What we're talking about ...
In the world of politics there are few Certified Financial Planners to prevent waste and uncover graft. It seems like every other politician is being accused of mismanaging money. Then there’s the subprime mortgage crisis, encouraged by capitalist politicians who were less concerned about fiscal responsibility and more concerned about maximizing profits.
Fortunately, there is a growing trend, in local politics especially, to bring in financial professionals who not only have good ideas, but who also have proven experience managing money and the technology around this service. Certified Financial Planners make great leaders because they are proven leaders for clients who depend on their fiscal responsibility. At the urging of clients, friends, family, and colleagues, Certified Financial Planner Brian King recently ran for and was elected to public office in Concord, North Carolina. His success as a financial advisor and businessman influenced him to consider running for public service. On November 3, 2015, he was elected to the Concord City Council.
It was Mr. King’s experience as a businessman and financial planner that helped differentiate him from the other candidates, according to The Independent Tribune writer Erin Weeks.
And through it all, the local businessman has not only maintained but nurtured a love for his hometown, committing early on to service in the community and finally succumbing to the call of public office.
King’s experience working with cash flow management issues, investment planning, financial risk management, insurance planning, tax planning and business planning clearly elevated him to a level unmatched by other candidates lacking financial planning experience.
The CFP® Certification Examination is designed to assess a broad base of financial planning knowledge in the context of real life financial planning situations. By passing this exam, professionals demonstrate to the public they have attained a competency level necessary to practice as a financial planner. Certified Financial Planners are also trained on software solutions and the responsibilities as a website manager communicating information responsibility to customers. Technology, after all, can help ensure security and transparency.
Certified Financial Planners make great leaders who uncover our government’s inefficiencies, who plan responsibly for our municipalities’ futures and who rebuild confidence in our political system.
Certified Financial Planners make great leaders who are up against a country addicted to making a fast buck. Certified Financial Planners make great leaders because they are precisely trained to avoid risky endeavors, the kind of risky investment vehicles, for instance, that Hollywood gives dramatic and satirical treatment in theaters as we write. Adam McKay, director of such hilarious films Anchorman, Step Brothers, and Talledega Nights, returns with a cast that includes stars Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, and Steve Carell in his new film The Big Short. The film skewers the 2008 housing and financial crisis through the story of Michael Burry, the real-life financial adviser and investor who predicted the collapse of the market that led to government bailouts of banks, housing lenders, and the automotive industries.
The image of banking and finance has indeed taken a beating in recent years, and with good reason. The corruption that exists and lack of ethics is real. While many who profited from their shady dealings went unpunished, this new era of greed has put names like Madoff and companies like Enron into the minds of most Americans as symbols of corruption.
Bernie Madoff was an “Investment Advisor,” not a legitimate Certified Financial Planner.
Certified Financial Planners make great leaders in towns nationwide because financial advisors’ understand fiscal matters and can share them publicly with the community in a way they understand. Certified Financial Planners make great leaders because they have proven their quality to the clients they serve through their sound and responsible investments, asset management, and through the relationships they build with their clients and communities. Away from Wall Street, people in medium-sized and small towns truly still have good people who serve their communities, believe in fostering relationships with their clients, and invest and manage money in a fiscally responsible way.
What is a Certified Financial Planner™ Practitioner? In a nutshell, Certified Financial Planners make great leaders because they have been certified to do their job responsibly. They’re also likely to utilize professional solutions such as those associated with the NFP, an organization that specializes in training business persons about benefits, insurance, property and casualty and wealth management businesses and what it means to offer diversified advisory and brokerage services to companies and affluent individuals.
SEO and Star Wars
Sometimes the hard part of doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not just the creation of content, but finding a starting point. The phenomenon of writer’s block strikes everyone, especially when what a writer is writing about is unfamiliar territory. In the past few weeks, I have written proposals or content for a ballet company, a salon, and a financial advisor. My first assignment for Blotter was for a company that sells a time management tool that is geared towards the field service industries (HVAC, lawn care, pretty much anything that requires hard work and sweat), and I wrote is specifically geared towards window washing companies. My familiarity with these topics is limited at best, and finding a way to make topics I know little about it challenging.
None of these areas of life or industry are things I have a deep knowledge of, and probably never really will. Nonetheless, it is my job to learn about these companies enough to write an interesting article of 600 words or more and to sound intelligent enough that those in the industry don’t see right through my ignorance. While this certainly presents a challenge, ultimately it is one of the best parts of writing the content I create for blotter.com. Every day, I learn something new about an aspect of life, business, the arts (the list goes on) that I had little to no previous experience or knowledge about.
Part of how Blotter is marketing its brand in 2016 is through the recognition of the fact that the people and businesses we write for and about simply know more than we do about their field or industry. One of the hardest parts of the process of selling our products of SEO, website design, and social media management to a client is convincing the client that our roles in the marketing of their company is necessary. Who are we to write about a client’s business or field? I would venture to guess that 95% of our clients have the skill set to write intelligently about their field. Our clients are educated and expert in their respective markets.
The problem, as with many things, is the paradoxical lack of the most infinite of resources: time. Of course an owner of a ballet company can speak and write more currently and with much more authority about trends in ballet, cutting edge leotards, and updates to the safety regulations of ballet performance floors than I can. It is not our assumption that we are more able to intelligently write about ballet. However, in time, through research and personal education and through the guidance of our clients, we can and do create quality content the old fashioned way. We talk to our clients, learn their needs, and take their cues on where to mine the internet for quality content and articles in order to create original content for them.
The difference here is not our ability to create quality content for clients. We can. And in time, we get better at it as we learn more and more about that particular client’s field. Again, the lack of time on the part of the client to constantly update their website with fresh and current trends relevant to their field, to stay current on the company social media outlets, and fix the bugs on the company is a job in itself. Essentially, unless a business large or small has someone whose specific daily tasks include managing these tasks, the importance of them fall by the wayside as the daily tasks of running a business necessarily take higher priority. The difference is that we have the time to create the content to keep a business’s online identity current, while our clients, do not. As someone wiser than me once said to me, “business is convenience.”
This is why we are offering the service of training our clients on how to create content themselves. Do we believe that our clients know their fields and can do the jobs that we do? Of course we do. It would be insulting if we didn’t. With tools like Hootsuite, companies can more efficiently manage their social media posts. While most people are not as versed on website design, Blotter can offer services like website design and hosting while at the same time explaining the process of fixing bugs and dead links on a company site. We also can train a client on the creation of timely, efficient, quality content postings to a company blog feed or website that uses Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the fullest capacity, using keywords and key phrases that result in better Google search rankings.
Beyond my responsibilities in creating content for clients is creating current content for blotter.com. Blotter, when treated as a client, is not unlike any other client I write for or about. I have to ask myself questions like, “how do I make window washing software management tools interesting?,” and, to be honest, it really is a challenge sometimes. Blotter is no different. “SEO,” “website design,” and “social media management tools” are not exactly the most interesting, funny, or sexy topics with which to start an article.
Motherboard Senior Writer Elise Sole recognizes this problem and draws the line of optimizing her writing by creating the connection to the inescapable phenomenon that is Star Wars. Like myself, Sole is a geeky writer who loves and appreciates the storytelling of Star Wars, its great characters old and new, and sees how Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not only an excellent movie (I was able to view it last week with some friends and family at a mostly empty theatre on a Monday night, miraculously), but a true godsend to people like myself who are charged with creating content. Essentially, why deny the inevitable: Star Wars is something people love worldwide, and makes for interesting reading for both the writer of articles like this and of her excellent piece for Motherboard (a division of one of my favorite online magazines, Vice), “Star Wars is God’s Gift to Content Farms.”
Anyhow, Sole does an excellent job at making my job at Blotter easier. Terms like “content creation,” “SEO,” and “website design” are only interesting to a certain sect of the populace (generally, people in the online marketing industry). Whether it be a small content farm like Blotter, a medium-sized one like Vice, or huge news media organizations of all political leanings like CNN or Fox News, Sole points out that something as big in the cultural zeitgeist like Star Wars is hard to avoid, so don’t fight it. Before long, it will be hard to resist the temptation to write pandering lines about Star Wars: The Force Awakens being a Space Ballet.
Long live Luke Skywalker.
One of the premier services offered by blotter.com is search engine optimization (SEO). In their Starter Guide to Search Engine Optimization, Google defines SEO as “making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.”
Blotter.com contributes to your company website’s search engine optimization through the use of keywords and key phrases in continuously updated original content in 600+ word postings each week. The results of blotter.com’s efforts is bringing your website higher in rank when an individual does a Google search for the specified keyword or key phrase.
In an effort to more clearly highlight how SEO works best for a small business, turning to the generator of the vast majority of internet keyword sources, Google, seems like a logical source to reference.
In an informative youtube video entitled “SEO For Startups in Under 10 Minutes,” Google Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye details how small businesses can use useful web tools like Google Analytics for search engine optimization. The video is geared towards small businesses that have websites with fewer than 50 separate pages that are interested in search results for a low number of keyword searches. For example, amazon.com would not be ideal as they sell nearly everything imaginable, but a person who bakes cookies for sale around the holidays would be perfect.
Below is Ohye’s video, followed by a list of time-stamped highlights and notes that summarizes the 10-year Google veteran’s smart, concise advice.
(2:04): Background Check
Ohye recommends performing a background check on your company’s domain name to be sure that it was not previously owned by marketing spammers or any other type of potentially annoying or shady group, and here provides specific instructions for doing so.
(3:15): Website Design
In this section of the video, Ohye provides strategies for small businesses to use smart website design in order to attract and impress potential customers, investors, and the press. Your company’s ease-of-use and seamless navigation is noted as key to search engine optimization, in addition to a focused simplicity of all of your company’s individual web pages that should contain logical topics that can be easily inferred from a user new to the website.
Ohye goes on to explain the importance of deciding on a specified purpose that each individual web page serves, saying that you should “define your conversion.” During the website design phase of building your company’s domain, ask yourself constantly, “What do you want the visitor to do? Should the visitor buy the product or service offered on your website here? Should they share the information provided on this page through social media?” Ohye goes on to say that a company website should aim to create some type of meaningful conversion on every single page. Minimizing a website visitor’s need to click forward onto a new page is clearly important to your business, large or small.
(5:01): Using “Smart Copy”
This section of the video is perhaps the most important part as it explains how blotter.com most effectively establishes and contributes to search engine optimization over time. Ohye explains how selecting proper keywords, original content, positive user reviews, and customer satisfaction policies are all a part of what she terms “smart copy,” a service central to the blotter.com client model.
(6:57): Pitfalls for Search Engine Optimization
Ohye here explains that hiring a bad search engine optimization marketing firm is the first and one of the most fatal mistakes that a company of any size can make. Blotter.com is entering its 17th year of existence in 2016, something almost no online marketing firm can boast. With more experience than most online marketing companies and the satisfied client list to match, blotter.com takes care of this initial pitfall with ease.
Another trap that business both large and small fall into is in website design. Having a fancy, interactive website is nice, but having “indexable, searchable text” is more important. With blotter.com’s search engine optimization solutions, your website’s static and updated copy is impressive in content and effective at SEO.
(8:46): Social Media Marketing
While our Google expert agrees that social media is extremely useful (especially with a “zero” price tag), it also is important not to rely solely on sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word of your company’s goods and services. When using social media, it is best to use the strengths available to your particular business’s resources. If someone who works with or for you likes to tweet or post to Facebook, this is a valuable tool that you should be eager to use to your advantage. Overall, Ohye’s advice is especially useful to small businesses, but the search engine optimization tools and strategies she highlights in her youtube tutorial is something that is sound advice regardless of have 5 employees or 50,000.
Vegan Dog Treats, People Who Wear Tie-Dyed Clothing, and The Relevance of Web Design in the Era of Social Media Saturation
Why do I even need a website these days? Facebook is free and it takes care of connecting with my customers.
One of the first and most obvious components of starting a new business is creating a relevant, vibrant online presence. In an age where the use of social media like Facebook or Twitter is nearly a given, having a well-designed, dynamic website for businesses of all types has begun to be overlooked. Any small business owner with limited resources might ask themselves, “why even have a website when my company Facebook page is a free, useful tool to represent the products and services my business provides?” This is, of course, a valid question.
There are a multitude of reasons that a small business should still have a user-friendly, well-designed company website. One reason is quite simple: a larger reach for your customers to interact with your business. Anyone would agree that having a website creates a higher potential for company brand awareness than not having one.
Another very important reason for any business to have a website is eCommerce. The purpose of any business, put bluntly, is to make money from the goods and services offered to the public. Having a place for a potential customer to make a purchase from a business online is an obvious and essential element to a company’s interaction with clients. While social media is revolutionary in creating brand awareness for a company, it is not a destination for the curious customer to actually procure the goods or services rendered. Especially during the holidays, the choice between leaving one’s house to purchase something on a rainy day in dense traffic or to buy something online is why companies like Amazon exists. We all know that nearly anything and everything is available for purchase online. If your company does not provide an option to a potential customer to purchase your family recipe for chocolate chip cookies sold at $5 each or the handmade wallets you have spent all year stitching together directly from you online, you risk losing a potential sale. Retail placement, one-on-one customer interaction, and advertising are key elements in increasing sales and should not be ignored. However, the value of having an easy-to-use, fun marketplace for your gluten-free vegan dog biscuits that retail for $12.95 a box is almost essential.
Having a direct and deeper reach to a company’s client base is what a website offers in addition to (not in place of) social media campaigns. When someone decides that Fido can only eat non-GMO, hormone-free, vegan, small batch, handcrafted, artisanal, free trade, gluten free doggie treats because it makes his coat so illustrious, you want Google to bring them to your website. Websites are what come up at the top of search results, not Facebook pages, not tweets. Of course, most companies do not offer such specific products or services, although they do exist. Simply put, a company website that connects potential customers to businesses are vital to company growth, if not its survival.
Alright. I am convinced. That was long-winded, but I agree that I need a website. Now what?
One of the first things to consider is your company’s domain name, or URL. Let’s stick with our example of cage-free, local, soy-free dog treats. Suppose the company name is “Astrid’s Healthy Dog Treats” (I imagine Astrid wears a lot of patchouli and burns incense all of the time and has 11 Scottish Terriers, but I digress). The first thing to do is to find out if the domain “astridshealthydogtreats.com” is available for purchase. However, Astrid is too busy baking dog biscuits to worry about websites, not to mention somehow finding time for herself with all the hungry vegan doggie mouths to feed.
As a full-service online marketing company, blotter.com can help poor Astrid with her booming business and free up her time to listen to more jam bands play guitar solos for 23 minutes. As a her personal shaman for internet marketing, blotter.com can provide Astrid with the following services:
- Selecting a proper website domain name: Blotter.com will guide Astrid in the thoughtful and intelligent selection of a company website name. “Astridshealthydogtreats.com” seems like a good choice.
- Website hosting: Blotter.com can purchase and host the website for “Astrid’s Healthy Dog Treats.
- Website Design: Blotter.com’s experience, professional team of website designers will create an online presence for Astrid that will truly be unique. It’s almost impossible that it would not be.
- eCommerce: As mentioned previously, connecting Astrid with customers using intelligent website design is important, as is creating an online marketplace for her to sell her healthy dog treats. Blotter.com can create an online shopping cart for Astrid to hustle all of her inventive flavors, from Broccoli, Radish, and Rice to Peppered Citrus Sweet Potato Lemongrass, her customers will be able to refill their orders with ease.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Astrid has no idea what this means. But since she’s so happy with the clean, zippy website design and the subsequent sales spike in her 11 Scotties’ favorite flavored vegan dog biscuit, Honeydew Pimiento Orange Blossom Hot Pepper Dust, she trusts that blotter.com will make sure that her specific clients will quickly find Astrid’s Healthy Dog Treats on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Did we mention that Astrid’s dog treats are organic?
- Continuously Updated Online Content: While this article is meant as a humorous narrative, hopefully it illustrates the range and ability of blotter.com’s quality of writing that it will provide to its clients. Clearly, tone shifts based on the goods and services offered by the companies blotter.com contracts with, but weekly postings of 600+ words of relevant original content is what blotter.com thrives on.
Groovy. Let’s sell some dog treats.
All silliness aside, blotter.com can provide your business, be it as small and niche as Astrid’s Dog Treats or as globally recognized as NBA.com, a satisfied blotter.com client, with the online marketing tools to create or improve new or existing websites.
Brilliant website design, original weekly content, and search engine optimization for businesses large and small is what blotter.com does. Contact blotter.com today for a free consultation.
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Greenville, SC 29609
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384 13th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Relevant Outside Sources:
SEO for startups in under 10 minutes – Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead for Google presents a brief yet detailed guide to website creation for upstart small businesses in this excellent youtube video.
SEO Best Practice Strategies for 2015 with Rand Fishkin of MOZ – Another instructional video that provides step-by-step instruction for Search Engine Optimization. A much lengthier discussion of SEO, but great content and great advice.
Max and Ruffy’s – While the tone of this article is quite tongue-in-cheek, vegan dog biscuits do, in fact, exist. This website is a perfect example of intelligent website design optimized with eCommerce for a business that might sound silly but is clearly cleaning up online.