Thursday, December 6, 2007

Unique holiday gifts

So the holiday season is upon us, and it's time to scour the local malls and boutiques to find the perfect gifts for family and friends. From gift cards to jewelry to electronics and more, it's hard to find a unique and fitting gift for everyone.

I found a perfect gift for my sister the other day that I just can't wait to give her, but I must admit it's very silly. My sister LOVES penguins (being a hockey fan), and she also loves her tea... But not too strong. I've often heard her complain that she left the bag in for too long.

Enter Penguin Tea Timer!

Dollar sign

I never realized that making tea was such a science! But I guess it's more difficult than it looks. The Penguin Tea Timer has a timer dial that you can set to prepare your tea to perfection! Place your tea cup under the beak and turn the timer dial. The beak lowers the tea into the hot water. When time is up, a bell sounds and the penguin automatically lifts his beak, removing the tea bag from the water. He's not only adorable, but he's useful too!

What will they think of next?

I just can't wait to give this gift to my sister. Have you purchased any gifts this year that you're looking forward to giving? Is it more ridiculous than the Penguin Tea Timer? If so, let's hear about it.

June Bisel
BBG&G Advertising

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-Mouth marketing (WOMM) is apparently the next big thing, or at least that's what people are buzzing about. And WOMM, well, it's all about the buzz. Known by consumers as the most trusted source of information on products and services, WOMM can either make or break the reputation of a company.

When you have unhappy customers, they are going share their grievances with everyone they know. Ever heard of the "250 rule" coined by Joe Girard? It states that every person knows at least 250 people. So when a customer complains, 250 people will know about it. Then, any number of those 250 people will tell the 250 people they know, and on and on and on. So it all comes down to... are you willing to risk hundreds of people talking negatively about you because of one disgruntled customer?

When it comes to creating a campaign around WOMM, it should be treated just as importantly as any other piece of your marketing mix. It doesn't cost anything and positive buzz is the best advertising you can get. So are you investing time into creating a WOMM campaign?

Imagine walking into an office. There is no receptionist in sight and you stand there a good five minutes before you see her. She looks grumpy and doesn't even say hello. She starts writing something down on a piece of paper and finally looks up at you and asks you what you want (in so many words). You get the feeling you're bothering her.

The next day you walk into another place of business. A man with a friendly demeanor greets you as soon as you step inside and asks how you are. You are instantly at ease and feel welcomed. Now, which place would you like to go back to? Which place are you going to talk positively about to your friends and family?

What networking have you done today? Better yet, how many networking groups are you a part of? You need to be out there in the community, building relationships and building other's trust in you. Then, they'll be happy to talk about you, and just how great your product is!

Remember back in high school when clicks ruled? Well it's time to create a click again. A business click, that is. For example, take a group of businesses that cater to weddings. A florist, baker, jeweler, wedding planner, etc. They are all non-competing and can work together as a group to give the customer everything she wants. They can also refer each other out to customers. When you do this, you have a number of businesses promoting you for free.

Remember with WOMM, it's all about the face-to-face with people. It's about creating goodwill in the community and keeping your customers happy. Can you afford to do anything otherwise?

Laura Schutz

Monday, November 19, 2007

Things to do in the Hudson Valley.

When some venture out of New York City, they envision a countryside where they relax at a Bed & Breakfast, perhaps stroll through a park, or go hike through the many forests and hiking trails the Hudson Valley has to offer. So what happens when they tire of that? Lucky for them, the Hudson Valley is chock full of various activities and places to visit for both couples and entire families. Lived here your entire life? You might be missing out on the abundance of things to do in every county that makes up the historic Hudson Valley. So venture out, go explore, and try something new.

Below is a list of websites I've complied so you can find exactly what you're looking for.

Lower Hudson:

Westchester county tourism

Rockland county tourism

Putnum county tourism


Orange county tourism

Dutchess county tourism

Ulster county tourism

Upper Hudson:

Columbia county tourism

Greene county tourism

Rensselaer county tourism

Albany county tourism

Laura Schutz

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Think local. Buy local.

When you hear the expression "Think and Buy Local" what comes to mind? Is it important for you shop local, or do you usually shop online or go out of town? Do you know the many benefits of doing business locally? When you shop local, you support your neighbors, as well as make a difference in your community.

Do you know that buying local reduces environmental impact? When you buy local, it means less sprawl, less congestion, less habitat loss, and less pollution. It takes such a small amount of work to help the environment, and something as easy as buying your groceries or clothing from a local store can be one thing you can do to help save the earth.

We all want to live in a thriving town. When you buy local, you help support and promote the local economy. When you promote the local economy, you're creating a more prosperous living situation for yourself, as well as using your taxes to support public service and non-profit groups.

When you buy local, you not only help the business you're buying from, but you help all of the businesses in your town. Most local businesses employ other local businesses for good and services.

So think local, buy local, and take advantage of all of the great benefits of supporting the environment, and your neighborhood.

Laura Schutz

Friday, October 19, 2007

ACMoore review

If you are a scrap booker--avid or casual, advanced or beginner--a great place to go for anything you'd need is ACMoore. They have really re-vamped their scrap booking section (which was already fairly extensive). The hobby has come a long way and they have kept up with the times, bringing in new stuff and putting the old on clearance. They have 5+ aisles dedicated solely to stamping and scrap booking. They used to carry your standard lines (Making Memories, K & Co., Rebecca Sower) and they still do. But they also now carry a much wider array of companies and designers, such as Heidi Grace designs, Bazzill, and my personal favorite - Heidi Swapp. The best thing is the 40 or 50% off one-item coupons that are in each Sunday's ACMoore circular. There are a few restrictions, but for the most part you can use them on just about anything in the store. They also accept competitor coupons, like Michael's. It makes no sense to walk in the store without one of these coupons. You can also sign up for ACMoore e-mail and get them that way - just print off your computer. They are readily available so take advantage. Last year on the Friday after Thanksgiving they had one good for 60% off (one day only) I am really hoping they do that again this year. It's such a good deal. But, my biggest advice about visiting the store is to avoid lunchtime on weekdays. It seems logical to go on a lunch break but guess what-- the cashiers are also in need of lunch breaks. So it seems like there are always long lines and only a couple of cashiers. This is really frustrating if you were just going in for an adhesive refill and have to wait 10 or 15 minutes in line. So go at a less busy time, such as mid morning or evening when most people are home having dinner. You'll leave much happier after saving 40 or 50% with your coupon and getting in and out without the long wait.

Shannon Bristol
BBG&G Advertising

Panera Bread review

Panera Bread is one of my favorite places to go with my family for a quick bite to eat for dinner or with a group of friends to hang out and have coffee and dessert. It allows for the best of best of both worlds, enabling visitors to get in and out quickly or to sit around and talk and savor the tempting aromas of baked goods. If you haven't eaten at Panera Bread yet, you don't know what you are missing! Their menu is simply to die for... from scrumptious homemade bagels, cookies, and breads to yummy Panini sandwiches, homemade soups, and healthy salads, Panera certainly has what it takes to please even the pickiest eaters. My favorite is the You Pick Two meal that allows you to choose two items from their menu, either a 1/2 portion of soup, salad, or sandwich. If you are looking for a sure bet, try the Chicken Tomesto sandwich with the broccoli cheddar soup. They're fantastic!

The only draw back to Panera is the line out the door during lunch hour and figuring the lay out of the ordering lines the first time you visit the store. The lines do move pretty quickly, considering the number of people that they have to serve. You order at the main register, then have to pick up your drinks at the next counter, and then stand in line one more time to get your meal. It's not too difficult or time consuming, but I must admit I got a bit lost my first time there. Am I the only one that has trouble with the Take Out line? You have to search for the Take Out sign, which is kind of small and hangs from the ceiling, and then stand at the counter and wait for someone to notice you. The problem is that the counter is rather high and the width of the pick up counter area is rather narrow giving you a small glimpse of people behind the counter. I usually stand there and go, "Um, can somebody help me?"...."Um, does anyone see me here?" I usually take my debit card and tap it on the counter top every now and then hoping to send SOS signals to nearby employees. But sometimes you get lucky and catch someone right away.

Overall, Panera is still one of my favorite places to eat. We love their foods, especially their cookies. They are enough to make any grandma turn green with envy. And I don't mind my family eating at Panera as their food is pretty healthy. Their service is very good and you can get in and out quickly if you need to or you can hang out and enjoy the comfortable atmosphere if you prefer. They have a nice mixture of booths and tables, and even a fireplace to admire. They also have free wi-fi service, which is always a perk. So if you are looking for a new place to eat, I recommend Panera Bread. It may just become your new favorite place to eat too!

Barbara Joyce
BBG&G Advertising

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Time to step back... in time

Step inside and you step away from the modern world for a day. Pass through the gates and lords and ladies, peasants, pirates and wenches will greet you. You'll visit boutiques where tudor and peasant dresses, handmade crafts, jewelry and other treasures are sold.

After shopping for a while, satisfy your hunger with a giant turkey leg. Make sure you eat it the medieval way, with nothing but your hands. Then, for an after dinner snack, try a pickle from the talkative man walking around with the round pickle cart. Not hungry for turkey or pickles? You can try the wide variety of other foods and snacks sold there, such as succulent bangers, shepherds pie and sweet trifle.

After eating, you'll probably want to sit for a while, so relax at one of the many shows they have during the day. Want to watch people jump around in the mud? Go see the mud show. Want to watch pirates sing and dance and throw buckets of water all over each other? Go see the pirate show. Want to see jousting, Robin Hood and Queen Elizabeth? Go see the jousting show. There are also lone performers doing everything from juggling to belly dancing and more. Don't forget to grab a schedule of events, because there are over 125 performances throughout the day.

Feeling a bit energized after seeing the shows? Go throw a tomato! For a small fee, you can try to hit some guy with a tomato while he teases you without fail. If you're not into that sort of thing, you can play with old-fashioned toys, go on some human powered swing rides or play the dozen or so games they have to offer.

As you leave, and step back into reality, you'll realize just how much fun you had. The Renaissance Faire is a great place to spend a weekend with family and friends and get away from the stresses of everyday life. I'll bet you're already thinking... I can't wait until next year!

Laura Schutz

Friday, September 7, 2007

Limoncello's, Goshen, NY

I have been to Limoncello's at least a half dozen times now, and I have probably had just as many different experiences there.

All-in-all, I have to say that they certainly have good food, and they do try hard. Even when things have not gone my way, the management has done their best to accommodate me and to make amends. And I can get pretty cranky when things don't go my way.

Take, for example, the Saturday night I went there with my honey. I think it was our third time there, and I had made reservations well in advance because I wanted to be seated at the table in front of the fireplace. He was coming up from Yonkers, and had hit some traffic, so was running a little late. I called them to let them know, and reminded them of the reserved table when I spoke to them. I was told it was no problem. However, when we arrived, tables had been pushed together for a party of 8, who sat -- you guessed it -- right in front of the fireplace.

The room to the right was packed full. In fact, it was the first time I had ever seen so many tables and chairs in that room. But there we were seated. A little table for two, right in front of the door, in this extremely loud room. We literally had to shout to each other to have a conversation. Not exactly the romantic date I had planned. But, as I mentioned, the management apologized profusely and brought us a complimentary hors douvre and cocktail. The manager also checked in with us throughout the night, making sure we were well taken care of.

So how did this visit compare to my very first visit to Limoncello's? It couldn't have been more different. My boyfriend and I had dinner at Limoncello's on our second date. In fact, that is where I started to fall in love with him. We sat in the big room to the right. It was mid-week, and they had a piano player. I have been told since then that they don't have a piano player mid-week, but for whatever reason, they did this day.

The room had a good amount of people in it, but it wasn't crowded. The tables were well spread apart, and we had a wonderfully romantic dinner. The food is always excellent, and on this particular night I had ordered the Limoncello Chicken - one of my favorite dishes. Vinny had one of the steaks, which was cooked to perfection and had a wonderfully yummy sauce on it. I'm not sure what cut it was, but it was delicious. I know this because he shared it with me. I'm pretty sure that was one of the things that influenced my falling in love with him :) . Sharing our meals has become customar--that is when we don't wind up ordering the same thing, which we often do. The sharing of dessert is a must, and Limoncello's tiramisu is perfect for sharing.

One of my favorite things about Limoncello's is the complimentary shot of limoncello that you receive after dinner. I had actually never had limoncello before meeting Vinny, but it just so happens that his house in Italy is right near Amalfi, which is where limoncello is made. It is growing in popularity here in the states and being a big fan, I can certainly understand why.

So, tell us about your experiences at Limoncello's. What are your favorite menu items? Do you enjoy the food as much as I do? And what about that complimentary after-dinner drink? Do you agree with me when I say those Italians really know how to please the pallet?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Click-through rates: What's the obsession?

According to Wickipedia, click-through rates are defined as "a way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign. A CTR is obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on an ad on a web page by the number of times the ad was delivered (impressions). For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%."

Yea, I know. It sounds like a mouthful. Yet for years, marketers have been obsessed with click-through rates and the ROI percentage they receive from them. Marketing experts and companies alike love click-through rates because they believe it to be a great way to measure how many people are checking out the product or service they offer. While it's useful for search advertising, it's not for display ads on websites.

Dave Morgan, who writes a column for an email newsletter, OnlineSPIN, discussed this obsession in his recent column. He works for a company called Tacoda, who did some research on their behavioral and click data to see how many people clicked on ads. The results? A bit surprising.

They found that 99% of Web users don't even click on ads on a monthly basis! Furthermore, the 1% that do click only do it about once a month. But even more surprising is the fact that many of these "clickers" are females from the mid-west.

So where does that leave someone who wants to invest their online marketing dollars wisely and isn"t targeting mid-western women? According to Morgan, you should focus on "what audience your impressions are being delivered to, and what audiences are converting."

Basically, choose the website(s) to advertise on that best reach your target customers instead of merely focusing on how many clicks your ad is getting on a random site. You also want to focus on the quality of clicks you are getting vs. the quantity. How many of your website visitors from that ad actually turn into long-term customers?

The best advice I can give you is to do your research. Just Google "Click-through" and you’ll find a wealth of information on how banner advertising and measuring its worth is changing and growing, and what you should do to keep up with new trends and insights.

Laura Schutz

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What it Takes to be a Succussful Entrepreneur

Many experts in business consulting claim that it takes certain characteristics and personality traits to be successful in running a business. But, what are these traits? Do you need to have them all? Can you still be successful without having any?

Although these questions are hard to answer, and most likely everyone will have a different answer, there are certain traits that seem to be agreed upon over and over again.

Successful entrepreneurs are chock full of the knowledge required to start up and run a business. They take classes, read books, research and talk to other successful business owners. They also have detailed business and marketing plans in place, even if they don't need to present these plans to a bank for a loan. They realize the importance of a solid foundation before they even think about opening up their doors. Please, don't dive head first into a business venture without first securely fastening your safety vest.

After you have the basics down, there is that little thing known as personality. We all have a personality (well hopefully!), but certain personality traits seem to constitute what makes a great entrepreneur vs. a mediocre one. Are you a people person? Can you talk to strangers with ease? Are you open, honest and sincere? Do you have good listening skills? Are you aware of opportunity wherever you go? Are you hard working and willing to put in long hours? Can you take stress and turn it into a challenge? Do you have passion? Do you have drive? Taking a sincere look at what qualities you do have and which ones you don't will help you in deciding if owning a business is really the right thing for you.

Once entrepreneurs start a business, they usually grasp the concept that building relationships with prospective cleints will ensure long-term business growth. After all, relationships are the heart of any business community. Yet, many don't realize the importance of utilizing current clients and employees as partners in a different kind of business relationship. Start employing the givers gain approach with clients (the adage of give and you shall receive) and be instrumental in driving their success beyond your product or service. This could mean something as simple as referring them out to prospects whenever possible. Remember, helping others will not only give you that gratifying feeling of "I did something nice for someone else!" but you'll be rewarded tenfold.

Employees can be your partners as well. View them as equals and not subordinates. Listen to their ideas and trust in what they have to say. Encourage them to give constructive criticism about projects. They are at times the frontline of your business and could very well be beneficial in helping your business to grow. Treating them as partners also promotes goodwill and loyalty within your company. I've read in many different articles that employees don't leave because of the company; they leave because of their boss.

All entrepreneurs are different in personality and how they want to run their business, but certain traits will keep some from just barely breaking even and others rising to the top. What kind of entrepreneur do you want to be?

Laura Schutz

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Why Advertising Just Isn't Enough

Can't I just advertise in a newspaper to market my business?

This question was asked a while ago and I thought it was relevant enough to talk about.

Yes, advertising in newspapers is a great way to market your business, provided you have the budget to do this frequently (read: on a weekly or semi-monthly basis) in several different papers in your target area. Problem is, this can run you a couple thousand dollars a month and might not even give you the return on investment (ROI) that you're looking for.

There's another problem with just advertising in newspapers. Even if every single person in your target area reads the paper, many are now going online to read the news, and that could mean your ad might get missed entirely.

To really market your business though, you need to reach out to potential customers from many different angles. Why? Because this will ensure that you will reach every possible person in your target area, therefore giving you the best possible chance to keep your business thriving and growing in the long-term. Full-service marketing includes not only advertising, but public relations campaigns, direct mail pieces and online marketing.

It sounds pricey, and it is. You need to design and get printed the direct mail pieces, as well as buy the materials to send them out. Sure, you can write your own press release, but is it good enough to be newsworthy? You can also do online marketing yourself, but do you have the time and the knowledge to really get your name out there when the internet is already flooded with millions of businesses worldwide?

When you're a relatively small company, affording a marketing program seems nearly impossible, especially when you want to hire the professionals who have the expertise to really give you that ROI.

This is essentially why the owners of BBG&G Advertising started They've watched for years as smaller companies struggled to afford the effective marketing campaigns that bigger businesses already have. Our job here at is to give you that marketing campaign for only a few hundred dollars a year. You and other small businesses can team up to evenly spread out the expensive costs and compete, finally, with larger businesses. After all, local business is what our communities are all about. Thanks Walmart, but we'd rather shop at Joe's Pharmacy and Convenience store for our needs.

Laura Schutz

Friday, June 22, 2007

Networking: It's a must for everyone

One of the best sites I can think of for small businesses is It contains a wealth of articles on how to grow and develop your business and if you haven't yet read the variety of informative articles, you should do this right away. It's truly an invaluable resource. One columnist in particular caught my attention when I was doing some research on business networking. His name is Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder and chairman of BNI, the world's largest networking organization. Even more impressive is the notion that he is the world's leading expert on business networking. Furthermore, he has published a couple of books that certainly are useful for polishing up on one's skills.

So here I give you a summary of the articles I read by him. If you're interested in reading these in detail, visit the networking articles archive on the website.

Most people in the business world realize how important networking is when it comes to getting referrals and growing their business. Yet, there is a lot more to networking than simply showing up to events and passing out your card. Networking, in its entirety, is about building relationships of trust and credibility. If you just focus on getting referrals, you will miss out on the big picture: keeping your business growing and profitable in the long-term.

Before you even get to the event though, you need to do your homework. Target events where there will be a variety of people who aren't like you, as this develops a wide range of prospects. Set a goal of what you want to achieve at the event and how many people you want to talk to. Make sure you know what you're going to say ahead of time about your business. Try to be as specific as possible about what your business does, and talk about one product or service as to not overwhelm or bore people. Develop well thought out presentations that will help keep you and your company memorable. Lastly, have your "tools" with you. These are things like an informative name badge, business cards, and brochures.

When you go to networking events, you need to let the best of your personality shine through. It doesn't matter if you are outgoing or shy, it just means keeping a positive attitude, showing enthusiasm, staying motivated, having good listening skills, showing gratitude, and being sincere when handling business relations. To maximize your time, act like a host instead of a guest. Introduce yourself to people and then introduce him or her to someone else. Spend ten minutes or less with each person, and write notes on the back of their business card to help remember them. Ask genuine questions like "What business are you in?" and "How did you get into your business?" Most importantly, don't try to sell your service or product. Remember, networking is about building relationships, and the selling will come later.

After each event, organize and file away the business cards you received. You want to prioritize, organize, and do follow-up. Separate your cards into the people you definitely want to contact, the people you might contact, and the people you don't want to contact. Write out a schedule and set goals of how you are going to follow-up with the people you want to contact. Set aside daily some time to contact one person and follow-up with them at least three weeks after.

Remember to always treat prospects as your best client. Be genuine and truthful about what you can offer them and really take the time to see if they would be a right fit for you, and if your company is a right fit for them.

However hectic our work and social lives may be, we need to remember that old school techniques like promoting your business through word of mouth are certainly a fundamental part of growing a business. People buy from YOU and without first establishing a relationship with them, you become quite simply, another faceless name in the competitive game of business.

Laura Schutz

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Back in the late 50s a hit song called "Personality" was recorded by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Lloyd Price. The lyrics went something like this: "My friends say I'm a fool / But over and over / I'll be a fool for you/ `cause you got PERSONALITY." It has endured over the years - because it's a catchy tune with a straightforward message - and as a result, even people like me who were not around when it first came out have heard it. Price must have believed in his lyrics too, because in recent years he created a line of food products, the slogan for which is "Great Taste and Good Personality."

Can a line of food products have a personality? Of course it can, and so can the company that manufactures it.

The trouble today is that lots of businesses don't give a second thought to their personalities. They can hire the best copy writers and graphic designers in the world, but if those creative geniuses don't grasp and advance the company's personality, potential clients will never see it shining through.

Many businesses seem to confuse personality with branding. Branding is something that identifies. The original meaning of the word "brand" indicated ownership, such as was documented by burning the hide of an animal with a hot iron. Hot irons aside, that is pretty much how branding works today. When you go into a bookstore and see an orange spine, you know it is a Penguin title. Likewise, you can recognize a red and white Campbell's Soup can from a mile away. Campbell's could put out a new soup concoction daily, but it would still be Campbell's, and as such, consumers would still bring to the new creation whatever assumptions they've made about Campbell's soups in the past. Branding works, as researchers have so unanimously pointed out, because the human brain responds better to well-recognized objects-for the simple reason that less brain activity is required.

Personality can be present in a brand, but it is not the same as branding. Personality is what's behind the branding, the essence of a company or business, what makes it tick. For example, take a look at Anheuser Busch. They are a company that sincerely believes enjoying work is an important part of life. If you go to the website you'll see images of people at work, all of them enjoying it. If Anheuser Busch were a person, he (and surely it would be a male) would be a typical middle-class American guy. He might enjoy sports or getting together with his buddies for a couple of beers on a Friday night, but he's also a family man, someone who is community minded. He's a stand-up kind of guy too, someone who is there when you need him. He's the kind of guy who enjoys beauty and harmony, of the sort exemplified in the Budweiser Clydesdales. Who can blame him? Anheuser Busch has personality and they know how to use it; their marketing is nothing short of ingenious.

Just as we bring a set of assumptions to a can of Campbell's, we often make blanket generalizations about what kind of personality we think a type of business might have. We may assume that the personality of a used car dealership, for example, is likely to be calculating, manipulative and crafty. Of course there are plenty of used car dealerships that don't share those personality traits at all. But if they don't let their real personalities shine through, no one will know it.
In fact, for those of us who work in industries that often take a bad rap, displaying a company personality that runs against the grain of the anticipated one provides great opportunity to gain an edge over the competition. It's like opening a can of Campbell's only to find that it is full of chocolate. All assumptions about Campbell's go right down the drain. We see this happen all the time in the world of advertising. People assume that ad agencies are slick, aggressive firms that keep their focus on the bottom line. So when they find one that's as down to earth and sincere as the girl next door, they're knocked for a loop.
Businesses don't necessarily create their personalities; it's just who they happen to be. But smart businesses with good personalities use them to their advantage. They let their personalities shine through in the way they treat their clients and their employees, in what kind of information they provide on their websites, in the decor they use in their offices ... everywhere they can.

In the end it's the people behind a company that generate its personality. Their collective personalities shine through as one. When that collective personality is a good one, it can be irresistible, no matter what they're trying to sell. Likewise, if their collective personality is ...well...blah, they can be giving away their product for free, and they still won't be able to compete with their more spirited counterparts.

Summer, with its inherent vacations and scattering of three-day weekends, is a great time to think about your company's personality. There is a reason so many magazines persist in printing personality tests: it always seems to be easier to determine someone else's personality than your own. But if you make the effort to pin down how your company comes across to others, you can use that information to create a marketing campaign that goes beyond branding… because whether you know it or not, you've got personality.

June Bisel, BBG&G Advertising

Online marketing

Lately I've been reading a lot on Search Engine Optimization and marketing your business online. In Heather Frahm's blog "Localized Search: A Threat to SEM" she touches on how Google and other big names are starting to make searching for businesses smarter: by developing "local and personal search capabilities." This allows users to search for businesses within a specific region or by personalized characteristics as opposed to traditional search engines which search primarily by "what" and return results from all over the globe. This is an interesting phenomenon and I think it should be paid very closely attention to. Why? Because if you're a company that has more than one geographical area, you risk losing ranking spots on search engines unless you revamp your SEO strategy.

I wanted to share some tips on this blog that I learned from Heather Frahm as well as Kathleen Packard, owner of KathodeRay, which develops interactive educational experiences and corporate communications. She recently spoke at a seminar in New Paltz about marketing your business online.

First of all, Google looks for certain factors when deciding who is going to receive a top listing on their search page. You want to make sure that whatever keyword your company wants consumers to find you with is listed in your URL, title on your homepage, and your metatag/header. You can find out where your page ranks at

Another important thing you want to look at is your page ranking. This basically means how many links you have on other sites vs. how many links to other sites you have on yours. You want to have more people link to you, bottom line. The best way to do this? Simply ask other companies to do it. Many are willing to.

Some other useful tips for search engine optimization are:

- Make sure every page on your website has your company name, address, and contact information.

- Sign up for mapping services like Google Maps, Yahoo Local and MSN Live Local.

- Get listed in local-specific search engines like, Verizon Superpages, and AOL's City Guide.

- Sign up for local online outlets such as your local town's online newspaper and the local chamber of commerce.

- Look for B2B and/or B2C portals to sign up with that come up as top listings on Google.

Another great way to market your online business is through social networking. Make a blog that is informative and concise. Sign up for Myspace. If you're an author, specialist or notable, sign up for Wiki.

If you have the time and resources, Youtube is a great way to market. According to a study by The Kelsey Group, nearly six in 10 web users (59%) have watched online video ads. Of 296 respondents who had viewed a video ad, 43% said they then clicked on the website.

You can also start a newsletter. Mix promoting your business with interesting articles, facts, and information about things that will be relevant to your readers. Just make sure they are not too long and are entertaining and informative. A good way to build an email database is simply by asking site visitors to give you their email address. You can ask them to sign up for the newsletter or just do a contest and give something away for free.

The last thing I want to touch on is monitoring your reporting. Sign up for Google Analytics and keep track of where your site visitors are coming from, how many pages they are visiting, how many hits your site is getting a day, etc.

Remember the statistic I talked about last time? How 70% of consumers are now looking online for products and services? Remember that when you are deciding how much time to work on SEO and online marketing. Research also shows that local searchers are more READY to buy than broad searchers. Reason enough to make sure your company is working hard to get noticed online.

Laura Schutz An online business community

Last year an idea popped into the heads of the owners of BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations. This idea was, a revolutionary new community website where small businesses have their own mini-website and get promoted to consumers at a drastically lower cost than conventional advertising.

Basically, this site is an online business directory for consumers. But unlike simple online directories, allows businesses to upload their exact business card, write a description of their company and the products or services they offer, as well as upload everything from radio advertisements to graphics and more. June Bisel, partner and co-founder of BBG&G Advertising sums it up best when she says "It's like having your own website manned 24/7 and promoted the way you'd like to have your own site handled."

I think it's about time that small businesses were able to get their name out there easily and without straining their budgets. Have you seen the profiles of the Green Team and Wolfe Plumbing yet? Go look... you'll be able to see first-hand what exactly can do for you.

Here are some interesting statistics as well. Over 70% of consumers research local businesses online and 61% of moms use the internet to find out about new brands and products for their families. So with statistics this high, it's a wonder why a site like didn't come around sooner.

Laura Schutz