Why business networking is important today

We are now seeing businesses in all sectors beginning to be open. From indoor dining, to theme parks, to retailers, and concerts are now allowing people to gather. Companies are encouraging their employees to return back to work.

So why should you network?

Business Networking is a powerful tool that when used correctly, it can further your business growth. Remember that networking is about “give” and “take”.

• The way you operate your business is different today than it was just a year ago. To continue being successful over the next few years, you need to be more proactive. When you network with other retail business owners and marketing people, it will give you more insight how different industries are improving their brand and reaching new customers. You may be surprised to learn that other business owners have experienced similar problems as industries are opening up. Plus, you could learn what potential employees are now looking for versus what they wanted a few years ago. This could give you a different perspective on running your business.

• Networking is the best way to continue learning what has worked for others and what hasn’t. Your probably saying that your company is doing great, and wonder what could I possibly learn? Sharing experiences with others can help you understand how their businesses are handling this new era. Being involved will position you and your business as someone willing to help others and give you credibility. Listening to the different advice could equally improve your staff’s workplace skills, such as; how they deal with customers and how they are attracting new customers. Business Networking will keep you aware of new technologies and software, which is continually being developed to further streamline the sales process and billing departments. For example, by discussing what others are using, it can save you valuable time and money to find the right software that could work better for your business.

• Share how your staff has adjusted to the pandemic to improve a customers experience to be more enjoyable. Other networkers will then discuss their ideas and what they are doing to retain their top employees. We all know that your staff wants to be paid more money, but that isn’t the only reason to keep good employees. Their working environment, how they are appreciated and the culture of the business are critical factors in keeping employees.

• Networking will give you additional opportunities. Meeting other business owners will create new relationships to expand your brand into markets that you might not have previously considered. This could promote new joint ventures, or partnerships in a co-op program, and more. It will further expand your resources that can be valuable when additional services are needed such as bookkeeping, accounting, lawyers, investors, financing, marketing, digital media, etc.

• A few tips to prepare you to become a business networker.

  1. Have an elevator speech ready that describes you and your business when meeting new people.
  2. Be willing to help others, give good advice.
  3. Know what you want from a network experience, remember, sharing is important to build trust and respect in a business network group.
  4. Be positive, don’t complain about everything rather discuss ways to improve a situation.

Use resources such as LinkedIn Groups or Facebook Groups to find the right business networks that meet your needs, and remember to share your experiences.

How to improve your website with optimized photos

Everyone knows by adding images and videos to websites and blogs it

can help visitors stay longer. That’s partly true. More importantly, do you just insert them or did you optimize them? Making an image “smaller” in size to load faster isn’t optimizing them. Why? Because search engines are much smarter how they view sites with images, and it can affect your rankings. You might be thinking “hey, I optimize my images by naming them”.  You need to do more than naming images.

Over the years I have named my images because search engines need content to identify and rank a site. Therefore, images need to be identified. If you ignore doing this, then SEO’s will rush through your pages and move on to sites that are more optimized. But wait, things are changing. Yes, it’s still important to name all your images. Now I’ll explain how to correctly optimize your images according to the new methods search engines are using.

The following information is what I found in the Yoast Report https://yoast.com/image-seo/#caption

by Michiel Heijmans. He is a partner and COO at Yoast.

After reading my post, check out his full report for a deeper explanation of how he explains the best ways to optimize your images.

Using images.

Michiel says, using the right image is as important as naming them. Try to avoid using stock photos. If you need to, then make sure it relates to your content. And naming an image correctly is also critical. He continues by saying “an image with related text ranks better for the keyword it is optimized for.” That means you should position your image close to the text that is relevant.

Identifying images.

The report breaks down very clearly the various steps you need to take to optimize images, charts, illustrations, etc. For example, choose the right file name. Don’t use a file name from a camera photo (such as DSC4536); rather name it using the main subject of the article/blog. An example would be if your article or blog were about a specific event (like a golf tournament, or a sports event, or a person) put the subject of the photo at the beginning of the file name.


Using JPEG, PNG or WebP is important. JPEG’s will give you a smaller file size when inserting photos or illustrations, while WebP can produce high-quality smaller file sizes. Using a reduced file size alone without optimizing it can reduce SEO’s reviewing your page(s). If you are real savvy and have specific audiences such as RVers, then know what types of browsers they use to know the preferred format. Check out this resource to find out what format is supported by browsers: CanIuse.com


Why should you use captions? Because according to Michiel, people use them when scanning an article. Have you noticed yourself scanning headings, images and captions when you view a web page? This adds a positive experience for visitors.

FACT: according to KissMetrics, “Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”

Another significant point to know; mobile devices now represent over 52% how people are viewing websites, doing searches, purchasing products, etc. So make sure your images are responsive as well as your website.

OpenGraph and Twitter Cards

This may not be a big deal, but since you are optimizing images, consider doing this. When you add the following HTML image tag to the <head> section, it will make sure your images are included in your share on Facebook as well as Pinterest.

The code is:

<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/link-to-image.jpg” />

I hope these tips about optimizing images will help you maintain good, high rankings to stay ahead of the competition. If you need more help with your website or social media, give us a call. We can help update your site. We’re only a phone call away!

Reasons To Continue Advertising During The Pandemic

Few industries are seeing positive sales increases during the pandemic, yet they wonder why should they advertise. If you manufacture sanitizing solutions, paper towels, and gloves or provide the services of selling essential products, then you probably are not interested in building your brand. Few businesses such as Amazon, Walmart (who has re-developed their online business), grocery and food delivery services are also enjoying this hey-day of sales, and so are RV dealerships and RV campgrounds. This will all change in 2021.  Businesses like restaurants, car dealerships, beauty salons, retail stores, and small businesses, should maintain their branding or it can be disastrous for them next year.

Branding and name recognition are going to be key for business survival.

What are you doing to prepare for the next several months and next year?

Have you written or updated your business plan to meet today’s marketing needs? If not, let’s discuss some reasons and solutions for you to consider.

Various states are updating their pandemic requirements to adjust our lifestyle activities. Fortunately for the RV industry, it is having a surge of sales and RV rentals that it hasn’t seen in over a decade. But soon their consumer-buying spree will peak. Your business may not be experiencing this activity, that’s why you need to be proactive.

Having a positive brand is critical to continue a business and to grow. It’s important to let your potential (and existing) customers know you are there for them.

You need to be developing a marketing strategy plan for the next several months so that you don’t miss future sales.

Knowing how to reach your customers and keep your name in front of them can be achieved by implementing different marketing strategies. We are talking about other marketing strategies that extend beyond social media platforms.

First, consider traditional advertising in various local publications (print and online). Many potential customers are working from home and they have more time to read about local news, events, etc. This can be an inexpensive campaign to keep your brand alive. Be creative with your ads. Don’t oversell. Take this a step further and look at different industries where your products and services can reach new potential customers.

Another suggestion is community events. Almost every city will have a program for locals to enjoy. Even if it’s an online event, consider being a sponsor. In lieu of money, you could provide your services or products for the event, or have a display.

Charities. This is an overlooked opportunity. When your business is involved with a charity, you are recognized as a business of caring and helping others. This will have a strong impact and create a memorable, positive name. The charity can be local, regional or national. It doesn’t always require a lot of money to participate. Be open-minded.

Publicity is often thought of as writing and submitting press releases to the media. Releases are only one form of communicating with reporters. It helps them learn more about your business. Publicity is more than that. Begin by establishing a relationship with local media/reporters. Invite them to your business when you are celebrating an anniversary, expanding your services, or honoring an employee, etc. Definitely notify them when you are partnering with a charity, etc. Create a Press Kit that can be sent to reporters, and post it on your website. Update the kit regularly.

Articles. Write an article about your business. Most businesses have a unique story about how they started or interesting facts about the founders. Submit that to reporters for their consideration. Sometimes this will spark an interest for reporters to follow up to do a story about you.

Remember, keep an open mind and look for opportunities. We are living in a new era of how we communicate; doing business as usual is old school.

If you need help or want to learn how to be proactive with your marketing, reach out to a professional for support. It could be the best investment to keep your business ahead of the competition. For a FREE 1-hour consultation and analysis of your marketing plan, call George Carson.

5 Methods to Establish and Advertising Budget

For more than 50 years, businesses of all sizes have assigned an advertising/marketing budget to promote their services and products.

How they determine the amount to allocate will vary, depending on the industry, the management and the economy.

Let’s discuss the five methods that are used today and see where your business fits in.

Matching the Competition

Advertisers get caught in this trap because they believe to be competitive it requires matching what your competition is spending. For example, Coca-Cola will spend up to 18 percent (globally) of their gross income compared to Pepsi who will spend about 11.5 percent (globally).

Both are known as beverage companies, but Pepsi is also a major snack food producer. So, it doesn’t make sense for Coca-Cola, who is primarily a soft drink company, to match Pepsi. Each company has different marketing and sales problems and should not copy what others are spending.

Management Edict

This method can also be risky, whether you are an established business or a startup. Management determines a budget solely on what “they feel” they can afford. Usually justifying their position by seeing what competitors are spending, or what their business spent last year, or what amount of funds are remaining after other business expenses, etc.

To make things worse, a controller or accountant may advise what should be spent.

Percentage of Sales

This is established by using a percentage of gross sales (the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends 7 to 8 percent) and is popular because it’s simple and easy. Many young companies or startups use a “projected” gross sales figure to determine a percentage.

The problem: budgets are calculated without regards of the company’s objectives, goals, market trends, changes in the economy, etc.

The Task Method

This method is usually popular when a company is introducing a new product, service, or establishing a new image. Management wants to know what it will cost to meet their goals and sales objectives.

This has some validity, but only if you set a limited budget for a specific purpose, not use the “task method” to establish the overall advertising budget.

Task and Percentage of Sales

This is considered the best approach for most businesses. Although not without its issues. First, you should know what the average percent is used in your industry (the RV industry is about 3 to 5 percent).

Keep in mind, if you are a large RV manufacturer, or dealership with multiple stores, or a major supplier, your percentage will be smaller than someone half your size. Next, you need to look at your objectives and goals, the market size, increase in ad costs (such as media costs, digital marketing), how aggressive are your competitors, what share of the market do you want to achieve over the next year, etc.

The takeaway: Establishing the advertising budget isn’t an easy task.

It’s important to know what the advertising budget should include. For example, the ad budget covers media costs (digital and traditional), producing ad campaigns (TV and radio production), brochures, catalogs (printing of these items), package designs, logos, agency fees and services.

Areas such as publicity, events, trade shows (building of booths, attending shows), sponsorships, and sales aids are considered operational costs rather than advertising costs.

Mobile Ad Formats That Work The Best

You see them every time you open a social media app. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and a slew of others are all hoping to get the attention of the user. For several months advertisers have been testing various ad formats measuring their effectiveness. These range from standard (static) ads, animated gifs to videos. Without reading further, which format would you guess has the most impact and effectiveness? Before you read further, take a guess. Ok, let’s explore the results and see if your guess is in line with the survey.

A recent survey conducted by KARGO and MediaScience tested the three formats–standard, animated (gifs) and video to learn how consumers reacted to these different formats by gauging the fixation times and follow-up looks. At first you might not be surprised that videos do have a high “user look”, but in reality, animated ranked higher in all categories surveyed. The categories were: Users Looked At, Seconds Looked, Fixations, and Follow-Up Looks.

My guess is the animated gifs, or short animations are pleasing (most of the time) and do not take long to view. On the other hand, while videos were gaining popularity last year, and they still are a powerful way to tell a story, they become too long taking away our precious time to see other social media posts, etc. Like all survey’s, it will depend on the subject matter. For example if you are into auto racing, or fashion design, food preparation/recipes you might watch an entire video because of your interests. But then again, if you are in a hurry, you might say to yourself “I’ll go back and watch it later”…well that usually doesn’t happen.

But don’t discount the standard or video formats. The reason, all three formats when tested in the survey were close in percentages in the different categories. For example, when users were asked to “recall” the brands they saw, 42% remembered the animated format while 33% remembered the videos and 32% the standard. Even in the “Users Looked At” category this is how they ranked.

• Standard 64%
• Animated 74%
• Video 54%

And to make this more interesting, 18% of those surveyed thought videos were annoying, yet felt (37%) it was entertaining, compared to animated with 9% saying annoying and 14% said it was entertaining. As we get deeper into the study we see videos ranked higher in “creative” 54% vs 27% for animated. So who gets the “Golden Award”? Ask a creative and they say they do, ask a marketer and they want to take the credit. No matter what you do, the bottom line is to use some form of movement in your format. Why? Because it will get the attention of the user and if your creative is good, it just might get them to enjoy what they see and click on that link to learn more about your product or service.

When your company is serious about getting results, give George Carson a call. He knows how to #MakeGreatThingsHappen.

Good-Bye to another social media: Google+ to close down

Yes, even the “big” dominant media like Google recognize when it’s time to let go.
Hard to believe that it was only 7 years ago when Google decided to challenge all the social networking sites by launching its Google+.

If you are still active with Google+ you will have a few months to make your last postings before the social network is closed down. Google claims it will close in August 2019, but to be safe, I recommend quitting sooner than later.

So why did this giant company decide to call it quits? Several reasons. For one, Google+ had issues with its privacy bug. Hundreds of thousands of users had their data exposed to third-party developers back in March. But like Facebook, Google would not report the problem immediately because they didn’t want to bring attention to any regulatory scrutiny that could damage their reputation.

If you want to believe Google’s reason, they saw a big drop in usage and engagement, saying, and I quote “90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds”. Yeah, that’s another good reason!

From various sources I’ve read, it is safe to say that Google+ and +1 buttons will have no impact on rankings going forward. I hope that means Google Search will no longer look to see if your business was an active user and we can finally be ranked by our social networking, postings, podcasts, backlinks, etc.

Another reason you should feel ok, Google has admitted that today they do not use personalization in search. What that says is Google+ would show your personal assets, photos, emails, etc. that were based on your Google+ account directly in the search results. If you recall, Google suggested that searchers take their social conversations to Google+. It was a way Google was trying to drive more conversations to their social network.

With all the pressure Google put on social network users to post on their network, the more people rejected being told they had to do this or their rankings could be affected. Some businesses caved in, others chose to not be bullied. Another example you might remember. Google My Business. That name was replaced by Google Places, which later was replaced by Google+. Do you see how Google was trying to manipulate us?

Maybe this should be a lesson that all businesses can learn from. Don’t force something to work when the market isn’t buying your product or service. Look around and see how to better serve customers than make them want what you offer.

Get a “Tune-Up” of your social networks to see how they can be more effective for your business. Give George Carson a call.

What colors will change your emotions?

Studies have proven that certain colors affect how we react to daily things in life.

This is especially true in business. For decades companies have been using color to make your emotions feel good or sad about something. We see this in all industries–your doctors office, a lawyers office, retail stores, food/grocery stores, movies and even your bedroom. We all buy products off the shelf because they have a certain appeal to your emotions, and hopefully you wanted that product!

Color plays a big part in our lives and it can have a strong influence on your emotions. For example, why do many companies use “blue” for their company logo? According to the chart below, and from research, it depicts TRUST, STRENGTH and someone being DEPENDABLE. And in a doctors office you would see soft blue colors and greens to calm a person so they don’t feel anxious, or worried. Law firms are known to use green for the same reasons.

If your company is thinking about re-painting the interior, look closely at the “Emotion Guide” and ask yourself, how do I want my customers to see us–Strong, Bold, Creative, or Optimistic. You could actually control (to a point that is) an environment when you have customers enter a room. Many companies will paint each room a different color to create the mood/emotion they want their customers to be in when discussing business.

I hope this Emotion Guide helps you in your business. I know I’m still trying to figure out if a striped wall using red with a warm yellow will give the impression of a Bold and Optimistic company. Your thoughts?

Colors that have an Impact!

Colors that have an Impact!

How To Improve Your Career

7 tips you need to know!

Career Bridge

You are the only person responsible for how your career turns out. Excuses are not going to change anything, if you think otherwise, then you are starting in the wrong direction to improve your career. Follow these 7 tips and you could be the next CEO.

1-    Choose a career you like. Sounds simple, but many people get into a field or career because of the money or it was their first job. If you like it great, but if you don’t then start thinking of a career change. You cannot move forward if you have a mindset that your job is only a place to collect a paycheck.

2-    Knowledge is king. If your field of work requires more education to advance, then be proactive. Do some research to find classes to help you become a better person, or to learn a skill in your field that will help you. For example, if you lack presentation skills and your company does a lot of presentations to new customers, then take classes to learn PowerPoint, or how to conduct meetings, or join Toastmasters to improve your speaking skills.

3-    You’re not alone, only if you choose to be. Networking in person is an excellent way to get outside advice and a different perspective. Surrounding yourself with people in similar fields can improve your career advancement by letting others know of your goals and what interests you. Get familiar with people outside your company; make friends with people who work for competitors. You may learn about a new position to advance your career.

4-    Make a location change. Sometimes you need to sit back and decide if you are a big city person, or prefer the small town atmosphere. This can hamper you if for some reason you cannot stand the fast pace in a large city. Jobs are not always available in every career in big and small cities, so this is important to decide before you to stick with a career.

5-    Moving on. When you got your first job, money might have not been as important until you wanted to buy a new car, or a house, or live in a more expensive neighborhood. If you feel making more money is just as important as the career you choose, then maybe it’s time to move on. That means changing careers, not just location. As you explore new options you will eventually find the career path that meets your needs.

6-    Get online in a social way. Another form of networking is through social media. Get connected with LinkedIn and build a network of people in your career, or a career you are seeking to enter. If you have a resume, post it on sites like CareerBuilder, or Monster and The Ladders to name a few. Remember, things just don’t always happen, you need to make it happen, and becoming involved with social media can improve your career opportunities.

7-    Have good people skills. You probably hear this all the time that some people just do not work well together. Or they are not good communicators. What about those who just don’t listen closely to what you are saying and ask the same question over again. These are soft skills, or people skills. Improve these skills and you can advance your career no matter the field or location. Examples of skills to help your career would be knowing how to write proper business emails, and how to treat customers. These are just two important skills needed in business today.

APPS to help you organize your daily business activity

It is almost impossible in today’s competitive environment to keep our daily activities organized in one place.Calendars are good to know what to do that day, but you probably have other “reminder” systems in place to coordinate all your daily activities. If your business is large enough, your secretary or assistant might be that organizer for you. But not always is that person at your fingertips.

Time Management System

Organizing Business Activities

I came across a few APPS that could help you organize your activities all in one place, making life just a little simpler. I am sure there are other apps being developed during this writing, maybe even something completely different will become available making all these apps obsolete. So for now, lets look at these 5 apps.

Recently Google launched an app called Google Keep. Like many of Google’s products, the “Keep” will sync your notes with Siri (iPhone users) and Google Drive. It will color-code them for easy retrieval, construct to-do lists, compile photos, and archive notes for later viewing. If you have used Evernote, then you will most likely want to try Keep. Google is constantly improving this app to become the choice for people on the go.

Jumpchart is slightly different. For example if you are redesigning your website, Jumpchart helps you plan your website layout, view the most recent content revisions, and a lot more, all in real time. Although this app is free, the more advanced features are at a cost up to $50, but worth it if that’s what you need to help keep things organized.

For those who are concerned about accounting and billing might want to look at Harvest app. This is a time tracking app program that will help you see where your staff is spending their hours, based on time spent on each task. If you use QuickBooks, you can export these reports into that program to keep real-time reports for billable hours. Another feature of Harvest, you can create invoices with your company logo and offer clients to pay invoices online.

Here is something that many active social media people will find useful. Hootsuite. This app helps you manage all your social networks, such as Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, Facebook and Mixi accounts. It’s a great way to track your brand mentions and analyze your social traffic.

What's next?

What to do next?

If you are truly a busy entrepreneur who just cannot remember to take your iPhone charger with you, or pick up your cleaning, or need to locate a restaurant for a client lunch meeting, then look no further than WunWun. This is not free. It’s a concierge service to make sure all your needs are met and on-time. WunWun is a 24/7 service that cost $2.50 for every 5 minutes of service, or you can choose $20 flat fee for deliveries.

I am still trying to find an app that just lets me be alone for a while. Seems our lives are so packed with things to do we just cannot tear ourselves away from not knowing what is happening in the world, or what our competitors are doing next. If I find an app that lets our devices all fall asleep at the same time, I’ll pass that along to you. For now, keep organizing.

If you want to learn how to make your business more productive, then call George Carson at Carson Marketing, Inc. 949-477-9400


Can Google+ Become a Powerful Social Network?

Just like Microsoft, Google has deep pockets. But these deep pockets alone cannot make people want your service. It wasn’t long ago when Google introduced the “WAVE” which after a few months washed away. And remember when Microsoft had its search engine that just didn’t cut it. Then they got smart and re-structured their search to be the new “Bing”. With smarter marketing, publicity and knowing how to position themselves (rather than wanting to be something for everyone), Bing is slowly creeping into the Google territory taking away market share.

It doesn’t mean that Google+ will fail. What needs to be done is better street marketing. Google is good at keeping a pulse on their market, but are those who have been Facebook fans willing to change, or add another social network? Time will tell. And this time Google needs to watch closely before dumping another project, or becoming bored with it.

A recent article in WebPro News gives readers a chance to better understand how the writer, Chris Crum views the 10 obstacles Google needs to overcome in order to be a powerful social network. Many of his points are valid.

So ask yourself, do you have extra time to now add Google+ to your other networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and the many others that exist. Especially now that MySpace is trying to make a comeback. Is this market getting overcrowded–maybe. But as we have seen in the last 20 months, new and different ways to communicate are developing. Who knows, in the next 6 months all of these social networks may be old news and something more unique will connect us in an easier manner.

Learn more about how to connect using social media for your business. Contact George Carson at 949-477-9400, or visit Carson Marketing, Inc.