» small business

Starting a Business in Virginia

February 2, 2013 | Posted in Local Marketing, Marketing Plans, Networking, Website Design | By

How To Start a Business in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia is a great place to do business because it’s a fairly easy state to operate in with fair tax rates. Some states make it more difficult, a few may make it easier, but very few states offer the diverse demographics and geographical beauty, options and cultural diversity that Virginia does, making it an ideal grounds for clientele for any business. Whether you’re thinking of starting a new business in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Fairfax, Roanoke, Danville or Abington, it’s all basically the same. The following is a helpful list of things that you’ll need to do in order to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavor.

1. Write a business plan.
2. Know your competition.
3. Develop a Marketing plan.
4. Identify what “kind” of business license you should have.
5. Come up with a budget.
6. Market your business.

1. Write a Business Plan

Why are you going into business? What will you sell? How will you sell it? What makes you different? Why are you special? How do you want to be seen in the marketplace? From whom will you get your supplies? What will you offer that will make people come back for more? What is your budget? (see budget below, later). Write out about a 3 pages business plan. Identify the basics and what’s important, but don’t get too in depth with it, spending weeks and months formulating it. The reason why you shouldn’t is because your business


Why We Love Working With Small Business

December 28, 2012 | Posted in Website Design | By

Why We Love Working With Small Business

Early on in my career I got a “thrown to the fire” introduction to Corporate America.  Out of college I worked for a large corporation that had clients that were even bigger corporations.  Even though I wasn’t working for an “ad agency” like I’d wanted to, I was gaining solid business experience.  It didn’t take long to figure out I didn’t really enjoy the corporate atmosphere of being monitored all hours of the day, the ties, the shoes, the reports, the pep rallies and so on.  I kind of imagined myself doing my job unbothered by bosses and only bothered by people who needed my help… and me sort of acting as a central helper and having time to have fun while I worked.  I wanted to wake up excited to go to work, not dreading it. I also wanted to wear flip flops but I knew that was pushing it a little.

I finally gathered up enough “business experience” in my field that a real, respected Ad Agency deemed me acceptable to hire.  It was a great feeling and I finally felt like I was doing what I’d always wanted to do, working in the environment I’d always wanted to and with the types of people I dreamed about.  What I learned next


Social Media IS Old Fashioned Public Relations

October 17, 2012 | Posted in Customer Relations, Measuring Results | By

Social Media IS Old Fashioned Public Relations

A lot of people who use Social Media platforms to market their businesses think of it strictly in terms of sales and marketing; I beg to differ.  I think that Social Media usefulness has morphed in many ways to a typical Public Relations concept.

Wikipedia defines Public Relations thusly:

public relations plural of pub·lic re·la·tions (Noun)

  1. The professional maintenance of a favorable public image by an organization or a famous person.
  2. The state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person.

That said, does Social Media, in particular Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc as used for business or non-profit marketing fit that definition?  We think so.  We at Commonwealth Creative Marketing have been utilizing a public relations component in our SEO campaigns for clients for quite some time in the form of reviews as well as social media, and we tend to market social media outsourcing as PR, not as marketing.  Public Relations are supposed to build your positive reputation in the public sphere, build top-of-mind consciousness, and help you retain the customers you already have.  Social Media does all of that very well, through engagement and online conversation, as well as the inevitable sharing that occurs with engaging content.

When you have data that can be fuzzy, that is not Internet marketing, per se; Most marketing avenues have tracking mechanisms in place.  Even billboards have a count of how many cars drive by on any given day!  But it is almost impossible to track whether someone saw your Facebook posting 17 times in their newsfeed, then heard a good word of mouth from a friend, then checked out your website, before they finally called and then purchased.  If you have social media well integrated with your other marketing components, however, you can demonstrate at least some benefit through engagement and feedback, even if you don’t have a hard number of conversions.

So consider taking a PR look at your marketing campaigns, and also consider how social media can best serve you as a public relations piece.



A Field of Dreams? Not Really…

September 18, 2012 | Posted in Local Marketing, Measuring Results, Website Design | By

A Field of Dreams? Not Really…

A question I hear a lot is “How come if my site is so good my traffic is declining?”  Or, “why am I getting so few hits on my site, it’s only 6 months old?”

What I keep hearing myself say in response is “the Field of Dreams approach to websites no longer works.  You can build it; it does not mean they will come.”  

I use the Field of Dreams analogy because for a long time I think that is largely what worked, at least for many sites.  Not that SEO did not exist or that quality design and solid keywords did not matter, but 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago, the Internet was not so FULL.  According to DOMO, there are 571 new websites created every minute of every day, and there are over 2 million searches initiated on Google in that same minute.  So yeah, the space is crowded and busy.

Given those types of numbers there are a few things for every business owner of every site to consider, especially my clientele, locally owned small businesses:

1. Search Engine Optimization is no longer a luxury item, it is a must.  You need to have ongoing SEO practices engaged to stay relevant and competitive.  That means actually using analytics to track what is bringing people to your site, what is keeping them on your site, and having specific conversion goals.

2. Content is still king: adding relevant content through blogs, photos, products, comments, etc., must happen on a regular basis.  A static website is a lower ranked website.

3. Social Media is becoming more important when it comes to branding and public relations.  Using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Youtube, etc can help you grow your online footprint and provide links back to your site, which is always the goal.  I am leery of saying it can be a lead generator, although it can and has been for me personally.  But that took months of organic cultivation and a focus on engagement and a willingness to put in the time with no discernible immediate result.

So small business website design not only has to incorporate quality design from the cosmetic and sales and organic perspective, but needs to be adopted with the knowledge that if you build it, you better incorporate SEO and other forms of marketing into your plan if you want the people to come.  It is no longer enough to just be there.

See you on the web!



Too Sweaty To Talk To Your Clientele? Get Over It!

July 10, 2012 | Posted in Customer Relations, Local Marketing | By

Too Sweaty To Talk To Your Clientele? Get Over It!

Summer Marketing is HOT!Look, I get it; it is really, really, REALLY hot outside.  And it feels really kinda gross and hot even inside.  And the idea of getting into your hot car and driving on the hot roads and having to summon the energy to engage with a client is exhausting and makes you crave a swimming pool or a trip to the Arctic.

I get it.

It does not matter at all.  You still have to connect with your clients.