Business Blog

Tips and Resources for Small Business and Solopreneurs. Topics include Branding, Marketing, Social Media, Outreach Strategy and more!

How to Create a Free Google Account and Get Into My Hangouts

¬† Hey there Business Bloomers! ¬† As you probably already know, I host classes, workshops and consultations held via Hangouts, Google’s face-to-face video conferencing app. I know, I know, the video needs to be updated, it mentions some free classes I taught in 2013. ¬†Just, you know, gloss over that part ūüôā ¬† About Hangouts and Hangouts on Air: I also host my own twice monthly, live streaming video show, the TGIF Business Networking Hangout, which is created, for free, using Google’s Hangouts on Air. ¬†Hangouts on Air are Hangouts that are broadcast live on YouTube! Hangouts on Air are automatically recorded and then archived to YouTube when the broadcast is over. ¬†Hangouts On Air¬†¬†can also be¬†embedded into web sites¬†and posted to social networks. There are LOTS of awesome ways to use Hangouts and/or Hangouts on Air to promote your business!¬†¬†HOWEVER, you must have a Google account to use them. ¬†Signing up for a Google account is free and easy, and this post will walk ¬†you through the process. ¬† This post will show you how to do 4 things: Create your free Google Account Add me to your Circles Send me a message so I can add you to my Circles and invite you to join the Hangout Get into my Hangouts! ¬† 1. How to Create a Free Google Account First, go to http://accounts.google.com. ¬†You will see this: ¬† If you have a gmail account, sign in using your gmail username and password. If you don’t have a gmail account, click the “Create an Account” link under the sign-in box. You’ll get the screen shown below, where... read more

Holy Pinterest Power, Batman, Pinterest Maps Rock!!!

Hey There Business Bloomers!   Have you seen the new Maps feature in Pinterest?? It rocks! Below is my post on Google+ with some great examples of just how much Pinterest Map Boards can rock your marketing efforts. Go ahead, just click “read more” right there on the post and you’ll see the rest of it. ¬†How cool is that!   Now click here to go check out my Coachella Valley Businesses Map Board on Pinterest!! Want your local CV Business added to my board? ¬†Leave a comment below and tell me in ONE paragraph why your biz needs to be on the map! ¬†I will need a description for the Pin, ya know, so keep it short and make it sweet and catchy!  ... read more

Google Wallet Goes Live. 2014 will be the Year of Google!

Google Wallet goes live!! ¬†   Yep, yep my Business Bloomers, just like a debit card it is,¬†use it to pay for items at brick-and-mortars or use it to pay online, like you do with PayPal.¬†Look out PayPal and credit card companies!   For example,¬†use to pay for Google Helpouts! Helpouts is Google’s new “find help online anytime via a live face-to-face video meeting” service. Look out solopreneurs, opportunity knocks!   Google+ and YouTube Get Better at Playing Together! And now the integration of YouTube and Google+ commenting systems has dramatically raised the quality of comments and reduced the trolling.   Google Signs Big Fat Advertising Deal with Publicis! Oh yeah and Google just inked a big fat deal with advertisers that would make my knees shake, were I the cable industry. For more info on that, see these articles from the Business Insider: Publicis’ Big Ad Deal With YouTube Is Broadcast TV’s Worst Nightmare Google’s $100 Million Deal With Publicis Ought To Terrify TV Execs What does it all mean? It means¬†YouTube is an EVEN MORE MAJOR player in online entertainment and possibly the last nail in the cable tv coffin, unless cable scrambles to adapt to change. ¬†Right now, cable programming is still woefully tv centric. I’ve tried a few tv apps on the ipad, including CBS, PBC, and Time Warner Cable (TWC) and they all provided a terrible experience. A few companies have great streaming video web sites, like¬†AMC with The Walking Dead and HBO with Game of Thrones. ¬†¬†Netflix and Amazon Prime, on the other hand, rock the iPad and they have captured my viewing... read more

My Personal Key to Motivation: the Power of Perspectives

Hey There Business Bloomers! Back when I was still on FB,¬†I commented on a nice post over in women’s group. ¬†Yes, FB, I know, I know, the horror… but I digress, and you all already know I love me some Google and Twitter, so back to biz! The post asked, “what were our challenges this week and how do we stay motivated?” Well,¬†I had a couple of minor disappointments this week, with a few¬†no-show appointments. Bummer, right? Well, yes, if I choose to view it that way.   Or, I could view it like this: Wow, I am so grateful to have the connections I have!¬† I’m lucky to have had an appt. scheduled with these awesome people to begin with! ¬†They are both adding so much to my professional life and they are incredibly valuable b2b resources and they are also just awesome people. Most people have¬†really good¬†reasons if and when they miss a business appointment they had scheduled. Reasons that would make me miss the appointment too. Woohoo now I have a little extra time to catch up on that work I need to catch up on! ¬†The appointments will just be rescheduled. Sweet. Heeeey, I have that presentation on Social Media Etiquette coming up¬†(in 2014) at the local¬†American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) meeting, this is a great story for that prezzie! Heeeey this would also make a great blog post! ¬†Sweet! ¬†I’ll have a great blog post, have a great piece to post in relevant discussions such as¬†how-to-handle, customer service, small biz psychology, motivation and inspiration, and more! Heeeeey this is also a great example for... read more

Create a Memory Book Using Hashtags

Hey There Bloomers! I’ve had a lot of people mention to me that they don’t really know how to use #Hashtags. My friend Michelle posted this cute saying from her son, and I got to thinking wouldn’t it be nice if we could collect these all in one place easily? ¬†Then I thought wow this can be a great example of how to use Hashtags!     How to Create a Memory Book Using Hashtags Whenever you find yourself posting a story about your child, tag it with a personal Hashtag. ¬†Let’s say you find yourself posting to FB often about the darnedest thing your kid says, and you would like to keep track of all those cutest things. You can make up a personal hashtag, for example #JBH47says, and include that Hashtag in each “darnedest thing” post. Later, when you do a search in FB for #JBH47says, all the posts that include that hashtag will show up in the search. Voila, you will have a page full of your child’s darnedest sayings!   Another Example When I make posts about the¬†TGIF Business Networking¬†Hangout,¬†¬†I add the Hashtag #TGIFBNH. This is not something common, so when I search Google+ for #TGIFBNH, the posts I’ve tagged with that Hashtag will come up in the search results. ¬†Below you can see the results of my search – this is the biz version of the Memory Book!     So, if you want to track your posts for a particular topic, create a Hashtag for those posts. This will work on any site that supports Hashtags, including Google+, FB and... read more

Case Study – Mobile App Marketing Done Right

Case Study – Mobile App Marketing Done Right So I was looking for a garden planning app for my iPad to help me get better results in my attempted vegetable gardens. I came across an app called GardenMinder by Gardener‚Äôs Supply Company in Vermont. This app has everything I wanted and I squeed with joy as I explored it! After I came down from my raised garden bed high, I began to appreciate this app for its total awesomeness as a marketing tool for Gardener‚Äôs Supply. Once again I squeed, this time with timing happiness, as I will be featuring an expert on mobile app marketing in an upcoming episode of the TGIF Business Networking Hangout!¬† What timing! So, let‚Äôs take a tour of this excellent app, shall we?   Case Study: GardenMinder iPad App by Gardener‚Äôs Supply Company Here we see the home screen, and what a beauty it is!¬† A delectable image that makes my mouth water and makes me want to grow tomatoes in my garden. Oh yeah, and there‚Äôs an oh-so-convenient link to their online store. Already ready to drive traffic to their site and only on the home screen!   First up in the menu we have My Gardens, the area where we plan our gardens. Create a grid or use a starter template. Click an empty square to bring up the vegetables list and choose what you want to plant there. The list contains brief descriptions and drawn pictures of the vegetables, as shown in the garden planning screencap below. I created my first garden, the¬†Winter garden. ¬†   See that little red... read more

Hey, What Happened to My Black Bar in Google?

Hello Plussers… and Don’t Panic!! The Black Bar has been replaced by a nice tidy little Apps icon in the upper right of your page, near your profile icon. The Apps icon looks like a tidy little grid of squares and you see it next to the bell in the pic below. Now, instead of having a bazillion links staring at us all the time, we just have one cute little icon that looks like a grid of squares. All those links are right there when we want them, but we don’t have to have them taking up a whole ‘nother bar of space in the meantime. I love it!... read more

Barilla and Bertolli – A Tale of Two Pastas: Lessons in Marketing and Brand Identity

Hey there Bloomers – You may have seen a lot of pasta in the news last week, when Barilla pasta company’s chairman, Guido Barilla, let slip an invitation for a large segment of the population to buy their pasta elsewhere.¬† He was referring to the LGBT community when he said “That‚Äôs fine if they like our pasta and our communication, they can eat them. Otherwise, they can eat another pasta.‚ÄĚ This was during a conversation about family images used in advertising, discussed when he was a guest on Italian radio program La Zanzara. ¬† There was more to the discussion than that, but in this day and age clips are king, and that invitation to go eat another pasta was taken very seriously by the folks who he invited to go elsewhere. And guess what? ¬†They took him up on that invitation. And they weren’t the only ones...friends, families, and supporters of equality everywhere also decided to accept that invitation to go eat another pasta and a Barilla boycott was born.   One Brand’s Faux Pas(ta) is Another Brand’s Awesome Sauce Not only was it born, it was Tweeted, Facebooked, Google+d, and shared all over the place. As other pasta makers watched people in droves vowing never to buy Barilla pasta again, some of them jumped at the opportunity to welcome these outcasts into their noodley arms with clever and quickly posted responses, such as the FB post shown below from Bertolli’s FB page.     ¬†This is posted at a large size so you can read the comments beside the image. Click it if you need to view... read more

Smart Companies Earn Their Good Brand Reputation, They Don’t Fake It

Good Brand Reputations are Earned, Not Faked. Yes peeps, it’s all over the inter-newses:¬† NY regulators undertook a year long investigation into companies that sell fake reviews and the companies that buy them, and fined several companies for the deceptive practice. What the NY regulators are doing is very important – these fake review services are deceptive practices that contribute to consumer fraud. Consider this snippet from this NY Times article: US Coachways, another company in the investigation, is a charter bus service based in Staten Island. If a prospective customer were to look on Yelp, she might get the sense that this is not an outfit she would want to hire. ‚ÄúThis company basically ruined what was otherwise a great trip,‚ÄĚ wrote a typical reviewer in 2012. Currently, the company has 14 reviews averaging one star. It is not possible to get much lower than this. Edward Telmany, US Coachways‚Äôs chief executive, was upset about the low ratings, according to the formal Assurance of Discontinuance he signed with the attorney general‚Äôs office. ‚ÄúWe get bashed online,‚ÄĚ Mr. Telmany wrote, accurately, to his employees on Nov. 20, 2011. ‚ÄúWe are loosing [sic] money from this.‚ÄĚ His response was not to fix the problems that customers were citing, like buses never showing up, but to begin a full-fledged effort to get fake reviews. Mr. Telmany hired freelance writers, mandated that his employees write favorable reviews and even pitched in himself. He posted a five-star review on Yelp that began, ‚ÄúUS Coachways does a great job!‚ÄĚ Neither Mr. Telmany nor a spokesman for US Coachways could be reached for comment on... read more

Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 1: Objectives

Last month I gave a “Why Social Media?” presentation to Desert Business Association (DBA) members and guests as part of the DBA’s member education series. ¬†It was a hit with the audience and so I’ve decided to make a series of posts from the presentation, which covers creating your social media strategy plan, so that you will spend your social media time on purpose, with purpose. What do you mean by “Social Media” anyway? For the purposes of these posts, social media means any media that is social in nature of its use. This could range from the social connection building sites we all know, like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn, to apps that are very useful to project teams, for exampleGoogle’s Drive, Docs, Spreadsheets & Presentations, which enable project members to easily share files and collaborate on documents from creation to presentation. There are many more social sites that serve a variety of purposes, so many more than I can name. Check out this list of social networking websites from Wikipedia for a glimpse. So how do you know where to begin? The first thing you need to know is why you are there. Step 1: Write down your Objectives. Your Assignment: Yes I’m serious, so go grab yourself a pen or pencil and your notebook and, of course, some coffee or tea. ¬†Then write down your answers to these questions. Save your notes, because you will be referring back to them during the next post, Setting Goals. What do you want to see happening with your business in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years? List some of... read more

Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 2: Goals

First We Review I’m very sure that after reading¬†Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 1: Objectives, you dear readers all did your homework and wrote down your list of overall business objectives, and then listed¬†social media objectives that would support your business objectives. RIIIGHT?¬† Right! Well now it’s time to pull out those lists, go grab yourself that cuppa coffee or tea, and get back into business brainstorm mode! While your Objectives might be broad and expansive, your Goals are more like individual projects which are stepping stones along the path to achieving your Objectives.¬† After you set some Goals, you’ll list the Action Steps needed to reach them. Voila! Your social media strategy plan is born!¬† The last post covered defining your Objectives, so now we move on to Goals. Step 2. Set some Goals Pull out your List of Objectives – look at them one at a time and think about what projects you can do that will help you achieve your Objectives.¬† Since Objectives may be broad or expansive, there may be several projects to complete in the course of working towards your objectives. Setting Goals for each of these projects will help you stay focused.¬† Adding them to your to-do list or calendar¬† reminds you of your goals and helps you stay dedicated to reaching them. Print out Meilani’s Social Media Strategy Worksheet Page 3¬†and use the chart to list your social media Objectives and set Goals that will help you reach them. This slide shows us an example of a social media Objective and some Goals that support it: If you would like some... read more

Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 3: Action Steps

Hey there Business Bloomers! Welcome to the third installment in this series, Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 3: Action Steps! In Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 1: Objectives, you were given the assignment to write down your overall business objectives, and then define some social media objectives that support and reinforce your business objectives. In Creating Your Social Media Strategy, Part 2: Goals, you set some goals that are smaller, individual projects which, when completed, will carry you closer to your objectives. A handy worksheet was provided for you to use as you created a set of goals for each objective on your list from Part 1. Now that you have your¬†Objectives and Goals, it’s time to list the Action Steps needed to reach your goals! Part 3: Action Steps Action Steps are the tasks you will complete to reach your Goal. Let’s take a look at the example from the last post in this series, Part 2: Goals. In that example, the overall objective is to cultivate brand identity and awareness. Remember, while Objectives may be broad and expansive, think of Goals as individual projects which support the objectives. Each completed Goal brings you closer to your Objectives. To continue with the example: Objective: cultivate brand identity and awareness Goals: 1 month – Create a catchy tagline or jingle 3 months – set up 3 social profiles w/cover designs that support your brand identity 6 months – Plan and implement a product awareness campaign   What would be some Action Steps needed to achieve these Goals? The slides below show examples of action steps to be... read more

How to Embed Google+ Posts Into Your Blog or Web Site

How to embed Google+ posts into your WP web site. Woohoo more bells and whistles from Google+! These are really practical, good-for-business bells and whistles of course, as they come from Google. ¬†Now we can embed¬†Google+ posts right into our web sites! Here’s an example – I shared Ronnie Bincer’s post this morning, and like a good little social media user I wrote a nice intro to the share, listing why I thought it was good info, giving some examples of my own – you know, personalizing it for my audience. Below, you see the embedded post, and below that, instructions on how to do it ūüôā   How to Embed a Public Google+ Post Into Your WordPress Blog Post 1. Go to the Google+ post you wish to embed in your blog post. Get the embed code by clicking the small down arrow in the upper right corner of the post and choosing “Embed post.” 2. You will be presented with a pop-up window with the embed code for the post. Paste that code into your WP post in the “Text” tab. You won’t see it in the “Visual” tab, so if you add more text below the post do so in the Text tab, then you can switch to Visual once you have some placeholder text to give you your bearings. Whaaaaat? ¬†Want a visual reference for all that mumbo jumbo up there? Watch this short video that shows how to embed a public Google+ post into your WordPress blog post ūüôā   As always, if you found this post useful, please give it a +1 or... read more

Google Introduces Helpouts!

This is major news, a game changer for solopreneurs everywhere! Well this morning I had planned to go check out a new networking group I just learned about here in the Coachella Valley. ¬†But then I checked Google+, and found out about Helpouts. Now I’m so excited I feel like my puppy Tots, who runs around in circles like a crazy thing when he gets overly excited. What are Google Helpouts you say? Check out this short (only 2 mins) intro video from Google. ¬†When it’s done, I suspect you’ll want to run around in circles too!   Are you excited yet? I am! What? You’re not on Google+ you say? No problem! Contact me to set up private or group lessons, or check out Meilani & Theresa’s How to Use Google+ for Business: Beginner Series. ¬†The video lessons are a beginner series that will get you up and running on Google+, teaching social media marketing strategies while showing you the How-To’s of making a great post and filling out your profile for maximum audience attraction and... read more

Why I Rebranded

Let’s talk Branding, shall we?¬† I think most of you know what Brand Identity means – it is your business image, reputation, recognizability‚Ķ those ideas, notions, pictures and thoughts that auto-pop into people’s brains upon hearing your company’s name.¬† Examples: If I mention Peta, you know it’s an animal rights org, if I mention Iron Chef you think Kitchen Stadium, lights, and hot action in the kitchen. If I say Big 5 you might picture sports or camping equipment. ¬†These entities all work to constantly cultivate and reinforce a positive, identifiable brand identity and brand awareness. ¬†It takes effort to build a brand, so why might an entity want to go to the effort and expense of rebranding? Let’s look at just a few examples. Evolution of Character There are some times when companies want to rebrand themselves because of progress, time and cultural change, or as a result of a quickly acquired negative reputation. ¬†After a plane crash that generated a lot of negative attention,¬†ValuJet took on the name AirTran Airways after a merger, even though ValuJet, at the time, was more well known. Before the crash it was fine, but after the crash the name and reputation was crap, so they changed their name. The¬†PrimaDonna Resort and Casino in Primm, NV changed their name to Primm Valley Resort after a horrific crime resulting in the death of a child happened in one of their bathrooms. Vegas in general, after trying to project a family friendly image for awhile in the 90s, apparently realized how ridiculous that was and returned to the adult sin city persona symbolized by... read more

Why Hashtags Are Awesome and How to Use Them

This month, Hashtags were finally brought to Facebook. This is great news! ¬† Hashtags are very useful, and you can use them to: search for your target audiences and content topics increase your audience aim your posts at a particular audience make your own posts easy to organize and find (internal organization) easily find and participate in conversations search for information So what is a Hashtag anyway? A hashtag is the number symbol – # – placed in front of a word, like this: ¬†#hashtag. ¬†It was first used as a tool for Twitter – when people wanted to find information or participate in a topical conversation, they would search for terms using the hashtag or make posts containing hashtags on key words.¬†Hashtags are now used in many places, including Google+ and now, finally, Facebook. To show you an example, here is a Tweet I sent out today: Today’s #TGIF #Business #Networking #Hangout is #mobileapps #marketing¬†w/guest @StrozKnows http://youtu.be/zmoMp73vB4U¬† / http://bit.ly/12JZ875¬† I used a lot of Hashtags here! ¬†Keywords were TGIF, Business, Networking, Hangout, mobileapps, and marketing. When people search for those words, my tweet will be in the results feed. ¬†The more of those terms they search for together, the better off I am. If they search only #business, there may be so many results that mine will be very far down. ¬†But if they further refine their search, and search for #business #mobileapps #marketing, my tweet will still show up in this now narrowed down list of results. So using those multiple hashtags is an advantage. More examples of how to use Hashtags Let’s show some examples so... read more

Attracting Your Niche: From Realtor to Resource

Creating Your Personal Brand as a Realtor You’re a realtor, and you work under the umbrella of a big name firm. Do your prospective buyers know your name? ¬†Or do they just know the big real estate company’s name? ¬†What’s going to make them ask for YOU?   Dime a Dozen Let’s face it, here in the Coachella Valley (and probably a lot of other places too), realtors are a dime a dozen. What separates you from the rest of the pack? This is where finding your niche and becoming their resource is so important. For example, are your prospective buyers mostly first time homebuyers, or are they retired people from the frozen north looking to move to a warmer climate? ¬†Is there a particular type of client that you enjoy working with the most?   Find Your Niche, and Be Their Valuable Resource Identify your niche, and then become their go-to resource for info they care about. Let’s take the example of first time homebuyers. For them, the process of buying a house can be downright scary! ¬†They want someone they can trust to help them find their dream home, not just get another sales notch in their belt. ¬†What might these buyers be thinking? Is my realtor holding back any info? Does this house have any hidden problems? What kinds of paperwork and contracts are involved? How do I know I’m really getting what I want? These are just a few of the questions and concerns first time homebuyers might have, and this is your opportunity to become their trusted and valuable resource! ¬†Find your outlet that... read more

Why ETSY Is So Awesome – A Great Example of Collaborative Marketing

Wow. Etsy Rules!! Check out what I came across today, in Etsy‚Äôs stream on Google+. What a great example of Collaborative Marketing! Collaborative marketing is when multiple parties collaborate on a campaign, sharing resources and costs and combining their marketing strength to the benefit of all parties involved.     This Etsy Craft Party is a great example. Let‚Äôs take a look, shall we? Etsy is:Creating a recurring event that is collaborative by nature and gives their crafters a chance to get some great exposure for themselves and their handcrafted products and to monetize their craftiness, and gives associated businesses (craft supply houses for instance) opportunity to connect with their markets (the crafters and the community at large). Providing their crafters with tools and guidance for organizing and marketing a craft party Giving their crafters excellent marketing power behind Etsy to draw from, with Etsy doing a lot to publicize its Etsy Craft Party globally, making deals with craft supply houses for event supplies, and lending the knowledge of its own marketing team to the Crafters, who may not have any experience in that end of business. Bringing Community into the event, which creates buy-in on many levels, for example from local and regional govts who want to provide safe, family events to their communities to nonprofit organizations serving seniors, families, or at-risk youth, and other people for whom such a positive and fun event can make a big difference in their lives. Bringing crafts and community together is a brilliant way to create lasting buy-in to an annual event and create a brand identity that shows Etsy doing... read more

Business Strategy, or How to Plan a Feast

So, you’re a small business owner, new to social media but wanting to take advantage of the powerful marketing opportunities that come with going social. ¬†Just like with your web site, with social media it’s a good idea to know what you want to accomplish before you start creating your social presence. What your¬†Objectives¬†are for that presence- why are you going social, what is it that you want to accomplish for your business? If you don’t know¬†what¬†you want to accomplish, you can’t figure out¬†how¬†to accomplish it. You’ll be going into uncharted territory with no goals, no strategy. Ooooh, good luck with that, cowboy! What are Objectives, Goals and Strategies? Your¬†Objective¬†is your overall reason for doing something – for example, ¬†objectives for creating a social media presence might include: to broaden your audience beyond your local community, to help create and cultivate your brand identity, or to drive traffic to your online storefront or business web site. Goals¬†would be your stepping stones along the way, your mileage markers that help you make progress toward reaching your overall objective. ¬†Setting these goals then helps you figure out your strategy for reaching them, which in turn also helps you reach your overall objective. Your Action¬†Strategy¬†would be the actions you take to reach your goals and objectives. Works backwards from your goals to create your strategy. The outline to follow to help you figure out your business Objectives, Goals and Strategies is simple: 1. What are your overall Objectives? What do you want to accomplish over the next year? ¬†What do you want to accomplish in five years? ¬†Visualize your ideal business situation,... read more

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Meilani’s Blooming Business Club

Join Meilani's Blooming Business Club and enjoy:

‚ÄĘ monthly workshops held via Hangout ($200 value!)

‚ÄĘ twice monthly "Consultant is IN" brainstorming, consulting and support sessions with Meilani ($300 value!)

‚ÄĘ ongoing support and resources sharing in Meilani's Blooming Business Community on Google+!

All at a low monthly price solopreneurs can afford, woohoo!

2016’s Blooming Business Workshops will focus on building social networks through focused social outreach strategies.