Volunteering Can Be Good for You AND Your Business

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Volunteering Can Be Good for You AND Your Business

There has been a lot of ugly press lately about the differences between personal and charitable giving, between what a “community organizer” is versus just a person who gets stuff done in their community.  I have to say that I am far less interested in any of those drummed up political arguments than I am in hearing why people chose to be involved in their communities, usually in ways that do not seem to profit themselves.  Volunteer

I never did any charitable or political work until after I had kids.   I think it was all about me up until then; once my daughter came along I realized that if I wanted to see the world I wanted for her, I was going to have to be a part of making it happen.

I started donating to Samaritan House, a local charity that shelters victims of domestic violence. Once I had one in pre-school I wound up getting involved in PTA, ultimately winding up being PTA president, twice. I then was asked to work on Mark Warner’s campaign for governor. From there I was asked to chair and plan multiple charity events and auctions. And it just never stopped after that.
 I now serve as President of The Geekettes Club and on the Marketing committee for Hampton Roads Business OutReach.

And people ask WHY do I take on so much that does not make me money?   I have to tell you honestly, for all that it is about giving back to the community that gives so much to me and my children, there is a large portion of  self interest in it.

Through charity work I get to meet and develop relationships with people who would probably never take my business call in their office.  You get to really know folks when you are sweating side by side hanging up banners or selling cupcakes.  Those contacts can be invaluable when I need an introduction or a reference, or just more business.  In my case it has definitely lead to sales and other business opportunities I would never have come across otherwise.  From a reputation and public relations standpoint, there is a lot of good press to be had out of your company or your personal brand being thought of in the wider community as smart, helpful, resourceful, task-oriented, etc…all of which community involvement can bring.

And really, that type of involvement truly does make a community better.  It builds a sense of connection and literally can transform a dump into park, a crime zone into a peaceful street, a blight into a neighborhood full of opportunity.  This type of volunteer work is worth doing just to make your world and your children’s world a better place.

And if you get some business out of it, good for you!



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How does summer treat your business?

I am told by many of our clients that they track several changes to their receivables, contracts, etc. during the summer months.  That is not unexpected.  A HVAC client has had a really rough winter with it being so mild, so he is delighted with the idea of a hot sticky summer and lots of AC calls, repairs, and installations…not to mention the generators that sell like hotcakes during hurricane season.  small business marketing, seasonal marketing

Realtors, for whom we handle many sites, also tend to see a sharp spike in business during the summer month, for obvious reasons.   And since we live in a tourist town, the local restaurants also usually see increased business as well.

But what if your business does not have a natural uptick in the summertime?  How should you be using your most precious resources, your time and money?

Well, obviously, every business is different but there are certain things you should take the time to do, since you HAVE the time.  summer marketing, small business website design

1.  Review your marketing strategy: What is working for the past 6 months and what has not had good ROI?  Make changes dictated by your review.

2.  Start planning a new campaign: If you know your business has a busy time starting in October then start planning for it NOW instead of waiting until September; this may allow you to allocate more budget or just make better long-term decisions.

3.  Catch up on your online marketing: Update your website to make sure the SEO is current, check the various directories that concern your industry and the local market and make sure all your listings are up to date, and start really working your Facebook or Twitter to build some buzz for the upcoming Fall season.

4.  Investigate alternative marketing pieces: Review things you may not have checked out before; if you have been strictly marketing online, check out some print alternatives, and vice-versa.  Look into mainstream advertising, often it is not as expensive as you think.

If you don’t waste the time bemoaning the slow summer and instead choose to make it effective, you may just find summertime to be your most profitable time of the year! 

-Kim Finley, Partner & Sales Director of Commonwealth Creative Marketing.


8 Things NOT to do on Facebook

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8 Things NOT to do on Facebook

My internet marketing firm spends all day online. I personally spend a great deal of time on Facebook for business reasons, and have a large and varied friends list. This blog post will help you steer clear of bad etiquette on Facebook.

1. Stalking on Facebook is just as inappropriate as in real life. If you are commenting on and/or liking EVERYTHING that someone posts, that is a form of stalking.

2. Punctuation matters; there is nothing as aggravating as having to mentally insert the missing and or corrected punctuation while I am reading a post. Slow down, and have some respect for your reader.

3. Don’t use quotes every day as your status. It’s boring and lazy and tells your audience nothing at all about you, hence it is poor for engagement; and that is what supposedly you came to Facebook to do…you know, engage with actual people.

4. DO NOT FRIEND FARM!!!! That is the act of pillaging one of your popular, successful, networked friend’s list and sending friend requests to whom you think look cool, or a good business target, or whatever. It is rude, and it is the height of bad online manners.

5. DO NOT accept people as friends if you think you are being friend farmed. If you don’t know them, click ignore. There are no trophies for having the biggest friends list, and why the heck do you want to interact with someone you do not even know?! Unless they are in your very favorite band, say no. This is how friend farming will finally come to a halt.

6. Grammar matters too: Google it if you have to or re-word, but when you use the incorrect form of your, their, or wear, it makes it hard for people to read.

7. And whatever you do, do NOT be judgmental on someone else’s wall; you may misunderstand their humor, you may not know the inside joke, the back-story, or the reality on someone’s post, and for you to pass judgment in a snarky, superior way ON THEIR WALL is unprofessional.

8. Do not post links to or about your business, charity, project, or passion to someone else’s wall without asking first. It is both presumptuous and rude, and is akin to putting a sign for your business in your friends’ yard without asking.

In other words, be kind, be intelligent, be polite, be positive. Just like in real life, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. As a partner in a small business marketing company, I can promise that obeying all these rules will make your Facebook world a better, happier, more cheerful place.

~Kim Finley, Sales Director

Yes, Small Business CAN Play with the Big Boys!

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Yes, Small Business CAN Play with the Big Boys!

The Internet has leveled the playing field for small business in many ways, even with larger companies having the advantage of big bucks.  Large advertising dollars can pay for expensive pay-per-click campaigns, expensive social media contests with expensive prizes and expensive tie-ins with other forms of advertising.

So how have small businesses made up the difference?

1. A visually strong website that contains calls to action and instructions for your visitor.  If you do not have a qualified person on staff, engage an ethical, small business website design company to help.

2. Always consider a niche, specifically, your niche.  You don’t need to appeal to EVERYBODY on the web, so don’t spend your money or your time doing so.  Target market to a very narrow segment of people who NEED your solution to their problem.

3. Execute search engine optimization (SEO) practices to the extent you can afford.  What you can’t pay for or outsource to a professional, do yourself.  It is a time investment that can pay off dramatically in revenue, if done right.

4. Set up your analytics to run on your website, and TRACK everything!  Design your sales funnels and your conversion goals and monitor your results, tweaking where you can.  Data is power.
Remember, Google has an interest in a level playing field, and the consumer does too.  So you CAN beef up your online presence without breaking the bank.

~ Kim, Sales Director