Monthly Archives: September 2013

September 2013

Google Images Are Not Free Use… and Other Copyright Issues… Charlotte Area Biking Walking Map - Connection Group

A copyright is a form of Intellectual Property as are patents and trademarks. Copyrights are the most common form of we encounter in everyday business and personal use. We learned about copyright and plagiarism when compiling our first report for grade school. The same rules apply with internet content.  You research multiple sources to gain an understanding of the subject or a clear visual and then interpret it in you own words or creation. When you add a direct quote or paraphrase content, seek permission and include the credit where it occurs and also at the end.
When you use photos or graphics do your best to contact the original creator to get permission for use and always name the artist underneath the image. We often have customers send us images they have found in Google Images. Unless you have permission to use these visuals from the original artist they are not legal for use in your digital or print marketing pieces. I know Google makes it really easy, one search and you find the most awesome artwork ever! But hands off unless you want to get slapped with a copyright infringement.
If hiring a photographer or a graphic design studio to create original images is not in your budget for small projects, there are other options online… read more on the blog.

http://www.connectiongraphics.com/blog/2013/09/27/small-business-blog-and-website-visits/

On the Blog…
Can A Small Business Blog Increase Website Visits?
Absolutely! A corporate or small business blog is one of the best ways to share information about your products and services, current events and sales promotions or press your organization has received. A happy accident of sharing this information is that your company blog posts add relevant content to your website which offers a better chance of appearing in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. A third benefit is when you add scheduled corporate blog posts your small business website will get higher marks from the search engines because not only is the content relevant, it is current…Read more…


give a gal a lift logoGiving Back 

Give A Gal A Lift Promotion
Connection Group is proud to be associated with WISE and the upcoming event and fundraiser for the Grand Rapids, Michigan YWCA. The YWCA works hard to house women (and men) who have experienced domestic violence. The YWCA has a long list of needs but one is particular are new bras for the women they welcome in. Connection Group has developed the Give A Gal A Lift campaign. We designed the logo, printed flyers and posters and distributed a press release to get everyone involved – especially women who are attending the WISE event.

If you are in the Grand Rapids area November 6, 2013, please attend the event to hear how “How Domestic Violence Affects the Workplace” and bring a new bra. If you are not in the area we hope to bring buckets of new bras to the YWCA so please consider sending a donation to Connection Groups. If bins are overflowing the YWCA of Grand Rapids will donate extras to other YWCAs in need. Read more here.
Send donations of any size to: Connection Group – 6976 Windsor Hwy., Potterville, MI 48876


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Can A Small Business Blog Increase Website Visits?

computer screen with connection graphics website design with list of blogging basics: • Integrate your blog with your website. • Include tags in your posts. • Include comments on your blog.  • Promote your blog.  • Include share buttons in your blog. Absolutely! A corporate or small business blog is one of the best ways to share information about your products and services, current events and sales promotions or press your organization has received. A happy accident of sharing this information is that your company blog posts add relevant content to your website which offers a better chance of appearing in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. A third benefit is when you add scheduled corporate blog posts your small business website will get higher marks from the search engines because not only is the content relevant, it is current. Relevant plus fresh content equals SEO (search engine optimization) or higher search results.

Not every visitor who comes to your website from a search may result in a phone call or a sale but like all advertising, marketing and sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people who engage with your blog and your corporate website the more likely you will enjoy increased company sales from your blogging. By posting relevant blog content you become the trusted source for your visitors and existing customers for information on your product or industry.

Proactive planning can determine how often you should post a new blog entry

editorial-calendar-graphic-connectiongraphics.comThere really is no on-size-fits-all formula for small business blog posting, anymore than there is a one-size-fits-all marketing plan for small business. It really depends on the goals you have set for your digital marketing. It also depends on how much time you have to feed your blog or the budget to outsource it to an marketing company.

Now, there are success stories about small business blogs that have become income generators in and of themselves.  If your corporate blog attracts 1000’s of daily website visits you may want to plan daily blog posts. However most small business blogs primarily serve as information tools, and as a portal to add relevant website content to increase website visits through SEO. The way Connection Group approaches client blog scheduling is to determine the role of the blog in each small business marketing plan. We recommend creating an editorial calendar for your blog posts. Our e-marketing packages that include blog posting, e-mail newsletters, and social media we develop a monthly plan. For instance if your company hosts an event for small business owners every January all of the content scheduled for the month of January will include information about the event. All of this will be in your editorial calendar. Including your blog updates in a small business editorial calendar helps you know what you will be covering each month and will help keep you on a schedule. Whether you write blog posts daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly a plan is a must.

Embrace the power of content on your small business blog

Each blog post should offer insight into your corporate philosophy, industry standards, details on a product or service you offer, or changes that may effect the customer. Seek content that will increase the visitors understanding of the subject. Help your customers make educated choices and purchases. Just as the visitors to your small business blog are researching, be sure to research the content for your corporate blog posts. Research but no stealing! Sharing the most current information available is important just avoid plagiarizing others work.

When you are satisfied with the information you have written for your blog post, add an image. Statistics from 3M corporation and Zabisco state that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are transmitted to the brain 60,000 times faster than text! Increase your website visits by using original graphic designs, photos or videos to connect and engage with your audience. Select only images that that are free from copyright. See the article in our e-newsletter about copyright issues and images.

Your blog is posted – Now, how do you increase your website visits?

integrate your blog with your website  blog and navigationIntegrate your blog with your website
The first step is to make sure your small business blog  part of your corporate website, not a separate page. There are many free blogging software options available and it is very easy to tie them into your existing small business website. Contact your web design and development company to create a seamless integration of your blog and corporate site. The biggest benefit is if you have a visitor to your blog, in the eyes of search engine tracking, you have just increased website visits. Other benefits are a custom designed blog will be consistent with your corporate brand and your complete website user interface is built into the blog so the visitor can easily click over to other website pages.

Include tags in your posts. Tags help people find your information more easily when they are searching the web. For instance for this blog entry on our website I would include small business blog, and small business website design and development as tags. Because we offer those services and those services are discussed in this blog adding them as tags show our website and our blog are relevant when people search for small business blog or small business website design and development. When visitors click on a tag in our posts they will see a list of previous posts that relate to those subjects.

Include comments on your blog. Comments show that you are open to feedback, good or bad. Allowing comments on your blog shows your visitors that you want to communicate with your customers. Comments may also help you determine what your visitors are looking for, give you ideas for future articles, and  comments may use keywords that will come up in searches too. Do make sure you moderate your comments though! Even with strong spam filters blogs are petri dishes for spam – check them regularly. We set up our comments to be pre-approved prior to posting just for this reason. As visitors begin to interact with comments you will build a community and advocates for your brand on and offline.

share buttons for blogInclude share buttons in your blog. Make it easy for viewers to share your website content. One share from a high ranking social media influencer can increase website visits astronomically. The ability to share across social media and email is how videos and blog entries go viral – this is an easy way small business blogs can get noticed.

Promote your blog. When you have posted a new blog entry promote your blog in all your marketing outposts. Social media is a great platform to share your blog posts, twitter, Facebook business pages, Linkedin profiles and industry specific groups and social media channels get the information to targeted groups. Include your blog link in your email signature and add a snippet of your current blog posts to your email newsletters.

Are you a small business who doesn’t have time to blog?

Connection Group understands that small businesses are limited with time and resources to implement all the marketing components that will help build their corporate brands and increase website traffic. We have developed a variety of e-marketing packages to suit the variety of requests our customers need. We’re here to help you build connections and reach your target audience – if you just need a monthly blog entry, a combination of e- mail marketing, social media and blog management we have monthly packages that will suit your small businesses goals and budget. We offer a free half hour consultation to discuss what digital marketing elements will fit you best.

Give us a call or shoot us an email today. We appreciate feedback on our blog content and encourage additional insights readers can share to help other visitors learn more. Please add your comments or questions below.

Stay connected!

Google Images Are Not Free Use… and Other Copyright Issues

Charlotte Area Biking Walking Map - Connection Group
A copyright is a form of Intellectual Property as are patents and trademarks. Copyrights are the most common form of we encounter in everyday business and personal use. We learned about copyright and plagiarism when compiling our first report for grade school. The same rules apply with internet content.  You research multiple sources to gain an understanding of the subject or a clear visual and then interpret it in you own words or creation. When you add a direct quote or paraphrase content, seek permission and include the credit where it occurs and also at the end.

When you use photos or graphics do your best to contact the original creator to get permission for use and always name the artist underneath the image. We often have customers send us images they have found in Google Images. Unless you have permission to use these visuals from the original artist they are not legal for use in your digital or print marketing pieces. I know Google makes it really easy, one search and you find the most awesome artwork ever! But hands off unless you want to get slapped with a copyright infringement.

If hiring a photographer or a graphic design studio to create original images is not in your budget for small projects, there are other options online. Many stock photo websites have visuals, including videos, that companies can purchase for use in their blogs, websites and corporate marketing pieces. The graphics and photos vary in size, resolution, cost, plus have levels of permissions and use. Be sure to read agreements closely prior to purchasing and downloading. Most of the restrictions with stock art is that you do not use it for use on items you will be reselling. For instance an original rendering of an owl you purchase and download can be used on your website, brochure, and all your company brand items however you may not be able to print greeting cards with the same owl on it and offer them for resale. Connection Group holds some subscriptions to a few stock art sites and if you are looking for a particular subject Connection Group may be able to purchase them for your use and save you from the sometimes high cost of subscriptions that you don’t plan to use frequently.

Knowing the high amount of copyright abuse on the website you may want to add the copyright symbol and user agreement on your website. Obtaining copyrights for your original work is easy and inexpensive. Go to copyright.gov and for $35 you can apply for legal ownership of your creations online. Having a copyright on your website or printed piece doesn’t ensure your original work will not be stolen, but it does give you legal grounds to take legal actions if you find someone has infringed on your copyright.

For more answers to common copyright questions this page has a pretty comprehensive list. Otherwise, if you don’t know – don’t do it.

The Goal for Your Small Business Marketing is to Connect

authentic marketing imagesThere are so many blog entries, emails and webinars titled “The top 10 Things To Do To Market Your Business “. We have posted or shared a few in social media ourselves. It’s a catchy title that does well with search engines and covers some general steps important to all small business marketing.

The articles declare ‘You must post the exact amount of recommended Facebook posts each day, you must use an animal in your logo, you must create YouTube videos till the break of dawn, you must kiss every baby…’ because that is what the most popular marketing guru of today said you should do.

There really is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan for any business. Will a turquoise tupperware cereal bowl look good in all of our kitchens? No, and tupperware knows this, so they offer web and print catalogs to see other colors and size options to suit the need of each customer. Each industry, including marketing, serves the client best when it is personally customized to fit the true need.

The best small business marketing methods are authentic, sustainable, and focused.

Understanding these three concepts will help you reach your small business marketing goals plus save you time and money. Instead of clothing yourself in someone else’s wardrobe, do your homework and determine what will suit you and your customer best for the long term.

Create an authentic small business marketing message by being yourself

  • Can you add humor to a technical demonstration to help people understand it better?
  • Do you work best with people one on one? Set up individual appointments instead of group meetings
  • Are you an energetic people person? Networking groups will be a great place to start making connections
  • Are you a natural teacher? Seminars or webinars can demonstrate your skill and desire to help others.

Establish sustainable small business marketing practices

  • Don’t make promises or claims you can’t keep. The most valuable customer is the repeat customer. Your company and your product or service needs to deliver on your promise.
  • Be realistic, how much time do you have to do marketing tasks each month? Can you handle 10 social media posts each day or attend all the meet and greets in town, every month?
  • Look closely at your budget. Do you have $200 dollars to allocate to your monthly marketing or $2000? A budget spread out each month throughout the year to build consistency in key media will show a greater return than spending a large chunk for a one time promotion.

Your communications are focused and connected

  • Start with a plan, don’t throw ideas at the wall to see what sticks, take time to develop a small business marketing plan that can be updated each year
  • All small business marketing materials are presented with constant brand messaging
  • Determine results, review reports, remember to ask new customers how they heard about your company.

Your small business marketing needs to stand out from the mlieu to compete with large big box stores, and large corporations. The best news is small businesses have the advantage to make personal connections with your customers and develop brands that are that are sustainable and profitable.

Stay connected!

Other marketing blogs of interest:

Raising a puppy and building a brand ain’t what it use to be.

Media Savvy Business Marketing