Every business should be setting their unique Facebook links, but many have forgotten to do so since all the hype last summer. Once they are gone, they are gone. Use this link to find out if there is a name still available that suits your business:

http://www.facebook.com/username/

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Social networking has taken the world by storm! Nearly 40% of all Web traffic goes to a social networking site. Facebook and MySpace are the largest social networks online in the world right now. These sites began as a place for people to keep personal journals and share photos, businesses have recently found success there as well. When you have a large network of friends and colleagues who listen to each other’s opinions, consider how far a recommendation for your business will go?

The benefits social networking include: 
Exposure –  Simply by using key words and optimized content on your page, people will find you. If you find a group of people to become “fans” it generates more exposure to more social networks. 

Multimedia –  Any page with an intriguing or interesting video can help spread your message. This is especially effective for organizations with a “cause” such as nonprofits or those where referrals are key.

Easy Updates –  Social networking sites are built with the end user in mind and are very easily changed. New information can be posted in seconds. Content Fresh can manage all these sites for you so you don’t have to worry about it, but your “fans” will be grateful to hear your about new products, major announcements or specials.

Building Contacts –  Social networking sites help you build contacts. People with similar interests will find your page, and link to it by adding you to their friends or contacts list. It can be an opportunity to find your next business to partner with, your next customer or a new supplier.

Top three ways to get started in social networking and join the conversation your customers might be having about you!

1. Join a few social networking sites. By joining, you have access to more of what people are saying and can search more fully for your company name. Make sure you sign up with a username that can be easily identified with your company, such as John@MyCompany, so your customers know they are talking with a company representative.

2. Search for terms and see what people are saying about you. You might be surprised that people have posted positive experiences or possibly described bad experiences about your business online and you have never known!

3. Start responding! If someone has had a bad experience, offer a one-to-one response about how you are hoping to improve, if they have said something positive, offer them a discount or something for free to encourage more positive responses.
–Deborah York Geiger, APR, owner of Content Fresh LLC, maintains a blog at www.geigerpoint.wordpress.com. With 20 years experience in marketing, public relations and business, Deborah writes about technology for business professionals. Deborah is currently working for Honours Golf in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Are you running Web 2.0? A dramatic shift has occurred worldwide on the Internet that will impact your business whether you follow it or not.

Web sites of the last century were diverse, but one characteristic is that the content was driven by the corporation. Polished and informative brochure-style sites contained loads of information on company history, products, purchase information, and other static business information and resources. Researchers from institutions, marketing and sales divisions of corporations and information sources loaded the Internet with information and valuable content.

The new Internet, or Web 2.0, is driven by individuals. 

A Wikipedia definition:  “Web 2.0” refers to what is perceived as a second generation of web development and web design. It is characterized as facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. It has led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services, and web applications. Examples include social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies.
[Citation: Web 2.0. (2009, July 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:14, July 10, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Web_2.0&oldid=301344373]

While companies are still posting and adding content in scores, the change is in the fact that the majority of what people say online is no longer managed by corporations or their staff.  Millions of people share information daily on social networking sites, such as Facebook (over 5 million members) and Twitter. In fact research shows that searches for social networking has FINALLY surpassed porn!
“According to Bill Tancer, Hitwise’s general manager of global research, Web searches for social networking sites have finally surpassed searches for pornography.” [Source: Gina Hughes: The Techie Diva, blog, Yahoo Tech!, Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:39PM EDT]

By enabling and allowing information sharing and collaboration, the Web has become a shared “application” where the content begins with PEOPLE, not business or companies. Smart companies are joining in the conversation by adding corporate blogs, joining Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and more.

Leading edge are letting their customers post actual messages and receive feedback in real-time on their sites. It takes guts to allow your customers to post their true feelings about your products on your Web site, but the companies that do this are seen as sincere, honest and businesses where you will want to spend your money! Are you ready to give it a try?

–Deborah York Geiger, APR, owner of Content Fresh LLC, maintains a blog at www.geigerpoint.wordpress.com. With 20 years experience in marketing, public relations and business, Deborah writes about technology for business professionals. Deborah is currently working for Honours Golf in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Ever wonder why everyone is talking about the bookmarking site, Delicious.com? For business professionals, the site can save a tremendous amount of time and may lead to better research than simple online searches. For anyone, the site is just plain fun.  Wikipedia describes the site as follows:

Delicious (formerly del.icio.us, pronounced “delicious”) is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. Delicious uses a non-hierarchical classification system in which users can tag each of their bookmarks with freely chosen index terms (generating a kind of folksonomy). A combined view of everyone’s bookmarks with a given tag is available. Delicious has a “hotlist” on its home page and “popular” and “recent” pages, which help to make the website a conveyor of internet memes and trends. Delicious is one of the most popular social bookmarking services. Many features have contributed to this, including the website’s simple interface, a simple REST-like API, and RSS feeds for web syndication. Use of Delicious is free. All bookmarks posted to Delicious are publicly viewable by default, although users can mark specific bookmarks as private, and imported bookmarks are private by default. The public aspect is emphasized; the site is not focused on storing private (“not shared”) bookmark collections. Delicious linkrolls, tagrolls, network badges, RSS feeds, and the site’s daily blog posting feature can be used to display bookmarks on weblogs.

[Delicious (website). (2009, April 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Delicious_(website)&oldid=282765505 ]

The site works like a robust version of your “favorites” on your browser. As a writer, I often use several tools I have stumbled upon over the years. I have so many favorites bookmarked on my desktop computer it is often difficult for me to find what I KNOW I have saved. I also miss having those bookmarks when I am working from home, traveling for business, or am at a friend’s computer. Delicious solves these typical problems of access and organization, and provides some very useful tools for business professionals as well. Here are my top five:

  1. Tags. The “non-hierarchical classification system” is a system of tagging your bookmark with keywords. No longer do you have to remember which folder you filed it or what you called it. With enough keywords, it is possible to never lose that bookmark again. Some of the most popular tags are: design, blog, video, software, tools, music, programming, webdesign, reference, tutorial, art, web, howto, and the list goes on.
  2. Sharing. Have you ever sent a link to a colleague in an e-mail? Could you find it today? With Delicious, you can share links and favorite finds with a private group of people by setting up a network or two. You could have a network with a client group, other employees, or volunteers of a committee. The sharing is phenomenal, and you always have the option of setting a link to “private.” So you don’t have to post publicly all the places you might shop online, or the travel destinations you follow with your office colleagues!
  3. Widgets and Toolbars. Delicious makes it easy to use the site and share your research. You can place a “My del.icio.us” button at the top of your browser, allowing you to view your save pages at the click of a button. Importing the bookmarks currently on your system is easy, and sharing them on your Web site with a widget is incredibly easy. Check out my company’s, here: http://www.myfreshcontent.com/services.asp
  4. Research. With Delicious you can enjoy the fruits of others’ labors. I write for businesses of all sizes and Internet research is a large part of my day. When I need to find more information about a specific subject, there is no better place to look than pages that others have bookmarked as valuable. Since the tags are written by people, the search results are more intuitive than those generated by automatic search engines. Delicious also posts how many users have bookmarked a specific page, which gives you an idea of how popular it is.
  5. Delicious content. Spend a few hours on this site and you’ll know why they called it “Delicious.” Using the “popular bookmarks” and “explore tags” on the home page, you are lead to the most interesting content on the Internet and a pleasant way to lose track of several hours!

–Deborah York Geiger, APR, owner of Content Fresh LLC, maintains a blog at www.geigerpoint.wordpress.com. With 20 years experience in marketing, public relations and business, Deborah writes about technology for business professionals. Deborah is currently working for Honours Golf in Gulf Shores, Ala.

October 24, 2005
Writing with Power
by Deborah York Geiger, APR

As a writer working for a design firm, you may think I have the tendency to feel like the red headed stepchild—not as appreciated as the real baby, the graphic artist. It is true, Pixallure’s design projects are quite eye-catching and do capture the attention of our audiences, but keeping that attention is the writer’s job. It is powerful writing that inspires, motivates and makes calls to action. It is powerful writing that sells. The true excitement begins when great design and powerful writing work together to make one motivating statement.

 
“Sure, she cares
about her nails.”
Kenny-Moise, Inc.
Direct Mail Series
When you are writing for advertising or sales you often have to break the rules. In the book, The Ultimate Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy sums it up, “Schoolbook grammar is irrelevant in the sales letter. Instead, use every weapon in your arsenal—odd punctuation and phrasing, non-sentences, one-word exclamations, buzzwords—to push and prod and pull the reader along, and to create momentum and excitement.”

The real key to writing well is concentrating on the main point you want to make. It is crucial to dig deep down into the topic you are writing about and find the one most powerful thing about it that moves you. That is what you need to focus on. Remember, there is power in simplicity. Make your point and stop. That’s it. You’re finished. You only have a short amount of time to capture the attention of your reader. Grab it, then wrap it up.

 
“Of all the things we’ve built, purhaps the most important is our reputation.”
Rogers & Willard
Brochure Cover
 When you find that emotional connection to what you are writing about, the results can truly be powerful. Combine that with some eye-catching visuals and you are finally communicating well.
Reprinted with permission from Pixallure Design LLC. Visit original article post: http://www.pixallure.com/articles_pr_20051024.asp

July 25, 2005
A Secret To More Business
by Deborah York Geiger
One of the keys to marketing is keeping an eye on what’s really important. When it comes to getting more business, the answer is often right under our noses. I stumbled upon this article and found its simplicity refreshing. I hope you will agree. Let’s honor those that are the most important to us today–our current customers!

Cheap to keep
  You’ve heard it all before when it comes to stats about customer retention. Acquiring a customer costs five to 10 times more than retaining one. Repeat customers spend, on average, 67 percent more. After 10 purchases a customer has referred as many as seven other people.

So, if your focus is on acquiring new customers instead of keeping the ones you have, you are off the mark. Here is a brief overview on how to retain customers.
 

Ask
  New York Mayor Ed Koch was famous for asking “How am I doing? He always knew where he stood, even if he wasn’t always happy about the answer. So, survey your customers about their likes and dislikes. Then, follow through with the information you receive.

Profile
  Learn as much as you can about your customers and then do something with that information to show them that you value them. Find out what makes a “best” customer and then put programs in place to move more of your customers into this category.

Reward
  Humans like to be treated as if they are special, and they will return to businesses where they have had these positive experiences. Reward them with special deals, or just pay a little more attention to them. In this era of digital communication, just sending a hand-written note gets you major points.

New business is exciting, I’ll admit. But it is the clients you have that will bring you the most success over the long run. Don’t spend five to 10 times more to bring in that new customer. Instead, invest a fraction of that to keep your customers coming back and referring similar “best” customers.

Reprinted with permission from Pixallure Design LLC. Visit original article post: http://www.pixallure.com/articles_pr_20050725.asp

May 2, 2005
Trade Show Savvy
by Deborah Geiger
There are thousands of people wandering around the trade show floor, and a throng of visitors at a booth down the aisle, but no one at yours? What are you doing wrong? This was the lament of one of Pixallure clients recently, so we went to work to produce a trade show presence that got noticed. We developed a booth theme, coordinating handouts, ordered specialty items for give-a-ways, and even created a follow-up direct mail package to send to the top 20 leads that were generated from the show.

The direct mail package won national attention when it was among the top three finalists in the “Best Client Promotional” competition from The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), the 20,000-member organization serving the promotional products industry. The ASI Spirit Award competition is open to 17,000 distributors of promotional products in the U.S.

So many companies cut corners when it comes to trade shows, with devastating results. If you want to spend your trade show dollars wisely, consider these strategies:

Theme
  As a way to increase traffic in your booth, establishing a theme can be very effective. Creating a theme that complements your collateral materials and handouts is key. It is also critical that this theme emphasizes the key elements of your brand that you wish your potential customers to walk away with in their minds. A powerful theme becomes an attention-getter at the show, can help stimulate conversation and open the door to a positive relationship building experience. The theme we developed for Hargrove and Associates, around “balancing and juggling” keyed into one direct message for their clients: Hargrove can help plant and facility managers balance the pressures of foreign competition, aging equipment and environmental regulations.

Booth
  There is nothing more important than your graphic presentation at the show. This is your first impression on your potential target market and is one of the only ways you will attract attention and traffic to your booth. Pixallure can help you develop branding messages that reach out and grab the attention of your potential customers. For Hargrove, our booth design included an eye-catching juggler—something seemingly out of place for an engineering trade show This was exactly our intent and partly how we planned to capture the attention of our audience. 

Collateral
  Once you have the attention of your audience, it is critical to fill their need for more information about your unique services and industry approach. The flyer we developed for Hargrove, helped explain the theme and offered more specifics about how this engineering team can make a difference.

Specialties
  To reinforce the theme and add character to your show experience, use specialty items to generate conversation. For an eye-catching approach, use three items as follows:

• An inexpensive item to distribute freely throughout the show. 
• A moderately priced item, with very high perceived value, to give in person to important leads.
• A higher-end item to use as a follow up to mail individually to the top 20 to 30 leads generated from the show.
 

Direct Mail
  Many companies fail to do quality follow up after a show. It is easy to pack the booth up, stick that stack of business cards on your desk and get back to the real work. The problem with that approach is that it makes your trade show investment worthless. Those companies that provide good follow up after a show are the only ones that are truly remembered months later.
• First, let’s drive traffic to your booth. A pre-conference mailer with a teaser item that only a visit to the booth can complete, perhaps a puzzle piece that can win a big prize, a key to a treasure chest, etc. 
• During the show, make contacts and make sure you don’t forget who they are! Collect leads using a card scanning device, actual business cards, or short sign up forms. 
• Organize leads into two groups. Hot leads (to receive specialty gift package, and everyone else. Additionally, if it applies, organize cards into categories of special interests For Hargrove, these included industry associations, building managers, vendors, etc.
• Create mailing lists by special interest for e-news bulletins for that are targeted to their interest.
• Create a follow-up e-mail newsletter to send to all leads from the show that emphasizes a case study or special project accomplishment that reinforces show message and theme. 
• A post mailing to attendees that reinforces your corporate branding message and offers the information they might have missed if they didn’t visit your booth. A comprehensive list of services as a direct mailer is an ideal option. 
• A direct mail package to your top 20 contacts that reinforces the theme. For Hargrove this package included special gift package that contained a smaller version of the booth graphic, a copy of the handout, and a high-quality “balancing” pen that helped reinforce the message of the show.
 

Making the right investment in your trade show experience can lead to great success. Consider the difference between throngs of potential customers and leads at your booth, or the alternative—a wasted investment. Make your efforts count!

Reprinted with permission from Pixallure Design LLC. Visit original article post: http://www.pixallure.com/articles_pr_20050502.asp