Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holy Toast!

It's Saturday - (and we're supposed to be on vacation) so I'm just going to share this fabulous video you can find on Toastvertising, a site to promote "The Book of Spam":

I wish I had this much time...


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Good Stuff!

I found a great post yesterday while I was out "Sphinning" on Sphinn (it's an Internet Marketing news and discussion forum that I belong to) and I left a thank you comment to Tamar the blogger who posted it.

Then today while visiting my new favorite branding blog BrandflakesforBreakfast (Thanks Eric!) they had a post on it too so I figured I'd share with you!

Best Internet Marketing Blog Posts of 2007

To some it could APPEAR that I'm being lazy and just passing on information, but really - it's some good stuff I promise!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Setting Business Goals

Complete Business Systems staff wish all of you a happy holiday season filled with friends and family! Our offices are officially closed through January 1st. We have to admit though, we're workaholics! We'll be posting to the blog and checking email and voicemail until we re-open on the 2nd of January.

Now that we are awaking from our turkey-and-gravy induced stupor, it’s time to get back into work mode. Like many business owners, we’re evaluating what we’ve done wrong, what we’ve done right, and what we plan to accomplish in the upcoming year. While every company is different, these tips will help anyone in keeping sight of their business goals.

Your goals should be S-M-A-R-T goals:

Specific – Instead of saying “I want to make more money this year”, set a dollar amount or percentage that you want to increase sales by. What do you want your company to accomplish this year? Why is it important to complete this goal? How are you going to achieve it?

Measurable – Each goal should be quantifiable. That means you'll have to start with a base line where you are now in order to set a target to move forward, thus enabling you to set benchmarks along the way to see if you are on track to your goal. When you measure your progress, you stay on track.

Attainable - Your goals should be realistic in order to be achieved. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be challenging, but they shouldn't be a slam dunk either. Making it to work dressed every day does not count as a challenging goal. Remember to be flexible with your goal, don’t make your goals so challenging that they’re impossible to achieve.

Relevant - Your goals should apply to the overall vision or mission of your business or organization. Each goal should move you towards your vision and not impede your mission or interfere with other goals.

imely - Your goals should be able to be completed within a reasonable amount of time. They should have a beginning and ending point by which to measure your success. Having a time limit on your goal helps focus your attention and efforts towards the achievement of the goal.

Remember, your goals should be S-M-A-R-T! Outline your goals ahead of time, whether yearly, monthly or weekly. Make sure to track your progress to see if you’re on target to meet them. Reward yourself and your employees for meeting the goals you set to stay motivated.

We hope these tips are helpful…here’s to a great year!

Michelle and Joanne

Friday, December 21, 2007

Viral Marketing

This Cadbury Gorilla video was forwarded to me today by a fellow blogger. The fact that it is still being circulated and is being parodied shows it has made an impact.

This is a compelling ad and a perfect example of viral marketing because it's quirky and weird and most people have learned about this through word of mouth.

From the Wikipedia page on this ad campaign produced by Cadbury Schweppes' new in-house production company 'A Glass and a Half Full Productions' :

"Their proposal was to step away from pushing the product through traditional advertising means, and instead produce "entertainment pieces" which would appeal to a broader range of consumers and spread through viral marketing – that is, through word of mouth."

We just plain like it!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just Say No

In the 80’s, former First Lady Nancy Reagan launched her famous anti-drug campaign “Just Say No”. Today’s blog has nothing to do with drugs, but it does address the value of saying “No” when appropriate.

Many business owners subscribe to the adage, “The customer is always right”. That may sound nice in theory, but sometimes telling a customer “No” is the best thing for all involved. Often, when a business owner is just starting out, the tendency is to say “Yes” to all prospective customers’ requests, just to get business in the door. “Yes, we can design a website, logo, and letterhead in one week for $100.” That may be what the customer wants to hear, but if you are A) Losing money on the project B) Unable to deliver on time or C) Not sleeping or eating for a week, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Some clients can be, shall we say, opportunistic. When they know that you are a new, small business, they may often try to get as much as they can for little or no money. One only has to scan websites such as craigslist (which we love, by the way) to see people posting for services, saying things like, “ I can’t pay much, but this project will look great in your portfolio”. Don’t sell yourself short. When a client asks for extra work at no charge, it’s all right to say no.

That’s not to say that throwing in a freebie here and there has no value. It’s great to do that if it helps foster good will and future business. However, there’s no use in promising clients everything they ask for, unless you are certain you can deliver. That only puts undue stress on yourself, your employees, and ultimately the client.

When it comes to saying yes to all requests, “Just Say No”!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to Get Traffic to Your Site Without Paying Through the Nose!

Happy holidays! Can you believe I went to the store at 5:00 am to try and get the kids a Wii on Saturday? Well, I didn’t get one – I guess they’ll just have to play with the boxes their clothes came in!

We’re gearing up for some much needed time off coming up next week, and I for one am excited! We are closing for the week, but I imagine we’ll end up working some – we always do.

I know, I know… you clicked on this because you want to learn how to get traffic, not read about me and my holiday plans!

When we started our business, we had a tiny marketing budget and really couldn’t afford traditional advertising. How did we gain clients? We got them through website visitors. When we started out, we knew we needed to attract people to our website. More importantly, we needed to keep them on the site once they were there.

Here are the main ingredients we cooked up for our plan:

  1. Keyword research. We decided which keywords we needed for our online business success and then we wrote keyword rich content for the site.
  2. We named specific pages/url’s for those keywords
  3. We wrote meta tag descriptions for those pages
  4. We submitted our site to major search engines and directories
  5. We installed Google analytics and signed up for a webmasters account
  6. We added a sitemap to our website and one to the webmaster account
  7. We wrote articles with subjects that included our keywords and updated our sitemap with each new article
  8. We began passing out business cards and posting them whenever we could.
  9. We printed bookmarks with our company information and placed them in libraries and bookstores in books relevant to “Starting Your Own Business”
  10. We posted ads on free classified sites
  11. We wrote press releases and distributed them to online wire services (hoping to get picked up, which they were)
  12. Once we verified that Google had crawled and indexed our content, we began submitting our articles to article syndication sites.
  13. We sent out emails to friends, family, and past business colleagues to let them know about our new business. We asked them to refer us to anyone in need of our services.
  14. We created a MySpace page and began social networking (albeit slowly, as we were busy running our new business)
  15. We joined the local chamber of commerce (well this wasn’t free, but it didn’t cost but a drop in the bucket)
  16. We started a blog (again, we were really busy in the beginning and our blog posts were few and far between – we ended up trashing the first blog and starting over and have great hopes for our new blog)
I know that there are many other things we have done that were absolutely free, and I’m sure I’ll remember them tonight at 3:30 in the morning! If I do, I promise I’ll comment.

One of the greatest joys we have had is to watch our analytics and see where our traffic has been coming from. Nothing gives us a greater thrill than to see that an article we wrote about search engine marketing or TV and radio advertising has brought us visitors.

If you’re a steady blogger, you know that it takes time to cultivate relationships and read all there is out there to read. Sometimes you can get so caught up in it all that you look up and can’t believe the day is half over. It’s so much fun that it’s almost sinful that you’re getting paid to do it.

Sometimes there are days when you’re tired and don’t feel much like writing anything or commenting, but you fear if you don’t write something you’ll lose subscribers/visitors/fans. It’s best not to post if your heart isn’t in it. When we have those days, we’ve learned not to post anything. It keeps the blog fresh, informative and entertaining.

I hope the information I shared can help you if you’re just starting out and struggling to get things going. We’re here for support, if you want to comment – we’ll write you back. We’ve been there, and we “get it”.

Have a great night!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Future of Business is "Free"

I found a link to this video of Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired discussing "Free" the subject of his up and coming book on brandflakesforbreakfast.

His views on the changes up and coming in economics world-wide are fascinating.

Granted, it's a long video (about 40 minutes) - but if you are in business or thinking about a business model in the future, it would be well worth your time to watch this video.


Writing the Perfect Ad

Have you heard of WIIFM? No, it’s not the hottest video game that all the kids are clamoring for. WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me?” and it’s what your prospective customers want to know. If you really stop and think about it, what you want to sell is the benefit of your product or service, rather than the product or service itself. For example, I don’t need to know about the ingredients that go into a bottle of perfume; I need to know if it smells good. In addition, what will this great smelling perfume do for me? Will the wafting scent attract a pack of chiseled male models, ready to cater to my every whim? Maybe I’ll be transformed into a high-powered, suit-wearing dynamo, kicking less assertive underlings out of my way as I ascend the corporate ladder.

When writing for your ads, keep WIIFM in mind. Remember that a print ad must be visually appealing as well as informative. Studies have shown that people scan ads (and webpages) in a “Z” pattern. With that in mind, don’t cram your ad chock full with too many words that no one will read. Keep your message brief. Don’t try to tell a whole story in one ad. Limit your use of technical jargon, unless your ad is targeted only at people in your industry.

In short, have fun with your ads, keep your message clear and simple, and remember WIIFM!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Acts of Kindness

Well, today has been a very busy day and on a personal note, I have to post something in the "Small Business Tips" blog that really has nothing to do with business - but just being kind to others...

On November 10th, I made a vow to myself to make a positive change in my life to practice random acts of kindness. My vow was to do one good deed a day, no matter how trivial. I have been keeping track of those deeds in my calendar. Through a blogging group that I joined today Bloggers Unite, I decided to go ahead and post December deeds (as requested) in our blog:

12/1 Gave homeless woman $5.00
12/2 Took out my parents garbage (I know, it's a stretch - but it's the only good thing I did that day!)
12/3 Held the door for a woman with toddler and baby even though I was running late
12/4 Put change in the Easter Seals jar
12/5 Gave free advice on Craiglist to someone looking to hire somebody for SEO
12/6 Offered to help a stranger (they didn't take me up on it)
12/7 Put change in the breast cancer jar
12/8 Worked for free at my sisters store
12/9 Purchased two items while at the grocery store to put in the Second Harvest Food barrel
12/10 I didn't do anything today except work and take care of family (FAILED)
12/11 Put money in the Easter Seals jar
12/12 Gave free advice to someone with a less than desirable website on how to improve it
12/13 Helped my elderly neighbor bring in her groceries
12/14 Put money in the breast cancer jar
12/15 Went to my parents to watch a movie with them (again, another stretch as this was mostly for my own enjoyment because I adore them)
12/16 Put money in the Salvation Army bucket
12/17 Let guy in traffic go ahead of me even though I was running late

That's all I have for this month. Although they are small things, I'd like to believe I'm helping to make the world a better place in my own little way.

The Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) Explained

Every year my family publishes a “Bad News Letter”. Ever experience the annoying high achieving family newsletter that comes in the mail from a distant relative? That’s not the case when it comes to my family. We love to highlight and laugh at the bad things that happened throughout the year. You won’t find any braggarts in that gem. I've been busy after work hours getting it together to pass out to relatives on Christmas Eve.

On to the subject…

Last week I was conversing with a client over the phone and she mentioned that she wanted her new website to be on the top of the SERP’s page. When I started to explain to her the logistics of being listed at the top for her search terms she was fascinated. She is a very intelligent woman with several websites already, and it got me to thinking that I should probably do a post for people who don’t quite understand it all.

So, with that in mind – let me just explain (gently) how it all works:

Whenever you go to a search engine such as Google and you type in a keyword or phrase (the words you are using to search for something), after you hit “Search”, the items that come up are broken down as follows:

Take a look at the image below with the results in red:

Those are the top paid results. To get in that position, you have to be engaged in a PPC (Pay Per Click) or (Adwords) campaign with Google and you have to be the top bidder for the keyword phrase that was searched on. In this case the phrase was “complete business cards”.

In the next image, look at the results in red:

These are also paid or “sponsored” results from a PPC campaign. The results on the side are not the top dollar advertising. Again, the person in charge of the campaign has a choice on what keywords to bid on, how much they want to spend per word or phrase and what position they want to be in.

In the next image, look at the results in red:

These are the natural search results. Meaning, the results that are showing up here are based on SEO (search engine optimization) and not a paid advertising campaign. This clearly demonstrates how important search engine optimization can be to your marketing budget.

I can get into more about PPC campaigns and how they work in another post. Next time we can have a look at Yahoo or MSN. I hope this was helpful to you.


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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Google Vs. Wikipedia

Who will win?

Google has announced "Knol", their new free tool similar to Wikipedia. Writing an article at this time is accomplished by invitation only, so don't get too excited - you have to wait.

For anyone who posts on Wikipedia, you might agree that the editing tools can sometimes be frustrating as well as having your content taken off by another authority on the subject.

Knol (which stands for unit of knowledge) will include community tools where people will be able to weigh in on subjects. Google wrote on their blog:

"All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing."

The author of the knol will decide whether or not to include ads and Google will then provide a substantial revenue share with the author.

Here's a screenshot of a knol (if you click on it, you can be taken to the full page screenshot):

If it takes off I believe the people who write on Wikipedia for a good cause (to impart knowledge to others) and are passionate about it will stay writing there and the ones that use it for the same reasons will continue to go there for information.

On the other hand, other authors may prefer to use knol so their name will be published. Having their byline/website featured in the knol would increase website traffic substantially. In addition, with the revenue share in place from ads, the financial windfall could be considerable.

People are going blog wild on the subject right now as it races through the net. The opinions and discussions are heating up.

I for one, have decided to wait and see. When the testing phase is finished and I can really sink my teeth into it I'll weigh in on how I feel. (As if you care...)


Friday, December 14, 2007

Top 7 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

You've got your new site up and you’re ready to get it optimized for search engines. Where should you start? There are plenty of articles and advice on the Internet on how you should go about it and there's a lot of information to absorb. When applying your SEO practices, make sure you avoid the following no no’s:

  1. Omitting the Title, Description and Keyword Meta tags. I’ve seen it first hand many times – potential clients contact me interested in a re-design because their site has been up for over a year and they have no traffic or page rank. I check their source code and sure enough, they don’t have any tags. If you go to Google Webmaster Help Center, you’ll see they encourage you to have title tags.
  2. Leaving “Under Construction” on your pages. You want your site to be seen as something that is evolving and continually changing so people will come back? Don’t put up “under construction” or “continually under construction”. The search engines will ignore you.
  3. No Links! This is a must for your website, you need to have them. Link to relevant sites from your site and have some incoming links from relevant sites too.
  4. Keyword stuffing. Cramming your pages full of keywords is going to shoot you down in the SERPs. You need to do research on keyword density and keep your pages within those ranges.
  5. Hiring a dishonest SEO service. You get what you pay for. If you want to have legitimate results, hire an expert service and expect to pay anywhere from 2-5 k per month. Do your research and make sure to check references by speaking to the former clients personally over the phone. If you hire a service that “guarantees” top placement, you are most likely getting ripped off.
  6. Using important text in images. The robots and spiders don’t recognize the text in an image. If you have something important you want shown on your page, use text!
  7. Dead links. Make sure you check your links frequently. If your links aren’t live, guess what? The crawler is leaving your site – dead end.
You can use free services such as to check on your site optimization and find areas that need improvement.

When doing SEO for your site, be honest and provide information to your viewers that is of value and is true to your product or service. If you stick to those guidelines, you’ll come along just fine. Remember, it’s not a lightning process and it can be done without spending a great deal of cash. Do your research and get started today!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Small Business Holiday Survival Guide

Conducting business during the holiday season can be challenging, especially if you depend on getting a certain amount of new business every month. With the exception of retail, most business slows down during this time of year. Most people are caught up in shopping, wrapping, and hosting or attending holiday parties.

How can you make the most of this “downtime” to ensure that you’re ready to hit the ground running after the New Year’s confetti has settled?

First of all, don’t abandon the quest for new business entirely. Although it may be more difficult to win new clients now, you’ll certainly fail if you don’t try at all. Stick to your normal methods of prospecting – cold calling, networking, online marketing, etc.

Make the “warm and fuzzy” mood of the season work for your business. We all recognize the tried and true ritual of sending annual holiday cards to existing clients to thank them for their business, but you may want to take the concept a step further.

Think of how you can tie your product or service into the holiday season, even if it seems like a stretch at first. For example, an auto shop could run a holiday tune-up special, with the tagline “Will Your Car Make it Over the River and Through the Woods?” OK, don’t be too hard on me! I came up with that on the spur of the moment.

Instead of sending cards, why not shower your clients with a more enduring gift? Be creative! Did you know that you can have a bobblehead made of yourself and branded with your company logo? If that idea seems a little far fetched, just remember that your goal in giving client gifts are to keep your name in front of the client, show appreciation for their business, and remind them of the need for your product or service.

Incorporate a subtle festivity into your daily marketing efforts. My business partner created a holiday version of our logo to use on seasonal coupons, in emails, etc. No matter how small, people appreciate the acknowledgement of this special time of year.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for Success in the New Year!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To Flash or Not to Flash?

Oh how I love flash! I do, it makes the sometimes boring, mundane web surfing much more fun. I suppose you could refer to me as flashy, but I’d really rather that you didn’t.

There are so many cutting edge websites out there that are flash based design. Check out a few pretty neat ones:

Mark Aurel Designer
The Simpsons Movie
Office Max Elf yourself

If you are interested in ranking high in the SERPs (search engine results pages) based on SEO (search engine optimization), you should probably forgo the flash. I know…I know…so sad! But it’s true. Rather than having a flash intro that takes a long time to load and causes your visitors to close the browser for lack of patience, why not add a little flash element to your homepage instead?

If you are a big brand name company, you can get away with putting up an all-flash site. People are already going to be Googling your company name to get to your site. If you’re a smaller company that hasn’t established its brand – you should stick to searchable content for your sites pages. You need to have content on your home page that the robots and spiders can read and index.

You can add flash elements such as a flash advertisement to drive customers through your sales funnel, or maybe a flash slideshow that showcases your highest selling products.

Another element to consider would be a flash header/ menu (which we have), just remember to also include text links to your main menu pages so that the robots and spiders can follow the links and your visitors who don’t have flash can find your content.

I wish the big 3 would just come up with a way to easily index all of the content in flash sites, until they do – the little guys have to play it straightforward.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Whopper Freak Out

Unfortunately, I was too busy today working on our SEO and out making connections to blog about small business tips.

So...with that being said, how about I show you another example of branding? See what would happen if the whopper disappeared:

The Whopper Freak Out

The brilliant commercial comes from Crispon Porter Bogusky.

Tomorrow I'll post some great business tips for small businesses I promise!

Until then, you can always start to Twitter... (Come on... follow me...)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Branding...It's Not Just for Cows!

Your company logo isn’t the only thing that makes up your brand. The service that you have provided to your clients, and your reputation are part of your brand as well.

If you think of your current customer base, how many of your clients or customers were referred to you by your past clients? If you answered “None”, you’re not cutting the mustard!

One of our clients — Rick Cook, Treasure Islands of Santa Cruz, has done a terrific job of building his brand name. He makes sure to include his company brand in everything he does. He’s consistently involved in local charity events, as well as donating his time to give back to his community. He passes out custom made T-shirts, hats, pens, and even branded butter mints (mmmmm). People who don’t even have a backyard in which to place one of his products know about his company. You can almost guarantee that when they do purchase their new home, they’ll be headed over to pick up a firetable or Big Green Egg to place in their new backyard.

I was on the phone with a friend earlier this morning, and he was praising our company for being ahead of the times in our town by being in the branding business. We were discussing that there are still many people who aren’t quite sure what branding is. Eric summed it up perfectly by using the example that he gives to people when they inquire about it:

He asks them, “When I say jeans, what comes to mind?” their response? “Levis or Wrangler”. Branding in a nutshell!

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, be consistent with your branding. Everything you put out should have your brand on it! This includes the employees working for you. (No, I’m not suggesting that you literally “brand” them with a hot iron.) Are they consistently giving the best service to your clients and staying on course to grow your brand?

Two free branding steps you can take today:

1. Create an email signature with your company logo and website url
2. Add your website url to your on hold music or voice mail message

Do it today – build your brand!

Oh yeah, and check out this video about the technology bubble – it’s pretty entertaining:

Here Comes Another Bubble - The Richter Scales


Friday, December 7, 2007

Make Sure to Take Time Off

As a small business owner, especially if you work from home, you may find that one of your greatest challenges is keeping your work from taking over your entire life. It’s tempting to answer “just one more email” before bed. You can find yourself still at the computer hours later, bleary-eyed and exhausted. You may feel that you need to work as many hours as possible, but doing so may actually be counterproductive.

If all you do is work, you may neglect your health — not sleeping enough, eating poorly, and getting too little physical activity. This will make you cranky and less than enthusiastic about work.

A better strategy is to allot a specific amount of time each day for an activity completely unrelated to work. Take an hour to go to the gym, or a brisk walk on the beach. Make sure to take time for regular meals. Stand up and stretch every 30 minutes or so. Spend time with friends and family. Most importantly, try to sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night (ok, maybe 5 or 6 is more realistic sometimes). By making sure that you are well rested and healthy, you will feel better mentally and physically and ready to face the challenges of being an entrepreneur.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What is Hosting?

If you have a website online, you have a hosting account. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, hosting is similar to paying “rent” on the Internet. In order to be visible, you’ll need to be on a server.

I decided to write about hosting today when out walking this morning with a friend. We were discussing how many companies are still paying a hefty monthly price for hosting when it really isn’t necessary.

Some companies went out and got their website in the early stages of the Internet. They were cutting edge by being up on the latest trend and getting involved early. However, since that time, they haven’t updated their site, optimized it for the search engines or even looked at the numbers in quite a while.

If you fall into this category, you may be surprised to know that you don’t have to pay $100.00 a month for your website hosting. You can get hosting for less than $10.00 a month for your small website.

In addition to hosting, if you are wondering whether or not your site is optimized for the search engines, try doing a Google search using your keywords for the products/services you are selling. Do you come up within the search engine results? If not, then you aren’t optimized for search.

Another exercise you can try is to Google your company website (domain) name. Are you the first result? You should be – this is your business! Most likely if you aren’t coming up, your site was built using the old methods and you really could have so much more visibility on the web and more success as a business owner if you were to opt for a site re-design.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to continually update your site with fresh content. If you are stuck with your old hosting company/website design firm and they haven’t contacted you to help your business grow – you are throwing your money away every month.

Steps you should take:

  • Do some research and see how much companies are charging for domain name renewal (often times you are being over-charged), you can usually pick one up for around $12.00. The longer period you purchase the name for, it will be cheaper and it has a benefit for your SEO! Some algorithms rank your site higher if you have a longer registration of your domain name.
  • Find out what hosting packages are going for these days. You can move your existing site to a new host for a nominal fee and start saving money right away!
  • Learn as much as you can about SEO and then find a new website design firm that can help you with all of the elements you need. You don’t want to get stuck in the same situation you are in now. Plunk down a few extra bucks to invest in a CMS so you’ll be able to update your site yourself and keep your content fresh.

Remember, you don’t have to pay a small fortune for hosting and the company that you are doing business with should pay attention to your needs and not just leave you out there floating in cyberspace without guidance.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Another Great Resource -

MerchantCircle has over 300,000 business members and is a great tool for promoting your business.

We created a holiday coupon last week and the CTR has been great:

We love for many reasons, just a few of them are:

1. Networking!
2. SEO
3. If you don't have a blog, you can start one free with your account
4. You can create, publish and distribute newsletters
5. Create coupons and ads that are shown on your network connections websites

Create your business profile today and start making connections!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Portfolio Video

We added a new Portfolio Video to YouTube.

Why? Because it's important to use all the methods you can, including video to promote your business. The great thing about YouTube is that you can place tags on your video that will increase your visibility in a natural search result.

Anything you can do to promote your business for free is always a bonus!

Check out our new video...


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

TV and Radio Advertising for Your Small Business

Broadcast advertising has traditionally been a highly effective way of reaching large numbers of people at once. Even with the advent of the Internet, television and radio advertising is still a great tool to use in your marketing efforts.

For the small business owner, broadcast advertising can be costly in terms of total dollars spent, but the cost to reach each prospective customer is often lower than other methods of advertising. It can also be somewhat intimidating to decipher jargon such as CPP, CPM, ratings points, and dayparts. For the purpose of simplicity, I always ask all media reps to provide a CPM, or cost per thousand (more on this later), so I can easily compare advertising costs across all advertising media.

I’ll outline the pros and cons of buying broadcast media, as well as explain some of the terminology commonly used by media salespeople.

The ability to reach large numbers of people at a time, while targeting who you want to reach by advertising in specific programs. For example, advertising beer during the Super Bowl. Also, having your own television or radio ad often creates a perception of credibility.

Can be expensive, especially when adding in the cost of producing your commercial. In the case of TV, it is difficult to make immediate changes to your ad.


CPM — Cost Per Thousand
Refers to how much it costs to reach a thousand people in a given area or “market”. Cost per thousand is not affected by the size of the market.

CPP — Cost Per Point
The cost to reach one rating ”point”, which represents a percentage of TV viewers or radio listeners in a market. The value of a rating point is affected by the size of the market, e.g., 1% of the viewing audience in Los Angeles is greater than that of Providence, Rhode Island.

Reach — The number of unduplicated households or people exposed to an ad.

Frequency — The number of times a household or person is exposed to an ad.

Daypart — A programming time period, such as television primetime (8-10pm).

Obviously, I’ve just touched on the basics of buying television and/or radio advertising. I plan to address specific advertising topics for the small business owner in future posts.

Michelle Mizuno is the Vice President of Marketing for Complete Business Systems. Her experience includes media planning and buying, account management, advertising sales, and copywriting for advertising, marketing, and PR.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Good Stuff

Even though we are hard at work today, many are trying to beat the traffic and get to their Thanksgiving destination.

Unbuckle your belt and make room for grandma's pumpkin pie!

I'm keeping the post light today and including some great tools that you can use for your website for optimization as well as improving user experience.

Check your page visibility and importance at
Add a free web poll to your site at
Add your website url to Google
A great stock photography resource at
See how your website is looking at or

Thank you to those of you who weighed in on our anonymous poll regarding Web 2.0, it'll be up for a few more weeks - go ahead and tell us what you think.

Happy Thanksgiving and we'll be back on Monday with more great business tips to help you grow your business.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Help with Analytics

Most businesses consider their website an integral part of their marketing campaign. However, simply putting up a website and hoping for the best just isn’t enough. It’s essential to track your site’s traffic. This will let you know which marketing campaigns are working. For example, is your new website copy helping you make sales, or causing people to leave your site right away? Without tracking your visitors, you’ll never know.

Once you have your website analytics installed, and can see all those visitors coming to your site, you need to interpret the visitor activity information. What does it all mean?

Let’s break it down:

Hits: Many people confuse hits with visits. They are not the same. Hits are the number of times that an http request is made to your server. For instance, if a single visitor visits several pages on your site and pulls up images and other files on each page, the visit can count as several hundred hits.

Unique Visits: Tracking a visitor’s IP address, browser and operating system will measure the number of actual unique visits generated on your website. A visitor can browse several pages on your site, but their activity will only be counted as one unique visit. This number is the one you want to pay attention to, as it will give you the most accurate representation of how much traffic your website is generating.

Bounce Rates: Pay attention to your pages’ bounce rates. This number measures the number of visitors who come to your site and immediately exit. A high bounce rate can indicate that your page isn’t capturing your visitors’ attention. The page is either in need of updating, or is attracting visitors who are actually looking for something else. You can experiment using A/B testing to see which designs, content, and graphics work to lower your bounce rate.

Top Entry Pages: Where are visitors entering your site? Often, you’ll see direct hits to your site without a referrer. You can use the top entry page statistics determine how your visitors are arriving at your site. They may be coming from an online article or blog you’ve written. Make sure that your visitors will be able to easily navigate your website, no matter which page of your site they arrive on initially.

Top Exit Pages: This statistic shows the pages from which the majority of your visitors are leaving your site. Factors such as page content, graphics, navigation, and even color can affect a visitor’s decision to exit a website. Altering your website’s pages can work to keep a visitor’s interest in the site. Again, using A/B testing will show which design works best to retain your visitors.

Traffic Sources: This is by far my favorite in the analytics toolbox. I love checking our analytics every day to see which one of our ads, articles, or campaigns is driving the most traffic to our site. Use this resource to find out which of your marketing efforts are most effective.

Keywords: Another fabulous tool that will let you know what search terms or phrases your visitors are typing in to arrive at your site. Use this information to create articles and page content to drive visitors to your website.

Map Overlay: This tool will reveal where your visitors are located geographically. You will be able to see if the majority of your traffic is coming from the United States, or other countries. It will even narrow down tracking to certain cities or territories. This is extremely useful for honing your marketing message, as well as for scheduling staffing and determining your business hours.

Browser/Capabilities: It is essential to know how your visitors access your site. Do you have a slick flash website with Javascript? If so, visitors who are using dial up, or don’t have Java installed won’t be able to see your site. Viewing browser information will tell you which browser the majority of your site users are using. You can then make sure that your site is optimized for that browser. It’s also important to note here that you should always test your site to make sure it has the look and functionality that you require, in all browsers.

If you’re using Google Analytics, you have the added bonus of the site overlay, which is a fun tool that shows you how visitors found your content, and moved through your site, as well as funnel visualization and conversion goals.

All in all, it’s crucial to have analytics for your site, so you can maximize your marketing efforts by determining whether you’re reaching your target audience and converting visits to sales.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Not really a "Small Business Tip"...

But then again...

If you live in Arizona and you are in need of a corporate identity package, this could be a great business tip!

A small shameless self promoting blog post:

On November 7th, we opened our Arizona office. We had several existing customers in the region and we noticed that a growing number of customer inquiries were coming from the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Our main headquarters will remain in Capitola, CA.

You can read the full press release if you're interested.

Tomorrow I'll give you some help with Website Analytics while you start defrosting your turkeys.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is Web 2.0?

The buzzword “Web 2.0” has been floating around for a couple of years now. Some define the term as a general description of the second generation of the web – moving away from “brochure type” websites through the use of interactive technologies. Other people use “Web 2.0” to mean a certain “look” for website elements, including 3D tabs and buttons, more cutting edge graphics, and a less boxy or grid-based website layout.

The attempt to clarify the exact meaning of this now ubiquitous term has caused quite a bit of disagreement between groups.

Whether you are gung-ho for Web 2.0, not too enthusiastic about embracing the concept, or have no idea of what it is — read on, so you can weigh in the next time it’s brought up at a business luncheon.

The term stems from O’Reilly Media in 2004. It suggests a new version of the WWW, yet doesn’t refer to any update of technical specifications – only to the ways the developers and users will use the web.

Technologies included:

  • Blogs
  • Mashups
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Wikis
  • Podcasts
  • RSS Feeds
  • APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
  • Online Web Services

Many more technologies are included.

Characteristics often include browser-based programs, which allow :

  1. Interactivity
  2. Participation
  3. Syndication

Many people today are requesting website design that is Web 2.0 compliant. Often what they are referring to is a “look”. Examples are gradient boxes, shiny floor effect, and bright shiny plump logo design, rather than any specific functionality.

In a nutshell, the term “Web 2.0” means different things to different people. Like abstract art, it’s what you want it to be. Since there aren’t any set standards, you are free to interpret what it means to you and whether to apply the principle to your website design.

If you want to have some fun with Web 2.0, check out the fun sites listed below:

Web 2.0 Logo Generator
Web 2.0 Company Name Generator


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

I know I promised to liven up this blog, but today's post is a really important part of your website success and I want you to benefit from it! I can always sing and dance for you later...

I wrote a new article titled "Learning Search Engine Marketing (SEM)" and placed it in our articles section. Below is the first portion of the article for you to view and decide if you want to venture on to read the rest:

Wikipedia defines Search Engine Marketing as a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

I could go into the technicalities of SEM, algorithms, robots, etc. However, if you’re reading this article, you probably aren’t interested in me stuffing a bunch of technical terms down your throat. You would rather learn about search engine marketing and how it can bring you more business.

I chose this topic today based on a couple of conversations I recently had with new clients.

One of our clients had embarked on a small ad campaign with Yahoo before coming to us. He mentioned that when he was spending the money on Yahoo, the traffic to his site was much higher. When I asked how many sales he garnered from the advertising, he replied that he didn’t know. Website traffic and conversions to sales are two completely different things, with the latter obviously being more important. It’s crucial to keep track of your ROI (Return on Investment), if you are going to invest in online advertising. Make sure that you have the tools within your company—whether it’s your own database for tracking sales, or another form of tracking system—before you spend your first marketing dollar.

Another conversation I had with a client involved a Google Adwords campaign. He was bidding using every keyword under the sun. He had a huge CTR (Click Through Rate), but again, nobody was buying. At the end of the day, his budget was gone and he didn’t have anything to show for it besides lots of traffic and an empty bank account. Until I explained to him that he was paying for people to come to his site and quickly leave, he didn’t “get it”. Having the right keywords in your campaign and your ad copy, that are relevant to your product or service, will get you qualified click through to your site. You don’t want people to click on your ad, only to find that your site doesn’t offer the information they were looking for, and leave immediately. That will cost you wasted dollars each and every time they do that.

More Learning Search Engine Marketing...


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Busy Times

Several good things are going on with Complete Business Systems...

* We added Snapshots to our website this week. We read about Snapshots and how Google is using them on its unbranded site called SearchMash (where it plans to test user interface ideas without Google's brand somehow skewing the tests), and decided to give it a whirl. Our visitor feedback has been excellent and of course we love anything new to play with.

* We are finalizing plans to open our Arizona office location.

* We received some excellent traffic from a recent article post and syndication. (How about them apples?) We even got a link off of the site and as you can imagine we were thrilled.

I realized today that our blog (although informative) really isn't very entertaining at all. I've decided to take it down a notch. I know that people want advice, but they also want to be entertained while learning - I know I do.

Starting next week I'll try to turn off my analytical mind and entertain you while giving you solid tips you can use. Those of you that prefer "just the facts ma'am" can bypass the clowns in the blog and go straight to our articles section.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Joanne Pele
Vice President of Operations

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Link Popularity

What is link popularity and how can you build link popularity to help your business?

Link popularity plays an important role in the visibility of a web site among the top of the search results.

Wikipedia defines link popularity as a measure of the quantity and quality of other web sites that link to a specific site on the World Wide Web.

There are all kinds of website design and search engine optimization terms out there that can be confusing especially when you are just getting started with your small business website.

Lets break down some of the definitions for easier understanding:

Link Popularity
Link popularity is the measure of the number of hypertext links coming into a website from other websites on the Internet. Although you obviously want to have several links incoming and outgoing, but it’s important to pay attention to the quality of your website inbound and outbound links. For instance, if you have several incoming and outgoing links to sites that aren’t relevant to your website, your links aren’t quality links. When browsing the web and you stumble upon a site with great information and you click on their resources, would you rather be directed to more information about the subject you originally searched for and related items, or links to widgets?

Anchor Text
The anchor text is the text that you click in a hyperlink. Many times you’ll see “click here” to view our pricing. Using click here rather than a keyword such as “widget pricing” takes away from your natural search engine optimization. The search engine algorithms use anchor text and can get you better ranking if you are using it correctly.

Reciprocal Links
Reciprocal links are two-way links from one website to another. Basically, you place a link on your website to the other company website and they in turn place a link on their website to your website. Often times you are allowed to include your anchor text in the link you are placing on the external site, other times – you can include your company name, website and a brief description. Again this practice is another important part of search engine optimization.

Non-reciprocal links
Non-reciprocal links are sometimes referred to as one-way links. It is just as it sounds, a link to your site, or a link from your site that isn’t returned. Meaning, I often link to Wikipedia for definitions to help explain items in my website articles. Wikipedia doesn’t link back to me for my articles.

Link Exchange
A link exchange involves reciprocal links and usually occurs when you or your Webmaster receive an email from a company that would like to exchange links with you or you can initiate a link exchange with a website that you think has valuable information and would benefit your site users. Always fully check out the sites that are requesting link exchanges with you to make sure that they aren’t part of linking farm or using practices that Google and the other search engines frown upon. You don’t want to accidentally get your site banned from the search engines!

Paid Links
Paid linking involves buying and selling links to improve a site’s ranking. Google and other search engines use linking in their algorithms to determine a sites “importance” which effects the site ranking. Google frowns upon the process in particular as well as other search engines and there has been quite a bit of controversy over Google suggesting that webmasters report paid links to them. There are instances where it is okay to purchase a link for advertising and you can check out the guidelines in Google’s Webmaster Help Center.

Now that you’re familiar with the terminology, it’s time to get out there and start building your link popularity! Remember quality and quantity and watch your website move up in natural search engine results.

Joanne Pele is the Vice President of Operations at Complete Business Systems. Complete Business Systems provides a ready-to-go branding package for your company, including website, logo, business cards and letterhead. Additional services include postcard design, databases, press release and web content writing. For more information, visit, or call 800-479-9186


Monday, October 22, 2007

Business Branding

Whether you are just starting a new company, or have been around for a while and need some marketing tips, branding your business should be on the top of your list.

Marketing your business by building a brand name isn’t just for large companies. Branding your business is essential for growing your company, no matter what size it is. Repetition, consistency, and visibility are the key to success in achieving brand power.

What is branding?

Wikipedia defines brand as including a name, logo, slogan and /or design scheme associated with a product or service.

If you are in business today, it’s imperative that you brand your business first-rate including logo, website, business cards, letterhead, print ads, television, radio and signage.

Let’s break down the key elements for branding your business:


An effective logo should reflect your business. If you examine successful brands that have achieved instant recognition, you’ll notice they all have one thing in common – simplicity. It’s important that your logo design can be used in many different forms, not just on your website design, letterhead and business cards. Think of how you may want to advertise in the future – will you want to place print ads? Will your logo reproduce well in black and white, and in varied sizes? What about apparel? Will your logo hold up when printed on the t-shirts you’ll be passing out at the next trade show?


Your website is your online business card. Your logo should be presented on each of your website pages. Your website design should have intuitive navigation, clear navigation and valuable content. Once your website is up and ready to go, you should promote your site online via press releases and business networking sites. Don’t forget to register your site with Google and most importantly, your contact information should be visible on every page – especially your phone number.

Business Cards

Business cards should have a clean, uncluttered design. Make sure they display your logo and present a professional image of your company. Include all forms of contact, and don’t forget your web address! Some people choose to purchase double-sided business cards, and print just their web address on the back, so it stands out.
Business cards are often your first point of contact with a potential client, and we all know first impressions make all the difference.


Your letterhead should also include your logo and contact information. Use your company letterhead for all correspondence with potential and current clients.

All of your branding elements should coordinate with one another and present a consistent reflection of your company.

You now have all the tools you need to project a professional image and start getting your company name out there. Don’t try to cut corners and save money on these paramount items. Remember, you’re building a company brand!

Joanne Pele is the Vice President of Operations at Complete Business Systems. Complete Business Systems provides a ready-to-go branding package for your company, including website, logo, business cards and letterhead. Additional services include postcard design, databases, press release and web content writing. For more information, visit Complete Business Systems, or call 800-479-9186

Friday, October 19, 2007

Promoting Your Small Business Affordably

Making the most of a small business budget can bring big results.
While most business owners realize that having a good marketing plan is a must, often they don’t know where to begin.

Affordable Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
The key to managing your marketing budget wisely is making every dollar count. Often, there are great ways to promote your company affordably.

The continued evolution of the Internet provides several ways for companies of all sizes to market themselves for little or no money. Most people realize that to be competitive in today’s business environment, having a website is an absolute necessity. Your goal should be to direct people to your website, not to tell your whole story in an online listing. List your website in relevant online business directories, join business networking sites, and submit press releases to the many free online wire services available. Include your website address on all your printed materials, such as business cards, letterhead, brochures, and in print ads. Remember that consistency is key. Your website, logo, and marketing materials should always use the same fonts and colors.

Take advantage of local low-cost marketing resources, such as joining the chamber of commerce, volunteering for charity benefits, and attending business fairs. Always have a ready supply of business cards with you, as opportunities to talk about your company often come up unexpectedly.

Complete Business Systems strives to make small business branding simple and affordable with its all-inclusive package. The package includes a professionally designed 10-page website with Flash introduction, website hosting and domain name, custom logo design, and letterhead/business card design and printing. Additional services include custom databases, press releases, and brochure and flyer design and printing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What are Keywords? Why Do I Need Them?

Keywords are words that may be used by viewers searching for information, search terms or phrases that are related to an advertisement or ad copy.

In search engine marketing the keyword or search phrase is crucial. Keywords can be a single term or keyword phases can be used which contain multiple words.

To appear on those first few pages of a search engine a website must contain a density of keywords or phrases related to the search terms used. It is an imperative part of search engine optimization for any website.

When you go to a search engine such as Google and search for something, you are using a keyword or keyword phrase. For example, if you do a search for "website design" you are using keywords for your search. The results that come up will be as follows:

The top two results are paid advertisements (a company paid for you to see their ad when you searched using those words).

The results listed over on the right are also paid advertisements

The results listed on the page underneath the top two are your natural search results. The words that you chose for your search are listed within the content of the websites and Google is showing you the most relevant results. (This is a simplified explanation, more information can be found in SEO articles.)

If you have ever tried to figure out keywords or keyword phrases, you know it can be a daunting task.

Some websites make the mistake of just listing anything and everything under the sun for their keywords. Major search engines take into account many factors. If you are listing a keyword that has no relevancy to your website and there is no copy on your website to back it up it will not be taken into consideration. Another mistake often seen is the over-use of keywords on a page. Again, if you are using a word over and over on your site, (when it isn't needed) in order to get higher rankings - you are barking up the wrong tree. It won't help you get any closer to the coveted "Top".

Keyword density is key. We'll write another blog on that subject soon.

Back to keywords and how to find them...

There are many tools out there, and even services you can enlist to help you choose your keywords. I suggest going with the freebies.

Here are three that I like to use:

1. Google Adwords - Keyword Tool
This is an excellent source for figuring out what your keywords should be. Simply type in a keyword or phrase that is relevant to your website (make sure you check synonyms) and get your information. Another excellent tool is the next tab over "Site-Related Keywords". You can simply enter your site url and see what keywords you should be using based on the content that's already on your site.

2. Overture Keyword Selector Tool
This is Yahoo's PPC campaign (Overture) tool. You can enter a keyword and search and you will be shown the keyword phrases and how many times they were searched for on Yahoo for the previous month. This is a fabulous way to see if you are on the right track. If people aren't searching for what you are advertising, you may want to take another approach.

3. Google Suggest
This is a fun tool that guesses what you're typing and offers suggestions in real time. It also shows you the number of times the phrases were searched for. It can be useful to give you ideas of what other searches were performed using one of your keywords and inspire you to find new phrases.

Remember, it's not just about what your keywords are, but how you use them on your site and in your advertising.

Joanne Pele is the Vice President of Operations at Complete Business Systems. Complete Business Systems provides a ready-to-go branding package for your company, including website, logo, business cards and letterhead. Additional services include postcard design, databases, press release and web content writing. For more information, visit Complete Business Systems or call 800-479-9186.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Choosing a Domain Name

What is a domain name? Your domain name, or URL, is your “address” on the Internet, with your website being your “home”. Take your time in selecting a domain name, as it will be a reflection of your company and its offerings, as well as instrumental in directing people to your website.

You may want to select your company name as your domain name, especially if your company name has good brand recognition. If this is the case, it’s often a good idea to buy different variations of your company name. For instance, three different domain names consisting of your company name, and ending in “.com”,”.net”, and “.org”

Another tactic is to choose a domain name related to your company’s product or service, especially if you’ve used your product or service as a keyword in your advertising campaign. This is also a good way to capture the attention of people searching the Internet using your product or service as a search term, e.g. “ driveway repaving”.

How do you know if the domain name you want is available? Go to a site that offers domain name look-up services, such as Simply type in your desired domain name to see if it’s available for purchase.

Whatever you decide on for your domain name, it’s important to cross-promote it in all your marketing and advertising efforts. Make sure to include it on your business cards, letterhead, email signature (with a hyperlink to your website), as well as in any print or broadcast ads.

Michelle Mizuno is the Vice President of Marketing at Complete Business Systems. Complete Business Systems provides a ready-to-go branding package for your company, including website, logo, business cards and letterhead. Additional services include postcard design, databases, press release and web content writing. For more information, visit, or call 800-479-9186 x 83

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Business Website Help

Congratulations! You've started your new business and now you're ready to have your new website built. It's an important step in your business success. Naturally, as this may be new territory for you - you have some questions. We're here to help you!

Whether you've decided you'd like an online business card or catalogue, or you'd like to open an online store (Ecommerce website) - it'll help if you understand the basics of the Internet and websites and how it all works.

Once you understand the basics, it's not complicated at all. For simplicity, I like to use the analogy of your home to describe how websites work:

  • Website: A website is your "home" on the Internet.
  • URL: A URL is your "address" on the Internet, and it includes your Domain Name.
  • Hosting: Hosting is your "rent" for being on the Internet.
Where to start?

First you'll need a domain name. We have touched upon domain names in previous articles, you can read about Domain Names here.

Next up, you'll need to find hosting. Many web design firms are now offering hosting in addition to website design and you may be able to find a designer that can help you with all four of your requirements:
  1. Domain Name
  2. Hosting
  3. Website Design
  4. Website Maintenance
Finally, you'll need to work on your website layout in order to communicate with your web designer what you'll require for your website. We've listed the basics for you:

Decide what type of website you'd like to have:
  • Brochure: A website that showcases your products or services with images and descriptions.
  • Educational: A website for people to read information about your company or services.
  • Ecommerce: A website where you can sell your products or services directly online.
Once you've decided what type of website you'd like, you will need to figure out what features you'd like your website to have:
  • Will you have members sign up for use of your site?
  • Will your members require a special area to sign in before viewing their members area?
  • Will you require video or audio uploads?
  • Will you require a CMS (Content Management System) to enable you to make changes or updates to your websites?
  • Will you require a custom contact form for your site? (i.e. online application)
  • Will you require a photo gallery?
  • If you require an online store, how many products will you be selling?
Now that you've planned what type of site you'd like to have and what features your site will require, choosing a specific look and design options for your site is the next step:
  • Do you have a company logo? Would you like your site to match your logo colors/style?
  • If you don't have a company logo, what color scheme would you like to have in your website?
  • What style (if any) would you like your website? (i.e. classic, professional, high tech, whimsical, Web 2.0)
  • Would you like a flash intro or some other flash element on your website?
Next you'll need to plan the structure of your website and how you would like your website to be viewed. Most websites contain main Menu items and individual Pages under those menus.
  • How many Menu items would you like to have? (i.e. "Home", "Company", "Products"...)
  • How many pages under the individual Menus would you like to have? (i.e. "About Us", "Mission Statement"...)
  • Do you have images you'd like placed on the pages?
Now that you have your basic information you can communicate clearly with a web designer in order to begin creating your business website.

Other important aspects of your website that should not be overlooked are your website keywords, meta tags, page descriptions and analytics. Make sure that you choose a designer that will help you to market your site using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that you don't have to spend a bundle on an Adwords or PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign.

We created a form on our site if you'd like to download it that includes the basic information covered in this article. For our potential customers, we also have the form located online for you to fill out. We also have additional information for small business planning in our Articles section of our website.

Best of luck to you in your new business and in building your business website!

Joanne Pele is the Vice President of Operations at Complete Business Systems. Complete Business Systems provides a ready-to-go branding package for your company, including website, logo, business cards and letterhead. Additional services include postcard design, databases, press release and web content writing. For more information, visit Complete Business Systems, or call 800-479-9186