Are you making this mistake on YOUR website?

written by john c ashworth

website design security

Are you making this mistake with your website?

Take a close look at the image I’ve included with this article. If you’re website is displaying this little ‘i’ icon, along with the ‘unsecure’ text your website is NOT secure. You need an SSL certificate, and you need one now.

Somewhat recently, the search engines changed the rules again and they are looking for certain things ‘underneath the hood’ of your website. If they’re not there, you’re being labeled as unsecure in a very public way, and you could be losing business, as customers and prospects lose confidence in interacting with your website.

The solution is relatively simple, but you really do need to get to it as quickly as you can. Because it’s damaging your website visitors’ confidence, and very likely the overall response and interaction they have with your website. Even worse, it makes you look disorganized and lost; and it affects your search engine rankings too.

I found the unsecure site pictured above when going to make a payment to a local business here in Madison. I was thrilled to discover that they offered the ability to do this. The bill had been sitting on my desk for a week while I continued to procrastinate on writing a check, addressing the envelope, locating a stamp and walking it downstairs to the out-going mail.

I went ahead and made the payment anyway because by the time I got to the actual payment form on their website, I found that this part of the process was in fact secure and knew I was OK. But I’m in the business and understand these things. Most of your websiste visitors are not. And even in spite of my expertise, I still felt reluctant to follow-through. My user-experience and my impression of this particular business was negatively impacted by this seemingly small aberration.

How many others are visiting this website every day and losing confidence in it because you look dated, out of touch, and exposed?

In this case, we’re talking about a specialty practice that offers the most modern care in dentistry you can get. The CAT scan of my ailing tooth was an amazing opportunity and provided the missing information for the treatment plan.

In the old days, I would have likely been headed for another exploratory root canal instead of the relatively quick, simple, and informed decision that it was time to say goodbye to this old tooth for good.

Your website is a living, breathing communication medium that you need to nurture constantly. When you don’t relate to it this way, it starts to decay, and often very quickly. Eventually, it’s that old, infected, rotting tooth stealing energy and opportunity from you every single day until it’s fixed.

-John

How and Why You Need to Create Brand You

john-c-ashworth-in-wig

How and Why You Need to Create Brand You

written by john c ashworth

Like it or not, to thrive in today’s business world as either a business owner or employee, branding yourself is essential. As Alina Tugend points out in her article over the weekend in the New York times, “You’re not a worker, you’re not a job title! You’re a brand!”

I realize that to those of you who don’t own your own business, and have no intention of starting one, that this might sound like complete craziness. To the non-business owner, the idea of branding oneself starts to feel a little too much like selling and marketing and I realize that for many of you fitness professionals, your passion lies more in simply helping people achieve their peak health. I get that. But here is the reality…

The reality is that job markets are tighter than ever and if you want to secure your position for the long run, branding yourself is part of that. Remember, you’re not a worker, you’re not a job title, you’re a brand.

When I worked for Dean Ornish back in California, I was known by all of the participants in the research we were doing as the Squat King. Every time I led a workout with these folks, we performed lots and lots of squats (within reason, of course…these people were older folks).

I did this because in 5 years working in the clinical arena, I learned that if I could improve the lower body strength of older people by just a little bit, there were dramatic improvements in their overall quality of life. One thing was for sure though, they always knew that if we were exercising, we were going to do some serious squatting – every time!

This is a small isolated example of how you can begin branding yourself as a fitness professional, but I think it helps to begin making the point.

Today, there are many tools available for helping you create “Brand You.” And the tools online are probably the most powerful and the most important. Not having a presence online today could be considered the equivalent of not existing.

Like it or not, your employers, your client prospects, your friends and colleagues are going online to find out about you. Will they be rewarded for their efforts, or be left wondering if you even exist. Or worse, will they be left wondering if those photos of you on Facebook doing that beer bong are just part of your past, or still a regular ocurrence on a Saturday night. (By the way, if you’re a serious career fitness pro now, all those photos need to go anyway).

What kind of impression are you leaving people online, and what do you need to do to both improve it, and make it more visible?

If you’re a business owner, you already have a presence online (you better). Is it doing for you what you intended? Is it working for you 24/7 to reinforce your brand? Or is it just sitting there like your 90 year old grandfather, asleep in the recliner, attracting attention only once in awhile when he snores and turns his head?

If you’re a job seeker, you have likely posted your resume online in various places, but have you considered how much more powerful your online presence would be if you actually spent some serious time and effort creating an online presence designed to promote “Brand You?”

the ash flash is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The writing itself is a reflection of me, my belief systems, my philosophies, and my expertise. If you spend time reading the posts, you will hear a voice and be able to decide whether or not I am someone you might want to network with, hire, or form a strategic alliance with. But it doesn’t stop here…

I also have a fitness blog and every post I make to Twitter, Facebook, and each blog site is considered carefully to make sure that it fits in line with my philosophy and the image I’m trying to create. I don’t update my Twitter and facebook accounts with little tidbits about how I just gave my kids a bath, or brushed their teeth. I work hard to consider my following and continue to create writing and content that I trust is helpful in people’s lives. This is part of my brand.

Now, before you get carried away and begin creating profiles on every social networking site out there, creating blog sites to post to, and spend any money re-building your web site, let me guide you.

Spreading yourself too thin in this process can be a disaster! Believe me, it’s a lot of work keeping all of this stuff alive, active, and fresh. You also need to think through the process carefully. Finding your niche is the key. And along with that, deciding on what your ultimate goal is for working to create your brand is vitally important.

You might be looking for a job, building a business, or simply trying to create ways for colleagues to communicate with you. Or it might be all three of those. The important thing is that you know what you are trying to do before you start.

Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success” (Kaplan, April 2009), and a personal branding guru (that’s his brand, by the way) recommends a four-step process for making your brand happen:

Discover, create, communicate, and maintain. Create your own personal branding toolkit.

This means, finding your passion and putting it together with your expertise, and then creating a “personal branding tool kit”, which may include a résumé, online profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, a blog and a portfolio of your work if you have one. All of this should consistently reflect your brand.

You then need to pitch your brand online and offline; and probably most important, you need to update and monitor any conversations about your brand. You need to communicate through these online mediums on a regular basis so that people can continue to learn about you, your expertise, your passions, and your pursuits. Give people a reason to know and follow you.

“Find Your Passion” by the way, is the title of my more personal blog (which has just been re-created and I still need to move some posts over there so there is not much there yet). In this arena my goal is to inspire others to find their own passion for life by experiencing mine through my own writing about my every day life as a Dad, Business Owner, and entrepreneur.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create your personal brand online, stay tuned to this blog for announcements about programs and services that we will soon be offering to help you do just that.

In the mean time, if you’re a fitness business owner and already have a blog site, but find it difficult to post to it regularly enough, we have a new content service here at the ash flash that can help. Click here for details

-John

Don’t be a Charlatan, Be Yourself…

Don’t be a Charlatan, Be Yourself

written by john c ashworth

Earlier this week I sent out the press release that FitnessProBlogger subscribers receive as part of their subscription. It was actually the same press release that I used to land my initial TV Gig on the local NBC affiliate in Madison WI with Leigh Mills. Yes, it’s still timely, even almost three years later.

 

How can that be?

Well, without giving it away for free, I can tell you that it has to do with serious safety concerns about balloons. That’s right, balloons. You see, there is something that people should really know about balloons, especially parents of small children, because it could literally save their life.

Now are you curious? Of course you are, and if you subscribe to the FitnessProBlogger Content Service , you will gain immediate access to the full press release on the subject, and a whole lot more. For now, I want to make a few more points and answer a couple of great questions I got about this release from some of our current members…

First, this press release has great power because it is not only important, but it plays on a subject that is life-saving and that not many people know about. That makes for great news content in any publication, written or on TV. They are always looking for the angle.

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Second, when you go outside of topics related directly to your fitness business, you show people in the media and in your community an important side of yourself. You show them that you are a health expert who happens to own a fitness business. This makes you BIGGER. When you stay within the confines of your studio and fitness and weight loss you are smaller. Cramped, stuck, afraid, and unsure…

One of the questions I received almost immediately after submitting this release to the subscribers of FitnessProBlogger was whether or not ALL of the press releases they would receive would be about fitness. My answer was that yes, the majority of them would be, but that many of them shouldn’t for the reasons I just stated above. Your goal is to get exposure in your local media. You should use any topic you find interesting to do just that.

I’ll admit, that on that Saturday morning when I decided to write this particular release, I was out of my comfort zone and had the same thought, “Do I have the authority to write to the media on this subject?” It turns out I do 🙂 For some of the fitness segments that I have done recently you can go to my fitness blog.  I do this every other Friday and now, probably about 25% of my client base are people who at one point found out about me on TV. That’s powerful stuff!

-John