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New Look for Summer!

We know we are still a few days away from the official start of summer, but we simply couldn’t wait! June is the perfect time to dust-off the old brand and refresh it. Why not start with a new look for your business cards?

This month, get 1000 free standard business card prints with your business card design–super thick 16 pt cardstock, glossy or matte, standard or round corners.

Contact us! Let’s catch-up and talk about how you can infuse new life into your business.

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Website Maintenance – Do I have to?

Red Funnel And Quarts Of Motor Oil On WhiteI hope you’re having a great week! I know that no one wants to talk about maintenance – it’s not fun or flashy! No one loves taking their car to get an oil change. You don’t get any new features, you just get the same car back, usually with dirty floor mats. But there have been some very important WordPress updates that have been released over the last couple of weeks and we want to make sure you are aware of them. We’ve cleaned up several sites that were infected because of outdated software which cost the business owners $300-$600 to fix the site plus the lost business from the site being down. So knowing this, you probably have some questions:

Why would someone hack my small business site? I don’t have any government secrets!
The most frequent types of attacks aren’t directed at a specific site or business. They attack all sites with hopes of finding the weakest ones to break into. They could use your site to stage other bigger attacks (so it can’t be traced back to them) or they could use your site to distribute their malware programs to other people’s computers.

What happens if my site is infected?
Many different things can happen – your site could go offline or look broken. In other cases, your site could look perfectly fine but if it is infected, it can spread the infection to your computer and the prospects and clients that are visiting your site.

How much does it cost to clean a site?
It depends on what is wrong with the site, but it can cost $400-$600. Just like your car, ongoing, consistent maintenance is always cheaper than emergency repairs.

Can I update the site myself?
Yes, the nice thing about WordPress is that you have the option to maintain it yourself! But, use caution! Most of the time the updates should work fine but occasionally they can cause conflicts that will cause your site not to function properly. ALWAYS back up your site before updating and make sure you know how to restore the site if sometime goes wrong. If you want to learn how to update your site, contact us to schedule a training.

Can you take care of it for me?
Yes! We can do one-time updates or you can sign up for a monthly maintenance plan that will keep your site updated. See below for the details on these plans.
 

Ready to update?

Click here to fill out the WordPress Website Update Form or give us a call at 858-220-7478.


Show Your Website Some Love!

iheartwebsiteHappy (Early) Valentine’s Day! Whether you have a date for Valentine’s day or not, February is the perfect time to spread the love to friends, family and even your website! Your website works hard for your business, so isn’t it time to show it some love?

Technology is changing all the time

Website browsers are being updated, tablets and phones are adding new features and the internet in general is evolving. This means that your website must keep up to continue to work correctly.

When was the last time you tested your website?

Was it the day your site was launched? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Most people don’t give their site a second thought because that’s how websites used to work – you could set it and forget it. Today, your website lives in a different world – a world that is changing and evolving around it. And to continue working at its best, it needs consistent monitoring and updating.

Here are three quick things to check right now to make sure your website is continuing to work:

  1. Test Your Contact Form – Go to your site and fill out your contact form(s). Do you receive the notifications at the correct email address? Many outside factors can cause a contact form to stop working (outdated software, change in email address, increase in email security, etc…) This should be tested once a month (at least) to make sure your clients and prospective clients can reach you.
  2. Check and Update Your Contact Information – It is easy to forget to update your phone number, email and address on your website. Make sure they are current and working.
  3. View Your Site on Other Devices – Your site might look amazing on your monitor, but how does it look on the newest phone or table? Or the newest version of Internet Explorer or Chrome? Chances are it won’t look the same from device to device (this is almost impossible), but it should look good and function on all of them. Testing this often will ensure your site is up-to-date with the latest technology.

If you can do these items on a regular basis, you’ll be able to spot any issues that might arise before a potential client does. No one wants to get that phone call. “Hello, I was just on our website and it doesn’t seem to be working.” Ugh! That won’t start the relationship out on the right foot.  Save yourself that potentially awkward call and test your site.

If you need help keeping your site up to date, that’s what we’re here for! Give us a call or click here to fill out the WordPress Website Update Form.

And make sure to have a sweet treat on Valentine’s Day!

 

 


Happy Holidays!

snowflakeJust a quick note that we’ll be closed from 12/22 through 1/4 to regenerate our batteries for 2015! We’ll be sure to answer all calls and emails when we are back in the office on 1/5.

Have a safe and happy holiday season and happy New Year!

Jessy & Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Important Security Update and WordPress 4.0

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgbFirst, the good news, WordPress 4.0 is now live! Now, the bad news. Slider Revolution, a very popular slideshow plugin has a very important security update that should be done ASAP. What do these mean to you? Time to update your website.

Now I know what you are thinking: Can I do it myself?

Yes, you can do these upgrades yourself, but a word of caution: As with any upgrade, there is a possibility that the new software could conflict with your existing site. So make sure you ALWAYS backup your website and know how to restore it if something goes wrong. ALWAYS (really, I mean it)

3 Areas That Will Need Updating:

  1. WordPress – The core software can be updated through the WordPress “Updates” menu. ALWAYS backup your website before updating software. You also should check to make sure your hosting account is compatible with the latest version of WordPress: http://wordpress.org/about/requirements/
  2. Plugins – These are smaller programs that can be added to WordPress to add features to your site (anything from a simple email newsletter signup to a complex membership management program). Plugins can also be updated through the WordPress “Updates” menu. Make sure to check to see if the plugin is compatible with the latest version of WordPress. Links to more information on the plugins can be found by clicking on the “Visit plugin site” link under the plugin name on the “Plugins Page”.
  3. Theme – The theme control the design of your website. Many theme creators will update their themes to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress to take advantage of the improved features and performance. Some themes allow automatic updating but for most, you will have to contact the person or company that created your theme for more information.

Rather Have Us Do the Updates?

Click here to fill out the WordPress Website Update form or give us a call at 858-220-7478.

Stop Worrying About Updates!

Our monthly maintenance plans take care of your updates, security scans and backups on a regular basis so you don’t have to worry about it. Check them out here: WordPress Website Monthly Maintenance Plans

 


GSDBA Directory Ads Are On Sale!

Happy Summer! Long days and near perfect weather mean it is time to start thinking about your GSDBA Directory Ad for 2015! We’re offering a special this year:

If you order your ad design before September 15th, we’ll write your Basic Line Listing for FREE – possibly the most frustrating part of the directory process for business owners. It is really hard to communicate the essence of your business is such a small space, but that is what we do best!

Reserve your ad space with the GSDBA here and then call 858-220-7478 or email us to get started!

 


How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?

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One of the most frequent questions we hear is how much should businesses be spending on marketing. While there is no hard-and-fast rule, there are some generally agreed upon guidelines that will help you determine what is right for your business.

The general rule is 5% of your business’s total revenue should be invested back into the business to maintain your current presence. If you are looking to grow, 10%-20% of your business’s total revenue should be invested to increase your presence, visibility and market share.

Now to a business owner, this may seem like a large amount of money that could go towards salary for a new employee or a larger office space, but keep in mind this is the most important investment you can make in your business’s future.  In the article, “Why successful companies keep investing in ongoing marketing“, the author asks, why does Coca Cola still spend billions on marketing every year? He concludes that “Marketing is food, not medicine”.

It’s not the last minute fix to bring customers in when your phone stops ringing. It is the consistent, everyday meal that builds and maintains a healthy business.

Also, keep in mind that your marketing  budget includes all marketing expenses including the cost of marketing staff as well as costs like printing, buying advertising space or hiring a marketing team.

What might increase or decrease that percentage?

  • How fast do you want to grow?
    To grow faster, you’ll have to spend more. Marketing’s mantra “You have to spend money to make money” rings true. The catch is to spend your money on the right marketing channels.
  • What type of product or services do you sell?
    If you sell services to other businesses, it is possible that your marketing budget could be a smaller percentage than a business that sells to consumers and must use many different channels to reach their target customers and has a broader audience.
  • Is your industry competitive?
    How competitive your industry is and the amount your competitors spend may require you to increase your budget.
  • Are you launching a new business, product or service or moving into a new market?
    Introducing something new will initially require a larger percentage to get off the ground.

How do I know what to spend my budget on?

Once you know approximately what you are supposed to spend, how do you know you are maximizing this money? You must test and measure all of your marketing efforts in order to know what is working. You have to know how much each a marketing effort costs you and how much you are getting in return. This can be as simple as asking each new customer how they found you and keeping the data in a spreadsheet or as detailed as visitor analytics on your website. The key is to find a number of varied marketing channels that work for you and then run them consistently.

What if I don’t have a budget yet?

If you’re just starting out, you may now be thinking that this is great if you are an established company with consistent cash flow, but what do you do if you don’t have much cash?

Instead of money, invest your time.

The same percentages above work for how much of your time should be devoted to marketing. If your marketing machine in humming and a lot of it is automated or outsourced, you may only need to spend 5% of your hours on marketing. If you’re looking to grow, 10%-20% of your week should be dedicated to working on the marketing of your business. So, if you work 40 hours a week (wouldn’t that be nice!), you’d spend 4 hours on marketing. Now you can spread that time throughout the week or do it all at once, whatever works for your schedule, but it is absolutely critical that you protect that time. Treat your business as a client. Working on your marketing is just as, if not more, important than working on clients’ projects because it ensures future business and allows your business to continue to provide services to your clients.

What can you do during this time?

  • Write a blog post
  • Call a potential strategic partner
  • Send out an email newsletter
  • Enter your database into a CRM
  • Create a past client survey
  • Create social media profiles
  • Post to social media
  • Attend a networking meeting or mixer

Marketing can be tremendously overwhelming because there are so many options. If you have questions about the information above or don’t know where to start, contact us!

What to see how your doing? Download our Marketing Audit for free!

 

 


Our Baby is 8!

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Our baby is 8 this year and it’s really hard to believe. Owning our own business has been a roller coaster ride–exciting, terrifying, and sometimes hurl-inducing–but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. I know many of you know what we’re talking about.

We want to sincerely thank you. Your support, cheerleading, love, dedication, and loyalty drives us to work harder and inspires us to do and be better. We are so happy to know you and have the opportunity to work with you. Thank you!

Love–Jessy + Lisa


WordPress 3.8 Updates & New Maintenance Plans

The new version of WordPress has been released! So, what’s new in WordPress 3.8?

  • Refreshed, Cleaner Dashboard – the less cluttered look makes it easier to find what you are looking for so you can spend less time editing your site.
  • Streamlined Widget Control – no more scrolling up and down to find what you need. Rearrange and reorganize your sidebars more efficiently.
  • Easier Mobile Editing – the new dashboard adapts to the device you are using to make editing your site more convenient on a tablet or phone.
  • Increased Security– most updates include security improvements to help prevent your site from being infected by malware, hackers and viruses. A little prevention goes a long way!
  • What to know more? Check out the video tour

Now I know what you are thinking: Can I do it myself?

Yes, you can do these upgrades yourself, but a word of caution: As with any upgrade, there is a possibility that the new software could conflict with your existing site. So make sure you ALWAYS backup your website and know how to restore it if something goes wrong. ALWAYS (really, I mean it)

WordPress-Update-Notification

3 Areas That Will Need Updating:

  1. WordPress – The core software can be updated through the WordPress “Updates” menu. ALWAYS backup your website before updating software. You also should check to make sure your hosting account is compatible with the latest version of WordPress: http://wordpress.org/about/requirements/
  2. Plugins – These are smaller programs that can be added to WordPress to add features to your site (anything from a simple email newsletter signup to a complex membership management program). Plugins can also be updated through the WordPress “Updates” menu. Make sure to check to see if the plugin is compatible with the latest version of WordPress. Links to more information on the plugins can be found by clicking on the “Visit plugin site” link under the plugin name on the “Plugins Page”.
  3. Theme – The theme control the design of your website. Many theme creators will update their themes to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress to take advantage of the improved features and performance. Some themes allow automatic updating but for most, you will have to contact the person or company that created your theme for more information.

Do you just want your updates taken care of without having to worry about it?

(Or does the update notification bar really bug you?)

You have other, more important things to work on so let me introduce our Monthly Maintenance Plans. Here’s what you get:

Basic Plan: Just the Updates Please

  • Site backup
  • Update WordPress software
  • Update plugins
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Malware and virus scan
  • $45/month

Plus Plan: Updates plus 1/2 hour of website edits or training – nice!

  • Site backup
  • Update WordPress software
  • Update plugins
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Malware and virus scan
  • 1/2 hour of website edits or 1 on 1 support
  • $90/month

Premium Plan: Updates plus 1 hour of website edits or training – what a deal!

  • Site backup
  • Update WordPress software
  • Update plugins
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Malware and virus scan
  • 1 hour of website edits or 1 on 1 support
  • $135/month

Want more details about the plans or have questions about updating your site?

Contact Us

Ready to update?

Click here to fill out the WordPress Website Update form
or give us a call at 858-220-7478.

 


The New Marketing Audit

Now that the new year is upon us, it is time to reflect on the past year. How successful was your marketing? Did you get the money that you invested in marketing back in new business? What areas can you improve? What worked and what didn’t? What needs attention? Where are you missing opportunities?

To help you answer these questions, we created a Marketing Audit. Its purpose is to help you identify what marketing areas you might be missing or need to improve. Download our Marketing Audit below and use your answers to identify and prioritize areas to work on next year.

Click to download the Marketing Audit