Tracy Petrucci: 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

SEO Tip: How Search Friendly Is Your Site?

Is your website all flash and photos? If so, it might not be getting all the attention it deserves.

One of the ways your website is found is by the use of keywords within the pages, especially important for the homepage. A website that is coded with HTML versus a grid of images, will have a better chance of being discovered since there is increased ability to crawl the site for the keywords people are searching for.

Again, search engines only index text. If there is no text on your homepage, you can see how this creates a find-ability problem.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Big Idea: Soap Flaker

I came across this creative idea recently while browsing Pinterest. I think it was a design contest, but regardless, I found it very useful! Maybe someone will invest in this and they can start shipping them out to all the sustainable soap users, or the germ-avoiders.

Here's what the designer Nathalie Stämpfli had to say about it,

"Today, most of the soap we use is liquid soap, which contains a lot of water. Block soap instead is more concentrated and therefore has some ecological benefits: You don’t transport unnecessary water around. In place of plastic bottles you can simply use paper for packaging. The solid blocks can easily be piled and allow a greater space efficiency in a truck.

Friday, December 23, 2011

6 Tips For Choosing A Facebook Advertisement Photo

Here are a few simple tips for best choosing a Facebook ad photo.
  • There is only a certain amount of space allotted for your Facebook advertisement's photo. If you make it too wide, it will shrink. If it's too tall, you're wasting valuable space on the sides. To best fill up all the area you have, edit your image to be 110 pixels wide by 80 pixels tall.
  • When you can, use a photo with people in it. According to research, this tends to catch the viewer's eye more often than other types of images.
  • Tailor the image depending on the demographic you are targeting. One ad can be copied and re-used for different segments of people. Try to use a photo that will relate with each category of customer you are targeting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

FedEx Marketing Signs on The Today Show

Someone was thinking outside the box at FedEx when they gave customized signs to the outdoor audience of The Today Show.

We all have seen the people standing around with their home made signs, even the organizations of people who come and print out their company on t shirts or make signs for their employees to hold. . . BUT I don't think I've ever seen another company make signs for the random people standing on the street.

The signs said, "Finished Shopping Alexandria?" (or which ever name they were customized to) "Use FedEx To Ship." I mean, I don't even remember exactly what they said, but it was along those lines.

They probably found people who had no signs and hooked them up with a way to say hello to their friends or family. But hey, nice way to sneak in some marketing on national tv!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Twitter: Cut Through The Crap

Social media can be really time consuming. I wish I could say it doesn't have to be and there is a magical formula for how to get great results in no time at all. But some aspects of it are just going to take a little thought and energy.

I find one of the most controversial social media tools that my clients struggle with is Twitter. Why? Because there is so much irrelevant nonsense. So here are a few tips on cutting through the crap and using Twitter to ultimately reach your goals. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me, but remember: there is no set strategy on using social media. Every business is different and everyone will need to tailor their own method to meet their needs and eventually see results ($) from their efforts. This is especially true of small, localized business owners who are trying to take control over their own social media.

1. Get Over The Ego- Sure, you can follow everyone and their mother to get follow backs and improve your numbers, but why? Unless Joe the Window Repair Man's business is relevant to yours, or interests you in some way, don't worry about him. This also goes along with the auto follow-back systems people use to ensure when someone follows them, they follow them back as not to lose them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Green Monday

Online shopping is reaching new highs this year, with today being no exception. Green Monday is quickly becoming recognized as one of the highest volume days of online shopping. Some analysts even think Green Monday could surpass Cyber Monday soon.

While many retailers are afraid of pushing yet another big shopping day onto consumers, I personally think it makes more sense than Cyber Monday. After Thanksgiving weekend and all the hubbub, I really don't feel like doing much, including using extra brain power to compare shop online.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Big Idea: Wood Pallet Shelf

I am always happy to see a sustainable solution such as this wood pallet shelf. It pretty much explains itself.

I wouldn't recommend stealing a wood pallet, but if one is lending itself to the dumpster, by all means...

Sorry to whoever took these pictures- I found it on pinterest and the original link is gone. But hats off to you all the same.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Leading Edge at CSUSM

Last weekend I attended the first of six CSUSM seminars entitled The Leading Edge. This particular one was focused on marketing; where its come, and where it's going.

I have to say, it's one of the first educational discussions I've attended in a long time where I actually learned a few things. And that's the idea, right?

Four different people spoke on four different topics, which was an important part of the seminar's success in my opinion. When you are already in the industry of marketing, you don't always need an overview. You need something in depth on a specific subject that you might not be an expert in.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Extra Clicks Are A Marketer's Nightmare

I was updating my post about the new event layout on Facebook when I realized this information warranted its own post! If you're unsure what I'm referencing check it out.

Here is one more update to the events layout, albeit one I particularly am not fond of.

You used to be able to see all of the details of the event on the page. No extra clicking required, which for a marketer is VERY important. The more clicks someone has to perform, the less likely your message will get across because the reader won't bother taking the extra step. Now the page cuts off your message pretty quickly, resulting in the words see more in tiny print.

New Facebook Events Layout

Facebook has a new layout for events. Have you noticed by now?

One of the most interesting changes is instead of the previous "Attending" option, you now have the option to JOIN in lue of essentially saying "Yes, I'm attending."
Join the event? Will this make people less timid about choosing the yes option, even if they are not serious about going? If you're looking to spread the word and don't care too much about actually counting real rsvp's, this could be an advantage. However when you say Decline, the event drops off the radar, so even if you change your mind or want to check it out again, it will be gone from your events page.

And unfortunately you still can't click on an event image to make it larger, and organizations often fail to recognize this. Don't bother to upload a fancy flyer of your event with all the details, nobody will be able to see it. I usually opt to add an interesting or intriguing photo there instead, and place the detailed flyer image right on the wall of the event. This way people can click on it, enlarge it, and actually see it. Plus, this enables people to be able to share the photo on their own walls, in a message, or on other people's newsfeeds.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Emoticons in Business Communicating

This morning The Today Show reported on emoticons and whether or not they should be used in business communication. First let me state that I am not an emoticon user in general. With that said, I was still very disappointed with the bias in The Today Show report.

People seemed to agree that emoticons can help clarify a feeling or mood to a statement, however the report concluded in talking to business peers or superiors, they are a big NO. I think what was misleading was the "research" they did to come to this conclusion, as it was pretty silly.

The reporter wrote an email to her boss in a completely unprofessional manner. It started with OMG and used shortcuts like "u" instead of "you" and used vocabulary I'm pretty sure nobody would use with their corporate boss. She said she was sad because her sister's cat died and she needed all of the holidays off of work, and of course she threw a sad face emoticon in there to make it relevant.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Small Business Saturday

The day has come again- Small Business Saturday. It's incredible just how fast this movement by American Expess has been accepted and expanded in one year's time.

The idea is to get out there and buy something from your local small business. Maybe you've shopped all the Black Friday doorbusters, and maybe you're all cued up for Cyber Monday, but if everyone chose to get something at a local brick n mortar too, you'd be contributing an additional boost to a slightly different segment of the economy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SEO Tip: Renaming Photos

If you are hoping to get more views to your blog, or bring awareness to your product mix, take a look at this quick reminder.

Always rename your photos before posting them to any social media sites.

Search engines pick up the names of the files you upload, so even though nobody can see the name, you will want to change the automatic file name your camera gives a photo to something descriptive.

For example if you are selling a new fabulous jacket in your store and you take a picture of it on your model or mannequin, name the photo in detail. Don't stop at "NewJacket" but rather call it the brand name and style even. People searching the Internet will find your photo among the others in their query.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Yearly Reminder: Grow Where You're Planted

Every year I seem to need the same reminder. It has come to me from different sources, but started with one college professor. 

He was teaching us about global business, but more so than that, how to be open minded, look at problems from more than one angle, and how to see our own strengths and weaknesses. We were required to write journals every week, and in one of them I said:

"I want to make a difference in the world, but I just don't know how"

This was his response, scribbled in the margins-

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Happens in Vegas. . .

We all know the saying, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Or do we? Did you realize that's not even their slogan?

The real slogan for Las Vegas is, "What happens here stays here" but the lucky team who came up with that one had no idea what they were in for. People have branded it for them, replacing the word here with Vegas. . . all on their own.

In addition, people use that term for everything now, even for jokes like, "What happens at Grandma's House, stays a Grandma's House" which I saw printed on a bib recently.

Their newest campaign involves the slogan, "Know the Code" and really does make sense considering people are supposed to leave what happens there a mystery. No more tweeting, no late night photos, nothing embarrassing!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who Needs Electricity to Power a Snapdragon Smart Phone?

Lately I just found out about a little thing called Snapdragon. Have you heard of it? I won't tell you too much about it here. . . but after you see this video, I'm sure you will want to know more too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Are You Indispensable?

I was visiting friends the other night, and as always, interesting conversations about life came up. My friend (we'll call him Joe) was talking about his current position at one of the large corporate chain stores.

We talked about how the company is branding themselves as a high quality leader in customer service, yet is also trying to be competitively priced. Jobs keep getting cut and they are getting spread too thin to provide the kind of customer service they are advertising. We talked about his customers, how he solves their problems, and finally after hearing inadvertently how much pride he has in job, I blurted out, "Wow they are lucky to have you! You should be totally indispensable to them!!!"

His reply? "Oh, I'm totally dispensable."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Social Media: How to Avoid Automation Overkill

These days things are seamlessly connected. When you post one thing somewhere, you can usually opt to have it post everywhere at the same time. But be careful- doing so can cause your followers to see too much of a good thing or quite frankly, not enough.

Facebook to Twitter
There is an app available on Facebook that automatically puts all your posts over to your Twitter feed. This is a great time saver, as you won't have to post things twice.

But some businesses stop there, and it's apparent when you visit their Twitter page. You won't see any conversations happening, and you'll see the famous dot dot dot after the message cuts off mid sentence.

You'll also see this every time you upload new photos: I posted 2 photos on Facebook in the album "xyz".

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Marketing to Who Exactly?

This morning I was watching a show online and a commercial came on.

She's one of my best friends
She believes in me
She has awesome style
She inspires me
Together we can dream big...

It goes on and on. . .  and I thought it must be for a mentoring program, or talking about the importance of role models, or even just a shout out to "mom". But no, all this inspiring is going on by- wait for it-  Barbie.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Design Using the Colors YOU Love

I made this blog just recently, and when I was designing my header, I used two colors that many people might not like together: red and green. I don't think lime green and red look Christmasy, but I'm sure some might think it's weird when I say I love those two colors together.

Just the other day I noticed my twitter colors already matched my blog. I made my twitter years ago and it just goes to show when you have a tendency to like certain colors, you'll be happy over and over when you go with your gut and your personal style preference. And what's even better? I didn't have to do ANYTHING to make my twitter and blog matching and cohesive.

Design using the colors you love, keep it simple, and you'll always be happy with the outcome... probably for years to come.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Photos

Today I had a fall photoshoot for one of my clients. The weather was foggy, the air was crisp, and for southern CA, I couldn't have asked for more!

Here's a teaser, I'll link to the whole album once it's released.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writings: Eating with the Seasons

When I have time, I love to write for Care2. The site allows me to write about things I care about, such as local food, philanthropic fashion designers, or small businesses and the like. Here is my latest article about eating with the season of fall. Often in the grocery store, I shy away from the multitude of produce that I don't know, and it's really a shame. Eating what's in season ensures better flavor and more nutrients, especially since it doesn't need to be picked under rip and shipped across the globe.

Interested in a few of the things growing right now? Read 7 Fall Favorites: Eating With The Seasons HERE.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Small Business Should Consider Layaway This Season

In an economic hardship, customers appreciate creativity in the way businesses provide service. When the holiday promotions hit, and with big box corporations they hit hard, maybe these small companies can't afford to keep up with all the perks their competitors seem to offer. Think, free overnight shipping. . . or free shipping in general!

But there is one thing I see being offered that should be easier on the bottom line for a small businesses to handle. What about layaway? Its been making a comeback in the past few years, and now's the time to start thinking about strategies on how to use this great tool.

Offering customers the ability to make payments ahead of time could especially come in handy for those selling expensive handmade items, or high quality products that people feel on the fence about due to the financial commitment.
What other things can a small business do to compete for attention this holiday season?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

HP Lays Off 500 San Diegans

It's sad, but true. The entire software unit is gone. But a friend of mine wants to let the misplaced Ex HP peeps know,  Sweet Labs is hiring!

Check out their website and see if it's a match!

"We build products that empower developers to offer users a richer and more compelling application experience. Today, we do that through two unique platforms: Pokki, a powerful platform that brings media-rich web applications directly to the desktop; and the OpenCandy Software Network, which offers user-friendly software recommendations through the download and installation process. Our ultimate goal is to help developers deliver useful, entertaining and informative applications to consumers across any device."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blockbuster Targets Netflix Customers

So the news it out: Netflix is reversing its decision to separate streaming and dvd rentals. I honestly didn't care about the split (read my post on Qwikster) so I am not necessarily moved by the news. On to more interesting things...

I noticed Blockbuster is targeting Netflix customers with a special deal just for them.

For one disc out at a time it costs $9.99, just about the same thing I pay for Netflix and my beloved red envelope. So why would I change?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hmmm. . . It's THAT easy to win a million dollars?

There's been chatter amongst my friends about the new McDonald's commercial. I had already formed an opinion from a marketing perspective, but I found others talking about it for a different reason.

If you just won a million dollars, would you simply look at your friends, cock your head to the side, twirl your hair with your finger and say, "Hey! A million dollars! Cool huh?"

That's sort of what people are making fun of with the new commercial. The girl finds out she wins a million dollars and this is how she reacts? Looks like the way I would respond to winning a free Oreo Flurry.

Personally I had not noticed that originally. I was busy concentrating on their tricky marketing message where they depict 1 in 4 as having a chance of winning a million dollars. They show 4 girls, as if any of you can go in to McDonalds with 3 of your friends and it's likely one of you will win!

It's sort of a myth in marketing when you use the old "1 in 2 people" trick, that its got to be YOU or ME. I'm sorry to say it doesn't work that way.

This commercial made me go "hhhmmmmm".

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs: The Game Changer

I was shocked when I heard Steve Jobs died. I'm not sure why, since I know he had been battling cancer for a long time. But I guess it was one of those things you just don't think will really ever happen. And although he was the topic of many conversations between my husband and I, I can't say I really thought about him a whole lot in day to day life. So in essence, it shocked me.

I remember when I was dorky for using a mac. Now I'm just like everybody else, and for good reason. We've had apple computers since I was old enough to reach up and bang on the keyboard. I was born in 1983, just a year before the infamous 1984 Superbowl commercial that has caused debate, praise, and criticism alike. It was the announcement of their first ever personal computer.

We studied this commercial in one of my marketing classes in college, and it's one of the few advertisements that stuck with me after graduation, past the overkill of information we endure throughout the years. What I remember is this:

Steve Jobs was super into this ad, he loved the commercial. But when he showed the board of directors they absolutely hated it. Steve and his counterparts chose to air it anyway, and it has made history ever since. In other words, Steve Jobs: The Game Changer.

A lot of people say Apple has become the "big brother" it rebelled against in this 1984 commercial. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Big Idea: The Half Chair

The people next to us at the SF music festival had these bad boys set up. Seems like a good idea to me, especially when you have to walk really far for an all day sit down event. **Note the guy in the background using his backpack for this very purpose!

Has anyone used these? Are they as cool as I think they are? And what are they even called? I tried searching an assortment of names but came up empty handed.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Workless Weekend

I just got home from a weekend in San Francisco. Three whole nights computer and work FREE. It was a challenge to leave it all behind, but I needed it.

Is it possible to travel to SF on a budget? It's hard, I can tell you that. But not impossible! The vacation started off with an airport Corona and some really good news. As we were getting to know the people at the next table in the LAX airport, we opened up about our plans to visit the city on a strict budget. We were staying with a friend Thursday and Friday night but were still figuring out Saturday.

As I was jabbering on about life, budgets, and goals (and the conviction I feel in reaching said goals) the unbelievable happened! The kind strangers exchanged a look. One was already picking up his phone and said, "Should I?" As the other said, "YES!" and boom. They had set us up in a spare room in their SF home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

No More Netflix

When I received the email that Netflix was becoming Qwikster, I was kind of upset. Then after a little while I realized I'd get over it and I'd soon forget the difference (minus the super cheesy spelling).

Just like Ceo Reed Hastings said, we have come to love our little red envelope. So to appease us who are attached to the excitement of receiving our traditional Netflix package, the Qwikster's will also be arriving in the cheery red color we anticipate. He also said that streaming and dvd rentals are two totally different things. And he's right!

Why do I care if I sign on one site to order a movie, and a different site to watch something streaming? You rarely do those two things at the same time anyway.  And just as I'm sure they're hoping, over time I'll totally forget that Qwikster was ever Netflix. No big deal, why is everyone having such a hard time with this?

Anyway my actual reason for writing the post was because I had an interesting thought. Do you think the little hole in the red envelope is so people can peek in and see what movie is inside? Do you think it might help stop people from stealing the movies?

Once before I was a subscriber, I got a Netflix in my mail box.  I can't lie, I was curious what was inside of it, so I peeked. Civil War History Channel something or other. Hhhmm no thanks.

NOT to say I'd have opened it, watched it, and sent it back, but you never can tell. It made me think. If it hadn't had a little hole for me to look through, would my curiosity have gotten the better of me? Probably not, but it makes me wonder if Netflix has questioned this same thing and if that is why it's there.

Otherwise it's probably there for a much less romantic reason, such as providing a way to scan it in even quicker at the post office. Yeah, it's probably that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blogger's Makeover

I'm a blog minimalist by nature, but even Google's blogspot blogger was too simple for me to recommend to my clients. . . until now.

Most people recommend Wordpress as their blog of choice due to its customization abilities and great plug ins. BUT I never do because I want them to have something simple enough to update and change around themselves.

And even though Typepad has a monthly fee, I used to recommend it because it offered things most other blogs didn't, such as built in analytics and Seo optimization. But blogger's stepped it up, finally. And it's free!

Here are the best things about the new Blogger:
  • Ability to split a post and create a "read more" link
  • Big white space to write in, not a tiny window
  • Ability to upload all pictures for the blog at one time
  • Ability to schedule posts
  • Built in analytics
 It's not perfect, but it's definitely one of my favorite blog platforms now, and the updates have allowed me to start using it again myself!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hand That Guides The. . . Cucumber

Today I was faced with a decision. Organic cucumber or regular? I usually opt for the organic one since all the vitamins are found in the skin (thanks professor Hamerly for setting me straight) and I can feel better about leaving them on when it's organic.

In the check out line I noticed the cashier rang me up for a normal one. Hmmmmm. What to do? It's only about a 60 cent difference, would the grocery store giant really notice? My first instinct was to let it slide. But then I realized I wanted my dollar to make an impact and reflect the demand for more local and organic produce. Damn, honesty prevails.

I spoke up, "Oh, you rang me up for a regular cucumber, and I bought an organic one."

He gave me a look that eluded I was about to receive the best news of my life, "That's ok," with a little wink and smirk.

"Well, I was just thinking that the grocery store should know."

"They've been kind of mean lately," he trailed off. So it's my lucky day!

I guess he didn't realize I wanted that cucumber to mean something more. Do you tell the cashier when they've forgotten something or made a mistake? Does the employee ever care?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Big Idea: Crumpled City

I like to think I'm pretty clever at times. But I still fall victim to the frustration of folding a map. The lines are already there, why can't I just follow them?

This is one idea I came across that I just can't pass up. Crumple maps! Just crumple it up when you're done, and stuff it in your bag. Wohoo, that's my kind of organization.

Oh yeah, they are also totally weather proof so feel free to bust it out and use it as a make-shift umbrella or spill your coffee on it. Bon Voyage! To learn more read all about them here.