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Saturday, July 18, 2015





The Destiny Children’s choir will be visiting with us on July 20, 2015.  At that time, they will give a workshop on choral singing and African drumming.  They will then give a performance at night for the community.   We expect 200 children to be attending the camp and 200 guest for the performance.

We would like your company to be a sponsor for our events and we would be grateful for your support.
We have three levels of sponsorship for a brochure design: 

Level 1 advertising -$25.00 business card size ad – Your logo and business name will be prominently displayed on our brochure.

Level 2 advertising – $50.00 quarter page size ad– Your logo and business name will be prominently displayed on our brochure.

Level 3 advertising - $100 –  one half page size ad - Your logo and business name will be prominently displayed on our brochure.

Level 4 advertising – 175.00 – full page ad.

Thank you for you kind consideration of this request.  If you would like to be a sponsor, please fill in your donation in the link at the event site.

Sincerely,

Gail E. Cavanaugh

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Join My Mailing List





There have been so many changes in the merchant services indusrty since the Economic Crisis of 2008.  Even if you are an experienced user of credit card processing equipment, you need to keep updated on the industry, if you are a retail business owner.

Many bussiness owners have not converted you credit card processing machines over to the new EMV technology which will take effect on October 15, 2015.  Unfortunately, the merchant services industry is a highly regulated industry, since the banks process the credit cards and ensure business owners receive their profits and assess the fees for their services.

I reported the publisheing of my new book, Retailers Guide to Merchant Services, in the last posting. I am recommending it for retail business owners.  If you would like to stay informed about the new legislation, join my mailing list for the latest update.    You can sign up at the link in the previous sentence at the top right corner or on this website.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Important Information for Startups and for Storefronts



For anyone who is currently operating a storefront or who is considering starting a business, it is important to understand the ways in which one may collect money for selling products and services, whether on the Internet or at the storefront. Making the right decision will help to increase the business profits.
When developing a business idea, it is important to include plans for managing the collection of the money to ensure that the business is making the maximum amount on the products and services while keeping the costs of doing business as low as possible. Therefore, it is best to research all the options and the costs involved.

In this day of digital products, it is amazing how many business owners still insist on accepting cash only for their businesses. By doing so, they are overlooking the fact that customers like choices and their competitors are constantly seeking ways to have a competitive advantage over other businesses. We cannot afford to overlook the advantages to accepting credit cards at the place of business, especially if we have a quality product or service to offer consumers.

have recently published a new book for startup businesses about the credit card processing industry with the latest developments on the laws regarding credit card acceptance at storefronts and online. The book, The Retailer’s Guide to Merchant Services, includes information about rates, fees, advantages, and disadvantages of collecting credit cards.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Using Instagram for the Business




If you are already using Instagram, then you may have come to a realization that the photos you post there have to be exceptional in order for you to have a following. 
If you are posting photos to gain followers for your business, the photos have to have some relevance to your business, such as people using your products or visiting your storefront. 

A good way to gain followers is determine who your target market is and to add hashtags to your photos that will attract your target market.  When they discover your photos, the best way to approach them is to compliment them on their photos or to make a statement about their photo.  If your photo is interesting, then they will invite their friends and followers to view your photos.

This same strategy can be used on Facebook or any other social media where business owners share photos.  There are many companies which claim they can bring you more followers, but it is best to be apprehensive about this.  They may bring more followers, but they may not be the followers you need for the business. 
  

As with any content used for finding more followers, one would have to consistently use Instagram in order for it to be effective.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Overcoming the Changes in Facebook Marketing




As we all know, Facebook has enacted some changes in fan page marketing in that there will be no more organic reach for your postings.  This means you will now have to spend money on Facebook ads or find some other way of reaching out to your market on Facebook.  Here are some ways to overcome the change in Facebook marketing rules:

Now it is going to be more important to engage your network in conversations so as to gain their cooperation in sharing your posts.  If you are in the habit of engaging with your network on a regular basis, then you will have no problem in gaining their cooperation.  Those who are not are going to have to learn to reach out to the people we come in contact with in our network.  Here are some ideas:

1.         Do more tagging in your postings.  When you post an interesting article or need to get the word out on a particular subject, you can tag people in your network.  In this way, the posting goes into the network of those who are tagged, enabling you to reach out to more people.

2.         Go to the people in your network with the largest followers and solicit their help in promoting your brand.  Ask them to share your posts.

3.       .   Encourage more people to share your posts by engaging them in conversations so that they have more of an incentive to share.  You can comment on their posts, provide them with a solution to a problem, or just be thoughtful at critical times in their lives.    The Bible says:  “rejoice with them who rejoice and weep with them who weep.”  Romans 12:15.

4.          Be responsive to your customers.  Studies show that those customers who have a positive experience will share their experiences with others.  This will help you gain more followers and ultimately more customers.
  
5.         It is also a good idea to explore other markets and social media platforms for your business.  There may be other markets which can deliver more success to you.  We will have to do more planning to achieve the results we are seeking.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Diversify Your Market



Due to a change in algorithms on Google (Panda) it is a good idea not to rely solely on Google for marketing your products and services. This change has been known to put some big name companies out of business. It is caused by Google posting advertisements in the side bar when people search for your products and services. These postings are apparently causing people not to look any further than these ads. Also, Google is promoting its own products. If you have not done so already, it would be a good idea to submit your websites to other search engines, such as Yahoo, and Bing. Compare your listings on these sites to see how much visibility you have.

Just like you diversify your money when you invest money, we should be diversifying our marketing practices to get the best possible results.  Some prospects prefer certain search engines or media when con ducting research on the Internet.  Therefore, we should conduct research to determine the best place to locate our target markets.  If we know who is most likely to purchase our products and services, and where they go to research or buy products, then we can position ourselves to be there when they are looking.

The market does change, and therefore, we need to change with it.  This is why we become involved in social networks, blogs, forums, groups, and various search engines.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Increasing Exposure on the Search Engines



I recently posted an article about the importance of choosing the right keywords.  I hope you have had a chance to tweak your keywords in your articles and are using more of them in your newer postings.  I would be interested in knowing whether this is helping you.

The Internet is so vast that our little website might actually get lost among the millions of websites that are posted on the search engines.  One way to gauge how visible your website is, would be to do a search for it on Google, which is still the number one search engine.  After the search, your website should be listed at the top or near the top of the first page of Google.  Then, you want to look at the number in the upper left hand corner.  Typically, the higher the number, the more visibility the website would have.  You would want to see at least six figures there.  If you see seven or more figures, you have excellent visibility.  This number represents the number of links to the websites listed on the page.  It is called the Google index.

In order to get into the Google index, you have to submit your site to Google.  You can do this for free yourself, or if a webmaster manages your site, ask him or her to do it.  Then, as long as you have a site map on your website, the Google spiders will "crawl" the site to determine how many websites have linked to your site.  The higher the Google index, the more websites have linked to your website.  The next time you are search the internet, pay attention to those numbers!

How do you get other websites to link to your website?  There are several ways:

1.  Quality content - this is the most important reason for others to link to your website. That is why content is so important when blogging or writing articles.  If someone likes what you write about, they will share it and it could go viral, depending upon how useful or newsworthy the article or blog is.

2.  Linking to other websites which have a high Google index.  This would be a highly commercial site, like Google, or Twitter, or LinkedIn.  There are other highly commercial sites, depending on the industry to which you belong. 

For instance, I recently added some of my upcoming events to several event websites.  One was for an organization in my state and the other was a global event site.  Needless to say, I went from five figures to eight figures within a matter of minutes, because the sites I listed them on were already indexed and had tens of thousands of sites that were already linked to them!  This is the easiest way to increase your ranking by leveraging the power of another more powerful site.

3.  Another way to achieve a high index is to link directly to other highly indexed sites in your article or blog.  Your article or blog should have several links in it.  This would increase your credibility, if you can back up an important statement by referencing another article of an influential author who supports your position.  These links will bring you to a higher place on the search engine.  Be careful not to overuse the links.

4.  Share your website in comments on other blogs, in social networks, and in e-mail to your followers.  There is no telling where it could end up.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Challenge to Attract Prospects to Your Website



If you are a content creator or business owner and have a desire to drive traffic to your website, you probably know how difficult it can be.  There are so many factors that go into attracting visitors to your site. 
First of all, the content has to be interesting and meet a demand that customers want.  (Hopefully, we thoroughly researched that when we were in the planning stages of our business idea.)  If we lack the funds to hire a marketing team of experts, then we have to learn how to do this ourselves.   The Internet is pretty user friendly, to a certain degree, and if we are ambitious enough to do the necessary research, we can discover ways of driving traffic on our own.  However, because of the time involved, we may not have a desire, the interest, nor the time to devote to this task.

The Social Networks
We can join the social networks which promise to help us discover a market for our products among the many members.  We can register our websites and blogs, join forums or discussion groups, post advertisements, and attract our clientele through our network.  As we have discovered, working within social networks requires certain skills which we need to derive benefit from them.  We need people skills to communicate with others and develop relationships, and writing skills to convey our information about our products.  Both skills take time to develop and the technology changes on a yearly basis, if not sooner, requiring us to keep informed on the latest developments.

The Internet
In addition to knowing how to navigate our way through the various networks, we have to know how to use the Internet to promote our businesses.  As we all know, the Internet changes often, and we need to be informed of the changes that take place there, as well.  We have to know a little about search engine optimization and key words.  If we are spending most of our time on the social networks, we may neglect to market our businesses properly on the Internet.  So now it becomes an issue of time, for which we must plan.

How Prospects Use the Internet
The Internet is important to our businesses because there is where our prospects shop for products and services.  Before they go into department stores or other businesses to buy products or services that they need, prospects will conduct an investigation on the Internet to find the best products which fulfill their needs.  Most people today do this.  Therefore, it is extremely important that our businesses and products are placed very high and visible in the search engines so that customers may locate our products, especially if we are operating in a very competitive market. 

Placement on the Internet
Our businesses should be located on the first page of the search engine.  It takes knowledge and skill to get it there.  We do not always need a marketing or SEO expert to assist us in this area.
First, we need to make a list of the key words that customers use to find our products and services.  This requires asking yourself how you would search for your own product on the Internet if your needed it.  Write down as many words and phrases you would use in the search box.  Then use those words to see if your product or service appears in your search when you use them.  Also, make a note of the search terms that are listed under yours if you are using Google.  Write those words down as well.  (These are the words which appear in the drop down menu.) 

Pay attention to what page your business falls on.  Our first priority should be our local area.  Therefore, include your town state, and country in your search.  Your business should appear on the first page of products and service being sold in your town.  If not, then you have some work to do.  As you are conduction your search, be sure to take notes, such as,

  1. Is my business on the first page of my town and state, province, or country?
  2. Is it included in the top ten listings on the page?  What number is it listed on the page?  (It will not have an actual number listed, you will have to count the number of listings before yours.)  If it is not in one of the first three, then you have some work to do.
  3. Who is your competition?  (Your competition may not be the best provider in the town, but he/she may be listed toward the top of the page because they know how to optimize their site for the search engines.)
  4. While you are there, examine the page to see who your competition is and take a look at their website(s).  This will give you some valuable information about their businesses.
The Importance of Key words
After you have gathered your information and key words, I highly recommend that you consult a key word search tool to find more key words to include in your articles, blogs, websites, and advertising.  Compare what you have compiled against what you are finding in the key word search tool.  You will find that some, if not all of your words and phrases are they, and you will find a host of other words to choose. 

I would recommend choosing the most frequently occurring words on the Google Keyword Search Tool. as well as key word phrases, which will help in the search for your product.   We need to be very specific about the description of our product or service.   For instance, if I am selling dresses, I need to have key words for the specific type of dresses, such as evening dresses, gowns, wedding gowns, sequined gowns, maxis, minis, “moo moos,” etc.   These are the words customers use when searching for things on the Internet.

If these words are appearing in your content, then you are doing a great job of identifying and using keyword tools.  If not, then you would need to revise your content to include some of these key words, being careful not to repeat them in the same publication.  The search engines frown on and penalize for repetition.  It is also a good idea to target your content to your town by writing an article or blog post about your town, relative to your business.  After you revise your content, your websites and blogs should appear high on the search engine.  If not, tweak the words or write another article using key words which you may have overlooked.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Building an e-Mailing List - The Contact Information

Every business owner struggles with attracting customers to their storefront or online business. Lets face it. If there is no traffic, there is no business. Marketing is a skill which must be pursued wholeheartedly, otherwise the business owner will find himself having to close the door of his business.

Internet marketing is very complex. There are so many tools and so many strategies which change because of upgrading or because of the marketing trends, There must be a demand for his/her products and services and the business owner must know who wants them. He must also know where and how his customers are likely to hear about his products and services. Learning the proper way to ask for contact information for your mailing lists will ensure that you never run out of people to contact about your products and services.

List building becomes a challenge. The business owner must pursue many avenues for acquiring contact information on his/her customers. One way is to attend events and collect business cards from as many people as possible. Believe it or not, business owners need products and services as well. When approaching business owners or anyone out in the public, it it important to have a one minute "elevator" pitch memorized which will give the prospect a brief summary of what it is that you do. Write the speech and practice it several times at home or in your office before you go out to see people. This will give you confidence in approaching people about your business and asking for a business card or contact information. Always be prepared to have important information for their business, such as an article or flyer which will help them.

Another way of gathering contact information is to install a contact form or subscription box on your website or blog and offer a free e-Book, or white paper about some aspect of your business. The contact form should have a space for the name, e-mail address and website of blog URL. The book can be anywhere from 25 to 65 pages and it must have a title which is going to grab their attention. Compelling content about some aspect of your business, product or service which could solve their problem could be a great way to attract prospects. When the customer completes the contact form and sends it to you, the e-book should be programmed to automatically send the material to the prospect. There are e-mail marketing services and auto-responders which can help with this process.

There is another way of gathering contact information and that is through networking on the social media sites. All business owners should be active in several social media sites. Through posting interesting and relevant content, the business owner can determine where the interests lie for the prospects and start a conversation with them about something that matters to them. You can send letters, chats or direct messages to them. It is better to start o conversation on a positive note before you ask for their contact information. Asking too soon or lacking tact could end the conversation abruptly and ruin your chances of ever doing business with the person.

fter you have acquire the contact information, you must have a database to store them, such as the contact list in your persnoal or business e-mail program, a CRM, or an auto-responder program. The list should be organized alphabetically and according to products or services that would interest them. These are ll good ways to acquire names and as you become skilled in this area, you will discover other ways of acquiring contact information.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Posting Content in Social Media - Saving Time

If you are posting to several social media platforms, it is a good idea to incorporate a system which will save you time that you could spend on other operating your business. There are automation tools that you can use to post to your networks and still remain in touch with them. The proper use of automation will help you streamline your activities and still produce quality content.

As some of us have discovered, it can be very time consuming to post content in the social media, especially if we are working with five or more accounts. We have dozens of social networks to choose from and after we have selected a few which will meet our needs, we will have to develop a strategy for posting. We will have to determine the best time to post and the number of articles, videos, or other content that we wish to offer to our followers. We will usually begin posting manually until one day we realize that we are beginning to get overwhelmed with this process. In that case, there are a number of dashboards that we can use to save time in posting and that will offer timely and quality content to the followers. We should be posting our own content as well as quality content from industry sources. We will have to post our content manually.

A dashboard will allow us to program our posting through a feed to our social networking account. There are some dashboards which allow us to manually post several pieces of content in advance and there are some which we can program to produce content based on a topic which we can select. Depending on our time constraints, we can choose content which is appropriate for our audience.

The content that we choose should be a combination of content from industry sources, our own content, and something which humanizes our followers experience with us. We can advertise as much as we want about our businesses, but unless we can find other more credible businesses that support what we do, we will have little credibility with them. We should still post manually and not use dashboards to answer our followers or customers.

Here is a list of dashboards that we can use:

Buffer

Hootsuit

PostPlanner

Twitter Feed

Each of these dashboards will make it easier for us to post our content in the social networks. Some will post at specific times, some will post at designated times, and some will not allow manual posting. Some are designed to handle multiple accounts and some are only designed for manual posting where you can post several pieces manually to be posted at a later date. Depending on your schedule and the number accounts that you have, you can choose one or more of these dashboards to meet you specific needs.