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    Refreshing, Isn’t It?

    The soft-launch of our new website is finally here! We’re not making a big splash as we continue to expand the site with new material reflecting more of the products and services we’ve been adding this past year. It’s certainly been challenging to keep up with it all, but there are still more great things coming soon and we appreciate everyone who has helped along the way. We cannot express enough thanks to our loyal clients who have allowed us to share in their success as we grow business together. THANK YOU!

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    90% of Small Business Use Social Media

    A recent survey indicates 90% of small business owners use social media and 74% of the survey respondents “percieve social networking as valuable — if not more valuable — than networking in-person. ” The survey also indicates that these businesses gain at least one quarter of new customers online.

    People are far more valuable that online networking. Without them, there is no reason to network at all. But when it comes to a successful business, generating as much qualified traffic to your business as possible is invaluable. You need to connect with the people that value your goods and services most.

    Learn More About the Survey Here

  • Let Your Customers Have Their Say on Your Website

    Want to give your website a boost? Think about testimonials.

    You’ve heard all the marketing talk about people relying on friends’ and family’s referrals for where they take their business. You know that “friends and family” has expanded to include those people who have never been met face-to-face, but are Internet connections.

    Hearing that a “regular guy” just like you had a great experience or got great service from a business goes a long way to generating that click to “contact us” you want to hear on your website.

    Of course, the testimonials have to be true … that goes without saying. However, there are a few things you can focus on to make them most effective:

    • Be specific. Exactly what service or product was used? Who exactly was the person that provided great service or help when it was needed most? What exactly was the outcome that was of benefit to the customer?
    • Be timely. Are there certain products or services that you provide on a cyclical or seasonal basis? Make sure the testimonials coordinate with those on your website. When it’s time to service snow blowers, you don’t want a testimonial about the great service you provide on lawn mowers.
    • Be local. If you are a business that focuses on the local market, note that the testimonials are local, too. Susie, in Avon says … can mean more than Susie says … From the local angle, potential customers know that the testimonial is based on local services and products AND that they are just like those he needs. Think about gardening zones. A gardener in Zone 5 (like in Central Indiana) is not going to want to hear much about what the gardener in Zone 10 (southern Florida) says. Don’t make the customer wonder.

    As a business owner, you want to provide the best you can to your customers – and you want your customers to appreciate it and spread the word – and they will. Help them do that by creating a SHORT survey with specific questions and asking them to complete it. Be sure you note that you want to use the information on your website and make sure they agree to that.

    Capture all the great things your customers say – and share them with all the potential customers who find you on the Internet.

  • What’s the Name and Image You’ll Hang Your Business Hat On?

    You’ve got a great idea for a business – some product or service that is going to rock the world. Great. Now what? 

    You’ve got to give it a name and an image (speaking visually here). Some business owners, like Razor Suleman, name their company and then later discover, oops, maybe that wasn’t really what my company is all about. In 2002, Suleman started I Love Rewards. As he grew, the company expanded and he discovered his customers – and potential customers – were confused. That is never a good thing. You can spend your time explaining what you REALLY do – or you can spend your time winning and servicing customers.

    So what you name your business and the logo you want to represent your business are important and require serious consideration – and development.

    • Being too abstract means customers won’t know what you do at a glance – and may just glance over your contact information.
    • Being too specific (as Suleman discovered) may pigeon-hole you.
    • Selecting a name that can be interpreted in different ways can be a problem, too. What really will you find at “The Hot Spot”?

    Likewise, the logo that is the visual label for your business is equally as important. That one image tells the story of what you (as the owner) are, what you provide and the way you work.

    Consider what these logos say to customers:

    • Ben Franklin holding a watch
    • A cuddly soft, cream colored teddy bear
    • A shark fin driving through open water

    Yes, a logo may be fun – or funny. Yes, a business name can be funny or a play on words – or even a word written in backwards order. But before you sign that paper or buy that domain or set up that first website, be certain the name and logo represent you and what you want your business to be today – and in the many years to come.

  • In the World of SEO, Two Things Ring True

    The SEO world is a topsy-turvy world of continual change. Those of us in it are accustomed to it, but for our clients, it is unnerving. We understand how you may feel, really, because we at one time or another felt the same way. That’s why I would give you a couple things to hang your hat on that have remained pretty constant in the SEO world:

    1. Good content rules. Through all the changes with Google and Panda and everyone else, one thing remains clear: useful and unique content has always been a benefit to sites and their SEO endeavors. Weak and “gaming” content is the target for many of the efforts by Google. They want to provide the best product they can find over the Internet to the people searching for it – isn’t that we all want?
    2. Expert voices cut through mire. Yes, keywords and long-tail phrases matter. However, when those are used by a site that has built up a good warehouse of information for the consumer, expert voices are established and become a resource. When the resource is acknowledged with links, the expert (and the site) gains even more credibility – and recognition by the search engines.

    As a business, you want to provide a product or service that you are proud of giving your clients. You spend hours and hours developing it and continually try to keep it current and fresh. The same is true for the Internet and search engines – and your website.

    The bottom line is that if you want to optimize search, you have to consider your web presence the same way you consider your products and services. Develop it by sharing the expertise and knowledge you have so anyone looking for help in your industry or niche will find you – on top!

  • Website design – less flash and more meat

    Why do you think prospective customers would come to a website and then leave (without so much as a squinch of time to leave a “Hey, how you doing?”)

    Two reasons come to top of mind.

    First and foremost – to keep web surfer’s interest, you have to be, well, interesting! If the site is lovely to look at but has no meat to it, it’s just not enough to keep anyone hanging around.

    Solve that by providing some useful and interesting content – landing pages or a blog. (It will also have a positive impact on your search results and traffic.)

    The second reason for quick defections: the site is difficult to navigate. In the language of web designers, it’s not “intuitive.” Surfers who have to search for navigation tools
    or can’t figure out how to access information are out the door. The other part of that is the speed of download. Videos, tons of pictures and content can be pretty and flashy, but might take a long time to load, which prospects might be unwilling to wait for so they’re gone before the site even comes up.

    The words of wisdom here: just like in training, everything on your site must be user friendly and purposeful – and geared toward the visitor.Turkey

    Just like you wouldn’t serve a turkey dinner to a pool party for 8-year-olds, don’t serve up a website that is flashy, shallow and slow if you want good results.

  • Is your marketing leaving you in the virtual dust?

    I recently read a quote that within the next five years, 63 million employed people will telecommute either regularly or occasionally. To put that in perspective, the 2010 census reported Indiana had just over 6.4 million people, and the United States came in at a few hundred thousand over 308.7 million people.

    So that means that about a fifth of the TOTAL population (working and not) would be working virtually – in the next five years. Is your business ready for that?

    Marketing includes making your presence known in the marketplace … and when the marketplace is more than what you can reach out and touch physically – it’s virtual. And that means you have to use the computer for more than tracking inventory and correspondence.

    Connecting with prospects through social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be part of your marketing strategy. If that makes you nervous, don’t fret. Start with small steps and take it a little at a time, but start it soon.

    If you fall too far behind the movement, you might be left in the dust.

  • Are you losing business because you’re hiding in plain sight?

    Word on the marketing street is that more and more people are searching for – and finding – local resources on the Web. That means when they need something, the first place they go is their computer or Smart Phone. They search, sort through the responses and make a move – to the car or the phone or through e-mail.

    What does that mean to every business owner whose business is primarily transacted within a 25-mile radius? It means three things:

    1. You have to have a Web presence that, at the very least, provides your potential customers the means to find and contact you
    2. You have to get serious about providing information about your goods or services online
    3. Social media may be in your (very near) future

    Your website is the face of your business every hour of every day – and believe me, there is a lot of searching being done after the kids are in bed or when insomnia strikes.

    If you haven’t built an online presence or it’s very sketchy, you may just be hiding in plain sight.

  • Your Contact Sphere

    Just a quick thought from a recent presentation as quoted below:

    Contact Spheres are businesses or professions that naturally provide a source of referrals for one another. They are in somewhat related but non-competing businesses. Business in a Contact Sphere have a symbiotic relationship in that they support and enhance one another.

    “Power Circles” and “Strategic Relationships” are similar terms often referring to this same concept. Who have you found to “support and enhance” with your business recently?

  • Do you think of cattle when you hear about branding?

    A new business owner was talking about his business brand recently. He said he thought creating a brand for his company was finding that icon or logo that everyone recognized – like the brand on a livestock. It was to be a symbol that everyone knew stood for his company – and he was struggling with coming up with just the “right one.”

    To us, branding reflects what is behind that symbol – the values and skill level and standards.

    cattle-brand


    Branding is like that uncle who is always ready with a quick joke
    and funny story – but who is also the first one to help out with exceptional skills in times of need – it is his personality, his character, his essence as a person.


    Your business’s brand is all-encompassing and reveals its essence. It is the reflection of everything and everyone who works in the business. It shows in the organization and cleanliness of the office or store and in every other aspect from initial conversations to the service provided to the final invoice.


    A good brand is consistent – both visually and operationally.

    When thinking about your business brand, don’t think cattle –
    think character.