Small Business Marketing Mistakes-Trying to Build a Brand

I talk to business owners from time to time who get caught up in the idea of building a brand for their product or company.Most of them don’t really know what branding is. They believe it’s about repeatedly putting their company name in front of prospects in the hopes that those prospects will remember them when it comes time to buy.So they’ll create a fancy logo, letterhead or sign, and plaster it on their business card, in their advertising and in their customer communications.And, more often than not, the results are dismal, so they give up on advertising (and branding) altogether, figuring it’s a waste of time and money.When Branding Makes Sense… and When it Doesn’tThis is both a misunderstanding of branding and a lousy way to advertise your business.In the simplest terms, real branding involves building a market identity around your company name, logo or signage that immediately makes people think good things about their company and gets them to choose your product or service when it comes time to buy.And you cement this brand image into your prospects’ minds by hitting them again and again with your advertising – and then, of course, by delivering on your promise, which further cements the brand image in the prospect’s mind.For big, consumer companies with deep pockets brand building makes perfect sense. There’s probably no other approach that will work for the likes of Proctor and Gamble, McDonalds and Nike.Millions of people buy their products every single day and they’re more likely to buy from names they know and trust – which largely explains why brand-name products routinely outsell generic products, even when the generic is just as good.The Terrible Truth About BrandingThe problem for the small business owner is that building a brand that resonates the way McDonald’s does cost millions upon millions of dollars. And it’s not as if you can stop once you’ve built the brand. You have to spend millions more to sustain it.Worse yet, it takes time. I recently read an article on branding that lauded Nike’s branding strategy. The problem is, it took Nike 15 years to build the brand we know and love today. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have that kind of time!Now, of course, to build a local brand you can probably get away with spending less money and a lot less time – but that doesn’t mean it’s time or money well spent.The Profitable Alternative to Building a BrandSo instead of using your advertising to build a brand, use it to drive sales – immediate sales. And that means crafting benefit-oriented direct response ads, sales letters, e-mails and landing pages.Direct response advertising reveals all the benefits your prospects will get from responding to your ad, make a specific offer (buy now, request more info, come in and save 10%, etc.) and ask them to take action immediately by calling you, going to your web site or stopping by your store.Direct response advertising may not be as romantic and exciting as building a brand, but for a small business owner, it’s more effective at making the cash register ring right now. And you don’t have to mortgage your kids to pay for it.

Teaching About the Election to Elementary Students Using Literature and Technology

Teaching about the election can be an interesting process. Of course the best way is to hold a mock election, or even better, a school election with children running for various offices. As with all curricular areas, experiencing the learning by participation cements the concepts.Other ideas for teaching about the election include:For Kindergarten and Grade 1Read a book about an election and discuss the elements of election. Books I choose to use are “Duck for President” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (2004) and “My Teacher for President” by Kay Winters and Denise Brunkus (2008.)After discussing the election process we make campaign posters. Students use a drawing program on the computer (I use KidPix) and type “Vote for ______” in huge letters. They add decorations to complete the poster. We print in color and staple to construction paper. Hanging this campaign poster on their bedroom doors will remind them of what they learned about the election.


For Grades 2 and 3I read an election book such as “Pete for President” by Daisy Alberto (2004). We discuss election procedures but also emphasize telling the truth during the election process. During the story there is a page where there is a debate. I stop the story, have two kids join me up front, and simulate a debate. Sometimes I even tell one of the students to make outlandish claims about what he or she would do if they were to win. We finish reading the book and then discuss ways that students can improve the school.The second graders make campaign posters just like the younger students but they add four ways they can make the school/world a better place. Examples might be: Eliminate bullies from the playground, Pick up Litter on the Playground, Be Nice to All People, Help Raise Money for New Library Books, etc.In Grades 3 through 5As the children get older I begin to teach about the electoral college. The best book I’ve found for this is “Grace for President” by Kelly Dipucchio and Leuyen Pham (2008.) After reading this story I send the students to explore an online simulation game at the Scholastic News website.


Grade 6: By the time students are in grade 6 they are ready to explore the issues of the candidates. To do this I ask the students to choose six issues to research on the websites of the candidates. The information that they gather can be presented in any manner; for instance, a 2-column display comparing the issues or using an organizing software such as Inspiration to create a web of information.Overall, the more concrete examples you can give to students about the election will assist them in learning about the process that we embrace within our country.

Helpful Online Shopping Tips for Buying Cheap Designer Clothes and Shoes for Women

The ability to find cheap designer clothes for women is essential to those who want to look fashionable when they get dressed, not just because prices on authentic, name brand clothing are always expensive, but that buying affordable clothing allows shoppers to easily build a large wardrobe. Smart shoppers can get a lot of nice, authentic, name brand outfits, and the footwear to match simply by knowing where to look. Looking good does not have to be considered a luxury.Know What It Really Means to Buy Discount Designer ClothesIt is not always easy to buy cheap designer clothes online because many shops sell cheap knockoffs instead of designer originals. Sales of low quality clothing should not be considered real discounts at all. This is because those who buy these cheaper items do not get the same benefit or enjoyment as they would from the real thing. Customers need to beware of online shops offering trendy women’s clothes for less. The real savings is when the prices of real brand name items are brought into a price range that is more affordable. That is what designer clothing liquidators are all about. Customers get to find cheap designer clothes for sale that are truly authentic and on the leading edge of fashion trends.


How to Find Cheap Designer Clothes Online That are AuthenticMany consumers do not have time to get out to a store and shop around for discount brand name clothing, which would make it easier for them to know the quality of the items before purchasing. Moreover, some local outlet stores lack the selection needed for customers to find those trendy, affordable dresses, jeans, shoes, or that perfect top they had in mind. It can be hard to catch sales at department stores, but having a trusted online resource for trendy women’s clothes can make staying in fashion an easy task. Shoppers are able to get clothing from all the best brands, including Coach, Michael Kors, BCBG, Armani, and several others at a steep discount. Best of all, placing an order is easy because of the ability to use PayPal.Why Shop at Those Expensive Trendy Women’s Clothes Shops?It is not always easy to find cheap designer clothes for juniors, or affordable maternity wear that is high quality. Many stores that specialize in selling trendy women’s clothing and shoes do not care about how burdensome their prices are, but there are some that do. Shoppers can learn how to always find low prices on new and like-new authentic brand name women’s clothes and shoes. All they need to do is find the right website. The best sites for buying designer clothing at a low price have a selection is updated on a regular basis, so there is always some great new clothing item to discover. Plus, these reliable stores offer lightning fast shipping and excellent customer service.


It is possible for those looking for a place where they can get discount shoes online to find a place where there is an enjoyable selection of quality merchandise available. Thanks to online stores that offer cheap designer shoes and clothes, shoppers can easily build a very nice wardrobe. Many of those who love to shop for discount designer clothes find such sites addictive, because getting cheap trendy clothes from real brand names is a thrill.

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This is how a website purposefully designs it content, including their titles, content and meta tags, for the sole purpose of getting the attention of search engines like Google, Yahoo and the lesser known Bing. What SEO wants to achieve is an organic or natural flow of traffic to their websites that is not bought or paid for like we do when we pay for advertising. A search engine result is free.SEM is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing. It is a concept often associated with SEO, sometimes even confused with SEO. They have some goals in purpose but are very different in technique. SEM has come about because large search engine websites like Google have offered fees to show case ads on the top of their page listing. These are pay per click or PPC ad campaigns. SEM is closer to traditional advertising in that you pay for the direct exposure you are receiving. SEM has made it possible to be a website with high visitor content just because they pay more to be advertised and promoted by Google. Both SEM and SEO are sets of strategies to bring in visitors. Except you pay up front for SEM, it is a direct advertising strategy. While with SEO, you look for indirect ways to get noticed.Optimizing a website for search engines, will mean evaluating particular keywords and keyword phrases the internet users may type into search engines to look for service and products that an ecommerce based business may offer. The grit of SEO is editing website content with keywords. Including keywords and keyword phrases in tags and meta tags. Even links and HTML is edited to suit SEO. HTML and links are worked out in a way to get the website user to move a certain way within your website. Ideally, the website visitor is presented with links around the website, going from page to page to read information they are interested in. This design makes it so the website user does not leave the website immediately.


SEO works best when the SEO professional does not try to find underhanded ways to cheat the search engine system. Such tricks will get a website flagged by the search engines, since they use practices that are discouraged. Even if the website does rise to prominence for a moment on the Google rankings, reading content over peppered with keywords will get the website pulled down even faster. SEO tricks like link farming, keyword abuse and page cloaking get picked up by the search engine algorithms and they push the website to the top of search results. You can trick the machine. But after people start reading your content, it becomes apparent that the website is a fraud.The best way to climb to the top is by following ethical SEO guidelines. Write good content with proper technical guidelines. You can learn to do this yourself. You can also hire a writing service who will do this for your. But if you want to really get out there the fast way, consider SEM. A Pay Per Click ad campaign means that you only get charged for clicks on the link to your website. You know exactly what you are getting for your money.Search Engine Marketing is guaranteed promotion for any business. Pay per click is one for few guaranteed strategies for success in attract the coveted targeted consumer. But you can and you should use both SEO and SEM at the same time. Both are invaluable resources. Here is a list of benefits that will be available to your website with the help of SEM:1. When somebody types in a query into a search engine, the search engine will present them only ads and banners in the same industry or interest of the query.
2. Pay Per Click is great for corporate awareness, aside from online sales. It increases the value of the brand name.
3. Pay per clicks and sponsored links are transparent. You know what your money is paying for, as presented by the numbers.
4. Keeping well written and informative landing pages will lead readers to explore your website and see what else is available.
5. You only pay for the traffic volume that the pay per click ad has brought in. And this traffic is select, meaning they have interest in your service or product.


In a way SEO and SEM are the same concepts wrapped in different presentations. SEO will last longer because it is content based. You do not pay for it every time it shows up in search engine results. If the competition is low, your website will be highly ranked for a very long time. SEM operates with the same traffic volume objective buy in a different way using paid Ads, banners, sponsors and Pay per click services. It brings in traffic too over a shorter period of time, unless you can keep payments indefinite. But the websites that gain the most use both SEO and SEM aggressively.1. They get more traffic that increases exponentially if they keep up content.
2. They keep up with rankings over a long period of time.
3. They keep it innovative and fresh, so loyal visitors have something new to see and come back to visit again.
4. Content keeps up with relevance to search engine guidelines.
5. They cultivate repeat visitors who also become repeat customers.Being SEO ready means your website is easy to access, user friendly, and easy to navigate for the average user. There are gimmicks, games, polls, promos to entertain the internet user and keep them coming back. This attracts visitors and other websites to link to your own website.