Growing up with Sisters: Playing FourSquare

Growing up in the 70′s with three sisters, it was only natural to have an afternoon game of foursquare. My youngest sister would bring out the chalk, while I had the steadiest hand and was assigned to drawing the boxes. To start the game, it was understood that my oldest sister was in the top corner, as she was the matriarch of the family and each of us started in our appropriate squares, eventually working our way to the #1 spot.

Today, if I mention to my sisters that I just checked-in with foursquare I receive a puzzled look from each of them, almost as if, “I cannot believe she is still playing that game”. Well girls, you need to check this out. Foursquare today is a little different from when we were growing up. It is cool, interactive and of course, you can play it on your smartphone.

This morning my husband and I took our normal Saturday drive, stopping at the local farm stand, stopped at a sidewalk sale at Home Accents, followed by a browse thru an antique dealer on route 1, and finally grabbing a cup of soup at the new Mainely Wraps.  To my dismay, none of these local businesses were registered with foursquare. Being excited about my download, I wanted nothing more than to check in and start accumulating points. I wanted to be crowned mayor!

Better luck next week.

 

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Why use social media for your business: Facebook and Twitter

It is becoming increasingly apparent that social media and in particular Facebook and Twitter are becoming a standard advertising methods for businesses. Static websites are becoming old technology and are being replaced by blog sites such as WordPress. Our digital world is changing and people (think: customers) are becoming accustomed to engaging with people and businesses instantaneously. In fact, President Obama declared the US as a nation of “Google and Facebook” in his 2011 State of the Union Address.

You will notice that social media icons/buttons are being added to websites, e-newsletters, email marketing and blogs. Customers have the ability to “Like” your products and posts and repost your information on their Facebook page. Also customers can “Retweet” items of interest on Twitter. What happens then? Your business product, blog, information is instantly shared with that customers group of friends, family and colleagues. This passing along of information from is called viral marketing.

According to Constant Contact Viral is defined as “When a piece of content on the Internet is shared organically, without prodding or encouragement from the business, organization, or person who created it, it is said to have “gone viral.” This means it has been shared on social networks, posted and reposted, tweeted and retweeted multiple times.”

We get asked frequently if a business should have a Facebook Page and Twitter Account. In today’s online world and communication methods our answer is YES.

So let us recap and expand on why your business should be on Facebook and Twitter:

  • Facebook and Twitter allows two additional methods of increasing your brand awareness.
  • They allow opportunities to expand the online profile of a businesses.
  • They allow businesses to engage and interact instantly with the online community.
  • Social Media sites have SEO (Search Engine Optimization) through dynamic and changing content.
  • Social Media generates increased brand and product exposure through viral marketing.
  • Facebook offers a large variety of applications that can reflect the nature of your products and services.
  • Facebook fans can “Check-In” via their mobile device at your business which instantly updates their personal page with information about your business.
  • Facebook Insights can offer businesses a way to researching the demographics of their fans and view the success of their posts.
  • Facebook and Twitter are searchable in search engines such as Google.
  • They allow businesses to share specials, offers and offer incentives to potential clients.

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Localism

Several, several years ago a close friend emphasised the importance to shop our “Main Street” for the holidays.  He also explained the importance of spending our own dollars locally and how in turn that act stimulates our local economy. Since that time we strive individually and as a small business to promote shopping at locally own businesses.

Our clients are primarily local small businesses and independent contractors. Through them we continue to see first hand how local spending habits and local support positively impacts the success of their businesses. These same business owners are diligent about returning their personal dollars into their communities.

We want to thank those individuals who have stepped forward in support of their communities and those who have acknowledged our efforts. 

And another plug – Shopping locally is a year around activity (not just for the holidays). Try buying building supplies at a locally owned hardware store and your socks from a local department store or boutique.

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What will my kids remember?

Photo from:
 http://www.intellivisiongames.com/history.php

I grew up in the 1980s with a tv that was encased in wood and had 12 numbers on a turn dial knob. I was excited when Atari, Intellivision, Beta and VHS came out.  The sounds of Space Invaders and Frogger are still quite clear in my head.  Now all of these systems have been replaced by certainly more impressive systems.

When it comes to computers, phones and software…some of my friends might call me a nerd. I truly love to see how I can use new technology in my business. BUT when it comes to television – I’m slow to catch up. My excuse is that I don’t watch much television.

Recently on a trip to Best Buy I was shocked by the slashed prices on flat screen televisions. Then recently while computer shopping online I noticed that Sony was about to launch their Internet ready television which comes with a mini keyboard.  Apple has a similar product – AppleTv.  These Internet televisions intrigue me  - I can’t wait to try them out.

It makes me wonder though – When my kids are my age… what technology will be obsolete?

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The professional photo?

I spent some time last night on a major real estate industry site - Realtor.com.  I must say that I was shocked by the number of real estate agents who still use professional photos that appears to be the original professional photo taken back when the agent first earned their license. 

According to the National Association of REALTORS, nine (9) out of ten (10) home buyers use the intenet to search for homes.  In addition to viewing homes, these buyers use agent photographs and biographies to determine who they want to work with.  Buyers like to work with brokers that they can identifiy with. Now ask yourself, what does your photo say about you?

Yes, most of us want to imagine ourselves in our younger years (perhaps skinner and with less grey hair). But - Why? As a real estate agent you should present yourself and be proud of an accurate you. Show your age, personality, experience and your style.

This new photo doesn’t need to be an expensive photo studio head shot.  Grab a fellow broker or family member and go outside to an identifiable location in your market area or stand next to an architecturally rich building feature. Have fun, snap a few shots and then enlist someone to help format the photo for use on your MLS, Realtor.com and other industry websites.

So if your current photograph showcases you with big bangs that look hardened by Aqua Net… it is truly time for a new photo.

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Shop Locally!

This poster was developed by the Camden Rockport Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce and the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. It is so very important to shop locally, especially when the holiday season is upon us.

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Highest Priority

I start the day by looking at the to do list that I (hopefully) created the night before. And with multiple items on the list I tend to want to tackle all the small quick tasks.  By starting out this way I can start checking off these countless items and feel as though I have tackled quite a bit of my work load.

The problem… while I work away at those small items – the larger projects or those with the soonest deadlines sit like dead weight on my shoulders.  The to-do list lesson? Try to tackle the item(s) on your to-do list that have the closest deadline or that have the highest priority.  Once those items are complete your stress load and the weight on your shoulders will lessen.

And all those little tasks? They are just as easily tackled and checked off once the largest burdens are complete.

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Transforming the dream into a reality

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” - Napoleon Hill

Every new business starts with that thought, the dream, the imagination. Perhaps it is the quest for self dependence that drives us to become entrepreneurs. Perhaps it is the dream of filling a void in the marketplace with your special service or invention.  Perhaps it is just your inner voice that keeps suggesting various business ideas.
 
And after the business idea is solid in your mind what do you do with it?  Our business development clients tend to ask: Where do I begin? How do I find the courage to dive in?  Who do I contact?

Maine is a wonderfully helpful state with many resources. There are organization such as Coastal Enterprises, Inc. ( CEI ) and the Small Business Association ( SBA ) that offer group programs and one-on-one business counseling. Also there are several regional based economic development groups with connections and insight into their service area. Explore these resources, visit their websites and reach out for assistance. You will be amazed by the options available.

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Where is that sticky note?

Guilty… I’ve written down notes, appointments, phone numbers and messages on the back of bank deposit slips, sticky notes and incoming mail. And when I need the information I struggle to remember or find that tiny piece of paper that I used for my scribbling. 

This hodge podge effort becomes a huge waste of my time. And I know that I would be better off using my smart phone, computer or simple notebook to keep my notes. And not all three of these at the same time… just one consistent method that I will carry and use diligently.

Remember the day timer? I thought the daytimer went away when the Palm Pilot took over. And now with smartphones – I don’t know of anyone who still carries a Palm. It seemed funny to me last month when a friend of mine ordered inserts for his 20 year old daytimer binder. That being said, it is smart that he realizes that he will not use (does not like to use) his smartphone for keeping track of information. Kudos to him for finding his way back to using something that works for him.

So once again… as summer winds down, I will find my way back to routine and consistent organization. All my notes, appointments and contacts in one place.  And despite how lovely my monogrammed daytimer  was… I personally will be choosing something that requires a battery.

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Where are you going?

The audience only pays attention as long as you know where you are going.  –Philip Crosby

Métier is working with several local established and new businesses that are planning their next big step, are goal setting or are asking the logical question “what can I do to get more customers”.

I ran into this quote today that certainly could be related to businesses. It is true, so long as a company is just rambling along, with no goals or deliberate steps forward their audience (customers) will not pay attention. Think of all those company signs you see yet have no idea what they actually do or who owns them.  These silent, arm chair owners open their door each morning and hope their sign is enough to draw customers in.

I am attracted to businesses that engage me by frequently by pushing their product or branding in front of my eyes.  This effort need not be an aggressive sales pitch but a subtle reminder that they are available. 

Having a business plan greatly helps to identify where you are going. It should include at minimum - what your identity is (who are you and what do you do?), purpose and what your goals are.

Does your audience knows where your business is going?

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