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Marketing Monday: Oregon Wine Country

Usually if I haven’t been writing blog entries it’s because I’ve been doing other interesting things. I spent last week working really hard so I could take a vacation in the form of a slightly extended long weekend. Two of my college friends Bailey and Jeremy (now married to each other) bought a house in Portland Oregon about a year ago and the rest of us on the east coast descended to check it out. It’s was a lot of catching up, food, bad television watching, and general hanging out.

Sunday, we changed it up and rented a minivan, packed up the Voodoo Donuts, and Jeremy drove the rest of us around to sample some of the fine wines in the Willamette Valley region.

We rented a van so we could all be together which led to a lot of joking about being a whiney kids with our soccer parents Bailey and Jeremy drove us around.

We rented a van so we could all be together which led to a lot of joking about being a whiney kids with our soccer parents Bailey and Jeremy driving us around.

Now I’ve been wine tasting once but never in an area where so many wineries are so close together. I was struck by the fact that each place really had a distinct feel to it.



The open almost office-y feeling of Oak Knoll was a good start to the trip. Six tastings for $5, can't beat it!

The open almost office-y feeling of Oak Knoll was a good start to the trip. Six tastings for $5, can't beat it!

Our first stop was Oak Knoll Winery. Jeremy and Bailey had a case of their wine we had been enjoying throughout the weekend and since it was only about 20 minutes from their house, it was a logical place to start out. Pop music blared on the radio and the area was pretty office-y in terms of environment. If I could have shipped a case of their sale wine for $40 home to Maine, I so would have. Darn state laws!

Driving a group of girls around is so much easier when you have a Voodoo Donut and some good music going. Thanks Jeremy!

Driving a group of girls around is so much easier when you have a Voodoo Donut and some good music going. Thanks Jeremy!

Our second stop was Raptor Ridge, which we were hoping was a dinosaur reference. The woman at Oak Knoll pointed us in Raptor Ridge’s direction, mentioning they had built a whole new tasting room with a gorgeous view. So piling into the white minivan, off we went.

Raptor Ridge tasting room had quite a view even on a foggy day.

Raptor Ridge tasting room had quite a view even on a foggy day.

Raptor Ridge had a much more contemporary setup with a great view. It worked out well because they had a ‘smelling wall’ and several area magazines for perusing while we waited for the group before us to finish up. (One thing learned: Raptor apparently refers to a bird, not a dinosaur by the way.)

We waited in style by smelling bottles and trying to figure them out.

We waited in style by smelling bottles and trying to figure out the scents inside.

The tasting fee here was a steeper ($10/person for five wines) but for the view and the experience of some complex pinots, it was fantastic (versus Oak Hill which seemed to specialize in fruity blends).

The Raptor Ridge Pinots were a bit more complex than Oak Knoll. Sarah D. bought Bailey and Jeremy a thank-you-for-hosting-us bottle of wine.

The Raptor Ridge Pinots were a bit more complex than Oak Knoll. Sarah D. bought Bailey and Jeremy a thank-you-for-hosting-us bottle of wine.

We then stopped for a lunch break before moving on to Duck Pond Winery, another winery that was suggested to us at Oak Knoll. Clearly a much more commercial operation, the whole thing centered around a gift shop and was in a huge building. The complimentary tastings were alright (free is always a good price) but feeling a bit ignored, we left without even taking any pictures.

The surroundings of the Red Barn tasting room were more gorgeous than I could capture.

The surroundings of the Red Barn tasting room were more gorgeous than I could capture.

Our last stop was probably our collective favorite: Maresh Red Barn which had a very pretty drive going out to it. Bailey and Jeremy are wine club members there which meant we had free tastings. The best part was talking with the retired owner who told us about how he started the vineyard and kept the winery open back when bankers wouldn’t give him any funding. They told him ‘grapes won’t grow here’. Over 40 acres of productive grapes later, that is clearly not the case.

The interior of the place was an old barn with a woodstove. It was so homey and the owner was chatty that we all just stood there for half an hour, listening to him and enjoying being with each other.

The Maresh Red Barn Vineyard is the wine club our friends just joined. Better deals, invitations to events, and more are the advantages to being a member.

The Maresh Red Barn Vineyard is the wine club our friends just joined. Better deals, invitations to events, and more are the advantages to being a wine club member.

Overall, it’s really great how each vineyard is able to keep its unique identity yet they collectively are able to market the Willamette Valley region.

That said, a lot of these places needed help on their websites and only two of the four places we went to even implied they did social media and only one counter urged us to sign up for the email list. Come on Willamette Valley, let’s see you online a little more so I can visit you virtually a bit more often. Websites and wine get better with time!

Thanks to my friends for such a great visit: Bailey and Jeremy for hosting, Lydia for her cooking and entertainment, and Sarah D., Sarah C., Hannah, and Meg for being my travel companions from the east coast. No matter what we did, I know we would have had a great time… but the wine was really fun!

Marketing Monday: Four Internet Marketing Questions Answered

Every Monday, I talk about internet marketing. I profile companies, interview people, and answer questions. Please let me know if you have an idea for a future post!

I thought it might be fun to do a post about some recent (and frequent) questions I’ve gotten both via email from clients and during presentations. Maybe this can help someone else or maybe just make you a more conscious person online. In any case, here are a few basic ones in no particular order:

Why do people follow me on Twitter then unfollow me right away?
I love this Twitter ‘strategy’ that some people have really picked up on lately. This is how it works (for the person doing it):

1) Find people on Twitter.
2) Follow them.
3) Wait 24-48 hours.
4) Unfollow them.
5) Smile as you think you’ve increased your follower numbers without the other person realizing you did this.

This plan works well on the surface since many people have their accounts set to automatically follow anyone who follows them on Twitter.  But there are at least five free services where people can be notified when they are unfollowed by someone on Twitter. Other people besides me will no doubt catch onto this and the Twitter users who appear and disappear will get a reputation for being a spammer.

Instead, I just follow people on Twitter I want to follow and don’t follow back people I don’t want to. Among the things I look at when I make my follow decision are:
1) Their website in their profile. Is it lame? Or does the link no longer work? Is the link title misleading to what the website actually is? None of these are good signs.
2) Their profile picture. Is it some sexy woman stock photograph? Do they tweet about a bunch of random stuff? Probably a spammer.
3) Their last 3-4 tweets. Are they useful? Are they telling me to buy a bunch of random products I don’t need? Are they on topic?
4) How many people follow them. Are they following 2,000 and are followed back by 200 people? That means they are part of the noise, not the conversation.

Another way to manage your list if you automatically follow people back  is do what my friend Lynelle does and check your list every couple weeks to unfollow people who are spamming or otherwise annoying you.

Why do some business Facebook pages have friends instead of fans?
You realize you wanted your business page to be seperate from your personal page. So you made a profile: First Name: “Breaking Even” Last Name: “Communications”. This restaurant did this very thing:

It was suggested I be 'friends' with this BBQ pit. A business should have people who like it, not friends. This is against Facebook user policy, and could be wiped out at any point because it's violating terms.

It was suggested I be 'friends' with this BBQ pit. A business should have people who like it, not friends. This is against Facebook user policy, and could be wiped out at any point because it's violating terms.

There are two reasons people seem to do this, which is actually incorrect in terms of Facebook page setup:
1) They don’t know what they are doing.
2) They want to intentionally have a profile so they can message customers directly. (Business pages can only send updates.)

Most of the time, I find the situation is more number 1 than number 2, which is always reassuring. That said, even if you did this without malicious intentions to spam your client base, it is still against Facebook user policy to set up a business page as a profile and Facebook is beginning to delete profiles that are doing this. And do you really want to start over with a proper page once you’ve built up your friends (who should actually be fans)? Probably not.



Here is how you can fix this if you’ve done something similar:

1) Once you are logged in as yourself (not your fake business profile), go to www. facebook.com/pages and click the ‘Create Page’ button.
2) Follow the steps and publish the business page in its correct form. Add information to this page so people can find it in searches and so it looks legit.
3) Ask everyone that is ‘friends’ with the fake person to move to the new business FB page, giving them the link on the fake person’s wall. If you feel ambitious, also email your fans to tell them you are moving with the new link.
4) Wait 24-72 hours to give people a chance to move.
5) Delete the fake person. Enjoy being a legal Facebook business page owner.

Or you can ask for help from someone who knows what they are doing. Remember just because someone uses their personal Facebook profile a lot doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to set up a business page correctly! After you have a page, make sure you are an administrator on the page even if you don’t use Facebook yourself, just in case there is ever an issue.

Why do people use the contact form of my website to send me really weird stuff?
Often, these are a dead giveaway of spam. This is almost verbatim an email I got two weeks ago when someone filled out the contact form on my website:  ‘Dear Sir/Madam, Many Canadians have no idea they qualify for home refinancing…” I think they wanted me to write about this program on my blog but I’m still not entirely sure.

Now, a quick look in the ‘About’ section of my website would have told this person that I am a madam and that I am not Canadian. Clearly, I am not the target audience for this product. People may want to reach out to websites like yours to find new suppliers for a wholesale product, to get their book reviewed, or any number of reasons and they may not be as thoughtful as they should be.

Meanwhile, you can learn from this situation. If you want to build a relationship with through someone’s website or blog, do a little detective work  in the About, Contact or FAQ section of the website before writing to the person. Can’t get a name? Get something else, like their blog topic or some other reason why you are contacting them. You can even be nerdy about it and  keep all your data about different websites in a spreadsheet to keep it all straight and be able to find the information easily later.

Let’s rewrite the email above having looked at my site for two minutes:  “Dear Nicole, I see you have a marketing blog and may or may not own your own home. I wanted to let you know about a program for Canadian home owners that may be a good blog topic (Marketing Monday maybe?) for your Canadian readers…” The rest of the email could be a press release but at least I know the person took the time. I would actually read and respond to this email, wouldn’t you?

Even though it takes a little longer to research and write more personal emails, I guarantee you will get a lot better responses and better results from people you correspond with online, especially if they have never met you. The internet is an impersonal space and if you can make it a more personal connection, you are two steps ahead of the game and no longer wasting your time contacting irrelevant people. And if someone irrelevant contacts you, just delete it. If they really want to contact you, they can make it more personal next time!

How can I make my company website less corporate and more personal?
I am all for fun websites. I tried crazy patterns on my Myspace page back in the day. I experimented with fonts in emails to friends. I posted cutesy pictures on my personal blog. But I did so without wanting people to take me too seriously.

I just got followed by the person on Twitter who runs a non-profit. Here is the non-profit’s website:

Does this website make you want to give this organization money? (Black bars added by me.)

Does this website make you want to give this organization money? (Black bars added by me.)

Don’t get me wrong, I do have a pink website myself. But I like to think my website is fun while still allowing people to take me seriously. Your business or non-profit site should be the same, especially if you want money from people. Your website is peoples’ first impression of what you do. Make decisions accordingly. By looking at websites comparable to your own (related non-profits, friends’ business sites, etc.), it’s easy to see how to make a business or non-profit website personal without making it look like their favorite 8 year old made it. No offense to 8 year olds of course!

Things you should never sacrifice for looks/personality: being able to search/find information, a clear purpose (What should people do when they get to your site?) and contact information findable on every page.

And if you want the hard truth about a website’s functionality, I am happy to tell you in a really nice way.

Have a question yourself? Comment below and maybe I’ll write a fun blog post about it!

Marketing Monday: Mobile Phones 101

Have you ever looked at your website on an iPhone, Blackberry, or Android phone? Have you looked at your website on an iPad? You might want to test it out because more and more people are getting to your website that way.

Wikipedia's mobile site gets rid of the sidebars but still let's you do the most important thing: search.

Wikipedia's mobile site gets rid of the sidebars but still let's you do the most important thing: search.

Here are some fun facts about mobile websites:

  • 93% of the population in the United States owns a cell phone.
  • 20% of mobile phone owners own a smartphone.
  • Businesses distributed 2.3 million mobile coupons in 2010 (and that number is expected to be 70 million by 2013).

(More facts and source links here: http://www.momares.com/blog/mobile-marketing-facts-and-predictions-for-2011)

In other words, more and more people are accessing the web via mobile devices, so it’s only logical to think about how your website looks on these different platforms.

It’s clear that larger companies have the resources to have thought of this earlier on. But smaller sites are also getting in on the action:

The side effect of making your website more mobile friendly: it makes it easier for people using mobile devices to buy stuff.

The side effect of making your website more mobile friendly: it makes it easier for people using mobile devices to buy stuff.

How do you know if your device is mobile friendly? Opera has a demo where you can try out your website in a typical mobile browser: http://www.opera.com/mobile/demo/ Not to say this is the be all end all but it can at least give you an idea. (You could also ask friends or your web designer to do some testing for you.)

Here are a few tips to keep in mind about your mobile website:

1) Don’t use Flash. iPhones (and iPads) can’t load it.
2) Be conscious of load time. To test how quickly your site loads, try this simulator. Slower load times mean better loading on cell phones.
3) Make sure your contact information is on your main page.
4) Your mobile site is prime real estate; put essential information (versus all information) on the mobile version of your site.

So as the mobile web continues to grow, think about where your website fits in. It only makes sense. It is 2011 after all!

Anyone know of websites with really cool mobile versions? Link them below in the comments so we can all check them out.

Marketing Monday: Mobile Phones 101

Have you ever looked at your website on an iPhone, Blackberry, or Android phone? Have you looked at your website on an iPad? You might want to test it out because more and more people are getting to your website that way.

Wikipedia's mobile site gets rid of the sidebars but still let's you do the most important thing: search.

Wikipedia's mobile site gets rid of the sidebars but still let's you do the most important thing: search.

Here are some fun facts about mobile websites:

  • 93% of the population in the United States owns a cell phone.
  • 20% of mobile phone owners own a smartphone.
  • Businesses distributed 2.3 million mobile coupons in 2010 (and that number is expected to be 70 million by 2013).

(More facts and source links here: http://www.momares.com/blog/mobile-marketing-facts-and-predictions-for-2011)



In other words, more and more people are accessing the web via mobile devices, so it’s only logical to think about how your website looks on these different platforms.

It’s clear that larger companies have the resources to have thought of this earlier on. But smaller sites are also getting in on the action:

The side effect of making your website more mobile friendly: it makes it easier for people using mobile devices to buy stuff.

The side effect of making your website more mobile friendly: it makes it easier for people using mobile devices to buy stuff.

How do you know if your device is mobile friendly? Opera has a demo where you can try out your website in a typical mobile browser: http://www.opera.com/mobile/demo/ Not to say this is the be all end all but it can at least give you an idea. (You could also ask friends or your web designer to do some testing for you.)

Here are a few tips to keep in mind about your mobile website:

1) Don’t use Flash. iPhones (and iPads) can’t load it.
2) Be conscious of load time. To test how quickly your site loads, try this simulator. Slower load times mean better loading on cell phones.
3) Make sure your contact information is on your main page.
4) Your mobile site is prime real estate; put essential information (versus all information) on the mobile version of your site.

So as the mobile web continues to grow, think about where your website fits in. It only makes sense. It is 2011 after all!

Anyone know of websites with really cool mobile versions? Link them below in the comments so we can all check them out.

Marketing Monday: Etsy 101

I have had several artists recently ask me about selling their work on their own websites. The problem is an ecommerce website is some of the additional costs that they require:

  • Secure certificate: The little padlock that shows the website is ‘secure’. Prices start at around $10/year  and go higher for more  thoroughly verified/vetted ones. (Thanks to @MattBaya for better wording which has been corrected here.)
  • Ecommerce software: You need some sort of software to handle items (photos, descriptions, etc.), track inventory, calculate shipping, etc. Something like BigCartel can handle this pretty well for a monthly fee (starting at $10/month) or you can pay a web designer a one time fee to set it up. (The going rate seems to be $500 and up.) Note: I’m talking open source (re: free) software and paying only for the web designers’ time to customize it.
  • Merchant services if you want to accept credit cards. Many use Paypal  to get around these fees but the downside is, of course, people being less likely to buy if you only have Paypal.
  • A domain name ($10ish/year), web hosting ($5/month or more), and a website to put the ecommerce software on. This will depend on what you decide in terms of shopping software. Some, like OS Commerce, can run a whole basic website while other software pairs with a content management system like Joomla or Wordpress.

You can see why most people who begin by wanting a shopping cart decide to hold off on it in the end! A lot of decisions and seemingly getting nickeled and dimed with fees.

So what are my crafty but frugal friends to do? I have sent a few to Etsy.com.

Don't want to pay to develop your own shopping cart for your artistic products? Etsy is a good alternative.

Don't want to pay to develop your own shopping cart for your artistic products? Etsy is a good alternative.

How does it work?

1) Set up a profile and pick a store name. Connect your account with a credit card.

2) Load products (20 cents/product) to list.

3) Publicize and ship out any orders you get.

And that’s it. Well, except for creating the products, answering potential buyers’ questions, and publicizing your store of course.



I have a few friends who have Etsy stores. Lynn Cyr sells some high end paintings,  Jessica Harris makes feather handbands and paintings that people see online then buy from her locally, and my friends Chris and Renee started on Etsy with Barkwheats before they opened their own web store and began retailing. (Anyone else out there with Etsy shops I’ve forgotten to mention?)

And I’ve decided to finally set up a Too Cute Tuesday store, you know, when I have time to populate it with crafts. :^)

In other words, Etsy is an affordable, relatively easy way to test the waters of ecommerce with your art. Bonus is the ability to track item views and having the possibility of being listed on the front page of Etsy.com with a featured product, resulting in exposure to millions of people looking to buy handmade online.

So to those of you making things that don’t know how to get them online, try Etsy and let me know how it goes!

Marketing Monday: Standing Out Among The Email Sales

Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, I’m already starting to get email sale fatigue. Bad sign huh?

All these sales are a blur, or are they? Photo by Flickr user Chris22090.

All these sales are a blur, or are they? Photo by Flickr user Chris22090.

How can you make your holiday promotions stand out among the masses? I’ve been trying to figure out which emails I open and why. Here’s what I found:

Offer free shipping. Walmart is offering free shipping this holiday season and successful online retailers like Zappos have been doing this for years.



Be a part of what’s going on locally, in terms of events and search. If 73% of all online activity is related to local search, try to optimize for your products or services locally. You can even add a coupon go your Google Places listing for free (the listing is also free). So why wouldn’t you?

Try out a group buying site, or offer group buying on your site. Websites like Groupon (coming to Portland Maine soon!) are a way to get your business in front of a lot of local eyeballs. The idea isn’t limited to local businesses; if you sell things online, you could offer a deal like this.

Create a gift list, with photos. Like everyone, I’m stuck on a few people. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent browsing the ‘Treasury’ section of Etsy this weekend looking for nice gifts for a few people on my list. If you put a nice list with photos on your website for ‘pseudo in-laws who have everything you can think of getting them’ and ‘cool girlfriends who you don’t want to accidentally impose your decorating or fashion taste on’, I will buy something from you.

What’s your favorite way a company has stood apart from the bazillion sales happening in the next week?

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