• Social Media and its Role in Politics & Religion

    I spend a lot of time on social media and the internet for a variety of reasons: Reading, learning, researching, marketing, and communicating to name just a few.

    I have always respected the internet and the information that is so easily accessible. I remember the first time I browsed a website when the internet first became “live”.  Yes, I can still remember that day in the early 1990’s very clearly.  I even still have my original Hotmail email address that I created in that first exploratory reach into the unknown. Although I learned very little in the first foray, I did understand and appreciate the power such a tool would have in the future. Attending college never really inspired me to want to learn…it took being “romanced” by the era of technology for me to delve deep, learn, read, learn and read and learn some more.

    At the time, I worked for a small direct marketing and research firm based out of Berkshire, and I was a true database and direct marketing geek. I was well-known throughout the direct marketing industry and I would get calls from all over Europe asking my advice about how to manage a direct marketing campaign and what criteria should be used to target a captive audience. Ironically, it was the people who worked in marketing at this time that developed the initial idea around identifying client personas without really realizing what we were doing.

    The company’s client base was purely information technology and I was lucky enough to have worked with the greats: Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, 3M to name just a few. I also worked with a lot of small companies who were dipping their toes into this exciting and rapidly developing industry for the first time. Being a part of a small company and its first timid steps has always inspired me, and even today I get excited when I am talking to a new client.

    Social Media wise, I think my first account was on MySpace.  At the time MySpace was mostly sharing pictures and music.  It could have been so much more, but Facebook hit the market and MySpace slowly lost its way. Yahoo groups was also a fun zone to be in…chatting with people across the globe, learning and expanding horizons. I must admit, I never really saw the bad side of what the internet had to offer.  My focus has and always will be “a glass half full attitude”, and a positive outlook.

    Never did I imagine pedophiles hunting down and talking to young children to persuade them to meet up, never did I imagine political parties sharing false information to win elections, never did I imagine massive churches taking money from parishioners in the way that they do today through online books and fake information. I guess I was still living the life of a young, hopeful adult that could only imagine the positive from this massive wheel that was only just beginning to spin.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still see the massive positives that the internet delivers every single second of every hour in the day. I read extensively, and still value the available information, but I have learned to accept this information with either a small pinch or large bucket load of salt, depending on the website I am reading. I think the challenge a lot of people have when reading information online, be it a website or social media posts, is that they believe 100% of what they are reading and do not make a judgement call based on the source of the information.

    People seem to have forgotten the old saying about “don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper”. The internet seems to add a level of truthfulness about topics…I mean, if they say they are “Doctor”, they must be a “Doctor”…right??!?

    I do not think anyone understands or has information about how Russia supposedly affected the 2016 US Election or if there are “bots” flooding the pages and groups online. To try and keep track of all the memes, images, comments, news articles that travel across social media and to check them as they are posted for accuracy is by far, an impossible job. No matter how much we beg our family and friends to stop sharing inaccurate information, they continue to do so.

    What I do think though is that everything should have its place. Each social media platform is different and has a job. Let us review the top 4.

    1. Facebook – Platform for consumers to share information and stories and for businesses to sell and promote themselves to those consumers and other businesses.
    2. Instagram – Platform to consumers and businesses to share images and to promote their ideas and services to their followers.
    3. Twitter – The favorite medium of the current resident of the White House, Twitter is a news feed platform that allows you to share short news alerts and information with your followers.
    4. LinkedIn – Platform for businesses and professionals to network and promote their services and skill sets.

    All these social media platforms are great for the small business owner through to large conglomerates promoting their services and sharing their news. Of course, the more we use them as consumers, the richer the owners/CEOs get but everyone gets something out of them if they log in to their account.

    Without Facebook, I would not have recently got back in touch with my best friend from school. Without WhatsApp, I would never be able to afford to speak to my daughter in England every day for sometimes an hour at a time. We all have similar stories.

    My question today though goes back to the social media platform’s job. Should any of their jobs in the widest sense of the platform’s definition include politics and religion? Politics and religion are both taboo subjects over the dinner table, so why are they not also taboo on your social media timeline. Facebook and Twitter are now so infected with politics that I do not believe there is a chance to reverse the rapid spread of a pathogen that is a major part of today’s industrialized society.

    Instagram and LinkedIn are so far almost protected from the political/religious virus. Sadly, today I spotted a few political and religious posts creeping into my LinkedIn feed. I have been on LinkedIn for 6 years and have over 3500 connections and I review my feed and connections daily. I have always been quietly happy that LinkedIn has kept to their job of networking, job searching, business promotion, and marketing.  It has been my breathing space from a world gone a little mad!  That now appears to be changing.  It seems that inappropriate posts are creeping to onto my news feed that include obvious political and religious grandstanding.

    Who is willing to fight for LinkedIn and the clean job that it does? Who is willing to stand up and say NO to RELIGION and POLITICS on LinkedIn?

    Will it be the product managers at Microsoft who will put their foot down and announce to the world that anyone on LinkedIn promoting a political or religious agenda will be removed? Or will it be all the professionals who have proactively used LinkedIn since 2002 when it was launched? Either way, action needs to be taken, and I hope that the managers at LinkedIn and Microsoft take note and keep LinkedIn politics and religion-free.


  • …I said Persona, not Patronus

    …I said Persona, not Patronus  😀 

    I wonder if JK Rowling used the definition of Persona to create the word Patronus.  I believe that they are both one and the same thing.  

    So lets investigate the definitions…

    Definition of persona (Merriam Webster online dictionary)

    plural personae play pər-ˈsō-(ˌ)nē, -ˌnī or personas
    : a character assumed by an author in a written work
    a plural personas
    : an individual’s social facade or front that especially in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects the role in life the individual is playing
    : the personality that a person (such as an actor or politician) projects in public : image/plural personae : a character in a fictional presentation (such as a novel or play) —usually used in plural comic personae

    Definition of patronus (www.pottermore.com)


    The Patronus is the most famous (and famously difficult) defensive charm. The aim is to produce a silvery-white guardian or protector, which takes the form of an animal. The exact form of the Patronus will not be apparent until the spell has been successfully cast. One of the most powerful defensive charms known to wizardkind, the Patronus can also be used as a messenger between wizards. As a pure, protective magical concentration of happiness and hope (the recollection of a single talisman memory is essential in its creation) it is the only spell effective against Dementors. The majority of witches and wizards are unable to produce Patronuses and to do so is generally considered a mark of superior magical ability.

    Moving on to the real reason we are talking about personas….keeping, finding and communicating to your clients and prospects.

    Definition of buyer persona (hubspot)

    Hubspot has a great definition of a buyer persona…(I could not write it better, so why re-invent the wheel!) 

    “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

    When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

    Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”

    I think that the three definitions will help you think out side the box a little when  you are trying to figure out who your clients are…taking the step to fully understanding your buyer personas, will allow you to write content that will generate the results you want which then leads to more profitable sales!

    1.  Take a step back, clear your mind for at least three minutes and take a deep breath.  Walk into your store – be it a physical or virtual – and make sure you have your customers shoes on.  Try to think like them…what do you see and feel?

    2.  Write down everything that comes to mind…positive and negative!  Be honest.  This information will be your guiding light to creating your buyers personas and then writing the content for your next promotion and marketing materials.  

    Our next blog will be looking at implementing those client personas and writing content for your marketing campaigns.

    If you have any questions please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

  • So…you now know who your potential customer is – now find their pain!!!

    Gone are the days, when marketing materials included just a brochure/flyer and business card….and maybe some advertising in the most relevant magazine or newspaper.  
    The game that we all play has now got way more players and closing the sale is harder than ever before.
    Do not be disheartened though.  We are all unique and we all have something to offer that others do not.  You need to find that unique attribute, and apply that skill to what you know your customers need.
    So your list of marketing materials and medium may have significantly increased, but your messaging can still be on-point.  
    Sadly the customers with the greatest potential do not know what they need and therefore your message must peak their interest and touch a pain that they currently have.  
    Going back to the example I was using before of a swimming pool maintenance company, people that own pools know the different pains involved with maintaining their pool but they may be unaware that you offer a release from that pain and that your solution is way more cost effective than they imagined.  You may not be cheaper than self maintaining, but you save them time and frustration and the ability to just jump in the pool and go swimming without having to take time to vacuum and sweep the pool.
    Simply put:  PAIN:  purchasing chemicals, vacuuming, sweeping, time, frustration managing chemicals, equipment maintenance.  All of which equates to less swimming time in the small amount of time your prospect has after work.
    Each service or product that you are selling will have a variety of pain points based on the type of prospect you are targeting.  Focus on that and your message will resonate with your prospects.
    By touching those pain points, and solving them for your potential customer you will gain their attention…but you have do all of that in first 10 seconds on your website, Facebook page or marketing material.
    Be unique, be focused, but helpful, and be resourceful.  As a small business these are all key attributes that clients really appreciate.
    If you would like some help with understanding your prospects pain please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.com.  You can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/ or www.webdesignshop.us

  • Figure out exactly who your customer is and who your customer is not!

    This task is actually tougher than it seems…for some small businesses it may be very simple.  However understanding who your customer is a big step in understanding how your marketing will work.

    The technical phrase that is used to describe customer classifications is “Personas”.  You may just have 3 or 4 customer personas, you may have over 100.  Segregating your customers into personas allows you to choose the marketing medium(s), messages and tools that you want to use, based on the demographics and pyschograpic information that you have collected about those customers and prospects.

    As a small business owner I am sure you have come across groups of people and other businesses that you do NOT want to work with.  This group of people and businesses will be your “negative personas”.  By removing this group when considering your digital strategy you can avoid the challenges involved with these customers such as low ROI, high cost of acquisition and even that they are too advanced for what you are selling.

    Understanding your customers, may require you to so some research.  Very small businesses, can typically fill most of the questions in themselves.  Here are some of the questions though that you may want to consider asking:

    Basic demographic information: Age, gender, home ownership, employment, family members, hobbies etc

    Psychographic information:  What does a day in their life look like, do they currently have any pain points that you can help them solve, what do they value most in their business and what are their business goals.  Where and how do they gather information, and what are their main criticisms or objects to your product or service.

    You can expand on this list of  questions as you see fit based on the service/products that your business offers.  Having all of this information in a database that allows you to filter customers/leads by the information collected will be very useful in your marketing campaigns.

    If you are not able to use a database or excel spreadsheet, index cards are great to begin with.  I used to buy horse food and equipment from a local small business.  This was a few years ago but their index card system was very impressive.  It included a flurry of stars and paperclips which told the salesman what horses I had, if we competed and what groups of items I had purchased in the past and what products they thought I might like.

    They would even target certain customers with samples, and it was those samples that kept me returning and sharing information with them (horse owners are sadly typically poor and value every freebie that they are given!) and of course continuing to be a customer.  I can guarantee that I never left the store with just a bag of feed!  It made me feel special and unique!

    This index card system was simple but very effective!  Marketing has taken some huge leaps and bounds in the last 20 years and I am sure that the index card system used by that small business, would now be covered in clips, stars, fireworks and magical tricks!

    The trick for you though is get the mix of marketing mediums and messages perfect for the persona you are targeting!

    If you need some help with setting up persona questionnaires, or understanding the marketing mix some more please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

    You can follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tlwds/ or get extra information about our company at www.webdesignshop.us

  • Day One – Your Digital Marketing Strategy

    For those of you that have read the “SEO Tips of the Day” and the “Reviewing your Website Tips of the Day” may see some duplication here….HINT – if you see duplication in tips, it doubles, triples the importance of that item…so give the tip/job special attention.

    So now we are moving onto discussing and deciding on a digital marketing strategy.

    Without understanding the tools available to you it is tough to decide and plan anything.  Lets group things together so that you at least can focus on each group of options.

    1.  Website – your business website
    2.  Social Media – Facebook/Instagram/Twitter – which ones and why
    3.  Paid online advertising – pay per click etc
    4.  Blogging – article writing
    5.  Online networking – LinkedIn/Alignable
    6.  Email marketing
    7.  Press releases
    8.  Marketing collateral such is flyers/brochures
    9.  Events
    10. Local networking groups

    Within each of these groups, there are different methodologies, some free, some time consuming and some expensive.  How you choose to manage these, and implement will mostly be driven by how much budget you have.  I will visit each of these in the next few days.

    Some of the items we will discuss over the next few days, will apply to one or all of these groups and although they are all interlinked and to some degree results are dependent on how they all interact, you can at least keep the plan simple and add to it as you move on.  I am working on an application that allows me to have view-able timelines that link different messages together in a cohesive group based on subject, task and the task groups as I listed above.  Will keep you posted when it becomes available..

    The first thing to do is to set a goal that is attainable…dream goals like selling your company to Google for a billion dollars in the next 6 months sadly is pretty much unlikely.  As a small company your main focus is your customers and your bottom line.  So your goals will be wrapped around those two items.

    Increased profit margin FOLLOWS a focus on customers 

    & bottom line!

    Do you want current customers to purchase the same product more frequently or do you want to promote a different product to them.  You goal could be related to either option of even related to an increase in followers on your social media as an intermediary goal before you start measuring sales.

    By setting a measurable goal you will know if your efforts are starting to make a difference.  Each type of task will have have a different type of goal…each campaign you have will again have a different goal than your tasks.

    Climbing the ladder is hard at the best of times.  Having these measurable stepping stone achievements will give you the strength to jump to the next stone.

    Here is an example of a small business setting goals…

    George owns a small swimming pool maintenance company.  George is planning on expanding his product portfolio by adding a range of pool skimmers.  George does not necessarily see his customers when he completes the regular maintenance on his clients pools so has to consider other ways to make these customers aware of the product.

    Here is George’s plan:

    Goal 1:  100% of my current customers should be aware of product availability.

    To do this George plans to run an email marketing campaign direct to customers and also a social media promotion on his Facebook and Instagram pages.  He will use promotional videos and statistics provided by the skimmer manufacturer to help with his promotion.

    Goal 2:  After 2 months George wants to see $X in sales of the skimmer products.

    Without going into too much detail, when planning each of your campaigns and tasks you need to consider the marketing mix.

    To do this you must look at the 4 P’s.  Product, Price, Place, Promotion.  This will help you focus on what you need to be able to provide for your products/services and therefore provide for any campaign related to that particular product/service.

    The image below gives you a good idea of the key elements you need to be considering.  For small local businesses the answers are generally simple and the same…PLACE will always be your own store front for example be it physical or online but you will always need to consider inventory, physical items you are selling, or enough staff available to provide the service.

    Tomorrow we will discuss the audience that you are targeting and how you should edit your messaging to get the perfect response….a new customer!

    If you need help or have any questions please contact alyson@webdesignshop.us.  Please also share this blob with your colleagues and business friends.

    You can also follow Tips of the Day via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • Getting up to speed on your digital strategy

    Getting clued up and putting together your digital strategy.

    All this time we have been discussing search engine optimization and reviews of your website…you have been learning about how you can promote your website and make sure that you get the best possible results and return on investment of your marketing dollars. 

    The next step is to take this knowledge and apply it in a marketing plan that clearly outlines your digital strategy for online marketing and promotion.

    Sadly implementing a digital strategy is all about focus, dedication and consistency.  .It cannot be a one off advert/boost promo on Facebook.  It cannot be a one-off open day at your location.  Set up a plan and have faith in your concepts and ideas.

    Over the next few days, we will discussing some ideas on how you can build this plan.  To begin with lets get you up to speed with some acronyms that will help you understand the big bad world of digital marketing…click here to access the acronyms.

  • Old and outdated or does your website just need a new “font refresher”?

    When you reviewed your website yesterday for “call to actions” and easily visible options for potential customers to interact with you, did you notice if your site is looking a little old? When I say old, does it look like it was created a couple of years ago, some of the information is not relevant anymore and you have either discontinued or added some new products and services? If you have answered “YES” to any of the above it is time for a revamp. Now, a revamp could be as little as changing the font. Popular fonts today are typically clean and straight. Not too many “frills”. I personally like Lato, Gotham and Roboto. If you think that it needs a little more than just a “font refresher” make notes of the areas you think need some help. Be brutally honest…it is better to have a longer list which can be broken down into “have to change”, “would be nice to update” and “would be awesome to have a new vibrant image” groups. Below are some images of some really old websites that are no longer live…I have one client that wants the “old look” but in a updated format. Now that is proving to be interesting! If you want someone to do a quick review and let you know if you need an update, call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop,us Please follow and share this post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    Videos are a great way to keep people watching your website and your product.

    Is your website fun? Does it catch someones attention? If you are selling to consumers, a great way to catch their attention is via video.

    Over 80% of people who view a video of your product are more likely to pick up the phone and call or email you.

    It is not as tough to create a video as it used to be. You have to pretty good on your computer, but if you have already designed your own website you can probably create your own video. I mean, I hate to say it but car dealerships and furniture stores advertising on local TV channels set a pretty low mark to reach!

    Even your smartphone with a steady hand or tripod will take a pretty good video. Any good web designer can take a rough video and add a few bangs and whistles. www.Fiverr.com also has some great contractors that can put together a good video with some images and video file from your smartphone. Small businesses live on a tight budget so I understand the need to keep the production costs low.

    Dollar Shave Club has some fun videos that are promotional but keep you watching…also I must admit Walmart had a classic video that keeps me laughing every time I watch it – here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsvAj6qfmFQ and K-Marts videos for “shipping” items are hysterical and reminds me that K-Mart now is not just a brick and mortar store.

    So think of the fun side of your product no matter how boring it is, gather a few friends and family who don’t mind letting their hair down and saying a few lines, and the chances are you will be able to pull together something that will work.

    If you do need some help with your video and website please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

    Also to regularly get tips of the day, please follow our blog at @ https://tlwds.blogspot.com/ and follow our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • It is tough to get someone to visit your site, and even tougher to keep them there!

    Do a test run with your website as if you are a potential client. How much time did you spend on your website looking for either a phone number, email address, your price list or a way to get a quote. If it takes you more than 10 seconds (taking into considering that you know where to look) to get to any one of these three things, it is TOOOO LONG!!! When people are looking to get a quote for work, they A, want to find a way to get that quote quickly and B, they really don’t care about your long story about how you got established. They are on your website for a reason. So it is key to capture their information and to see what they need. How they got there is also important so that you can make sure your marketing dollars are working but keeping them there is even tougher! Have a landing page designed for all leads that come in from a link….the landing page will be fully designed for what people are looking for – a quote, a phone number or email address or even a form for them to fill out which is clear, bright and helpful…also have an obvious link to your main home which allows them to read more to get gather more information about your company and product. www.webdesignshop.us

  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    Reviewing your website should happen on a regular basis!

    Technology today is fast moving, as are the people who use it.  You have 3-5 seconds to catch a person’s attention when they visit your website.  If you fail, they are moving onto your competitors site.

    Starting today, I am posting some ideas and pointers on what you should be doing with your website on a regular basis.

    User Experience…how many times do you visit a website and have challenges finding the information you need? I know that happens to me on a regular basis…

    This regularly happens with small businesses that utilize website builders such as Wix or Squarespace. They give the non techie person a chance to create something that looks good. Without the underlying knowledge of what works better for a person browsing the site, the user experience becomes null and void.

    If you have used a website builder to create your site, take another look at it from the customers viewpoint. What do they typically ask you as a new customer if they call in? This is some of the of information you want to have readily available on your home page.

    Reviewing your Website – Is your website responsive?

    What is the meaning of responsive? Basically it is when your website looks great on a desktop, laptop, tablet and cellphone.

    Websites that carry a lot of text on the home page look terrible on cellphones. They are difficult to read and annoying as you have to keep on moving around on the screen to read the text.

    Websites that just have images are boring to look at on cellphones…a lot of times the image takes up the whole screen and there is no text to make you want to read further.

    Sadly your workload for the review of your website has now tripled as you need to review on all devices. Here are the pointers just on how the website looks overall and feels:

    1. Loads super-fast even with slow connections
    2. Accessible menu and easy to navigate
    3. A quick glance gives the viewer the main 411
    4. It has to be memorable (for good reasons)!
    5. Easily readable text
    6. Flexible layout
    7. Only need to scroll up and down

    Messaging. When you land on your website home page, do you know instantly what your company does?

    If you don’t I bet that the person visiting your website does not either! The content on your website HAS to be communicating the right message!!!

    What I typically do is look at competitor’s websites. If they are a company that you know is doing well, see what is on your website that you are missing.

    Gone are the days when being mysterious will gather interest!  People for the most part are now in too much of a hurry to be spending time investigating your company.

    Visit the blog tomorrow to get more tasks that you need to complete to make sure your website is capturing the interest of the person visiting!