Our Community Guide & Calendar has turned one! We have had many changes and evolved with new technology with our current guide. We are mobile optimized, have new local links, new members, added merchant coupons, and banner advertising. But perhaps the biggest product announcement is our Community Kiosks. We made 2 prototype and are working on a metal version with a sleeker look and more secure. Our Kiosks utilize an iPad to display our local River Falls CGC and Hudson CGC sites in their respective cities. Additionally, each Community Guide & Calendar kiosk is linked to the other so you can find out information on local business, shopping, restaurants and events in each city. We like to call it our Community Concierge! Check the site out at http://www.hudsoncgc.com or http://www.riverfallscgc.com. The front page of the kiosk looks different but the functionality is the same.
We have created Targeted Online Community Guides in the St. Croix Valley. HudsonCGC.com and RiverFallsCGC.com are launched, NewRichmondCGC.com and PrescottCGC.com are in progress.
Did you know that advertising and marketing your business in an online community guide is often times the most cost effective solution to your marketing mix? We create an online presence to help your business get found where local community members and visitors are actively searching for things to do. People everywhere want a centralized online location to find information about everything that is happening around them in the community.
Showcase your brand and business where people are actively searching. Just like you, online shoppers search local businesses for nightlife, news, events, sales, dining, sporting events, and tourist info on a regular basis. CGC (Community Guide & Calendar) combines all these features to provide users with a unique and robust online guide to showcase them.
If you own a business in the St. Croix Valley area, you should be marketing within CGC! It’s the perfect marketing option for residents and tourists to reach all of what the St. Croix Valley has to offer. CGC offers tourists and locals an all-in-one resource to hotels, restaurants, nightlife, shops, attractions, real estate and other businesses in the St. Croix Valley area.
CGC has already received incredible amounts of traffic this past year and we are growing, ranging from thousands of unique visitors in the off-season, to tens of thousands individuals during the summer. This high level of traffic will be generated from the strong name recognition of the St. Croix Valley, and from our superb SEO that will dominate all the major search engines.
Also check out the CommunityGuideandCalendar.com
Crazy. It’s been a crazy couple of months with creative differences, sweat, laughing and fun. It has been a lot of work for the team and I lost a few hours of sleep. So I thought a good vacation is what I needed, it just happened to coincide with my wedding anniversary. After much research my wife and I decided to go to Lanesboro, MN, the bed & breakfast capitol of the world (ok, maybe just Minnesota). We looked at places to stay, places to eat, and things to do. What a coincidence. This was right up my new alley… So we thought we had it in the bag.
We found a fantastic B&B called Berwood Hill Inn just outside Lanesboro, MN. The pictures on the website looked great, the garden was exactly what my wife wanted. She loves her gardens. She wanted to see if she could get any ideas for her garden, and I have to admit the garden was pretty cool. They had many different sitting areas with gazebos and we wandered from one to another observing all the plants, flowers and lawn art along the way. I figured I could sit and read Steve Jobs’ biography in the garden, or read in the spectacular loft we stayed in. The place was cool and we had the whole place to ourselves (except when the red hat ladies club came for lunch, but that’s another story….) The Owl Room loft we stayed in was very cool. It was a Victorian design, but comfortable and I’ll always remember the breeze that blew through the windows from one side of the room to the other. We had a neat little bathroom and small hot tub in the room. The 5 course breakfasts were delicious and the service was great. Berwood Hill Inn, check it out.
Now that we have our place to sleep, where are we going to eat? The chamber site had most of the places in town listed, but not all of them. We decided the first night to go grab a quick meal and return to our B&B and have a bottle of wine. We went to a BBQ, that was relatively new and not listed anywhere, we found after asking a few of the shop owners where they go to eat. The food was adequate, but hey, we didn’t care too much because we had the B&B to ourselves with a couple bottles of wine.
The next day we could have gone biking on the Root River’s 60-mile trail through some beautiful country, or we could have gone canoeing, kayaking or rafting down the Root River. We could have gone shopping, but we already did that before we checked into our B&B. We wanted to explore the area. It was going to be 85 degrees that day, so with our top down in our convertible we headed out. We heard about the “Stand Still” parade that was about 10 miles away in a small town called Whalen, MN. The parade sits still and the crowd walks past it. Quirky. We showed up late and there were only a few of the “floats” still there. Oh well, by the looks of it we didn’t miss much. We hung around for a while and talked with some of the art vendors. Daylight was burning and we wanted to continue our exploring and go check another town.
We ended up in Preston, MN, and it just so happened they had a trout festival going on. Boring, but it was a small town festival. Perhaps we got there too early, (2 hours ahead of the parade) nothing but a car show and kids jumping on rides. I’d seen enough and wanted to get back to nap in the garden under a gazebo and get cleaned up so we could go out and see a blues band back in Lanesboro. So we purchased a few items from an Amish booth and headed back to Lanesboro.
We went to a restaurant we found on the river. It had an outdoor deck and a small martini bar inside upstairs. We thought the place must be popular because we saw a line the night before while leaving the BBQ joint. The food was much better than the night before. We sat out on the patio to watch the much anticipated blues band. The performers were good but not great, and the service was horrible. It wasn’t the waitress’s fault. We watched the owners as they sat there drinking, ordering drinks for their friends, the band, and the locals. This was a bit frustrating being a visitor in town.
The experience left me thinking about our new product, the Community Guide & Calendar, how cool would it be to have one online guide and calendar. A business list and event calendar of what is in the surrounding area. I would have found this very beneficial on our trip to know what was happening on this weekend and beyond. is it 2B Marketing has created and built a community guide, and a community calendar for our local area, Hudson WI, and we are just about ready to launch another for River Falls. Our plan is to launch a community guide and calendar for New Richmond, WI and Menomonie, WI followed by Woodbury, MN and beyond. This trip enlightened me on how we need to sell this guide and get the word out. Our Mobile app is almost completed, and our e-newsletter is in design for June. Check us out at http://www.hudsoncgc.com and http://www.riverfallscgc.com soon.
We talked about putting out a new blog, really….. We have had an exciting crazy month with most of us defining and taking on new roles. We hired Kelly Schreiber as our new VP of Sales and Marketing. She has helped with writing up sales and membership contracts, sales presentations, pricing and promotion ideas for our new product. Launching a new internal product seems harder than launching one for our customers. I don’t know why but it does. Maybe because internally we have to do everything from design, develop, and build, to set up billing systems, databases and our own processes and procedures. When the vision and dream was was made into a reality we met daily to talk about several things only to be led down more path’s. Our road to get here looked like a plate of spaghetti… We have worked very hard to maintain the shortest distance between two paths and I truly think we did a damn good job to get to where we are today. The team is ready to make the official launch announcement next week and I can hardly contain myself. That’s all I will say right now because it’s on the calendar to the community and it will help guide us all in the end.
By now you should have heard about Google+ for business. Google is continuing to move into the social media realm. Hard to believe right? But true, it is similar to Facebook fan pages. You (or someone*) can now create a page on Google to help brand your business. Yay, one more social media marketing campaign that you (or someone*) has to do for your business. You (or someone*) can do the usual things like add tidbits of information, or compelling and interesting facts about your business, upload photos and videos to help promote your products and services. Here’s the kicker – it got off to a weak start, but now more and more companies are getting on board, but WHY?
It’s free, we all like free right? But your time isn’t free, and now with one more additional marketing source how do you (or someone*) keep up with all of it? You ask why Google+ right? Here’s why. Google rules the web. Period, zip, end of story, at least for now. With over 1 billion unique visitors a month, wouldn’t it be silly NOT to have your business showcased on it. People (or someone*) are searching for businesses like yours right now, why not stand out above the rest? Having a Google+ business page dramatically increases your chance to dominate search engines. Why, you ask again?, Google has said that they will be giving greater authority to these Google+ pages in their search results, so you can pretty much bet that having one will help your business listing leap towards the top.
Other cool features – you can target market like never before. Different people are interested in different products or areas of your business, right? With circles in Google+, you (or someone*) can separate people into unique groups based on their ages, gender, location, interests, etc. You (or someone*) can send targeted messages specifically to those that best fit your products and services. With Google+, you (or someone*) can easily measure your site statistics. Using a slick new feature called Ripples, you can check out an interactive and animated graph to visually see how your posts travel across the Google+ network. You (or someone*) can access Ripples from any public post in your stream. Just click the drop down arrow at the top of the post you’re curious about and click view Ripples. It’s cool….
Every business (or someone*) should aspire to interact with their customers. With Google+ you (or someone*) can have real conversations with real people that are interested in your business. There is another cool feature called “Hangouts” that let you set up video conversations with your customers or friends. There is a plugin and software to download, but hey, why not get face to face with your customers if you can. Facebook “Likes” and Google “+1′s” are great for your business. It’s typical that people trust what their friends and family recommend. Businesses or websites that have been “+1ed” will show up higher on search engine result pages, and will be shown on your Google + for business page. Check it out here—> https://plus.google.com/
(or someone*) *is it 2b Marketing can do these services for you or for someone you know. Check us out at http://isit2bmarketing.com/socialmedia.html
Looking for inspiration??? Look no further than pinterest.com! Pinterest is a social media site that allows users to organize and share things they love. It’s basically an online bulletin board where you can pin your interests.
I’ve had Pinterest for about a month now and I use it daily. I’m always surfing to find new hairstyles, fashion ideas, color & design inspiration, and craft ideas to express myself. The list can go on and on… there are recipes, tutorials, photography and much more! The best part… you can organize all your pins onto boards making it easy to navigate and look for things that interest you.
So if your looking for inspiration, or just a way to express yourself, check out Pinterest. You’ll get addicted! Not to mention, TIME magazine named Pinterest one of the top 5 social media sites of 2011.
Last but not least, you will need an invite. So send me your email and I’ll invite you!
Here are some pins that have inspired me…
Sales and Marketing these days are becoming a foreign or complex process, or are they? Few business owners understand the difference between sales and marketing, and how they can affect them. If you look at past marketing strategies, we’ve considered everything from putting an ad in the newspaper, the yellow pages, or maybe the radio, to cold calling, trade shows, sending out mailers, and printing coupons. This Outbound Marketing was intrusive and expensive. In it’s time, it was the only way to reach people, and you had to play the numbers game hoping that you could find a new customer that needed your product or service. You’ve heard the analogy “throw it against the wall and see what sticks”, right? Same principal… All of these strategies still seem to work depending on the business type or the industry; but in most cases, have less of an impact. Due to new technology, Outbound Marketing tactics are becoming less effective.
The current trends for marketing, that are being utilized on the internet and beyond, are called Inbound Marketing. People search the internet for products and services today more than ever before. Business websites need to be creative, and user friendly. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to get business websites in front of the right people. SEO is changing all the time. Google is modifying the way information is found on the web making it challenging for SEO. It’s a service and a science that should not be overlooked or taken lightly. Blogs, a form of free publishing, are helpful in providing information, opinions, and knowledge that people need when inquiring about products and services. Then there is the 800 pound gorilla… Social Networking. How, in the world wide web, can a business or a consumer use social networking, and for what? It’s supposed to be a personal, people to people communication tool… If you want to buy something, do you typically ask a friend for their advice or recommendation? Do you do this on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and others? Yep…
Businesses are well aware of websites, blogging and social networking. Some are selling and promoting online, and becoming savvy marketeers. However, most small businesses are struggling to figure out where the trends are going and how to implement a good marketing plan. We consider good business marketing tactics to include a mix of the old and the new, a holistic strategy, but the most cost effective marketing strategy today is inbound marketing. When you think about inbound marketing think about it this way – businesses, consumers, people of all ages, and maybe the family pet are looking for something specific. Are they looking at you? If not, how can you get in front of them without spending a ton of cash on the old marketing methods?