, most by people looking for useful information.

As a longtime professional writer, content marketing was a natural fit for me, and Lawrimore Inc. is providing this service for a growing number of clients nationwide. In the process we have gone through three phases or stages of understanding and developing content marketing strategy.

1) Phase 1 – Write about anything you can think of. Just do some creative thinking about content that might be interesting to potential customers or clients, and write about it. Be careful not to duplicate what is on the website already, but don’t get so far removed that it’s like oil and water. Ideally the content is posted on the client’s blog, such as the one you are reading now.

2) Phase 2 – Write about keywords. Choose a good set of keywords using Google’s Keyword Planner or other tools, select 10 to 20 top keywords you want to rank high for, and write blog posts and other content that are about those keywords so your expertise is apparent. This will help your website rank higher for those keywords as people search for information and providers.

3) Phase 3 – Strategically plan your content to create a unified whole. Go beyond the keywords, which may only be loosely connected, and map out or outline in advance a strategic overview of your content area or expertise. This is closely related to knowledge management and business process management. In other words, think about all that you do to provide value for customers, arrange that in an outline, modify it to include your keywords in an authentic manner, and then deliberately write one part of the outline with each post, until all the parts are written and – voila! – you will have a not just a series of valuable content marketing posts, but something you can combine into an ebook or printed book to use as a more impressive marketing tool. It is really easy to publish a book using online resources like Lulu.com, and then sell it online through Amazon and Google Play. All at little or no cost to you! Once you have written and published a book, your expertise is enhanced and your content marketing strategy has reached a new pinnacle!

If you need some help with your content marketing strategy or execution, contact us at Lawrimore Inc. today.

How To Publish Your Blog Content Automatically On Social Media

Whether you blog regularly or occasionally, it is advantageous to share your ideas and contents with others via social media. Of course some will read your blog, but many others probably connect with you on other social media.

jetpack_horizontal_hugeThe coolest tool we’ve found to republish that great content is Jetpack, available free as a WordPress blog plugin. To function with all its great free features, Jetpack needs to connect to your WordPress.com account, but that is also free. So if you don’t have a WordPress.com account yet, be sure to set one up first.

Then you “Add New” the plugin “Jetpack” to your blog, activate it, and then configure it. You’ll see a whole bunch of neat blog add-ons. The one we’re highlighting today is “Publicize.” This module will automatically post your blog content in abbreviated form, with a link back to your blog, on:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr.
  • Path
  • Google+

You’ll need accounts set up on all those social media, so if you’ve delayed doing that, or haven’t tried some of the newer ones like Path, here’s a chance to get off your derriere and get your content pushed out into socialmedialand!

New Holographic “Greeter” Technology Employed For Client Trade Show

HoloGreeterThe Lawrimore team was proud to be one of the first in America to produce a Holographic Greeter exhibit for a professional trade show. If you’ve never seen a Holographic Greeter, it’s pretty amazing. The “model” is lifesize and appears to be right in front of you, talking like a “normal” person would about the client’s products and services.

She can hold almost anything in her hands, including a slide show and various products.

Here’s a link to a blog post on our client’s website about the Holographic Greeter in more detail – click here.

If you’d like a Holographic Greeter for your company or trade show, contact Lawrimore Inc. to learn more.

What is the Difference Between a Blog and a Website?

blog-graphicSeveral times lately I have been asked, What is the difference between a blog and a website? And related, Is a blog a website or something different?

Well to give you an immediate answer, you are reading a blog “post” right now. Lciweb.com uses WordPress, as do thousands of other websites, for the blog portion of our site. By contrast, our main site runs on HTML, not WordPress.

But all that is under the hood. The big difference is this:

  • A blog consists of timely articles called “posts” and usually publishes the latest post at the top. As more posts are written, they roll down and eventually off the home page, although they are always accessible in the blog’s database (unless deleted). Blog posts are usually conversational and may reflect the current thought stream of the writer – whether those thoughts are profound, trivial or in between.
  • A website consists generally of less time-sensitive information published on “pages.” For example many of the pages of our main website have been online for more than five years, although we have changed the graphics, headers etc.

WordPress was originally created just for blog posts, and some of the earlier versions were really plain. As more and more people around the world contributed new designs and features to WordPress, someone along the way had the idea that with just a little shift the content which was going into “posts” could just as well go into “pages.” Typically these pages are accessed from a menu across the top of the page or down the side, and they do not “roll off the bottom” as new pages are added because they are “static” pages.

This new development spread like wildfire. According to a recent report, almost 20% of the world’s websites now run on WordPress, and the number grows daily.

WordPress is free, easy to update, and allows thousands of features and add-ons called plugins. But it is still somewhat limited in page structure.

By contrast more traditional website design using HTML code and software like Dreamweaver offers almost unlimited design freedom on every page.

So again, the main difference between a blog and a website is the “more temporary” vs. “more timely” nature of the content, but WordPress and other content management systems can produce both kinds of content on the same site as desired.