<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ignite Your Site: September 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Make the Holidays Bright.

That's right, we are just around the corner from Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. The scary part is, the economy isn't looking too favorably on having a good financial holiday season though. So what is a business, whether it be online or off, to do to make things the best they can be?

Marketing Starts Now!
That's right, and some may argue the train should have already left the station for your marketing. Make sure you are in front of the people you want shopping from you as often as you can be. Go out and purchase banner ads, advertise on the radio, put an ad in a magazine or two, get an article in the paper, etc. Just remember to be smart, don't pay for ad space that you feel is too expensive, remember the company you are buying the ad from is probably not doing well either so you might have some room to bargain.

You can never market enough, especially when the economy is not in your favor. The more people know about you, and the more they see your name the better chance you stand of having them stop at your store. Don't give them any reason to look for another source, be in their face without being too annoying (yes it's a fine line, but you know when you've gone too far, just be smart about it.).

Smart Pricing
Smart pricing is pricing your products so you still make a profit, but you look like a better bargain then your competitor. Sometimes taking less profit can actually increase sales and increase your bottom line. If you are working on 50% mark-ups, why not cut that down to 40% or 35% if you can afford it? You don't want to undersell your items, but you also don't want to be the most expensive shop in town.

Good Customer Service = Referrals
This may seem like a given, but it's one of the most important things. Make sure that anyone and everyone who has contact with a customer from your company (whether it be phone, email, face-to-face) does it in a positive way. One bad experience from a customer can equate to many lost sales from people they know. On the other hand, a truly positive experience will most likely have that customer coming back and usually they'll tell or bring a friend.

Remember: Just because the economy is slow, doesn't mean you should be.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pay Per Click - Is it right for me?

I'm often presented with the question "Is Pay-Per-Click really worth it?". Surprisingly the answer is both yes and no (it's never easy is it?!!).

Why is it both you may ask? Well for the simple reason that depending on what you are referring to, it may or may not be worth the time, cost, effort, etc. Lets take for instance a highly popular term like cars. Lets say you are the number one car distributor in your area. I would say in this case, it may be worth it to use PPC to come up when people search for general terms like car dealership, new cars, cars for sale, best cars, used cars, and more. The reason being, those are typically highly competitive terms and would be extremely hard to get natural rankings for with the top 2-3 pages. So using PPC will allow you the opportunity to have a presence closer to the top of the search engines (depending on your budget of course!).

On the other hand if you are trying to be visible for a phrase such as "used red corvettes in dayton", you may stand a very good chance of being found close to the top of the search results. Why? Well if you do the simple process of adding a couple of pages about "used red corvettes in dayton" and the years you carry, you most likely will have no problem showing up under this term in the top search engines, without having to pay. That's right I said without having to pay.

Pay per click is a highly effective tool when used appropriately and in conjunction with a well planned, and thought out natural search engine campaign. It takes a little time and evaluation of results to perfect your campaigns, but it will be well worth the effort in the end.

Remember: Think. Plan. Promote.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Networking - time to go offline!

Real life networking is something that many people have given up over the years because they feel that being online, and in social networks is more than enough. Perhaps in some cases this can be true, but for most of us, a little networking every now and then could do wonders.

Where can I go for networking?
Anywhere really. Try going down to your local coffee shop, or newspaper stand and chat up some people. It doesn't always have to be a formal networking event, just make sure you aren't that weird guy who everyone runs away from!

There are also speed networking events, which are just like speed dating events where you meet with a dozen or so people for a few minutes at a time. This is a great scenario because you get a chance to meet more people in less time than a traditional networking event such as a social. It also gets those shy people to feel more at ease in a one on one discussion environment.

What am I looking to gain from a networking event?
That really depends on you. Some people are happy to walk away with a half dozen new business cards, while others will be happy with a new lead or agreement with one of the other attendees. Before you go to the event be sure you know what you want to get out of it. If you just show up and say "I wonder what will happen", you will never know if it as worth going or not.

On the other hand if you decide before you get to the event that you want to get 5 business cards to follow up with, than you have a definable goal. You will know at the end of the night just by looking at the cards if you achieved your goal and if the event was worth attending.

What type of business is networking for?
Any business really. Whether you are selling widgets at a town store front or working as a B2B business, networking never hurts. You may meet someone who knows people that would love your product, or that you can team up with to sell things together. There are really no limits to what you might find when you get out there and start talking to people.

Remember: Its not always just about your product or service, but also about who you know and meet.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Content Editing vs Content Management

Many people think that content editing is the same thing as content management. In the very simplest of terms I guess they can be considered correct, but when you really look at the two there are real differences. At Ignite we feel it is important that you know what the differences are, so you know what you are getting as an end product.

Content Editing
This is when you are able to edit the text and possibly pictures within the body of a page. You usually have little or no control over the navigation, page design, or any other major functions of the website.

The best example of this would be Macromedia's (Adobe's) product Contribute. Contribute allows web designers the ability to give their client accessibility to update content within the page or pages that they grant permissions for.

This is a great tool for the casual client who really only wants to change or add some text every now and then and has little else to update or modify on the site. It's not good however for someone who needs to add pages, content, modules, etc to the site at any given time.

Content Management:
This is a much more robust system that allows control of pretty much every aspect of the website, or as much control as the administrator will allow for each user. Some popular content management solutions are DotNetNuke, Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress, TypePad, and others. These systems are extremely robust and feature rich applications that give website owners the ability to create new pages, add modules, update content, allow users to register, and much more.

You are actually able to 'manage' your website from an administrative backend. Unlike with the content editing tools, there is an administrator that can set permissions for viewing certain pages, delete or modify registered users, and a variety of other things.

Which is better Content Editing or Content Management:
It really all depends on what you are looking to do. As mentioned earlier if you are just looking to make some small text updates to existing pages then content editing is probably more than enough for you. However, if you really want to have full control and be able to expand as needed content management is the direction you should be looking.

Remember: Don't always assume you are getting something, make sure you know you are getting it.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

If I had the time I'd create my own website...

This is probably one of the most common phrases that I hear in this industry. We get a call from a small or medium size business owner and they "know" they can build their own website, but just don't have the time. They go on and on about how they "know" what it's all about and how they have done websites in the past, etc, etc. Now even if you do know how to build your own website, is it really the best use of your time and are you sure you are building it correctly?

Let the experts do it, that's why they are called experts:
Just imagine if I walked into your office and wanted you to design a building for me (assuming you are an architect in this case) and I blurted out the phrase "Well, I'd draw up the plans myself but I just don't have the time". What would your reaction be? I would assume you would most likely be offended and then think to yourself, where does this guy get off? You've spent years getting your degree to become an architect and then I walk in and make it sound like anyone who has half a brain could do the job.

Experts are experts because they have spent a lot of time and effort learning their craft. They've studied the various techniques, aligned themselves with other people who know the industry just as well if not better. They could give you a history lesson on what their industry is all about. This same thing holds true for "real" web designers and programmers. It's not something they do because it's easy, it's something they do because they have a passion for it and have honed their craft to be as good as they can be.

Would it really be cost effective for you to build your own site?
Another aspect to think about is what are you giving up to take the time out of your day and build your own website? Chances are the opportunity cost of building it yourself are far too great. While you are busy building the website your day to day tasks are going unanswered. That means that potential contract for thousands of dollars will go unanswered and pass you by.

You also have to think about what impact not having someone who knows the ins and outs of website design build your site could have on the final product. Have you kept up to date on what the search engines are looking for? Have you studied the latest CSS methods that are being employed? Do you know how to code that contact form so it gets delivered without much spam being delivered as well? I would assume the answer to the majority of these questions would be No.

You wouldn't have your maintenance man come in and do your book keeping so why would you use anyone but a design company to build your website?

Remember: It's not always better if you do it yourself.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Google Launches Google Chrome

On Tuesday Google launched it's latest project Google Chrome. Google Chrome is the newest browser to hit the market and comes to the plate ready to play ball. Rethinking the entire browser setup, Google has put together what they hope will be a whole new way of viewing the web and launching applications online.

Is it really all it's hyped up to be?
Some may say no, but there are a great deal of tech-heads that say yes, this is that and much more. Google has really thought about stability, privacy, and the future of websites. Not only can you drag the tabs and create new browser "windows", but you can finally see what services are being run by each tab, just like you can see what services on running on Windows.

Should I drop Firefox and IE?
Being that each browser has its own special quirks when viewing web pages and not everyone is going to switch over to Chrome, I don't think leaving IE and Firefox completely is a good idea. Google Chrome should be another tool used to surf the web. Some of the downsides to Chrome is that even though it has many new features that the others don't, it currently doesn't support all the old features from Firefox.

Where I can get Google Chrome?
As with most Google projects, they have a site dedicated to Chrome:

They have also put together a very well written, although long, comic book that explains all the things Chrome was built to do. After reading through the book it really helped clear up why Google decided to get into the browser industry.

Remember: It's not necessarily the silver bullet, but it may prove to be the start to a whole new way of surfing.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Expectations and Communication - It's Key

Everyone has had that experience. The one where you have an image in your head of how you want your website to look, but for some reason just can't explain it. Then when you see what the designer presents, it's not on the mark and you get extremely frustrated. You blame the designer for not being artistic enough, or not helping you with your idea. But wait, is it really their fault?

Lets step back for a minute and think about this in a different view. Take a brand new house for instance, one that's not even built yet. You know what you want and you know where you want it, but you just don't know how to tell the architect your vision. So do you think you are going to get the house you want? Probably not.

I know it can be hard, but you need to figure out a way to express your image to the designer (or architect in the above example). This is the reason most designers will ask if you have certain sites you like, colors you prefer, styles that excite you, or something to that effect. It's not because they want to copy another site, but rather they want to know if blue will make you happy or really pisses you off. They want to know if Flash is what you really want, but didn't know it was called that.

Communication is key. Ask as many questions as you can think of before having the designer start designing your website. Also, make sure you answer as many questions as the designer needs to ask you. It takes work, and not just on the designers end to create a final product that everyone can be happy with.

Ignite MediaLLC, Ignite Your Site™
Website Design & Development eCommerce Development Search Engine Optimization


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