Contact Us – The Importance of Lead Generation

Contact Us – The Importance of Lead Generation

Contact usOne of the most imperative properties of your website is your contact form. And, one of the most valid reasons for using a website as your main marketing tool for your business is to not only create awareness around your brand but to also ascertain lead generation. Believe it or not, people DO want to connect with you and your business and trust me, you want to make this as simple as possible. That’s right, not only do you have to put cheese on the mousetrap but you also have to put the mousetrap where it is easily accessible for the ever so curious mice!

I work mainly with WordPress web development not because it’s my favorite but because it is the best and the best meaning, it is SEO ready out of the box and you can customize WordPress websites with all sorts of helpful plugins. The standard contact form that comes with WordPress websites is completely functional and customizable and above all, absolutely necessary! Contact Form 7 has definitely improved and even though it does the job, there are some drawbacks. It is simple in terms of esthetics and it can be a little confusing for the common Joe just starting out, but as I mentioned and will continue to say over and over, it is better than nothing!

Because of Contact Form 7’s limited abilities, I decided to research what contact forms and plugins were available for WordPress. I first looked at functionality and price. Secondly, I looked at the ability for customization and implementation. I really wanted a robust contact form that encompassed everything from social media links to website links (yes website links) and email connections. Sounds redundant right? Here’s a Pro-Tip: backlink everything even it is on your contact from relinking it to your website and social media. Yes they are on your website looking at this contact form but in the that form are important links that enhance your SEO, so yes keep the links on there! I also wanted something on every single web page not just the side bar or footer but something that pops up and says hello, connect with me everywhere, almost to the point of annoying because the power of suggestion should never go underused!

What I Found
After testing out several options and contact forms, reading reviews, forums and implementing and using different contact forms suggested by bloggers and WordPress lovers and experts abound, I stumbled upon one that particularly stood out against the rest, it is called Contact Us ( It is fully integrateable with your WordPress website. Not only is there a plugin that integrates it seamlessly but, it is free to use and has more customization once you sign up for your free account on the Contact Us website which you will want to do regardless. You can choose from several colorful, simple, robust templates to design your perfect contact form and for a small annual fee you can also up the ante and choose from premium themes and customizations such as request an appointment etc…
But for now let’s stick to the FREE offering.

I recently tested this out for a client of mine who really wanted to have an option for their patients to be able to connect with them in addition to requesting an appointment. We implemented the contact from and within one day we already had a return. This FREE contact from captures one new patient a week and now they are averaging 4-5! That’s a huge return for something that is FREE! We recently implemented the Request an Appointment (for a small annual fee) option and this also works like a charm. The patient is able to click on a day and time they would like to be seen and the office receives a traffic email stating they have a new appointment request from, they are also given the patient’s information, email phone number, address, email and insurance (you can customize required lead information). You can also add your social media links as well as website at no extra cost to you. This is a full package brilliant marketing piece! Some other items that

Contact Us offers the following items:

• Custom Lead Generaton Design Forms
• Data, Analytics and Testing
• Contact Management
• Social Media Implementation
• Appointment Scheduler
• Opt In/Out Forms
• Chat
• Custom Fields

When evaluating the marketing functionality of my client’s websites the first thing I look for is how they capture leads, secondly how can I connect with them on social media. Most companies have websites but have no idea how they should function as a marketing tool. This is rule #1 in Leslie’s big book of marketing do’s and don’ts! #1 Lead Generation DO NOT NOT have a contact form! Make it easy for your customers to connect with you on all levels.

Social Media is lead generation too!

How can 650 million Twitter users be wrong? Think about it, there are over 650 million Twitter users, over 1 billion Facebook Users and now over 380 million Google + users and growing. Still think Social Media isn’t prevalent in our marketing society and a lead generation? Think again, social media is a pure, definite and complete form of lead generation! Don’t underestimate the power of social media and how it can function as a complement to your contact form and lead generation efforts. Social media not only allows your customers to connect with you on a different and personal level but also allows them to find you and communicate with you immediately! 89% of the population is using the internet to do their research on businesses, as do most use social media in their day to day routines for personal and business purposes. Social Media allows customers to connect with you instantaneously whether it is directly through Twitter or Facebook messages or adding you to their Google Circles, this is an incredible way for potential new customers to understand what is not only dynamically going on with you a s business but also allows them to see what everyone else is saying.

Below are some simple guidelines for lead generation that will help you in understanding how and why to implement the perfect lead generation tools and modules.


Make sure you are responding to leads! Leads are the key to the growth of your business and if you ignore your leads, word gets out! Trust me! One mistake I see my clients make all the time is pointing their leads to an email they do not use regularly or not at all. My suggestion is to create an email specifically for leads. Most companies use for example. Make sure this inbox is directly linked to your outlook, firefox, apple mail, and/or iphone/droid mail application of choice. The biggest slap in the face to your customers and potentially new customers is not responding to their lead interest. Make sure you are checking these leads on a daily basis. I would suggest creating an email through your current domain name. For example lets say your domain is make sure to create an email that is If you don’t know how to do this, then contact your web administrator and have them set you up, you can also usually do this through whomever hosts your domain or website such as GoDaddy, open pages etc…

Guidelines for lead generation

1. Contact From (any contact form will do, just make sure you have one!)
2. Make the contact form as accessible as possible (pop-up or on every page)
3. Make sure social media links are in the header above the fold
4. Follow up Immediately on all contacts
5. Make sure the contact form information is being sent to an email you use regularly

If you are not using a contact form on your website, you are missing out an incredible free marketing tool that is functional, essential and effective. It’s like owning a shoe store and you only stock size 8 shoes, if you want to reach a broader audience and connect you need to have it all, social media, contacts and emails!!! Don’t underestimate the power of leads, the power of social media and connectivity. Trust me when I say this, if you are not using contact form or social media to connect with your consumer base, you will be left in the dust very quickly. Stay current and connect!

Rank on Bing

Bing-vectorA couple of years ago I started using an SEO assistance software ( that helped me capture some online directories and other beginner SEO tactics. Being a novice at SEO at the time I didn’t really understand the importance of ranking on any other search engines besides Google. Bing and Yahoo have merged their directories and even though you still need to have a listing on both Yahoo and Bing, Yahoo is where you will increase your rankings on Bing believe it or not.

Similar to Google, Bing has their own algorithms to help throw off all those black hat SEO cowboys. But for us white hat SEO people, I’ve discovered a fairly simple way to help increase your rankings on Bing/Yahoo. Even if it is short lived, Bing will pull down your ranking numbers if you are not consistent with your traffic, so keep this in mind. I first discovered my ranking on Bing when I set up my UpCity SEO software. I chose my industry keywords and I automatically indexed very very high (100+) with my chosen keywords, but ranked in the mid 20’s with Google with those same keywords. I just thought this was good enough, being naive to the importance of online diversity and search engines. However, slowly this number started to bother me and I began to do some research and reworked some of my website content, but still nothing. Then one day, I noticed someone wrote a review about our office on our (free) Yahoo local listing. Two days later I opened up my UpCity and noticed my numbers dropped below 100 and we were sitting at 55, which is a significant difference. At first, I didn’t realize that the impact of the Yahoo Local review but as I looked further I noticed there were two reviews.

yahooThis was no coincidence. Yahoo and Bing are lumped together, like Google+, Yahoo local is a place where people can post reviews, and Bing does not have a review platform, so they point everything over to Yahoo Local. For testing purposes, I let some time pass and after not soliciting any reviews to our Yahoo Local page I noticed that our ranking on Bing went back up to 100. Over the next couple of weeks, I solicited a couple more reviews from satisfied customers that had Yahoo accounts. The ranking went back down to 65 with one review. I updated our content as well and put in some keywords in our description and it went down a couple more points too.

Bottom line, similar to Google, Bing wants fresh content on their sites. This is understandable, and this is good and basic SEO. It’s the simplicity of SEO practices that we so quickly disregard, so don’t forget about the simple things. Content is always king and raw data and content such as reviews should never go untouched or undervalued! If you are not collecting and asking for reviews, chances are people will not partake and this is your easiest way besides blogging to create original content and authority. It’s a lot to ask someone to take time out of their busy schedules to write a review about your business. So, make it enticing for individuals to write about you online by offering a small reward for doing so.

PRO TIP: One other point, if you have not set up a Bing Local (Places) account or Yahoo Local account, do so! Also make sure to index your website through Bing Webmaster Tools. One of the biggest mistakes I see with clients who are managing their own websites and SEO, they never index through Bing. Big mistake!!!

NOTE: Yahoo Local is one of the most confusing and frustrating directory listings on the web, however it is important and essential to your business and online authority. DO NOT disregard Yahoo and do not pay for a listing with them. Use the free business listing but keep in mind every time you change something on your Yahoo local listing, it has to be approved by Yahoo. And it can sometimes take up to 7 days for it to be approved. They want you to use their paid listing, but in my opinion, I’ve used the $10 month premium upgrade listing and you still have to wait almost 7 days for change approvals and if you don’t have a yahoo account, it can be tricky to login and find your local listing. Use your Google account to login instead of creating a yahoo account, it will keep things congruent and easy to remember.

Links and Likes

Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Places/Local
Yahoo Local
UpCity SEO
Google Webmaster Tools

Make a Non-Friend a Facebook Manager

Les Profile2Have you ever tried to make someone a Manager of your Facebook page that wasn’t a friend? Previously, Facebook made it rather complicated to make someone a manager of a Facebook page if they weren’t your friend first. But now, they’ve simplified the process, but there’s a trick to it.

First of all, if you have more than 50 likes on your Facebook page, Facebook will allow you to view your on page analytics about your page including who likes your page. Through the See Likes window, you can see a list of individuals who have liked your page and next to their name there is a small button that says “make admin” simple right? As I mentioned as long as you have 50 likes or more this is the simplest way to make someone a manager or admin of your page.

What if someone doesn’t like your page can you still make him or her a manager?

You bet! As long as they have a Facebook account you can make them a manager. And it’s pretty simple too. Goto to the “Edit Page” menu at the top of your Facebook Page, click on Manage Admin Roles, from here you are taken to the editing Admin Roles page. You can make someone a manager or just a content creator depending on his or her role. All you need is the email they use to login to their Facebook page, plug that in where it says Specify Email Address and the drop down menu right below allows you to select what role you want them to manager such as manager, content creator, moderator, advertiser or insight analyst. Once this is done, they can now manage your page. However, they must approve this request first.

To approve this role request they must be logged into their personal Facebook profile and goto: this will take them to their invites, click on the invites tab and approve. Done and Done.

Facebook Advertising 101


Facebook Advertising 101

facebookAs we all know Facebook is the king of social media and now that they are starting to revolutionize the platform for advertising online. Facebook makes it very simple for you as a business owner, blogger and company, to increase awareness around your brand, product or service(s). Admittedly, the Facebook advertising platform is not the most intuitive, however it is effective and with a couple of tips and tricks you will be on your way to your first social media advertising campaign before you know it. I’ve received several questions from clients and I’ve compiled a list of common questions and my responses.

What is “Promote a Post” or “Boost a Post”?
Essentially the same thing. Promote a Post or Boost a Post, which means you will only reach your fans and their friends and these chosen posts are shown specifically in News Feed, they are not right side bar advertisements. The goal of these ads is to reach more of a company’s existing audience and some of their friends. These help get a page’s content seen but usually do no result in many Page Likes. When creating the ad, you tell Facebook, which post you would like to feature – Facebook creates the content of the ad by automatically generating this post from content you’ve posted on your fan page.

What is a Page Post Ad?
The intent of Page Post Ads are to reach non-fans or friends of fans which allow more flexibility as they allow for interests or category based targeting, such as zip code, married, single, divorced, college degree, women, men, age, industry etc.. You can get more explicit with Page Post Ads, however you have to custom design the ad using Photoshop, Illustrator or other graphic design programs. And, this is purposeful because Facebook only allows 20% text within these ads. Which isn’t a lot considering the required dimension are 1200 x 900 px (max) or 400 x 209 (min). A good way around this is with quality pictures. These are what attract consumers and are what will help you sell. The text should be right to the point and the picture should be relevant to the brand, business or product you are selling. Page post ads are intended to amplify likes, comments, and shares. These advertisements show up in News Feed and sidebar.

What is a Page Like Ad?
Page Like Ads are self-arranged. You can produce a straightforward “Like” campaign by promoting a relevant picture of a staff member or business event, product or service. I did this for a client who is a dentist; we used a posted picture of him and a patient that was very happy with their new smile. We got 100 Page likes in 24 hours and gained a few customers as a result and we only paid $80 for this campaign for a 2 day run.

Rules and tips when creating an ad:
• 20% text maximum (tip use a great graphic photo, keep your message simple)
• Ads must be in the dimensions of: 1200 x 900 px (max) or 400 x 209 (min)
• Carefully choose your demographic
• You must have a credit card to pay for advertising with Facebook
• Choose your budget wisely
• Advertise for more than one day (two day minimum)
• Create a Like campaign first to boost awareness around your brand then create advertising campaigns.

Facebook advertising isn’t as complicated as it may seem, but the only way you’ll know is by trying. The best thing you can do is jump in with a small budget to see how it works. Once you’ve seen a return on your investment increase your budget. The first thing I tell my clients is to try a like campaign first, then look at advertising with a Page Post Ad and a small budget, nothing less than $30 per day and nothing less than two days, otherwise you could decrease your ROI.

Useful Facebook Advertising Links
Facebook Advertising Rules and Guidelines
Create And Ad On Facebook
Facebook Advertising FAQ

Get Google to call you!

google-logo1Are you having issues with your new Google Maps listing for your business? I’ve had a bunch of questions regarding this and how to fix this. Easy, have Google call you! Some of you might have noticed something wrong with your maps marker or Google Maps or information in general. Some stayed the same, some disappeared/re-appearead, markers have moved, information didn’t stick. Whatever the case may be, if you use Google Maps and are having a difficult time getting your maps issues resolved by filling out the online form “fix your listing” with Google here’s a little trick and a not so obvious thing I just learned about Google. You can have them call you! That’s right! You heard me right, and in my experience the phone call is immediate. Here’s how!

What Do I Need?
1. A Google Places or Google+ account
2. The phone number associated with your business
3. The correct information for your Google listing

How Do I Get Them To Call?
1. Goto Google Places – use your Google login/pw
2. At the bottom of the screen you will see 5 hyperlinks, click on Google Places Help See Fig. 1
3. Click on the red button that says “contact us” in the upper right hand side of the screen See Fig. 2
4. A new window will pop up, click on the Blue button that says “Call Us” See Fig 3
5. A screen will pop up where you will need to fill out your Name, Google Email Address and of course your phone number See Fig. 4
6. Click on “Call Me” and Google will call within seconds See Fig. 4

Google 1

Fig. 1


Fig. 3

Figure 2


Fig. 4

TIP: You have to use your business phone number associated with your account, you can’t call from just any phone, keep that in mind. When they call you it will say press 1 for a Google specialist, and sometimes when you press one it keeps repeating it, just continue to press 1 you will be directed to a Google Specialist. More than likely, your Google specialist can make the changes to your account almost immediately do NOT let anyone tell you it will take 7 days for changes to take affect. I’ve asked Google every time I needed to make this call to make the changes immediately and they’ve done it!

Can I have Google change something else on my account?

Yes. If you have multiple business listings on the map or Google accounts you can have them combine all the listings for you. I recently did this for a client of mine. They had 3 listings in three separate accounts, they had reviews on all the sites and their maps were incorrect. Google was able to combine the accounts under one account, combine all the reviews and fix the location marker. Boom!

How often can I call?

As often as you like! I am always checking and making sure the Google listings for my clients are correct because they can change from time to time from Google glitches. If this happens Google will fix it for you and sometimes give you an email address to email them if it continues to happens.

Shopping Cart Websites Made Simple


I manage a great deal of diversity in my business, my clients are from all walks of life which in turn makes my life very interesting. I deal with doctors, dentists, handymen, bakers, accountants and because of this interesting and eclectic list of clientele I receive a new challenge about every other week. I enjoy this challenge and because of it, I can keep my creative juices flowing as a marketing consultant and business owner. I embrace daily challenge and quite honestly if everything was even flow all of the time, nothing would be interesting or engaging and that’s what its all about being an entrepreneur!

I was recently contracted by a Gluten Free baker, Ebenezer Foods, who needed a Website, Social Media and branding assistance. To start with she is a Gluten Free enthusiasts and baker that wanted to bring her Gluten Free Mixes to the outside world by developing her own eCommerce company but didn’t know how to go about it; enter 512City Design. She was wanting to use the website to showcase her products and then allow people to call her or email her their orders. My initial response was why not set up an commerce website, as if I knew how to do this, but I knew I could get the right people involved in the event this was something she elected to do. However, her needs were small initially and she just wanted the website and then possibly down the road she wanted to discuss the possibility of an eCommerce site. Little did I know that there was a very simple and easy way to set up a virtual shopping cart on her site with little or no effort at all.

First of all, for most of you that follow or read my blog, you know I am a huge proponent of WordPress powered websites. There are two reasons for this, one they are robust and two they are customizable. WordPress websites allows for a great deal of customizing and with the amount of free plugins offered from thousands of WordPress free lance developers around the world, you can pretty much do anything to and with a WordPress website. With the new Cherry Framework, WordPress just got a little bit sweeter and more efficient from a productive point of view.


Ecwid Shopping Cart

I began doing some research on eCommerce websites but everything I found was very involved and directed more towards larger scaled eCommerce sites and then I stumbled upon a new client who contacted me needing to increase his online traffic and reputation for his online t-shirt business. He was using a Wix website which is a very basic do-it-yourself website builder program, very minimal in regards to SEO and not as customizable or robust as WordPress. But he was using something I found extremely useful, he was using a simple shopping cart powered by a company called Ecwid. And even though his website was very simple and minimal, his customers could very easily purchase their T-shirts without a fail through his website using the Ecwid shopping cart. I did some research and came to the conclusion that Ecwid is a legitimate payment provider company worth using for small scale eCommerce websites, enter my new client Ebenezer Foods the Gluten Free Baker.

I talked to my client, Ebenezer Foods about the possibility of using a shopping cart on their website to simplify the ordering process, save them time and reduce manpower by running all transactions through Ecwid. Melissa, the owner was all for it, and I endeavored in my first eCommerce website. It was pretty simple to setup, WordPress has a very simple Ecwid plugin you can use to add an Ecwid store to any WordPress website. The setup is simple and easy to implement into your WordPress website. All you need to do is setup an Ecwid account, which is FREE for basic use and upgradable over time depending on your demand and product amount. The transactions are run through a business Paypal account, also free. You upload your pictures, catalog, descriptions and sku’s all through ecwid (see features here), This is a great approach for small eCommerce companies looking for a simple and effective solution for their online transactions.

Get Live, Make Your Website a Dynamic Online Tool!

live chatYour website is your most important online tool! Not to take away from social media and directory listings, but without your website, the other listings are rather pointless. Your website is like your online toolbox, within that toolbox is your content, social media links, contact information, reviews, maps. . . it’s total access to everything you are as a business and your online brand and authority! The biggest mistake most companies make is letting their website sit stagnant. BIG MISTAKE! Your website should be a dynamic tool, one that is constantly updated, new content, pictures and blog posts regarding your business, products, services, tools! This should all be constantly updated; otherwise, Google and Bing will disregard your website as worthy of a web crawl, and trust me, you want those web crawls! It should also be an active space where you can connect with potential clients through online chat and surveys. Here are a couple of tips to beef up your website and dynamic online presence.


A great way to keep your website active and dynamic is by creating blog posts at least 2-3 times a month. Blogging is an excellent way to backlink to pages on your website and create some solid SEO. It also helps you craft your authority online and it keeps people interested in your website and what you have to say about your industry. Promote your blog posts through social media, by creating a post with a link to your blog page (copy and paste the URL of your blog post into a Facebook/Google+/Twitter post). This is a great way to drive traffic to your website while giving you a solid click through rate from your Social Media, and it also gives customers a chance to take a peek at some of your other web pages as well. Also, make sure your website has a post section or blog roll as well, keep it updated in addition to an off page blog site such as or blogger.

Embedding Posts

Embedding your Facebook posts into your website is another great way to keep things dynamic. It’s an easy thing to do and something Facebook and now Google+ implemented several months ago to help businesses highlight certain posts. After you have created your timeline post and posted it, in the upper right hand corner (Image A below) there is a small pull down arrow, click on this and a menu will popup, at the bottom (Image B below) of the menu you will see embed post, click on that and it will give you an html code (Image C below) that you can place in your website to highlight that particular post. If you are a novice at WordPress but know your way around the backend of your website, it’s worth just trying out. It is a great way to drive traffic to your social media brands as well and get interaction on them, likes, comments etc..all worthy forms of interaction and Google likes it! Note: you can also embed Pinterest posts and pictures as well.

Embed Post

Image A

Embed Post

Image B

Image C

Image C

Live Chat

One of the newest and most inexpensive ways to promote your website and help potential clients immediately is by installing Live Chat. If you are using a WordPress driven website, LiveChat is simple to install (using a plugin) and easy to setup. Live chat not only gives you an enormous amount of inside demographic information on the people frequenting your site but also gives you the opportunity to solicit these individuals based on the pages they are looking at real time. And you would be surprised the amount of people that will use the chat option especially if they know it is live and will have their questions answered immediately without having to email or call. Actually, a recent surveyed showed that 7 out of 10 consumers prefer chat because 90% of consumers do their research online, so why not? My recommendation is LiveChat, they are pretty inexpensive, you are looking at around $80 for two operators, and if you get one client, patient, customer then it pays for the entire show! You don’t have to be techno savvy to appreciate or use these tools, but it will definitely help boost your traffic; the longer customers stays on your site the better your Google ranking. There are other live chat tools to use such as: ClickDesk Live Support I really like LiveChat because it works beautifully with WordPress and it is easy to install and integrate! TECH TIP: send a post chat survey with a link to your social media and website. Live Chat allows you to customize this part of the post chat session and survey.

Product Reviews Widget

Creating a review option on any or all your web pages is also a helpful way to create more traffic on your website. Tell your customers to go to your website to write a review about a product or service you sell. If you are using WordPress there is an awesome plugin called WP Review that works like a charm. It also gives you the opportunity to filter your reviews and creates some great Google Snippets online as well. For instance if you sell boxes online and someone writes a review about how awesome your boxes are, Google tags that as genuine unsolicited content, which in turn boosts your SEO and authority about that particular product online.

When it comes to your website and keeping yourself dynamic, it really takes little to no effort to make this happen. Businesses hire website maintenance managers all of the time to change and make updates to their website. Your website is a great way to keep your customers informed as to what is happening with your company, whether it’s new hours, new products, services, it doesn’t matter, it is your link to the outside world and the world’s link to you! People want to be connected to products and services they use and believe in and by keeping your customers up to date is an inexpensive way to keep them engaged and interested, otherwise you’ll just get buried by the 6 million other people trying to outdo you! So engage, be dynamic and keep things interesting!

Social Media/Directory Listings: Made Simple

sm imageThe worst possible thing you can do as a small business or any business for that matter when it comes to social media is sitting idle. So many businesses have no initiative as to where to start with social media, they end up doing nothing at all. BIG MISTAKE. Colossal. I say this because, social media marketing is not going away anytime soon, and you don’t have to know everything about social media marketing to make it effectual for you as a business trying to be found on the internet. So what the hell are you waiting for?

Time and time again I’ve had the same conversation with clients about what they should or shouldn’t do about their social media marketing efforts. The biggest response I get from clients is, “I don’t know where to start”. My response is: “You really can’t screw it up, but don’t do NOTHING”. Yes, SM implementation is time consuming, less intuitive than one could ever envision and yes, it can be exasperating at times, however, if you sit down and determine what is relevant and what is not, you will rapidly find yourself with a short list of SM venues that might suit you. Worst-case scenario, you set up the sites and then what? You scarcely post to them, this is common, and it will change once you start noticing what others are doing and how it works for them. More importantly, the foremost thing is, at least you have accomplished the hardest part by listing yourself as a business. Believe it or not you are now on the road to something larger than before when you were sitting on your hands contemplating, “Where do I begin?”

When I started out in Social Media Marketing, I was faced with this very same challenge. I was thrown into a position as an Internal Marketing Coordinator for a dental office, and I was given a small manual on how to claim social media sites. I began reading a lot on my own, and learned that you need to claim your listings on the Internet. So I sat down and made a list of the ones I use, personally and started there. This list has perceptibly amplified now, but here’s what I’ve established to be the most essential


Observably we can add more to this list now, but quite honestly, if you are just starting out and you want to know where to start, this is a good base. Another thing to contemplate in addition to all of these are: Directory Listings. Yes, directory listings are also just as vital as social media listings and you don’t have to pay to list for basic directory listings, they are FREE, and they are effective. In the beginning I found a beta testing site called Brandify to help me understand what our brand looked like on the Internet. Brandify now charges a small fee to use their service, but this helped me understand our brand online, compile my list and it also gave me a list of directories they deemed valuable, necessary and prudent as well. I’ve added to that list and here are my


When you initially look at these lists you are scratching your head going, “huh, I’ve never even heard of these before”? Yes I know, some of these you’ve never heard before and some of them you have, but consider this: singularly they are meaningless, united they are powerful. What that means is, the more places you put yourself on the Internet, the easier you are found through Google, Bing and Yahoo searches.

Things to consider when setting up directory listings and social media sites:

1. Uniform – Keep your information uniformed throughout your sites! Continuity is king as well as content! Make sure you fill out all of the information you can, the description, the about us, keep it uniform. Write a universal description and about us and copy and paste it throughout your sites and directories.

2. Media – Make sure to post relevant pictures, photos, videos and logos wherever you can. Don’t leave things blank, your brand and the awareness around it are vastly important when it comes to being found and consumers remembering who you are!

3. Claim before Create – Make sure you are claiming your sites before creating new ones, it’s quite possible someone might have already started a Facebook page for you when they checked in at your business or wrote a review about you on Yelp. Yes, you have to claim your sites, not all of them but most of them, just make sure you do a search on that site before setting up a new one.

4. Be Prepared – This process will be much more painless if you are prepared and have your information ready and accessible! The more prepared you are the faster you will get your listings posted. Keep your media and information in one universal folder on your desktop where it is accessible.

5. Don’t pay to claim – When claiming, there are some sites that want you to pay to claim faster, don’t do it. They will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification pin and instructions. Most of them will say it takes 2 weeks, but I’ve never seen that, it usually takes about 5 business days or less.

HINT: When setting up your map directories in MapQuest, Google Maps and Bing Business Maps, make sure your location pin is in the right location, if not, move it. You can drag and drop your pin anywhere on a map. If not, then you contact Google/BING/MapQuest.

After you’ve set up your sites, start posting to them and drive traffic to them. Use your social media sites to drive traffic to your directory sites, use your directory sites to drive traffic to your social media sites by linking you social media sites on your directory sites. Any link that backlinks to your website, is great Simple SEO 101. Once you jump in to this ever-changing tide of social media and online marketing, you will soon find out, it isn’t as intimidating as it looks. It is very easy to start campaigning and promoting your business with a few clicks of the mouse and keyboard and it didn’t cost anything more than your time, BOOM!

Some good SM management softwares: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, CoTweet

Branding – It’s Not As Scary As It Sounds!

Brand-ImageYou might be a business that has been around for quite some time, or perhaps you are a new business starting up. Regardless of your status and stature, when it comes to branding, there are numerous things to contemplate.

Some say, it is harder to re-brand yourself if you are a business that has been operating for many years. On the other hand, it has been said that is just as complex to brand yourself as a new business breaking into an existing market.  Regardless of how you look at it, or who says what, branding is the most fundamental aspect to any businesses new or existing. Your brand is your fingerprint, your pulse in a specific market and community; you as a company are defined by your brand as it is how people will relate to you, find you and connect with you. Branding is essential more importantly the how develop your brand is acutely crucial.

We are not talking about re-inventing the wheel here, we are talking about what the color, shape or size the wheel, can, will and should look like to a specific demographic. When determining your brand, new or old, there are some key guidelines to follow when taking this new leap forward into the daunting indefinite.

Do your research!

First of all, researching your demographic will help you in determining your brand, label, and your fingerprint. If you have no idea what demographic you’re marketing to then you will never develop a successful brand. For example, if your product, or business is driven towards the 30 something, conservative, gun owning male, you probably don’t want the color pink in your logo/brand. This is probably not the greatest analogy, but there is a science to this. The point is, like any marketing plan, you do the demographic research to help you determine who your ideal and customer is, and tailor your brand to those customers. The rest will follow. But, you must must must do your research, whether you do this yourself or hire a marketing person, it must be done in order to have a comprehensive look at your business/product through your potential customer’s eyes.

Be prepared/Inform your audience

When developing a new brand for an old business you have to prepare your audience and/or customers for the change. Your existing customers are your best customers and you always want to keep them in the loop on any changes to your business, plus this makes them feel important; empowerment is influential. As a business owner, you should already have vital data from your existing customers, such as email addresses, mailing addresses, social media, mailing lists etc. Most businesses now, are using social media to prime their audience intended for any specials, changes and/or events regarding their business. It is a quick and effortless way to reach your audience with these changes. More importantly, by priming the pump so to speak, letting your customers know that you are changing names or updating a logo but are still maintaining the same ownership is beneficial in maintaining your identity. If you are a storefront, hand out flyers, throw an event for a grand re-opening, plaster it all over your social media sites, send emails, post cards etc. You want to give your customers/clients at least a 6 months notice that things are changing in a good way. If there is one thing people dislike it is change and they dislike it even more when they don’t see it coming. Use this is a re-marketing/marketing campaign to tap back into to your audience, new and old. There is always opportunity for marketing when branding or re-branding. If you are developing your website and are simply working with blogging and social media platforms, use these tools to announce your changes. Not only is this a great marketing tool, but it also gets you re-involved with your audiences. Keep your clients informed and use the opportunity to reach back out the community to say you care and hey take a look at what we are doing! People will warm to your regard and this outreach will benefit your business. And you never know, you might re-capture that customer that hasn’t been to your business in quite sometime. It’s a win win!

It’s always wise, when making a change to your brand or creating a new brand, to announce to your audience the changes that are about to take place. Get them to interact with the change, pose questions, give timelines etc.. The most important information you can reveal to your audience about any changes is the most relevant information, which means, what is real vs. what might be.

Be consistent

Make sure that when you begin your branding/re-branding campaign, you are consistent throughout all of your platforms, social media, blog, website, local listings etc. Take one platform at a time, and slowly develop your consistency across the board. If you don’t have consistent content throughout your platforms, things will be interpreted as sloppy and irrelevant and followers/audiences will be less interested. Consistency is you best tool in the toolbox, when people are Google searching for a specific product they like to see consistency. You don’t want your twitter to say one thing and your Google+ to say another. Keep things simple and consistent, it’s always the best approach.

Three things to always consider when branding:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you are offering
  3. Where you’re going/where do you want to be

Quick Tip: Create a mailing list and put it on your website, social media and plaster all over your business. Get your customers to sign up so they can have exclusive access to specials, upcoming events and your company newsletters. You can easily create this through MailChimp. This is a non-invasive way to inbox your customers without feeling like you are spamming them because they signed up for the mailing list on their own.

Branding can be a simple transition or creation if properly introduced and strategically planned out. It can also be a fun process if you allow it to be. Make it exciting to your customers that this is great thing and they will benefit from this change and development. Use social media as much as possible; you can reach a larger, vaster audience if properly used. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation; engage with customers online and in person if possible and inform them about this new era of your business! In the end, people might not like change initially, but if it is good positive change, the audience is yours for the taking!


Design Your Own Social Media Posts and Get Noticed!

Whether you like it or not, social media is pretty much here to stay and as far as I am concerned, you have two choices, get on the boat or swim! I chatter a lot about how we as businesses large or small should be using social media in our marketing strategies. Surveys, reviews, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Maps, Bing Local, Pinterest, Foursquare etc… You’ve heard it all before the value of being connected. Well what if I told you this is in fact just one small part in the this big machine of marketing. Innovation creates uniqueness, there is more to social media than posting and copying and pasting URL’s that appear interesting or relative to your cause, business or products. Whatever you are selling, social media is not the end all be all of product marketing, it is an amalgam of things, working parts we can create as business owners to make our message more effective, louder and more noticeable. It is the difference between taking the time to be creative and thoughtful and being complacent and unimaginative.

Social media was not born out of necessity it was born out of creativity and people’s need to be connected to, well, everything! When I began my business I wanted to help everyone discover his or her online influence through marketing and content. Quite honestly, in the beginning, I didn’t know how to go about this effectively and on a large scale. I mean I had an understanding of marketing and communications and with my background in Graphic Design I had untapped resources, resources I didn’t even know I had available to me. Over time and research I made a assessment about how I sought to present social media marketing to clients and give them a blueprint about how this strategy would make their particular market appealing, effectual and visible. I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel but I was looking to reinvent the uniqueness of content and find a way to use Graphic Design to do so.

You see info-graphics all over the web, but who’s to say you can’t create your own? You don’t have to be a graphic designer to use Photoshop or Illustrator, you just have to have time and now with the expediency of YouTube, you now have all the learning potential right at your fingertips, literally. It’s like saying you have to be photographer to take great photography.  However, if you take the time to hone in on a new skill and work with awesome gear that is accessible to you, you make yourself a resourceful entity.

When it comes to creating exceptional content for your social media sites and websites, there are some tricks and programs that can help out. Once again, all you need is time, an idea and some imagination. I was told once by a professor that when it comes to graphic layout there is no copyright law that keeps you from copying a layout, however it is up to you to make it your own and re-create it uniquely.” So make it your own!

Most of the tools in my toolbox are nominal. To start with, think about the big picture, literally. When looking to post a poster on your Facebook or Google+ page make sure it is optimally formatted for the accurate dimensions for the specific timelines. Chances are if you post something and it is not optimally formatted, you’re your content below the fold disappears and now you’ve missed your opportunity. Always, always, always, maintain the most vital content above the fold. Granted, individuals can click on the photos and enlarge them, but why miss out on the demographic that will not? This is where custom designing comes into play. There are two ways to proceed with creating your own poster graphics for social media, check it out:

Adobe Creative Cloud Membership

Utilize to access all CS programs for a low monthly membership fee or purchase to own at full price. If you don’t want to make the initial $900 investment in something you might not like over time, then get the month-to-month membership. It’s worth it, especially when you are starting out novice or pro, the new CS programs are vastly different from previous versions. Additionally, you have access to all the new Adobe programs such as Photoshop, In Design, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Muse and so on. It will cost you around $49 p/month and if you decide that you like it, then you can purchase the full version. The only caveat to all of this is the fact that Adobe is incessantly altering their programs and with CS you are always in contact with the latest and newest programs/support they offer. You can also sign up for 30 day risk free membership as well.


There are all sorts of great YouTube “how to” CS tutorials. I personally like Terry White and Christian Perello, but honestly it comes down to you personally and what your needs are. Adobe also has a myriad of educational videos on their website for all of their entire product lines. Basically if you learn one you can learn them all, as they are seamlessly functional and integrated universally.

PicMonkey – Picture Editor

If you are just starting out with designing custom graphics for your SM sites, PicMonkey simplifies all of this for you. With PM you have a starting graphic whether it is picture or text. They have various filters to choose from, text overlay, cloning, borders, filters, graphics; the list goes on and on. They also have cropping and sizing options in addition to the option to save a png or jpg file type  as well (we’ll get to that next). The only caveat is you cannot work with a blank slate on PM you have to bring some to the art board. I use PM in conjunction with CS. If I have a text graphic I am creating in AI, or PS I can save this for web (jpg. or png.) file types and then open in PM to add filters or quick graphics, borders etc…  There is a free version of PicMonkey and a paid version. The paid version is $4.99 a month and you have access to everything whereas the FREE version is limited access.


Size Chart

Keep your graphics to spec, don’t lose out any below the fold content designs. Below is good quick reference to follow for sizing your graphics so they show up in their entirety on your SM timelines/feed. Or you can click here  and see the entire SM sizing chart.


  • Posts: 403×403 px
  • Cover Photo: 851×315 px


  • Posts: 800×600 px


  • Coverphoto: 646×220


  • Board: 222×207

QUICK TIP: When saving your graphics save them as a png file type and when creating your graphic in CS create as an RGB format. RGB can be saved for monitor and the lowest resolution such as 72 dpi is your best graphic result with minimal pixilation. You do not need high resolution for small graphics. Create in RGB and save fro web as a PNG and if you transfer an Adobe graphic to PicMonkey for quick graphics PicMonkey also allows you to re-save as a png. IF you have several colors in your graphic, jpg will show up grainy and pixilated, keep it simple, keep it png.

Regardless of whatever you are designing for your social media posts, just the simple fact that you are keeping your content unique is effectual. Make sure to always sign or copyright your graphics so you and you only have the rights over those graphics and why not give yourself credit! Designing custom post graphics is fairly simple and a great way to start. Start small with a picture on PicMonkey, add a filter, text or simple graphic to spruce it up. Take the time to be authentic because in the end it’s our creativity that wins out when it comes to unique vs. unimaginative. Be original!