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Top Ten Internet and Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

  I recently gave a presentation to a group of small business owners from the NEW (Network of Entrepreneurial Women) group.  I created the graphic above to correspond to the "Top Ten Internet and Social Media Tips for Small Businesses".  Because some women in the group were just starting out and some were already further along in their marketing programs I decided the best way to provide value to the whole group was to think through the most common mistakes I see with my own set of clients. So, here it is.... The Top Ten marketing tips when it comes to Internet marketing that I think all business owners should understand before they start the race.  Enjoy and please let us know what marketing items you continue to struggle with so we can offer some friendly advise in our blog. 1. Be NICE to Mother Google for Better SEO (Search Engine Optimization): We all know how important a website is to a business's online strategy. Almost every business, whether B2B, B2C, non-profit, local or global needs an online presence to reach buyers. You want prospects to find you in a Google search (keyword searches) when they are looking for products

Two Important Website Design Elements: Photography and Designers

We just finished building one of our best websites yet for a local restaurant called Captain's Quarters.   The client was ecstatic about the results which made me start thinking about what made this website build so successful for us and the client.  Two important website design elements stood out on the project, great photography and designers.  First off,  a big shout out to our great designers, my partner Brad Howard and Mark Malik. The second element was all the great photography this client made available to us.  It literally took me days to sort through all the photography and categorize it for the designers to use. I know what you are thinking as a small business owner, "I don't have the budget for professional photography and I don't have any designers on staff" so this doesn't help me.  Well, here is a few tips on how to incorporate these two important elements into your website without breaking the bank. Good Designers There are a ton of graphic design freelancers out there who will do work on the side on the cheap.  Search sites like elancer or vworker.   Ask to see their portfolio of work and make sure to look

Website Design 101: 7 Steps to a Great Website

  Have you been thinking about a website redesign? Redesign projects can be laborious, so before you head down make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that you incorporate the most essential elements. This free ebook will walk you through 7 important steps that you should follow for a redesign or if  you are just considering an upgrade to your current website. You will learn: Whether or not a website redesign is right for your company How to protect your website content during a redesign How to format your homepage correctly The importance of original content Why you need landing pages The importance of website metrics  

Growing Your Email List

In addition to having a sign-up form on your website for visitors to register for your email list, I saw a great idea in a little local ice cream shop the other day.  If you have a retail store put a small laptop computer at the checkout area that allows people waiting in line to pay to add their own email address to your list.  This avoids the hassle of having to ask them for it, it is definitely opt-in, and you know the email address is inputting accurately.  This is a great option for coffee shops, ice-cream shops, restaurants, etc... where people are standing around waiting for their coffee, ice-cream, or order to be filled.

Thank You Promotion

We just launched a low budget direct mail / email campaign for a client that is B to B.  They sell a medical product that is often taken out on a 30-day trial and then purchased by the customer.  They have had huge success with 30 day trials and very rarely is their product returned (i.e. most 30 day trial customers purchase the product).  As a test campaign we are going to send out a letter and email to all 30 day trial customers at about 10-15 days into their trial run and thank them for using the product.  In that letter / email we are going to have a call to action where if the customer orders a second product during the trial period we will offer a 10% discount and free shipping. I will keep you posted on the results of this campaign.  We think it will be a hit because most 30 day trials turn into permanent customers and a lot of those customers order more than one product.   This is just another low budget marketing campaign that you can implement yourself.  If you have a lot of customers that are either up-sell customers or trial customers give this type of campaign some thought. Hope this post spurs

QR Codes for Marketing

QR codes are going to take off in 2011.  With all the new applications for them and the fact that the majority of mobile phone users are have a smart phone now this is a new form of marketing that will finally be adopted by the masses. I have been researching and reading about various QR codes and I personally like the Microsoft Tag codes but the experts say stick with QR codes that are more generic so that smart phone users don't have to have a specific app on their phone for scanning (e.g. if you use a Microsoft Tag the audience has to have the Microsoft Tag Reader app on their phone to scan it). Click here to read a good article on how to implement QR Codes For those of you that don't know what QR Codes are here is a brief explanation What are QR codes? They look like this: They come to us from Japan where they are very common. QR is short for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by a cell phone). They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your cell

Case in Point

Hello everyone.  Per my previous post on 1/21 in regard to hosting and domains I have a client who called me on Monday with the problem I was talking about in my post.  Actually it was my brother who owns two businesses. Here is what happened.  He set up a website for one of his businesses over 6 years ago.  I didn't design or help him with that website.  This is the smaller of the two businesses he owns so he doesn't really work on it day to day and never paid attention to the website or the email accounts tied to the website.  The company that put up the website for him handled the hosting and email set-up.  He called me on Monday asking me for his email password to get into his "squirrel mail" (a webmail platform). He apparently forgot that I didn't set up the website/email for that business.  When I told him he needed to track down the website hosting provider who put up his website he didn't seem to know who to call, or even remember the name of the company that did it.  I am sure he finally hunted down the website designers and got the information he needed

Website Hosting and Domains

Hopefully within the next few weeks I am going to write a FAQ on website builds.  In the meantime, I have to clear up some confusion that 90% of my clients have.  Most small business owners don't understand the difference between hosting and domain registration.  These are two completely different items that each and every website owner must understand.  Here are the basic definitions: Hosting: A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center. Domain: Domain names are used to identify one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name microsoft.com represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL http://www.pcwebopedia.com/index.html, the domain name is pcwebopedia.com. Now that you know the basic

Direct Mail Does Not Have to Die

I know, direct mail is almost dead or at least everyone but mailhouses think so.  Well, I am somewhere in between.  Sometimes I think it is dead and then sometimes I do a campaign for a client and WOW, the ROI is incredible.  So, here is my approach.  A VERY well thought out campaign with a specific goal in mind can work if executed correctly.  The biggest mistake my clients have made is trying to do a campaign on their own and they have no clue about sizing, offer, demographics, postage, etc... and their campaign bombs and then they swear that direct mail is dead.  I ran across this short and informative article about direct mail that is useful for a beginner.  Bottom line, think long and hard about direct mail and your goals.  The most expensive part is going to be postage so make sure you understand how bulk postage works.  For truly great direct mail I would recommend hiring an expert to help with creative, list, printing, data management, and mailing.  By the way, the most successful direct mail campaigns for my client base have been campaigns that are up-sells to current customer bases.  Good Luck and please share