Giving Tuesday 2014 takes place December 2, the day after Cyber Monday, which follows Black Friday. First announced in October 2012, the #GivingTuesday concept sets out to harness the high-volume spending of post-Thanksgiving—channeling these dollars into fundraising for nonprofits throughout the world.

For those who work with a charity or execute marketing efforts for charitable organizations, sources in the industry say now is an excellent time to brainstorm on our #givingtuesday campaigns. My company works with several nonprofits; this will be our first year strategizing and executing our own campaigns to generate maximum funding on Tuesday, December 2.

As with all flawlessly executed social media, Giving Tuesday emits a flair of real-time spontaneity. We anticipate that as with all major events, it will be the thoughtful and advanced planning behind the scenes that will make our campaigns effective.

While the hash tag “#givingtuesday” implies raising funds online, a hybrid of offline and online fundraising will cater to multiple audiences and widen our chances for generating increased funds. To help maximize our Giving Tuesday fundraising efforts, our intention is to implement a holistic plan that includes:

Thoughtful Goal-Setting
In their July 29, 2014 webinar, “Maximize #GivingTuesday to Meet Your Fundraising Goals,” Network for Good says consider the “right goal” when attracting donors, new donors, dollars, recurring givers and participation. So we’ll go BIG when setting a fundraising goal. While determining the amount of funds we hope to raise, we’ll also think about what online or onsite platforms we need to do this, deciding on the following:

    1. What merchant services or online donations services will we use?
    2. What donation technology is easy-to-access and use with smartphones and tablets.
    3. Will we accept cash or check donations on the day of or in advance? We’ll have special jars/fishbowls onsite to collect these donations and put a team in charge to collect these jars/fishbowls at the end of the day.
    4. We plan to use online platforms that enable us to thank our donors right away, such as an auto-responder.
    5. How much will we request? If it makes sense, we’ll create donation buttons for set amounts but make it flexible so our donors can give what they can.

Creating a Project Plan
Game day is Tuesday, December 2. The brainstorming is happening now and a sub-committee will be in place to execute the strategies. Depending on the client, I may suggest engaging our community partners in this effort. 92Y and the United Nations Foundation created a website dedicated to offering tools and best practices for building a Giving Tuesday marketing campaign. Check out their ideas »

Promoting One Month Ahead
By the time November 2 rolls around, we want to be ready to promote our Giving Tuesday efforts. Here’s our checklist to ensure we can help our clients to market Giving Tuesday one month in advance:

  1. Special Web section. This page will describe what Giving Tuesday is and list calls to action throughout the campaign. The calls to action will include asking viewers to share teasers in advance via social media announcing the date of Giving Tuesday and how we will want them to donate. This page will also be mobile friendly and ready to receive online donations on the day of.
  2. Onsite promotion. This is where flyers and postcards will be essential. The message will focus on saving the date and budgeting to give to the organization on Giving Tuesday. All printed materials will include social media handles and the URL for the special Web section.
  3. Announcement to the media. A news release to local media sent twice–one a month in advance, the other one week in advance–will announce that the organizations will participate in Giving Tuesday and ask for community participation (go to our website, follow us, like us, etc.)
  4. Letter campaign. For the organizations that have a postal mail list, we’ll connect with them by sending them a letter describing Giving Tuesday and inviting them to participate.
  5. eMail Marketing. As with the letter campaign, an e-newsletter will target our existing lists. This is an excellent promotional vehicle because of easy-to-click opportunities for recipients to like and follow in social media as well as visit the special Web section.

Once all of the above is set in place, we’ll consistently promote our efforts throughout the month and get ready for…

Working it on December 2, 2014
On the big day, Tuesday, December 2, we intend for our No. 1 focus to be communicating with existing and new donors via social media and onsite. Using the channels listed in Step 3 to promote day-of messaging, here is our #GivingTuesday day-of checklist:

  1. Place #GivingTuesday jars in all onsite locations.
  2. Send an eBlast to list. Link to Web page to collect donations and let them know we’re also collecting donations onsite.
  3. Auto-schedule tweets in Hootsuite. Tweet throughout the entire day. Link to Web page to collect donations. Use hashtag #GivingTuesday.
  4. Promote on Facebook, twice a day. Ask readers to share our post. Link to Web page to collect donations. Use hashtag #GivingTuesday.

Gifts in Another’s Honor


It’s possible our calls to action can promote making donations in another’s honor. If we go this route, we’ll send certificates or e-cards–such as the St. Jude Children’s Hospital e-card above–to the person who’s name will appear on the donation. The goal would be to mail them right after your Giving Tuesday campaign so recipients get them in time for the religious holidays.

One Last Thought

As we move forward with our efforts, we’ll start with the end in mind and be ready to thank our donors amply after the big day. We’re excited about Giving Tuesday as it not only celebrates the spirit of giving but heralds a chance to develop long-term relationships with loyal ambassadors to our causes. That said, we’ll keep in touch with our new donors and continuously seek ways to engage them in our future efforts.

All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods

This article of All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods covers Fraunces Tavern history and George Washington’s last visit. In as much as history reveals, “All the Presidents’ Foods” covers specific dishes, menus and ingredients once or currently enjoyed by American Presidents. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

Note: this article was originally published in 2009, please check Fraunces Tavern for new menu prices.

Fraunces Tavern History, George Washington PotraitHow intriguing is George Washington’s visits to Fraunces Tavern? When my colleague John Rosenfelder—founder and sports- and music-marketing guru of Earbender—told me about Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan, I must admit to not believing an establishment where American President George Washington dined is still, to this day, a favorite place for food. But it does and I am ever so grateful to Rosenfelder for the tip. Afterall, he is a New York native, so of course he is an informed evangelist of his state’s history.

American Tavern Food

Before it was known as Fraunces Tavern, it reflected Samuel Fraunces’ anti-crown sentiment with the name “the Queen’s Head.” Founded in 1762, the inn later became known as Sam Fraunces’ House and, by the 1770s, was known as Fraunces’ Tavern. According to Elise Lathrop, author of “Early American Inns and Taverns” (McBride & Company, 1926), Fraunces had always appealed to an upstanding crowd.
“Patronized from the first by the best people of New York,” Lathrop writes , “[Fraunces] became famous for its Madeira wine, while the ‘Long Room’ continued to be used for concerts and other entertainments.”

Typical of the inns and taverns of early America, Fraunces played an important role to colonial society; its existence was vital to travelers in the pre-automobile era, while enabling guests to lodge, dine and warm up on cold winter nights before continuing on their respective journeys. Yet, inns and taverns—also known as “ordinaries”—were significant meeting places for Americans who would shape the new country.1
Fraunces Tavern photos by John Rosenfelder, CEO of Earbender.

fraunces_door_full“Taverns were public gathering places where ideas could be freely exchanged,” writes Amy Northrup Adamo, former director for Fraunces Tavern Museum, in a white paper. “Free speech could be practiced within their walls – including discussion of government laws and actions that were disagreeable to the populace.”

As Fraunces sympathized with the patriots, so did his lodgers. While America’s first Commander-in-Chief General George Washington is the most prominent of the 54 Pearl Street guests, also embedded in the tavern’s history is its 18th century reputation as a meeting spot for the Sons of Liberty.

“These were the places that revolutionaries like the Sons of Liberty met, developed their plans, and drummed up popular support for their sentiments,” Adamo continues. “The Revolution was born in Colonial American taverns.”

tallmadge_memorial_fullToday, Fraunces celebrates the gatherings of the Sons of Liberty, which took place in the Long Room, it also heralds George Washington’s emotional farewell dinner to his officers at the end of the Revolutionary War.

“At 12 o’clock the officers repaired to Francis’ Tavern, in Pearl Street, where Gen. Washington had appointed to meet them and to take is final leave of them, ” Col. Benjamin Tallmadge records on page 63 of his memoir. On the same page, the soldier and former U.S. House of Representatives member recounts Washington’s toast to his officers before retreating to Mount Vernon.

Early American Tavern Food

Through an interesting conversation with Suzanne Prabucki, curator and collections manager of Fraunces, I learned there are currently no records of what the first Commander-in-Chief ate on his jaunts to the three-story tavern. In my additional research, I’ve discovered elaborate lists of dishes offered at other taverns but they are generally from a later time period, such as the mid-1800s, long after Washington lead the Revolutionary War. And based on my talk with Ms. Prabucki, this is an important distinction.

fraunces_dining_room_full“Taverns in the 18th century rarely, if ever, had printed menus. The food served in a tavern depended upon what was available in the local markets on the given day,” Prabucki says. “What was basically a prix fixe meal was served and that was all that was available. The main meal, served in the middle of the day, was called an ‘ordinary’ and was priced per person, not by the dish (a la carte-by the menu).”

What could have been available for eats in the era Washington made his way through New England taverns? Perhaps brick-oven-baked breads, beef, pork and vegetables. Lathrop says these foods comprised the fare at Richard Pitkin’s Tavern in Manchester, Conn., through which Rochambeau and his army supposedly passed in 1781. At Clark’s Tavern, in Milford, Conn., where Washington stayed several times, the first U.S. President reportedly ate porridge for breakfast.2

In the Feb. 25, 1980 issue of People magazine, Barbara Rowe writes of George Washington’s near-death experience with poisoned peas. The culprit was Thomas Hickey, a Tory spy and lover to Fraunces’ daughter Phoebe, who exposed Hickey and had him “sent to the gallows.”

Rowes concludes her article with a quote by the-then owner Robert Norden, who’d once considered making the modern-day Fraunces menu full of colonial dishes. “But when we got the recipes together,” Nordent tells Rowe, “we realized that what George Washington ate nobody would touch today. Do you know anybody who hankers for a good squirrel stew?” 3

Alcohol and Tavern Life

Referencing Kym S. Rice’s “Early American Taverns: For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers,” a book originally written for Fraunces Tavern Museum in 1983, Adamo talks about the prevalence of alcohol within the taverns and inns. And it’s possible this had to do with the limited access to clean drinking water.

“It has been estimated that by the time of the Revolution, the annual per capita consumption of distilled spirits was 3.7 gallons,” Adamo writes. “By the beginning of the 19th century, inexpensive whiskey had become more available, and consumption rose to five gallons, approximately three times today’s levels.”

Today’s Menu and Museum

Today, having survived numerous fires throughout its history, Fraunces Tavern functions as an elegant dining space in the heart of the financial district near Wall St. With entrée prices ranging from $14 to $26, gourmet dishes hint of the simplicity that was Colonial-style eating: Roasted cod fish, roasted game hen, Sheppard’s pie, tender pot roast and corned beef sandwich, each of which comes with sides that could consist of fava beans, spinach, potatoes or other vegetables.

An extensive dessert menu ($5 – $14) features all-American-apple pie, mixed-berry cobbler, a chef’s choice of fruits and cheeses, chocolate mousse and various ice creams and sorbets.

You can also order a prix fixe menu for $20.09 per person and enjoy a beet salad of mescalun, goat cheese and pine nuts to start; entrée choices of seared salmon with rosemary mashed pototoes or chicken parmigiana over spaghetti; and coconut panna cotta for dessert.

To see the full menu, click here.
The legendary Long Room serves as the museum and features art exhibits depicting the Revolution and lunchtime and evening lectures. You can also arrange Colonial-themed weddings through the restaurant.

Address and Phone

Fraunces Tavern. 54 Pearl St., New York, NY 10004. Click here for reservations.

Fraunces Tavern Museum. 54 Pearl St., New York, NY 10004. 212-425-1778


1 – 2. Early American Inns and Taverns, Elise Lathrop (McBride & Company, 1926), pp. viii, 53, 55
3. “George Washington Supped Here and Nearly Died from the Peas, but Fraunces Tavern Is Still Serving,” Barbara Roes, People (Feb. 25, 1980)

Postcards from Paradise

“Postcards from Paradise” was a series of monthly notes previously published by The Astute Recorder. Hawaii photos and articles by Phillip S. Roberts (pictured above). Phillip is the author-photographer of “Waikiki Tiki: Art, History, Photographs.” Buy it now on Amazon »

Aloha from the middle of the Pacific!

Hawaii Photos: Eternity Beach

Known as “Eternity Beach” for the famous love scene in the movie “From Here to Eternity,” Halona Beach is located before Sandy beach on the West side (pictured above). It was here that Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissed in the gentle rolling surf. The scene has been parodied and re-enacted numerous times since the film’s 1953 release.

Hawaii Photos: Prince Kuhio



Pictured Right

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanaiana‘ole (1871-1922) was the last royal Hawai‘ian family member to hold political power. A statue of Prince Kuhio is featured here.

haunted_house_website_writerNeed Web marketing tips for the holidays?

Let’s face it, once we start seeing images like these —>>>>
… we’re already one phase into the Holiday season. It’s a sign that, if we haven’t already, it’s time to start planning for the annual rush.

As I mention on, “In 2011, Holiday shoppers spent more than $32 billion online. Experts predict online shopping will continue to grow in 2012.”

Before you can market your products and services for Holiday sales and success, you first need to know what you’re selling. Here are a few tips to help you brainstorm.

Create programs and packages. Whether you’re a service provider or you sell products, think of ways you can bundle what you offer into an enticing package. For example, if you’re with a dentist’s office, think about a daily care and whitening package that can include an electric toothbrush and whitening treatment at a set price. Promote it as a holiday a gift or a self-improvement package to ring in the New Year.

Do something for Black Friday. If you own a store or any other type of business that invites foot traffic, plan your decorations in advance as well as your merchandising strategy. Make sure to start your print and digital marketing to promote your event on November 1, at the latest.

Do something for Cyber Monday. Taking place right after Black Friday, Cyber Monday is said to be one of the most lucrative, if not the most lucrative day of the year for online retailers. In this article, Booz & Co. reminds us of the benefits of free shipping to boost sales. Booz & Co predicts “more than 80 million shoppers plan to purchase gift cards this season, about 4% more than last year.” Be sure to feature them prominently both in-store and online.

Start your pitch now. Think about teasing your customers with a brief mention about the Holidays as early as now. You can use something similar to the intro I have above, where you tie the Halloween image and decor to what’s ahead. If it’s too soon to talk Holidays because of other programs you have in place during this time, then remember that it’s not to early to start planning.

Push last-minute shopping ideas. Plan to repackage and re-promote your Holiday packages and specials throughout December. While your message for Black Friday or Cyber Monday might focus on “Hurry While Supplies Last,” by the time mid-December rolls around, you may be promoting, “Last Minute Shopping Made Easy and Delivered on Time.” Remember to stay top of mind with your audience with e-newsletters that say, “One week left, don’t forget to buy Mom her new skillet” (for example).

Plan for day-after sales. Don’t forget those who want to save money by buying sale products the day after Christmas.

Remember your New Year’s audience. To end your Holiday promotion cycle, remember to offer special programs and packages for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s. For the eve of, you may be offering packages that promote celebration or celebrating in a responsible way. For New Year’s, you may want to offer bundles that promote healthy lifestyle.

Looking for tips on how to do a blog? Check below for some tips to get started.

There is an expert within each of us. You may not know it yet but there is one within you. Most likely, that inner expert is one who can influence the decisions of your prospects and customers, provide them with solutions, speak to their needs and make their lives easier.

Through blogging, you can unleash the power of your inner expert to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Tweet this.

In the era of content marketing, millions of bloggers who make up the global connectivity of the Web are doing this as we speak. They’re writing content on behalf of their businesses or as individuals passionate about a hobby. They’re empowering others with knowledge that’s useful across all walks of life. Just look at this list of 50 Best Blogs for Train Enthusiasts; just one sliver of one sliver of a piece of a massive pie.

Blogging is so much easier than many might think. However, the key to making it a success is commitment. Making the time to do it and doing it regularly. Believe me, I know how challenging this can be. Life happens. It’s just way too easy to get thrown off track by tasks that often times seem more pressing. But blogging is like anything that requires practice. Ignore it and it won’t let you live it down.

Hence my article today: A starter guide to help you launch a blog and stick with it:

Tip No. 1: Know why you’re doing it.

Knowing why you blog will help you to uncover information that’s critical to your blog’s success. You’ll grasp the elements needed to create and distribute useful content. Here are some things you’ll learn; use this as a checklist when you ask yourself why you want to blog:

  • Will it be for fun or for business? If it’s the former, you can be more lax in your writing standards and the frequency in which you blog. A good example of a just-for-fun blog might be sharing your travel experiences, unless you work in the travel industry, in which case, your blog can serve as a marketing tool. A business blog might feature commentaries on industry trends or a how-tos.
  • Who is your audience?  A just-for-fun blog might be geared toward friends, family members and fellow hobbyists. Your business blog will primarily target three types of people:  customers, prospects and people who can send you referrals.
  • How will you talk to your audience? With a just-for-fun blog, you won’t have the pressure to be brief in the same way you will if you run a business blog. When someone comes to your website for business tips, they’ll want to get straight to the point. With a just-for-fun blog, you can be more prosaic and wordy. With a business blog, it’s a good idea to keep your format to numbered or bulleted lists.
  • What does your audience need to know? This is a key element when planning your blog because your readers will only want to read what’s useful to them. Whereas a just-for-fun blog can emphasize more entertainment and intrigue (although a it’s good for a business blog to have these elements too). If you’re writing as a hobbyist or for business purposes, a short, structured list might be helpful if you want to share tips on pet care, changing the oil or keeping aphids off of roses. For business bloggers, to know what matters to your audience, think back to conversations you’ve had with audience members. Ask yourself if there was a particular marketing topic about which they were curious, or, if you have a close relationship with your audience members, ask them what topics they want to see.

Tip No. 2: Create an Editorial Calendar

Plan topics for six months so the research and writing processes are continuously on your radar. Here’s a checklist:

  • Decide how often you want to blog. If you’re blogging on behalf of your business, you can blog once a month and spend the rest of the month marketing this specific post (we’ll get to that in a minute).
  • Create an Excel spreadsheet that lists days you will post your blog in one column and the topic in another column. This is a good tool because whenever a great idea comes along, you can just add it to your list.
  • In whatever calendar you use, schedule the specific days you will post your blog and on what topic.
  • Within your calendar, use a T-minus strategy to determine when you’ll start researching and writing your content. I typically plan for 7 days to write my blog posts, this way I can spend time on it each day for 7 days until they’re due. If there’s heavy research involved, I may begin the research process several days before that.

Tip No. 3: Get Started

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re brand new to blogging, you may be completely amazed by how easy it is to start one. You can actually start your own blog, right now, for free. All you need is a username, a password, a topic, the desire to do it and the motivation to write. Start a blog right this minute. Below is a list of blogging platforms. Pick from any of these sources, register and then follow their instructions for customizing your theme, setting up your profile and writing your first post:

Note that each blogging platform above has its own way of doing things and each of which is very different from the other. For the purposes of this article, I won’t get too technical. The point of this how-to is to help you start a blog, today and for free. But I will note that over time, you’ll want to pay attention to ways you can attract more visitors using search engine optimization tools and track the progress using Google Analytics.

If you have a technical person on staff who handles your website, he or she may know how to optimize your blog and set it up in Google Analytics. If this is the case, talk to this person first so he or she can set up the necessary tools before you even start your blog. But if you’ve gone ahead and written your first blog post, it’s time to tell the world about it…

Tip No. 4: Share your Content

Once you’ve written your post, here are 6 things to do next:

  1. Email a link to it to key stakeholders. If you use an e-newsletter distribution service such as Constant Contact, MailChimp or Emma, this is ideal content to send to your list. If you’re sending your article to specific person through Gmail or Outlook, you may want to personalize it by saying,

    “Hey, I remember your asking me about this once. I just wanted to let you know I wrote a how-to on the topic. Thought you’d find it helpful.”

  2. Share it on Facebook. Add it to your business page or share it with friends in your personal profile.
  3. Tweet it. Make sure to use hashtags that help you to expand your audience. Check out to find trending hashtags that apply to your industry.
  4. Write and distribute a press release to local and industry media announcing your blog post. The best distribution sites are ones that actually charge, such as PR Web. They have a wide reach and can even land you some plum space in the search engines. But if free is what you’re after, do a search on Google using key words “free press release sites.” If you have media contacts already stored in your address book, personalize an email and send them a link. You can say something like:

    Dear (Media Contact):

    I just wrote a blog post about (fill in the blank). I’ve attached a link to the article for your information.

    This topic is a big concern for people within my industry. And it’s hot right now. If you write about this topic, please consider me as a contributing expert who can lend insight into your story.

  5. Do Step 3 several times throughout the month but in increments. Use a site like Hootsuite to help you program in tweets. You can also program in posts for your Facebook page and LinkedIn. Hootsuite is an excellent and powerful tool.
  6. Get to work on your next blog post, then do Steps 1-5 all over again.

Tip No. 5: Know what to expect.

Once you’ve written your first blog post and shared it with the world, now what? Are you an overnight digital sensation? On the list to be an expert witness in an upcoming celebrity trial? Known the world over as the guru in your field? As much as I’d like to say “yes” to all of the above, unfortunately, the results don’t come about that quickly. (If this does happen to you, please bottle your secret and sell it the world.)

One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make (I’ve done this too) is expect overnight success with their blog. True, there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there who’ve monetized their content or gained an international audience, becoming part of the cyber elite. Seth Godin, Gary VaynerchukPete Cashmore, Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, Arianna Huffington, anyone who’s friends with Arianna Huffington, and you get the idea.

The truth is, in addition to the “it factor” and, in some cases, massive financial backing, these bloggers reached their digerati success because they stuck with it. Remember, if you reach a point of thinking no one is listening and people aren’t responding to your content, don’t get discouraged. Work your strategy and eventually you’ll see results. If you don’t see results, however, then try new tactics. Give yourself at least one year of consistent effort to decide if blogging is for you.

And with that, go forward and be awesome.

Looking for ways to promote your website? Whether your business is new to the Web or you’ve just finished a site redesign, it’s never too early, too late or too redundant to market your website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be key to helping your site appear on page one of Google and Bing. But it’s important to use other ways to promote your website, which also helps with SEO. The more site visits you attract, the more optimized your site will be.

Some Tips

Think of your website as a resource. Because updating or creating a new website may not be “newsworthy,” emphasize the content you’ve added (and why). This will go a lot farther than simply listing your domain address or saying, “Check out our new website.” For instance:

  • You’ve added questions to your FAQs section to save customers time. By going to this section, they no longer have to call you for answers.
  • You now offer more detail about your products and services, giving your customers a central place where they find out why your products and services are better than your competitor’s.
  • You’ve just boosted your About Us section with more bio information about your staff. Now your customers can find out what makes your staff authorities in the industry, adding to your credibility and saleability.
  • You’ve just added more detail to your Contact Us section, such as ways customers can instant message or video chat with your customer service reps.
  • You’ve just added an option to your website that enables visitors to sign up for newsletters or promotional offers?

Go for the pull. Use your marketing materials to let your customers know how your website will make their lives easier.

Sample copy:

Do you need reminders about our shipping policy? Do you have questions about where our products come from and who distributes them?

You’re not alone!

Customers like you frequently ask us for this information. That’s why we’ve added answers to these and many more questions to our new FAQs section.

Visit this section (link to your new FAQs) now to get even more questions and answers section.

Put it everywhere. Think of your website as a party that you’ve planned. If you don’t invite anyone, they won’t come. Now that you have your new website, it’s time to invite folks. But how and where? Some cost-effective ideas:

Your business card. This is the most obvious and you’re probably already doing it. Spice up your approach by using pull questions like what we see above. For example: “What makes our staff the authorities in our industry? Find out at”

On Facebook. This option assumes you already have a Facebook page and an audience. If you do, create a schedule of when you’ll promote different sections of your new website. For instance, FAQs on Monday, About Us on Tuesday, and so on. Remember, it’s social media, so ask users to join the conversation. For instance, at the end of your post that promotes your FAQs link, end with question such as: “What frequently asked question do you have?”

Flyers and postcards. Along with your business cards, you can order inexpensive flyers and postcards through services like Vista Print. These are both excellent options if you’re doing a promotion and want to send folks to your website for more info. For example: “Wondering what to give clients for the holidays? Check out our Holiday 2012 specials at (your link here). And don’t be afraid to use a QR code. If you do use a QR code, include in your copy that customers can start shopping right away if they’re using a smartphone. For example: “Got a smartphone? Scan this code with your barcode scanner app to shop now!”

Your newsletter or magazine. If you send a monthly or quarterly magazine (print or online) to your customers or members, feature an article about your new website and how it benefits the readers. If you did a survey before revamping your site to find out what customers needed to access online the most, show a bar chart of survey results, then explain how you addressed their concerns with the new Web design and content. A catchy headline like “You asked, we listened” always helps.

Your Exercise

  1. Using a spreadsheet, write down five things that are new about your website. In the next column, write down why you added this content and why it benefits your customers.
  2. On a separate sheet of paper, jot down questions that might pull your customers in. For example, “Have you ever wondered why our shoes are so comfortable?” “Have you been looking for an archive of all of our magazines?”
  3. Jot down places your customers are most likely to receive information about your company. Are they on Facebook? Do they receive a monthly newsletter from you? Do you have a retail outlet?
  4. Plan your materials and message accordingly. For example, if your customers are always on Facebook, use your pull questions to create posts and link to your new website. On postcards, include a QR code with a pull question, as noted above. If you own a retail outlet or online store, put your postcards in bags or shipping boxes.

Does this get the creative juices flowing? In what ways have you marketed your website? What works for you?

Marketing tips can come from the most unexpected places; even from our dogs. I call them “dog lessons.” As a content marketer, I’m constantly reading up on the latest trends, watching what other businesses do and attending webinars or teleclasses to improve my skills. Recently, while reflecting on how far my dog has come in terms of health and overall happiness since the day I rescued him, I realized he is a closer. Had he not been such a savvy and persistent marketer, I may not have taken in him home from the shelter. Here’s what I learned from that day:

What can our dogs teach us about marketing?


Lesson 1: To stand out, we’ve gotta make noise. I rescued my dog Latte at a local shelter, where I was originally considering adopting a Lhasa Apso. But by the time I was ready to rescue the one-year-old Lhasa, he wasn’t available. So I decided to look around. That’s when I met Latte, a medium-sized Papillon-mix oddly placed in the same aisle as the big dogs—a not-so-prime location for a dog his size wanting to be rescued. After all, people seeking big dogs wouldn’t be interested in him and those looking for small dogs wouldn’t notice him. So how did he manage to catch my attention? By barking his gorgeous tail off as loud as he could.

The takeaway? We can never be too quiet when getting the word about our products or services. Marketing has to be more than just one thing. It has to be a complete package driven by consistent effort and maybe even shameless promotion.

Lesson 2: The handshake still matters. Thanks to his perseverant barking, I approached Latte to read the biography taped to his cage. When I bent down to pet him, he stood up on his hind legs, put his paw on top of my hand then held it to his cage while I continued to read. That was unforgettable. Through that gesture alone, he showed me his tenderness. I could tell he was a good dog.

The takeaway? Initial contact always matters, whether it’s a handshake or a relationship we form via email or social media. How we present ourselves in introductions says a lot about us. It’s important we use these moments to let our authentic goodness come through.

Lesson 3: Show you’re flexible to learning (regardless of age)! Many people find it unbelievable that the pooch is 11 years old. I mean look at him, doesn’t he look amazing for his age? I met him when he was 5 ½ years old, skeptical about whether he’d be trainable—no thanks to the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But when I first visited with Latte, he was highly responsive when the representative at the shelter gave him commands. I would find out later just how trainable he is, working with a professional to teach him how to sit, stay, shake and high five (although he does struggle with “No beg.” :-)).

The takeaway? Even with years of life experience, we always have reasons to learn something new or brush up on the basics. If we remain open to learning new things, our careers will never stand still. Tweet this. How else will we become seasoned in our crafts? When meeting with customers, it’s important to show them just how much we’re willing to learn to provide them excellent client service. Research your customers and, if it applies, their industries as well. When you talk to the, include what you’ve learned about them in your conversations and strategies for helping them succeed. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to get to know them and understand what they do and why they do it.

Lesson 4: Don’t let a hiccup in your reputation block your success. By the time Latte got to the pound, all odds were stacked against him. He’d escaped twice from his previous owners and the animal shelter not only made it a point to note this in his file, but when I went to pay the adoption fee and take Latte home, the lady at the window discouraged me from rescuing him! Earlier that day, while standing in line to request a visit with him, I also met someone who knew Latte’s previous owners. She too tried to convince me that Latte “wasn’t a good dog.” No doubt, Latte had a bad reputation. But rather than wanting to rescue him less, I wanted him to rescue him more. I knew Latte was a good dog because I trusted my instincts. I paid attention to the tender way in which he reached his paw out to me and focused on his inherently sweet nature.

The takeaway? Don’t let negative comments others might make about you keep you from marketing yourself and your business in a confident, self-assured way. Tweet this. Let your authentic, positive traits shine through and the receiving party will make his or her own decision about you. And more than likely, in your favor.

Lesson 5: If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. Remember in Lesson 1 where I talked about the Lhasa Apso? I visited him two days in a row while waiting for a check to arrive that would provide me with the funds to adopt him. I remember stressing out, hoping that someone else wouldn’t get to him before me. Finally, on the day I was able to pay for him, he wasn’t even available—the shelter was “fixing” him and all other “unfixed” dogs. He wouldn’t be available to take home for another couple of days. Out of curiosity, I decided to look at other dogs. Interestingly enough, the lady who observed Latte and me in the visiting area told me she thought Latte and I were better suited for each other, that she didn’t think the Lhasa Apso and I were a good fit. She was Latte’s only advocate at the shelter, so I couldn’t help but listen to her.

The takeaway? Sometimes we want something that isn’t right for us. Whether it’s a client we’re pitching, an industry we want to enter or a relationship we want to build. In the end, it’s the synergy that matters and understanding that something beyond us is influencing the situation. Had I not let go and allowed myself to look at other dogs, I would have never met Latte. Because of his age, his record and health issues, he had less of a chance surviving in the pound than the Lhasa Apso. I was sorry to let the idea of rescuing the Lhasa Apso go, but in the end, I know rescuing Latte was meant to be. It has been a positive change in both of our lives!

Are you a dog lover? If so, you might have some life lessons to share from your faithful friend. Feel free to comment below.

When it comes to writing for the Web, nuance shapes the craft. In my years as a Web designer, content writer and search engine optimizer, I’ve found many people to have several misconceptions of what effective Web writing is, such as:

  • The more key word phrases, the better.
  • Our brochure copy will work just fine for the Web.
  • The fewer words the better, people don’t read the Web.
  • The content in our business plan will also work for the Web.
  • We need to sound hip to appeal to a younger audience.
  • Words are less important than flash.

While I’ve found all of the above points to be true to certain point, experience tells me there needs to be a balance.

Here’s what I mean:

Key words. It is true that Web content should have targeted key words and phrases. However, key-word stuffed content actually gets penalized by the search engines. Newer updates of the search engine algorithms are also favoring quality, in-depth content that reads and flows naturally. Because an excessive use of key words hinders the reading experience, well-written Web content that follows more traditional writing standards is becoming more favorable and findable.

Using brochure copy. When we write for brochures, we’re employing a different mindset that reaches our target audience. The way we present information about our organization may be more or less content heavy than what is on the Web. But the key in Web writing is the calls to action. Brochure content requires a different strategy. That’s why when my clients ask me to write brochure content that they can repurpose for the Web, or vice versa, I tell them right away that is not the best approach.

Overly concise. When I entered the world of the Web, I loved the idea of writing in a way that was pithy and conversational. However, there is such a thing as being overly concise. While some statistics show that people “don’t read on the Web,” there is a way to organize and present beefed up content so your users get answers to their questions. This doesn’t mean we have to omit key content, especially if our offline marketing materials keep encouraging visitors to “learn more” on our websites.

Using business plan copy. When we first build a website, it’s tempting to want to take the easy way out by copying and pasting official language from our business plans into our websites. Unfortunately there is no bigger turn off than overly formal language that describes our business. However, I think it’s important that we use our business plans to help us strategize the information we want to share on our websites and the conversational way of presenting it.

We need to sound hip. When it comes to marketing, our first question to ourselves should always be, “Who is our audience?” Once we determine this, we get a better sense of how our audience prefers to receive information and as well as the tone. Whether this means sounding hip is another story. It all boils down to your audience demographics and what gets them engaged.

Word are less important than flash. If your website isn’t closing the sale and you’ve got a fun, flashy website, then obviously there’s something missing. At the end of the day, people communicate through language. Even in a graphic-design heavy environment, there needs to be obvious calls to action to guide users to the next step. Aesthetics are important, but in Web design, they don’t trump verbal communication.

Make it Work for You

As you write copy for your website, use your previous marketing materials and business plan as a tool to understand what makes your company unique. Put yourself in the mindset of your audience to determine the best tone, voice and lingo that will resonate with them. Write Web content that creates conversations and guides your users to where they need to be. Remember, they visit your website for a reason. Help them get what they need sooner than later and watch engagement improve!

If you often hear the term organic SEO (search engine optimization) but haven’t a clue what it is or where to go to find out, this article offers a primer. In a nutshell, organic SEO is Web content marketing to help companies get found in the unpaid sections—as opposed to the advertised space or business listings—of search engines when users type in relevant key words.

Within the world of SEO, there’s a “good guy” and a “bad guy.” The good guy is known as the “white hat” optimizer, the above-board content marketer who avoids dirty tricks such as link farming—links within articles that appear authentically informative but merely serve as a tool to promote the websites to which these articles link. These links are generally paid for by the client and the articles deceive the readers by appearing to be an objective news source.

The “bad guys” are known as “black hat” optimizers. These are the SEOers who believe in link farming and writing content that is shallow in nature, bloated with key words. The black hatters may resort to other tricks such as website cloaking.

According to Google, many of the black hat tactics lead to penalties of the offending websites. These sites may get banned from the search engines or drop in ranking when there’s an algorithm update. While there are many questions as to whether these penalties are effective in targeting the offenders, the general sentiment among white hatters is to avoid the black hat tactics altogether to avoid penalties in the future.

What makes great organic SEO?

This is a question I hear all the time—as do many of my colleagues who offer similar services as Judy Asman Communication; my answer promotes a multi-pronged approach in marketing and PR. At the base of my philosophies is strengthening your business practices first then using your marketing efforts to showcase your brand. In all cases, the right formula depends on knowing how strict your competition is and a combination of these factors:

  • Consistency. Once your optimized website is launched, it’s important to keep adding relevant, credible and fresh content and to share that content in as many outlets possible. Business owners or marketers who don’t understand this not only eventually see drops in their top positions but they also seem to be the ones who don’t understand that good SEO is only the first step to business success (more on this in last bullet).
  • Omni-presence. In the December 2013 Website Magazine article, “SEO Myths Debunked,” editor Pete Prestipino says, “Social is not the new SEO,” adding that “the only surefire way to leverage the new social-SEO is to create relevant, rich content that consumers want to consume and, of course, share, like retweet, +1, etc.” One of the reasons it’s so important to make sure your content and URL appear on other sites throughout the Internet is so that the search engines acknowledge it as a legitimate site. Your site’s credibility grows when links to it appear in other online sources. This is why I always encourage my clients to get a social media presence and send out news releases. These clients also consistently tweet, share links on Facebook and get quoted by other websites who respect them.
  • Quality content. Really strong emphasis on the word “quality” here. Now with fresher algorithms, the days of gaming the key word system are over. The days of page one articles that leave readers confused are gone too. As a search engine user and a search engine optimizer, I for one think that’s good news. Check out this article from Yahoo! News South Africa, which talks about the latest Google Hummingbird update and why it’s good for premium writers.
  • Easy-to-navigate user experience. Remember that SEO is all about getting found on the Web. But what happens after that?  Search engines also look for engagement. So keep these three things in mind: 1) Getting found is thanks to SEO; 2) Getting customers to act is thanks to calls to action and easy-to-read text; and 3) Closing the sale is thanks to the systems and processes your company already has in place.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions about the above, I invite you to leave a comment below.

All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods

This article of All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods covers the favorite food of President Bill Clinton. In as much as history reveals, “All the Presidents’ Foods” covers specific dishes, menus and ingredients once or currently enjoyed by American Presidents. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

Chill Bill: The favorite foods (and transformation) of our 42nd President

In the eight years William Jefferson Clinton served in the Oval Office, regardless of how Americans felt about his political agenda and personal indiscretions, it was difficult for the collective mass of comedians and viewers alike to not enjoy a good laugh at his expense. The clip above, from a 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live, was part of pre-election and pre-inauguration skits that would set the stage for many hilarious impersonations of President Clinton (1992 – 2000) by comedian-actor Phil Hartman, until Hartman’s tragic death in 1998.

As an eater, Bill Clinton once represented the relationship many Americans have with junk food. Past tense is intentional here given the quadruple bypass the former Arkansas governor had in 2004. A turning point and wake-up call for Clinton after he suffered chest pains and shortness of breath. Not surprising, his heart disease was and continues to be attributed to his former eating habits, even though Clinton had lost weight while on the South Beach diet, which he started after leaving office.

Before Clinton’s inauguration, soon-to-be First Lady Hillary told Marion Burros of The New York Times, “The good news is, my husband loves to eat and enjoys it. The bad news is, he loves to eat, even when things are not always right for him.” This Dec. 23, 1992 article—appropriately titled “Bill Clinton and Food: Jack Sprat He’s Not,” goes on to list the Southern politician’s favorite restaurants and dishes: “From Sims Bar-B-Q to Juanita’s, from Doe’s Eat Place to Hungry’s Cafe, President-elect Clinton prefers the stuff with fat in it: jalapeño cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls and pies. But no chocolate-chip cookies.”

Clinton’s reputation for gorging on fatty, high-calorie dishes would prompt a part-satire, part-cookbook by V. Jaime Hamlin Schilcher entitled, “In the Kitchen with Bill: 50 Recipes for Chowing Down” (Andrews McMeel Publishing 1996.) The recipes, which are literally not for the faint-hearted, include “Slick Willie’s Wishbone Tenders” and “Hillary’s Hush Puppies with Something Fishy.” Whether or not Clinton knows this book exists, he has taken comedic and satirical hits, along with so much other censure and critcism (deserved or not), in stride. No wonder he has earned the Astute-given nickname “Chill Bill.”

White House Chef Walter Scheib, who served President Clinton throughout his eight years in office and President George W. Bush during his first term, confirmed to Jon Stewart in a 2007 interview that Clinton loved beef, ribs and Southwestern cusine. Scheib has been in the news a lot since leaving the executive kitchen, primarily for the book he co-authored with Andrew Friedman, “White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen” (Wiley 2007). In his personal account, Scheib talks about what it was like to cook for and serve the Clintons and George and Laura Bush.

Bill Clinton, After Bypass Surgery

Fortunate to have made it through his bypass surgery and to have lived at all given the plaque discovered in his arteries, Bill Clinton has not only become a healthier eater but an evangelist for nutrition among our nation’s youth. In May 2005, Clinton joined with the American Heart Association to form the Alliance for Healthier Generation. As part of this effort, in August 2009, Clinton joined Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), at the Fourth Annual Healthy Schools Program Forum in New York to honor 114 U.S. schools that have encouraged healthy eating among their students and staff.

Clinton has also appeared several times on the Rachael Ray Show as a supporter of Rachael’s Yum-O organization, which helps feeds the hungry, educates families about healthy eating and offers scholarships to aspiring culinary students. According to this article by C0nnie Bennett at Wellsphere, Clinton and Ray also work together to combat child obesity by encouraging nutritious foods that are “affordable and delicious.”

So what might President Clinton eat these days? In Mamma’s Kitchen (dot com) published this article with a catering menu, prepared by Lisa Teiger and Andrew Crossan, co-owners of Creative CuisinEtc. Teiger and Crossan apparently rose to the challenge of creating appetizing but healthy cuisine. Their spa menu featured global-fusion cuisine of gourmet vegetable and seafood dishes.