SEO Basics

By Dave Mancarella

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  Check out this article on SEO Basics.

categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataMay 15th, 2010
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Envirotekri.com Officially Launched

By Dave Mancarella

enviroteksite

Dialogue Web Design has launched another customer website:  http://www.envirotekri.com.  Envirotek Solutions is a Pawtucket, RI based company that specializes in Water Damage and Mold Removal for homeowners and real estate professionals in RI, MA and CT.  Their site includes blog integration (Mold FAQ) and a light, airy design aesthetic.   Check them out today.

categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataDecember 9th, 2009
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What’s in a Name?

By Dave Mancarella

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

These words from Shakespeare are memorable, and in many ways true.  And like all good lines, they are a metaphor for everything.  What’s in a name?  If my Business is called “Dave’s Fun Circus Playhouse,” won’t my web design and customer service be just as good?  If you’re website is not the name of your business – won’t it still offer the same information?  If this blog entry were named “If you don’t name things the way they should be named then your business won’t be as successful as if you named them properly, I think” – wouldn’t it be as insightful?

Yes – but no one would read it.

The same is true for everything in business: naming is important, whether it’s coming up with something as fundemantal as the name of your business, or coming up with an article title for ezine.  Clear wins over clever, and it certainly wins over generic.  In this day and age, especially online, you get a glance from a customer – that’s it.  Maybe they’ll glance at your listing in the search results, or an advertisement, or the title of an article you wrote.  If they can’t tell what it is you’re offering with a quick glance, then you’re offering nothing.

As you go through your day, think about the words you use in your business and marketing.  Think like a customer: how would you feel?  In word-choice, as in most everything, the customer perspective is a good place to start.

categoriaUncategorized commento1 Comment dataDecember 1st, 2009
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5 Ways to Increase Sales as a Web/Graphic Designer

By Dave Mancarella

There was a discussion recently (on the Designer Talk LinkedIn group I belong to) about the benefits of having a salesman working with you, and also the responsibilities a designer has to be their own salesperson. That got me thinking, and I came up with the following 5 ways that a freelance web/graphic designer can increase sales on their own. (Some of these also apply to any small business). I’ve rated each one on their relative cost, time commitment, and potential effectiveness. Hope this is helpful!

1) Ask for Referrals

  • Cost: Low / Time: Low / Effectiveness: Medium
  • Referrals are often the bread and butter way to get new customers as a designer. You do some good work, and you hope your customers send friends and colleagues your way. However, as the Designer Talk discussion illustrated, referrals often don’t fall in your lap. But ask yourself this: when was the last time you ASKED for one? I think it’s a common delusion of business owners: you think (or hope) that you’re always on the mind of your customers, and that they’ll go out of their way to recommend you. Be realistic! Even if they love your work, they’re business owners of their own, and probably have 500 things that are of higher importance than getting YOU more business. It’s not personal – they’re just busy. So don’t be bashful about asking them directly, especially if you have an ongoing relationship with them. There’s nothing wrong with saying “Hey, I’m looking to expand my business some more. Do you know of anyone that could use my services in the near future?” It doesn’t take much time, zero dollars, and who knows what you may get out of it. Granted, you can only do this so often. That brings us to step #2:

    2) Create Consistent Contact with clients (past/potential)

  • Cost: Low/ Time: Med-High / Effectiveness: Med-High
  • Another way to increase referrals is to create consistent contact with your target market, and that includes both current customers and potential customers. As I said in step #1 – you’re most likely not top of mind with your customers day-to-day. You change that by creating consistent contact, and that’s where social media comes in. Begin blogging and try to get people to subscribe. Or, use that content to create an e-newsletter you send out once or twice a month. That way you are going straight to them. Is your target market on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn? Then direct content into those venues. The goal is to create content they would find interesting. They’ll get used to hearing from you or reading your work, and you’ll create a much stronger presence with those you already know. If you’re lucky, they’ll send your content along to their friends/colleagues, and your exposure will grow. It’s a long-term strategy, and may not pay off right away. But it greatly increases the chances of getting referrals and new business without you having to ask directly.

    3) Craigslist Posting:

  • Cost: Low / Time: Low / Effectiveness: Low
  • If you don’t already, I’d recommend posting ads on Craigslist – it’s free and takes 5 minutes a day. Unfortunately, CL is pretty swamped with local ads, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get a ton of business from it. But at the same time, if you get one customer every few weeks, then isn’t that 25 minutes a week worth it? It’s worth a shot. Here’s how I approach it:

    • Create 2-3 ads with different wording / titles. Include an image if your work if you can.
    • You can’t have the same ad on there twice, but you can repost so that it shows up for today. Cycle through your ads, reposting one every day.
    • There are a few areas under “Services” you can post under, namely: Computer, Creative, and Sm Biz Ads.
    • Don’t forget to look at “Gigs –> Computer/creative” where you have people expressing the need for web/graphic designers. If you see a job that you’d be good for, shoot them an email.

    4) Networking

  • Cost: Medium / Time: High / Effectiveness: Medium
  • For a more thorough analysis of all the networking options, read my article: “Networking Groups – Which Type is Right for you?” It lays out the various networking event-types and the pros and cons of each. Overall, attending networking events is a relatively cheap way to meet small business owners and potentially get new business. However, timing is everything, and each event can be very hit or miss. The real key to networking is to do it consistently, so that (like with step #2) you are top-of-mind when people DO need something. Like anything else, the more you network the easier it gets, and the more you can identify valuable events.

    5) BNI (Business Networking International)*

  • Cost: High / Time: Med-High / Effectiveness: High
  • I saved the best for last. BNI  is a networking group, but it’s significant enough for designers to have its own category. For those who don’t know, BNI is an international organization with thousands of local chapters. It is what is known as a referral group. Unlike many networking events, BNI meetings allow only ONE person from each profession. Thus, if you join a chapter, you will be with 12-25 businessmen/women who will use YOU for web/graphic design. Not only that, but it is everyone’s job (including you) to bring each other good leads. Since website and graphic design is so widely applicable, belonging to a BNI chapter can be very lucrative for designers. It is also beneficial for the shy types, as the meetings are very strictly structured and encourage everyone to speak. The downsides: you are required to attend the 1.5 hour meeting every week, and are expected to bring in leads for others. The cost is generally around $750-$850 per year, so it isn’t cheap. On the other hand, if you do have the cash and the time to commit, you may not have to do much else in terms of selling, and the amount of work you’ll potentially get from it will make it well worth it. It’s not for everyone, but check out a few local chapters that need a web/graphic designer. Each chapter is different -some more friendly, some more strict – and each has a different array of businesses. You can find chapters at BNI.com. My recommendation: look for groups that have members that offer computer or other B2B services. These will be the ones who will most often run into businesses that need web design.

    That’s it! Each option has its own time/money commitments, as well as their potential rewards. Pick the ones that are right for you and start plugging away. Good Luck, and let us know YOUR thoughts/ideas on the subject.

    ——-
    Remember, you can subscribe to this blog, and have new posts uploaded automatically to Outlook or various other services! Just click on the “Share” button on the top-right side of the screen and subscribe.

    I also encourage you to send this article to your colleagues. Email a link by clicking here.

    categoriaUncategorized commento4 Comments dataNovember 18th, 2009
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    Social Media and the 4Ps of Marketing

    By Dave Mancarella

    If you’ve been in business for a while (or ever taken a marketing class) you’ve probably heard of the 4 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. These are the four basic concepts to consider when marketing a product. Product: what IS the product? What features does it have, how does it look, how is it packaged, what accessories can it go with? Price: how much does it cost? Seems simple, but requires much consideration: are we trying to penetrate the market or with low prices, or skim some off the top? Are there potential discounts? Can pricing be uniform across various sales regions? Place: where is it sold, and how do you get it there? Where and how will the customer interact with the product? Promotion: how will you promote it? Direct sales, advertising, sales discounts, PR?

    All are weighty decisions, and certainly are tweaked over time. But how are these essential questions applied in the social media world? How can we use the vast array of social media tools and websites to further our aims? Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs (view his site here: http://www.chrisbrogan.com) wrote a great article recently about just this. His main point: the new technology can be bewildering, but at the end of the day we can still look through the old prism of the 4 Ps to get our bearings on how we should use these tools. Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/3c6DfB.

    If nothing else, read the bullet points at the end, which summarize the way in which social media HAS changed marketing. In essence they all point to one fact: with social media it is about building relationships, not hawking your product. Once you learn that, those relationships will become more valuable, and you will see your business grow.


    Remember, you can subscribe to this blog, and have new posts uploaded automatically to Outlook or various other services! Just click on the “Share” button on the top-right side of the screen.

    I also encourage you to send this article to your colleagues. Email a link by clicking here.

    categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataNovember 10th, 2009
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    New Customer Website

    By Dave Mancarella

    The Stirring Spoon.com

    The Stirring Spoon.com

    Hey everyone.  Dialogue Web Design has officially launched a new customer website: http://www.thestirringspoon.com.  The Stirring Spoon, based in Johnston, RI, offers all-natural, gourmet cooking sauces for those of us who want a delicious meal but don’t have the time to make everything ourselves.  Visit the site today to not only learn about the company, but also: 1) order jars of sauce online, and 2) check out the “Recipe Forum” – a place to learn new recipes, post your toughts, and submit your own.

    From a technical standpoint, The Stirring Spoon website demonstrates two great features.  First is the ecommerce.  Through a simple paypal integration, Linda (The Stirring Spoon’s owner) can easily receive payments by credit card.  With our affordable website design ecommerce is finally affordable for small businesses.  The second feature is the blog integration (as seen in the Recipe Forum).  Blogs are a powerful and versatile web tool that gives you the customer full control over set content on your site.  Update and reorganize how you’d like, whenever you’d like.  In this case it’s the perfect way for Linda to post new recipes, and receive comments from her customers about them.  These features, coupled with a simple design and organization makes this a powerful website.

    Check out www.thestirringspoon.com, and contact me today find out how we can get YOU the website you need.

    categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataNovember 9th, 2009
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    Website Design for Rhode Island

    By Dave Mancarella

    There are thousands of web designers across the country. How do you choose who to do business with?  

    Rhode Island is a unique place in how devoted its residents are to doing business locally.  Conversations with clients reveal why this can be such a good idea.  One customer of mine told me about a company based in California that supposedly carried out “search engine optimization” (SEO) on their behalf for months.  When we discussed how I could save them $25 every month on SEO (while also hosting and maintaining the website I would build them) they logged into their account with this company to cancel it.  It was only then that they found out the company had done nothing for them.  The keywords and information they had sent in had never been implemented. 

    Now, of course I’m not implying that non- Rhode Island companies won’t do a good job.  But I like that I can offer customers the peace of mind that I’m based in Providence. If they need any help with their website I’m just a phone call away, and if they want to meet in person, I’m happy to oblige.

    The reason I named this company Dialogue Web Design is that the relationship between a company and their customers should be an open dialogue.  That philosophy guides how I treat my customers, and how I help my customers treat theirs.

    categoriaUncategorized commento1 Comment dataOctober 27th, 2009
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    A Must Read for Every Entrepeneur: 6 Ways to Deal With Small Business Stress

    By Dave Mancarella

    As the article says: unlike most jobs, running a business can be incredibly stressful even if you are doing well. Check out this article on how to deal. It’s short, insightful, useful. http://bit.ly/kGZKz

    categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataOctober 7th, 2009
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    Does Every Business Need a Website?

    By Dave Mancarella

    As I network around RI, sometimes I’m asked the question: “do I need a website?” This is generally followed by “Oh, well I assume you’ll say yes.” I mean, why wouldn’t I? I’m trying to sell websites right?

    But the truth is not EVERY business needs a website. If you’re an accountant, for example, and have had the same clients for 20 years. You want to retire soon, and you have as much work as you can handle. Then you don’t need a website. But if you want new customers, more customers, better relationships with customers, better relationships with business partners and suppliers, and a powerful marketing tool, then yes – you need a website. And it needs to be a good one.

    I do think most small business owners have some understanding that a website could be beneficial, but don’t know how to approach it. There are so many website designers out there, not to mention hundreds of Do-It-Yourself services.

    So where to start? Well, not every business needs a site for the same reasons or in the same ways. The essential question is this: “what is my business trying to accomplish, and how can a website help me do that?” You might not know the answer to either of those questions right now. What I would recommend above all else is this: find a web designer who can discuss your business with you and help you find the answers. A website designer that just takes your information and throws it on a page won’t help your business grow half as much as one who designs it with your purpose in mind.

    categoriaUncategorized commento1 Comment dataOctober 4th, 2009
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    Welcome to the Dialogue Web Design Blog

    By Dave Mancarella

    In light of the recent launching of Dialogue Web Design, I decided to start my own blog. In part, I plan to offer advice on the importance and strategies of website design, social media, and search engine optimization, particularly when it comes to small businesses. I’m also excited to discuss any insights I gain that can help others start and run successful business, in Rhode Island and beyond.

    If you have any questions you’d like me to discuss, please email me directly at dmancarella@dialoguewebdesign.com or post a comment and I’d be happy to address them. In the meantime, check back frequently for regular updates, or subscribe by clicking on the “RSS” button on the top right of the page.

    categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataOctober 4th, 2009
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