2012 Success Award Winners Recognized at Event at State Capitol 3-29-12

A group picture of 2012 Success Award Winners for Arizona Small Business Development Center Network, picture taken March 29th with Governor Jan Brewer

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Free DEX Event April 26th at Chase Field

Pinterest Worth Looking Into

Taken from Business Journal Online
Jason Hennessey, chief executive officer of EverSpark Interactive, explains why Pinterest should be capturing the attention of businesses.
Image: EverSpark Interactive

You can’t argue with the numbers. Photo-bookmarking social network Pinterest, run by Palo Alto, California-based Cold Brew Labs, reportedly grew by 52 percent, to 17.8 million unique visitors, in February, making it the nation’s third-fastest-growing website.

It has seen a surge of users not just last month, but over the past six months, during which time it has also been the center of much attention, both positive and negative. On the plus side, it has drawn an audience of predominantly female users (read: shoppers), while on the downside, it has been the subject of concerns over possible copyright violations when copyrighted material is pinned to user sites, as the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal notes.

Still, given its quick rise to popularity, it is important for businesses to understand Pinterest’s appeal so that they can either channel its platform for themselves or consider what it’s doing right as a source of insight.

To learn more about Pinterest, we posed a few questions to digital marketing guru Jason Hennessey, the chief executive officer of EverSpark Interactive, an Atlanta search engine optimization company.

Portfolio.com: What do you see as the biggest appeal of Pinterest, and why did it take off so quickly?

Hennessey: Pinterest’s popularity has exploded; it has millions of diverse users. Unlike Google +, for instance, where you’ll find mostly techies, Pinterest is a place where you can find a variety of people, all of whom are organizing their interests on the new social network’s online pinboards on a regular basis.

Everyone loves to share the things that they are interested in. For this reason, Pinterest appeals to the incredibly social mentality that has developed in all of our minds. We have become accustomed to social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which have ingrained a sense in us that everything we like we should share with the world. Pinterest gives us the capability to come as close to physical sharing as possible without actually handing our belongings over to our friends for them to enjoy. The site’s emphasis on sharing our various interests with connections and the world via pictures, recipes, and more, when it caught on, was like second nature to most of us, as we’re used to doing this in a limited capacity on other social-networking sites.

Pinterest is likely also so popular because it’s so simple: You have pinboards related to your interests, and you can easily organize all the chaos and noise out on the Web by compartmentalizing all the things you like on Pinterest’s boards. If you aspire to something, you can make a “Future” pinboard and surf the Web in an effort to create a board that helps you visualize the years to come.

For businesses, Pinterest adds a sense of legitimacy and authority to their reputations. If a business is on Pinterest sharing pictures and information related to its niche, it is connecting more deeply with an audience and also reflecting the company’s know-how. The business is proving that it is interested in what it is talking about and is a legitimate source of information.

What consumer demographic is using Pinterest the most and why?

Definitely women. It’s a place to share wedding ideas, recipes, fashion inspirations, home-decorating tips, all in one place. That’s not to say men wouldn’t be interested in such things on Pinterest, it’s just that the male population on the site right now is pretty small compared to the female population. A recent comScore estimate had the percentage of female users at 68 percent, and those users drive 85 percent of the traffic on Pinterest.

What type of startups or small businesses could best use Pinterest to grow their brand?

Stores big and small—a small wedding-dress retailer, for instance, could get a great deal of visibility on Pinterest—but also other types of agencies. There’s no reason why consulting agencies and marketing agencies can’t be on Pinterest sharing things related to their niches. For instance, our company pins books we find helpful in the SEO and online-business world on Pinterest. Other companies share tip guides and other related products.

How can businesses deploy Pinterest? Any specific tips?

Businesses can add the “Pin It” button to their websites, so that when someone pins something there, on that person’s Pinterest is a link back to the business’s website. This requires adding pin-worthy images to your company’s website so that people will be encouraged to pin things on your site. If people start pinning your items, you could see your website’s traffic increase dramatically.

Also, every company should have a Pinterest account (if you can get an invite, that is) and share things related to your business, whatever those things may be.

What cautions do you have for Pinterest users that are small businesses? For example, what about copyright issues?

Right now, it seems sort of unclear whether copyright infringement will become an issue on Pinterest. For now, just always be careful. If you don’t own an image, be honest about it. Create and encourage sharing of original content and you should be fine.

Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/companies-executives/2012/03/26/marketing-guru-jason-hennessey-on-how-businesses-can-use-pinterest/#ixzz1qEPcPcyC

Marketing to Generation Y

Gen Y and Millennials today have more buying power than ever before. Getting their attention is crucial to the survival of any business or organization that is in it for the long haul. The challenge, as you’ve already cleverly observed, is that they are bombarded by messages. The rarest commodity today is attention.

Even though Gen Y is bombarded with messages, they are still hungry for quality information. A blog is a great way to educate and interact with them. I’d also recommend creating content beyond written posts—creating online videos for example. Established brands with original historic logos may not be the most appealing to the youngsters of today, but you can still attract attention by providing quality information and educating your potential and current customers. And, at the end of the day, while doing something hip may get you the initial attention of Gen Y, they are a savvy bunch and will need substantial reasons to turn into customers.

To get started, I highly recommend Facebook advertising in order to build visibility. You can target the ads by narrowing in on age and location. You can create separate campaigns for each branch and then advertise using their particular zip code. Make sure to test different ads to find the one that converts the best. Also, another strategy to consider is co-branding. Building a brand which appeals to the younger generation can take time. One shortcut is to work with someone who already has a brand which appeals to your target audience. Let them serve as a brand ambassador. You are, in essence, piggybacking on their brand visibility to attract attention for your particular organization. Just make sure the seriousness of purpose in their brand values aligns with yours.

Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/resources/2012/03/20/ask-shama-how-to-tap-generation-y#ixzz1plBVqdul

HP-Life Program Recognized by Phoenix Business Journal

City of Phoenix Shops Local!

March 6, 2012

Greg Stanton for News Releases    Mayor Greg Stanton

Mayor Greg Stanton fulfilled two more parts of his 100-day plan today when the city council approved two measures aimed at moving Phoenix’s economy forward.

Stanton and the council passed a program to enhance local and small businesses’ participation for city procurements and approved a streamlined way for businesses to submit plans electronically to the city.

“These are two important city plans I wanted to implement from day one to do our part in helping Phoenix businesses succeed and boost our economy and jobs,” Stanton said. “Local sourcing is key for our homegrown businesses and new technology speeds up the process so we can build upon Phoenix’s rising economy.”

Stanton thanked city manager David Cavazos and the city council for pursuing the electronic plan review and the procurement program in 2011 and seeing it to its approval today, as well as Local First Arizona executive director Kimber Lanning for relentlessly fighting for local and small businesses.

“I am thrilled to see Mayor Stanton taking a leadership role on such an important issue,” said Kimber Lanning, executive director of Local First Arizona, a statewide non-profit acting on behalf of 2,000 local businesses.  “Awarding more contracts to Arizona companies is a sure-fire way to create jobs. The business community appreciates these efforts.”

Stanton promised to fight for local businesses as Mayor and worked with the city and business leaders to push the procurement enhancement, which will allow them to compete for city business for goods and services contracts under $50,000. Stanton also supported a streamlined system of the electronic submittal of building plans.

“This is a win-win for architects and the city when it comes to building plans,” said Patrick Panetta, president of the American Institute of Architects, Arizona chapter. “This is another tool architects can utilize to offer clients greater value. Not only does it save money in the long term, but also it eliminates the tedious process of printing and delivering paper sets and creates a more flexible delivery method.”

Stanton said the two items put Phoenix out front to regain steam and move into a successful future.

“Phoenix is rising out of a recession and gaining speed with jobs, the economy and innovation,” Stanton said. “At the city, we have to keep pace and move ahead with our businesses for a strong economic future.”

Changes to Google SEO Algorithm mean changes to your SEO

Google

In the offices of Google Amsterdam.
Image: Google

Remember those step-by-step procedures you learned in school for calculations and data processing? Those procedures your teacher told you you’d never need because other people would take care of it?

Well those other people work for Google, and those procedures—those operations that result in what is essentially automated reasoning through an algorithm—well, they are changing. And although you may still not remember how to write an algorithm, you better darn well know how to adjust to those changes or your business could face some seriously crappy results.

“Companies that are looking at this news and not being reactive are going to see steep declines in traffic,” said Kenneth Wisnefski, online marketing expert and founder and CEO of WebiMax, a search engine optimization firm. “Google’s change could push high-ranking sites down and reshuffle the index for sites that no longer meet their criteria.”

According to a statement released by Webimax, the change is expected to be the most substantial one in the history of Google search. Portfolio.com asked Wisnefski how best to prepare for the new algorithm, and he gave three pretty straightforward answers—no algebra required.

Step 1: Break from the old keyword mentality, embrace synonyms

Since Google is changing their dependency on keyword ranking to include comparable “like” words, webmasters should evaluate their website copy and brand message. Webmasters can now use similar words in context, pulling dependency away from using the same keyword throughout the page.

Step 2: Build up your FAQ page

Google admits they will place more relevance on definitions and direct answers. This move is an attempt to return to the end user highly authoritative responses to questions they are searching for. Businesses can leverage this by increasing their FAQ or “Ask an Expert” page on their website by answering direct questions related to their products, services, company, and industry. Doing this important step will help their page get indexed for a wide variety of keywords.

Step 3: Don’t sell, educate

Treat your website as much as an opportunity to educate users as an opportunity to sell your product. If you sell seeds for flowers, educate the reader about how to pick the best seeds for your garden, don’t just offer them tulips.

Wisnefski also said the changes are intended to make the algorithm more human based. Right now there is such a thing as a bad Google search. Put important words later in the sequence and the results will change, use a less popular synonym and the better result may not even come up, or ask a direct question and you’re likely to end up at WikiAnswers sifting through dozens of amateurs wagering their best guess for some other poor soul who already asked the same question.

“Google is really looking to standardize search outcomes regardless of the semantic choices of the user,” he said. “It won’t be about the term as much as the terminology.”

In theory, according to Wisnefki, with the new algorithm, the heart of the searcher’s interest will more readily and universally rise to the surface, though he remains skeptical that Google may still favor some of its own content.

“Google could be proving their power as the dominant leader in online search by completely rewriting the rules,” he said in a statement prior to the interview. “This move could also be an attempt to further distance them from rival Microsoft (Bing) and illustrate their strength in relation to Facebook in the online community.”

Regardless, effective SEO and website optimization can take anywhere from one to three months, so there’s not much time to prepare.

“Google gave us a three-month warning of these changes,” said Wisnefski. “Thus the call to action is now to evaluate and improve your webpage to make sure you can remain highly ranked or even surpass those that are well-ranked above you that are not going to make changes.”

Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/resources/2012/03/19/steps-to-maximize-seo-with-new-google-algorithm/#ixzz1pZApO8tz