Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Customer service: the key to your design business success

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This post is by Adam Broadway of Adobe Business Catalyst.  We were asked to be interviewed to give our story on why we use Business Catalyst and what we could offer other Designers in their success. We loved sharing our story.. I hope you like it as well.

Dave and Kim Kolb share experiences in growing their business, Hightouchweb.com – ideas that could help grow your design business.

After meeting at a resort, falling in love and being laid off at the 2000 tech bubble burst, Dave and Kim decided it was time to build their own Web company.

By combining and complementing their strengths in strategy, design and marketing, HighTouchweb.com was born.

MP3 audio interview of Dave and Kim Kolb, has them candidly sharing:

  1. Finding motivation in each other and maintaining a "CAN DO" attitude, to get through the tough times.
  2. Have fun doing it - Love what you do and "whatever you do", do it well.
  3. Taking time to follow up with every client (Kim sends personal welcome cards to every one of their customers).
  4. Dave shares his feelings on building their own CMS and the pain of using lots of 3rd party open source plug-ins, that didn't always work.

In their words:

  • Keep it simple and excel at the basics.
  • Don't be all things to all people, you'll drive yourself crazy.
  • Know who you are and what you do.

A Business Catalyst feature that benefits their clients:

"We view InContextEditing as the strongest sales tool within the tool set that BC offers. You can take a mere mortal and have them updating their website in no time with little or no training. The power this gives the client is priceless. They feel like they are actually participating."

I hope you enjoy hearing some of their story as much as I did.

Adam :)

Click here for the mp3 interview of Dave and Kim Kolb.

Blogging Will Be The Death Of Us Yet. Keep up the good fight!

Kim Kolb - Thursday, July 01, 2010
Blogging is one of those things that we hate to do and struggle and complain and moan all the while we are getting ready to do it and even when we are doing it and then when it is done, we think wheew, that wasn't so hard.  I equate it to working out at 5:30am (I do this EVERY morning, except weekends). I know I need to do it, I know it is good for me, but I really don't want to get up that stinkin early to work out.  Then after it is all over, I am all happy and chipper and ready to face the day.

Why do we fight what we know is right?  If we all would succumb to this necessary evil, we would all be better off.  To help make you feel better and to encourage you to Blog, here is why it is so EXTREMELY important.

Blogging gives your company a voice - Really?  Yes, really.  Alot of companies outsource the content of their blog to 3rd party companies, which is fine EXCEPT...your voice, the voice of the company is never heard.  Here's what I mean.  I have a totally different writing style than my husband.  I am more jovial and I write as if I were talking to my friend about the subject.  So you will see lot of ! from me and lots of ... My husband on the other hand is very formal in his writing. You would definitely be able to tell if he were to start writing for me. (I hope)

Starting a blog no matter when it is - Start a blog when the "shit hits the fan so to speak".  If you can be the first to start talking about a situation, then you become the expert.  For example.  The housing industry really SUCKS right now.  Why don't home builders blog about how it is a good time to buy because interest rates are low or How someone can capitalize on this economy.  If you tell people what they should know, then they will know it and act on it. Kinda like the BBQ place that says "Best BBQ in town" We tell everyone they are the best, why, because they said so.

Blogs get indexed faster than your website - I know, you spent a lot of money on your site and you want people to go there and see how beautiful it is.  They will in time.  When you write a blog, you create remarkable content by default because you are writing "Topic" specific. Google indexes these quicker because the content constantly changes.  From your Blog, you can direct folks back to your site, but remember, direct them someplace specific so they don't have to figure out where you want them to go.  Remember, tell them what they should know and they will know it. :)

Blogging promotes respectfulness - It is always a great sign of respect when you read your fellow bloggers blog and leave a comment.  Shows you are interested enough to read and provide valuable input.  It also makes the author feel validated.

Blogging withstands time - Blogging will always and has been around for a very long time. Tools come and tools go, but blogging is definitely here to stay.  Maybe we should coin a new phrase "Blogging is forever" instead of diamonds.. I hope I didn't upset the ladies.

Blogging enforces content creation - When you write good content it creates buzz, when you have buzz, you get traffic, and when you have traffic you create leads.. Get it..

Which reminds me: If I haven't mentioned it, blogging is good for SEO? Blogging will get you indexed faster... Most times faster than your website.

So here is my one last and final plea!  If you aren't blogging you are being left out..Don't be the kid that lets blogging pass you by.  This is one of those times where if you want to be the "Cool Kid", then do what the Cool Kids do and get a blog. If you need help, get ahold of me.

I would love to hear how you or a client is dragging their feet, kickin and screaming "I don't wanna Blog, and you can't make me"!



Effective Lead Generation: eBooks vs Whitepapers

Kim Kolb - Monday, June 28, 2010
I just read a blog on why eBooks are better than Whitepapers.  At first I thought, I need to forward this on to one of my clients because they like writing Whitepapers.  Then I read the entire blog and find that although I think the intent of the article is good, I don't agree with all the points the author makes. Here are the points she makes.  I would really like your feedback.  There have been some good comments on the actual blog article so far that state some of my same concerns.
Although this blog is longer than I usually like to write, most of it is the opinions of the original author.

What Makes eBooks So Good?
  • They’re simple to create and inexpensive to produce – You don’t need a publisher or a printer! You just need some basic software and the time to write about your idea or innovative technique.
  • They’re engaging – Because they aren’t just PDFs or Word docs, you can actually get your reader to interact and take some type of action. Encourage them to click on links, fill out a survey, subscribe to your blog, watch a video or even buy something from you online.
  • They’re easy to distribute and spread like wildfire – Make the ebook free (don’t collect money, don’t collect email addresses) and add a Creative Commons license to the content so people can share the e-book easily. Create a landing page, add a call-to-action on your website, blog about it, put a link your email signature, email it to your friends/partners/vendors, post a video on YouTube, tell your fans and followers. 
  • They’re easy to read and more eco-friendly – Although whitepapers can be read online, the vertical formatting makes them difficult to read. eBooks are easily to read digitally on-demand while whitepapers often need to be printed to be read easily. 
What Makes Whitepapers So Bad?
  • They’re boring - Wikipedia defines a whitepaper as “an authoritative report or guide that often addresses issues and how to solve them. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions.” Even the definition puts me to sleep.
  • They’re old school - They date back to the early 1900s. You might remember The Churchill White Paper of 1922 from your high school history class, you might not. Either way, we haven’t really changed the way we use them since then. They’re still a form of semi self-promotion and propaganda. It’s just that now they are found on the web and are used by businesses as a marketing or sales tool rather than promoting government policy.
  • They’re forced upon us – Most people don’t want to read whitepapers, they just feel like they have to read them because they’re “authoritative” and written by “industry leaders”. Or because their boss said so.
  • They’re not good link bait – Because you typically have to register (give your email address) to download the whitepaper, most people don’t promote or share whitepapers because they don’t want to force their fans and followers and friends to give their email address away and get hounded by sales reps.
My two cents:
  • eBooks may be simple to create and inexpensive, but as with any book that is authored, it takes thought and dedication to get through the book because of all the interactive pieces that have to be incorporated. Whitepapers have one purpose, to get information out to those who want it. 
  • eBooks are in pdf format just as Whitepapers are.  I think making the decision whether one is more engaging over the other should be left to the audience you are submitting it too.
  • I am not sure how an eBook is any easier to distribute than a Whitepaper.  You can disseminate them in the same fashion.
  • Reading an eBook can have it's challenges especially if you don't have a reader that lets you read in a book fashion or if you have to adjust your monitor.  Whitepapers would be easier to read vertically because that is how we are use to seeing it on our computer screen.
  • I don't agree with the methods of capturing data.  If you aren't at least capturing an email to download a Whitepaper or eBook, you are missing out on an opportunity to market to that person.  If they want what you have to offer bad enough, they will give you their contact info.
I would be interested to here what your opinions are on the eBook vs. the Whitepaper.

Blogging, like praying, takes patience and obedience

Kim Kolb - Monday, June 14, 2010
If we believe God can help us in our every day life by asking for help for what may seem silly to some, then I would like to ask God to help me with my Blogging.  I don't think it is too much to ask...People circle the parking lot at stores saying "Oh God, please help me find a parking spot".  

Blogging is like praying.  It takes patience, diligence and obedience. We don't always get instant feedback when we post a blog or pray. This I have learned..

I have come to find that the more I hope and pray that I become a better blogger, the worse I get.  I just have to "shut up and put up"!  I have to be more diligent and maybe do what the expert bloggers say instead of ignoring them and that is to create a Blogging Schedule.  That's right.  Write time in on my calendar and stick to it.  You have plenty to talk about.  

Along with Blogging, Checking on our stats is just as important.  Blogging is great but if you are not monitoring your stats, you may as well just not Blog.

There are tons of platforms to start a blog on.  Do a google search for "Blog Platforms" and find the top ones.  One thing to remember is that you want your blog to have its own name.  So instead of wordpress.companyblog.com, you want to have the domain be www.companyblog.com.

There are also tons of tracking tools for blogs available.  Do a Google search on "blog tracking tools"

So stop trying to get the Blogging God to help you with your Blog.  Plan it, write it, and track it.  Don't talk about it, Just DO IT!

What else do you do to keep yourself on track?

Business Catalyst NOT-SO-SEXY Upgrades

Dave Kolb - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The feature upgrades and enhancements from Business Catalyst (since the Adobe purchase) have been coming to us at a slow pace. BUT I LIKE IT! The code is cleaner and BETA looks like it means BETA, rather than ALPHA. Most of what's been released lately hasn't been all that sexy, but good none-the-less. I'd like to hear what you think. Please comment below, or contact us.

Here is a summary of the new Business Catalyst features:

Dynamic Menu Toggle
There is now a checkbox at the bottom of each dynamic menu item that lets you choose whether a menu item is displayed live on your site. Very helpful if you simply want to deactivate a menu item temporarily.

Site Search Technology was Upgraded
Both the Site Search (which searches forums, blog posts, web-app items, products etc) and Product Search (which searches products only) have had the technology that powers them upgraded. Search terms are now highlighted and results display much quicker!

DNS Management Tools
Ok, this one is probably the least sexy, but very useful. You now have the ability to manage DNS via your Domain Admin control panel. This is particularly useful if you want to simply setup sub-domains, like: blog.yourdomain.com, or shop.yourdomain.com.

301 Re-Direct Management Control Panel
So you've probably heard how important (especially when migrating a website to a new platform) how important it is to properly use 301 redirects to permanently redirect your old links to their new locations. A lot of companies use Javascript to redirect everything to the homepage. Search engines don't like this and you will inevitably lose all your "link juice" (inbound links from other websites. Again, a HUGE improvement, but not that sexy...I like it!

In-Context Editing (Beta)
Ok, I saved the best for last and this one actually has some sex appeal. In-Context Editing is (if you've ever used it) about the easiest, most intuitive way to edit you web content. The new interface allows you to edit as you navigate through the website. This feature has lowered our on-boarding time on website edits from about 20-30 minutes to less than 5 minutes. I still prefer the "feel" of an admin panel, but our clients (mostly the ones on the lower end of the tech scale), love it. Great job on this one Adobe and BC. Try a Demo of In-Context Editing and let me know what you think.

Blogging is the Elephant in the Room

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Blogging seems to be the Elephant in the room.  We all know we need to do it.  We know it is good for our business, yet it is the one thing on our todo list that just gets moved each day until we "have time".

Well, "It is time" to quote the Lion King.  Blog is not a bad 4 letter word.  In fact it is a great word! Think of Blogging as a "ray of sunshine" or that ahhh you get when you have that first sip of coffee in the morning.  

What is blogging?  Blogging is writing about something you are passionate about or are well versed in the subject matter.  When you blog about something you know and love, people look to you as a Thought Leader in that subject matter.  The biggest fear I hear from people is that they have nothing to write about.  I beg to differ.  If you have a business and you offer a service or product, you have something to say.

I read a newspaper article the other day and in the article, one of the people being interviewed talked about how if you are not on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then you will be left behind.  Well, let's add Blogging to the mix.  Blogging, I would say is more important than the others because it is creating remarkable content on your site.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are avenues to tell people about your great content.  

Benefits of Blogging:
  • Provides fresh remarkable content to your site that is searchable
  • Provides a place for readers to comment which creates more content that is searchable
  • You become a Thought Leader in your Industry
  • Provides more Inbound links to your site
  • When someone leaves a comment or trackbacks back to you, it provides validation
  • Provides search engines with great content to help you get found
Blogging is the Mojo of Online Marketing.  If you aren't blogging, I challenge you to start.  If you are blogging, KUDOS to you!

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you think Blogging is or isn't beneficial to your business.

Have You Set Up Your Facebook Business Page Correctly?

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, May 19, 2010
How does a restaurant become your "Friend"?  Or you want to become a fan of a company and all they offer you is "Friendship".  How do you determine the sex of your company?  Is the company really as old as the owner or the person who set it up?  Do all your "Friends" really need to see the pictures from the last girls night out on your wall?  Do you see where I am going with this?  

A Personal Profile is just that.  It is you personally with all "your" personal info.  It is your family members and friends from grade school, it is your "farmville" stats and your "personality test" score. This is not what a business should be displaying to the people that are trying to become a Fan. These are applications that can only be on a Personal Profile.

A Business Fan Page is for the Business.  There is no personal information that can be viewed from your Business Page that anyone can see.  It is just that, for Business.  Your Business Page does not have a gender or an age.  It doesn't show the girls night out pictures that your friends posted to your personal wall, and it certainly isn't going to ask anyone to help them move the pink cow out of the road.

Here's the Rule from Facebook:  If anyone has a Business Page set up as a Personal Profile, Facebook can at anytime disable your account.  Yes, this means that without warning your contacts will disappear.  Protect your efforts of getting followers and create a Business Page

How can you get your "Business Page" from your "Personal Profile".
First, create a Business Page from your profile (Applications, Pages and create from there.  You can also scroll to the very bottom and click on help and then click on pages).
Once you have it all set up, send a Wall Post to all your "Friends" and tell them that you would like them to "Fan or Like" your business and provide a direct link for them.  I would do this a couple of times in the next few weeks and then you can either get rid of the "Personal Profile/Business Page or keep the Personal Profile Page and remove anyone who has moved over that is not actually your friend.

I really do encourage anyone who is not running their Facebook Business Page correctly to fix it before something happens to your content and your contacts.

I hope this helps you get on the right track.. Consider that you have gone to great lengths to evolve to where you are.. Don't you want to do it right?

If I missed any tips, please leave a comment.

Is Social Media A Fad, Like Home Computers Would Never last

Kim Kolb - Thursday, May 13, 2010
I hear people making this comment often "This Social Media Stuff isn't going to last". Really? Sounds like a similar comment that people made back in the 80's about Personal Computers not making it. So, knowing what we know about computers these days, that everyone has one or maybe two in everyone home, I would rethink that comment about Social Media and start the acceptance process.

Social Media is not a fad, in fact it grows every day.  Watch this video and leave a comment on what you think about Social Media.  As someone who is doing Inbound Marketing through Social Media daily, you should be rethinking your online marketing strategy. If you are not in tune with what is being said then you are out of the conversation, it is like being stranded on an island by YOURSELF!

Please leave a comment (hint: it provides an Inbound link to your site)

If you like what you read, please subscribe to our blog as we put out Tips, Tricks, and all around good ideas for you to use in your business.  Make sure you turn up the volume on this video.. The Music alone is inspiring.

Who Are You and What Do You Do

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How many times has someone asked you this question, "Who are you and What do you do?" And how many of us can nail the answer each time without causing a blank stare from the person who asked the question?  This should be easy to answer, right?  It is the elevator pitch that every good Speaker tells us we should have. 

Being a Web Design & Inbound Marketing Firm, we tell our clients that "Content" is King.  Even all the expert Bloggers and Social Media Consultants will tell you this.  It is a true and valid fact.  The problem is, is that it is really easy to tell someone that content is King and that you should have no problem coming up with "Who You Are and What You Do, after all it is YOUR story, right?  WRONG!

We recently redesigned our website and going back over all the content we had to "Freshen" up, was a big process.  Oh, I can tell you exactly what we do and who we are, if you are standing in front of me so I can speak to you.  Writing it is a different animal all together.  When we get a new client and tell them that they need to go through their content and get rid of stuff that doesn't matter or outdated and replace it with new, fresh content, it is one of those items that gets put off until the very end.  Or worse... A client has no website and then has to come up with ALL the content for the site.

I have a new appreciation for this process.  It is always easier to tell someone how to do it, but when it comes to actually doing it, that is the problem.  Here are some tips I tell my clients to help in the process:

  • Start with the pages you have or think you want, the Contact Us is a good place to start.  Why?  Because you know the answer!  It is an easy score.  
  • Move onto the About Us page.  Most people can talk about themselves.  Just tell us everything there is to know about you. Then go back and weed out the wordiness and stuff that really isn't important, like the time you were in the Boy Scout's and you actually got the fire started with 2 sticks.
  • If you have a portfolio of projects, this is usually easy, especially if you are showing a picture or even adding a little text about what the project was.
  • If you offer services, this can be a hard or easy page.  Start with what you know and are confident about.  Then fill in the rest
  • The Home Page should be last unless you just have that one down.  The Home Page brings all of what you do and who you are together.  It is the page that needs to be the most captivating and inviting.  You want people to get to this page and say "Wow", I want to know more.  This will probably be the hardest page to complete.
My advice for any page you start, is just puke it out onto the screen and then re-read, fix, and repeat.  Have someone else read it to see if it makes sense. Sometimes we know what we are saying because we actually do the work, but get someone who doesn't and you will have a different perspective.

Hopefully this helps.  I would love to hear other people with their best ways to write content.  Like the saying goes "A Gardner's garden is never green, but the rest of the neighborhood is beautiful."

Hi, I'm with Kirby Vacuum, Don't shoot

Kim Kolb - Thursday, April 15, 2010

OH My Gosh! I didn't even realize companies still used Door to Door Soliciting, I mean Sales, oops I mean Marketing.  I think this out does the Billboard ads.  

I was working in my home office today and I got a knock on the door.  Hmm, I thought.. Not expecting anyone.  I opened the door, I am not kidding on this next part, the young kid, maybe early 20's says to me as I am opening the door, "Hi, I'm with Kirby Vacuum, Don't Shoot"!  Since I am not real quick with my responses... I took a second and said, I have had a Kirby before and I don't need another since I have all hardwood!  The Rep did not seem to take this as harsh as I probably made it sound. He just said, "Okay, thanks".  Off to the next house he went.

What is Kirby's goal in going door to door?

  • Personal interaction
  • Face to face
  • Set up Demonstration
  • Closing a deal

With Outbound Marketing, you are being interrupted when you didn't ask to be.  Somebody is interrupting what you do to tell you what they do.  Telemarketer's, TV ads, all are Outbound Marketing. 

How does Kirby track their Outbound Marketing?  Just like we track Yellow Page ads, TV ads, etc. There is no way to track them unless there is a physical action that takes place.  You actually have a demo scheduled, you clip the coupon and use it, you tell the person where you found them.

  • If last year's "Outbound Marketer" could have tracked what he did when he came to my house, he would have been able to tell this year's "Outbound Marketer" that I don't have carpet.  
  • What is the cost-benefit to having people pound the pavement?

I do have to say that the salesperson had a wonderful attitude.  

I would love to hear feedback on this and your thoughts about door to door sales.

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