Happy October

October is one of my favorite months. The beauty of nature in this season with a million shades of pretty helps brighten my outlook and stay positive. My home state of Indiana is especially beautiful this time of year. The southern part of the Hoosier state, Jackson and Brown counties in particular, are breathtaking in the fall. I am proud to be from Houston, Indiana, a tiny place near the Hoosier National Forest. A big event in my hometown every October is the Fall Festival.  More details can be found at houstonschoolrestorationcommittee.org
 

I Love Flowers

My love of flowers began early in my childhood days in Houston, Indiana. I was raised by a sweet lady, Allie Akin, who made our home a floral wonderland. So many great memories of flowers everywhere.

I remember at age two walking up the lane with her to take my great-grandpa, Oscar Roddey, his breakfast. I would pick him Morning Glories and he would give me quarters.

    

What a fun project for one of the final courses to complete my Master’s in Marketing – a fictional flower shop. I immersed myself in the digital marketing plan for Jamie’s Floral Delights. I had many flower photos to put to good use, as well as a reason to photograph more floral blooms.  It was a wonderful learning experience. The results are shared below.

  1. Website
  2. Marketing Plan (PDF)
  3. Visual Presentation

Viral Marketing

The power of the Internet puts marketing opportunities in the hands of anyone with an online connection.  People and organizations in small towns like Houston, Indiana have a shot at fame in the cyber world.  Social media is a perfect way for spreading the word about your business, non-profit organization, or even your pet. Some may find themselves enjoying the extraordinary success of viral marketing, when the popularity of their message is communicated like wildfire.

Is it simply good luck that offers some exceptional marketing opportunities, or can initiatives be taken to help achieve this high level of success? I searched for thoughts about this question from my favorite online marketing expert, Jayson DeMers. Listed below are links to three articles I found especially helpful.

  1. How to Harness Virality to Blow Up Your Events
  2. How Not to Go Viral: 4 Viral Marketing Fails
  3. The Facts and Fiction of “Going Viral” With Content

Top five characteristics of a viral marketing campaign

My take-away from reading these articles is there definitely are some factors that can increase the odds for viral marketing. Five ways you can help your campaign extensively are summarized below.

  1. Effectively communicating content that is based on the needs of the audience.
  2. Providing value for the audience, such as helpful information or entertainment.
  3. Inspiring emotion, such as heartwarming fun or compassion.
  4. Offering visual appeal to the viewers.
  5. Getting people’s attention with something fun & special.

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Many viral marketing stories involve pets.  Photos of cute critters grab attention with both visual and emotional appeal and offer the chance to provide knowledge in a fun way.   Sparking interest with a special animal photo or story on social media can lead to a viral marketing extravaganza.

A lady working as a waitress found good fortune thanks to the popularity of her cat in the online world. A post of her furry friend on Reddit resulted in a marketing goldmine for Tabatha Bundesen. Now with a registered trademark, Grumpy Cat, this kitty has quite a brand established.  Elements of viral marketing discussed above can be seen in the success story of Grumpy Cat.

  1. Humorous content was provided via social media that people appreciated. Posting a unique cat picture generated extraordinary interest.  Strategies to capitalize on that trend for marketing opportunities were swiftly & consistently employed.  Current online presence  includes: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram.
  2. This feline provided humorous entertainment to the point of overnight success.
  3. Photos of this kitty with the appearance of a permanent scowl pulled at people’s heartstrings and funny bone.
  4. Pictures and videos of this unique kitty in various situations that relate to a grumpy attitude offer people comic relief.
  5. People’s attention was grabbed in many online channels and with various products.  The marketing value of the grumpy attitude has been used for a movie deal, a kids book, and stuffed animals.

Grumpy Cat is serving as a representative for the Friskies cat food brand.  Amusing videos sponsored by Friskies are providing fun & laughs. The wide range of social media buttons shown after a video ends helps viewers share what they find hilarious.  Providing easy ways to keep content moving helps to continually promote the message about Grumpy Cat.

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Another popular celebrity pet is a Pomeranian named Boo, known as the world’s cutest dog.  His Facebook, with more than 16 million “likes” currently, demonstrates the social media and online marketing clout of this adorable little canine.  His online presence also includes Twitter and Instagram. Similar to Grumpy Cat, Boo is a Gund Character.

Does the marketing campaign for a small business need to go viral for success?

Clearly, a marketing initiative that “goes viral” would be welcome, but that level of success is not necessary to accomplish the goals of an average business owner. There are small businesses in Nashville, Indiana that are using social media for marketing opportunities on a small scale. A dog named Stetson facilitates the marketing at Touch of Silver and Old. A studio cat named Ms. Sassy is mentioned with photos in the Facebook for Amy Greely Jewelry Studio. Tips that help with viral marketing can be very beneficial for any organization. Social media is a fantastic channel to help spread the word about the value you offer to your target market. Success can draw in more customers and sales, even without reaching viral marketing extremes.  However, wise social media strategy for any marketing effort could quickly succeed to viral levels.

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Power of Social Media for Marketing

gsr-computerSocial media is a big part of our current world and offers an abundance of marketing opportunities. Keeping up with a continuous evolution of social media can be challenging for marketers. Advances in technology continue to add more social media platforms and options. Consumer behavior of exploring new popular social media lead to a cycle of more platforms arising.  Companies and entrepreneurs must consistently strategize to stay competitive in the online world. Internet Marketing expert Jayson DeMers gives some online marketing predictions for 2017 to include:

  • Trend toward narrowing focus to one social media platform, getting away from an effort to manage several.
  • Trending away from Twitter, as users are starting to look for content with more details.
  • Social media will be leaning toward more inspirational and imaginative posts.
  • Increased competition to cater to individual users.

Focusing only on one social media platform may help companies lower the cost of management. Smaller companies can more effectively compete with larger businesses. Facebook is the only social media being used for marketing for several businesses in the small town of Nashville, Indiana. Companies in this tourist area are using social media trends as guidelines for their social media. They clearly see value in Facebook for their only social media tool range from a book store, candy & tea store,  flower & antique shop, to a golf course.

nashvilleA couple of gift shops in Brown County, Indiana are relying on Facebook in lieu of a website for their online marketing presence.

A trend of using Twitter less is already being seen.  A  jewelry studio that has a Twitter account has not tweeted in over a year.  In contrast, this business is still very active on Facebook.

indianaBrown County, Indiana is known as the Art Colony of the Midwest. Two popular art-related organizations, Brown County Art Guild and Hoosier Art, rely on Facebook as their only social media platform.


The art and history culture of this area is a perfect place to capture creative and inspirational content to use for social media marketing. The small town atmosphere of this tourist attraction offers businesses so much opportunity to customize the online presence for their viewers.  A blog for the Brown County Convention & Visitors Bureau is an excellent example of showcasing online what this charming place has to offer in a very personalized manner.

storyThe small businesses and non-profit organizations of Brown County have an edge on larger companies in regards to social media trends predicted in the upcoming year by DeMers.  There is so much potential to find content catering to target markets all around.  The scenic beauty, art, history, and fun & upbeat shops in this little town can be used for inspiration on social media in so many appealing ways.

Differentiation

brown-countyNashville  is a charming town and unique tourist attraction in Brown County of southern Indiana. Review of www.browncounty.com, website for the Brown County Convention & Visitors Bureau, reveals a wealth of places to visit in this area. The Places to Shop section of this online resource shows five listings in the category of Jewelry. Two of the businesses listed grab the attention immediately and appropriately by including an appealing jewelry photo. Amy Greely Studio’s listing displays a picture of a distinctive chain that encourages the viewer to want to look further. Similarly, a eye-catching ring with a green stone is displayed for Touch of Silver, Gold, and Old. Clicking further to their website links, Facebook icons are prominently found.   Both of these companies are using social media strategically to market their business, but targeting a different audience.

A link to amygreely.com shows an elegant website promoting handcrafted artisan jewelry. This artist is embracing social media, with focus on Facebook to help her marketing. She is taking advantage of the scenic beauty of this area to generate interest among her viewers. The breathtaking autumn leaves draw people to Brown County.  Amy has wisely used the changing season as an opportunity to update her Facebook cover with  colorful leaves on September 20.  She interacts with viewers, with an example being replies to comments about the beauty of the leaves in reference to her cover picture. She is tying the beauty of nature to appeal to those who appreciate art.

kurtz-hilllAnother strong promotional tactic is the partnership of Amy’s business with the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour, which hosts a tour of 14 studios every day in October. Her affiliation with this group of artists located on country roads offers extensive marketing benefits. The Facebook for this studio tour is quite impressive.  The power of a video and beautiful images is well-demonstrated from the 793 shares & 190 likes currently showing for a post on September 15 promoting the artists & their work for this event.  The pinning of this communication to the top of their Facebook keeps it prominently displayed as the first post.

Another jewelry business listed on  browncounty.com that is promoting with Facebook is Touch of Silver, Gold & Old. Similar to Amy Greely, this company realizes the potential to market with social media.  In contrast, they have used a pet to differentiate their social media presence. Both companies pursue social media with diverse marketing themes geared to make their business stand out from the competition. Amy Greely Studio partners with other artisans to establish a presence in a nature focused art community.   Touch of Silver, Gold, & Old drives their marketing strategy with posts related to a shop dog.  The advertising differentiation between these two similar businesses is very clear.

A Touch of Silver, Gold & Old appeals more to family and people who love pets. They have a prominent section on their site named Stetson’s Corner, which informs of a Shop Dog named Stetson. Information about this dog rescue and his presence at the store pulls at the heartstrings. It is interesting to learn that Stetson was selected “Top Dog” from a 2012 contest with InStore Magazine, an honor of being chosen from all dogs in the country.

The difference between emotional and rational appeal in marketing is discussed in an article on smallbusiness.chron.com. A mix of rational and emotional appeal can be seen by the marketing of both Nashville, Indiana companies discussed above, with more emphasis on human emotions. One company’s marketing is benefiting from people’s  love of animals and the other from people’s love of artistic beauty & nature.

According to an article on forbes.com, including pets in marketing is very wise strategy.

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Information about marketing with natural beauty can be found on naturetourism.tamu.edu.

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Internet Marketer Jayson DeMers discusses the need to set yourself apart yourself from the competition, by being different or better, in article 6 Steps to Dominate a Competitor’s Social Media Marketing. The two Nashville companies discussed above have taken advantage of the power of social media, while  other similar businesses in Brown County, Indiana have not. In that regard, Amy Greely Studio and Touch of Silver, Gold, & Old have a distinct advantage over the other jewelry shops in their area. Furthermore, both of these jewelry businesses in Brown County are pursuing a viewer audience with different marketing strategies, giving a competitive edge for their target market.

Small Town Charm

The small town atmosphere and peaceful serenity of Houston, Indiana is refreshing. Photo of the Houston Christian Church  captures this quaint little village very well. I am proud to call this area of Jackson County, Indiana home. Hope your day is fabulous.

houston-church

Blog/Twitter Essential for Web Designers

Blogging and Tweeting can be especially important for those in the Web Design Industry, with social media being such a big part of an online marketing effort.   The guidelines for offering interesting digital content via Twitter and blogs can be found in various resources related to creating Web content.

The Value of Blogging 

Google encourages adding a blog to supplement websites for various benefits, including:

  • Connecting with others who share your interests
  • Encouraging readers to visit your website
  • Advertising your product or service

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The Google Webmaster Guidelines are given for blogs as a resource to create relevant and useful content, similar to advise for creating great websites. Similarities for ensuring good blogs and websites include:

  • Using Google recommendations for images and other media posted digitally
  • Consistently offering fresh and original electronic content that is valuable for viewers
  • Ensuring your blog or website can be found by your target audience

People are attracted to blogs with dialogue similar to their personality, per information in an article named Birds of a Feather: How Personality Influences Blog Writing and Reading.  A critique by Glenda Ryan of this resource discusses Blogging-and-Personality, both writing and reading of blogs.

Expressing yourself in a digital format with the appropriate tone, look, and voice is important.  You must take in consideration your target audience, your organization, and your industry. 3 helpful resources:

The Power of Twitter

The importance of consistently offering fresh and unique content is highlighted by The Tao of Twitter written by Mark Schaefer. This s a fantastic resource for learning how to benefit from the power of Twitter.  Twitter is an opportunity to grab user’s attention with content that is unique and interesting.  Tweets that include links to blogs, websites,  and other social media are great ways to help promote your message.  Twitter can assist in any industry in the business world for profit companies as well as non-profit organizations.

Twitter can be valuable for marketing in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Promotional tool/Lead generator
  • Targeted Connections
  • Idea generator for Product Development
  • Customer Service Connection

Monitoring input from viewers in various online channels, including Twitter and Blogs, is an excellent way to obtain valuable marketing data. Ideas and suggestions retrieved from listening to what is being said about your organization can provide a wealth of ways to market to existing customers, per recommendations in Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Josh Bernoff & Charlene Li.

Blogging & Tweeting to Boost Website Traffic

Consistently offering interesting, relevant, and unique content is a common element for websites, blogs, and Twitter.  A great example of a blog that serves to supplement a website can be found for Village Craftsmen of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.

This blog and website have reciprocal links that serve to cross promote.  This fantastic blog named Ocracoke Island Journal offers a wide range of stories, photos, and information that is of interest to the target audience of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Review of the archives of the Ocracoke Island Journal demonstrates the frequency of posts.  The charming tourist attraction of Ocracoke, steeped in history,  offers a wealth of potential topics for blogging.  The beautiful scenery and weather alone could provide so much fodder for discussion.

Looking for suggestions to promote visits to small town in rural Indiana

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Though not as popular and well-known as the North Carolina Outer Banks, an old schoolhouse in a charming village in Jackson County of southern Indiana  has much to offer. We are looking for blog topic suggestions for the Houston School Restoration Committee (HSRC), a non-profit effort to preserve this school building in Houston, Indiana.

This small town in Indiana is nestled in the hills of the Hoosier National Forest.  A website and Facebook page have recently been implemented for this non-profit organization.
Fall Festival is held as a fundraiser for the HSRC every October, with proceeds dedicated to help maintain the schoolhouse. Pictures of the old schoolhouse and scenery in the Houston area have been the subjects of Facebook posts.

Deer

Which of the following do you think would be of most interest?

  1. Various topics relevant to Indiana
  2. Discussion about history and old schoolhouses from a variety of locations
  3. Memories from a person or people who grew up in Houston, Indiana
  4. The beautiful scenery in the backwoods of Jackson County, Indiana

Do you think pictures of nature scenery in rural Indiana are relevant and helpful Web content to promote awareness of the Houston schoolhouse? Would love to hear any ideas, comments, or questions you have.

Web Design Tips Applicable to Social Marketing Strategy

The bar is higher for Web Designers than some other professions to be knowledgeable about online social media. The Web Design industry is directly connected to Internet Marketing. Websites are the central focus of the online presence for organizations, but social media are an important supplement. A large percentage of people in the world are using social media. Web Designers must be well versed in social media marketing strategies, for their own professional image as well as the clients the represent.

Some great information related to this topic can be found in the following articles:

The digital portfolio of a Web Designer should center on the Website, but include popular social media such as Facebook or Twitter, or a Blog. Maintaining the digital presence is an ongoing challenge, with the consistent changes of technology and social media. Continually providing fresh and interesting content for social media and the Website is an ongoing endeavor.

Luckily, much Web Design knowledge can be applied toward Social Media Marketing. Areas of importance for both of these channels of online promotion include:

  1. Clarity about your organization’s goals
  2. Knowing Your Target Audience
  3. Time commitment
  4. Content Strategy to appeal to Target Audience
    • Adequate resources for finding relevant and unique content
    • Consistently providing fresh and interesting content.
  5. Human Resources with Various skills
    • Effective communication
    • Knowledge to promote organization
    • Ability to engage viewer interaction

In addition to Web Designers own portfolio, expertise to offer for the digital presence for clients must available. It is likely that customers will look to Web Designer for guidance on implementing and maintaining their social media. For social media recommendations for the clients of Web Designers, it would be dependent on several factors. The social media to be utilized should be determined on a case by case basis, with consideration for the specific goals, strategies, time, and budget of the organization.

A Web Designer must be knowledgeable enough about various social media aspects to assist the client or or direct them to other resources for help. By staying up to date for trends and new technologies necessary to maintain a Web Designer portfolio, you will automatically acquire knowledge to better assist your clients in regards to their digital marketing.

Tools to monitor your Website as well as Social Media may vary, but the process has many similarities.  Google has tools for both, as discussed in the articles below.

Check out a recent online presence that was implemented for an old schoolhouse, to include Website and the Facebook to supplement this site.

Do you have any questions or comments about the Website or Facebook for this charming schoolhouse? Any suggestions you could recommend to better serve viewers would be greatly appreciated. This digital promotion is part of a project to help save a historic and unique building in a small midwest town. The HSRC Facebook currently has 99 “likes”. Do you want to “like” this page to help us further promote this conservation effort future generations?

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Designing Websites for Mobile Devices

Websites should look attractive as well as provide uniform content in a wide variety of browsers and platforms, including mobile devices.  There are a wide range of approaches to achieve this task, but it can be difficult for Web developers to accommodate the vast array of mobile devices. Testing the plethora of mobile devices is a practical impossibility. Discussion  of some technologies that can aid in ensuring Websites are visually appealing across digital devices are included below.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

  • Delivers web pages in variable sizes
  • Is necessary for tablets and mobile devices
  • This task can be challenging, but there are many potential solutions.

Creating Responsive Design

Code your own

  • Must be well versed in HTML, especially HTML5.

W3.CSS – Develop sites that look nice at any size; desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone

  • Free
  • No license
  • Inspired by Google Material Design

Google Web Designer

  •  Create HTML5-based designs  that can run on any device.

jQuery Mobile  – framework for creating web content for mobile web applications.

  • Flexible tool to craft appealing web pages that will look the same on all smartphone, tablet and desktop devices
  • Free – open source project of jQuery.org
  • Tutorials on W3Schools.com

jQuery Foundation non-profit association supported by members. This organization assists Web development in various ways, such as:

  • Project documentation
  • World-wide conferences
  • Participation in the Web standards
  • Advocate for Web developers, through groups such as the W3C.

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W3C’s mission includes ensuring that as many devices as possible are capable of viewing  Web content. With the growth of mobile device usage, the importance of Web applications and services on these devices is continually increasing.

Helpful information about Mobile Web Development

Does the extensive training, knowledge, and acronyms about Mobile Web Design seem like too much to deal with? Adobe has solutions for all your Web Design & Marketing issues, including mobile development.

Adobe Marketing Cloud

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What are your thoughts? Do you think there are adequate open-source resources to efficiently solve designing for mobile devices? Or is something such as Adobe Marketing Cloud a necessity for Web Designers/Marketers?  Anyone have experiences to share?