Archive for August, 2010
We recommend that most of our clients have a blog as an integrated part of their website. The logic for having a blog is simple and supported by industry trends and facts. Don’t miss this point: “the more consistent your blog posting the more traffic you will attract to your site”. This means, not only repeat visitors but new visitors as well. Here it is boiled down to an equation for those linear thinkers in the crowd. More Blog Posts + Consistency = SUM (more traffic + higher search engine rankings).
While most folks agree and understand that having a blog makes good marketing sense, I know that clients often worry about “having enough time” to keep up with their blog postings as well fear they don’t know what to write about or believe they are not a “good writer”.
Here are is the first tip in a series of ideas to ease the most common worries about blogging and help create consistency with your postings:
Make Sure Your Content is Reader Friendly: Try at all costs to keep your blog posts and content – articles, poems, photographs, videos – reader friendly. In other words, your readers must feel that they will gain or learn something by reading your posts and following your blog. Your readers should be at the center of every post – once you begin to start thinking like your target audience the closer you will get to understanding them.
We are thrilled when our clients get recognized in the media and from time to time like to share their success with our readers. We are pleased to announce the media coverage one of our clients, Jane Watson (of Green Peas TV / www.greenpeastv.com recently received. Jane and her internet based cooking show were featured in this month’s issue of The Hudson Valley Magazine. The article was titled, “Peter Kelly Takes Green Peas to Great Heights – An Internet-based cooking show films top Valley chefs preparing food in unusual locations”
- by Melissa Esposito
Read the full article here: http://www.hvmag.com/Hudson-Valley-Magazine/September-2010/Peter-Kelly-Takes-Green-Peas-to-Great-Heights/
My dad and I spend a lot of time fishing on the beach in Rhode Island. Surf fishing can be hard work. The equipment is much larger and heavier than freshwater gear and after a full day of hiking on the beach and rocks in the fresh salt air, sleep comes easy. One simple rule we always try to follow whenever we are on the beach is this: someone is always casting. No matter how tired we are, you’ve always got to have a line in the water. When we get to the point that neither of us can cast anymore, then it is time to head back to the ranch for some sack time. The fish move in and out all the time, following schools of bait, and they aren’t always showing on the surface. If everyone in your group is sitting on the beach shooting the bull and no one is casting, who knows what you’re missing?
A friend of mine does canoe trips up to the Boundary Waters on the Minnesota border with Canada every year. While they are paddling from one spot to another, they always troll their lines behind their canoe and occasionally pickup some fish that way. By always having a line in the water, they maximize their fish catching potential on their trip – and since they can only pack so much food in with them, how much they catch has a direct correlation to whether or not they eat well on the trip.
A business’ website can be that line in the water, always ready in case any customers swim past. Even if your store or office is closed and your phone lines are going to voice mail, your website can hook’em and land’em for you. If your website is going to be effective there are a couple of simple rules to follow:
- Your site needs to be found when people are searching. For the most part, this means you need to figure out how to climb to the top of the Google rankings. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a rapidly evolving science. It requires an investment in time and effort to be successful. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, you need to invest in having someone do it for you.
- Your site needs to convert visitors into sales, leads, Facebook friends, whatever you are after. If you are after email addresses for follow up marketing, then when people click to your site from Google search results, the email collection “widget” better be visible on the page they land on. If you are after Facebook friends, then visitors better land on a page that has a Facebook icon on it. Don’ t make people click around your site to find the place where they can convert – because they won’t. The conversion opportunity MUST be on the page they land on.
So, do you have a line in the water now? Potential customers are always swimming past.
What Makes a Website Work?
When I engage in a website project I like to get a good understanding of the objective of the business and try to translate that into a website. Often times there is a disconnect between business objectives, functionality and design. In other words, most business owners want their websites to look good first and then they think about the objective of the website and the functionality needed to achieve their business goals. I believe there are three essential elements a business owner must consider when pondering a redesign or building a new website:
- affordable – most independent business owners have budgets and contrary to some beliefs a successful website does not need to break the bank.
- attractive – most business owners love the idea of and engage in the” design” of the site, this is the fun part where ideas and inspirations are shared. Your website should be your number one marketing tool and developing an attractive site that you can be proud of should be a priority. Your website should give visitors confidence in you and your business.
- effective – Through the years, I have seen some beautifully designed websites but were not very effective. In my book, effectiveness comes first – your wasting your time and money if you focus too much on the “eye candy”. Instead make sure your website does something for your business. Fancy graphics, special fonts and other nice to haves are useless if your visitors can’t find what they are looking for and accomplish what they want to do.
Having designed many websites we know there is a happy medium between these three key elements. Business owners should strive to achieve a balance between these three elements when thinking about a redesign or new website.
To get folks started here is a short list of the Top Ten Things that Make Websites Work:.
- Use a platform that “you” can modify, update and control yourself
- Make sure your site plays nice with Google, Bing and Yahoo
- Incorporate a blog into your site – and commit to posting
- Make it easy for potential and existing clients/customers to contact or communicate with you
- Integrate social media – be social and have conversations with your customer and prospects
- Develop a loyal following – fans, friends, subscribers…
- Write content that helps your visitors – make it about them (NOT you)
- Define a step by step marketing funnel – make it clear on front end and easy to use on the back end
- Inspire your visitors to take action – what do you want them to do once they reach your website?
- Install the tools to consistently measure, and evaluate your site
- BONUS: Constantly review and refine your site – your site is a living tool that should be leveraged and not left to die on the vine
Great article in WSJ today. Enjoy … http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703791804575439740544880692.html
As a new small business owner it is critical that my message is heard. I needed a great looking website that stood above the clutter of the Internet: clean-looking, professional, and reliable. I looked at many marketing companies but Berkshire Direct stood head and shoulders above the rest. They are great people who know the marketing business and understand how to get my website to the top of Google searches. I demand the best – and Berkshire Direct delivers.
Stumbled across these two stories recently … great stuff about the Berkshires and Williamstown for sure. No wonder we love to call this place home!
In the Berkshires, Dinner’s Not Far Away
By MARK VANHOENACKER
Published: August 18, 2010
The New York Times
IT’S hard to dismiss the current locavore boom in the Berkshires as mere fashion. In fact, the national enthusiasm for eating farm-to-table has roots in western Massachusetts. The nation’s first agricultural fair was held in Berkshire County in the early 19th century, and in 1986, when the country’s first two community-supported agriculture farms were established, one was in the southern Berkshires. [read more]
SLIDE SHOW: The Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England
What makes a great foliage town? Beautiful leaves and scenery—sure. But the most memorable foliage days include much more. We chose 14 categories we felt best defined a great fall outing: color, scenery, vistas, water reflections, drives, hikes, culture, farmers market, orchards, parks, covered bridges, being away from crowds, shopping, food and lodging. We then gave a score from 1-5 for each. [read more]
Forbes Magazine recently released their Special Report on America’s Best Colleges and Williams College topped the list, rising from 4th place last year to the top spot. Rounding out this year’s top five were:
Everyone associated with Williams – faculty, staff, administration, students, alums – should be proud of their achievement. It seems to me that recognition of this type can only lead to increased applications by prospective students as well as increased development opportunities.
As a local resident and business owner, I know that I benefit from Williams presence here in many different ways, not the least of which is their role as one of the area’s largest employers. By and large they are fantastic neighbors. Folks like Gary Guerin, Harry Sheehy, George McCormack, and Mike Maker have always been tremendous about helping out the local youth sports organizations that I am involved with, including access to facilities and getting Williams’ players and staff to help out.
There are however three specific areas where I would encourage Williams to evaluate their strategies. If incoming President Adam Falk is looking for some advice from the cheap seats, well, here goes:
- Spending Locally – Does Williams do everything they can to support local businesses with their spending? Our local economy could certainly use the boost.
- Civic Leadership – Does Williams take an active enough role in the direction of the town itself? I see senior leadership of institutions like The Clark, Mountain One, and NBH actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce, for example. Where is the top-level engagement by Williams?
- Growth – Does Williams have to remain at just over 2,000 undergrads? Why not add programs and faculty and get to 2,500 or 3,000 students? The faculty/student ratio could be kept the same, so the education experience wouldn’t change at all. The local economy would certainly benefit from a growing Williams – construction jobs, additional faculty and staff, etc. Our real estate market would certainly benefit from some increased demand.
The list of Williams alums who have gone on to become leaders in the world of business, the arts, politics … every aspect of our nation … is impressive. Williams certainly knows how to train the future leaders of our society. I for one would like to see the institution do more to step up to the bar and accept the mantle of responsibility for its true role here as the center of our local universe. Williams’ impact doesn’t end at the campus border. It is time their leadership stretched further beyond there, too.
By Lucy Pavalock, Custom Business Solutions
I passed an appliance center delivery truck on the Pike the other day that had that statement proudly emblazoned on the side. We hear “Shop Local”, “Eat Local” and now “Bank Local” consistently these days. As members of the business community, we don’t often talk about our responsibilities to those locally-minded consumers.
Consumers believe that by spending money locally they are keeping cash in their communities. Making the choice to buy from a small locally-owned business is a statement and it comes with some expectations.
As locally-minded small business owners, we say “thank you” by consistently doing a few things:
- We work at providing excellent, personalized customer service. We know that consumers are our neighbors, the parents of our children’s friends and, very often, other small business owners.
- We try to be excellent employers, offering competitive wages and benefits, even though that often requires us to pay ourselves less.
- We do our best to give you competitive pricing on goods and services. In retail, it is nearly impossible to compete on price with large chain stores. We work hard to offer the best prices on high-quality merchandise. In the service industry, we are often forced to choose between quality and price, in regard to everything from hard goods to human capital. Maintaining a standard of quality builds trust and ensures longevity.
One of the differences between a big box store (or a national bank) and a small local business is that the decision making is centered here. The owners, CEO’s and managers of local businesses are all part of our community. They are our neighbors and they share our area’s resources. They participate in our local economy, both personally and professionally. The money generated daily in their businesses gets deposited here and reinvested in the community. It is the circle of business.
So what else can we do? We can pay attention. We can ask these questions: “what are we doing right and what can we do better?” “What do you need and how can we help you get it?” We can have an impact on the quality of people’s lives because we help to shape this beautiful place. I like that statement. “We have to be better, we live here.” It makes me think about what it means to be a member of this community and take pride in the responsibility that comes along with it.
Local entrepreneurs Allen Jezouit and Jeff Stripp from Berkshire Direct will conduct a training session on getting your business found in local search results on Google. You know that little map that shows up on Google search results with the A, B, C list of businesses? Is your business on there for all of the keywords that are important to you? After this session, it will be! Bring your laptop, connect via wireless, and work along with the pair as they explain the ins and outs of local search. Session will be followed by Q&A. Free for Williamstown Chamber of Commerce members. $25 for non-members.