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Getting Free Press 

As a small or medium-sized business, you know the power of getting your name out there whether it is on social media, in the news, or by word-of-mouth. Whatever the method, your business’s name being mentioned or your brand being shown can help boost sales and make your brand awareness skyrocket. 

Unfortunately, many small businesses, and even some medium-sized businesses, don’t have a huge advertising budget when they are new. So, how can those companies get free press to give their marketing a kickstart? Finding free press is the answer! 

Getting free press sounds like a dream come true, and it really is. But you have to work at it for it to work for you. Let’s take a look at a couple of strategies that your business can use to get some free press and get your name out there. 

Make Yourself an Expert 

Contact publication in your local area, as well as publications that are known in your field and offer up your services for quotes or articles that they may want for their journals. Sure, you will have to take the time to connect and write but it can be worth it when your name and your company’s name is the news. 


Create Your Own Press Releases 

Write your own press releases whenever there’s a newsworthy occasion in your business. Any new products/services, anniversaries, milestones, or special occasions can be a cause for writing up a news release. Send it to the contact pages of your local papers, news outlets, and journals for your specific field. 


Engage with Reporters 

As you get more involved with the community and community events, you will also get to know the news reporters at said events. Make personal connections and tell them about your business. This is especially true if you are planning any community events or taking part in any volunteer work in the local area. 

Be a Guest Blogger 

Many online business sites request guest bloggers to add content to their site. Find the sites in your field and ask to be a guest blogger. If the site gets enough traffic, you could get your name and your brand out there for the cost of writing a blog about what your company is up to. 

Need more ideas on ways to get your name out there? Check out our calendar for marketing ideas that can boost your business. 


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.


Measuring your Social Media Success

Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ lives according to a recent Nielsen report on social media. Knowing this, your marketing department is on-the-ball and has been keeping up with posting on many of the social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Houzz, Snap Chat, and Pinterest. But this takes a lot of time and energy. So, how do you know which platform, or posts are driving the most traffic to your website? And which of those are being converted into leads as a direct result of your social media efforts? Here are a few suggestions on how to measure and analyze the impact of those social media efforts.

  • Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a great way of identifying which social media sites send the most traffic to your website. More importantly, it will help to determine which platform needs more attention. Within a matter of minutes, you can have Google Analytics set up to tell you, among other things, the number of daily visits to your site, the demographics of your users, how they got to your site, how long they stay, and which of your pieces of content are most and least popular.
  • Facebook Insights – This tool provides detailed information on Likes, reach, visits, video and people. One of its really cool features is the Posts tab, which allows you to understand when your audience is most active, displaying info by day and time.
  • Hootsuite – While Hootsuite is primarily a Social Media Management tool, it can also give you great analytics. Since Hootsuite allows companies to track and post all of their social media sites in one convenient dashboard, it makes it easy to also see the data from each and how each compares.
  • Tweriod – Similar to Facebook Insight’s function, Tweriod is a free Twitter tool that helps you get the most out of the platform by letting you know the best time to Tweet. Simply sign up with your business Twitter account and enter the email address to where you want the reports sent to.
  • SocialMention is a simple but effective free tool to track the reach of keywords (or mentions) used in your social media campaigns. You can set email alerts for keywords specific to your social media marketing campaign that you need to track across the entire social media web.



Blogging Strategies for Business

Blogs have become an essential part of the content and social media marketing strategy for many small to medium sized businesses. It is no wonder, since some statistics now show, that 87% of visits to company websites make it there through blogs. But what strategies do successful companies use to make their blogs add to the credibility of the businesses, build brand awareness and engage your targeted audience. Here are some steps and tips to help you create and nurture a blog that can help grow your business and become a vital part of your marketing strategy.


  • Plan – Take some serious time to decide a few things about your blog before you set off writing. Answer these questions first: Who is your audience? What message do you want to send to your audience? What voice will you use? (Casual, informative, fun.) What is your ultimate goal? How often do you plan on posting? Planning can help you know the direction and ultimately the reason why you are partaking in the process.
  • Research – There are 3,000,000 new blogs each month! Make yours stand out by: creating a list of topics that your readers will be interested in, research keywords that draw viewers to your site, and do some studying up on companies in your field to find out what sets you apart so your blog can reflect your uniqueness. While researching decide where your blog will appear. Will you promote it on social media or only have it on your web page? Will it appear in a monthly or quarterly newsletter, or email?
  • Write – Take on a “persona” that can help your business connect with readers. Write with a purpose that gives something extra to your readers.  Give pertinent information or “how-to” information that will make the reader come back for more. Leave the corporate tone in the office and share content in a personal way.
  • Analyze – Use analytics to find out what has worked as topics and what has not. Find out what engages the readers and keeps them coming back for more!


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.

Blogging: Best Practices

  • 3 million blogs are published monthly (Source: Spokal)
  • 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. (Source: BlogHer)
  • 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog. (Source: HubSpot)
  • B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those that do not. (Source: InsideView)
  • Once you write 21-54 blog posts, blog traffic generation increases by up to 30%. (Source: TrafficGenerationCafe)

The numbers are in and it is obvious that blogging for business has evolved into a valuable marketing strategy.  Knowing that blogging is beneficial for your company and actually being able to publish a successful blog is a whole another story.  With the overwhelming number of blogs being published daily how can your business blog stand out, get recognized by the search engines and make you a leader in your industry?  Let’s look at the best strategies for blogging.

  • Pre-writing – As a team, decide what the goals of the blog are. What is it that you want to accomplish by publishing a blog?  Do you want to increase leads? Do you hope to increase search engine visibility? Do you want to be seen as a leader in your field?  Most likely it is a combination of each.  Once you understand your goals it will be easier to come up with topics and content ideas.
  • Research – Understand your consumer. That means figuring out: their business concerns, job priorities, and anticipating business problems. Research may include surveying your current clients, reading many blogs in your field or just getting on the web and finding out what the buzz is in your field.
  • Writing good content – What is good content?  The best advice is to create original content.  Write blogs that solve problems, discuss emerging technology, take a stand on an issue in your field or ask the readers for ideas and contributions.  Be sure to create an editorial calendar that gets your writing team organized and brainstorm topics well ahead of publication dates.
  • Analyze – Use analytics on your blog and social media pages to find out what topics and posts most interest your readers.  Discuss what blogs prompted comments or responses by clients or customers. Look at other blogs from company’s in your field.
  • Post Frequently – HubSpot recently put out this graphic on the frequency of blogging. hubspotpostcontent

Benefits of an Editorial Calendar

Looking for ways to stay organized in your business?  Many companies use document management tools, password tools, and financial tracking apps to stay orderly.  If you need a way to manage content such as your business blogs, publications, and social media postings, an editorial calendar may be the right choice. An editorial calendar is an excellent place to brainstorm, track and arrange the content your company publishes. Let’s review the function and benefits of an editorial calendar whether it is a simple spreadsheet that can be shared online through your company cloud or a purchased app to keep your company headed in the right direction.

What exactly does an editorial calendar do?

If you regularly publish blogs, email newsletters, or posts on social media, there should be central location where you list the topics, dates, and publication locations.  For example, if you blog weekly, a calendar would include categories that show what blog topic was covered, what date it was published and where it was published. This calendar could also have a link to topics that may be used in the future. Think of the many times an idea has hit you while working.  Now there is a place to jot down the idea where you will find it when you need it,  instead of on a stick-it note somewhere on your desk. Next time you sit down to write a post or blog you will have a list of topics handy to use. A properly updated calendar can also stop duplicates of the same content from being accidentally published.

An editorial calendar is also a great place to edit your content.  If you use Google Drive or other sharing sites, multiple contributors and editors can work on the same publications.  If there are many people managing your online community, it is a great way for them to chart the progress of the publication and add their “two-cents.” A final edit, copy edit, fact checking, and rewrites can be completed as a link to the calendar.

Editorial calendars are outstanding for tracking short and long term writing goals.  For example, with a calendar shared by many at your business, content can be aligned with major holidays, events and milestones significant to your field or company.  If your field of work has an annual trade show, content for publications during the weeks and months leading up to the event can reflect topics and discussions that will be held at the show. The ability to plan ahead and publish content relevant to current events shows the professionalism and organization of your business.

Creating an editorial calendar is not hard and will help keep your ideas, content and links to content locations in an easy-to-find folder right on your desktop or mobile device.  Use this spring as a time to get yourself organized and try using an editorial calendar for all of your businesses publications.

Elements of a Great blog

The term blog, meaning web log or also known as an e-journal, was not even coined until the late 1990’s when individuals would keep running diaries of their day online whether it was business or otherwise.  These were fairly obscure and mostly only read by the authors themselves. From those humble beginnings blogging has evolved into a massive marketing strategy that switched over to mainstream media in the last two decades. In fact, as of June 2014, there were more than 42.5 million blog posts published on alone. How, then, can a business be sure to stand out from the crowd and attract readers that will convert to consumers for your products or services?  There are several key elements that every bog needs in order to make it successful.

  • Title and subtitles – Before a reader even thinks about clicking on your blog, he/she will examine the title and subtitles.  Are they eye-catching?  Does the title offer a benefit to the reader or offer valuable information?  Be sure to think about your title not only in how a search for the title will be found on Google or the other search engines, but also how it will attract the consumer.
  • Hook ’em – The lead or opening paragraph to the blog should capture the reader’s attention and make them want to read further.  This could include: a question that may face business people in your field,  an insider’s perspective or a humorous account.  Whatever your style may be, the first paragraph needs to be well thought out at hook them into reading more.
  • Bullets and numbers – People have extremely short attention spans especially if they are busy running a company.  Believe it or not, according to Quicksprouts research on consumer behaviors, the average reader will only spend 8 seconds deciding to continue reading or to close the page.  Bullets and numbering can make it easy for visitors to scan the blog and garner key points.  If they like what they see, they will spend more time reading.  Studies also show that readers stay on the page longer with fonts larger than 9 or 10 point font.
  • Writing – Nothing is worse than mentally fixing grammatical or typographical errors in the article you are reading.  Make sure the writing is above par and edit all for small errors.
  • Engaging images – Use images that capture the essence of what you are saying. Whenever possible use custom images instead of common stock images.  This uniqueness will help make a connection with your reader and ultimately your company.
  • Social Media Connections – Be sure all social media icons are easy to find either at the top or bottom of your blog so that the reader can choose to follow you or your company on other platforms.
  • Voice – Once you have chosen the voice you will use, such as educational, humorous, authoritative or conversational – keep it consistent.  Your tone and voice will shine through all of your social media  and most importantly in your blog.  Be human and allow the reader to relate to what you are saying.

Generating Qualified Leads

Prospects. Leads.  Future customers.  It doesn’t matter the the terminology you use, it is what all marketing teams are after.  There are thousands, if not millions, of leads out there waiting to be found.  It is finding the right leads that turn into customers that is the tricky part.  Identifying, nurturing and converting those leads into long-term, loyal clients takes time, strategy and hard work. Let’s look at some strategies to help your marketing make more of those conversions.

  • E Mail Marketing -According to research done by Direct Marketing, “for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can generate more than $40 in returned revenue for your business.” Suggestions to beef up your usual email newsletter include: making it genuine with a personalized name and greeting, adding custom images to capture the lead’s attention, including social sharing icons, and incorporating a clear call to action.
  • Landing Pages – This page allows a business to capture a visitor’s information through a lead form.  If your landing page is targeted toward to a particular stream of traffic (such as an email campaign) you will convert a higher percentage of your website visitors into leads with which you can follow up.
  • Social Media – Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Instagram, social media helps expose your business to prospects.  If you are not on social media, know that your competition is and they are building relationships daily with future customers and building their credibility by “being out there.” Integrating social media components into your company’s website design helps it to not only rank higher in search engines but to get your name and brand out there where the leads really are.  Promotions, coupons, and deals are easily shared and re-tweeted via social media thus making your business more visible.
  • Solve Problems and Share Ideas – Videos, blogs, podcasts, webinars are just a few ways to share your expertise in your field.  If customers see you as a leader in the industry, they will begin to follow your blog, videos, social media and webinars.  According to SalesForce online, 23% of total Internet usage time is devoted to social networks or blogs, which means that a large chunk of users are obtaining information and knowledge via blogs. This is a less corporate and less direct method of sales that will help capture more leads.  At the end of each blog, video or webinar offer an email sign up to convert those leads to clients.
  • Referrals – Offer incentives for customers and employees who refer a friend who later turns into a client.  Word-of-mouth referrals can be very powerful.