Managing Facebook Pages

Do you or your business, club, or volunteer group have a Facebook Page that you don’t really know how to use? Perhaps it was set up for you and/or managed by a friend, family member, or employee but you want to learn how to manage it yourself?

In this one hour online course, we go over Facebook Page basics.  Register and explore the differences between Facebook accounts and Facebook Pages, how to post to Pages, and go over important “admin settings”.  Designed for individuals who are first-time administrators or wish to add these skills to their resume.

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Playing Big In 2015

There is a particular vibe in the air as we start this New Year.  Beyond New Year’s resolutions, its an intention or even a commitment among my clients, vendors, colleagues, and friends that continues to thrill and surprise me.  People are stepping up rather than shrinking back; moving forward boldly saying, “This is the time… for me, for us, for THIS!” In short, people are Playing Big and I am enrolled and honored to be a part of many of their visions.  As I said, this is beyond resolutions or the kind of stuff that was going to happen anyway.

One of the best examples of Playing Big is happening here in Wiscasset.  As most everyone from this area knows, in 2014 our town had to make some tough decisions – closing down our Adult Education Program and voting to close one of our three schools.  While an economic necessity, there is still a communal hurt of sort to have to say, “No, we don’t have that anymore.”  Yet in the midst of this, our Wiscasset Parks & Recreation Director, Todd Souza, and his staff are stepping up, Playing Big, and saying, “Ok, let’s get something started here in the New Year to provide more health, more help, more hope…”  This Saturday, January 10th, we have a wonderful free all-day event that is the result of this Playing Big – Wellness U.  I am a part of this Wellness U along with many other resources that have been brought together for this educational event by our Wiscasset Community Center.  I hope those of you who can will come out and play with us at Wellness U.

This is just one example.  There are so many others I cannot name, but all of them inspire me.  If you are up to something too, I’d love to hear more.  And, of course, I’d love to hear what’s inspiring you in 2015 even if you are not Playing Big yourself.  And, who knows, perhaps Playing Big is contagious.

When Giving May Be Good Business

My Mom and I were PBS auction junkies from the time I was quite young.  The auction ended after nearly 40 years I think just a few years ago.   Actually we both loved all benefit auctions, live ones, silent ones… I know many if not all of my siblings have inherited this love for auctions too.  Oh, yes, we love a good deal and the thrill of getting a winning bid, but we also love to see what all of the local merchants had donated.  Channel 10’s Great TV Auction was even better as we got to explore a world beyond our small town region.

Some businesses donate to charity auctions simply to support the cause.  Others donate and expect to get new customers from their donations and are disappointed when they don’t.  But here’s the thing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought a donated product home from a charity auction and I have no clue what business donated it.  So when I go out collecting for silent auction donations for my church’s annual Summerfest, I make sure that the business is getting the most out of their donation.   I look at each donation as if I didn’t already know the business and ask, “If I won this product, would I know WHO donated it the day after the auction? Where they are located? How to purchase from them in the future?” “If I won this service gift certificate, do I know where they are located? How to contact them? What other services they provide?”

Sometimes when a business donates to an auction for the first time, it’s useful to participate to see how much interest there is in the donated product or service, how much the winning bid is, and what types of  people are interested.  Sometimes, you find out that the charity’s supporters are really not the target market for your product or service.  However, donating to a good cause often makes good business sense beyond the actual donation.  Many times publicity for an event includes a list of the donor businesses; sometimes the lists are even on websites and Facebook pages, providing even more exposure.  And being visible at the event allows you to network with your prospective market.

As a new business, I was delighted when a friend who is on the board of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter asked me for my first auction donation.  I couldn’t wait to say yes.  Because I know that, regardless of whether that gift certificate is redeemed, regardless of whether the winning bid is low, now more people in the region who are most probably my target market will know who I am and what services PowerUp Business Solutions LLC provides.  And, of course, I will be there at that charity dinner.  Even if it wasn’t a good idea business-wise, I still love a good auction.

Those Darn Google Calls!

Many of our small business owners here in Maine have complain to me about calls to their business “from Google” – automated voice messages telling them they will lose their Google listings if the recipient doesn’t press 1 or some such thing.  Then, if the business owner tries to respond in any way other than hanging up, they just get placed on terminal hold or disconnected.  These calls are so disruptive to businesses.  There is no way before picking up the phone to know it’s just one of those calls.  In fact, many of the calls have a local phone number on your caller ID.

Here’s the thing.  These calls aren’t from Google.  They have nothing to do with Google.  That’s not how Google operates.  There are a lot of great free tools that help you with Internet marketing via a Google account, but Google doesn’t really beat down your door to get you to use them.  They aren’t even calls from any known firm and the phone numbers on your caller ID are spoofed.  I called one number that was based in Orem Utah and it was really the number for some poor orthodontist’s office there.  A voice mail message picked up immediately, said they had nothing to do with those calls, and provided options if you were really calling for your child’s orthodontic care.  If you think these calls are bothersome as a recipient, imagine the hassle of owning a phone number that happened to match one of the spoofed numbers for these mass-generated bothersome calls.

If you have been the recipient of these calls, you may wonder how you got on the list.  It’s nothing that you’ve done or not done.  Being on the Do Not Call List doesn’t make any difference.  Having a website (or not) for your business doesn’t make a difference.  The numbers are collected by a computer program and the automated calls are also generated by a computer program.  As far as I can tell, the purpose of these calls is to generate MORE phone spam.  It’s called phishing.  When the number is not disconnected for your business, they can then sell it as part of a “business leads list”.  If you’ve ever gotten an offer to purchase hundreds of qualified leads of people who are your business’ target market for pennies on the dollar, well, this is where they get them from… Please don’t waste your money.

I wish I could tell you how to stop them but I can’t.  What I can tell you is that they are not from Google and have nothing to do with Google.  If you haven’t claimed your free business’ Google Place, I can show you how to do that.  If you have a website but are not using free Google Analytics to track all sorts of great information about visits to your website, I can help you with that too.  My advice is to just keep telling yourself that these calls aren’t from Google (no matter how many times they say that they are) and to explore some of the great free business Internet marketing tools that are from Google.

Please Don’t Fall For Web Marketing Guarantees

For nearly 12 years, I’ve coached small business owners about website marketing.  I’ve seen some horror stories.  I’ve seen some very smart people fall for some very bad scams.  That is why my approach to website development & marketing involves education.  Capacity building.  Making sure that before someone hires any outfit, myself included, they understand what it takes to create a website and drive traffic to it based on their time, budget, and goals.

Here’s the thing.  The worst scam out there is one that looks like a website development & marketing coaching program.  It costs thousands.  Really.  I’ve seen folks pay between $5,000-10,000 over the years.  And here’s the hook: you get unlimited free coaching from these experts until YOU are selling online successfully.  That’s a great deal right?  But, the problem is no amount of free coaching in the world can help some folks be successful in E-Commerce.  I’ve reviewed some of these courses and there are no big surprises in the content.

The problem is that no one can guarantee blanket success to all business websites.  So no one should.  You can be successful on the web without spending thousands of dollars to do so.  There are lots of free and low cost ways to drive traffic to your website.   But if you really need to improve your website traffic and E-Commerce sales, you may need to spend money on a professional website marketing firm.  Before doing so, however, it’s important to know what you really can expect to get for that money. Consider it a red flag if someone guarantees you success before you’ve even developed your website.  Because there really is no silver bullet for guaranteed web marketing success.

Developing a Green Thumb

Last summer, my daughter came home from a summer camp called “Planting Seeds, Growing Hope” with a few vegetable plants grown from seeds in Dixie cups all ready for me to plant in my non-existent garden.  Not wanting to disappoint, I appealed to my mother, a veteran gardener who has had vegetable gardens for as long as I can remember.  I have always related to myself as someone with a “black thumb” but she showed me how to plant them and I was delighted when a few zucchini and cucumbers were available to harvest by the end of the summer.  Once I finally took the time to have my mother show me some gardening, I wished I hadn’t waited so long and thought I might do it again next year.

As someone who has worked with small business owners for many years teaching them how to grow their business especially through the use of technology, I have often encountered folks who feel that they’ve got a “black thumb” when it comes to having a website for their business, learning bookkeeping skills, developing marketing content, or learning new software programs.  My mother never fell in that category as she was eager to learn and apply the technology skills I and others taught her.  But I understand the “I’ve got a black thumb mentality”.  Most of the time, like me with gardening, people just need someone to teach them in a way that works for them.

I enjoy watching people realize what they are capable of doing and grow in their capacity to manage their business.  With my new business, PowerUp Business Solutions, LLC., I am offering online training courses to individuals and providing website planning & consulting in a manner designed to help those who want to grow their business skills a little at a time, doing what they can by themselves but also understanding what they are asking others to do for them when they contract out business services.  I also am offering a similar approach to nonprofits who want to start developing an online training program for their constituents.  I am confident that even if you think you have a “black thumb” for this kind of thing, I can help you grow in these skills.

I was fortunate to have those few plants presented to me and to have that time learning gardening from my mother as she passed away last November.  This spring, I decided to help my father plant a little vegetable garden at their house.  I knew I could do this now because she had taught me before it was too late.  And you know what?  I get why my mother liked it so much.  I realized a couple of weeks ago while weeding our small plot that I liked doing it.  I think I’m developing a green thumb…