June 2005

Are BLOGS an old idea revisited?

Do you remember what it was like using your computer before the Internet, even before AOL or Prodigy? The days when 1,200 BPS modems were futuristic and your 8088 PC was lightening fast. Did you know there was an online community back then? PC users could look in various local papers and find telephone numbers for bulletin boards. A bulletin board was an online forum where you could write freely, express your opinion and share files with others. Sound familiar? Maybe a web-log (blog) is an old idea but it now has mass reach and appeal.

The question of the day is whether you need a blog of your own. Search engines seem to love them. Some experts even say "BLOG" actually stands for "Better Listing on Google". The fact is, blogs can actually make your site more visible to searchers. They can be used to provide valuable content to your visitors. They allow for images to be displayed and hyperlinks to other sites. Is there a downside to having a BLOG? They are relatively easy and low cost to create, but someone has to review entries and manage the BLOG. This is where the implementation typically falls apart.

Too much work? You can still use the power of blogs to your advantage. Find already established blogs that have relevant industry content and go to work! Become a blogger yourself. Many bloggers are looking for advice or product information. Lend your expert advice and include a link to your own site. It could drive your own web traffic and sales. It's guerilla marketing gone blogging - 'guerilla blogging' if you will.

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When should you redesign your site?

Some experts will tell you to reevaluate your site every three to six months, yet others will tell you differently. The fact is web sites should never be static for very long. Visitors expect to see fresh and relevant content. Search engines will reward you for new content and penalize you if you never make changes to your site.

For business reasons, new ventures may need to revamp their sites in as little as a couple months, often because the business model changes. If that is not the case for you, remember there is the search engine factor. Consider the "Google Sandbox Effect": as formerly new content ages slightly, the Google Sandbox filter kicks in and lowers the ranking of the site. The average length of time for a site to remain trapped in the sand is about ninety days, although staying in the holding pattern several months is not uncommon. This is a good argument to continually revise your site content. Content is king, and new, fresh content is the best way to stay on top of search engine rankings and most importantly what visitors (your customers) are looking for. Alternatively, you can patiently outwait the sandbox filter demonstrating longevity will eventually get you better placement.

Your website should change with your company or it becomes dated and of little use. New businesses typically have constantly evolving product, distribution, promotions and pricing. Well-established businesses need to keep pace with changes in their industry and create a reason for customers to keep coming back to their site. Whether you are ready for a complete redesign of your site or just some updated content, do not neglect your investment in this important marketing tool.

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Search Engine Marketing

We received a number of questions and comments about last month's article on Search Engine Marketing. Exactly what does search engine optimization have to do with marketing? While it may sound like something that you should leave to your I.T. expert, it does has everything to do with marketing. Consider this - there are four primary methods for customers to find your website: 1. Traditional advertising through print, television, and radio; 2. Online advertising through paid placement and banner ads; 3. Word of mouth; 4. Search engines. Unless you have a large budget for up to several dollars per click or you can afford to run a television or large print ad campaign, you can not ignore the important role search engines play in the online business environment.

Check out this research from NetRatings:

Consider that AOL is powered by Google and MSN is powered by Yahoo/Overture - that means 86.3% of the search engine market is controlled by Google and Yahoo!

To give you a better idea of the size of this pie, according to Google 250,000,000 searches are performed each and every day on their search engine. Search engine marketing will increase your chances of getting your fair share of this pie.

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Printing 101

Ink, toner or screen - what kind of printing do you need for your project? There are many different types, including laser, screen, digital and offset. Understanding the difference will help you choose the right printing method for your project and your budget. Of course, you can choose to print business cards on a preformatted paper on a laser printer, but the toner will often rub off while being handled and the edges are usually perforated, not giving the best impression. It is best to print business cards professionally. An offset press can assure a perfect color match and the high-quality card stock is professionally cut, producing a card that you are proud to hand to your clients.

Screen printing is often used to print on materials other than paper, such as plastic, still producing a high-quality print with exact color matching.

Digital printing is a great alternative to running smaller offset projects, such as a small run (1-200) of full-color brochures, as these can be cost prohibitive due to the setup costs associated with offset printing. Digital cannot always perfectly match colors, but as new technology comes available, it is very close. Additionally, digital printing often has a faster turnaround than offset printing.

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Start-up Tips

Contemplating a new business idea? Don't be afraid to talk about it. Most ideas need to go through the process of being challenged and validated. If secrecy is your competitive edge, what happens when you open your doors for business? Your secret will be out and your competitive edge will be gone. Part of the exercise of creating a business plan is to do research and ask people to challenge your ideas. It is better to discover potential weaknesses now than with your precious investment. Consider finding a mentor, someone who can give you guidance in your new venture. Don't forget to learn from their mistakes.

Want to collect more formal market research? All Summa clients can use our online survey tool and focus group for free. More information

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Client News

Visual Impact Promotions has a new name! Formerly known as Norstar Canopy of So Cal, Visual Impact Promotions new name better reflects the wide variety of products and services they now provide.






Cardinal Health was at the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) conference in Toronto, Canada, June 18-22.

Director of Marketing Communications Jo Maranan came up with the concept of a 'bistro' theme for Cardinal Health's biggest industry trade show. She wanted to perpetuate that concept to all the marketing materials, including the teaser mailer that was sent out to the company's database. Jo developed a rough concept that she knew only Summa could execute to her satisfaction.


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