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It’s Mind Blogging! 01/23/2011

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Why Blog? 

Business WeekBlogging is simple and easy. Anyone who can write and use the computer can have a blog. It is like writing down your ideas, opinions, and experiences about products on a virtual paper.

 There are many reasons why businesses cannot ignore the potential of blogs as an Internet marketing tool:

Blogs can be used as free and effective methods of advertising.

Bloggers use blogs as a media to communicate with their readers. It is an effective way for marketers to learn the opinions of the people they are targeting for sale of their products. Blogs allow and encourage the readers to comment on the posts. Smart marketers use blogs to get feedback from their customers.

Having a blog can increase your credibility. As you get more into writing, the posting of your knowledge and experiences on your blog will allow people to relate to you and your opinions. If your readers trust your knowledge on a particular product or industry, you become an expert. They realize they can depend on your posts for more information.

Blogging can build and expand your market. If your postings are useful information for your readers, you become an expert on your subject, as a result more readers visit your site and other bloggers will link to your blog. Having more sites linking to yours will increase your site rankings on various search engines. People searching for certain products or information that relates to your blog’s keywords will be directed to your site. More visitors to your blog and website means more buyers. 

Fresh content attracts more attention from search engines. Search engines love new content and there is no easier way to create relevant regular content changes than a blog.  Search engines crawl websites with fresh content more regularly. Although search engines will come past your site frequently, daily or even weekly visits are limited to sites that are more popular and more importantly, those with regularly changing content.

More . . .

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Web Marketing vs. Yellow Pages – A Comparison 01/02/2011

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With the fluctuating price of gas, more and more people are doing their shopping and research on the Internet.  Your Dump the Yellow Pageswebsite advertising can replace your printed telephone book ad.  A website is less expensive for you than the book and can be updated when needed while your Yellow Pages’ ad can be changed only once a year.  Providing an up-to-date, easy to navigate website for your customers is essential to growing your business.  You can provide more info in a one-page site than in an entire hard-copy Yellow Page ad.

Just think about this: You’re using an Internet marketing tool to read about Yellow Page advertising!  Why aren’t you reading about it in the printed telephone book?

Based on our experience with Web marketing, and as Web searchers, here are a few common answers to that question:

For Consumer products:

It’s convenient.
I don’t know where my Yellow book is, I think I threw it out.
I’m looking for something very specific.
I like to research my needs before talking to a sales person.
I’m shopping from work – it’s easier to use the Internet than a phone from cube land.
I can’t find out about the product/service I’m interested in through the phone book, and
Nobody would help me if I called a company to find out more about this product/service (phone-tree black hole)

For Business to Business products and services:

It’s convenient.
I like to research my company’s needs before talking to a sales person.
I don’t know where my yellow page book is, I think I threw it out.
I’m looking for something very specific.
I’m putting together an RFP (request for proposal) list and I’m researching who to send it out to, and
I can’t find out about the product/service I’m interested in through the phone book

While any advertising source delivering a positive return on investment for your business is worth pursuing, there is a definite trend toward online research for both consumer and business to business purchases.  Here are a few things to consider when deciding how your marketing budget should be divided:

  • Ease of Use - People do what is easy. Access to the Internet via work, home, or any library has made getting online easy. According to Jupiter Media, over 64% of people who are looking for information online, use search engines. If I can type my problem or what I want into a search engine and find what I need, I don’t need to go through the 100 pages of ads in the yellow pages. Search engines are getting more precise down to an industry specialty and geographic focus, while also continuing to be easier to use.
  • Cost Model of Yellow Pages vs. Search Engine – In reviewing these two models we need to compare the traits and cost basis of each media.   More. . .

Do-it-Yourself ~ Cookie-Cutter Websites 12/26/2010

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Do-it-yourself websites are sites that are duplicated like using a cookie cutter. They are sold under the pretense of making the purchaser a lot of money. They usually make money for the seller not the purchaser. They border on being a scam because the sellers imply that the purchaser can have a viable site with no Web designing and SEO skills.

There is a place for the do-it-yourself website.  For instance, if you are retired, have hours of free time, and are looking for a cheap way to show off your grandchildren, don’t need a professional look for your site, and don’t care if your website is found by anyone who hasn’t been provided the Web address.  You can paste photos into a cookie-cutter website and send the URL to your friends. 

Actually, in that instance, you would be better to use a FREE photo album site like Flickr or Picasa.  Just upload the pictures and don’t worry about a website.

However, business owners need to think beyond pasting pictures.  They need to consider their valuable time, Web content, search engine results, and how they compare to their successful competitors with professional sites.STAND OUT – Don’t Use a Cookie Cutter

No two businesses are exactly the same.  That is why no two websites should be exactly the same.

Although often a do-it-yourself site seems like a good idea – getting a free or nearly free website by using a cookie cutter may not be the best solution. 

Years ago, when I was new in the marketing business, an excellent website designer said to me, “You are better off to have no website than to have one that looks like it was designed by a child.”  I have never forgotten that admonishment when working with my customers.  By trying to save a little money, you are most likely getting an ineffective website and one that may damage your company’s reputation by the way it looks.  Most successful companies, do not get where they are by having inexperienced friends and family do the office construction, accounting, infrastructure, and financing.  They wouldn’t try to design their own websites.

Experience, dedication, passion, and industry knowledge are just some of the ingredients you should be looking for when you decide who to put in charge or your website, logo design, marketing, or similar project.

Hiring a professional design firm, even for a small site, can give you peace of mind knowing that the site has all the right pieces in place.  These pieces include, but are not limited to:

  • Customized Website Design – the site looks the way you want it to look
  • Search Engine Optimization – customers will find the site
  • Personal help with Keyword selection - assistance choosing the words that will best accentuate your site
  • Guidance with inbound links
  • Customized Contact Form
  • Quality Shopping Carts
  • Domain Names  & eMail Addresses 
  • Hosting – 24/7 up-time
  • Website Support and Maintenance
  • Ability to Lease to Own a Website – you will not be paying forever
  • Marketing Functions
    • eNewsletters
    • Logo and Graphic Design
    • Biz Cards, Rack Cards, and Brochures
  • No third party will receive your eMail or other contact information
  • No hidden charges
  • Individual Assistance – you will not be on your own struggling to figure out how to make it all work.

Most Web design firms have a significant amount of knowledge and experience under their belts when it comes to Web usability - how to make a website user-friendly. If you are new to the field, you run the risk of creating usability problems with your site without knowing it.

I recommend that you have a customized website and not try to do it yourself with a cookie-cutter company.

Why Birds Sing 12/22/2010

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Why Birds Sing Bird songs are messages important to the bird who sings and to the bird who hears. Songs pattern the social lives of birds – most often clarifying the boundaries of territory, calling out warnings, attracting friends, and advertising new things in the neighborhood. Some birds may even sing just for the joy of the song - a winged celebration of a beautiful day. The birds provide a good perspective of our social lives.

Why YOU Should Sing
Tweeting . . . Follow Me! 

Why Twitter . . . Follow Me!Twitter is a platform which allows you to publish short messages up to 140 characters in length through different mediums like IM, cell phones, the Web and Blogs.  It is a social medium that allows users to befriend and monitor each other’s messages or updates. So what you have is a publishing tool that can be either public or private, social or business.
 
Twitter gives you a showcase of a multitude of opinions, events, news, ideas, and feedback. You can easily follow thousands of users, *listen* in and enter into conversations (tweets) conducted among multiple users at any time.  Apart from its use as an information resource and publicity tool, Twitter is also a communication platform for individuals and their personal social networks.
 
On the other hand, Twitter can be actively used as a tool to push out messages that capitalize on the attention you want to receive from other users. Yes, I’m describing self-promotion and marketing which involves active use to inform potential customers. 
 
Twitter and Marketing: A General Overview

There have been a many articles on how Twitter can be used for marketing purposes and I think most of them can be condensed into the simple process of tracking and directing attention. Twitter allows you to monitor how people think or feel and you can also get into their attention zone by active networking.

For businesses, Twitter is another channel which connects current and potential customers with your product or service. It helps to build brand loyalty.
 
In its most obvious form, Twitter can be seen as a traffic generation tool. The placement of links within profiles and conversations can direct visitors to specific websites and is especially powerful if you pitch to early adopters and influencers.  For instance this blog will appear on my Twitter page.

Since there isn’t an option to advertise within Twitter, Twitter marketing is a task that involves two-way audience engagement on the part of the marketer or business owner and the target group. This is a good thing because messaging keeps things active and encourages the business owner to maintain a fresh website.  

 
Join me on Twitter and start messaging (tweeting) today to promote your company and find resources to help your business grow. 
 
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Disaster Preparedness – Backup Your Computer 12/05/2010

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Tired of Snow Storms“Every threat, from windstorms, from floods and wildfires, to power outages, computer system failures, or theft, reminds us to be proactive when it comes to building strategies to survive a disaster and recover quickly,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. “The catastrophic events of the last few years demonstrate the need for preparedness at the individual level, to diminish the risk to life and property.”

Getting back to business after a disaster depends on preparedness planning done today. Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money, and resources to make their ventures successful, and yet, while the importance of emergency planning may seem self-evident, it may get put on the back burner in the face of more immediate concerns. For small business owners, being prepared can mean staying in business following a disaster. An estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Computer Backup
It is absolutely critical that computer users understand that disasters happen. Almost as important as admitting it can happen to you, is recognizing the cost of data loss. Most people don’t realize how much they have invested into the data on their hard drive. Forget about the obvious things like financial data (Receivables, Payables, and Tax Information), which we know would be disastrous to lose. Instead think about the man-hours re-installing the base software on your computer, reconfiguring your environment to suit your preferences again. Also think about losing your eMail addresses and Internet bookmarks. Without a full data backup, getting up and going again could easily cost you many, many days of productivity. How much is your time worth to you?

And all of that depends on IF you can salvage and restore the data. You react to this by saying, “I’m safe. I backup to a portable storage device such as a CD, DVD, flash drive, or an external hard drive.”   My question is, where are you storing those devices?  If the backup is in the same location as your hard drive you still run the risk of losing your valuable files due to fire, theft, or other unforeseen circumstances. Also, viruses and malicious software programs can easily wipe out all information stored in your flash drives or DVDs.

I recommend that you try an online data backup service. It’s the best and safest way to prevent computer data loss whether for personal or business use. A backup computer data service automatically and regularly stores all critical files in a remote server.  More. . .

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Why Publish an eNewsletter? 11/29/2010

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Webmasters are utilizing eNewsletters more and more to generate business, retain hesitant customers, and bring people back to the website.

Doing business on the Internet means having to deal with hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of surfers.  And most of the surfers are impatient – aware of the fact that for each product, there are thousands of retailers with thousands of variations and options. Generally, the potential customers are in a hurry to do something or to go to some other site. But, while they are on your site, you can have them agree to receive a periodic eMail to provide them with useful information about your product and related topics that can benefit them.

This is where the power of communication lies. Once they are ready to give their eMail address to you, it means they are interested in dealing with you, they are not wary of hearing from you.

We generally get attached to people with whom we interact. Those people get imprinted in our subconscious, and if those people are likable, gain our respect and trust, we like doing business with them.  More. . .

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How the Shopping Cart Has Evolved 11/21/2010

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Grocery Carry CartFirst step – the shopping bag: In 1911 the owner of an old-style grocery store  was looking for a way to give business a boost. He noticed that his customers purchases were limited by what they could conveniently carry home, so he set about devising a way to help them buy more at one time.   He developed the right solution – a prefabricated package, inexpensive, easy to use, and strong enough to carry a lot of groceries.

Second step – wire shopping baskets were introduced.  Unfortunately they became heavy when loaded with many items. The food shopping customers had a tendency to stop shopping when the baskets became too full.  How could the basic drudgery of grocery buying be eliminated, and the volume of grocery sales greatly increased?  In retrospect, a wheeled cart may seem the obvious choice.  It wasn’t, judging from some earlier efforts to increase customers’ carrying capacity.

Third step - 1937 was a monumental year for the grocery shopping industry. Sylvan Goldman introduced the first shopping cart to his Piggly-Wiggly grocery store, changing the way customers shopped for groceries, forever. The first shopping cart was a mixture of two wire baskets set atop a buggy-style cart. The cart seemed almost too cumbersome to push around a store; most shoppers were plenty comfortable with baskets and even resisted the change. Mr. Goldman managed to entice his customers with his new idea by using decoy shoppers to model the use of the cart. The concept took off, and Sylvan Goldman became a multimillionaire and legend.  As time passed by, the two-basket levels became just one large basket with a lower shelf.

What is an eCommerce Shopping Cart?
A shopping cart is a software application that typically runs on the computer where your website is located (the Web server) and allows your customers to do things such as search for a product in your store catalog, add a selected product to a cart, and place an order for it.  Woman Carry Cart

The shopping cart integrates with the rest of your website. In other words, there are typically links on your Web pages that customers can click which allow them to perform some of the functions described above. For example, many eCommerce websites have a “search” link which appears on every Web page as part of the navigation area. The link points to products within the shopping cart.

Shopping carts are written in a variety of different programming languages. Some of them provide full access to the “source code”, thus allowing experienced programmers to make modifications to the system features, some others don’t. Some shopping carts run on Windows Web servers, some on Unix, others on both. In most cases, you can place the shopping cart on your Web server simply by transferring its files there using any FTP software, where FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.  For example, our shopping cart software – called PHPeCart  - is a collection of PHP files that is placed on a  Unix server. 

eCommerce Shopping CartHow does an eCart Work?
Typically, all eCommerce shopping carts share the following structure. A shopping cart normally includes:
   ● a database that stores information such as product details, customer data, order information, etc.
   ● a storefront that displays this information to store visitors.
   ●  an administration area that allows you, the store administrator, to manage your store. For example, this is where you add products, set up shipping, payment options, process orders, etc.

Because most of the information is contained in a database, the shopping cart creates pages in “real time” when a customer visits an eCommerce store and requests a specific page. Unlike the HTML pages that likely make up most of your website, the shopping cart pages don’t exist until a customer requests one. The page is dynamically generated by the Web server by retrieving data from the database. So a business that has 4,000 products does not actually store 4,000 product pages on the Web server. The pages are created on the fly when a customer visits and looks for a specific product.

PHPeCart uses a technology created to store pages from a PHP database. Other shopping carts may use different PHPeCarttechnology, such as CGI, Ruby on Rails, or Cold Fusion. The process remains the same. Information is retrieved from a database, and displayed to the customer within the graphical interface that the store administrator has created for the store. Different shopping carts offer administrators different levels of flexibility in setting up how the pages will look.

With PHPeCart, once the shopping cart is created, our staff can maintain it, or the customer can do additions, changes and/or product deletions.  This cart has progressed well beyond the bag or basket, or even a wire cart on wheels.

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Location, Location, Location 11/19/2010

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Google Places

 It is an important fact of marketing that it is necessary to use all the tools in your tool box including websites: shopping carts; eNewsletters; animations; SEO plus creative graphics: logos; business cards; print media, etc.   Google Places is another one of those valuable tools.  Just as your website is a tool for people to find your business, so is Google Places.  It is free from Google, and it is functional, and it needs to be used.  
 
Google Places, formerly Google Local Business Center, is a must for local businesses.  According to Google, one in every five searches is related to location in some way.  In our experience with local business websites, adding Google Places has shown a 20% – 30% increase in website hits with many being quality hits.
 
Even if your company is national in scope and doesn’t do much local business, it is strongly suggested that you claim a Google Place Page. These listings are showing up in more and varied ways in the Google search results, well beyond just Google Maps. We expect them to gain even more prominence, given all the effort Google has been putting into them lately. Check it out, your competition is on Google Places, you should be too!
  
  
How We Can Help

We Can Help

With a new website design from Ad Design Biz or Custom Websites or shopping cart from Lease A Cart, we will set up your Google Places account at no charge.  We include your business logo and optimize your Google Places account in line with your website.  All you need to do is provide your Company name, email address, business address and phone number and verify your email address (in response to Google contact). Then you supply the pin # that will be mailed to you by Google or provided via phone to your business phone number.  We will do the research to identify the all-important appropriate keyword phrases and set up the account while working with you to include a description keyed to your website plus categories, business hours, types of payment, photos, videos, and other important information.  
 
Although Google holds over a 65% share of the search engine market, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local Listing Center should not be disregarded and should be utilized.

 

What’s in a Name? 11/10/2010

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What's in a Name?Today we are Ad Design Biz. But that was not always the case. Before the advent of the Internet, when Ande was creating strictly for print media, the business was named Add-Venture (ADD being her initials). When she began designing for the Web and understanding the need for a ‘searchable’ domain name, she believed Add-Venture would be perceived as a travel agency. Although she loves to travel, that is not the service the company is providing.

Instead of just coming up with a new name, she went out to find which domain names were available. Looking for something that described the business ~ advertising design ~ she found http://www.Ad-Design.Biz and the company was renamed. The company name and the domain name became as one. This proved to be very fortuitous because the website receives many hits from around the world on a daily basis.

That is not to say the name is the only reason for high Internet placement. It also requires the correct use of search engine optimization (SEO) — meta tags, page titles, keywords, descriptions, text, and alt tags. And, the site should be manually submitted to all the major search engines. Also, it is important to have a distinctive logo, consistent colors, design, and tag line. Even if you already have your company name, Ad Design Biz can help you with the rest of your branding and domain name selection.

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Lease-A-Website Blog from Custom Websites 11/05/2010

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Lease A Website

Lease a Customized Website 
       Professional Sites for Every Business

 

Lease to own an optimized website and have it found by your customers on the search engines!

 

Our website designers will  put your business on the Internet more affordably than you ever imagined.  We customize websites just for you.  No cookie-cutter sites. WE do all the work – all you need to do is supply the text and pictures for standout website design.

 

Don’t forget – you can Buy or Lease any Customizable Website or we can design a site just for you!

 

Click for our Web Design portfolio.

 

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