Tuesday, December 9, 2008

15 Places to Submit Your Site for Local Search

What kind of traffic are you drawing to your Web site or blog? A local business owner in Neenah, Wisconsin who relies on physical traffic walking in the door needs to be found by buyers in and around Neenah. Are you reaching your target market? Where do you rank on the local search engine results page?

Submit Your Site to Local Directories

A Web site, alone, will not drive people to your door. That's just the first step in the process. Take the time to search engine optimize your site for keyword phrases relevant to your market. Make sure your business address (including zip code) and phone number is included on every page of your site. Mention the communities you serve. Once this complete, it's time to begin promoting your site. Step one is to submit your site to local directories.

Doug Williams lists 15 local directory resources, most of them free, in today's post on his blog, Where to Submit your Site for Local Search.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Chances are you know someone affected by breast cancer. Over 182,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women this year, according to the American Cancer Society. When you add that number to the women who are already fighting this disease, the numbers are staggering. This October, The Hair Connection in Neenah, Wisconsin is joining with women around the country to promote breast cancer awareness and prevention.

Because breast cancer has affected staff and clientele, owners Jeanne Mykel and Connie Koehnke want to help spread awareness and contribute toward funding research. Getting involved to meet the needs of the community is a win - win for everyone. All through October, a pink donation box will be available in the lobby for customer donations, and 10% of all retail sold will go directly to the "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" campaign for breast cancer awareness.

During the promotion, customers will be draped in pink capes, offered pink lemonade, and for every sale of a pink flat iron, the manufacturer will contribute $10.00 toward breast cancer awareness. The Hair Connection will also donate $1.00 for every new client haircut and $5.00 for every hair color.

"I really like the pink flat iron idea," said Susan Hamilton, parent of two teenage daughters and Race For The Cure participant for the last five years, "Women need to be aware of the choices they make everyday in their diet and exercise that contribute to their breast health in the long run. The flat irons are a great reminder. Eating right and staying in shape are two ways you can greatly reduce your risk of breast cancer, and I like the idea of starting every day thinking pink."

Risk factors for breast cancer are more prevalent in Caucasian women, and are greatly increased with age, lack of physical activity, and the accompanying weight gain. Risk is increased again if a family member has been diagnosed with the disease. The staff of The Hair Connection would like you to learn more about what you can do if you're supporting someone with breast cancer, or if you are concerned about your own breast health. Contact www.komen.org for more information. Together we can fight this disease.

The Hair Connection, located at 1325 Commercial Street in Neenah, is a full-service salon, offering affordable hair styling and the latest hair cuts for the whole family, full-service tanning with large tanning beds, depilatory and nail services. For more information, visit www.HairConnection.net or call 920-722-2341.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Can Small Business Afford Healthy Wisconsin?

Wisconsin small business owners, there's a health reform plan before the Senate that will have a direct impact on your bottom line. How much of the cost of "health reform" are you prepared to shoulder?

Healthy Wisconsin sounds good on the surface. Who's going to argue against affordable health care? Unfortunately, that would be me ... because it's not really all that affordable to the self-employed or Wisconsin small business owners.

Take note of how Healthy Wisconsin will be financed.
All employers must pay 9-12 % of wages of their employees (up to the limit of taxable Social Security wages, which is currently $102,000). Employees must pay 2-4% of their Social Security wages.

An actuarial analysis estimates that the actual figure in 2007 would have been 10.5% for employers and 4% for employees (4% maximum of $102,000 per family). For small firms of ten employees or less, the employer share will be phased in over three years.


The average family income in Wisconsin is about $42,000. So for the average family, the cost would be $140 per month in payroll deductions. On average, the employer would pay about $370 per month.

Self-employed persons and those with income but no wages pay 10% of income up to the Social Security wage limit.

I don't know about you, but for this Wisconsin small business owner, that's a little steep! I don't have employees, don't have health insurance, and certainly don't approve of a government mandated 10% of my income going toward health reform.

I can't comment on the relative cost of this initiative for businesses who already offer health insurance. But for those of us who don't have it - it's not because we don't want it - it's because the entry cost is too high. Somebody show me the math ... who thinks that a new tax of 10% of net income is an affordable cost to the self-employed? And by the way, there are NO exemptions.

Join the Fight Against Mandated Health Care & New Payroll Taxes
The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) is working on our behalf to defeat this initiative. Your help is needed. If you agree that Healthy Wisconsin is not in the best interest of Wisconsin small business, add your name to the NFIB Wisconsin statewide petition. I'll have scanned in and available as a download later today - but please, don't wait. If you don't see a download link right now, while you're thinking about it - contact me. I'll fax or email you a petition by the end of the day.

Time is of the essence. We have approximately 49 days to make our voices heard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marketing Your Wisconsin Small Business Online

Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking tool that I've written about extensively on my Express Marketing Memo blog. Among other things, I use it to keep track of articles I want to share with my readers. The following post (bookmarked in March) is long overdue, but way too good to pass by.

Back in March, Greg Sterling of Screenwerk did a rundown on the Search Engine Strategies Panel “Why Local Is Different.” Speaking of local search engine optimization, he says, “When will people learn … LOCAL IS THE INTERNET. The Internet is not a transactions platform (mostly); it’s a marketing platform that drives offline (read: local) transactions.”

Your local Wisconsin small business needs an effective Web site, not necessarily to process transactions … but rather as the foundation for all of your marketing efforts. If you’re buying any form of media to advertise your business and you don’t yet have an effective Web site, you’re probably making an expensive mistake.

Read the rest of Greg’s post on Screenwork, then draw your own conclusions about the important role your Web site plays in marketing your local Wisconsin small business.

Monday, July 21, 2008

To Reach Local Buyers, Write Local Content

It almost sounds too simple ... write quality content, gain quality visitors ... but this simple marketing strategy will work for any small business, whether you rely on local foot traffic or you conduct an e-commerce business strictly online.

This post on the Duct Tape Marketing Blog reminds us that for the local business, that same content is simply more focused. Read more about winning the local search game, including excellent advice for locally focused content, inbound local links, and the importance of properly formatting your content with HTML mark-up.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Facebook for Local Wisconsin Business Owners

Shari Voigt's Facebook profile
You’ve probably heard - Facebook isn’t just for college students anymore. No, the once exclusive domain of the college crowd has been adopted by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and increasingly by business owners.

28% of small business owners have registered with at least one social networking site, according to a 2008 Warrillow & Co. survey. It also found that fast-growth companies were much more likely to participate in social networking than slower-growth companies. Could there be a correlation?

Read Full Post: Are You On Facebook?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Announcing Paperfest Battle of the Bands, Kimberly WI

In keeping with Saturday's post about publishing press releases, I'll add the first one. Please help us spread the word about a worthwhile event in Kimberly, Wisconsin. If you have a band, or know any members of bands in the Fox Valley area, let them know about this opportunity:

Bands seeking exposure, prize money, and a chance to play in front of thousands at Appleton's Octoberfest celebration should sign up now for Battle of the Bands at Paperfest.

Eighteen bands with three songs each will compete in the opening round on Saturday, July 19. Five finalists will advance to play a 45-minute set on Sunday. Cash prizes go to all the finalists, with the winner playing a paid gig at Octoberfest.

Official judging to be provided by the Lawrence University music department. A Fan Favorite award will also be presented to the band with the most fan votes on Saturday.

Openings remain, but not for long. Bands wanting to compete should sign up now. Entries must be received no later than July 5. A complete list of guidelines and entry forms are available at www.paperfest.org/battle.htm.

Battle of the Bands is part of Kimberly's annual Paperfest celebration. Paperfest has raised and donated more than $500,000 for community and civic organizations. Learn more at www.paperfest.org.

For more information, contact Cindy at info@Paperfest.org or call 920-882-1788.
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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wisconsin Business & Event Press Releases Welcome Here

Early morning in northeast Wisconsin is awe-inspiring ... at least in my backyard. We live on the edge of town, meaning there's farmland behind us. Mornings are noisy, but not from people-noise. We have a wonderful, diverse bird population, an adventurous chipmunk that likes to tease my dog, at least one large rabbit, horses in the distance, and the occasional deer and coyote. It's peaceful and satisfying. All winter long, I look forward to this short sliver of time when I can sit on my patio with notebook and coffee and just be.

Everybody needs a recharge now and then, especially business owners. We tend to obsess out the day-to-day stuff at the expense of nourishing our souls. Your recharge may look different from mine, but mine requires nature ... spending time outdoors in Wisconsin's natural beauty ... acknowledging and thanking the One who created it all.

Thank YOU too, for hanging in there while I gave this blog some more thought. Local-Wisconsin SEM Blog started with a flash of inspiration, before giving much thought to the sustainability of writing more than one blog on the the topic of marketing while managing a growing business of my own.

This morning, I woke up with a solution. Do you ever do that ... mull something over, set it aside and just let it marinate, then wake up knowing exactly what to do? That may be a topic for a future post, but for now, I'll just share this: Writing about marketing isn't enough. Through this blog, I want to help people who own businesses in Wisconsin to improve their marketing results in a tangible way.

In addition to a stockpile of local search opportunities that I have yet to cover here, I'm going to begin featuring local businesses and events in my home town of Neenah, as well as Menasha, Appleton, Oshkosh, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and throughout all of Wisconsin. Send me your Wisconsin-based business press releases, success stories, questions or comments, and if they're appropriate to my audience, newsworthy or just plain interesting, I'll publish them here. You'll find my contact information on my profile page.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Local Search - Will Customers Find You?

Schmap Local is a browser plugin that promises to relieve you of all the tedious scribbling of phone numbers and driving directions on scraps of paper and backs of envelopes. You simply download the plugin to Firefox or Internet Explorer and it recognizes and saves addresses and phone numbers as you browse the web.

It links automatically to a map and driving directions, prints and emails addresses and phone numbers or sends them via text message to your mobile phone. Sounds like a handy tool to have on the desktop!

But whether you download and use Schmap Local or not, one thing is certain. This application and others like them are the wave of the future. Not only are your customers looking for you from behind a computer, they're also searching for the products and services they need from their mobile phone while sipping coffee at the corner coffee shop. My question remains, will they find you?

Schmap Local draws its address and phone numbers from Yahoo Local, Google Maps, AOL Yellowpages, CitySearch, Live Local and Superpages.com. Is your business listed correctly in each of these directories?

Related Articles:

Update your business directory listings

Can customers find you on Google Maps?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Can customers find you on Google Maps?

Sally Smith returns home from a long day at the office to her home that's substantially colder than it should be. Sure, it's -10 with a -35 windchill, but the thermostat should have kicked in and the house should be near a comfortable 70 degrees. The thermostat reads 52 degrees and now she's worried ... what's wrong with the furnace?

Sally's never worried about the furnace before, other than changing out the filter a few times every year. She has no idea who to call, but she throws on an extra sweater and types "furnace service neenah wi" into the Google search box.

If you're an HVAC contractor or repairman in Neenah, will Sally find you in the Google search results? Will she find your business on the Google map with a little pin that shows your location? The answer can be yes to both questions IF you claim your Google Maps listing and IF your web site is optimized for local search terms.

To claim your Google listing, you'll need to register for a Google account. You do that right from the Google home page. After you've registered and logged-in, click on "preferences" or "account" in the top right corner of your page. On your account preferences page, under "Try Something New," click "more." Midway down the next page, under the "search" column, click on "Maps." Once on the Maps page, there's an option to add or edit your business listing.

Or, here's a quicker route once you've registered and logged-in: Google Local Business Center. Simply fill in the form and proceed page-by-page to categorize your business, add hours, types of payment accepted, a photo and custom information. You can also add coupons to your listing, if appropriate. Once complete, you'll need to validate your listing before your listing will appear live on the map.

We'll talk about optimizing your site for local search in a future post.

For more common sense small business marketing tips, I hope you’ll also check out my Express Marketing Memo blog.

Related Articles:

What is local search?

What does 2008 have in store for local?

Using Google Local Business Center to Bring in New Customers

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Recession Proof Marketing

Despite the gloom and doom economic message we’re bombarded with daily, now is not the time to slow down or to stop spending on marketing your business. In fact, now may be the best time to ramp up your marketing efforts!

20 recessions have been recorded in the last 100 years. Ten of those have occurred since World War II. Independent studies of businesses during and after recessions show that those who marketed aggressively throughout a recession fared much better than those who had cut back on their marketing efforts.

Neither the b2b or consumer market stops buying during a recession. However, they will become more selective as they look for goods and services with the most value. In fact, during a recession, the pressure to do more with less causes businesses and consumers to shop more aggressively.

Focus on Value

For the sake of this article, I’m assuming you already offer a valuable product or service. But are you effectively communicating that value to your customer base? Have you determined the answer to the question, “why should anyone do business with me?”

How’s Your Visibility?

Are you sharing your unique story on a web site, in a newsletter, through press releases and through your day-to-day interaction with people? These are all important to local search marketing.

A web site can no longer be considered an optional marketing expense. The majority of business decision-makers and consumers look first to the Web to learn about new products and companies. If that’s where your customers are looking, will they find you?

Do you offer a newsletter, either online, a print version or both? At this point my blogs take the place of an online newsletter, but I’ll soon be offering a print version. Why reach out through the mail instead of just focusing online? Because research shows that it’s an effective way to reach another segment of my target audience. Where are the best places to reach your target audience?

The stand-alone press release, created by a small business and emailed and faxed to the media is usually a waste of time and money. A well-thought out idea, discussed with an editor or reporter, with the press release provided as a supporting document is another deal altogether. In addition, there are online press release submission outlets, some ad-supported, but free to use, and other high quality outlets that only accept submissions with payment. If you’ve provided information about your site and links back to your site, you’ll reap visitors to your site in addition to general awareness about your business.

Day-to-day interaction with people is important because none of us live in a vacuum. For example: I tell my friends and associates about the Hair Connection, a really great local hair salon. I’ve written a review for them on one of the many local review sites, where other people can see that I’m very happy with their services. Eventually some of these people check out the Hair Connection web site, where they can learn more about services, prices, and how to find them. Once on the site, people watch their short video, subscribe to their newsletter and learn about monthly specials. And then they tell their local friends and the cycle starts again. It’s all part of local search at a very common sense level.

For more common sense small business marketing tips, I hope you’ll also check out my Express Marketing Memo blog.

Related Articles:

How to reach business decision makers

What is local search?

What does 2008 have in store for local?

Do you need a blog?

Marketing in a Recession

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my RSS feed.

Talk back to me! Are you cutting back or ramping up your marketing efforts this year?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Local Opportunities for Wisconsin Businesses

Online local visibility has never been more important to small and mid-sized businesses in Wisconsin. Without an online presence, you're leaving a crucial piece of your marketing undeveloped ... and that's costing you business.

If you own or manage a Wisconsin-based business that depends on drawing local customers to your door, this blog is for you. We'll discuss online strategies to draw local traffic to your business. And not just strategies ... we'll dive in and I'll show you precisely what steps to take. I'll provide resources and links to the information you need to actively promote your business locally online.

As you can see, this blog is just getting started. Thanks for stopping by! You can be notified of new posts by subscribing to my feed.