Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Vine, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, Yelp, Gryzzl (OK, that one is fictional): there is always something new to remember. It may seem easier to avoid jumping on the train and instead take a nap in the train station. Or it may be tempting to use these free social platforms to market your business and neglect a proper website.
As endless as the platforms may seem, there is a good middle ground to successfully market your small business online. You just have to view social media platforms as what they are: a marketing tool to reach out to potential and current customers and bring them to your business.
Last summer I went on vacation and wanted to secure the house in my absence. To do this, I got a sticky note and wrote “do not enter” and stuck it on my front door. Satisfied with all of my assets being properly secured, I left for a week out of state. When I returned I couldn’t figure out why my house had been ransacked. They even took my peanut butter!
Does that story sound completely ridiculous? Likely. Are you doing the exact same thing when you pick an insanely easy-to-crack password? You bet.
The folks over at Gizmodo compiled a list of the 25 Most Popular Passwords. In their words, “we’re all such idiots.” SplashData creates this list every year based on stolen passwords made public, then sorts them by popularity.
Before sharing this list, know that if you are using one of these passwords please change it immediately. Like, before you finish reading this page.
5 Tips for Better Passwords
Mix Letters, Numbers and Characters
Think of a word or phrase, then mix in crazy letters and characters. That way you’ll be more likely to remember it, but it will be harder to crack by non-you people. For instance if you like football (and many people do because “football” was No. 7 on that stolen password list), consider how you can make that more secure. Maybe “F0ot3@l1” — notice how the numbers and letters still resemble the original word?
Avoid Personal Information
Sure it is fun to make a password with your kid’s name or your birthday, but any hacker with an Internet connection can find public information and even private information through sites like Facebook.
Use Different Passwords for Different Accounts
Ever wonder why some people are hacked on Facebook, then suddenly their email starts sending out malware? It is likely they use the same password for both Facebook and their email. Now imagine the trouble they could see if they also use that password for sites like PayPal or their bank.
Keep Passwords Secure
Once you’ve made a harder password, don’t leave it out for the world to discover. This includes leaving a sticky note on your monitor with the password written on it. If you must keep track of several passwords and want to create a document, don’t name that document “passwords.” Google recommends considering a password manager if you have difficulty remembering multiple passwords.
Consider Using a Random Password Generator
If you truly want a secure password, it should be random. Simply google “strong password generator” and several sites will offer random password generation. You can select the length and what types of characters to include.
You want the world to know about your business so I can get as many customers as possible. The best way to do that is by buying ads, right?
Well, maybe. But if you rely solely on advertising, you’re missing out on a key element of business promotion. Welcome to the world of public relations. Public relations is more cost-effective than advertising because instead of paying to have your business included in publications or on websites, you’re getting the publication or website to feature your business in their content. As Entrepreneur points out, this kind of publicity can last longer and possibly reach a much larger audience than advertising alone.
I can tell you’re excited to get started! Go chug another mug of coffee and we’ll get started.
1. Have a target
Figure out who you are trying to reach. Make it very specific, like “I’m targeting females in their 30s who enjoy organic vegetable gardening.” That won’t work if you sell men’s apparel, but if you are in the garden supply trade then you’re on the right track. Once you have that target audience, figure out which media outlets would best reach that audience.
2. Know your angle
No media outlet is going to publish a purely promotional business write-up without an angle. That is called advertising, and if they start giving that away for free then they won’t be a media outlet for long. You need to develop an angle that will help the media outlet provide information to their readers/viewers.
There are many ways to find your angle. You can connect with a beat reporter and let them know that you are an expert in your field and would be open to providing insights when needed. You can let media outlets know when you are doing something charitable in the name of your business. When a new or updated product hits the market, let media outlets know why readers/viewers should know.
Here are a few sites that have great ideas to get you started:
- Three Steps to Free Publicity for Your Business (Small Business Trends)
- Three Ways to Get Publicity for Your Small Business (Quick Books)
- Best and Worst Ways to Get Publicity (Inc.)
- 9 Tips for Getting Free Publicity for Your Business (Investopedia)
- 10 Tips to Getting Publicity for Your Business (U.S. Small Business Administration)
3. Connect with the media
A good working relationship with your local media outlets will serve you well. Having worked at several daily newspapers, I can tell you that editors love local businesses who want to help them fill that content area. In order to do that, you can’t fall to the temptation of being overly promotional. Readers will find more credibility in hearing about your product or service in the words of the reporter rather than what is obviously a press release from your business.
Here are a few tips to get on an editor’s good side:
- Keep it simple. Don’t wax poetic about your business. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to the point. Stick to the topic at hand. Add quotes to share opinions.
- Write in news format. This isn’t as intimidating as it seems. It simply means putting the most important piece of information first, then supporting it with a few key details and quotes. Put follow-up (call to action) information at the end.
- Include photos. An editor will love you if they don’t have to assign a photographer to get art for your write-up. Bonus points if you give them a few options (such as one photo of just the product, one photo of a person using the product). Don’t use stock photography; use real, local people.
4. Follow up
If the media outlet chose to publish your press release, follow up and thank them for the coverage. Ask them if they are interested in getting more content from your business. It is possible that you could set up a guest blogger arrangement, or be the go-to expert when reporters need more information.
If the media outlet chose not to publish your press release, send them an email asking how you can make your press releases more helpful for them. I recommend emailing reporters and editors because it is less intimidating for them than being put on the spot by someone who didn’t get what they want. Keep it very cordial and very cooperative. Odds are even if your current publicity piece wasn’t used, they will remember how helpful you were and keep you in mind when something else comes up in the future.
Once you’ve taken your cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne, you’ll probably want to start looking forward to what 2016 has in store – not only for your waistline or your wallet, but also for your business or organization.
Websites have come a long way in the past few years, and creating or updating your online presence can seem intimidating. Let’s take a look back at 2015’s top tips that will get you started on the right foot in 2016.
Get Started with a ProfessionalYour website is one of the first and best impressions you can make on potential clients or customers. If you don’t have a website, the first step is to hire a professional to get you the best first impression possible. It is important to hire a professional, since DIY jobs can cost you more in the long run.
Build Great ContentContent drives people to your site and keeps people coming back. Informative articles, press releases and company news are great ways to build your online content. Also consider “evergreen content,” which is content that stays fresh for a long time. When you can’t create your own content, consider content curation to keep audiences updated without investing internal resources to creating the content.
Put User Experience FirstGood design helps users get the information they need. What are you trying to communicate? Are you keeping your users’ interest in mind? UX (user experience) is a make-or-break term in web design. As of April 2015, mobile friendliness is also critical to your online success. Google now factors mobile friendliness into its search result algorithms.
Reach Out and Grab New AudiencesManaging your online reputation is key to a successful online presence. Stay on top of how your business is presented on Google, on social networks and on any relevant review websites. Pull in new potential clients and customers with online advertising. Finally, consider the benefits of social media and how your business can connect on a more personal level.
Plan for the FutureNo website is a one-and-done deal. Be prepared for future updates and set aside money to make those updates. Be diligent with your site security to prevent hackers from wreaking havoc on your site and your site visitors.
Let Cube Creative help you make 2016 your best year yet. Contact us to learn how we can craft the best online presence for your business or organization.
The giving season is upon us, and as marketing campaigns boost the idea of Giving Tuesday, many non-profit organizations may be asking how to make it easier on their donors to contribute. Most non-profit organizations have two main purposes for a website: raise awareness for their cause and solicit for donor support. Most websites do a great job on the former point, but often struggle with the latter.
So if I’m going to invest in a top-notch website for my non-profit, how can I be sure I’m going to get the most from it (literally)? Here are a few tips when thinking about your site’s design and user experience:
Five Tips to Maximize Online Donations
Make a Clearly Visible Donation ButtonDonors should be able to clearly see where they can go to donate online from any page on your site. This allows you to grab potential donors regardless of whether they come in on your home page, or use a search engine and start on an “inside” page. Make your donate button visually prevalent. Take a look at how the Red Cross makes it easy to see where to donate:
Make the Donation Process SimpleSmashing Magazine gives great tips to making the donation process as painless as possible: “Don’t require visitors to set up an account to donate. Other than information required to process their credit card, don’t require other information. And use a single-page donation form if possible, with just one confirmation page. There’s less chance that there will be browser or connectivity issues.”
Be Media FriendlyNews reports are some of the best free publicity you can find, so make it easy on them. Include a media section with contact information. Smashing Magazine suggests offering images and press-ready quotes that journalists and bloggers can download and use without contacting your organization prior to publishing. Speaking of news, include your own news section or blog. Not only does it give visitors a reason to return to your site on a regular basis, but it gives bloggers and journalists information they can use when writing their reports. The more publicity you have, the more potential donors you can attract.
Be Social Media FriendlyBeyond news outlets, another great resource for free publicity is social media. Network for Good suggests adding social sharing links on every page. Be sure to test how your links appear in Facebook and Twitter posts. npEngage suggests asking new donors to opt-in to email and spread the words through social media after giving.
Keep your Donation Form on your WebsiteWebsite programs like Joomla and Wordpress allow you to embed secure forms on your own website rather than forcing visitors to go to PayPal or other payment processors. Keep that branding and that visitor. Plugins allow you to process credit card payments directly on your site without the danger of exposing donors’ financial data.
Cube Creative Design is a leader in non-profit website design and management. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your non-profit organization’s online donation to the next level, contact us for help!