Green Marketing Quick Tip: Hosting Solutions

When you hear the phrase “Green Marketing”, what image pops in your mind? Some of you will think of traditional and web marketing approaches to eco-friendly industries. Others will think of strategically eco-friendly methods to marketing which can be applied to any business.

My business aims to be the former. But I get there by also being the latter. Let’s be intellectually honest at the outset: even if we save trees from being chopped because we read newspapers and magazines on Kindles, iPads, and Nooks, the energy and resources necessary to power your servers and create your computers didn’t materialize from thin air. You pay a price for living in the information age, whether you realize it or not.

Take a baby step: hosting wisely

Did you know that the average server produces the same emissions as a 15 mpg SUV? I didn’t… until this year. Now, I’m not here to tell you which hosting company to use. All I’ll tell you is that the hosting company I use, Host Gator, has a negative carbon footprint. All of HostGator shared and reseller servers are 130% wind powered! That’s right. HostGator is giving more energy back than it’s using. That’s the equivalent of protecting 551 acres of forest for a year. How awesome is that?

Not every company can go green overnight. I realize that. What started out as a perfectly acceptable business mindset 20 years ago has been turned on its ear, and business owners are scrambling to determine the best ways to make their company’s green. Not only is it the responsible thing to do. It’s going to become the norm at some point. Early adopters become brilliant trendsetters and the stragglers are seen as uncaring or indifferent.

Do you make sound business decisions that also give back to our planet? If not, start small by switching your hosting to a greener provider today.

Wellspring DFW

What was wrong: Wellspring was in need of some serious rebranding. As you can see above, the previous design did not make good use of space. Various sizes and styles of boxes were employed to call attention to different activities. The color scheme was dated. And the secondary navigation wasn’t visible until you clicked and arrived on a primary nav link page.

Then there’s the logo. The church avatar actually wasn’t bad at all. If you take the ripple part of the wave above and put it in a box and turn the whole thing grey scale, you have an interesting avatar or logo. But on the website itself, it just doesn’t work with the long streaming blue and the simple font. Some people have mistaken the image to be a banner or sheet rippling in the wind rather than water.

What we did: We started with the logo. I met with the client and discussed at length the identity of the church, the meaning behind the name, and their existing preferences. They were open to interpretation, so I presented them with multiple comps. After several rounds of revisions, we landed on this look. The green and blue box is split by a body of water, perhaps a river, running through. We stayed away from images of springs simply because they all look too decorative and fountain-y, to coin a new word.

Next, I gave them the flexibility of keeping the site continually fresh for less by focusing above the fold on event-based banners. These banners link to landing pages providing additional information. As events come and go, Wellspring will be able to keep the site looking updated and fresh by just ordering new banners.

The site was built on WordPress, as expected. WordPress provides the user friendly dashboard which the client can use to make changes or updates without spending extra budget on contractors.

The site features a blog, sermon archive, calendar of Jack’s speaking schedule, and list of upcoming events. Coming soon is the church bookstore, where Wellspring will be able to sell books and teaching series online for the first time.

Turn Your Next Vacation Into A Blogging Contest

My wife gave birth to our second child six weeks ago. Her blog has been growing in popularity all year. We knew that when the baby came, she’d have to get some rest. Blogging is just too much to ask of a mother immediately after giving birth. The Lord gave me a strategy for turning her pregnancy leave into a traffic boost.

Since I’ve built more than 20 websites on WordPress over the past few years, we opened her blog up to guest bloggers and I offered my services for free to the guest blogger that draws the most unique commentors.

Read the whole story here.

July 1st Kicks Off a New Holiday

For those of you who have waited and hoped for a trouble-free internet connection at your local Starbucks, the wait is over. July 1st, 2010 marks a new holiday for us all. Free the Wifi Day is upon us.

Join us in celebrating this momentus occasion. Bring your laptop, netbook, or iPad and work from Starbucks all day on Friday, July 2nd. We’ll be at our local Starbucks in NRH, kickin’ it “free and full of purpose.”

Happy Free Wifi Day!

You’re the New Kid on the Block – Where’d All These Posts Come From?

Yes, we’re the new kid on the block. But I’ve been writing here and there since 2005. Several employers thought it was a good idea to remove attribution once we parted ways, so several of these archived posts have links at the end, pointing to the original versions on Archive.org.

Employers apparently don’t take into consideration the fact that Archive.org will usually get attribution correct even years later. Yes, it’s a douchey move to not give credit where credit is due. I can point to several cases where the employer did NOT remove attribution when an employee left, and it did nothing to hurt them. In fact, it caused people like me to respect them more for being secure in who they are (and in maintaining the awareness that karma is a bitch).

So that’s why we have ready-made posts. They came from my head at some point. Hope you enjoy.

A Proverb on Self-Promotion

This is the age of self-promotion. Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, communities, conferences. All for the sake of promoting one’s expertise. A trend I’ve noticed is the super popular blogger / tweeter with thousands of readers and followers, yet they can’t afford a car or a home.

Their level of influence is inflated beyond their success. Some of us prefer popularity and fame that we pursue it to the detriment of other areas of our lives. Proverbs addresses this very issue.

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

I know some people who have become financially successful without much self-promotion. They’re not demanding anyone pay attention to hear them speak or read their blog. They just work hard, deliver top quality results, and let others recommend them based on the quality of their work.

In essence, we’ve squandered our time and efforts if we’ve become “somebody” in the eyes of the public and our fame is built on a flimsy foundation. Talking the talk can float some of us by for years… maybe a lifetime. But there is more to life than fame.

thinking

In all fairness, I think I should point out that some people chose self-promotion via blogs, forums, conferences, and such because they are not cold calling salespeople. Some of us feel comfortable selling our services to prospects only after they’ve decided we are authorities in our industry.

Though it’s easy to judge, I actively choose not to because I can’t discern who is involved in passive selling and who is only interested in becoming famous. The best we can do is to ask the Holy Spirit to examine ourselves and show us where He’d like to bring truth and transformation.

ORM Approaches the Tipping Point

Give credit where credit is due. Facebook reached 250 million users. Twitter is the fastest growing social media network. Nearly a million blog posts are published each day. We’re on the cusp of it now. Communication has really transitioned to a Web / Text based enterprise.

Steve Nash to announce the signing of his new NBA contract on Twitter. Oprah, Ellen, Ashton Kutcher, and ESPN all promote Twitter to the masses. CNN teams up with Facebook to provide live chat during major events. It’s happening right now. The majority is adjusting to instant spontaneous expression. And the ORM flood tide is about to roll in.

I’ve been awaiting this season since 2005, when I bought up a handful of domains related to online reputation management with the expectation of turning my Web marketing business into an exclusive reputation monitoring, management, and consulting service.

How Will We Recognize the Tipping Point?

A few things have to happen first. As you observe each step you’ll know we’re “that much” closer.

Phase 1: When the average person feels more comfortable sharing their opinions online than offline, you know we’ve reached critical mass. It’s only a matter of time.

Phase 2: Once people feel more comfortable searching out opinions online than asking around offline, the level of influence each online opinion holds trends up drastically.

Phase 3: When people spread opinions, rumors, and gossip found online without verifying accuracy, the iron is white hot.

Phase 4: Any and every possible comment will be shared, read, and spread about brands, products and services, and each company will either be prepared to address them as they are posted across the Web or they will be caught unaware and suffer the damage caused to their reputation, which inevitably leads to an erosion of consumer/investor confidence.

Phase 5: Online reputation monitoring, building, and repair services will have to ramp up their staffing to handle the volume of clients and mentions online.

Some would argue that we’ve already reached Phase 3. I see phases 1-3 still rising. But the tipping point is near. Most companies should already be engaged with ORM services to protect and expand their influence. But even the latecomers will hop on board soon enough.

Avoiding Comments Encourages Criticism

This is the year of the corporate blog. The thought leaders are already out in the blogosphere, yamming it up with their clients and customers. 2009 marks the year of widespread blog adoption, as thousands of companies play catch up to those who were willing to take risks before someone else had paved the way.

But despite the widespread adoption of this most popular method of communication, lingering doubts and fears remain. What if someone has a complaint? What if they were hurt or sick because of our product? What if one of our representatives cussed them out? What if their replacement part never arrived?

These are the questions of a traditional marketing-minded person. Sorry to offend your pride, but it’s true. A person afraid of these types of user response doesn’t yet understand what it means to thrive and succeed in the 2.0 Age.

Yes, people will complain. It is a mathematical certainty that some customers will have negative experiences. People actually realize that. If a website allowed comments and all comments were constantly ONLY positive and encouraging, the site would look fake. Visitors paying attention would recognize that something seems fishy there. It would appear that the owner is removing all negative comments and offering the world a sugar-coated view of their website or company.

That’s inauthentic. And inauthentic has no place on the “Social Web”. Gen Y, the representative of the “Social Web”, don’t often want to connect with brands on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. But when they do enter the social domain of a brand, they expect authentic interaction with a REAL person. If they can’t express their frustrations without censorship, they’ll move on until they find a company that understands their need to express the truth about how they feel.

I rarely read anything published by a website that has closed commenting functionality. If they don’t want to hear from me, I don’t want to hear from them. By insisting on being a one-sided conversation, these companies have informed me that my voice is unimportant, while theirs is all important. And my response? Screw that. Find some other chump to sit silently while you brainwash them with your particularly aged and wrinkly version of marketing.

Want to be relevant? Learn to respect the people you sell to. Have a come-to-Jesus moment where you finally get that PEOPLE ACTUALLY DON’T LIKE BEING TREATED LIKE NUMBERS OR TRANSACTIONS. And your adherence to a dated model of one-sided advertising only tells us that we are dollars and cents only. And you’ve just lost on the Social Web.