For a long month, we’ve been sitting on some fabulous photos and waiting patiently for them to be unveiled by the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce.
Last month, Marion Cox (renowned local equestrian photographer and creator of Unboring grad photos) and myself wrapped up a fabulous project of photographing all the local Chamber Business Excellence Award nominees. This past Friday night, the photos were unveiled in a red carpet video as the awards were given out to deserving local business.
We want to wish all the nominees and the award winners a big congratulations! It was an honor for us to get a glimpse into your business and to create images to reflect your hard work.
Here are a few of my favorite captures. Please visit the proofing gallery to view all the images from this project.
Every year, we try to help out some non-profits with their web marketing efforts. It’s our way of giving back to the local community, and doing some feel good work. Along the way, we’ve noticed some consistent issues that come up for non-profits maintaining a web presence.
1)Register Your Own Domain
Domain Registration is not tied to hosting, and non-profits should register their own domains at a reputable domain reg service instead of relying on a web designer or agency to register it for them.
Hosting is s easy to set up provided you use a good hosting company that offers great service and can guide you through any issues you may have. Hostgator is, by far, one of the best hosting service providers. You cannot go wrong with them, they will save your site when it goes down and help you through any issues you may have, 24/7.
If you do decide to go another route, such as having your designer set up or hosting for you, make sure you have record of your server control panel login. This is a must-do.
3) Save money, don’t go custom.
Use self-hosted WordPress as a platform for your website. With compromise, you’ll be able to ad functionality with WordPress plugins, and save money for the good work that your organization does. WordPress is also simple to use and can allow your organization to update content easily.
4)Keep good records.
Write down and store of all your usernames and passwords for all your web “stuff”: domain reg, your server control panel, your website back-end, your Paypal account, your social media accounts etc. Establish a policy for passing along this data as part of your yearly board transition. Loosing these logins can cause trouble down the road.
5)Maintain your brand and establish brand policies
Make sure that all your online marketing efforts reflect your organizational brand- everything from the graphics you use to adorn your social profiles to the language you choose.
Have more ideas for non-profits? Share below in the comments, we appreciate the feedback!
And… as time goes on and the scope of the internet grows, the opportunities for different kinds of online marketing become overwhelming. And, time-sucking.
Which ones are going to benefit your online store?
I have clients coming to me saying they want to do Twitter and Facebook and this and that. I tell them, so do I. But if your resources are limited then meeting all these opportunities will either keep you up late at night or, never become a reality. It’s crucial that you spend your time on opportunities that are going to actually make sense and bring you my type of ROI: R.O.T. Return-on-time.
The truth. In order for a virtual storefront to be successful, you need to send visitors to it, either by encouraging Google to deliver a good result on keywords that relate to your store, or by physically (in a virtual way) sending a shopper to the store.
That truth is the reason why we encourage blogging, email marketing and social media. For clients with time constraints, we recommend them specifically in that order of importance.
Spending the time you have on these three tasks, in this exact order is going to help your search ranking or deliver buying customers to your virtual door or both.
You MUST create new content on your site if you want to stay in the search engine game. Blog on topics related to your keywords, but make sure the content is valuable for your potential and current buyers. Keep it real, keep it happening at least twice a month and you will:
a) engage the Google robots
b) engage your shoppers with content and links worth sharing.
You can even step up your game and throw in buying opportunities right in your blog, either by linking directly to a product in your store, or by creating a buy now opportunity right in the blog post.
Still the best way to drive sales. Done correctly and with value for the recipient, email marketing will give you better return on time than social media marketing. If you have very limited time, then do nothing but produce new content on your website twice a month and execute some planned email marketing. Nothing will get a buyer on your site quicker than a buy now button in a tastefully crafted email sent directly to that buyer who opted-in because they already had an interest in your product.
Nothing will make time disappear faster than Social Media. But it can drive traffic and sales.
We recommend you tackle Social in the following order and for their subsequent reasons.
Google + and Google + for business: THE place where you will share your sparkling blog content strictly with the intention of building clout with the ever popular Google. Circle some great people and take a few minutes to learn something new while your sharing your site with the makers of the most popular search engine. Quick, Easy. No, Google + won’t suck your time away. For the most part, it’s just not that captivating. But to play the Google game, you should particpate if you have the time.
Pinterest: It’s here where you have the greatest risk of loosing track of time, but …Pinterest IS driving traffic and Pinterest IS creating sales.
We want you to pin that great photo/image you inserted into your newly published blog post. Pin some of your products. Don’t panic if you can’t get a Pinterest business account started. Just get your stuff into Pinterest and hope for the repin.
Facebook: Share your content, drive traffic to your website store & blog, and connect, connect, connect. Start with your own personal account, because all business starts with the support of your closest friends and family. If you don’t have time, don’t start a business page. It will become a worthless ghost town and you’ll feel guilty. Do Facebook for personal reasons and throw your business in every once in a while.
Twitter: Get a smartphone and start connecting. Twitter really is about connecting and sharing. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your biggest fans and those who you look to for inspiration. But don’t bother if your not going to get a smartphone. The best way to make use of Twitter is to use it when you would otherwise be wasting your time: standing in line, stuck at a train, taking a coffee break, during a commercial. Twitter will actually help you make better use of time that you wouldn’t have normally used for your biz.
Out of time for now. If you found this article helpful, please give it a Pin or a Tweet below and leave us a comment.
Your small business branding starts with your logo design. Essentially, it’s your visual branding and a major part of creating that all important impression of your business.
A good design process should start with a discussion of how you want your business to be perceived, and who your target customers are. If you haven’t thought about your target customers and what kinds of designs they respond to, then head back to the research table before you even call your designer. Design choices should be based on your research and target market, not necessarily on your personal preferences.
You also need to carefully consider the space your logo occupies, and how versatile it will be. With all this social marketing, and all these different sized areas to add your branding, one ideal version of your logo may not work across all platforms. We’re recommending complete visual branding strategies to be used in various shaped areas- small, large, horizontal and square, as well as patterns and textures. This complete branding strategy keeps things fun and fresh for social engagement, while maintaining that important cohesiveness throughout your designs.
So before you set out on your branding/logo design process- go through this checklist:
who is my target audience and what is capturing their attention?
what is the overall impression I’m trying to create: fun, formal, trendy, classic ?
where do I intend to market- website, Facebook, Twitter, print materials. paid advertising, other websites?
You may go beyond answering those questions and come up with a vision for your branding. That’s great! providing a starting point makes for a great collaborative design process. Make sure you take your vision to your designer for feedback.
I love WordPress for a number of reasons, but one reason is that if I were a client, I would want to have some control.
In a day and age where fresh content is king, it can be expensive, and sometimes slow to get your site updated. If your this type of client, then take head. Not every web design in WordPress will leave you in total control.
Just as every client is different, there are many ways to set up a website in WordPress. You can go with a basic installation on one of the many free themes that exists, or use a customized premium theme. Both options are fantastic starting points on sites but will have limitations- limitations that can be lifted with some coding by a web designer. Themes can also be entirely custom coded leaving the web designer in complete control (which is understandable the work is theirs and they probably don’t want anyone messing with it). WordPress access can also be limited by your web designer, baring access to areas on your site such as your sidebar widgets.
Will you be happy just to have control of your ability to post new content on your blog (a given), or do you think you may want some flexibility, such as adding/removing content on your sidebar, updating your pages or maybe even swapping in a new header? Do you want to be able to pass control on to a different web master? If you do, then make sure your project is going to permit you to learn how and do these tasks, and that your designer is willing to accommodate your requests.
During your planning process before you discuss with a web designer, make sure you know what control you want, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.