• Work Etiquette versus Moral Integrity – A discussion!

    When your morals, and that displayed at your place of employment differ significantly you may find yourself in a dilemma that will make you look at things a little differently!

    I have always, gone with my gut when choosing my clients for the most part.  Even if I am desperately needing a new project, if one comes along that just doesn’t seem right I turn it down.

    I took on a project once that involved dealing with people who had moral standards that I questioned on a regular basis.  I did not know that this would be the case before I accepted the project.

    The company came along highly recommended by the leaving contractor, as did the company team members that I would be working with.  The reason that the contractor was leaving was because of family obligations they did not allow enough time for the time the project was taking…I found this out to be not true.  That aside, I found a lot that I was told about the team and other contractors to be untrue as well.

    I cannot say I am the most moral person in the world. I must definitely have faults.  I do not go to church, and I have lied to people in the past and sometimes I have bad thoughts.  However, I have always felt that I have a level of professionalism that has worked well for myself and for my clients.  When I was a much younger person I worked as a “gopher” at a local newspaper.  As a gopher, you are the one person that gets yelled at if you do not show up with the right copy before deadline or for anything else that is late.  I learnt very quickly, that you do not take anything personally on deadline day at a newspaper!  The following day, everyone that yelled at me would come and tell me that they really appreciated my hard work.  I have took those feelings with me and know for the most part that anything negative that anyone says to you at work is not personal and is probably coming from their own insecurities, challenges and stress of the day.  Letting them get to you brings you one step closer to being them.  

    Work and personal morals are extraordinarily different.

    Stress, deadlines, challenges, money, targets, failure, unorganized….are all things that cause people in a work scenario to become insecure, angry and then unprofessional.  Your personal morals, a lot of the time, are what help you handle situations professionally.

    I recently read a great article/report by Susan Scheller Arsht..”This is how work life should be”:  Quality Connections, Positive Relationships, and Positive Organization Climate.  If you are experiencing challenges in the work place environment, reading this report would benefit you greatly.  To me the title says it all…and the key words are “POSITIVE” and “QUALITY”. 

    Wikipedia definition —- “Work etiquette is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace.  This code is put in place to enable people to respect and protect time, people and processes”.


    In the world of telecommuting things are quite a bit different.  

    Telecommuting creates its own list of challenges when it comes to work etiquette.  It can be tough to read into what people are saying at the end of phone or video call.  They could be saying one thing and actually mean something completely different.  Sadly the same goes for you too…if you are the contractor you sometimes have to pick your words carefully.  Your client may not always be wanting to hear the truth and you may not be willing to disclose it.

    Investing in the product, the company, the people…

    Telecommuting can also create what I call “false” friendships.  If you have never met someone that you are working with there can sometimes be no real investment in the working relationship.  This is particularly true if you have no common interests.  I have learnt that it is a good idea to get invested in the company you are contracting for.  Use their products if possible in a personal landscape, and learn to embrace their dynamic.  Those team members that you do have personal similarities with are slightly different, as you take a step forward with them and become more than just being work colleagues.  I am still in contact with some of the friends I made through working on projects, mainly because I met with them in their office on a regular basis and had common hobbies and interests.  The others have sadly, quietly disappeared from my LinkedIn news feed.  

    The point of today’s blog is to discuss what you should do when you are already working on a project, and find that your clients moral standard and professional etiquette differs drastically to your own.

    1.  You can quit!  Walk away and not have to deal with it.
    2.  You continue to work on the project whilst suggesting alternatives to the different standards/rules that seem to be set.
    3.  You continue to work and suck it up and deal with it.

    Firstly, I am not a quitter.  Once I took the project I on, I did level 3 for quite a while, and then just couldn’t do it any more.  My name was going on the bottom of emails that I didn’t agree with, that I felt were just rude and unprofessional.  I moved up to level two, my ideas for changing the way things were done were listened too (I believe) and then were ignored and if not ignored were sometimes described as silly (I am using a polite word here). My frustration for not being taken seriously was increasing but I remained the professional and calmly just did as I was asked.

    Finally level 1…I am no longer working on the project.  It started off with basic things that really did not feel right in my gut, like not responding to emails if the company did not want to work with someone who had approached them, to one of the partners screaming at me over a conference call for an error that he had created.  Honestly, not responding to the emails never felt right to me..both morally speaking and that it was bad business sense.  You never know if in the future that person may be working at a company that you do want to do business with.…and I mean how much time does it take to send a quick message back.  The screaming session was the final straw that broke the donkeys back!  There was a lot that happened in between these two examples but I wanted to describe how not following good work etiquette can cause a “this doesn’t feel right” situation to a “I need out situation”.

    This is probably a burnt bridge…as I would never want to work with any of the staff/contractors at that company again, but generally speaking burning bridges just does not work for me…yes sometimes those bridges fall into dis-repair because you do not maintain them…but never should you take a flame thrower and burn it to the ground.  Even when the business owner, has been totally disrespectful, and downright rude to you, never burn that bridge.  His assistant might remember your level of professionalism and contact you at a later date from a different company.

    The not responding to emails, was just the beginning of what I now consider to be a life lesson. Sadly, you may not know at the onset of a project that it is not going to work out, but speak out when you see things going array!   

    Lets get back to that word…POSITIVE!  I will say that this has been the only project that I have found myself wanting to jump and run.  Everyone else that I have worked with in the past have for the most part, been professional, morally upright people.  My friends say that I am the forever optimist and that I always view life and work with a positive outlook.  I always look for the silver lining, I always find something positive and I always learn something new from every challenge that life puts in front of me.  

    What did I learn?

    1. Go with what I feel is right, and let your client know if what you are being asked to do falls outside of the ballpark for you.
    2. I choose to only work with companies and individuals that have a moral levels that meet or exceed both my personal moral standards, and the standards I have set for myself within a working environment, both virtually and physically in an office.
    3. Finally, never suck it up and deal with it…

    So, go forth and work hard, earn great respect and money and conquer the world!

    I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and welcome your comments!  Please follow the blog and share with your colleagues if you think it will benefit them.



  • 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!



  • Day 5 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips of the Day

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day! The current favorite way to layout small business websites is not just because it looks cool…5 years ago people preferred to click than scroll…10 years ago websites contained more text than images because of load speeds and a large percentage of people still having dial up…

    A one page website is not just cool and nice for the people who like to scroll, it helps your organic SEO efforts too!!! A one page website is highly searchable by browsers for relevant keywords and links. So please do not think that your web designer is trying to short change you if they work at keeping all the options that you want to share online on 1 page! It is the sign of a great designer!

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – We are half way through my list of SEO tips…would welcome input on if you think they have been helpful to small businesses and if you could please share my FaceBook page with colleagues and business friends that they think it can help.

    So today’s tip is: links, links, links. Setting up links on your website to other sites that can help your customers, will keep your customers coming back to visit your website for information. In addition if you have links from your website with a reciprocal link it will help your organic SEO. Also if you do have links on your website, make sure that the anchor text is descriptive and relevant. Typing “Click Here” is not very helpful. Always attach your hyperlink to that text in your sentence. So in the below example the hyperlink should be attached to the words “swimming pool”. “Your swimming pool needs regular maintenance”
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – TWO WORDS – GOOGLE ANALYTICS. Definition from google “Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google launched the service in November 2005 after acquiring Urchin. Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.” All I can say it is FREE and it is very HELPFUL! It takes just a few minutes to set up and can guide you significantly on what your message should be and who is reading it.
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – SEO is very competitive. There is a constant struggle for those top ten (approx.) places on the first page of results. Organic SEO will only take you so far…it you want to guarantee a space at the top, paid advertising is the next step and can get pretty costly. Be prepared to budget and to monitor results closely.
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – a simple one for you to implement right now! Choose your top keyword…place that keyword in the following places:

    1. Home page title tag
    2. Somewhere at the top of the page
    3. 2-3 times in other text on page
    4. At least once in the ALT text of an image
    5. At least once in the Meta tag description

    NEVER use your keywords in a link or as anchor text on a hyperlink. This is considered keyword cannibalization and will result in your organic SEO standing to fall…. 

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – Free is awesome especially when the item is giving you extra traffic, money, rank, reputation, riches, etc. There are a lot of free tools available for SEO but you have to be picky about which ones to use.

    Here is a list of the top ones you should consider using on a regular basis…

    1 Google Analytics which we have already touched on
    2 Google Webmaster Tools
    3 Google keyword planner
    4 MozBar
    5 SEOWorkers Analysis Tool
    6 Woorank
    7 QuickSprout.com

    We will touch on each of these for the next seven days…to get you started here is a link to the google analytics page. You will need a google user name (free) to utilize these tools.


    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – When updating your meta tags the tile property of your pages needs to be an accurate, concise description of a page’s content.

    As title tags are such an important part of search engine optimization, it is very important that you implement the following concepts:

    1. Search engines display only the first 65-75 characters of a title tag in the search results.
    2. Make the text easy to read and descriptive
    3. Place keywords at the beginning of the text so that the person reading it hits them early
    4. Include your brand/company name in the text

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tip of the Day – The future of SEO is always changing, Technology changes minute by minute so as a DIY’er on SEO it is important that you interreact with your web developer to make sure that they are using the most up to date applications to create your website.

    If you are using WordPress for example make sure that you are downloading your updates. Make sure that the theme you are using is updated. If you are using a them that has been dropped by the developer it might be a time to change.

    If you are using Wix or any other builder make sure you are again that you are using the most up to date themes and updating your content regularly based on your keyword research!