I like crows. As a kid who really enjoyed the great outdoors, I was fascinated with smart, inquisitive wild animals. One day, my dad, middle brother and I were fishing at Mundy’s Mill Pond outside Atlanta and we spotted two river otters sliding down a long muddy bank on their backs, splashing into the water and then running up the pond’s bank to do it again. Just a couple of crazy otter kids enjoying the day.
And though I never saw crows do this, I read stories about them stealing or playing with shiny objects ‘ like crows stealing car keys or flying off with pieces of tin foil. That sense of discretion and deliberate behavior just seemed flat out cool to me. It’s like a crow could look at something and think, ‘wow.’ Not ‘I need to eat that,’ or ‘I need that to build a nest,’ but just, ‘wow.’
And, because my brain thrives on finding significance and patterns in random associations, all of those thoughts came rushing back to me at our work trip to Las Vegas for FENCETECH 2011, the American Fence Association’s convention and trade show. Big Boss Brian, Sales VP Jimmy and I were there to conduct a seminar on web marketing. Jimmy and I were awesome, and Brian did as well as he could (just a joke Brian just a joke). But what kept catching my eye were bright shiny tools of the fencing trade. Super cool gates that opened upward like the doors on a Delorean and fence post augers that could dig through titanium. Because you never know when you might encounter a solid layer of titanium in a customer’s backyard.
Did I just slip a web marketing tip right past you? No, I haven’t gotten there yet. I just wanted to talk about crows, otters and cool machines that I don’t need while transitioning you to this month’s suggestions.
First, a broad suggestion. If you are looking to grow your business or stand out from competitors, I strongly encourage you to take a look at joining your industry’s association. I am not going to shill for the professional trade association too much, but generally speaking, they offer a great source of ongoing education to keep your skills and industry knowledge fresh, a network of peers from other non-competitive markets, and a concrete way of appealing to customers looking for best-in-class contractors and service professionals.
To be more specific, whether you join an association or you’re already a member, here are three web marketing steps you should make once today’s discussion ends:
- Put the most current version of the association’s web-ready logo on your website, preferably on your home page. In the text on your about us page, mention that you are a member of that association. Upload the same logo to your business profile on Yelp.com, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Yes, upload it to all four sites and include a phrase in the business description area that notes that you are a member. In 2010, I suggested taking the time to upload these logos to your Google business profile. But in 2011, I think the extra 20-30 minutes to get the added exposure for your business on Yelp, Bing and Yahoo is worth it. (If ‘business profile’ or ‘Yelp’ are as foreign to you as Landmannalaugar, Iceland, call us this week at 888.381.6925 and we will tell you about it for free. This is stuff you need to know.)
- On the association’s website, make sure there is a link to your business’ website from your profile, member info or in the ‘Find a Member’ section. Links from highly credible sites like professional trade associations to your site help qualified customers find you and they help your search engine ranking. In web marketing world, these ‘credible and relevant inbound links’ are an important component of a long term search engine optimization strategy.
- If your trade association has a state or local chapter, check and make sure those chapter sites have your correct contact information and a live inbound link. Lots of business owners and marketers don’t check their association’s local or state chapter website for link opportunities. Griff says, ‘don’t be like them.’
If you are already a member of an association, you owe it to yourself to revisit all the benefits they offer you: networking, education, competitive edge, marketing, and discounts.
If you are not, Google this: ‘trade association and [your industry]’. You’ll easily find a list of professional organizations that will represent your best interests, and offer the resources to help you operate a safe, well-trained, more profitable business.
2 hours. Length of time it took J.C. Penney to fall from #1 in organic search returns to # 68 for ‘living room furniture’ after Google took corrective action against the retailer for alleged SEO misdeeds. More on this next month’
With a little encouragement they would come in and light on the table and help me eat my breakfast; and once when I was in the other room and they found themselves alone, they carried off everything they could lift and they were particular to choose things which they could make no use of after they got them.
~ Mark Twain, talking about crows in Following the Equator, 1897