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I arrived at an [almost] shouting level when the Virgin Mobile, VM, “Advisors” on the phone. They were highly undertrained, made worse by limited English skills at crucial times. The Advisors can’t be faulted. In whatever developing region they are from, they were pleased to have the job and they were doing the best they could. BUT VM is a rich company! They could hire people with excellent English skills to service American customers.

Furthermore, the help menu for phone support has every option but the one you want. You can go through a myriad of menus and never hear a reasonable option like “customer service”. I learned to just keep saying “advisor” or “customer service”, etc…” until I was sent to a human.

I know that these may only be start up service issues, but they cost me approximately 4 hours total on the phone. If you have the extra money to spend on a service with Verizon or ATT, I’d say go for it, if your “time is money”!

We New Englanders are tough customers. Not only are we “conservative spenders” and self-sufficient as a rule, but we embrace as much of the “show me” position on new information as our sister State Missouri. But then, they can’t decide whether it’s pronounced “Missoura” or “Missouree”, and we Damn Yankees can make a decision!

Nevertheless, the substantiating information as tall as Mt Washington is often required to coax a decision to improve, redo or even have any website at all for us of a certain age.

So, here I am, wanting to make this valuable recommendation all at once to every stubborn Yankee out there; make your site great (competitive!) in every way. It is your most important piece of any contemporary marketing strategy for your products and services. It will cost you less than newspaper ads, have countless more applications, and it is what your client base expects to see. To not have a modern, engaging and flexible  website compromises the perception that your business IS a business. And another thing, it just makes you look really cheap. What does that say about your willingness to do for your clients and customers? What does it say about customer service?

A Guide Post?

What stands in the way to profound improvements is recognizing the vast ineffectiveness of virtually any website designed approximately 5 years ago or even more recent (depending on the sophistication of the designer at the time). The non-professionally created site only gets worse as it sits there unimproved over years. The older site is guaranteed not to recognize ever-evolving search engine requirements (SEO). It does respond to the way people expect and want to see things displayed on the Internet, and it surely does not lend itself to being viewed on different browsers and electronics from a iphone to a tablet. We’re soon seeing IE version 10, with IE8 now already 3 years old. And IE8 can not display the new design protocol of html5, which is already being used out there!

Let’s leave it at this: talk to me. I’ll give you a 45 minutes of insight gratis (15 of which will be reviewing your current website before we have a phone or skype appointment). I have years of experience myself and a team that collectively doubles mine, with expertise in virtually all areas of design, development and security. Please use the form on MediaArchitects.co to start the process. I will personally respond within 2 business days.

Best regards, Isa Cann

I happen to love standard newspapers for what they mean to journalism, community and even advertising, Imagebut when I hear that someone can’t afford a 1,500. website, I want to choke myself. “Are you kidding me?”, I think to myself. You paid for a print ad in the local newspaper for $500.-1,500. easily, which ran for a day or two, but you won’t pay for the most important promotional and informational venue in contemporary society that runs for years (indefinitely, with updates). And with so much more content that these two advertising venues can’t even compare!

And search engine optimized (SEO), your website will get you ad mileage in ways that no newspaper can touch! You may be selling your widget to India, designing websites for Australian businesses, or find your speaking engagement in rich Dubai had you applied the ad investment in a proper website, instead of a newspaper ad.

So, be practical. Ante up for the great website that only a marketing focused designer with SEO insights can provide and spend the lousy 1.500.! This is your only consistently sustainable and immediately effective choice in the modern economy.

Here are 2 sample newspaper ad rate sheets in my region:

1. http://nobmg.com/media/pdfs/NT_Rate_Card_Optimized.pdf

2. http://nobmg.com/media/pdfs/NOBMG_Rate_Card.pdf

In 1989 the WWW (world wide web) was an exciting venue of every sort of information; images and text and some script that did neat little tricks. What is referred to as “Web 2.0” – the second generation of the design and functioning of websites on the Internet – is an amazing dynamic assembly of online tools, from business administration to research; from multi-media content to a truly interactive social media! If you have not internalized the powerful tool that your website could be, then just take a look at some of the things websites can do these days:

agency and executive job searching
car anti-theft tracking and gps
comparison shopping for consumer goods
computer hardware testing
computer virus scanning
consignment and flea market trading
dating and relationships services
digital photo editing
free web-based email
home security surveillance
logo design and graphic arts services
mapping services
music and file sharing
news feeds
online audio
online banking
online health counseling
photo gallery services
private investigator and confidential search services
project management tools
special event and wedding planning
spread sheet related admin
team organizing
video hosting
word processing

Call Media Architects (978-463-9151) and get some of this in your website and have your online office develop your business – even while you rest and enjoy the summer!

On a weekly basis, in an effort to provide good customer service, I repeat the answer to a common question. The underlying question is really “Why am I paying for a custom website when everyone tells me I can do it myself on WordPress?” I try not to giggle or smirk. Many, many people come to me only after their (or their neighbor’s kid’s) frustrating attempt to avoid paying for a professional product, not created by a professional marketing and business development business like Media Architects in Massachusetts.

This is a typical dialogue, from which I removed the name of the inquirer:

“By A Reader:

I’m looking in to starting my own online shop and very new to everything. So after I buy a domain and hosting, I have to start a store front. And to do ecommerce I need a Shopping Cart and PrestaShop looks great. So once I download it, does it come with a template/design for the website? And what about if I want a different design like from Dreamweaver or any other design, how do I use PrestaShop with it?

Can someone please list a step-by-step instruction of what needs to be done?

Thanks

By MediaArchitects:

Dear Reader, Prestashop is one of the good ones; very powerful. It still requires some healthy knowledge and graphic talent to set it up and have it appear as you want [to brand your products]. To further the challenge, you ask about Dreamweaver. Here’s the thing: Dreamweaver is for people whose profession is to design websites, are able to start a design from scratch, and don’t require WordPress or similar canned – but powerful – products. It is not that the Dreamweaver designers don’t use the tools to enhance their designs. They or similar code is useful, no doubt. But WordPress is specifically created for those who aren’t designers (the effect being that Dreamweaver designers give up clear, direct, simple control over their design values, an unnecessary complication)”
With this insight, please call me if you need a website designed to promote and inform about your products, services and ideas. If working with WordPress is your desire, we can do that, but now you understand why that might not be the most efficient approach. From CMS sites you update, to simple informational sites we update on your behalf (and hybrids!), Media Architects is pleased to MARKET your product on the internet and coach you towards useful Social Media to gain ever more attention to your site and good SEO results (Search Engine Optimization).

~ Isa Cann

Social Media (SM) is the Internet’s means of promoting, among other things, websites. Your website is the informative and promotional face of your business these days (if you don’t have one, for Pete’s sake, contact me now). Using Facebook and other Social Media to get people FROM there TO your website is the key, not the other way around. Facebook does not need your branding support.

social media symphony

social media symphony

There are several things you should plan to do right off the bat.

First Task: Your Website should be using SM’s standard icons prominently with links to each; Facebook and Twitter especially. How it works: when someone clicks on the media icon, and is a member of that SM already – of Facebook, Twitter, etc.- then their friends and connections see their “like” or “recommend”. For Facebook, either can be chosen. I prefer “recommend” for businesses given it’s not normally soliciting teenagers to comment on ice cream flavors! Ask your website designer to obtain the “embed code” for your website after creating an account. This is a free source: AddThis.  Note, my social media icons are small but visible. The Add This tool includes “bookmarks” (or “favorites”), registering the approval of your site with a myriad of social and bookmarking venues across the Internet where you have accounts – and even adding a printing utility.

Second group of tasks: Open one SM account at a time as you are prepared to do so (i.e., be ready to enter all the data and upload images in one sitting). In this blog I’ll focus on Facebook.

Facebook requires a great deal of information for the Facebook company to acknowledge your organization’s Page as a complete one, not to mention that you have to have earned at least 25 fans of the Page to secure the Page name. Facebook says, *”All Pages are eligible to claim usernames if they have more than 25 fans.” [* Please note: information was accurate at the time this blog post was published]

You will need a synopsis of your business, a logo that is sized appropriately to be viewed completely and clearly (no fuzzy graphics!), address, phone and other contact information, and a half dozen photos that highlight your products and/or services. Even free photos are better than the otherwise “empty boxes” at the top of the Facebook screen (being careful to use free photos off the Internet that indicate that they are free to use. Many are not, so please don’t disrespect copyright law -or look rather foolish by those in-the-know).

Once your business is set up as a Facebook Page, proceed to invite people to be fans of your page by emailing them with a humble “Would you help me please?”, using a blind copy – b.c.c. –  so you don’t expose your friends’ and family’s email addresses to everyone receiving your email. Initially target the invitation to this, your “warmest market”  i.e., people who already care about you and the success of your business. People normally will help when requested. Don’t be shy about reminding them once after then, however, if they don’t show up in the group in the left hand column of the Facebook page called “people like this”. A third request might be considered being pesty though.

There are more Facebook tools, but worry about the essentials listed here first so you are at least keeping up with your competition. And speaking of competition, it’s typically advisable not to promote your competition, right? So why would you on Facebook? Don’t become Fans of (“like”) competitors’ Facebook Pages. After all, they might make a slicker first impression when Internet surfers are busy and don’t have time to dig deeper to uncover your business superiority! But do add as many other Page types as you want to be viewed by your marketplace. E.g., do “like” your favorite accounting business; don’t “like” your favorite grunge band.

Be careful to use the organization’s Page as your facebook identity when you are working on the Page for promotion. Refer to the dropdown menu in the top right, click on “Account”  then go to “Use Facebook as Page” . Whatever this is set for will indicate “who” is commenting on the wall and otherwise interacting on your Page.

Finally, check you Page often for univited posts. You will get advertising posts galore as people “like” the Page and then become able to post. One can stop other’s ability to post, but then you are losing the very thing you signed up for, the sharing of posts on other Social Media accounts! Do allow posting, just delete ads as you go.

There are other Social Media related tasks you might want to assume subsequently, requiring a recommended few hours per month. What and how much depends on your business or other organization. I’ll address that in another blog.

You can contact me for more information. I am truly pleased to help you grow your business or other organization.

~ Isa

Our aching planet just needs you to be thoughtful as you plow into your next venture. If you are, everyone wins, and wins sustainably into the indefinite future.

A Sustainable business considers the impacts of every facet of its operation and then attempts to address each, from paper consumption to human resources, in a way that does, ideally, no harm. Instead it supports the regeneration of resources for infinite future use and enjoyment. A sustainable business plan affirmatively avoids “burning anything out”, from trees to human health, while it marches towards economic development. “Growth for the sake of growth is the philosphy of a cancer cell” .

The model of Sustainable [Economic] Development, what I have named “Sustonomy”, is a goal whose bar is quite high but for which we make the reach anyhow, knowing that the planet we live on has reached its limit. Opportunities for Green businesses are myriad – and necessary.

If you are considering a business founded in the principles and theories of Sustainable Development, I am currently composing a book list that will entice the beginner with new Green business dreams. If you send me an email, when I’ve completed the list I’ll send you a copy.

seo help

SEO is multi-faceted. Do your research to get the right professional

There are no magic bullets for Search Engine Optimizing your website. SEO is a compilation of several systematic online action items. It is time-consuming when done properly:

  • Some built into your website
  • Many more involving Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Listing with a variety of entities
  • Advertising (including pay-per-clicks by Google and advertising in other venues)
  • Other actions, including newsletters and more!

The list should be sculpted to your precise type of business and your audience(s) (i.e., markets).

So, here’s the skinny, if someone or some company is offering a 1-time service addressing your SEO needs and they leave it at that, you will have spent a lot of precious money on something that will only put you a notch ahead, and probably only temporarily so.

Alternatively, if they offer an ongoing SEO program for you to implement yourself (it is likely you can handle the majority of tasks yourself) then this is a far better service. I suggest you take it.

In the meantime, linking here will present an SEO list of items that should be embedded in your own site, and important ongoing action items, which many website designers/developers are positioned to offer. If you have any questions about a list of SEO services you’ve been offered, we’re happy to help you by taking a quick look at your business, website and providing feedback in light of what you have been offered.

In all cases, expect that effective SEO will require either a few hours of your time weekly, or a considerable payment plan to an SEO specialist (possibly costing more than than your website design). The more the competition for your business type exists in your region, the more important SEO will be to your success.

What you are missing is a marketing department. It’s not well enough that you can talk about your business, but can you sell it? A marketing person takes what he or she know about your business, understands the audiences for the products or services, and proceeds to sculpt the media, from websites to brochures, just for whom it’s intended.

The marketing staff, even if just one dedicated person, looks at your business differently than you do, intentionally through the eyes of the consumer.

Even larger companies are getting rid of their marketing departments. Such a mistake. To remove this element from your development mix means sinking to the bottom of visibility in the marketplace, when actually, with the economy as it is, you need more visibility than ever! Imagine this, you stay visible with the appropriate marketing for your organization and you may be the more than satisfied “last guy standing”.

I am not so callous to want anyone to lose their business, but the alternative to getting in front of eyeballs in the marketplace is invisibility. One day, when someone considers calling your business for a service but then recalls they haven’t seen you Online, in ads (when you used to advertise regularly, remember) or anywhere else, they might just think you are -well – dead in the water.

There is no moral. This isn’t about morals, it’s about business sense. Keep your marketing staff! If that is not possible than hire a company like ours to assume the tasks for you. Don’t allow yourself to be perceived as another business that had to close.

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