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Get the Simple Things Right

I made three trips to a local service provider today. First, I checked their website for their hours. They had a beautiful, informative website. But no hours anywhere I could find. I know of other service providers in their category who open early, so after dropping my son off at school at 7:20am, I headed over.

They weren’t there.

No hours posted anywhere. There was a sign on the door saying they would be back at 8:00am, but I couldn’t make it back this morning. I swung by at 1:00pm while running other errands.

They weren’t there.

The sign on the door now said they would be back at 2:15pm. It didn’t say how long they would be there. Fortunately, my schedule for the afternoon was more flexible. I got there at 2:15pm, ran in, got what I needed, and was out the door in just over a minute.

Three trips for a 78-second transaction. A lot of wasted gas. A lot of frustration. No hours on the website. No hours on the door. Not a happy camper.

If you can’t get the simple things right, your customers will wonder what else you can’t do right. 

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I understand certain service providers will close their offices for lunch. I’m okay with that – as long as I know it is going to happen. That’s why you need to post hours on your door and website.

Retailers take note. Don’t assume customers know what days and times you’ll be open. Make sure you have it on your website, on your Facebook site, on Google, and on your door. I have a twenty year history with this service provider, but I have no room in my brain for memorizing their quirky hours.

What I’ve Been Working On

Here’s what I’ve been working on (and why I haven’t posted in a while)…



Our old website wasn’t mobile-friendly and needed a few upgrades to make it responsive to different platforms (computers, phones and tablets). Google is telling people that non-responsive sites are going to get knocked down in the search rankings soon.

Since we don’t sell online, I also wanted to focus the site more on making people to want to visit the store. More pictures of what you’ll find when you visit. More descriptions of the in-store services and events. More content telling you how much fun you’ll have when you get to the store.

To get the most out of your website, you have to know what you want your website to do. 

Finally, I wanted a website that I can change and update regularly. I spent the last several months learning how to use WordPress and built the site using their system.

The new site is up and working. The early returns have been promising. More tweaks including video are coming soon.


This one isn’t done yet. Originally, I thought that after building the new Toy House site this one would be easy. I was wrong.

One of the key elements of building a website is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). With the Toy House site that was fairly easy. My goal was to make sure you find us in any search related to toys and Jackson, MI. Go ahead and search “toys Jackson” and see where you find us.

But PhilsForum.com is a different beast playing in a different sandbox.

If you search on such terms as…


…you won’t find me on the first two to three pages in Google.

One of everyone’s favorite pages from my current site is the Freebies page. Yet if you search on RETAILER FREEBIES, you get fourteen pages of coupons before you find all the articles and notes I’ve uploaded for you.

If you search on RETAIL SPEAKER you won’t find me until page four behind a number of sites that won’t even get you a top-level, in-the-trenches retail speaker that routinely gets high praise for the talks he does.

Before I can build the new site, I have a lot of SEO work to do including coming up with a new name for the Freebies – something based on the words you would likely use to search for that information.

Some of those Freebies are ready for an upgrade, too. Stay posted and I’ll let you know here when the new site goes live (and where you can find the new Freebies).


Back in the spring I asked for your submissions for a new book I planned to write this summer. I didn’t get as many submissions as I hoped, but I did get enough to put the book together, albeit in a slightly different format than originally planned. (You can still submit your business for inclusion.)

As soon as I get the new PhilsForum.com site up and running, I’ll tackle this project. (Believe me, I’ve already been formatting chapters in my head on this and am getting excited at how the finished product is going to turn out.)

I’ll be back to blogging soon. In the meantime, start asking yourself these questions…

  • What do you want to accomplish in the next twelve months?
  • What is holding you back?
  • What are your competitors doing better than you?

Those are the questions I hope to explore with you this fall.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS When the new PhilsForum.com site is done, this blogspot blog will go away. I’ll archive all the old blogs onto the new site so the content will still be there. If you’re a subscriber, don’t worry. I’m already looking at how to seamlessly transfer you over to the new blog so that you continue to get this info in your inbox. But if you’re getting this through your RSS feed, I’ll let you know when it is time to change over to the new feed.

PPS Also get ready for a discussion about your online presence. I’ve learned a ton over the last few months building new websites that I look forward to sharing with you.

Ads That Moved My Needle

There weren’t many.

Last night had to be the worst round of Super Bowl ads I’ve ever seen. There was only one ad all night that I replayed for my wife to see. It was Google’s story of a trip to Paris.

It had an interesting storyline that spoke to the heart. It gave you new information about what Google Search can do. How many of you knew you could check your flight information in Google Search? It had elements of surprise. How many of you were eagerly anticipating what was being assembled? And most of all, it didn’t insult your intelligence.

The other ad that made me think was the Flowers in a Box ad from TeleFlora.com.

It was a direct contrast of them versus ProFlowers.com which is heavily advertised on ESPN Radio, which kinda gave it a CBS versus ESPN feel.

That’s the short list of ads that moved my needle. As for the others…

Doritos? I may never eat one of my favorite snacks again for fear that I’ll become one of those weirdos in their spots.

Bud Light? Has anyone on the planet ever known a real person react that way to a Bud Light? Basically, their ads all said the same thing. “Our ads don’t even come close to matching your experience with our product, which means we’re a bunch of liars, and you’ll never guess what else we lied about.”

Budweiser? What was that longhorn ad about? Cross-breeding?

Vizio? Better than most, but I’m not into all those Apps, and was almost about to tune out those robotic arms – couldn’t quite see what they were doing.

GoDaddy.com? What are you? A porn site? Only one of their ads actually said what they did. The rest were just come-ons to get you to their site (where Danica keeps her clothes on).

Sketchers? Just exactly how does your shoe shape me up better than the others? Tell me how and I might listen.

And the two back-to-back “guys in their underwear” ads was too creepy to even give mention to the lame companies who ran them (and the network to air them one after the other).

Overall, I think Hyundai had some decent ads. They definitely told their story differently than Dodge. I think every woman who saw that Dodge ad decided never again to give Chrysler the time of day. Hyundai chose to give us concrete facts without offending our sensibilities – a concept lost on most other commercials.

And finally, although the eTrade ads were cute the first time around, they are getting tired and predictable and once again reinforced my desire to never do a business with a bunch of spoiled, arrogant babies.

So what moved your needle? Did any ad speak to you in a persuasive way? I’d love to hear your comments.


Google AdWords – Good or Bad for Advertisers?

John Kelley from Google Ann Arbor was in Jackson yesterday telling a room of 150 people about how Google makes its billions of dollars a year. Almost all of it comes from their advertising auction known as Google AdWords.

If you’re not familiar with how it works, here’s a quick breakdown.

You set up an account with Google, choose some keywords or phrases, and then make a bid of how much you are willing to pay to show up in the right hand column when someone uses the Google search engine with your chosen keyword.

The cool thing is, just showing up on the right doesn’t cost you a penny. You only pay when someone actually clicks on the link. And you only pay whatever you were willing to bid.

For instance, you might choose the keyword “toys” and bid a maximum of $7. When someone types “toys” into a Google search, eight links show up in the right hand column on the first page. Those eight are in order by how much they were willing to bid. If two other people bid higher, you’ll be third on that list. If no one bid higher, you’ll be at the top, and at a rate only slightly more than the next highest bidder.

Again, you only pay if someone actually clicks on your link.

The beauty of this system is that you only pay for the ads that work, that get people to your website. And you only pay what the market will bear. It is supply and demand at it’s greatest. A truly capitalist product that allows small mom & pop shops to compete with large national corporations.

And since it regularly brings in billions of dollars it must work well, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Like all advertising, it comes down to how you use it.

Yes, it is one of the most measurable forms of advertising. You know how much you paid to get traffic and how much revenue that traffic generated. Yes, it is relatively easy to get started and easily tweaked to make it work better.

No, it doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, there are two groups for which Adwords would be a lousy investment.

  • Businesses who don’t have a website (if you don’t have a website, you should read this.)
  • Businesses who don’t generate revenue directly from their website.

If you fall into either of these categories, Adwords won’t help you grow one bit.

Think about it this way…

The person searching online for a retail product willing to click on a right hand sponsored link is looking for an immediate solution. They are typically looking to make a purchase right away. If you don’t sell online, they’re hitting that back button as quickly as they can.

You won the auction, but lost the sale (and the ad money).

If you’re going to do Google Adwords, here are some suggestions:

  • Do reverse searches to see what keywords are most being used in your category.
  • Only sign up for keywords that relate directly to the products you sell online. Otherwise you’re getting a lot of the wrong traffic
  • Write many different phrases for your posts (you get 94 characters for your description) and constantly measure and tweak to see which ones get clicked most often.
  • Measure, measure, measure. Change where people land on your website, see how long they stay, if they buy and where they exit. You will learn quickly where your website breaks down in the sales process.

As you measure your Return On Investment you’ll get a clearer picture of whether or not this program is working for you. Unlike traditional advertising where your only measurement is if business is going up or down overall, at least with Adwords you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. The old advertising joke is that half of your ads work and half don’t, you just don’t know which half. With Adwords you’ll know (for better or for worse).

If your retail business is strictly brick & mortar – no online presence – Adwords isn’t for you. If you are using your advertising to brand your store, Adwords isn’t for you. If you aren’t up for constantly measuring and tweaking your results, Adwords isn’t for you. But if selling online is your primary goal, it could work – and work well. Billions of dollars can’t all be wrong.

Do you agree or disagree?