The Top 5 Ways to Establish Your Small Business’ Web Presence

We are living in the age of e-commerce and online marketing. This means that, to be successful in today’s competitive world, it is necessary for every small business to have a solid online presence. The amount of goods and services being sold online is increasing every day, as is the number of people who do most of their shopping online. In this current environment, it is important for a small business to be able to reach these people in order to maximize their profits.

How does a small business owner create an online presence which enables their company to get noticed by consumers amidst the competition? The following are the best methods your business can employ to create an effective, visible online presence:

Get a Domain Name

Sign up with a Web hosting company and register a domain name for your business’ website. Make sure you choose a domain name that is easy for people to remember. Do not make the domain name difficult for potential customers to spell, or too long to include on business cards and company stationary. Although there are free web hosting companies available for you to use, having a domain name of your own gives your business some credibility in the eyes of consumers. If the name of your business has already been registered as a domain name, select a name that relates to the type of business you are running.

Improve Your Design

This is a critical element of site building which many small businesses overlook, to the detriment of their business. If a person visits your site, he or she will want to find the information they are looking for as soon as possible. This means the information on your site must be laid out in a simple, straightforward way, so visitors won’t have to waste time searching for the information they need. Pay attention to your site’s loading time—if your site is sluggish and takes a long time to navigate between pages, it may frustrate potential customers to the point where they leave to seek products or services from a different provider.


Search engine optimization is the best way to make your small business as visible as possible on the web. Seek out an SEO company to configure your site so it will show up near the top of Google’s search rankings. These digital services involve strategic link building, professional content creation and rank tracking. The further down the rankings you are, the less customers you will attract. With well-done SEO, your business will be highly visible to customers using Google to search for the services you offer.

Use Social Media

Social media is used by over one billion people worldwide. Having a presence on all of the most popular social media platforms is a terrific way for you to stay in touch with your customers and to find out what suggestions they have for your business. You will also be able to offer coupons and incentives via certain social media platforms, encouraging customers to follow your business online.


Buy advertising on sites that relating to the interests of your customers and the services you provide. Get in touch with the owners of these related sites to see if they will work out a deal with you to direct their visitors to your business.

Here is a great advertising example for shark week that Discovery Channel did a while back.


Whether your business has been around for decades or is just starting out, establishing a strong online presence is essential to its success.


Russell Cragun


Minding the Transition: 7 Apps That Can Help Your Business Turn Green

Over the past decade going green has become such an integral word in the business vernacular it’s easy to forget what it means. Going green is all about saving resources and conserving energy which will help the environment and drive business costs down at the same time. Keeping that in mind, here are seven applications and programs any business can start using immediately to start their own green movement.

1.Google Docs

Google Docs allows business to share documents with everybody in the company at once. It eliminates the need to print documents out and distribute them and even takes less processing power than emailing a document to a massive distribution list.




A traditional business desk always conjures an image of many bright yellow post-its littered over the desk, wall and computer monitor. Evernote allows users to type notes to themselves and access them from any device, eliminating the need for notepads, notebooks and the pile of post-its that end up in the garbage.



GoToMeeting allows people to meet with one another wherever they are in the world. This will allow a business to meet with clients across the country without having to travel and allows employees to work from home once or twice a week. This will ultimately cut back on frivolous travel and wasted fossil fuels.



eFax is an application service that allows you to access your faxes from any computer or mobile device. Faxes no longer have to be received and printed, they can be viewed on screen and filed electronically. This will save the use of paper, ink and energy.



Cardcloud allows a businessperson to send and store virtual business cards. Stored business cards may be linked with online social network profiles or emails, organized and allow for individual notes. The most convenient aspect of Cardcloud is that sending a virtual business card can be done via the app or email and the recipient doesn’t need to have the app to receive the card.


6.Smart Thermostat Programs

Smart thermostat software can be an investment but it is a worthwhile one. Honeywell’s software, for example, allows users to program a thermostat from a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. It offers flexible programming and scheduling options, alerts for extreme temperatures and the ability to adjust the thermostat remotely. The convenience and energy savings will pay for the investment in short order.



WattBuddy is an award-winning application that quickly reads and analyzes electricity usage. It displays daily and weekly usage patterns and will report any anomalies so a business owner can track exactly when electricity is being wasted and where improvements in consumption can be made.




ADP provides automated payroll and tax services that allow billing and electronic invoicing to take less of your time. It allows you to leverage your internal system while outsourcing the often-tedious tax management process. By employing’s expertise in employment-related tax compliance and timely processing, you can gain control, help mitigate risks, and help eliminate high-risk/low-reward tasks.

Utilizing the applications and programs discussed above will help a business save a great deal of energy, resources, and of course, money. Some of this technology is easier to implement than others but all of them will put any business on the track to long-term sustainability, which is ultimately what all businesses strive for.


Russell Cragun


5 Marketing Strategies You Have To Optimize

Marketing can be a challenging and never ending process in which you must constantly change, update and monitor. We have all heard the recommendations such as, blog often, use your social media, build a strong SEO campaign. We start out doing all these things but its hard to stay on top of it all, and its easy to abandon some of these practices like your social media or email marketing programs. Don’t let this happen to you! By remaining receptive to evolving trends and new ways to influence people to purchase your goods and products, your business can attain the continual growth and expansion you desire.


Social Media Marketing Campaign

While SEO (Search Engine Optimization) remains an effective internet marketing strategy to use, many marketing experts are now acknowledging that SMO (Social Media Optimization) can be just as important-if not more so. This makes sense given the fact that social media affords business owners the opportunity to develop personal, meaningful relationships with their customers that transcend the robotic, mechanistic effects generated by SEO strategies like backlinking, internal links, and keyword analysis. Since this is the case, you should devote time to developing a social media marketing campaign that is tailored to your target audience. Your campaign can include anything from tweeting links to your product pages via Twitter to advertising free webinars where you discuss your products via Facebook.


Referral Programs

If you really want to take your marketing plans to a new level in 2014, be sure to implement quarterly referral programs. These programs are effective for numerous reasons, including the fact that they influence your consumers to advertise for you. In order to get your loyal customer base to have their friends and family members sign up for your services or products, offer them a great incentive like 25% off their next purchase or a month of free service.


Promotional Products

Promotional products are a great way to market your goods and services. And even if you made use of great promotional products last year, it’s time for you to get even more innovative this year. These could also be great moral boosters in your company and your employees will love it. You can look into printing some fun company t-shirts, coffee mugs or water bottles. By giving these to your employees you are getting some great advertising in your community and through word of mouth. Make sure you are not missing out on these great chances!


Online Reputation Management

As internet use becomes increasingly prevalent, many internet marketing strategists are realizing that business owners must protect their reputations in the online world. This is increasingly important as a result of the fact that disgruntled customers can leave negative reviews and remarks on various websites. In many cases, these remarks are untrue and slanderous. Since this is the case, you need to make online reputation management an integral aspect of your marketing plan for 2014. There are several ways that you can do this, including by listing positive customer reviews on your website.


Video Production

While websites and blogs should remain an integral aspect of your marketing plan, you need to branch out into the world of video production in 2014. Videos that advertise your goods and services are efficacious for many reasons, including the fact that statistics indicate people would prefer to watch a video than read about products. Since this is the case, take time to put together a short yet informative video that is aesthetically appealing and engaging so that you can increase your loyal customer base this year.

Although you may think that developing and implementing a great marketing plan for 2014 will be difficult, it doesn’t have to be. By making use of some or all of the strategies listed above, you can attain the continual growth and expansion that your business needs. Good luck!

Russell Cragun


Four Best Forms of Paper Marketing for Your Business

Every business benefits from marketing collateral, which consists of paper like business cards, brochures, newsletters, and white papers. Marketing collateral reflects business professionalism and elegantly promotes a branded message.

While it is possible to actually create your own using your computer, the right software, and a high-quality printer, it is much easier and more cost-effective to simply let a good printer handle the work. It’s more important to focus on distributing your marketing collateral than spend hours of your valuable time messing with Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Photoshop, or Quark Xpress to create your own material.

Here are the four best forms of paper marketing to promote your business.

1. Business Cards

Business cards are the single most effective way for two business people to exchange information or a business person to share contact details with a potential client. Naturally, business cards should be carefully thought out to convey more than just contact information. Design, layout, written descriptions, and printing have to be considered in some detail. A business card can also have an appointment card displayed on the back of it.

Business Cards


2. Brochures

A brochure provides a condensed description of a business. People like to mull over information before they make a decision. You can impress customers with a polished brochure that they’ll remember. Brochures can be tri-fold format and full-color on both sides. Paper stock with aqueous coating is often considered high quality.




3. Flyers

Most flyers are done in haste, with little thought put into them. Yet done properly, they can be highly effective. Here are seven things to consider when it comes to flyers:

• They should be brief
• The information should be organized with bullet points, infographics, or text boxes
• The flyer should have a catchy headline
• They should list benefits
• They should have a call to action
• They should be very specific about time, location, and driving directions
• They should speak to the core needs of the specific audience


4. Forms

While business cards, brochures, and flyers are designed to attract new clients, you also need the right paperwork to do business with clients. This is where the right forms come in. A professional looking form with a corporate logo and slogan can be used to survey customer’s needs, take work orders, present receipts, or conduct other forms of business with customers.
In the final analysis, a business has to quickly convey information about itself to attract and engage customers, and one of the most powerful ways to do this is through the proper marketing collateral.

Information Source: Samco Printers Ltd

Russell Cragun


The Five Most Important Aspects of Your Company’s Public Face

For any company, public image can be an asset or a liability. No matter what products or services are being offered, gaining and keeping the trust of the public is essential to maintaining good business relations with everyone from employees to clients to customers. To make sure all goes smoothly with one’s public image, and ensure that a company is putting its best face forward, there are a few things that all business owners and marketing departments should play close attention to:


Company Management

Whether it’s a CEO of a major corporation, or the owner of a local business, company management plays a big factor in public perception. Managers and owners who are constantly involved with charity work and other good causes present a positive public image of the company as one that gives back to its community and is invested in the greater good.


Community Involvement

In addition to an invested and involved management, employee activity in the community can play a big role in how the organization is perceived. Many companies create a culture of community service among employees, with participation in charitable events and other community happenings being an annual event. These are usually, if not always, excellent PR moves which benefit both the community and your company’s image.


Customer Service

This is arguably the most important determining factor in how any business, large or small, is perceived. Nothing can make a business seem fantastic or awful quicker than its customer service, whether it’s in person, on the phone or through email. Companies who make customer service training for their employees a high priority are usually the ones who are best-liked by customers, while those who fail to make it a priority tend to regularly receive low ratings from customers.


Public Relations Expert

Having an excellent Public Relations department can rescue any business from the depths of scandal, recall and whatever else threatens the company’s reputation. These experts, who should typically hold a Master’s degree in Public Relations, are skilled at understanding how best to gain public trust and keep it—and how to regain public trust after it has been lost. The best companies are usually those which utilize their PR departments on a regular basis, keeping the company in view of the public while making the company look and sound as good as possible.


Employee Appearance

How employees look, act and present themselves to customers can play a big role in how a company is viewed by customers and clients. Having clean-cut, well-dressed employees who are knowledgeable about their products or services can go a long way toward satisfying customers and being perceived as a stable and well-structured company.


By combining these five aspects, a company can make sure it is always seen as one that cares about its customers and community. Public image is one of the biggest deciding factors in a company’s success, so public relations and appearance should never be overlooked.


Russell Cragun


Selling on Amazon vs eBay: Clash of the Titans

You can make a lot of money selling unused and new items online. and are the two biggest online marketplaces; people new to the online retail industry often wonder which one is better for selling their merchandise. There are advantages and disadvantages to each outlet, and the question of which eCommerce giant to use depends on what you’re selling and what you hope to achieve. For additional learning visit this infographic that explains the differences between Amazon and eBay.

How Much Time Do You Want to Devote?

One of the main questions you need to ask yourself is how much time you can devote to setting up your sales page, keeping track of sales and sending out orders. Ebay is much more do-it-yourself oriented than Amazon, so if you don’t have a lot of time, you’ll want to use Amazon.

On Amazon, your basic responsibilities include uploading a photo of your merchandise, writing a short description and setting a price. Amazon takes care of the rest; you don’t have to worry about keeping track of items sold and inventory or packing and shipping. On Ebay, however, every aspect of your business is pretty much up to you. In addition to creating your sales page for the item, you must check regularly to see if items have been sold. Once an item sells, it is up to you to contact the customer to confirm that you received the sales notice, pack and ship the item and confirm that the item arrived safely. Failure to do any of these things in a timely manner can generate negative customer feedback or even cause eBay to suspend your account.

Where is Your Market Located?

Depending on the types of merchandise you are selling, you may want to sell across the country or across the world. Large, bulky or expensive items don’t sell well to customers who have to pay for shipping on eBay; you may have to settle for selling these to local customers only. However, Amazon does not allow people to sell items across country lines; if you want to access the international market, you will have to use eBay.

Is Your Online Business a Stand-Alone?

Many companies use online sales as only one sales channel, while other companies may sell exclusively online. If your online retail efforts are part of a larger branding campaign, you’ll want to use eBay. Amazon does not offer you as many opportunities to brand yourself and your product line. On eBay, you have complete control over product images, descriptions and page details, which can allow you to contribute to your branding via your eBay page.

Another reason to consider whether your business is a stand-alone is price points. eBay is much more a discount outlet than Amazon is. People browse eBay listings in order to find expensive items at significantly reduced prices. Thus, you are going to have to set your price points lower on eBay than you would on Amazon and will make less money at the end of the day. If you are using eBay for branding, that doesn’t matter as much as if you are selling online primarily to generate revenue.

Interested in getting started with Doba? Check out this helpful video to learn more about us!


Russell Cragun


Top Social Media Marketing Mistakes

Social media marketing is considered to be the gold mine of marketing for many businesses; there are literally thousands of potential customers online who may be interested in your products or services and whom you wouldn’t be able to reach effectively using traditional marketing methods. As lucrative as social media marketing can be, however, if used incorrectly it can cause a PR disaster for your company.  Avoid these social media marketing mistakes in order to ensure that you hit gold with your social media campaign.

1. Advertising Instead of Talking

Some businesses forget the social side of social media. These businesses post status updates about themselves–what they are doing, what products they offer and what sales they have.

This type of advertising works well in print media because people can’t interact with the company when they read an advertisement. It does not work at all in social media. People can’t relate to companies that talk only about themselves and they don’t like advertisements in their social media feeds. Thus, they will ignore and unfollow businesses that talk about themselves instead of having a conversation with their customers.

2. Targeting the Wrong Social Media Sites

It’s easy to get on Facebook and write posts there. Facebook is one of the biggest, most popular and most well known social media sites. Despite its size, however, not everybody hangs out online there. Some businesses target customers that frequent LinkedIn, Twitter or Foursquare instead of Facebook. If you post all the right things on Facebook but your audience isn’t there, nobody will hear your message. Survey your current customers or your target audience to find out what social media sites they use most often before beginning your social media campaign.

3. Posting Irrelevant Items

Although you want your posts to be of interest to customers so that people share them and respond to them,  you also need to make sure they are relevant to your business’ mission. Irrelevant posts confuse people and cause them to unfollow you. For example, don’t post cute pictures of animals unless your business is related to them in some way. Your business’ goals and who it serves should always be clear in order to let customers know that you are a business and that you’re the business for them.

4. Getting Involved in Religious or Political Debates

Customers often have very strong feelings about religion or politics. Unless it is very clearly related to your target audience or your business’ mission (e.g., you provide services to the LGBT community or you cater to a specific religion), it’s best to avoid getting into these debates. You will upset or offend part of your customer base and might end up giving yourself a poor reputation, especially if you argue online instead of just stating your business’ point of view.

Russell Cragun


How to Sell on Pinterest

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media sites; over 1 million users browse and post on this site every day. Unlike Facebook, which is both text and image driven, or Twitter, which is completely text based, Pinterest is an image-dependent site. Users can “pin” images they like to a variety of boards, share pins with other users and comment on other people’s pins. Online marketers sometimes forget Pinterest when creating their social media marketing plans; however, this site offers unique abilities to sell products that should not be ignored.

Pinterest Logo

Start Targeting Your Audience

You can use Pinterest as your online catalog. Create a board for each category of product that you sell. For example, you could create a board for clothing and a separate board for appliances and kitchen items. Then post pictures of each item you sell with a compelling description. Don’t forget to include a link for purchasing the item.  The key to using Pinterest as an online catalog is to make titles and descriptions compelling and use attractive, high-quality images that will catch your customers’ interest.  In addition, feature only your best products on your boards — don’t try to add every product you own, as this will overwhelm visitors and make your page seem like spam.

Pinterest Board

Integrate Pinterest On Your Website

In addition to posting boards full of your merchandise, you should also install a “Pin It” button on your website next to each item of interest. That way, users can put your items on their own boards. This offers you free exposure. Users will often pin photos of their favorite items to their wish list board so that other people can buy the item for them, which increases your chance of sales.

Follow Pinterest

Go The Extra Mile!

Don’t just use Pinterest as an online catalog, because users will feel like you are just advertising and not participating. In addition to your catalog boards, make sure to create some boards that will interest your customers without selling them anything. Choose related topics and pin pictures having to do with those topics. For example, if you are an environmentally-friendly company, consider having some boards devoted to different aspects of environmentalism with pictures of symbols and activities. You could even have a board full of beautiful pictures of natural habitats that haven’t been spoiled by environmental problems.

Go The Extra Mile

Finally, make sure to browse your target audience’s boards and re-pin, or share, relevant items that you really like. This will help you develop rapport with your potential customers and allow you to use Pinterest as a social media site rather than just as an advertising bulletin board.
Russell Cragun


The Four Most Common Branding Mistakes

brandAs a small business owner, you have to wear a lot of different hats, and marketing is probably not your area of expertise. Here are four of the most common branding mistakes that small business owners make, together with some actionable tips that will get you on the right path for shaping customer perception:




What to Include In Your Return Policy

uturnmoneyYour reputation as a reliable Ecommerce merchant depends partly on the integrity and convenience of your return policy. A good set of guidelines regarding how to deal with returns will ensure that your customers feel cared about, and it will protect the interests of all parties to the transaction. Here are 5 essential customer service elements to include in your return policy: