Just about marketing

This issue hosts seven suggestions about how to market a rural New York small business online. Digests below.

Make local search boost black Friday sales

Local search lets your small business play with the big boys.  Make sure your website is ready to compete for black Friday sales.

This holiday, promote your service providers

Giving a boost to other local businesses is good for all businesses in a community.  Pick a local service provider you depend on and feature it in a three-sentence story with a photo that you post on your blog, Facebook page, or even  in a print add. Others of Becky McCray’s ideas for promoting your local community during the holidays are listed at the bottom of the link page.

Email is the best way to reach millennials

The Direct Marketing Association says email has the highest ROI of any direct marketing tool: $39 for every dollar spent. What’s more, a recent Adobe study found millennials—the last generation born in the 20th century—check their email  more than any other age group. Your email will get the click from millennials if you follow these tips.

Don’t be a Black Hat site; don’t link with one

Website tactics to trick search engines so that a website can get better rankings are known as “Black Hat” search engine optimization practices. You need to be able to identify Black Hat SEO practices because:

  1. If you use black hat SEO tricks, search engines can lower your website on the results page—or drop it entirely.
  2. If sites that link to yours use Black Hat practices even without your knowledge, search engines can lower your SERP rank.

Beware: Some chamber of commerce websites use Black Hat tactics.

Mobile + social media = strategy for SBO success

Learn how your rural small businesses can incorporate mobile marketing into a social media strategy to reach new customers and deepen engagement with existing ones.

Is your business social media savvy?

When was the last time you had a conversation on social media with someone you don’t know off line? If you can’t recall one, you need to learn how to use social media. (Hint: It’s not for advertising.)

Social media can be used for every step of the sales process. This article in Search Engine Watch tells how to apply the principles starting with creating awareness, through the first sale, all the way to developing a loyal customer.

GoDaddy adds SEO wizardry to offerings

GoDaddy, the domain registering and Web hosting site, has added a new add-on tool to its offerings for small businesses. Search Engine Visibility, a step-by-step wizard., promises to keep a website up-to-date with requirements for search engine optimization.

Facebook adds tools for hyper-local customization

Facebook has added two new tools to help businesses target their ads. Location for Pages  lets businesses with multiple locations reach customers with location-specific messages and call-to-action buttons, such as get directions. Page Insights lets a business cull location specific demographic information, such the number of people who’ve seen the business’s ad.

Rural NYSBO needs your recommendation

To offer the publication to small businesses each week at an affordable price, Rural New York Small Business Owner needs chambers of commerce to buy bulk subscriptions for their under 10-employee businesses. If you’ve already suggested your chamber sign on, thank you. If not, there’s still time.


Business idea starters

Sources to skim for business ideas. Holiday promotions, post-holiday promotions. More.

Technology: A CPU you can carry in a pocket

With a CPU smaller than an index card and Windows 10 installed, Kangaroo lets you plug into any monitor you currently use. Currently $99 at Newegg.com and available this month at other retailers.

Places to market your craft tutorials online

Whether you want to sell crafts online or sell tutorials about crafting as sideline to your offline retail craft business, one of these 29 places ought to fit your needs.

Share a cause, promote your community

Show your community spirit this holiday season by promoting via social media one of the community organizations you’ve supported this year. Write a three-sentence story that organization ending with a plug for shopping local. Click for language to use.

Check grant funded programs for ideas

Federal Department of Agriculture value-added grants were recently announced. Check the list of funded projects to see if something your agriculture-based business is working on is similar to one funded elsewhere previously. Even if don’t qualify for a grant, you might unearth an idea your rural New York small business could try.

Prepare now for post-holiday sales slump

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, but it will be over soon. Plan now for the post-holiday shopping slump.

Different ways to cash in on farm products

Taking a different approach to traditional farm business plans is paying off for some innovators. Take a look at these three:

  • Patrick Lango decided wholesale milk production was an untenable business model for his East Otto, NY, farm. Now he’s has a small retail dairy business with a farm store in a dense residential area of Buffalo.
  • A New York City chef and Cornell University plant scientist are collaborating on development of bred-to-order fruits and vegetables for today’s market.
  • Putting vegetable, herb and flower seeds in pencils whose stubs can be planted is allowing Sprout World to turn trash into a salable product.

Think differently about your marketing

In a recent newsletter, Andy Sernovitz shares three examples of details people notice, appreciate, and talk about:

1. Details that make things easier
2. Details that recognize a pain point
3. Details that are just cool

How could your business capitalize on one of those three details?

Can you make money doing that?

Ben Frank was told he couldn’t make money in youth hockey, but he put his life savings into trying. He learned he needed to change before he could grow a successful business.


Be ready

Prepare an actionable business plan for 2016. Learn to use the tools you bought. More.

Good all-year practices beat holiday discounts

Traditional holiday retailing tricks like offering free shipping or Small Business Saturday discounts won’t help today’s small retailer. A small business operation must focus on creating advantages all year by stressing such things as brand strength, distribution, service, and customer experience.

Squarespace enables online store creation

Squarespace has launched a new suite of services that allow small business owners to create websites where commerce is the focus, not an add-on feature. Commerce plans start at $26 a month.

Whitebox does e-commerce for you

If building your own online store front is daunting even with templated help, you could let someone else handle the headaches. Whitebox is a do-it-for-you company that can handle every aspect of running an online store except marketing.

NYS sites sought for shared solar project

A solar energy company wants to lease six acre or larger parcels of flat land for New York’s Shared Renewables Program. Finished projects will let businesses and residents buy energy from renewable sources.

Use offline ads to drive online search

People often respond to ads on TV or in print by using the web. Learn how to get potential buyers to your site or to the correct landing page on your site via a URL and/or a search call to action in your offline ad.

Technology tip: Learn to use what you buy

If you’ve paid to own a technology product and don’t use it, or use only its most basic features, you have wasted money and time.  Be smart instead of being cheap: Invest in learning.

Start now to get your business ready for 2016

If your business wasn’t as successful in 2015 as you want it to be in 2016, you must make some changes. Learn seven steps to building an actionable business plan that prepares you for 2016.

Hard cider R&D center opens in Walden

On the weekend, the governor’s office announced the Innovation Cider House, home to a small-batch cidery, tasting room, and hard cider research-and-development center  on Angry Orchard’s 60-acre apple orchard in the village of Walden, Orange County.

Ideas sought to prepare Ontario region for change

Two meetings this week seek stakeholder’s input on actions  to prepare for extreme climate conditions and economic changes in the Lake Ontario region.  The first is tonight, Nov. 10, in Watertown; the second is Thursday,  Nov. 12, in Rochester.

Opportunities, challenges, tools

Other businesses’ challenges could challenge yours.  Keep your tools sharp just in case. More

Seven reasons to have a blog mailing list

If your business has a blog to keep your customers up-to-date, develop a form to collect email addresses from those customers. A mailing list is consistently the best digital vehicle for generating repeat sales. If you ever want to sell your business, a savvy buyer will ask the size of your mailing  list.

A website is not a one-and-done

Websites need to be updated when the goals, objectives, and economic considerations of the business change—or, more generally, when the websites stop generating the desired response to their call to action.

4 tips for retail marketing

Here’s a quick reminder of what your retail business must provide to gain and keep customers.

Law firms use of data analytics is growing

Use of technology to increase efficiency in law practices is rapidly overtaking manual legal practices. Data analytics is presently being used most for culling, early case assessment, and relevancy review in  e-discovery. Legal matter management, billing, and budgeting  is its second most common use today. Get the Coalition of Technology Resources for Lawyers report.

NY dairy farmers cutting back spending

Dairy farmers have adapted to low milk prices by curbing expenses and postponing investments. Until late in 2016, upstate dairy farm suppliers should expect deferred maintenance and postponed equipment purchases.

Kraft Heinz Co. weighs plant closings

Kraft Heinz Co. is expected to announce this week the fate of three Upstate food factories. Plants in Avon, Campbell  and  Walton, which employ a total of 930 people in manufacturing dairy products, could be closed.

ADA lawsuits against small businesses soar

Small business owners face a rise in the number of lawsuits related to access for the disabled, the Wall Street Journal  reports. New York is among the three states seeing the sharpest upswing. Most of the suits are settled out of court for under $10,000.

Non-Amazon custom printing services

The digital world has a host of sites at which  small businesses can have T-shirts and other specialty items custom printed. Here’s a list of 19 custom print services. Some let you have an online sales space for your printed products.

WNY food hub looking for more partners

Eden Valley Growers, a farmer-owned cooperative and the owner/operator of the Western NY Food Hub, is seeking local farmers to sell products through the hub in 2016.  Eden Valley Growers recently got a USDA grant to expand its outreach.

6 tips for earning digital customer trust

Beside having digital content customers want (which all too few small businesses have) a  business must get customers to trust that content.

Customer tools may be your best marketing tools

Developing a tool that solves a customer problem  can be a more effective marketing tool than advertising (which customers dislike and distrust) or blogging, which requires an on-going time commitment. A great tool is (a) one you’d use yourself and (b) one that’s simpler than others available.