Guy Kawasaki Step 8 to Enchantment

At  the Inc. 500/5000 conference I attended last October, Guy Kawasaki offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. Since then, I have been summarizing those points, off and on, and discussing how they are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).

Step 8 is to use technology.

Once again Guy demonstrates his admiration for Apple, Inc. by creating a “Step to Enchantment” that is so reflective of what Apple does incredibly well.  Yes, last time I mentioned that Apple was all about presentation, which may have implied Apple values flash over substance.  On the contrary, Apple is one of those rare companies that actually delivers the substance (the technology in this case) to back-up the hype (their flash, their presentation).

With this step, Guy suggests that great companies can use technology to enchant their customers by smoothing over, and even removing, potential “speed bumps.”  A speed bump, of course, is anything that gets in the way of the customer having a flawless experience with that company’s product, service, or brand.  The Internet (and more recently, social media) has given all start-up businesses, as well as established enterprises, an equal opportunity to use technology to provide valuable information, insights, and assistance to their clients or customers.   What used to be a costly and time intensive exercise of direct-mail notification or phone calls can now be accomplished instantly via email or the company’s Facebook or Twitter pages; all the business needs to do is actually use these new technologies that are available to interact with their customers or clients — and let potential new customers or clients experience that dialogue transparently, in real time.

As technically sophisticated as our self publishing website is at Outskirts Press, I feel we could perform this step better.  It becomes more difficult to “use technology” effectively when a customer base spans the age groups between 8 and 80.  Apple is an amazing company with amazing technology simply because an eight year and an eighty year old can often have the same smooth, enjoyable experience with an Apple product (except when upgrading to mobile OS 6 deletes your cloud contacts and calendar, ugh, but I digress).  An 8-year-old can use our online system just fine. 80 year-olds, on the other hand, sometimes find the experience a little confusing.  Fortunately, we offer Publishing Consultants and then Author Representatives, who are available to walk every one of our clients through the entire process, not unlike the Apple clerks at your friendly neighborhood Apple retailer (except you don’t have to drive to our consultants to get the help you need).


Getting video testimonials for your business

While we were in the middle of the Outskirts Press Pre-Production series of blog postings in February, our Outskirts Press blog over at introduced a video contest in association with Valentine’s Day, titled “Show Me the Love” where we asked our satisfied and successfully published authors to record a 1-3 minute video about either being a published author, their experience with Outskirts Press, or why they loved working with us.

The videos we received were great!  We posted them all on Facebook as we received them. Then our Facebook friends “liked” them or commented on them in accordance with normal social media behavior.  This allowed us to determine 6 “finalists” based upon the number of likes and/or comments each video received.

We then posted those 6 video finalists on our blog along with a poll, asking our blog readers and members of our social community to vote on the video they liked the best.  The winner would receive a free Apple iPad 2.  It was an interesting race, with two finalists battling back and forth in the polls up until the last hour, at which time, one was crowned the winner.

At the bell, Patricia A. Hawkenson, author of Magnetic Repulsion: 100 Poems From Desire to Disgust, was named our Video Valentine for 2012 for this creative video she submitted:

Video testimonials like these are valuable components to running successful online businesses nowadays, because people on the internet are now more likely to “watch” the Internet than they are to “read” it (and yes, I recognize the irony of making that claim in a manner that requires it to be read).

So how do you acquire video testimonials for your book or business? Well, our process worked pretty well, and it went something like this:

1. Use your social media community to solicit participation in a transparent, Web 2.0-friendly way
2. Encourage participation and comments
3. Yes, you may have to offer an incentive to participate.  As popular as Skype may be, it’s still a taxing procedure for most people to create a video, and the likelihood of it being spread across YouTube and the rest of the Internet is not for the faint of heart — particularly for writers, the majority of whom are often introverted. In our case, we dangled an Apple iPad 2, but your gift could be something as easy as a signed copy of your book, for example, or a product or service that you deliver. For instance, our runner-up, received a free iPad edition of her book  (which actually has approximately the same retail price as the iPad 2 itself, so they were both big winners).
4. Once you have video testimonials, use them. Nothing is quite as persuasive as seeing real people making really great comments about your product or service.

So, with that said, take a look at all six of our video finalists by clicking here. Pretty good arguments to use Outskirts Press, wouldn’t you say?

Designing a Facebook Welcome Page – Part Six

There’s only one main graphic element remaining to be discussed as we talk about the current Outskirt Press Facebook welcome graphic and its creative elements. The creative component is “phase 1” of a 3-4 week series about how to creatively design a “Facebook Welcome Page” and then how to technically create it within Facebook. We’re almost done with the creative part.  In fact, there’s only one more graphic left. (Well, there are actually two, but the last graphic is just a small element to complete the very bottom part of the vertical banner.). Tomorrow I’ll reveal the whole Facebook welcome graphic in its entirety,  Of course, you’re welcome to cheat by going straight to our Facebook Page and, if you’re not a fan/friend, yet, you’ll see our Welcome page.   

Our Welcome graphic is composed of rolling monthly opportunities, promotions, incentives, or perks. We discussed the general giveaway, concerning the Barnes & Noble NOOK last week, and we discussed January’s event (Fandemonium Volume 2) yesterday.   Our graphic will show two months at a time.  That means, on February 1, the January graphic will go away, February will move “up” and the March monthly event or announcement will drop neatly into place.  One general suggestion to keep in mind when it comes to incentivizing Facebook links is to KEEP giving your friends/fans valuable promotions or content above and beyond whatever prompted them to join in the first place.   Many of our current fans “liked” us on the chances they would win an Amazon Kindle last Christmas.  Only one could win.  So what do you do, as a business, an entrepreneur, a marketer, or an author, to keep those fans from “unliking” you once the giveaway is over?   You keep giving them value.  In our case, we kept the giveaway going, and even upped the stakes for a NOOK, but we also gave them a chance to publish for a free in a Facebook anthology.

And, in February, we’re giving them the chance to win a free Apple iPad2:

We don’t reveal too much more than that in our Facebook Welcome graphic — just enough to whet their appetites and hopefully get them to “like” us, if they haven’t already – or to get those who have already “liked” us to stick around for a couple weeks on Facebook.  By that time, hopefully, they’ll have come to see our value as a book publishing and marketing firm and we’ll have earned their business when they’re ready to publish.

And that, in short, is an example of how you can use Facebook to build relationships with your potential clients/customers, regardless of whether you are a start-up, a corporation, or a published author.

Designing a Facebook Welcome Page – Part Three

This week we’ve been discussing the creative design of making a Facebook welcome page. Yesterday I showed one of the “pieces” of our current Welcome page for our Outskirts Press page on Facebook.  Now let’s talk about the two most important elements of a successful Facebook Welcome page:

1) Understanding Facebook policies as it relates to incentivizing links
2) Graphically showing your visitors exactly what you want them to do when they see your Welcome page on Facebook.

Let’s discuss #1 first: Facebook allows you to incentivize links, provided all new and past friends are eligible to win the same prize/award.  So, for instance, you cannot reward only new “likes” with the offer.  Facebook has a specific posting in their FAQ about this exact topic, which is here: and it says:

Is incentivizing Liking an app allowed?

Yes, you can provide special rewards to users who Like your app’s page. These rewards must be available to new and existing users. For example, users should not be immediately rewarded for clicking the Like button (i.e., “click here for 10 bonus points” is not permitted). Your messaging should clearly indicate that all users who Like your app/site are eligible to receive the offer or reward (e.g., “Free gifts are available to users who Like our Page” and “Users who Like our app/site are eligible for special offers.”).
So anyone who has “liked” your page (before or after the incentive) needs to have the same eligibility for the reward. You cannot just reward the new “likes.”  Easy enough.
The second most important part of the welcome screen is showing visitors HOW to “like” you, which is best done with a graphic that is pointing to the actual “Like” button on Facebook. In our case, this is the very top element of our Welcome Graphic:
Again, just like the graphic I showed you yesterday, this graphic element looks a little odd all by itself, and that’s because the full graphic has been “cut-up” to accommodate both faster loading and more efficient manipulation when we want to update elements of the welcome page.  Then we put it all back together in HTML. Don’t worry, all this will come more into focus as we continue putting the pieces into place… and we will continue that next time…

Customizing your Google+ Page for Business

… this is a continuation of the blog postings I started last week about creating a Google+ page for business…

Once you’ve “created” your Google+ Business page, Google asks you to provide a “Tagline” for the page. Like the title of the page, the tagline is a good place to include some keywords. And since it’s not clear from Google’s screens whether the tagline is going to be presented/displayed on the page, or whether this is simply for tagging/SEO purposes, it is best to try to kill two birds with one stone: in order words, make the tag line serve tagging/SEO purposes but do so in a manner that involves a comprehensive, grammatically correct sentence.

Next you’ll upload your profile photo, and since Google+ makes it easy to separate your “activity” between your personal persona and your business persona, you can upload a different avatar graphic for your business page and you can easily swap between your personal “self” and business “self” as your activity warrants. That’s nice.

Now you have your business page, which at the beginning looks very similar to your personal Google+ page — in a word, empty.  So add some “streams” (which is the Google word for Facebook’s “Status” updates. If you have videos upload to YouTube, Google+ makes it easy to find them and embed them (which stands to reason, since Google owns YouTube)… so that’s an easy place to start.

Coming up we’ll talk about automating some posts to Google+ so you start to easily generate some content on your Google+ business page, and other tactics you should start to pursue since you now have a presence on Google+.

Google Plus Profiles vs. Pages

… continuing this series on Google Plus that was started a couple posts ago…

Once you “join” Google Plus as a user, after completing your set-up, you see a page that looks something like this:

Not too much there yet. Thus begins the process of building up this new social media presence according to your own personal goals, wants, and desires. But today, we’ll focus on the little link along the right-hand side that says “Create a Google Page” which takes you to this:

Already that are some problems, or at least, potential areas of confusion, when it asks you to classify the type of “business” you are creating a Google Page for. Here are the choices:

  • Local Business or Place (and Google provides examples like hotels, restaurants, places (?), stores, services
  • Product or brand (examples like apparel, cars, electronics, financial services (?)
  • Company, Institution, or Organization (companies, institutions, organizations, non-profits — thanks, Google, because that was so unclear by the category name)
  • Arts, Entertainment, Sports (movies, TV, music, books, sports, shows)
  • Other (if your page doesn’t fit a category above)

There are two problems with this screen:

1. Google doesn’t tell you WHY you are classifying it.  Is there a difference in how the resulting pages look? Does one receive different functionality? Or does Google simply want to know what kind of advertisements to send you?  Tell us why you’re asking this question, Google, and the 2nd problem with this screen becomes a little less problematic.

2. The second problem revolves around category #2 – Product or Brand.  I’ll bet the hotel that is used an example for Category #1 considers themselves a brand, especially if they’re going through the trouble of making a Google Plus page.  Outskirts Press probably falls into the catch-all Category #3 (in fact, what wouldn’t?  I mean, Google Pages are meant for businesses, so everything is probably a “company” or “organization” of some sort).  But even though Category #3 might define us best, I also consider Outskirts Press a “brand” – so should I choose #2, instead? Who knows… Google isn’t telling me WHY I’m having to classify my page.  

This all becomes a matter of trial and error, and it doesn’t even tell you that if you want to change your mind later, you can.  So… make your best guess: That’s what I’m going to do.  “Company, Institution, or Organization” sounds so boring, so I’m going to choose Product or Brand. Hey, if Google suggests it for “financial services (really, Google, really?!), then it works for us at Outskirts Press!

In reality, it doesn’t seem like Category #2 and Category #3 behave any differently as far as Google is concerned. Both result in providing you with a drop down box during the next step with a list of more specific categories (and the drop down choices appear to be exactly the same, with the exception of general categories that appear at the very bottom of the drop down box). “Publishing” or “self-publishing” isn’t in either one (which is surprising, given Google’s in-your-face experience with publishers during their Google Book Library Project, but that’s a post for another day).

Regardless of the category you choose, Google Plus is going to ask you to “Title” your page.  Just like when you title your book or buy a big neon sign for your local business,  your goal when giving your Google page a title is including a keyword  (in this case, for search engine optimization). So be sure your Google Page title includes your most relevant keyword. Then provide the URL to your company website, select a category (again), set age-appropriate specifications based upon the content you’re going to post, and agree to Google’s invasive “Page Terms.”  If you can be bothered to read it, these specific terms are broken down into three categories: Privacy Policy (you don’t get any); Legal Terms (things you post on your Google page must comply with other Google terms — i.e. promotions need to abide by their Content and Promotion Policies, and text, images, etc., must comply by their User Content and Conduct Policy); and Content Policy. 

Humorously, Google’s Content Policy (a list of 12 things they “don’t allow”) clearly demonstrates that the employees of Google have never bothered to visit the Internet. Here’s what they say isn’t allowed:

1. Illegal Activities
2. Malicious Products
3. Hate Speech
4.  [Sharing] Personal and Confidential Information
5. Account Hijacking
6. Child Safety {they mean child exploitation}
7. Spam
8. Ranking Manipulation
9. Gambling
10. Sexually Explicit Material
11. Violent or Bullying Behavior
12. Impersonation or Deceptive Behavior

Hey, Google! Allow me to be the first to welcome you to the Internet. You’ve just listed 12 of the most common things you’ll find on it…

Then click “Create…” and the next step is customizing your page, which we’ll discuss next week…

Google Plus For Business – Part One

Google launched Google+ in June 2011, which Mark Zuckerberg described as Google “… trying to build their own little version of Facebook.”  He’s right. If you look at Google+ you immediately see the similarities, so much so I’d be surprised if Facebook lawyers weren’t contemplating a suit. But that’s a posting for a different blog.  This one involves using Google Plus for business.

Of course, up until November,  you couldn’t use Google+ for business, not really. But in early November, Google+ launched business pages for their new social networking site, so now’s the time to write about how to set-up and use Google+ (Google Plus) for business.

First, you need to create a Google+ account at

Doing this requires you have your own Google account, which perhaps you have already set-up for Google Alerts, or many of the other services Google offers.   Enter your first name, last name, gender, and year of birth. All self-explanatory. Then upload a photograph, and if you’re an author, I would recommend uploading the same professional image you use on the back of your book and for all your book marketing efforts. 

So far, this is basically the same as Facebook in that I created a “personal profile” on Facebook prior to creating a Facebook Page for Outskirts Press.  Their close association has always prevented me from truly using Facebook (even my personal profile) for much other than business. This is the reason my photograph on my personal Facebook page is the round OP Logo.  Kind of defeating, I know, but it is what it is….    So now that I’m starting with Google+, I’m going to see if it is feasible to separate business from pleasure, so to speak — after all, that is one of the “benefits” Google+ claims over Facebook; we’ll see if it’s true.  To that end, I’ve  uploaded my professional head-shot into my personal Google + account.  As you do this, you may or may not have the same considerations.

The next check-box question requests your permission to “personalize” the web for you.  This is Google’s way of asking if they can use your personal information to tailor advertisements to you.  Their description of this functionality is purposefully vague on its real purpose, but that’s no surprise.  Who’s going to answer “Yes” to “Send me lots of ads” but saying “Yes” to “You’ll get to see everything your friends recommend that you might also enjoy” is a lot easier to swallow.   Here’s the disclaimer language on Google’s help page regarding this check-box:  When you click the +1 button, you’re explicitly signaling interest in displaying, sharing, or recommending specific online content, including ads.

Of course, one might argue that disabling that check-box removes half the point of social networking, and that’s true, so what you do with this check box is up to you.

Then you click join… and come back tomorrow for what happens next…

How to incorporate a company on the internet – Part 9

This is the last posting of a 9 part series about using Legal Zoom to incorporate a small business.  Part of the reason I did this was to draw a comparison between two online services (incorporating a business and publishing a book), seemingly vastly different — and yet the online process had consistent similarities.  One could argue that both of these objectives (incorporating a business and publishing a book) can be done without the convenient services of an online company.  That’s true, and then one has to ask one’s self whether the learning curve and time expenditure is worth the money saved.   I’m not an attorney or a CPA, so I don’t want to learn the in’s and out’s of incorporating a company — I just want to incorporate one!  Ergo, Legal Zoom. By the same token, most writers don’t want to learn the in’s and out’s of publishing a book – they just want to publish one! Ergo, Outskirts Press.

So even though the industries that Legal Zoom and Outskirts Press exist in are very different, they have a lot in common, as demonstrated by this 9-part series.   To complete that comparison, I’m going to soon publish a similar blog series covering the step-by-step process of someone using Outskirts Press to publish a book.  But first, we’ll take a break next week and talk about Google+.

So, that brings us to the final step of Legal Zoom — paying!  Here’s the last screen I get, which is a comparison chart, designed in a manner to promote upsells:

What is this screen missing?  The cost!   Now you have to imagine that Legal Zoom conducted some tests on this screen to see which was more successful – including listing the price here or not. But, if they did, frankly I’m surprised this was the result.  Asking someone to commit to something without knowing the final price is asking a lot of an internet customer.  Sure, I realize clicking the “continue” button isn’t a “commitment” per se, but it still seems like a pretty big oversight for this page.   Only by selecting each package and clicking the “Continue” button can you see what the cost of each one is, which I’ll do for you:

Economy: $99 (plus whatever upgrades you selected during the course of the process) – so my total with this package ends up being $317.95
Standard: $239 (plus whatever upgrades you selected during the course of the process) – so my total with this package ends up being $457.95
Express Gold:  $369 (plus whatever upgrades you selected, although some of those upgrades are supposed to be included) – so my total with this package ends up not making any sense, because the screen shot above indicates my Fed ID number and my subchapter S election are supposed to be included – only by reading the fine, fine print do you see that they’re NOT actually included with this package — they’re just cheaper.)  Should that really be a check-mark, then?  Probably not.

I’m going with the economy rate of $99, which gets to $317.95 awfully fast. Of course, they add on a $9.95 “shipping and handling” fee, and it’ll be interesting to see the actual postage on what I receive — probably $2.25.      I’m not particularly bothered by this, I’m just making a point:  All companies have necessary profit margins.  Anyone who expects otherwise  probably doesn’t own a business.  The same thing happens when you hire a lawyer for $200 a hour and the minute you walk out the door, the lawyer hands it to a paralegal who makes $80 a hour. 

And boom, presto, they say I’ll have my documents in about 35 days and my new business will be officially incorporated.  Ahh, isn’t it nice having a service company take care of things like incorporating businesses and publishing books for you?  I think so…

Help incorporating a business – Part 8

.. continued from yesterday…. and all this week and last week…

Okay, it’s been a long time coming (and certainly longer than the 15 minutes Legal Zoom said it would be), but we’re almost wrapping up this online process of incorporating a small business online with Legal Zoom.  We’ve taken care of the federal stuff. Now, we’re on to the state questions. The wording here may be different depending upon what state YOU’RE doing it in, but for me, Legal Zoom asked me this:

Most companies that do business in Colorado or have employees there must register with the Colorado Department of Revenue for state tax purposes.

Would you like us to prepare your Colorado Business Registration to register your business with the state and request your Colorado account number? (An additional $49 fee will apply.)

I personally don’t have an immediate need for this, and saying “No” doesn’t prevent me from incorporating, or getting a local account number later, so I’m answering no. This answer depends upon the type of business you are incorporating or your intention on hiring local employees anytime soon (in which case you might answer yes).  If you will need a state tax license you would also say yes. Basically, if you’re opening a retail store or restaurant (or something else that sells tangible physical goods to local, physical customers) you would answer yes.

Legal Zoom then asks if you want a “free consultation” with a marketing firm concerning website design.  This is a clever co-op up-sell with a partner they’ve procured.  Great for them, and perhaps a good idea for others, but I don’t personally need it, so that’s another “No.”

Wow – then the next screen hits me up with what amounts to an advertisement for American Express.  It went from clever to … shameless?  “Start building credit for your company!” the headline screams. I think I’ll pass.

Then, it says they’ve received all the information they needed. Whew – finally!

So how’s it all end (remember, thus far I haven’t given Legal Zoom a penny)?  Let’s find out tomorrow with the big finish to this two-week series….

How to incorporate online – Part 7

… continuing on from yesterday, we are filling out the part of the Legal Zoom online incorporation forms that focus on the Federal Tax ID application.

1. Do you expect to have $1,000 or less in employment tax liability for the calendar year? (If you expect to pay $4,000 or less in wages, you can select Yes.)  I’m answering yes because as the sole stockowner of my company, I’m not required to give myself employment tax liability.

2. Does your corporation own a vehicle with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more? Only include vehicles that were designed to carry loads on the highway.  – Well, since you are just starting your corporation with the completion of this form, it’s doubtful your corporation owns ANY vehicles at the moment, even if you do personally. So perhaps what this question should say is WILL your corporation own a vehicle that you plan to use for the purposes of this company, with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more.  That sounds awfully big (like construction equipment big), so the answer is most often “No.”

3. Will your corporation operate a casino, or does your corporation’s business involve gambling or wagering?  – Uh, no.

4. Does your corporation need to file Form 720 (Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return)? Unless your company sells the following, the most likely answer is “No.”

  • Gas and other fuel;
  • Tractors;
  • Air or ship transportation services;
  • Insurance policies issued by foreign companies;
  • Fishing equipment;
  • Electric outdoor motors; or
  • Bows and arrows.

5. Does your business make or sell alcohol, tobacco or firearms?

The final question on this screen asks: Which of the following best describes the corporation’s primary business activity?

If you are an independent consultant working for another company or two, there’s no need to limit yourself to THEIR type of business here. You would just select “Consulting” which is second only to “Retail Store” on this alphabetical list (even higher than Accommodation and Accounting) for a reason – “Consulting” is a nice catch-all, although remember that this answer will play a role in determining whether your company name and trade name (if provided) are acceptable.

If you chose “Consulting,” the next screen will ask you if you provide your companies (clients) with operating advice and assistance. Unless you’re consulting as an tempoary COO,CEO, CFO or some other executive-level position, the most appropriate answer here is probably “No.” It also asks what your primary type of business is.

The purpose of these last few questions is primarily so Legal Zoom knows what kind of “forms” and templated agreements to try to up-sell to you, which comes with a $8/month subscription. I think I’ll pass.

… to be continued…