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GoPackHoops – our latest project

gopackhoopsWhen our co-owner Ryan joined the coaching staff for the Glacier High School Boys Basketball team this past fall, one of his first projects was to give the premier program in the state a premier web presence.

Allow us to introduce: GoPackHoops.com

Giving the Wolfpack a custom web solution will give fans an easier way to follow their team this season.  This is a project that will evolve over time, but DrySpark is very excited to have our handprint on it.

Google Apps for Work

GAppsForWork_thumbDrySpark is proud to announce that they are now certified as Google Apps for Work and Education Partner.  We have helped our clients “go Google” for many years, but we have now completed Google’s requirements to be an officially recognized Partner.

If your company is looking for professionally branded email, online calendars, document sharing or cloud storage – please contact us today for an overview of this amazing product suite.

Priced right at $50 per year / per user, this industry standard product costs less than your daily latte.  More than 5 million businesses have gone Google – let us help you to be next.

AppsforWork_thumbNot sure you want to buy today – ask us about a free 30 day trial of Google Apps for Work.

 

 

Every Day, Getting Better

every day getting betterIt has been quite some time since we have posted to the blog.  2013 finished with a bang as we welcomed many new clients to the DrySpark family.  On February 15th we celebrated our 3rd anniversary, and to commemorate that event, we launched our newest project – Every Day, Getting Better.   This is one that we have dreamed about for quite some time, and we felt that the start of our 3rd year was the right time to share it with the masses.

The premise is simple, one post per day, it may be a quote, a video, a story or a poem.  We want you to visit daily, read / watch / reflect and then finally comment on the post.  Our goal is to build a community where we can discuss and help others improve through not just our content, but the content of the comments of our community.

We hope that you enjoy!

Have you tried Google Consumer Surveys?

Analytics are all the rage and being able to get direct and easy feedback from your website visitors is a huge plus.  Today Google announced “Google Consumer Surveys.”  You can read the full write up on their Google+ page however the bottom line is simple.  Cheap, easy and direct feedback.

The surveys are affordable, as default questions are free and you can customize the questions for your own use for just a penny up to five dollars.

The surveys are four questions in length and remain open until they receive 500 responses.  You can even set them up to reoccur so that they automatically start over 30 days after your 500th response was received.

Swing over to http://www.google.com/insights/consumersurveys/publishers to check them out.

Google’s Carousel – A new spin on local search

Starting today, when you enter a local search query into Google you should start seeing a new carousel or results displayed on the top of the screen.

 

 

google carousel search

 

 

Just a few things that we noticed with this great new feature.

1.  Our friends at Swan Hill Bed and Breakfast got a pretty good placement when we searched for Polson hotels.

2.  Reviews are once again driving results.  The more reviews that you have on your Google+ Local page, the better your ranking seems to be in the new carousel results.

3.  If you search for restaurants, you are seeing the Zagat score, along with the genre of the restaurant and $$ scale of the cost to dine.

4.  When you select an option from the carousel you do not go that specific webpage, but to Google’s search results for that business.

 

Things to consider:

1.  Your Google+ profile image just became that much more important.   By incorporating a visual in with the textual search results – searchers have one more way to choose where they click.

2.  Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews on your Google+ local profile.  In the next few months, I think that you will see these reviews become much more important than other third party sites like Trip Advisor or Urbanspoon.  Because they are going to driving search and effecting your placement in the results.

3.  With Google’s specific search displayed when you click on a link general web presence is that much more important.  Make sure that your information is listed correctly, or better yet, have DrySpark check it for you.

 

 

Because it never hurts to ask

coach_kelly

In business as in life sometimes you find yourself in situations that you would describe as “once in a lifetime.”  When you find yourself in those situations, you can be a wallflower and hunker down or you can put yourself out on a limb and take a chance.  There is no lie that the past few years have made it easier than ever for us to make contact with those celebrities, entrepreneurs or companies that we look up to.  I have even taken screen shots that I have gotten back from people that I look up to.

But a story caught my eye today – thanks to TMZ.  Vanderbilt University student Michael Pollack was at a Q & A with one of his idol’s this past January.  That idol, is one of the best piano players and crooners of his time.  Joel is third all time on the list of best selling solo artists in the United States and has a few Grammy awards to his name, six to be exact with twenty three nominations.  Pollack took his chance to ask Billy Joel a question – that question was, “I was wondering if I can play (the piano) with you.”

What Pollack did was like asking Larry Bird if he could shoot a few three pointers with him, but to everyone’s surprise – Joel said yes, and then Pollack proceeded to absolutely kill it on the ivory.

So take this lesson to heart – opportunities like this in life do not repeat themselves – take them while you can.

A client testimonial

One of our favorite clients was Kerry Maggard, a freelance stylist out of Chicago.  Kerry’s site KerryMaggard.com was one of our favorites simply because of how interactive it is and the amazing photography that we had the opportunity to work with.  Earlier today we received a great testimonial from Kerry.  – We wanted to share it with you all.

“After such a positive experience with DrySpark, I’m eager to get the word out about this gem of a small business! Ryan Wakefield, one of the owners, provided such an easy working relationship and made communication a priority throughout the entire process. He brought his excellent knowledge of web design and SEO to the table and found a way to integrate my own ideas and vision with his expertise. Ryan was a delight to work with and quick to respond to all of my questions with constructive, realistic solutions. I have already referred friends and clients to him, knowing that DrySpark will again provide superior work and guidance to anyone in need of it. As a fellow small business owner, I cannot thank them enough for making this process simple, affordable and most importantly for helping me create something that I’m proud of. Thanks again guys!”

 

 

LOFT loves Teachers – Now I love LOFT

LOFT modelMy wife has long loved shopping at LOFT, and over the years I have to say that I have picked up things for her and received great customer service in their store.  Beyond that, I am sure that LOFT President Gary Muto has a fancy new car thanks to my wife’s purchases at his store and online.  To be honest, I think my wife loves LOFT a little too much – possibly to my level of obsession with Zappos.

Yesterday however, I learned that LOFT loved her back.  In the mail she got a discount from LOFT for being a Teacher.  As a former teacher myself I know first person the riggers of the job.  You often hear people say that teachers do not get the pay / respect / rewards that they deserve.

I love incentive programs but most have a catch of some sort.  That is why LOFT’s “LOFT loves Teachers” program impressed me so much.  They are simply showing appreciation to the most noble of professions.

LOFT loves teachers

Teachers who sign up for this program receive 15% off of their in-store purchases as well as other great deals.

I wanted to write this post to thank Mr. Muto and his staff for sharing the love.  I hope other businesses follow suit.

You can learn more about this program by clicking here.

You can find LOFT online at www.LOFT.com

15 WordPress User Errors that make you look silly

We just saw this on twitter from @LisaDJenkins and felt the need to add it to our blog roll for a rainy / snowy Montana Monday.

Not only do we love infographics, but there is some great information in here for the do-it-yourself designers as well as those who pay others to do the heavy lifting for you.  Copyblogger gives themselves a little plug at the bottom and we agree, if you like it, sign up for their updates.  We have. 15 WordPress User Errors That Make You Look Silly [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get more WordPress publishing content from Copyblogger.

Don’t gamble with your brand

The question that I get asked most often when talking with businesses about social media is if they should hire an outside firm to handle their needs.  My answer is always no, do not hire an outside firm.  If you can’t do it personally or have someone you would trust with you daughter, just don’t do it.  You have too much to lose.  I have a lot of reasons for my firm stance on this trend in business, but the biggest one is simply that nobody knows your business like you do.  

Your brand is your reputation, and nothing is more important in business than your reputation.  You can have great products and great prices, but if your reputation is tarnished then your business will struggle to succeed.  I once sat on an interview panel and the young man we were interviewing used the quote, “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”  It is a quote that I have repeated to myself numerous times since.

Social Media is the best FREE way for you to connect with your customers, it should not be used to drive sales or push products, but to build relationships.  It should be genuine and pure.  It should be true and honest.  It should not be canned and it is most definitely not one-size-fits-all.

For the purpose of this article, I will focus on twitter, but these same types of examples are available on Facebook, and Google+ as well.

Let me give you some real world reasons why you need to closely guard this all important commodity.

On September 9th, 2011 @whatstrending sent out a tweet that Steve Jobs had died – the problem is that Steve Jobs had yet to pass.  The message was deleted a few minutes later but lived on in screen shots.  Jobs did pass away in October of 2011, but @whatstrending’s tweet sent CBS (@whatstreding’s parent company) into a PR nightmare.

@ChryslerAutos hired a firm to handle their tweets and hand to deal with the mess created by this tweet – “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f###ing drive”.  The staffer who posted the tweet was fired, and Chrysler went on to not renew the firms contract, however a gaffe like that is hard to recover from.

Celeb Boutique tweet

Take responsibility for your actions, don’t blame others.

Celeb Boutique used a foreign PR company who was not in tune with current events in the United States, and they posted a very classless tweet the morning after the Batman Shootings in Aurora, Colorado.  I personally question which is worse, the lack of class of the original tweet or Celeb Boutique not taking responsibility for their actions (or indirect actions) and throwing their PR firm under the bus.

The examples could go on for days.  The bottom line is this, protect your brand.  Do not trust an intern or junior staff member to represent you in such an interactive forum.

Take example from leaders like Tony Hsieh and use this platform to build your brand and spread your message in a positive way.  Tony was the pioneer in getting CEO’s to interact with customers via twitter.

In this video, Ashton Kutcher talks about Tony’s ICEE twitter strategy.

  • Inspiring

  • Connective

  • Entertaining

  • Educational

Kutcher himself got into hot water with a tweet he made about the Penn State and Joe Paterno, but later retracted his own tweet because of his lack of knowledge on the situation.  At the time Kutcher believed that Paterno was fired because of his age, and claims to have known nothing of the Penn State investigation.  Kutcher who has over 12 million (yes that is million) followers on his @aplusk twitter account did turn management of his account over to his publicity team at Katalyst Media, giving him a buffer between the send buttion and the public.

If you must turn your brand over to a third party here are my closing thoughts:

  1. Do not let the person or firm pretend to be you, don’t put your personal name on the twitter account and allow someone else to tweet on your behalf.

  2. Make sure that the firm only follows and retweets companies and people who share your same core beliefs.  Nothing ruins an accounts credibility faster than retweets from other accounts that the marketing firm is also representing.  An electrician should not be retweeting about women’s jeans.

  3. Be sure that you still follow and closely monitor your stream to make sure that you are aware of all messages.  It won’t keep you out of an embarrassing situation, but it could help you get onto damage control faster.

Share your thoughts with me on this topic.

RW