Tag Archives: advertising

7 ways to promote your local business

"Patience, my young padawan!"
“Patience you must have, my young padawan!”*

Small business owners who contact me about creating or updating their website often ask, “Can you get my site on the first page of Google results?”

Business owners often get so focused on the supposed holy grail of “first page Google results” that they forget the purpose of Google results: to get more traffic to their website. So, even though my answer to the above question is “no” (and here’s why), this is no reason to despair. Here are a number of things any small business owner can do for free or minimal cost to get more traffic to their website — which is the real thing they’re after:

Connect with local bloggers. Look for bloggers who are already placing high in search results related to your business and area, and consider how you might partner with them. Offer your product or service for them to feature in a giveaway, or offer to contribute a guest post (IF your writing skills are up to the task).

Get your business on the map. Be sure to claim your business in online directories such as Google+ BusinessYelp and Yahoo. Free listings are available for all three. (Source: Biz Journals)

Get your website listed in specialty directories. Many business and industry associations allow you to list your business on their Web site. In addition, there are individuals who maintain popular lists of resources; use Web search engines to find these lists, and then create an entry for your business. (Source: Verio)

Sponsor an event. Look for charity events in your area, and inquire how to be a sponsor in said event. Ask if sponsorship includes a link from their website. You’ll get exposure to a larger, more diverse audience — and exposure that puts you in a positive light.  (Source: Chron)

Speak up! Organizations are often looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro at speaking, as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. And it gets easier the more you do it. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field.

Freebies of your product or service. Give a free trial or sample. People are usually more comfortable purchasing something they’ve been able to experience first, at little or no cost to themselves. But use this option with caution: you don’t want to create an audience who doesn’t value what you offer at regular price because it’s so often discounted.

Encourage your happy customers to be walking ads. Give away t-shirts that promote your brand, but are also cool, humorous, or unique. (Just slapping your logo on a shirt? Doesn’t qualify as cool.) Also, reward word-of-mouth by giving a substantial thank-you to those who bring a friend: a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop; home-baked cookies; or even just a sincere, handwritten thank-you note. That’s pretty rare, these days, and may help your happy customer connect with you even more.

*One last caveat: Patience you must have, young padawan. Don’t fall prey to the thinking that you have to find THE ONE thing that will drive immediate, impressive amounts of web traffic your way. View promotion as an ongoing endeavor, made up of various strategic elements, and you can expect to see results add up — snowball, if you will — over time.

And time is one of Google’s algorithm factors — the one that absolutely can’t be faked.

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Image use based on advice here and here.

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4 WordPress themes ready for advertising

I’ve been doing some research into WordPress themes that are built with space and/or widgets ready for advertising, so I thought I’d share some of my findings. Here are four of the top-ranking, responsive designs.

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“Bangkok Press” Theme

Bragging rights:

  • 7 video tutes on YouTube help you with set-up
  • localization ready
  • drag and drop page builder
  • 1800 downloads; 210 ratings; 5-star average

Bangkok Press, above the fold on a 1280 x 800 monitor (not shown actual size):

Bangkok Press, above the fold

Learn more: Theme info page on ThemeForest

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“Deadline” Theme

Bragging rights:

  • widgetized home page
  • localized and translatable
  • English, French and German translation files included
  • 2600 downloads; 360 reviews; 4-star average

Deadline, above the fold on a 1280 x 800 monitor (not shown actual size)

Deadline, above the fold

Learn more: Theme info page on ThemeForest

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“Gonzo” Theme

Bragging rights:

  • built to work with AdPress, and still be responsive
  • built-in review system; lets users rate products, for example.
  • can use Facebook comments on-site
  • 3700 downloads; 385 ratings; 5-star average

Gonzo, above the fold on a 1280 x 800 monitor (not shown actual size):

Gonzo, above the fold

Page showing ad sizes available.

Learn more: Theme info page on ThemeForest
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“Sahifa” Theme

Bragging rights:

  • built-in review system; lets users rate products, for example.
  • 9 advertising widgets
  • translation-ready
  • 2700 downloads; 385 ratings; 5-star average

Sahifa, above the fold on a 1280 x 800 monitor (not shown actual size):

Sahifa, above the fold

Learn more: Theme info page on ThemeForest

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All four themes, as seen on a mobile phone:

If it’s likely that users will be viewing your site on their smartphone — and that’s more and more true every day — you should check any themes you’re considering on one or two mobile devices. This will help you think through which one works best at that size for critical features like navigation. Note that in the four themes shown above, the advertising disappears on two of them.

ad-ready themes, mobile view

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Why I like ThemeForest

  • You can quickly see how many times each theme has been downloaded, and every theme is ranked by users.
  • Every theme includes a link to a fully functional, populated example.
  • “Comments” page gives you a feel for how often developers run into problems with the theme, and how responsive the author is.
  • The filtering system for searching for a theme with certain features just rocks! (WordPress could learn a thing or two from them.)
  • And yes (full disclosure), I get a commission if someone buys a theme via one of my referral links. (You could, too!) But I only recommend companies I have used and love.

Words you should never use to describe yourself

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Picture this. You meet someone new. “What do you do?” she asks.

“I’m an architect,” you say.

“Oh, really?” she answers. “Have you designed any buildings I’ve seen?”

“Possibly,” you reply. “We did the new student center at the university…”

“Oh wow,” she says. “That’s a beautiful building…”

Without trying — without blowing your own horn — you’ve made a great impression.

Now picture this. You meet someone new. “What do you do?” he asks.

“I’m a passionate, innovative, dynamic provider of architectural services with a collaborative approach to creating and delivering outstanding world-class client and user experiences.”

All righty then.

Do you describe yourself differently – on your website, promotional materials, or especially on social media – than you do in person? Do you use cheesy clichés and overblown superlatives and breathless adjectives?…

Here are some words that are great when other people use them to describe you – but you should never use to describe yourself.

— Excerpt from a post by Jeff Haden, titled “Stop Using These 16 Terms to Describe Yourself.” Funny — and on-the-nose!

photo credit: chotda via photopin cc

Post 31 multi-use event postcard

Post 31 is a Memphis-based interior design and retail furnishings store. They host numerous special events throughout November and December. My client asked for a postcard that could be printed once in color, then imprinted in-house with updated info every couple of weeks. I used an image on the mailing side to evoke the cachet of a old-fashioned invitation — but without the risk of the envelope getting tossed. On the back side, I left a blank space for customization: sized to fit an off-the-shelf printable label, with a light gray guide showing where to position it.

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