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Email Marketing 101

Email may seem a bit old-fashioned but, for now, email marketing is still around and very effective.  According to experts at CopyBlogger and Constant Contact, the return on investment is amazingly cost effective. With an ROI of around 4,300%, email practically pays for itself and saves a tree or two. Email is a direct line of conversation with your consumers so use it wisely instead of the annoying sales pitches of the last generation of email newsletters. Here are some smart ideas to get you started on the right path of email marketing. 

  • Have  a Strategy – Instead of randomly sending out an email that will be one of millions in a readers “inbox” have a plan. Decide on the frequency of the emails whether it is weekly or monthly. Plan a newsletter that has interesting content and a call to action, possibly with a coupon or coupon to get consumers to act.
  • Use Visuals – We are a society that likes images and graphics. Avoid lengthy content and rather choose visuals that can catch the attention of the reader. Keep in mind that the images, logos and color palette should be in line with your brand. An interactive element such as a video or survey can keep readers on your newsletters longer.
  • Don’t Forget a Call to Action and Contact Info – Many readers scan emails and look for the bottom line so don’t forget your call to action and methods for readers to easily contact you. Calls to action action should include words such as: shop,  buy, click here, look, find out more etc.

 

Writing a Great Press Release

A press release is a short, compelling news story written by a public relations professional or marketer and sent to targeted members of the media. The ultimate goal of a press release is to pique the interest of a journalist or publications enough so they print your company’s news. This means free advertising as well as brand name exposure. These short releases, known as PR, can be a wonderful bonus for companies to be recognized by trade papers, journals or even local newspapers. So what should be put into a press and release and how should it look in order to catch the eye of the intended media? Lets’ take a look at the components of a press release. 

  • Contact Information – Right at the top of the page include your contact information including the name of the company you are writing for and the email/phone number. This is important because anonymous releases are a “no go” in the publication world. Make it easy for each publication to know who you are. Include the data as well so they know the information is current.
  • Be Short and To the Point – No journalist has the time to read lengthy press releases so get to the point in the first sentence. Let the reader know the big news right in the opening and use all pertinent facts, so if they do choose to run with the information they will have the correct facts, names and information. This is a good idea as it is an attention grabbing way by having a strong headline.
  • Give Statistics – Give the reasons why your announcement is important and who it will impact. Many PR firms suggest doing this by giving statistics or percentiles that show off just how important the information is.
  • Use Quotes – Save the journalist time by including a human element.
  • Be Precise – Proofread the release so there are no grammatical mistakes.

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

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How to Grow Your Small Business

So you started your own business? Each sale, each new client and each business connection you make grows your small business just as you dreamed right? But maybe you want to continue to broaden your client base.  There are many options to consider when thinking about expanding and growing your small business no matter what field you are in.

What are some of the most effective small business expansion tips to grow a business beyond its current status? Let’s take a closer look at steps you may want to initiate to grow your small business. 

  • Social Media – If you are looking for a fairly cost effective and easy way to reach more of your targeted audience try a social media campaign. Do some research on which social media platform attracts your  demographic and start posting in that medium. The more your name is seen the better.  Social media can be an invaluable tool for engaging with consumers and expanding your brand recognition.
  • Open Another Location – This is often the first way business owners approach growth. If you feel confident that your current business location is under control, consider expanding by opening a new location.

  • Merge With or Acquire Other Businesses in Your Market – There are bound to be other companies in your field who may have similar goals. Explore merging, partnering or possibly even acquiring those companies as a way to expand. 

  • Stay Competitive – Technology changes so rapidly these days that it would be easy to be left behind if your new company does not keep up with the latest and greatest technology. This is especially true if your company is in anyway related to the tech world or relies on technology to provide a product or service.
  • Target Other Markets –  Your current market is serving you well. Are there others? Probably. Use your imagination to determine what other markets could use your product.
  • License Your Product –  This can be an effective, low-cost growth medium, particularly if you have a service product or branded product

  • Diversify –  Small-business consultant McGuckin offers several ideas for diversifying your product or service line:

    • Sell complementary products or services
    • Teach adult education or other types of classes
    • Import or export yours or others’ products
    • Become a paid speaker or columnist

Key Components of Logo Design

A logo is a memorable, eye-catching symbol of your company’s brand. A great logo is one that hooks your intended consumer within a few seconds of viewing. Sounds simple enough, right? The professionals sure do make it look easy but it is anything but. There are millions of logos out there every day bombarding consumers at every turn. The ability to create one that is iconic is no easy feat.  Here are a few suggestions from the design experts.

  • Keep it Simple – Logos need to be very adaptable to size, so the simpler the design the easier it is to identify no matter what size it is being viewed. We suggest you test your design on all sizes such from as large as billboard size to as small as a business card or ad on Facebook. If it has too many details it may not view well in smaller scales.
  • Make it Memorable – Some of the best logos have the ability to stay with the consumer and almost imprint on the brain. The goal should be to grab the attention of the viewer with a simple design that makes an impression and stays with them.  For example, the Nike symbol or the McDonald’s arches are simple and easy to remember.
  • Versatility – A good logo can be altered and still easily recognized. For example, the logo should have the capability of being viewed in color or black and white – yet still be easily identified as your brand’s logo. Versatile also means that your logo should be identifiable in small and large scales.
  • Timeless – If your logo is trendy, it might be perfectly fine for right now but a few years down the line it may seem dated and out-of-style. Stick with logos that are classic.
  • Color and Font Considerations – Be careful with color and font selection. University of Loyola, Maryland, published research that showed color can increase brand recognition by 80 percent. The underlying reason being there is a strong correlation between emotional responses and color, implying that the selected color will determine how your brand is viewed. In addition, select a font that translates well across different media and sizes.

Tips for Presenting a Pitch Deck

A Pitch Deck is a brief presentation (sometimes called a slide deck or pitch slide deck) where a business communicates with potential investors. Usually the content of the pitch deck can help the investor to determine whether or not to continue evaluating/financially supporting your business. In addition, these presentations are typically an overview of a company’s business plan with potential investors, customers, partners, and co-founders. Many times these meetings are face-to-face or, possibly, through online meetings. So, how can a company perfect their “pitch”? What are some key points to be sure you cover as well as mistakes to avoid in presenting your Pitch Deck?

Key Points to Include:
Engage your audience right off the bat! Presenters need a hook or story to start their presentation in order to capture the attention of the audience. Tell a short anecdote about the company or your brand. The more you can humanize the business the more the investors will be interested. Make a powerful first impressions because the first 2-3 minutes are the most important in any presentation.
Keep your presentation short. Cover your pitch in broad strokes and insert important details as you go. This includes limiting each slide to one idea at a time. As you go through your presentation avoid reading from notes or directly from the slide. Everyone in the audience knows how to read and wants to hear the words from you instead of being read to.
Know your topics well. Along the same lines as the advice not to read from your slides or from a speech, know your topic inside and out. Understand the metrics and be able to speak to them in depth if necessary, or if questions arise. Anticipate questions that may come up and be prepared to answer them.
Show off the team members. One of the biggest assets of any company are the people that work there. Highlight the specialties of the main team members. Focus on a significant, relevant accomplishment for each person in a team that identifies that person as an asset.
Be clear and precise. During your pitch be sure to hit key points such as: the benefits of your company, why you are unique and special, how your company has the competitive advantage and, of course, your financial projections.
Keep a cohesive presentation look. Believe it or not, your brand will come through with your slides so keep the look, color palette, font and logo consistent on all of your slides. This will also go a long way to make your presentation polished and professional.

Publicity 101

“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

Public Relations is a very careful dance where the image of a company is shaped by promoting ideas, products or services. In addition, PR is meant to spotlight accomplishments in an unpaid or earned method. Publicity is not writing snappy slogan or buying advertisement space online or in a magazine. In many ways consumers are often confused about the differences between marketing and publicity. Let’s examine the fundamentals of publicity and how it can benefit your business.

What exactly do publicists do?

PR experts are great storytellers and persuasion professionals who use their writing, communication and interpersonal skills to promote a company and their products/services. Tools that a PR expert uses include:

  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Speech writing
  • Writing pitches (less formal than press releases) about a firm and send them directly to journalists
  • Creating and executing special events designed for public outreach and media relations
  • Conduct market research on the firm or the firm’s messaging
  • Expansion of business contacts via personal networking or attendance and sponsoring at events
  • Writing and blogging for the web
  • Crisis public relations strategies
  • Social media promotions and responses to negative opinions online (Source: Forbes)

How is Public Relations different from traditional or digital advertising?

The most important way that a publicity campaign differs from an advertising campaign is in the cost. Advertising is paid media, whereas public relations is earned media. For example PR means that a professional PR person convinces a reporter or editor of a media outlet to cover or write a positive story about your company or product. While this method of exposure is more difficult to control it is obviously less expensive and can build a level of trust since a third party is validating your product or service. Advertising is much more controllable and can beneficially build brand exposure it tends to be expensive and the audience knows that the advertisement is biased toward the owner or company.

While publicity will never replace a solid marketing campaign, it does play an important part in the overall strategy of of any business. Planning a successful publicity campaign should be an integral part of every company’s plan to build their brand and connect with consumers.

Google Analytics 101

As an owner or manager of a small or medium sized business, you know it is critical to have a website in our modern business environment. You even know that using social media and online campaigns is a necessity in our tech driven business world. Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply build a website or be active on social media. Businesses need to completely understand who is visiting their website, what brought them there, how long they stayed and what caught their attention while they were there. That is where Google Analytics comes into play.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free Web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. All you need to get started is a Google account. One of the major benefits of using Google Analytics is to gain complete freedom in managing your website’s content.

What can Google Analytics do?

For small and medium sized businesses with small marketing budgets, Google Analytics might be the perfect choice. It has some major marketing advantages that will help you monitor and track your website including:

  • Target your online visitors – Google Analytics can help you to keep track of the kind of visitors coming to your website and use popular keywords that may be used in the process of searching for specific products. By using this information, you can target a niche audience who may be keen on purchasing your products.
  • Measure the results of your marketing campaign – Using the various functions of Google Analytics you can measure whether your campaign has been successful in reaching the right types of visitor and whether that visitor to your website has converted to a buying customer.
  • Improve your web page quality – Do visitors bother to read your blog, click on the links or take heed of your call-to-action? Google Analytics can help you improve areas of your website that are not doing what it should be doing, whether it is placement, content or navigation issues.
  • Measure Changes over time– Google Analytics can use data visualization tools including a dashboard, scorecards and motion charts, which display changes in data over time.
  • Integration with other Google Tools– Since this is a Google product, it has the advantage of integration with other Google products, such as AdWords, Public Data Explorer and Website Optimizer.
  • It’s FREE!-  Google Analytics offers many advanced marketing evaluation tools that would normally cost your company a pretty penny.

 

Successful Fundamentals of Online Marketing

Sorting out the bombardment of information about online marketing can be overwhelming at best.  “Use social media, email newsletters, SEO, promote the website” and the list goes on and on.  So, if you have become overwhelmed by the influx of online strategies, how do you figure out what is most important?  The answer may be as simple as getting back to the fundamentals.  Let’s examine what some of the tech and marketing experts are saying about the fundamentals to a successful online marketing strategy.

 

  1. Set Goals – It may sound obvious but redefine your goals if you feel like they are not gaining traction in your latest marketing campaign.  What exactly is it that you want to accomplish with this online campaign?  Do you want to promote a new product or service?  Gather names for emails?  Spread the word about your website?  Increase conversion rate?  No matter what it is make your goals simple and measurable.
  2. Get social – With so many social media platforms being used by a majority of the public, it is hard to determine which one will work for your business.  Sites like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook all allow consumers to share valuable content with others in their network. Do some analysis before you head into a social media marketing campaign.  Who is your primary and secondary market?  What demographics do you need to expand into?  Use that information to decide on which platform may best reach your audience. Social media is also quickly becoming the primary way content is shared.
  3. SEO – Don’t forget about the fundamentals of search engine optimization.  Advertising, link building, keywords, blogging, and adding content can only help your SEO with the big search engines. With most consumers clicking on one of the first links that appear on a Google search, it is more important than ever to get your company on that first page.
  4. Keywords – WE can’t say enough about making sure that you are using the most effective keywords for your business. There are many keyword analyzers to help you determine the best keywords to use. Once you have a good hold on the best keywords for your industry, integrate them into newly written website content.
  5. Analytics – Use the analytics programs to take the guesswork out of a website’s effectiveness. Analytics can give your company concrete evidence if a page or promotion is working.
  6. Know the competition– As we have discussed in past blogs, it is always smart to find out what your competition is up to. Studying your competition can help you understand  what they are doing well and where their weaknesses are.

 

Researching your Competition

We have all contemplated what it would be like to be the proverbial “fly-on-the-wall” at some point in our lives. This is no more true than when trying to outpace your business competition. How can this be done short of actually becoming a fly? Don’t let your imagination run wild on this one. There is no need to hire a hacker, go all ”James Bond,” or don a cape and mask.  While it is not possible to gain access to the conference room or data files of your greatest rivals, it is possible to legally gather intelligence on competitors in your business field. Following the trends of your competitors can be done in legal and ethical manners.  Let’s look at some of these methods of researching your competitors.  

 

  • Professional Conferences – Conferences and professional trade shows give several opportunities to finding out more about your competition.  For example, visiting competitors booths is highly suggested and gathering information through interacting with consumers who visit this booth. Ask questions and find out as much as you can about the rival company.
  • Industry Reports – Companies that are publicly held will need to file reports with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. These reports can give you quite a bit of information about your competitors like their new products and building expansions. Do your homework and read up.
  • Research Online – Do some simple searches online.  Check out the competitors web pages, online reviews, and Google Alerts that will help keep an eye on keywords and searches done in your business field.
  • Get Social – While you are doing your online homework, don’t forget to check out the competitors social media campaigns.  What platforms they are on will tell you quite a bit about the demographics they are targeting.  It will also tell you about upcoming sales, products and news from the company directly.  If you can get on an email newsletter list, even better!
  • Talk to Consumers and Suppliers – Seek out consumers as well as suppliers who will “give it to you straight” about what other companies (and yours) are doing right and wrong.  Conduct surveys to find out how you can differentiate yourselves from other companies in your field.  
  • AdWord Comparisons – Use some of Google’s tools to find out what AdWords your competitors are using.  Here are some great sites that can help you. SpyFu, Google Trends and Google Alerts.