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Facebook-“That’ll be $5 please”

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So you’re on your favorite shopping site or foodie blog and you click on their little Facebook  icon to like their page. You swim on over to Facebook and happily click LIKE on their page. You dream about all the cool posts you’re going to see everyday in your news feed. Delicious pastry pics and how to videos. Cute clothes on sale that make you look good even after that holiday inch. But to your confusion, no posts in your news feed the next day. None the week after that either. What the what!? Has your favorite foodie blogger stopped updating their FB page? NOPE! You’re just not seeing their posts.

Facebook has become the pusher man that Nancy Reagan warned us about. The guys in the scraggly beard and torn jeans that say, “The first one’s free”, knowing full well you’ll be back before sunset for your 10th one. Today, Facebook requires that businesses pay to have their posts seen on your feed. Now of course they will deny this. They claim there’s just so much competition for your limited news feed real estate that some posts just don’t make the cut off. Malarkey! Business pages are always given the option to click the little BOOST icon  on their posts to help increase views….for a price of course. Without that extra step, many of your business posts will never see the faces of their much anticipating audiences.

Of course, some posts do get through. But not nearly as many as should. But if you take a peek at your page sometime, you’ll notice that ironically tons of those “sponsored” ads manage to get through just fine. So you do the math.

So what can I do you say? Let your customers know that they can always click on the little sad ORANGE FLAG that says Pages Feed on the left side of their Facebook page (screen shot pictured above). That will show them a tailored news feed that consists only of pages they’ve liked. Also, upping the amount of posts you publish can help increase your odds of getting 1 through on Liker’s news feeds. I mean, math again. And of course you can always just pony up the dough.

Remember, all is not lost. Twitter and Instagram are still great avenues for free press…for now at least.

 

 

Giving Thanks

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It’s that time again, Thanksgiving.  While you are saying thank you to friends and family who have been instrumental in your life, take a sec to be grateful for the clients and customers who make your business successful. Even though business relationships may not be very personal, it still impacts your life personally. Clients keep your lights on, feed the family and makes sure the roof keeps the rain off. They certainly deserve a thank you.

Silent gratitude is fine too. Just being conscience of the role your clients and customers play in your happiness throughout the day is a start. But if you want to take it a step further, send out holiday cards to customers. Email blasts work too. Or just shoot an email to clients you’ve gotten to know well. Just saying thanks in an email can send the message that you value their business.

I work mostly with business owners. Business owners can feel very protective of their business. Afterall, it’s their baby in a lot of ways. They created it and work tirelessly to help it grow. The fact they they trust me with their very personal possession is a huge compliment. So to all of the clients that have given me the privilege of rocking their baby for a brief time, THANK YOU.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

A Picture is Worth…

PRO-IMAGES

If there is one thing ALL websites have in common it’s that they undoubtedly have at least one large image on their homepage.  In addition, most have several images of varying sizes peppered throughout their site. For eons, anyone in the marketing business has known that the key to soliciting customer engagement is vivid imagery. A picture is worth…you know the rest.

Often, business owners seek to add images of their day to day business operations or moments in life on their websites. They often want to use their images for the header or background for the site. Or they want to have images of staff peppered throughout their assortment of pages. Photos are especially integral to a company that deals in beauty, fashion, food, etc. With so many companies using their website as a virtual gallery of images, it’s sooo important that we up our photography skills.

If you want to use images of your staff and surroundings vs stock photos it is a very good idea to have them professionally taken. IPhone and android phones have made great strides in photo quality but they usually just do not provide the esthetic of a professional photo. A photo for a website is more than just the subject matter. Lighting, angles and sizing are positively invaluable. It’s very difficult for a non photographer to capture a professional looking image.  Often times they are too small or too grainy, the pixels are not optimal or the subjects are not focused properly. My advice if you can’t afford a professional photographer, stock images. I know some designers hate stock photos, well I am not one of them. I’d take a stock photo over a grainy amateur photo all day long.

Another really great option is to look for a current college student studying photography. They need the experience and samples for their portfolio and you need a great product for a great price. Hiring a student photographer may be a win win for both of you.

If you are determined to take the photos yourself, make sure you set the resolution on your phone or camera to the highest possible quality and pixel.  Also, take pictures either outside in daylight or in very well light rooms, preferably in natural light with windows open and curtains pulled back. If you’re not a pro, don’t try to do candids with subjects moving around and talking. Have people sit still to help keep images as in focus as possible.

If you are taking pictures of clothing or beauty, it’s a great idea to use professional models. Here again is an opportunity to help out an up and comer. Check out your local colleges or place an ad on Craigslist for a model for the type of imaging you need. If you sell jewelry, make sure it’s someone with great neck and facial lines. If you sell sandals a foot model is a must. Rings? A hand model. Whatever the case, a person who has practiced knowing their best angles and lighting will almost always photograph better than your cousin’s friend or the lady that just loves your hat line. 🙂 Whoever you use, their make up will be imperative to a great looking final photo. Photograph make-up is totally different than just regular everyday make-up. Having someone who knows how to really “beat” a face would be a definite plus. 🙂

Food is probably one of the few areas where you may be able to play amateur photog yourself. However, for a high quality look when displaying food, try using a pretty scarf or white granite as the foundation. Beautiful cutlery and dishes are a must. And again, lighting is key. Outside shots always look amazing.  Or if inside, again bright sunlight streaming in is stunning. It’s also a great idea to have a glass of water with a lemon and ice or a glass of red wine, depending on the dish.

Now, I realize this may all sound like a huge ordeal for a struggling upstart business owner and so I repeat, do not discount the stock photos. Someone spent thousands of dollars and countless hours setting and shooting those images. Their camera and lenses alone likely cost more than you can imagine. So why not let their toil be your ticket. Either way, make sure that any photographs used in your marketing (website, brochure, flyers, etc.) are very high quality and at the very least professional “looking”.

What do you need BEFORE you contact a web designer?

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I have several people who have asked what do we need to have ready for a web designer to start our website? Well the first things that leap to mind are a product/service, money and type/amount of pages. These are details you need to give to a designer to get the product you  want, the first time.

First, make sure you are ready and in a position to enlist the services of a designer. Designers fees are usually based on how much time your website will take and even then there are limits on how much time can be used for any website. If you are building an 80 page government site that needs some serious security, links and forms, it very well could take months. If you are building a 1-3 paged informational site with minimal whistles, expect a week or so from start to finish. Bear in mind, that if you are not ready but you have already enlisted your designer, you may incur more fees if you do not get all necessary elements to the designer in a reasonable time-frame.

I’ve heard many times that people have enlisted a designer only to have to wait and wait for every little aspect of the their website. Do your due diligence when researching web designers. Some designers are not in your country which can really throw a wrench in the timing. They’re sleeping while you’re bushy tailed and ready to work. And vice-versa. While it can work, it can certainly be a bit of a hurdle. Others stack clients like Jenga blocks to get more money and simply can’t help each client in a timely fashion. Places like Freelancer.com, Elance.com or Guru.com can list companies AND their reviews from clients. Many design companies use those platforms for business so it’s a great place to see if your designer has any reviews of the speed of their service.

Before you contact a designer, make sure you have all of the information (text) you want included on your website and what pages you need n (i.e. services, products, staff, etc.) Designers are not copywriters necessarily. So they usually do not write the text for your website. Make sure you have written the copy that will go on your site. A great “cheat” is if you already have a brochure. Much of the text can be similar. Or, if you’ve already done a business plan, the info you provided for that document can often serve as great copy for a website. The designer will know how and where to place it. Often, if you tell the designer what pages you need, they can build a template and use Latin or “filler” text to fill in text areas. Then all you’d need is to plug in your text in those areas. (If you’ve ever  tried to build your website yourself, that’s the look of standard templates.)

Next, and maybe this should be first, make sure you have the funds.  As with any business, you are not ready to leap in if you don’t have the money. Designers require a deposit to begin work. Depending on the size of the website (e.g. 1 page), they may require the entire payment up front. Either way, you’re not ready to start a business if you don’t have the money to pay all the different entities you’ll need to get your business up and running (licenses, state/federal fees, marketing, taxes, monthly fees, etc.). So if money is tight, consider building the website yourself (I don’t advise this for a professional look but for a landing page some templates might work well) or holding off until you can raise the capital.

And of course, make sure you already have the product or are prepared to perform the service. If you’re going to sell t-shirts and you have a site built to sell them BEFORE you have the t-shirts, you’re paying for something you can’t use. If you are the next big deal in massage therapy, but you haven’t completed your training yet, it’s probably not a good idea to start advertising with a website. 🙂 Websites don’t just have the fee the designer charges. They carry yearly fees to keep your domain name and host, not to mention any fees for forms or apps you add to the site. So why incur those costs if you aren’t actually going to make money from the website.

So, to recap, have your product, content and moolah and your site building should run smoothly. 🙂

A logo by any other style would smell as sweet.

logoSo what’s in a great logo? If you ask Nike or Coca Cola they might say, nothing special. Just a stroke of a pen and voila, great logo! If you ask many others their answer might be, tons of crafty Illustrator or Photoshop techniques and tricks. A logo is so brand specific and subject to some serious “beauty in the eye of the beholder” that there really is no one size fits all.

Many businesses that are very serious and structured like an accounting firm, law office or management co, like the look of the wordmark form. Wordmarks are text only logos that can be very, very simple or very elaborate. Some are just flat text and others are text that have been seriously manipulated in Photoshop or AI. Either way, they can look amazing and really speak to the genre of business they represent.

Probably more often, folks want to see a bit of pizazz in their logo and prefer a text and icon/emblem combination. Sorta like my logo. <–shameless plug 😀  Nike, again, has cornered the market on the word and the emblem being tied together but being equally recognizable alone. And really, that’s the dream if you have an emblem. I mean, who doesn’t know the Nike symbol at this point. It’s great when your name becomes so well known that even without the text the logo boasts your biz.

Ultimately, your logo should make you feel a way about it. It should speak to you and make you feel that when YOU see it you see your business in art form. If you see it, your audience will see it too.