Klout. When I first saw that term, I thought someone must have been careless with editing.

Klout. Klout. Klout score. I ended up seeing and hearing the term everywhere—always with a K, never a C, that I thought something must be up. And what a something it is.

In today’s world, Klout has become such an obsession in many professionals, including human resource personnel, communications specialists, netizens, and even marketing managers. I found out that Klout is the “Standard for Influence,” as the tagline next to the K n a field of bright orange proclaims.

Klout is an application that analyzes the online influence of any individual, quantified as the Klout score. Quite simply, this is the clout of any one entity in social networks. In its website, Klout explains that it uses a set of indicators to measure how much influence a user has over his or her online network. The Klout score, which can range from 1 to 100, is the amalgamation of many indicators, including an individual’s number of contacts and the popularity of his content. The higher the Klout score, the wider and stronger a user’s influence has.

What really caught my eye is that Klout also measures how effective an individual is in making things happen and inspiring real action through a simple online activity. Intrigued, I tried signing up my personal social media accounts and found out that I have an initial Klout score of 40—respectable, but I have still a long way to go, if I want to be at a level where all it takes to increase my sales 100% is to send out a tweet.

I’m now with a Klout score of 53 and I’m working on improving that still. In the midst of this, I realized that this new piece of information is an awesome tool that I can use for my business as well.

Here are my top five ways of leveraging Klout score for my business:

1. I can use my Klout score to estimate how much sway I hold over my target customers.

2. My efforts to improve my Klout score is exactly the same thing I will do to widen my market, so that’s hitting two birds with one virtual stone. A better Klout score for me also usually means even better performance for my company.

3. My staff and especially my marketing team are now aware of their respective Klout scores and are also working on improving theirs and multiplying our online influence to benefit our company.

4. I now know who to prioritize when looking for my product endorsers and service ambassadors. The higher their Klout score is, the better it is for my business.

5. Klout scores are not confined to individual people. My business as an entity can have its own, too. That’s true for all my products and services as well. Add all that up together, then factor in my whole team’s Klout scores, and we just add up our online influence, and therefore, our effectiveness in marketing online.

Of course, I realize that there is much to be learned about Klout and Klout scores, but what I know so far is pretty awesome for both me and my business.

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Many people say the effects of the Internet in the 21st century are comparable to those of the technological revolution at the end of the 19th century. Indeed, the Internet has been such a huge influence in transforming the habits of human beings, and the way we communicate to others.

blankI have found that the same is true for businesses. Internet has become the single most efficient communications tool for my business, so I have chosen Internet marketing as the main avenue for reaching my target customers. Over the years, however, I became cognizant of the risks that I put my business in by running Internet marketing campaigns.

In this piece, I wish to share with you, risks of conducting Internet marketing for small businesses as well as the riches that can be found by using this method. I hope that this will help you weigh the pros and cons for your own business.

Risks of Internet marketing

1. It opens your business up for public ridicule. One small misstep can get your business the wrong kind of attention. And even if you don’t make any mistake, there is always a greater risk that your marketing campaign will rub some trolls or way-too-sensitive folks the wrong way. When that happens, the Internet can be vicious and you need to be ready for damage control.

2. Internet marketing campaigns can be easily diluted. There are so many options for online marketing campaigns that it’s not too difficult to go overboard and use all methods at the same time. While this may work for huge, international brands, there’s a danger of losing focus and getting your team exhausted from this kind of Internet marketing, with no huge benefits to show for it.

3. There’s a danger that your target audience will ignore you. There’s so much information bombarding people through the Internet. If you don’t plan your Internet marketing campaign well, there’s a chance that your intended audience won’t notice your efforts and materials at all.

Riches to be found in Internet marketing

1. It has tools to build relationships with your customer. With the Internet becoming more and more social, it’s easy to reach out and become connected to individual customers. It’s also easier to glean more specialized information about them so you can give them better services and better products—surely, that’ll make them love you!

2. Internet marketing tools help identify and reach target audience. There is a lot less rules in the Internet so you can tailor-fit your Internet marketing activities to each of your individual customer’s needs. There’s also a wide variety of ways that you can reach them, such as emails, paid ads, blogs, and social networking sites.

3. It is cheaper and more flexible. Online marketing usually minimizes, if not completely eliminates, the need for too many middlemen and logistical and physical considerations in traditional marketing. That gives you more room to get creative with your campaign and a lot more leeway for your budget.

In deciding whether it is best to utilize the Internet for your business’ marketing needs, I believe that it is always better to understand the good and the bad. This way, you will know whether you can afford to take the bad with the good.

As for myself, I have found that Internet marketing is a wonderful world. It has been kind to me and my business. It has been a constant friend since I decided to make it my business partner.

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Social networking is one of the most cost-efficient marketing and public relations tool in the Internet today. I strongly recommend getting your business into these social networking networks so it can be a part of a network not just of possible customers but also potential suppliers, partners, or financiers.

Engaging in social media, however, can waste a lot of time and energy, and can be more of a distraction than a beneficial endeavor. Here I have some tips on how to manage social media for your business.

Marketing plan

blankWhile online marketing is often seen as an alternative to traditional marketing, it is important to remember that at its core is still the traditional principles of marketing, just done with different tools. Keeping that in mind, no social media marketing campaign can be successful without a proper plan. Knowing your basic goals and your target market, as well as preparing schedules and prior market research will also help you create aligned social marketing campaigns. If your company is simultaneously running offline marketing, then it is best to understand what the place of your social media marketing is in the whole campaign.

Aligned campaigns

It is one of the basic ideas in public relations: messages from a brand or company must be unified. This principle holds true for social media marketing as well. The marketing campaign should be consistent across all the company’s social media accounts as well as other kinds of marketing, all reinforcing the same message to the consumers in whatever social media account they are using. Aside from the message, the tone and style must also be uniform to create a seamless feel for the audience.

Links

Maintaining accounts in various social media sites can be very time-consuming if each is updated separately. Fortunately, you don’t need to do this. Instead, link all social media accounts to each other so that updating one means updating all accounts. Take advantage of the tools that are already embedded in each of these social media accounts to make the job easier.

Contacts

Doing social media marketing does not only mean getting as many fans or followers as possible, but also establishing contacts with influential people and thought leaders in the field of the company’s work. In my experience, the best ways to make these contacts is to post contents that are of mutual interest to the company and to the intended thought leaders, creating conversations with them. Ultimately, making these new contacts will allow you to leverage their online influence for your online marketing efforts.

Scheduled posts

Social media networking can be a very time-consuming activity because there are so many distractions. To avoid this when managing your business’ social media account, it is best to schedule you social media time. Twice a day to post contents and engage in conversation with your network is already sufficient.

Some social sites also offer a tool which can allow you to upload content and schedule its publication for a latter time. This is useful when there are contents that must be posted during non-working days or for when you will be away from the Internet for long.

When uploading content, I also recommend having a regular schedule so that your followers can expect your posts. In my experience, the best time for posting content is during the morning, during lunchtime, and late in the afternoon, during which most people go online and check their social media accounts.

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Online marketing takes many shapes and forms but e-newsletters are one of its most effective tools. Creating one, though, can be challenging especially for inexperienced managers because making a newsletter is both an art and an inexact science.

If you are in need of a little guidance in this endeavor, I have prepared a step-by-step guide for your business on how to create e-newsletters, as follows:

Build an audience for your e-newsletter

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One of the best ways of doing this is by inviting customers to register to receive regular updates from your company. You need to ask for basic information, especially the name and email addresses, of customers. Another method for creating your audience base is to buy the names and contact information from a company that specializes in compiling a list of customers. Whichever method you decide to use, you should enter the information in a database that can be accessed by your company’s official email account. This will be used every time your company sends out an email blast. Just remember, a business with an e-newsletter but without a mailing list means nothing.

Design the e-newsletter

People are visual creatures, and so the official appearance of the e-newsletter is of utmost importance in ensuring that it stands out in the cluttered environment of the Internet. Thus, your company should ensure that the e-newsletter is bright, uncluttered, and professional. The layout should be ergonomic. The design should also create an instantly recognizable brand for your e-newsletter by using a consistent layout, set of fonts, and colors.

Plan the e-newsletter contents

When designing the e-newsletter, you also must plan the kinds of content or articles that it will contain. Will it be a simple list with links? Will it mainly feature captioned photos? Will it look like a traditional product brochure? Will it have full-length articles? Also plan where you will get these contents, whether created by a dedicated writer or amalgamated from other online sources.

It is also important to be clear about the tone of the e-newsletter. While it always needs to be professional, its tone can vary depending on the kind of target markets? Will it sound like an authority? Will it sound like a friend? The tone must match the visual design of the e-newsletter.

Regularly send out email blasts to your mailing list

Make sending out company updates to your mailing list a regular ritual. The regularity will ensure that your engagement with your potential customers is constant and that your company will stay in their consciousness. If your e-newsletter contains a product listing, regular email blasts also keep costumers interested in buying.

Managing email blasts can be tedious work if done manually. A good tip is to group everyone in the mailing manually and send out the e-newsletters simultaneously. If you are running a bigger business that do not have the manpower or time to do this manually, you can utilize softwares downloaded from the Internet.

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One of the most enduring online marketing tools is the e-newsletter. When I first started using these e-newsletters for my own company, I was amazed at how many people I can reach by just sending out a simple email. My techniques back then were still very simple—I only upload and send a digital file of some of the company’s flyers or brochures to my list of a few hundred people. Even then, however, I knew that they were working and that my business is benefiting from e-newsletters.

Over time, as I started honing my online marketing skills and improving my methods with the e-newsletter, I have seen more and more examples of how a company benefits from them. Traffic to the company website increased, with the highest recorded hits for the items that were included in the e-newsletter. The company kept getting more and more inquiries about products and services, and we were only too happy to respond because quite a few of them resulted in sales and very satisfied customers.

Over the years, I have seen ways on how to harness the benefits of e-newsletter. I also observed that the best way to do this is to create an effective structure that will help your company get the most out of this marketing tool.

Marketing Plan

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Winging it simply has no place in online marketing, and especially not in the production and management of an e-newsletter, which demands frequent and regular updating. To be effective, an e-newsletter has to have been part of a careful, comprehensive marketing plan that guides its direction, goals, design, and contents.

An e-newsletter created outside of a marketing plan can succeed, sure, but it has little hope of being sustainable. With a marketing plan outlining its core messages, defining where it stands amidst all the available marketing tools of a company, and supporting it with the necessary infrastructure, there is a greater chance that the e-newsletter will yield benefits for a long time to come.

Customer Research

Banging on signal drums to the point of exhaustion will have no point if your intended audience is deaf. In the same way, e-newsletters—no matter how beautifully designed or elegantly written—will not be a successful marketing tool for your company if it fails to give your target customers what they need.

This is where customer research comes in. While creating your marketing plan and even before any e-newsletter issue is created, you must conduct a customer research. Who comprises your target market? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their hobbies? Is en e-newsletter really a good way to reach them? How do they spend their days and what time is it most likely for them to read emails?

Knowing and understanding these little details about your target audience will help you plan out an e-newsletter that they will notice and read, and that will encourage them to act as you want them to, that is to buy your products and services.

Website Structure

A website that will serve as either a landing page or a house for articles or an orders page is necessary to turn customer interest in e-newsletter contents to actual action that benefits the company. No e-newsletter will be truly successful if there is no company website to back it up. Why is this so?

Even with the best planning and research, there is no way to fit all the information that you want your target customer to read in e-newsletters without making it look cluttered. The company website solves that by serving as a landing pad, from which your potential customers can start exploring all the details summarized in the e-newsletter. This is also where they will be able to see the entirety of the company and its business. Most importantly, it is in the website through which orders and payments can be made.

Knowing all these, I hope that you will bear in mind that the e-newsletter cannot successfully exist without a strong, solid support such as a clear marketing plan, a through customer research, and a good website. I am sure that with all these in place, you will also be able to consistently harness the benefits of e-newsletters.

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In a blind taste test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi the results are almost always a 50/50 split; however, Coca-Cola has 43% of the market and Pepsi has 30%. Why? It would seem that Coca-Cola’s marketing is far superior. Many factors could be argued but I’m going to focus on one, the logo.

The Coca-Cola logo so iconic, that some people use it as a home decoration. While Pepsi has changed its logo over and over again,

blankCoca-Cola got their logo bang on back in the early 1900s and stuck with it. Compared to Pepsi the Coca-Cola logo looks better every time. It’s a competitive advantage that leads straight to the bank.

There are many factors that lead to the success of a business. I’m simply focusing on this one ingredient to the recipe. Although it may be difficult to quantify, the quality of your logo will affect your bottom line. It adds credibility by giving an impression of quality. If a company is dressed for success then there must be quality in their product.

A logo should be:

  • Simple
  • Timeless
  • Appropriate
  • Memorable
  • Versatile

Take your logo design seriously. Don’t cheap out on the design. There are companies that offer cheap logo design but all they do is connect your name to an icon that they pulled out of a collection. Chances are someone else will have the same logo with their name attached to it. Just because some people got lucky doesn’t mean you will.

Make sure that you have a vector copy of you logo in your possession. A lot of design companies will design a logo for you but retain the rights to it. You end up paying for your logo over and over again every time you get an ad or website designed. I’m surprised by how many companies aren’t in control of their brand.

Don’t let people mess with your brand. I’ve come across companies where the logo is one way on the website, another way on the building and another way on their print media. This dissolves the impact and memorability.

Your logo is a vital part of your success equation. You may be doing just fine without one but how much more successful would you be if you had a solid brand? How much money are you not making? Get your logo right the first time and stick with it!

Paul Nicholson

Senior Media Designer

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In today’s wired world, it is almost natural for businesses to market their products and services online. After all, a lot of people nowadays spend considerable time online not just to get information but also to purchase products and services they need and want.

Having said that however, one wonders: So does this mean I should ditch offline marketing in favor of an Internet-based one? While offline marketing certainly has its advantages and proved valuable in the past years, it seems that these days, Internet marketing has taken over as the preferred marketing method. Here are the reasons why.

blankYou can tap a larger audience and expand geographically easier than offline method

Companies that have effective online marketing strategies have an edge from those that focus on offline strategies: they have access to millions of target customers online. Whether the customer is based in New York or lives thousands of miles away, say in Tokyo, people just need to log on to the Internet and type your website address and voila—they already know about your business and what products and services you are selling. That’s one thing offline marketing cannot do.

With less money and less efforts to produce marketing results, Internet marketers can reach large numbers of people unlike offline marketing. Companies do not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to mount expensive campaigns online, especially if the Internet marketing in place is efficient and targeted correctly.

Information is immediately available online

Through Internet marketing, the information about your product or service is immediately available. You can post a photo, video, price, and specifications of the product or service for all the visitors to see—with some even providing product or service reviews from the others who already bought or used the product or service. Large files such as videos and diagrams can be quickly posted online, something that may be impossible or extremely expensive to do in an offline world.

Interact with customers easier and get in touch faster

Another advantage when you do online marketing is that you can make it easier for customers to interact with you. Customers can easily get in touch with you if they have questions or concerns, and can provide you immediate feedback. You can also show to your customers that you are also reachable immediately online—on email, social media networks, among others. This will show to your readers that you are a responsible business owner who sees to it that his or her customers are satisfied with the product or service they purchased, and not just your usual business that only wants profits and does not care with customer feedback.

Better tracking

There are many tracking tools that you can use online to increase your potential target market. With the help of these online tracking tools, Internet marketers can determine which search engines readers first saw their business ads, and focus their marketing on these search engines. Internet marketers can also see which of their website pages are visited most often, or which products or services have the most feedback.

These are just some of the reasons why Internet marketing has an edge over offline method these days, but as you can see here, there are serious arguments for Internet marketing, and why nothing should stop you from marketing online.

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We get this question from many of our clients and the overall answer is quite simple.

Search Engine Marketing is a form of Internet Advertising which promotes websites by increasing their visibility in search engines.

Now that we have covered the short answer things can get a little more confusing because many in the industry use this term in different ways.

Some companies often refer to Search Engine Marketing in the context of paid inclusion or what you might have heard of as PPC, CPC or Paid Search Marketing. Two of the most widely used platforms for paid inclusion are Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter. Essentially these products allow you to pay for inclusion in their search listings and on targeted content networks.

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Other companies refer to Search Engine Marketing in a broader context which includes both paid inclusion and search engine optimization.

In general I will use the term Search Engine Marketing / SEM in the broader context which includes PPC and SEO but I am equally guilty of using the term in the specific context of paid inclusion as well.

So then you ask: What is the official definition of Search Engine Marketing? My official definition is any activity which promotes websites and increases traffic by improving the search engine visibility.

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Between May and July is the best time of year to take your outdoor photographs in Canada and particularly on the West Coast. Quite often we have vivid blue sky with white puffy clouds this time of the year. Add to this the beautiful green leaves, blossoming flowers and lush green lawns and you have the makings for magnificent outdoor images.

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With the vivid blue sky and the spring sunshine we get excellent light levels which make it easier for your camera to give you sharp beautiful colour. We know the use of amazing photos in your marketing material can translate to increased sales.

The old saying “A picture is worth one thousand words.” is more powerful today than it has ever been. The web is truly a visual place and you can help make a great impression with your customers by taking outdoor photographs at the right time of the year.

So grab your camera, get outside and take some great photographs.

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In a wired world where every online business is fighting for attention from customers, it has become more difficult to get noticed by your target market. Aside from the usual distractions online and in social media, you are also competing with bigger companies that have spent a lot of money in their marketing and advertising departments.

This does not mean however that your online marketing efforts should cost you an arm and a leg. There are inexpensive yet creative ways to do Internet marketing on a tight budget. Here are some of the ways.

1. USE FACEBOOK AND TWITTER TO PROMOTE YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE.
Consider Facebook and Twitter your new best friends in Internet marketing. After all they are easy to use and open you to a whole market of Twitter and Facebook users who may be interested in your product or service. Best of all, they are free. By tapping these social media sites, you can generate more awareness about your business online and hopefully can transfer some of that Twitter and Facebook traffic to your website where users can learn more about your products and services.

2. ENDORSEMENTS BY A LOCAL CELEBRITY.
A lot of businesses dream of having a superstar celebrity endorse their product or service. But of course, getting a major celebrity endorse your business may mean big bucks.
Instead of getting a superstar celebrity as your business endorser, why not get a local celebrity to endorse or recommend your product or service. Local celebrities are those people who are prominent or known in the community for their positive work, attitude, and contributions to the community. For example, why not ask your neighborhood’s model teacher to endorse your product or service? Or how about that outstanding citizen awardee of your community? Why not ask them to endorse you on Facebook or YouTube? People in your neighborhood can immediately recognize these people and their endorsements may boost your business sales.
And since these local celebrities live near your area and you may even know them, it is easier to contact them. Ask them if they want to endorse your business. Let these local celebrities know you appreciate their help by giving them a gift or a small token of appreciation.

3. A LINKEDIN GROUP
Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is free. So why not create a LinkedIn group for your business. You can use the group to share useful information and at the same time raise awareness about your product or service. Just make sure that you do not hard sell your products and services to the group. If you do, people might be turned off with your non-stop marketing campaign and leave the group.

4. WHY NOT CREATE YOUTUBE VIDEOS?
Another free platform for you is YouTube. With millions of visitors every month, you can tap YouTube for more awareness about your service. You do not have to consult a professional video production company for your YouTube videos. A simple video camera and your usual video editing software in your computer can do the trick.

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Without a doubt, people who are into Internet marketing are using Twitter for sales and marketing. There is no reason for you not to tap the power of Twitter to promote your produces and services.

Information resource

Use Twitter to post information about your products and services. If you are actively posting on Twitter you can provide a one-stop information resource about the products and services that you have to offer. A lot of people are on Twitter. Why not tap that market to tell them about your website? In that way, you can translate that Twitter traffic into your website.
Make sure your Twitter account has a separate identity from your other social media accounts, such as Facebook, and Google+. In most cases, people who find that the contents of a company is the same with the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, then there is no reason for adding your Facebook and Google+ accounts.

Hold contests to promote awareness and generate sales

Holding contests or special sales can create a lot of buzz about your product or service. For example, if you are selling laptops, why not hold a contest that will promote your latest laptop products? Some websites for example offer special discounts to people who tweet about the products or services. Other contests for example ask people to tag the company’s Twitter account and use a Twitter hashtag and then tweet promotional content about the product or service. Some of the more successful Twitter campaigns have their hashtags land in the trending results of a certain country, and even worldwide.

Holding special sales or discounts to your readers or followers provide immediate awareness and understanding of your products and services. The contests or sales will help drive additional traffic from your readers or potential customers.

Keeping in touch

Keep in touch with your Twitter followers. Do not wait for people to tweet you. As much as possible, do not wait for them. Be pro-active in tweeting people. After all, these Twitter followers are people who are interested in your products and services. For example, you have a new product or service. Make use of your Twitter to promote it; do not wait for someone to tweet about it, or provide reviews. If you have decided to make your Twitter account your company’s conversation portal online, then try to engage people in a conversation about your products and services. Or if they have concerns or inquiries about your product or service, people can ask them via the company’s Twitter account.
It is always good to monitor your company on Twitter. What do others think about your Twitter account? How many followers do you have? Of your followers, how many of them are potential target customers? Do an analytics of your Twitter followers to determine what type of followers you have. After determining who your target market in Twitter is, follow them. In fact, using your company’s Twitter account, tweet them, comment about their posts, and interact with them. In this way, you are building a close relationship with your potential customers.

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With new media exploding all around us, it’s easy to get caught up in the fad of the day, and to totally forget about marketing basics. Back in the day, if you wanted to sell home appliances, you targeted women who worked in the home. If you could get your “foot in the door” to keep it open long enough to make your initial pitch, your chances of making a sale went way, way up.

The first step in marketing has, and always will be, get their attention. Give them some reason to afford you just a few more minutes, a few more seconds of their time. Find some way to start the conversation, start an interaction – otherwise, you never get to step two, which is when you start laying out the benefits and features of your product or service.

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Now fast forward from the door to door salesmen of yesteryear to 2013. You’re not likely to bump into anyone schlepping a vacuum cleaner around your neighbourhood. If you want to sell a vacuum cleaner, you build a website – easy, peasy. Well, not quite. If you type “vacuum cleaner” into Google, you get more than 47 million results. No kidding – 47 million.

So, what’s the modern day version of getting your foot in the door? The hype jockeys will tell you to Tweet until you’re blue in the face; to “engage your target market” with a Facebook page; to hire a flash mob to do a Gangnam Style dance featuring your product at the mall. I’m not going to say those are bad ideas in general, but if I’m trying to sell vacuum cleaners? Nope, not the way I’d go.

While marketing basics still reign, the sales path has clearly changed. It’s a total waste of time to flog something that the flogees don’t need or want right now. It’s the customer who sets the timing. When they decide that they want to buy a vacuum cleaner, you’ve got to be ready.

Good SEO will get you on to the first page or two of the search engines. Great – but is that your foot in the door? No. That’s just your map of the neighbourhood. The time to put your virtual foot in the door is in those first few seconds after they land on your website. They’ve opened the door, and you have one, very short, opportunity to put your best foot forward. You’ve got to do it fast.

So, why am I talking about selling vacuum cleaners? Because we just launched Ekonovac.com. It’s an awesome product, but I want you to go to the site to see what we came up with: to hold the customer’s attention for just a few more seconds; to start an interaction, and just at the right time. We’re not asking them to follow us for months; we’re not asking them to post pictures of their most memorable vacuuming moment. We just want them to stay on the site for a few more seconds, so we can start the pitch. Check it out. Ekonovac.com.

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Most of us have downloaded free software only to be let down, wasting time and energy trying to figure out the software and decide if it was worth the time and energy to download it.

I have found some really great software that is as good as, if not better than the industry standard. Here is a list of free software that is worth the time to download:

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Open Office
As a result of an antimonopoly suit against Microsoft an alternative to Office is available free of charge. I use this at home all the time and I love it.

http://www.openoffice.org/

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Audacity

Audacity
This free, open source sound recording and editing suit is as good as if not better than most of the top sound editing software out there.

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

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Gimp
A free alternative to Photoshop, Gimp is an advanced photo retouching tool. It can crop, edit and size digital photos quit well. Although Photoshop is better, Gimp doesn’t have the $700 price tag.

http://www.gimp.org/

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Inkscape

Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator and CorelDraw. If you want to design some print media or a logo on a budget I highly recommend giving this a try.

https://inkscape.org/en/

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Blender 3D

Blender is an open source 3D modeling and animation suit. Because the software can be modified a lot of big movie production companies use this. I must admit that the interface takes a bit of getting used to, but you could easily pay $3500 for something similar. Because it is open source there are a lot of add-ons available.

http://www.blender.org/

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LMMS

Linux MultiMedia Studio is a free music creator. It’s a musical loop editor, placing music loops in an arrangement to create a song. There is software you can buy that is better but If you need to create a musical background on a budget, give this a try.

http://lmms.sourceforge.net/

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blankOn June 25th, Fraser Health won the Award of Merit – Top Innovation at the Excellence in BC Health Care Awards for their new surgery web pages and the Soonest Surgery Tool. Why am I so excited? Because we built the tool! And because it is a shining example of our E2D development model at work.

Fraser Health won the Award of MeritE2D is our own systems development model and it is awesome, if I do say so myself. We almost always end up with something even better than what was envisioned at the start – and that was certainly the case here.

It all started last fall when I was developing the new content for the surgery pages. One of the goals of the project was to let patients know that if the surgeon they’d been referred to had a long waiting list, they could ask to be referred to a different surgeon who had a shorter list, even one in a different city. Good to know, but how does a person find out which surgeons do the kind of surgery they need and how long each one’s wait list is?

So, I went to Mike – guru of all things Internetechnomazing – and although we didn’t even realize it at the time, we immediately launched into Phase 1 of E2D.

Long story short, the E2D process facilitated the work of a virtual team of data managers, database architects, web designers, programmers, etc. from four different organizations, and resulted in the creation of an award-winning web application that is easy to use and provides exactly the information the user needs.

Excellent indeed!

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Klout score is the new buzzword in the Internet, and especially for social media, today. An online and mobile application that measures an entity’s magnitude of influence in social media networks, it is a figure that can range from 1 to 100 summarizing for you and all your stakeholders the sway that you reach and hold you have over various market segments. The general rule is that a higher score for an entity is always better.

blankKlout ScoreThe Klout score can apply to both individual persons and for organizations such as businesses. When I was just starting to understand the Klout score, I enrolled myself and my social media accounts. As time went on, I realized that I can also have a separate Klout score for my company, as well as specific services and products that we are offering. After that, it didn’t take me long to figure out that as the company’s score was increasing, so did my sales and customer count. Now, I consciously engage in activities that will boost my company’s Klout score, firm in the belief that this will benefit my business in the long run.

If you’re interested in doing the same, here are four easy ways to boost your company’s Klout score.

1. Get your company into Twitter and Facebook. Those two are the biggest social networks around, amassing millions of follower per month. Their network users are also very active, spending about four hours every day in those two networks. Join Twitter and Facebook, and you already put your company in that circle, guaranteeing you at least a Klout score between 10 and 20 in your first week alone

2. Share-worthy content is a must. Your company is only as good as your last post. To keep your network interested and engaged, you must constantly offer new, share-able, retweet-able content that can easily go viral. I recommend posting at least four everyday, to boost your Klout score. Texts must be short, sweet, and witty. Photos are more powerful than plain textual status, so use them as much as possible. Fun videos can also be very popular.

3. Be social. The point of being on any social network is to socialize and to create relationships. Your company should make an active decision to engage others on social media. Reply to others when they tweet you, even if to just to say your thanks for their message. Join conversations, ask questions, and share your opinion. Those are

4. Engage influential people’s attention. Leverage the influence of other users in your company’s network to boost your Klout score. You can do this by getting them to notice your company’s social media accounts either by asking them questions, retweeting their content, or directing messages that will entertain them. Score a reply, a retweet, or a share from them, and your company’s Klout score is sure to go up.

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Ten years ago if you sat down in a coffee shop you’d see a few people sipping their cappuccinos while reading a newspaper. Now most of those people are tapping and poking a smartphone or tablet computer. If there is one thing we can count on in this world, its change, and advertising must change with it.


According to eMarketer the average North American is spending 278 minutes a day in front of the TV, 173 minutes online, 92 minutes listening to the radio, 82 minutes on a mobile device and 38 minutes reading some sort of print media. It’s an incredible amount of media input. This is happening because people are now viewing multiple types of media at once.

Targeting this new breed of multi channelling consumer is posing a far greater challenge than you might think. For example, every time a commercial comes on the TV people will mute the volume or fast forward past the commercials with their PVR. To make matters worse, when an ad comes up on one type of media, their attention simply shifts over to the other device. Have you noticed the latest breed of television commercials are now designed to grab your attention within the first three seconds and convey a message without sound?

This is why Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is so effective. It focuses on the people that are interested in your specific product and services. When a prospective customer performs a web search they are looking for something and offering their full attention to the search engine results page.

The key here is to deliver this potential customer to your website from the search results and keep their full attention while they are viewing your website and researching your products or services. If you do this correctly you can have their full attention and make your customer feel comfortable with the fblankact they are not being bombarded with advertising. This is one of the most positive connections you can make with a customer.

Effective online advertising, in many cases, makes the difference between having most of the market or none of it. Your position on a search will help solidify your customer’s opinion of your brand. If you are not found easily at this active stage in your customers search you do not exist.

When you are present in the active search phase you are half way there. Now you need to entice your customer to click through to your website and deliver a presentation that will keep their attention and answer their search query. You will have a few short seconds to let your customers know they are in the right place. Your website’s logo, slogan, images and text copy must provide your customers with the information they are looking for. If your website achieves this result you’re going to see your customers and your sales increase.

This is why websites are so effective when it comes to advertising in a multi channel world. While television, radio and print advertising blanket everyone, an effective website strategy will not only focus on the right customers, but retain their attention and sell your products and services.

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How can a business leverage social networking effectively?

In order to maximize your presence on the social Web you must take advantage of social networks in all stages of the purchase funnel, from awareness to learning to buying to loyalty.

It is short-sighted to focus only on advertising in social networks without a firm understanding of all the ways you can enhance a marketing plan, including branding, direct marketing and lead generation, e-commerce and customer relations.

Consumers across all age groups use social networks, and one-half of social network users visit at least once per day. They interact with companies and brands not only by visiting brand pages but by turning to their social network friends-and even strangers-for opinions on products and services. To be successful, marketers must use multiple paths and techniques to engage consumers.

Survey after survey reports that consumers consider word-of-mouth more credible than nearly any other kind of marketing, and today over 25 million US adults regularly share advice on products or services online.

blankSocial MediaWhat are the primary online social networks?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Google Plus+

Ways you can make a Facebook business page great

  • Show up to date sales and specials giving your Facebook followers an information advantage
  • Offer online printable coupons
  • Showcase new or upcoming products and services
  • Send people to your website
  • Advertise events
  • Showcase contests
  • Tell stories
  • Let people know about the charities you support
  • Inform people
  • Look amazing by enlisting the help of a graphic artist
  • Show “How To” videos
  • Always be relevant
  • Send people to and ecommerce page when showcasing a product

How do we measure success and ROI for social networking?

  • Building brand awareness by looking at unique Web site visitors, page views and fan/follower accounts.
  • Increasing engagement with your brand by looking at comments, re-Tweets and time spent on the Web site.
  • Increasing your influence by tracking third party mentions and links.
  • Action outcomes by tracking conversions and sign-up rates and asking customers how they connected to your business.
  • Likes and re-Tweets to your messages.

What are important goals in a social networking campaign?

  • Attention: Getting and keeping attention develops ongoing awareness of your brand, products and services.
  • Visibility: To help your businesses and Web site maintain crucial visibility in the search engines.
  • Intelligence: Listen well, and you can develop a potent customer feedback loop.
  • Opportunity: Being present means you won’t miss opportunities to connect, service and delight your customers.

How do I effectively build a brand on a social network?

  • Be different
  • Do something you love
  • Work with people you care about
  • Look for niches and edges to work in
  • Spend time listening to customers
  • Show; don’t tell
  • Be generous; share your insights
  • Stop worrying about the competition
  • Fulfill the unexpressed desires of your clients
  • Build relationships
  • Look for opportunities to interact
  • Deliver value
  • Do something unexpected
  • Speak human
  • Surprise
  • Delight
  • Connect people to each other
  • Compel clients to say, “I love this!”
  • Compel people to say, “I love this, who did it?
  • Be Yourself – A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir.

What are the do’s of social networking?

  • Keep it positive.
  • Use the social network to bring people to your website where you can control the content not the other way around.
  • Prepare your website before you send people to it.
  • Invite your supporters to be your first friends.
  • Post your most viral content.
  • Provide incentives such as discounts.
  • Test the waters before you jump in. Ask your friends opinions.
  • Maintain and update information regularly.
  • Monitor and respond regularly.
  • Create discussions and dialogue.
  • Create a realistic budget of time and money.

What are the don’ts of social networking?

  • Don’t be negative.
  • Don’t get into a mud-slinging fight if you get unfair comments.
  • Don’t leave your social page unattended.
  • Don’t usurp your website with your social page.
  • Don’t respond to negative posts in an untactful way.

It’s a lot to think about. The big advantage of a social media is that time and geography are no longer constraints in your social world.

Paul Nicholson

Senior Media Designer

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Over the years, many customers have contacted us regarding problems with their domain name or names. While these problems range in difficulty and solutions, we encourage all of our customers to think about their domain names at the time of registration. The following is a discussion of common problems with domain names and the solutions to these problems.

blankConsider your domain name carefully

Do you have yourcompany.com, or do you register one of the other extensions such as .ca, .org, .net, info, travel, biz or .mobi (the list can get extensive)? If you are looking to choose a domain name in the future, a .com address should be the first choice when available. If the .com is not available and you are a Canadian company, .ca is the next best choice. We also believe that picking up additional domain extensions can help you avoid problems in the future, as it prevents other companies from registering similar domains to yours. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to get any of the extensions for the domain name you want, and then we encourage you to choose a domain name that is relevant to your company or product, and is easy to remember.

Problem with domain names is spelling

Do you have a company name that is easy to mistype, often misspelled, or that contains a word with multiple spellings? For example, your company may be Travel Centre, and you want the domain name travelcentre.com. In a case such as this it may be useful to register travelcenter.com if it is available. Related to this problem are singular and plural company names. You may own usedcar.ca, but what about usedcars.ca? By registering both domain names, you can maximize your exposure and limit confusion.

Unsolicited invoices from companies that you do not do business with.

The invoice will look legitimate and will charge you a fee for a service related to your domain. The invoice may cite web hosting, redirection and/or other services, claiming to have provided them. We encourage you to check the company name on the invoice to the company name you know supplies the service to you and only pay the charge if the names match. Also look for small print on these invoices. In most cases the small print will say something like “this is not an invoice this is a solicitation for business”.

Trademark or Wordmark Infringement

Another more frustrating problem is when a company uses yourcompanyname.com and operates a competitive product under that domain name or they try and hold you ransom for the purchase of the domain. When this happens, you might consider the following options. You can file a domain name dispute with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). Anyone who registers a domain name agrees to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which allows any domain name user to file disputes under this policy. Your second option is to dispute their use of your company name through the court system in the county in which the registrar resides. This is a more costly option, but still may be worthwhile. The third, most simple option is to pay the owner of the domain name you want, if the price requested is lower than the cost of either of the first two options. There may be other solutions for such a scenario and each case should be evaluated individually.

High Pressure Sales Tactics

We often hear from customers or see emails where a company says some entity came to them to register domain names very similar to yours. They want to contact you to give you the first opportunity to register these domain names and if you do not respond in a set period of time they will register them for the said entity. Every time we have seen this is has been a high pressure sales tactic, the domains are way over priced and in actual fact there is no said entity wanting your domains in the first place. If this happens to you and you are concerned consider working with a company you know and trust to help protect you from these scams.

With any domain name, we encourage you to carefully consider which name you choose and what company you choose to help you. We can help you choose a domain name, and we recognize that a great domain name can make a huge difference to your Internet Marketing success.