20% of all searches on Google are related to location. Is your business being found? Many businesses invest in SEO (search engine optimization) but overlook Google’s simple and effective tool: Google Places (formerly called Local Business Centre). Did you know that Google now highlights local businesses in top search results? In other words when a client is looking for an event planner in New York, owners that have created a storefront for their business will be found over yours.
Google Places lets businesses take control of their listings on Google and tell their customers what they’re all about.
Here is a simple ‘how to’ that will help you set up your business on Google Places:
Perhaps it’s because the entire population of Canada equals that of California, but we tend to get things a little slower than our neighbors to the South. There are some great features available to Americans:
As you may have noticed, I added a toolbar by Wibiya to my blog. I loved this toolbar because it lets you customize how your viewers can interact with your site – it includes social sharing, allows viewers to translate your site, subscribe to your blog, it shows recent posts and allows users to donate to a cause…all without having to leave your blog. For the blog author it offers basic analytics for each of your customized plugins.
Today, Wibiya announced the launch of their social analytics for all of your social apps. Now in addition to its already useful features, Wibiya lets you:
Wibiya is still in Beta testing and as a result is a free plugin. Click to add this social sharing toolbar to your blog.
As you know from this post I recently got my grubby little hands on an iPad. I have been experimenting with a variety of free and paid iPad apps and have crafted this list:
1. Dragon Dictation – Typing long notes of the iPad is a bit of a nightmare…so I bought the wireless keyboard. But let’s face it, I bought the iPad because it’s small and light to carry with me and it’s a pain to have to lug around a keyboard. Then I found Dragon Dictation. This FREE app is a godsend. I was very wary about it since I’ve had some pretty bad experiences with voice recognition software, but I’ve tested it out a number of times and it’s been incredibly accurate. All you do is record your voice and it will convert it to text.
2. ACTPrinter – This very handy $0.99 app lets you print any file from your computer to your iPad. So you can read documents from your iPad without having to be connected to the internet. I’ve printed event tickets and travel eTickets to my iPad that have barcodes and they scanned beautifully. But the possibilities are endless…
3. LogMeIn – At $29.99 this is by far the costliest app on my list, but well worth the price tag. After all, how much would you pay to be able to get access to the file you forgot on your home computer while traveling? LogMeIn lets you remotely connect to you computer(s) from your iPad…any time…anywhere.
4. Pages, Keynote & Numbers – Although these are 3 separate apps ($9.99 each), I’ve bundled them together since they fall under the iWork umbrella. The reason they’re on my list is pretty simple – fill the much needed word processing, presentation and spreadsheet gaps on the iPad.
5. Clock Free – As the name so succinctly states, this is a free clock. I was actually really surprised to see that the iPad didn’t come with one but this is a great substitute to the app that comes on the iPhone. Ideal for the travelling event planner, it lets you set a buzzer or music alarm. If you’re interested in the latter, you have tons of choices from SHOUTcast.Radio. And heck, if you’re lonely, turn the music on and dance around your hotel room.
6. SmartNote – For those who like to sketch out your ideas instead of typing them, this app is for you. At $0.99 it’s a steal. You can also import PDFs and highlight text or draw over top of images. This could be great for making revisions to floor plans, signing contracts from your iPad or brainstorming on the spot.
7. Dropbox – I don’t remember what I used to do before dropbox. Simply put, Dropbox is the easiest way to share files across computers and with your iPad or iPhone. You need to have a dropbox account, which you can set up for free. Paid accounts are also available for higher storage space.
I’d love to hear what your favorites are…
Want to know a little secret? Many of your competitors know nothing about SEO (search engine optimization). That means that they haven’t put any thought to what keywords should be used on their website. So, when a potential customer Googles ‘New York event planner’ your competitor is buried somewhere on page 10.
In this fantastic post by Jeff Bullas, he shares the following statistics about why it’s important to care about Google’s search ranking.
Where does your company rank?
I have been pondering whether to buy an iPad for about a month. Yesterday I took the leap. I went to apple.ca and bought my little bundle of joy as well as all of the accessories I could possibly need.
On the Apple website, it said that shipments would be made in 7-10 business days. As soon as I clicked ‘purchase’ I was verklempt to see on my receipt that it wouldn’t be shipped for 15 business days. I couldn’t wait that long so this morning I went into Best Buy to purchase my iPad and left the store with it.
I tried to cancel my Apple.ca shipment online. I couldn’t – it says that the accessories I bought have already been shipped. I call Apple, wait for 40 minutes until someone in customer service picks up my call (let’s name my rep Kelly Fickler). I tell Kelly that I want to cancel my order. Kelly tells me that some items were just shipped. I say fine, I’ll return them for a refund. Kelly tells me there will be a 10% restocking fee. I say NO WAY! The reason I’m returning the items is that Apple didn’t meet the timelines they promised on their website. Kelly calls me MA’AM. I ask for a supervisor.
She puts me on hold for 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes! Then, after speaking to her supervisor, she comes back on the phone to say she can waive the 10% restocking fee (magic).
THE REST OF THIS STORY IS NOT A JOKE…
Kelly asks me what I do. I say I’m in branding. She then proceeds to tell me that she was raised on a farm. Another lady once told her she was in branding. Kelly thought she meant cows. She then says that her family calls her pineapple – blond on the inside and brunette on the outside. She doesn’t know why they say pineapple. She says that coconut would be a better description.
The following is a guest post from Cheryl Lawson, the owner and founder of event planning and marketing firm, Party Aficionado, and creator of the Event Planning Tools mobile app.
As an event professional, educator, and self proclaimed geek, it seemed a natural progression to try my hand at creating a smartphone app, targeted to event planners.
I instruct Event and Meeting Management and have had the opportunity to see the tools to which my students gravitate. Most of them are drawn to ‘make my life easier tools.’ When I asked them to create a budget, they would download the same Microsoft template.
One of my ‘make my life easier tools’ is the meeting space calculator. So I decided to create it into an app.
I’ve created a list of steps to help other event professionals create their own apps.
The event planning tools app is a budget and cost per person calculator and a meeting space calculator. Decide what your app will do, or which problem it will solve. This is a good time to determine if you will offer your app for free or charge for it.
Each mobile platform has it’s own language called, application programming interface or API. Apple, Google Android, and Blackberry each offer their API to registered developers. There are also APIs for applications like Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook to help you add additional functionality to your mobile app.
There are a number of agencies and coders offering app building service. More recently, there are simple WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) app creators that require little to no coding expertise.
Create the functionality for your app.
Note: Just because you have a good coder, does not always mean you have a good designer. It may be necessary to hire someone else to create the artwork for your app.
Make sure your app works. Try both landscape and portrait, and different keyboard configurations. Test your app using low signal, 3G, 4G, and wifi as appropriate.
Upload your app to the platform’s website and wait for the app to be approved. Tell people about your new app.
Your app going live is just the beginning. Pay attention to comments. Use the feedback to connect with your customers and make improvements.
Party Aficionado helps companies develop social marketing strategies both online and Face to Face, using full event coordinating capabilities, and coaching to help companies cultivate their audience before, during, and after events. To learn more, visit Party Aficionado.
Late last year, a giant in the branding & design industry passed on. Don Watt has been credited with designing the Canadian flag, creating the highly recognizable Home Depot logo, and shaking up the food industry by developing a ‘branded’ look to private label with the President’s Choice brand (among many, many, many other accomplishments).
He was also well known for creating the hallmark of package design innovation, photo-symbolism. His idea was to “make the outer package express the promise of goods inside”.
Nowadays, in the food industry, this is commonplace. Can you imagine buying cookies without a picture of decadent chocolate chips on the package? Can you imagine buying coffee without a steaming cup on the package? Thanks to Don, we don’t have to imagine what it might taste like, the package tells us.
Why don’t businesses get this same concept? Why do some of the best businesses forget about making their outer communications express the promise of goods inside their company? Bad web design, wordy and convoluted copy, generic blog templates, shoddy sales material, and inability to succinctly communicate what they do to others.
If you forget about your outer package you might just get passed up for another that looks more appealing.