“Google+…oh yeah, you need to be here!”

Southwest Florida's Small Business Resource Network (SBRN) is once again diving into social media training for small businesses this summer.
This program kicks off its Social Media Summer Series on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at the  Holiday Inn, Fort Myers Airport @ Town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Drive, Fort Myers with a focus on “Google+ …oh yeah, you need to be here!” 
Birgit Pauli-Haack, the owner of Pauli Systems and co-founder of Relevanza, will present tips for using Google+ in small business. The amazing opportunities of social media have yet to capture the attention of some business owners and as a result, social media has yet to become part of a strategic plan to reach consumers, constituents and the public at large. For many small businesses – and larger businesses alike – the world of social media can still be a scary place.   Birgit will show you how Google+ will ease your fears and how you can easily use it to spark conversation about your business and discover the synergies between being social and being discovered on internet searches.

Cost for SBRN members is $15 per person, which includes hors d’oeuvres. Guests and unaffiliated small business owners pay $25 per person.  This meeting is sponsored by GreatFlorida Insurance.
Register online or contact Lorna Kibbey, coordinator at the Small Business Development Center at (239) 745-3700.
Come on Thursday, June 20, 2013 and learn why you should embrace Google+.

OlgaTDesigns on the Interwebs

T-shirts have come a long way since tie-dyes and single-frame silk screens. 

OlgaT Designs, prints the shirts, creates strategic alliances with shop owners, updates the company website and goes out to sell all OlgaTDesign products at two local farmers markets in Southwest Florida: Thursdays at Coconut Point in Estero, and Fridays at Lakespark Farmers Market in Fort Myers. 

We have been working with Bryan to augment his online presence and search engine visibility and advise him about on-site SEO.  We also connected his 3Dcart store on http://www.olgatdesigns.com to Twitter. We used the built-in feed and IFTTT.com. A new Tweet appears automatically when new products are posted on the web store. 

Recently, we visited him at the Farmers Market in Coconut Point and used our iPad to shoot some video footage and photos. The windy, chilly morning was a challenge for visitors and merchants. We created a short video in a matter of minutes with the help of Qwiki, a free app for iPhone and iPad. I just love it. It’s easy to use, very customizable, nicely combines photos and videos. Of course, once uploaded you can share the Qwiki on all social webs and embed it on a webpage. Qwiki is not yet available on Android. Just a matter of time. 

This is for now but I am sure you will hear and see much more by Olga & Bryan and OlgaTDesigns in Southwest Florida. 

Being online is today part of business

“So how is business?” a friend asked me quietly the other day.  I could see the barely disguised fear in her eyes at the prospect of having to hear in reply another devastating story of how the Great Recession has turned yet another business into … let’s say a non-profit entity.  Imagine her delight when I told her that I feel blessed and business for Pauli Systems  has been fantastic.  “People are now coming with bigger dreams to our boutique web development and design shop on Radio Road,” I added.  

SBDC Distinguished Entrepreneur Award 2013Once upon a time we were seen as a mere office supply store, where one just buys something to put up on the web and is forgotten until something new is needed on the web.  Gone are the days when one hops from web developer to web developer, who invariably rip up an old website and installs a new one, which then an instant small business website & ghost town.

I never cared for those cookie-cutter web site shoppers who only want a Number One spot on Google Search and want it with a single key phrase, like “real estate” (in a town with 7,000 Realtors) and want it instantly, without any sense of content or context.  “Water removal,” “pet grooming.” .

The conversation has changed and I am very happy about that.

Business owners and managers realize today that “being online” is part of their business and content is king.  High demand for story, data and image sharing online have become a strategic part of savvy business plans and daily operations.  And the savviest business owners come to us looking for a partner to take them beyond single parts and who offers a broad spectrum of tools, services and guidance. We share our experience to help build systems flexible enough to grow with the business’ and customers’ needs but also stable enough, scalable enough to integrate into operational processes of a growing business.

SWFL WorkForce Development Board

We don’t have a chinese menu, from which one picks and choose. Online presence and online marketing has so many different moving parts that picking one over the other is like asking which pencil an architect might use to design a structure. As with building a house, we first need to better understand your vision, goals and budgetary outline.

Our motto is “Form follows Function” or “Form follows Content”, all depends on what you want your web site to be or do and what you think your various groups of visitors would want to see or do on your website; and in which context will they interact with you.

Similar to architects, we will find the right combination of software, tools and services that would best fit your overall content strategy, internet marketing plan and budget. Then we will oversee implementation, acquire resources (software, developers, graphic designers, services providers) and manage the configuration and assembling process.

Clegg Art - Responsive Design - Browsing imagesMost online systems integrate with APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the trend now goes to single purpose apps.  That’s what mobile phones and tablets brought us but as an enterprise you depend on the best integration of systems. You need a consultant who has a good working knowledge in many systems and is able to weigh advantages against trade-offs and manage the gaps between systems or innovations.  

Within the new paradigm, there are, however, challenges.  One of those is to keep fresh content filling a content management system, content to share over the social webs, keeping it fresh and real.  As most of you know, I founded two years ago, with journalist, author and friend, Steve Hart, a new company, Relevanza, to integrate all aspects of online technology with the ongoing need to produce relevant content and meet customers on their terms and within their own context. 

Business communication is not driven any more by corporate speak, no-one wants to speak to a 501(3)(c) any more (waving at Kivi Leroux-Miller).  On the other hand, businesses need to tell the stories of their products, how they are produced, what’s in them and how to put them to use.  Business news editors do that for industry publications  and that’s what your business needs to do, too.

Relevanza News RoomAt Relevanza, we provide the missing link. We are your own news room.  We help you speak, tell your story and, then, let the whole world know using the “new” online tools and social media. 

Each organization needs to develop an online community to be reachable, approachable and transparent.  The biggest challenge now is to understand what a business has to say and say it with authenticity, integrity and honesty.  That’s part of the contract with your customers. They chose you because you are able to build a relationship of trust.

Businesses now have plenty of data about their customers and can meet them on their own terms and within their own context. Yet most businesses are still not able to put the data to the best of their knowledge. 

It’s still hard to connect the real life interaction in the store, in the restaurant, in the classroom or in your office and continue your online relationship.  But how much richer does the business interaction become when you get personal and meet your customers as individuals. Most business schools don’t teach that kind of interaction and most corporations discourage that kind of approach to customer service. 

But, as a consumer yourself, how much do you like, perhaps even expect, personal interaction, personal services and customizable experiences? Your customers and clients are just like you.