Surviving Sandy

Our hearts go out to those struggling with the loss of loved ones and property after Sandy. Luckily, our offices have regained power and we are available to assist you when you are ready to get back to business.

Below are some helpful resources and tips from www.ready.gov about how to survive after Sandy.

  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
  • The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

If you’re one of the more fortunate ones and want to help your neighbors, you can Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You also might want to check out the Long Island Volunteer Center at www.longislandvolunteercenter.org.

Launching Your Brand on Pinterest

Many marketers have heard of Pinterest, but despite this, most brands have yet to hop on the hottest new social network. Pinterest has quickly become one of the top five referring traffic sources for several apparel retailers. A study by Shareaholic in January showed that Pinterest drove only a fraction less referral traffic than both Twitter and Google, and more than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.

For those brands looking to develop a Pinterest presence, try these seven simple steps.

1. Reserve Your Space

Just like you would reserve a Twitter handle for your brand, secure a Pinterest user name. Some Pinterest members are already using brand names and logos for which they have no affiliation.

Some brands have jumped in to reserve their spaces without yet posting any content, including Karen Millen and Diane von Furstenberg. Registration only takes just a minute; plus you can use the graphics and profile information from your existing Twitter or Facebook page.

2. Leverage Your Brand Values

Think color, style and brand values. You’ve already invested in expensive photography to showcase your products. This is where you can leverage that investment and bring your brand alive.

Pinterest allows you to display big, high-quality images. Don’t limit your pins to straight product shots, but leverage your entire catalog of photography.

3. Themes, Not Product Promotion

Pinterest is centered around interests, like weddings, baby showers, home décor, gifts, recipes, color, etc. Leverage these themes by creating mood boards relevant to your brand and its latest styles. These mood boards should convey a consistent image, not be a simple look book of your products. Scatter your products throughout the board, but be careful to make sure that you are also mixing external content which echoes your product themes.

For example, West Elm built an “aquamarine” mood board. There are only three West Elm products on this page; the others are images from around the web, each of which expands on the theme.

4. Include Prices

Prices help customers to identify particular items for sale. For example, Gap included a price banner by typing the dollar value in the pin description. Remember, however, to make price changes when items go on sale.

5. Use Hashtags

Many people are unaware that Pinterest supports hashtags, similar to Twitter. Because of the theme nature of Pinterest, hashtags can offer organization support. For example, tagging each of the pinned photographs “#aquamarine” increases the chances that the West Elm mood board be found in search. As Pinterest grows, this will become increasingly important.

Moreover, the sharing tools built into Pinterest will automatically pick up your hashtags, so when your pins are shared or repinned, they’ll carry your hashtags with them.

6. Add the “Pin It” Button

Add the Pinterest “Pin It” button to your ecommerce site, right next to your Facebook Like button. This makes it easy for your website visitors to add images from your product pages directly to their boards.

7. Engage with the Community

Like all other social networks, you need to listen and engage, not simply broadcast your message. Try allowing members of the community to post to your boards, but be sure to monitor activity for appropriate content. When users upload their own pins to your boards, your themed boards will grow and you’ll quickly become part of the community fabric.

8. A Word of Caution

When you are pinning your brand’s photographs, it’s clear you are not infringing anyone else’s copyright — they are your images. But when you add images from across the web, you don’t own that content. And as a brand, you are using it for commercial purposes. This is a legal gray area, and should be reviewed with your in-house counsel.

2. Leverage Your Brand Values


Think color, style and brand values. You’ve already invested in expensive photography to showcase your products. This is where you can leverage that investment and bring your brand alive.

Pinterest allows you to display big, high-quality images, like this full-page Nordstrom image. Don’t limit your pins to straight product shots, but leverage your entire catalog of photography.


3. Themes, Not Product Promotion

Siri and SEO

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Siri is Apple’s new voice recognition app that allows users to control their cell phones verbally.  She can update your calendar, check the weather, set reminders, play music, and even write and send emails and texts. Pretty cool, but the real impact of Siri isn’t just that she acts like a personal assistant. The potentially huge implications for SEO come from the information Siri is able to access and the range of actions she can perform.

For example, Siri can locate the nearest Italian restaurant by automatically processing information about local Italian restaurants in response to the query, ‘Italian restaurants Port Jefferson’. Automating the search process means you never type ‘Italian restaurants Port Jefferson’ into Google, avoiding the traditional search engine results pages and pay-per-click advertisements entirely.

How exactly Siri collects and processes information is not fully known, but it’s reasonable to assume that the program is drawing on well-cultivated public data sources, including Google Places, Yelp and similar sites. If Siri is eventually able to pull information from third party apps — as many predict she will be — she could effectively eliminate traffic to traditional websites.

So what do you need to do to make your business website as accessible as possible to Siri and related voice recognition tools?

  • Optimize your website for mobile. This isn’t new advice, as the rules for mobile SEO have been around for years. But as some sources estimate that 30 percent of all searches could include a local component by 2015, it’s more important than ever to make local SEO a priority for your business.
  • Add a mobile site template. Having users land on a mobile version of your website will make them much happier, and it isn’t difficult to do, as mobile-ready themes already exist for publishing platforms including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
  • Enhance your local SEO. Prominently feature your physical address, local phone number and operating hours on the home page of your site for maximum local SEO benefits.
  • Remove obstructions. Yes, Flash graphics and Javascript are already “no-no’s” when it comes to mobile optimization, but also consider how easily Siri can access the information on your site. Burying pertinent information in PDFs and sub-pages could put your site at a disadvantage.
  • Diversify your digital presence. It’s no longer enough to simply set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter and call it a day. Instead, establish a profile on any of the following directories and review sites and encourage customers to rate your business there for maximum exposure. To determine which of these options are the best fit for your business, do a quick search to see which business sites in your geographic area and industry are ranking well in Google and create profiles on whichever of the following sites they’re using.
  • Google Places
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Local
  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • Citysearch
  • Superpages
  • Yellow Pages

Tips to build your email list

    desktop solutions email marketing

  1. Ask everyone that comes to your place of business. Put a sign-up sheet at your register or reception desk. Ask callers on the phone. If you’re a webbased operation, send a follow-up after an order asking if they’d like to continue to hear from you. Have your employees and staff ask too. Don’t be shy! Studies have shown that over half of people will provide their email addresses if asked.
  2. Ask people you meet in professional settings. There’s a lot of networking going on at trade shows, conferences, seminars, and industry events—tell your new contacts about your email newsletter and ask them to subscribe, too!
  3. Many email marketing programs, like Constant Contact, have specials to make it easy for users to sign people up. There are also easy-to-use buttons and widgets to help you capture people’s interest in you. Put them on your website, Facebook page, blog, LinkedIn profile and in your outgoing emails. They’re easy to use. People just click on the link or button and get taken to your quick sign-up page. Their email goes automatically into your contact database. Couldn’t be easier!
  4. Don’t forget about social media. People love to share information. Use our Social Share bar so your subscribers can forward your newsletter, put it on Facebook, or Tweet it—and make it easy for their friends to join your list!
  5. Cross-promote yourself with a related business or organization. Got a good relationship with a business that’s complementary to yours (such as florists and chocolate stores; theaters and neighborhood bistros)? Promote each other in your respective newsletters by being “guest contributors” and writing a newsletter article for their audience, either one time or on an ongoing basis. You’ll also benefit by the perceived endorsement from the other business, making their subscribers more willing to join your list.
  6. Use incentives to get new signups. Offer a monthly prize drawing or freebie like a guide, discount, or giveaway to entice people to leave their email address. If you have employees, run a contest (with a great motivating prize, of course!) to see who gets the most new names in a certain period of time.
  7. Promote your email newsletter in all your printed collateral. Put a simple message on your business cards, brochures, advertisements, sales kits, and direct mail letters. Some ideas:
  • “Sign up for our email newsletter for insider information and discounts at [your URL].”
  • “Get our monthly newsletters with tips on how to get more business.”
  • “Receive our weekly email newsletter for exclusive coupons.”
  • “Let’s stay in touch often. Sign up for our email newsletter.”
  • “Ask us about our email newsletter.”

How to Create a Winning Email Blast

Email marketing is a great way to establish a strong relationship with the customer. But more often than not, firms under utilize or misuse this valuable tool, and are then disappointed in the results. People often as us, “How do I create an email that people actually read?” Well, one way to get and maintain your clients attention is to be a little creative about the content and structure of your emails. The kind information you include speaks volumes about your brand, and is an excellent way to showcase your company’s personality. For many clients, the following is a helpful outline to follow when creating your own email blast.

1) Start with something interesting

Don’t always launch into a hard sell right away. Beginning with some kind of interesting content that relates to your business is a great way to begin. This could be trivia about your product, something about how your products are produced, a note about your firm’s history, a joke related to your industry, a question that you want to explore, a helpful tip, etc. Please note that this does not necessarily have to be original content, it can be gleaned from third party sources. The important thing is to make it interesting and fun, and somehow related to the particular product or service being promoted.  Don’t go crazy, a couple of paragraphs will suffice. An example could be:

Krazy for Kona

Kona coffee is the market name for coffee (Coffea arabica) cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Only coffee from the Kona Districts can be described as “Kona”. The weather of sunny mornings, cloud or rain in the afternoon, little wind and mild nights combined with porous, mineral rich volcanic soil, creates favorable coffee growing conditions.

Because of the rarity and price of Kona coffee, some retailers sell “Kona Blends”. These are not a combination of different Kona coffees, but a blend of Kona and Colombian, Brazilian or other foreign coffees. Usually they contain only the minimum required 10% Kona coffee and 90% cheaper imported beans. At Coffee Specialties, we sell only 100% Kona Coffee!

2) Give them some benefits or a testimonial

This section should outline a few bullets about what’s good about the product or service that’s related to the info above. It can be in the form of a ‘Did You Know?’ kind of format, or perhaps feature a testimonial from a client. Again an example might be:

What do people like about Kona?

Many people tell us they like Kona because it has the boldness of some of the darker blends without the corresponding bitterness. Personally, I just like imagining myself in Hawaii when I’m drinking it. It’s like a vacation in every cup.

3) Make an Offer

After the content, an offer to purchase it or even other varieties should come next. The offer should include some kind of incentive that the customer would not find on the regular website. It should be something for email customers only so they have the feeling of exclusivity. For inducing trial of new products, a discount usually works. Having the offer in the form of a coupon can help it stand out visually and receive more click throughs. Something like this should suffice:

Kona Koupon

While I can’t offer my customers a tasting trip to Hawaii, I can help you get a taste of the island with a special offer for email customers only. Click here to order one 16 oz. bags of Kona Coffee and get 10% off at checkout. Offer good until August 15, 2011.

4) Cross sell

Having another product or service featured below or on the side of the main offer is great way to introduce new products to your customers. Making this sidebar a regular feature of your emails is a great way to point out the diversity of your line. Highlighting similar items (‘you might also like’), complementary products (‘folks that bought this also bought this’) or even unrelated items can increase average order amounts.

Coffee Maker of the Month

Check out the Bunn Thermofresh 10 Cup Coffee Brewer. This Reservoir-style home brewer makes up to 10 cups of coffee in just 3 minutes! A great way to brew your Kona!

For more information about how we can help with your email marketing program, please contact Lyn Nielsen at 631.493.3422 x. 101 or lynn@desktopsolutions.com

Email Marketing Best Practices

We recently attended a seminar from email marketing leader Constant Contact, about how to prepare a email blast that will get a good open and click through rate.While some of the techniques seem simple, it’s always good to review them and compare how your emails stack up.

1)    Subject line – Make sure to list a benefit here, and stay away from generic subject lines like “newsletter no. 4″

2)    From address – Make sure the from address is @yourcompany rather a personal email address

3)    Break up the content into easy to read sections of a few paragraphs each

4)    Use catchy headlines for each section

5)    Include links back to your site and make them clearly visible within the text of the email

6)    Put important content upfront, not at the end

7)    Make all images clickable back to your site

8)    Make links go to dedicated landing pages if possible

9)  Have join box imbedded in message if possible (so when forwarded other folks can join)

10)  Add a ‘sign up’ to your email signature and Facebook pages

11)  Be sure that the sign up form describes the kind of content they’ll be receiving, how often you will be sending it, and ask their preferences about the types of messages they prefer.

For more information about how we can help with your email marketing program, please contact Lyn Nielsen at 631.493.3422 x. 101 or lynn@desktopsolutions.com

A Desktop Client in the News

Congratulations to Service Evaluation Concepts, a Desktop client who was recently featured on such notable news sites as Yahoo News and Consumer Electronics Net. SEC announced a partnership with Jinfonet to develop it’s new customizable dashboard reporting system. SEC, A Customer Experience Management industry leader, performs market research with over 250,000 panelists to gather customer touchpoint experience intelligence. Desktop Solutions is happy to be  consulting with both firms on project architecture, management and implementation.

Yahoo News
http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20110401/bs_prweb/prweb5040434

DZone
http://www.dzone.com/links/jreport_replaces_prominent_reporting_solution.html

Consumer Electronics Net
http://handhelds.consumerelectronicsnet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=1425152

NewsGuide.us
http://newsguide.us/pc/computer-news/databases/8645-jreport-replaces-prominent-reporting-solution.html

Digital Journal
http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/264944

Benzinga
http://www.benzinga.com/press-releases/11/03/p967674/jreport-replaces-prominent-reporting-solution

TMCNet.com
http://technews.tmcnet.com/news/2011/03/31/5415853.htm

iPad Latest
http://www.ipadlatest.com/news/Press+Releases/20110331/21001849/JReport-Replaces-Prominent-Reporting-Solution.htm

Desktop Client Featured on WSJ.com

JD MatchCongratulations to JD Match, a Desktop client that was featured on The Wall Street Journal Law blog. JD Match, which is largely the brainchild of law-firm consultant and writer Bruce MacEwen, who will serve as the company’s president, will “match” law students with firms, much in the way matching services pair up medical students and residency programs. The site is scheduled to go live April 20th.

Mobile predictions for 2011

Mobile development really exploded in 2010, largely due to a huge surge in the adoption of smartphones, and the popularity of the iPad and the iPhone.

A lot of clients ask us what kind of mobile apps makes sense for their business, and if they are worth investing in considering the cost and the rapidly changing technology. After all, is what’s hot today still going to be relevant tomorrow? This is especially true for mobile technology, where the landscape can change in a period of six months, let alone in a year.

While no one can totally predict the future, here are five predictions for what we will see happen in mobile in 2011, compliments of the folks at mashable.

1. Tablets will become even more popular, as competitors to the ipad enter the market.
2. Mobile video sharing will increase as bandwidth improves.
3. HTML5 will make customizing apps for specific devices easier.
4. Flash (or the lack of it) still won’t matter.
5. We will likely see a Verizon iphone.

Based on the how mobile will continue to change the way we communicate, I think it’s safe to say that businesses who ignore its impact will do so at their peril.

Looking to develop a mobile app or mobile version of your website? Feel free to contact us at lynn@desktopsolutions.com to see how we can help!

The Power of Social Media!

The Gap has dumped its new logo after only a week, due to overwhelming criticism on social media sites. The new logo, featuring plain text with a blue box received over 2,000 negative comments on Facebook. A Twitter account set up in protest collected nearly 5,000 followers and a “Make your own Gap logo” site went viral on the internet, producing nearly 14,000 parody versions. A true testament to the power of social media and the effect it can have on a brand’s perception.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/oct/12/gap-logo-redesign

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