Consumer Advice

I've found that the consumer advice that Clark Howard offers is excellent. There are a variety of ways to access his information -- through his popular radio show, HLN, and his web site. The web site is great for browsing -- one of my favorite area's to browse is the "RIp-off Alerts" section. The web site is easy to use and information is sorted by category. There is also a search function that works (I've visited a lot of sites where doing a search is not at all helpful).

Can't find the information you need. The Consumer Action Center allows you to Ask Team Clark your questions. This is a free service offered by Clark, his staff, and volunteers.


This is a true story...

9bary01l ...that happened to my aunt's boyfriend's daughter's friend.

I'm sure you've received plenty of e-mail warnings from well meaning friends and family members. Many times, it's not obvious if they are true or not.

Next time you're in doubt or just want to verify a story, dash over to Snopes. They have a search box to enter keywords or your can browse stories by category. Not all of the items listed on Snopes are untrue, they also verify true tales and even point out partial truths.

Remember before forwarding that "warning" or "touching" story check it out on Snopes.com


Free Books!

Stackofbooks I recently rediscovered Project Gutenberg.   The site is one of the largest collections of free electronic books and ebooks. Currently they have over 20,000 free books in their online book catalogue.

Project Gutenberg contains a wide variety of titles and authors like…

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Outline of Science by J. Arthur Thomson
All’s Well that Ends Well by William Shakespeare
The Marvelous Land Of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Oscar Wilde
H.G. Wells
Plato
Edgar Allen Poe
…and thousands more

Yes, all of the books are being distributed legally. The copyright for most of the books has expired in the United States. This means anyone can make copies of the works.

Happy Downloading and Reading!


Non-Geeks Guide to Google Shortcuts

by John Jantsch
reprinted with permission from Duct Tape Marketing Newsletter

I thought I would bring you something a little different in this issue. Instead of an article, this week's feature is more a resource guide.

Google has lots of ways for you to use their search engine technology to keep up on your industry, your keywords and your competition by creating custom searches pegged to shortcut phrases.

Once you master a few of these tricks you can use them to speed up all your product and competitive research by focusing on what's under the hood on those sites that might be doing a little better in the search engines than you or digging a little deeper to find only specific types of documents.

Here's a handy guide that will turn you into a Google expert. Place the shortcut word, such as related followed by a colon and your search term of web site address you want to search.

Google Shortcut                                                 Finds Pages That Have...
site:(search only one website)                         site:ducttapemarketing.com referrals
link:(find linked pages)                                      link:www.ducttapemarketing.com
info: (find info about a page)                            Info:www.ducttapemarketing.com
related: (related pages)                                    related:www.ducttapemarketing.com
cache: (view cached page)                              cache:ducttapemarketing.com
filetype:(search for specific filetype)                 marketing filetype:ppt
allintitle: (search keywords in page title)            allintitle:public relations
inurl:(restrict search to page URLs)                   inurl:smallbusiness
site:.edu (specific domain search)                    site:.edu, site:.gov, site:.org, etc.
site:country code (search to country)                site:.au marketing coach
intext:(search for keyword in body text)              intext:blogging
allintext: (words specified in body text)              allintext:duct tape

Here's a great place to start using this information. The title of a web page (the name of an individual page that shows up in the browser when you go to a page is called the title) is very important when it comes to Google's page indexing. Many people waste this important element by giving the title of a page the name of the company or home page. Smart marketers use very important keyword rich terms as titles for every page.

Try it yourself - search Google for a term like "small business marketing." Make note of the sites that show up on page 1. Now do a shortcut search for the same, but limit the search to specific words that appear in the title tags by putting this in a Google search - allintitle:small business marketing. Do this and you will find that a number of the sites that appear in the organic listings for the search also have that term in their title.

Related article: Using Keyword Research to Increase Web Traffic

John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide published by Thomas Nelson.

He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system. You can find more information by visiting DuctTapeMarketing.com


Travel Planning

Kayak Recently I started doing a lot of travel planning for my clients and they preferred to not use a travel agent (long story). I found it quite overwhelming until someone recommended the services of Kayak.com  Kayak.com is a travel search engine -- not a travel store. Once you find the flight, hotel, car, etc. that you want, you click and link and go directly to the travel provider or travel agency web site.

What I *really* like about their search system is they have an option for "nearby airports" (I know, may others do also) but they make it possible to search several at a time. You can easily change your flight preferences via a menu on the left side of the search result page.

Post a comment and let us know about the travel planning tools that make your life easier!


A New Form of Media

Change This is using common tools like PDFs and blogs to change the way we share ideas. They have a large archive of manifestos (that’s what they call their PDF files) and more arriving every day. Each manifesto is reviewed before it’s posted on the site.

Logo Recent manifestos included…
Women Bloggers: Changing Their Worlds, Changing the World
Elisa Camahort
Women are the power consumers and connectors of the Internet, and yet, their influence has mostly... more info

Beyond Snobbery: Grammar Need Not Be Cruel to Be Cool Here
June Casagrande (so not your ninth grade English teacher) will reassure you that it’s okay not to care about grammar. Just what you wanted to hear! But with humor and enthusiasm... more info

The Rise and Fall of the Hit
Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, chronicles the history of the blockbuster and explains why the traditional model of marketing and selling music no longer works. more info

The Change This mission is “to spread important ideas and change minds.”


Finding Celebrities

I do a lot of research for my clients and have discovered several worthwhile tools to quickly and accurately find the information I need. One such tool is the database at Contact Any Celebrity. I’ve rarely been disappointed with the results I’ve received when looking for a celebrity. (Note: many times the contact information directs you to their publicist or publisher, but the message seems to get through in a timely manner.)