Affiliate conference in London will be unmissable

Next month sees the second A4U conference at London Excel. I’ve been hanging around Matthew Wood like a rash for several years now. because he has well and truly tapped into the UK affiliate industry in the same way Danny Sullivan managed to corner the search marketing industry about a decade ago. Last year’s conference was really a blinding success and I especially enjoyed being on a search panel with Marcus Tandler and Joost and  Jason Duke with Ciaran moderating.

Matthew – can I get on that panel again please?

Success is Easier when you Write it Down

Friends and family are always coming up to me asking for my opinions on their latest business idea or website and more and more I am starting to find myself giving the same advice time and again. Write it down! I don’t know for sure that your business is going to make a million or break the bank – but what I do know is that you won’t even get a bank account for the business if you don’t write it down – and filling in the forms these days to open a bank account is not as straightforward as it was 20 years ago I can tell you.

It dawned on me just how often I have been wanting to say this to people again and again when my wife and I broke open the Captain Morgan the other night. Rum and coke is a great drink for relaxing the tongue without giving it that sharp “just drank Gin, now beat me” attitude. As a drink we found it on honeymoon a decade back and it’s amazing our livers are still functioning to this day.

Anyway – my wife and I were drinking and she asked me for maybe the 50th time about her used items exchange idea for the local village. Or was it her “Mums back to work” recruitment agency? Anyway – I finally said “write it down” and however the conversation went on from there, I had to come back to the same advice as the only “next step” that was viable in the development process.

Even if you are a local plumber looking to have your own 5 page website, you still need to write it down. Going to a web designer and saying “please could you build a simple website, nice and cheap” already got twice as expensive as if you went along with a word document to the same guy and said “can you make a website out of this text”. It has to be your text in the end doesn’t it? So you are going to have to write it however much you pay. All I am saying is that you need to write your thoughts down, not just mull them over in the pub.

Well – oftentimes I am a disaster at listening to me own advice. But not this year. For better or worse, I have written down my business plan for my main business, and properly budgeted income and expenditure right down to the postage costs. Then I agreed the plan with my fellow directors and then summarized the objectives and delivered these to the entire team (15 people). Having written it down, we had much better boundaries for the annual review round and a clear idea of what needs to change to be able to meet our targets.

Writing a business plan – in the first instance at least – is not about WHAT you write as much as it is about THAT you write anything at all. 90% of business ideas fail right there. What – would it kill you to write the idea down on one sheet of paper? This blog post is more developed than 90% of business ideas. We have a one page business plan in the office, which is maintained and updated monthly – in addition to the more elaborate business plan. But if you are trying to get your business off the ground, here’s my 10 things you should write down before you even talk to a friend in a pub.

1. An advertising headline and tag line that explains and sells your product all in one go. Mastercard are calling Mastercard “the new change” encouraging micro-payments on cards these days. You know the product, you know the USP, you know that you don’t need to go to the cashpoint anymore to buy a sandwich from Tescos.

2. Write down a list of boring things you will need to arrange and very rough costs in money AND TIME. Here’s a few:

  • Bank Account: £nothing ….. 1/2 day
  • Legal trading name (LTD Company?) £50… 2 hours
  • Website domain and hosting space £10… 2 hours
  • A place to work from? A filing cabinet?
  • An accounts package?

Usually – the realization that you either need an accounts package or alternatively a VERY expensive accountant right at the start puts most people off right there.

3. SWOT analysis on your competitors. What – going to Google and finding out who they are will kill you?

4. A spreadsheet with cash-flow projections based on SALES NEEDED after costs are incurred, not “SALES EXPECTED” before costs are decided. Bank managers have given up looking at projections because they all start with “I will sell 2 more memberships every day ongoing, so I will break even in six months and be a millionaire in two years… just look at the figures”.

5. Write down some building blocks about how you are going to meet your sakes projections… Look at the sales funnel that you will need so you can get early warning signs if you are missing the target. I am looking for a certain level of new business each month for my main company. This equates to for new contracts a month, based on experience. To get this I need 12 opportunities assuming I convert one in three. Most leads are not going to even turn INTO opportunities, so to create 12 opportunities I need (say) 36 leads, or about two every working day. Now I can get these through the web, through network meetings, through conferences or through cold calling… (except I could never personally do cold calling) but the point is that for 4 new bits of business I need nearly 40 people saying “hmm… tell me more”. All of a sudden that first million looks a little harder to attain – or easier if that’s your thing.

Link Building Training Course at SES

SES Speaker

I have been on various panels in the past at SES New York, but I don’t suppose even hardened professionals at these conferences realize that the day before or the day after the bigger conferences, SES runs a much smaller – more intense training day. This year it is on the Friday after the man event.

I was first asked to to Link building training for SES back in their SES@A4U event in the autumn. I was so worried that I would make a fool of myself that I flew of to SES San Jose JUST to watch how Debra Mastaler and Jennifer Laycock coped with four hours of intense training to a small, hyper-interested group of delegates. Talking for 15 minutes to a mass audience is one thing, but four hours is quite a different matter!

Anyway, the London event went fine in the autumn and I my feedback scores were at least good enough get a chance to go again in New York. I hope that the US audience will be kind to me too.

P.S. Happy Birthday Shimrit.

Getting Noticed at Conferences

Being at an SMX or SES sometimes just isn’t enough. A few people really grabbed my attention at the last couple of conferences, and not because they were speaking… None of the encounters I am thinking about were speaker related.

The best way to get noticed is to be an interesting conversationalist.

It really all started with a Árni Matthíasson who – instead of coming up to me after my spot to thank me for talking or to bring up a problem in his business, came up to take the thoughts in my presentation and leap forward in the argument by a magnitude – leaving me to realise just how much further I needed to think ahead than I had done to date. He told me about the concept of the Panopticon prison. I had been presenting the concept that individuals now – like never before – had the ability to change a brand’s marketing message if they didn’t like it… by talking about their view of a brand or their experience on the scalable mouthpiece that we all live with now day to day. Arni give the analogy that this gave individuals the same power as the Panopticon. We don’t now have to police brands all the time, because brands are imprisoned in the knowledge that at any point in time, someone may be spying on them. Powerful stuff I thought.

Then just a week later in London, I was delighted to find myself drinking with Steve Jackson (Warning… noisy link) whom I had thought was a games designer until that point, but clearly there are more than one. I had several stimulating conversations with Steve. The merits of Finnish saunas probably doesn’t warrant further discussion sober, but we had an interesting conversation about where people turn when faced with adversity. Steve turns to Winston Churchill’s We will never surrenderspeach which – being a Brit – I obviously know. But for those that don’t, you can get motivated via your Iphone. Again, a great conversationalist whom I will look forward to meeting at conferences again.

Neither person, though, quite prepared me for the late night conversation between Jim Sterne and the Fantomaster… Talk about Law meeting Chaos! Jim set about asking Fantomaster what he would want if nothing was impossible. Fantomaster replied “magic”… but then Jim went on to ask “for what purpose”?

That’s when I really understood the difference between Law and chaos. For these two, It was nothing to do with Good and Evil and everything to do with philosophy.

The moral of the tale is to be a good conversationalist if you want to be remembered the next morning.

SES London has 2000 attending

Just overheard Kevin Ryan and Marilyn talking about attendance at SES London. They’ve got 2,000 people coming over the three days. Te Business Design Center is a strange layout, so it’s not always easy to see how many people are around, but the session I just went to was full. Mind you… the panel included DaveN, Teddy Cowell and the Fantomaster, so you’d be foolish to miss it.

It was fun. turns out that a guy in theaudience was upset about the guy that achieved number one for car Insurance… which happened to be a client of one of the guys on the panel. Who says the old guard SEO guys don’t still have what it takes?

Link Building Case Study

I was looking for a good link building case study the other day. They are hard to come by. Then it dawned on me that there are plenty and that I’ve been giving Linking case studies for ages:

Link Building Video Example

I used the above bits of video in a presentation at RIMC in Iceland last week. Thanks so much to the guys there at Nordic Emarketing, as well as Joost, Dennis, Rob and Ton.

I’ll put the presentation itself up in the next few days, as I also put the presentation on Video.

SEO Presentations Diary

Quick update on where I plan to be over the next few months.

Pubcon: 4th-7th December 2007 Las Vegas. I am moderating on a few sessions and also I am repeating the “Link Clinic” that got a bit of attention last year.

SES London: 19th-21st February 2008. I was down to do some training, but that seems to have gone by the by. I’ll still be there if Mike gives me a break! Mind you… the 21st is my 10th wedding anniversary, so I’ll be leaving promptly for the weekend!

SES New York: 17th-20th March 2008. Again, I’m hoping to be doing a training session and with a bit of luck a presentation. It’s always a long way to go without an engagement of some kind to woo the directors at Receptional with. But then Alan’s parties are to die for.