Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from LaMothe Services, LLC


Happy Holidays from
Sharon LaMothe
The Business of A.R.T. and
LaMothe Services, LLC

Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you…Thinking of you this holiday season!


-- T.A. Barron

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A LaMothe Book Review: The White Horse King, The Life of Alfred the Great

The White Horse King, The Life of Alfred the Great was a historical non-fiction account of pre-Britain Anglo-Saxon ruling family in the 800’s during the time of invading Danish “Norsemen” or Vikings from present day Sweden, Holland and Norway. Author Benjamin Merkle used his research to provide detailed descriptions of ruling class and peasant farmer challenges to survive not only the toil of land into harvest bounty to last the winter but to defend, defeat and eradicate invaders in longboats. This historical account accurately reveals the weaknesses of geography, infrastructure and practices of the period, how the Vikings took advantage of all of them, and how one defeated ruler in exile used his wits and wisdom to outwit, mobilize locals, raise and army and navy, inspire, educate and lead his country from a collection of conquered near-extinct city-states and regions into a single unified Britain within two generations.

This incredible story is not only engaging because it is true and Merkle supplies photographs, a handy chronology at the front and a map; but also because anyone with Anglo heritage or a natural instinct to root for the picked-on underdog can identify with the messages of the power of faith and perseverance, the values of courage and leadership and the tenacity of defending your homeland so common in human history.

The writing style is replete with many dates, locations and names but woven into the drama with enough detail and a few photographs from his solid research that it becomes clear, with a mental picture of their daily life and times that you cannot get in a school history book. When you can visualize the characters akin to a novel, this pagan verses Christian history becomes interesting, alive and engaging, and very easy to read.

Personally, I could quite easily identify with the paternal and protective instincts of the main “characters” in this real life drama of 11 hundred years ago. I found myself shocked that I had no recollection of hearing about Alfred the Great from elementary school history but did remember those nasty conquering Vikings that are more often glorified (sorry Minnesota football fans). I will let the sociologists explain why pirates are idolized…

One thing I did enjoy from the book very much was learning about the roots of our street layouts, the need for a national army and navy, the bravery of a king that locked arms with his men in a life-of-death shield wall, even the first required government literacy program. Other uniting principles originating with King Alfred during his 28-year reign were books in the local language, a strong currency and simplified common laws. What I discovered about myself was that my ancestors in Europe had a very hard life, must have lived through this terrible time and passed onto me in my genes a strong spark of survival that I can call upon if I ever need it. If you enjoy those misfits-become champions sports stories you will love this epic.

I can say that I did finish wanting to read more about the next generation of Alfred’s children and their further success, more about life in the other European countries impacted by the Vikings, and maybe even what it was like to be part of the Viking culture as a trained brigand to leave his home and family expecting to return laden with gold only to find a dug-in band of farmers that refused to budge. I found nothing to dislike about the book and would like to see it unfold as an epic movie or mini-series, even a Discovery show with many more photographs. I easily recommend this book to others who enjoy history and dramatic biographies, those who have traveled to Great Britain or have ancestry from the region, or anyone who likes a great story.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

by Roland LaMothe

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sustainable Tips to Save Small Business Owners Money PART ONE By Catherine Corley



In recent years, the notion of a “green economy” has gathered steam. The conversation accelerated when the economy worsened and unemployment rose and suddenly, a green economy was seen by many as a pathway out of the current economic situation.
Studies in 2008 found that 2 million jobs in two years could be created from adopting green practices, and 4.2 million green jobs by 2038. Similarly, in a survey of more than 100 primarily fortune 500 companies, 47 percent said that they were increasing their investment in green product development this year.

The same survey found, however, that 46 percent of companies’ environmental, health and safety budgets will remain the same in 2009 as they were in 2008, despite the economy. These statistics highlight the challenge today’s companies face when trying to make changes to become more socially responsible on a tight budget.

Your business — and the millions of other small businesses in America — can make an enormous impact on the environment through sustainable initiatives. But how do you accomplish your desire to “do good” without sacrificing the bottom line? And what tools are available to help you in your journey?

Fortunately, there are ways of gaining access to investment capital. One out of every nine dollars under professional management in the U.S. is involved in socially responsible investing, adding up to more than $2 trillion. That number represents a huge pool of money being invested in companies that are working to become more sustainable, as reported by Merchant Circle — an online community dedicated to connecting local businesses and their customers. This goes to show that capital investors are looking for companies showing green platforms in which to invest.

On the flip side, many companies have found cost savings by looking into conservation strategies and finding there was much fat to be cut. For example, through energy conservation and the use of renewable energy, IBM claims it has saved more than $100 million since 1998, while simultaneously avoiding more than 1.28 million tons of CO2 emissions. And Wal-mart estimates it will save $7 million annually on electricity by replacing incandescent light bulbs in its stores’ ceiling fan displays with super efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Companies that have adopted alternative fuel and energy solutions are able to lower their exposure to oil price volatility while increasing energy efficiency, according to ChiefExecutive.net’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

Learning by the examples set by companies both big and small, while also following simple steps aimed at reducing your company’s environmental impact, can set you on a path to saving money and saving the planet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

12 money-saving tips for renting a car by David Grossman

I thought that this was a timely article because of the holiday traveling season but these tips are mostly for those of you who travel for business. I know of a few conferences that are coming up for 2010 and I will certainly use a few of these tips while I travel!



12 money-saving tips for renting a car

By David Grossman, special for USA TODAY

In a tough economy business travelers must find new ways to economize. One area often overlooked is the cost of renting a car. Here are 12 of my favorite tips for saving money when renting a car.

1. City vs. airport: Many states and municipalities levy exorbitant taxes and user fees on airport rentals. I often find it less expensive to rent my car at a city or off-airport location. On a recent trip to Philadelphia I saved $103 on a five day rental by using a Hertz location in the city center instead of renting at Philadelphia International Airport.

2. Airport drop-off: To further enhance my savings in Philadelphia, I actually dropped the car at the airport on my way home eliminating the taxi fare from downtown to the airport. While one-way rentals from city to city often carry a drop charge, car rental companies rarely charge customers to pick up or return their car at different locations within the same metropolitan area. Returning that Hertz car to the airport was the same price as dropping the car at the rental office in the city center. Sometimes it even pays to rent a car at a city location solely for the drive back to the airport rather than using other forms of ground transportation.
3. Single day vs. overnight: On many trips I rent a car only for the days I need one. This works nicely if you're staying in the city and need to use the car to attend meetings in the suburbs, for example. Even if you need a car every day, renting and returning the vehicle each day can help avoid costly overnight parking at a city hotel.

4. Parking alternatives: If you need a car for the entire trip and you are staying in a city center, it is often cheaper to park overnight in a nearby public garage than pay the inflated rates charged by most hotels. If you return to your hotel in the evening and plan to leave again in the morning, you can even park overnight on the street for free in cities, even in major cities like San Francisco or New York, as long as you move the car before the daytime parking meters or restrictions are in force.

5. Renting in smaller cities: In most cases, large cities or airports charge the highest fees to maintain their expensive airport rental facilities. When visiting several cities in Arizona on a three day trip recently, my Budget rental car in Phoenix was priced at $235, but I saved $110 by renting the same car 120 miles away in Tucson and I've had similar savings by renting in Milwaukee vs. Chicago just 90 miles away. In addition, picking up a rental car in a smaller city is often much quicker and easier than large airports like Chicago O'Hare or Phoenix International Airport.
6. Using airline and other discounts: If your company doesn't have a direct corporate discount with a rental car company it often pays to use discounts offered by airlines or large organizations like the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). On my Philadelphia trip the non-discounted daily rate for my midsize car was $72 while the AAA member rate was $65 and Southwest Airlines discount rate was only $52 per day. Most airlines offer discounts from multiple car rental companies. The discount numbers are generally posted on the airline's website and you usually don't have to fly that airline on that particular day to receive the discounted rate.

7. Weekend vs. weekday rentals: In tourist destinations like Florida, renting a car at the airport for a weekend during peak periods will generally cost more, while during the week there are likely to be fewer travelers and deals may abound. In contrast, at business destinations, airport rental car lots are full and prices are lower on weekends. In cities like New York or Boston, where many city residents don't own a car, rental cars are often in great demand during the weekend at city locations while airport rental counters are begging for business.

8. Web bookings: The Internet often yields lower rates than telephone bookings. In addition, travelers can comparison shop across many vendors simultaneously on travel agency websites.

9. Opaque shopping/bidding websites: I often find great car rental deals from the top rental car brands by purchasing on "opaque" websites like Hotwire.com and Priceline.com. These sites allow you to purchase "distressed inventory" from suppliers who need to move cars off their lots on a particular day. You don't know which rental car company has been assigned until after booking and it is a guaranteed, pre-paid, non-refundable reservation, but I often find the best prices here, particularly in this slow economy.

10. Avoiding unnecessary insurance: Car rental companies always try to sell insurance to accompany your rental, but many homeowners or home automobile insurance policies and some premium credit cards already cover car rental insurance so it always pays to check before accepting this option.

11. Prepaid gasoline: An increasing number of rental car companies offer a prepaid gasoline option. You pay for a tank of gas up front and then try to bring the car back with the tank as empty as possible. This can be a great convenience if you don't want to search for a gas station on your way back to the airport, but while prices for prepaid gasoline are generally lower than pump prices, any savings could evaporate if you bring the car back with more than a gallon or two in the tank.

12. Finding cheaper gas: At home, you probably know which service stations consistently offer the lowest prices, but on the road you may not. I always make a mental note of gasoline prices at stations near the airport, but using websites like GasBuddy.com or GasPriceWatch.com can take the guess work out of finding cheap gasoline anywhere in the country. On a recent trip to Cleveland I saved $8 on a tank of gas by checking the Internet first.

Of course, staying where you don't have to rent a car at all may offer the greatest savings, but when driving is unavoidable following the tips above for every rental can add up to big savings for business travelers.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Washington State Surrogacy Laws....For Those Who Asked!


Although I am not an attorney, people now are asking me where can I find information on Washington Surrogacy Laws? This is because I now live in Washington State as opposed to the "Surrogate Friendly" state of Florida. Below are the Washington State Surrogacy Law Highlights...note that compensated surrogacy is illegal.

Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/














Surrogate parenting — Contract for compensation void.
A surrogate parentage contract entered into for compensation, whether executed in the state of Washington or in another jurisdiction, shall be void and unenforceable in the state of Washington as contrary to public policy.

Surrogate parenting — Compensation prohibited.
No person, organization, or agency shall enter into, induce, arrange, procure, or otherwise assist in the formation of a surrogate parentage contract, written or unwritten, for compensation. (this is why I don't have an agency located in Washington State...beware of anyone who does and accepts money for their services!)


Establishment of parent-child relationship.
(1) The mother-child relationship is established between a child and a woman by:

(a) The woman's having given birth to the child, except as otherwise provided in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260;

(b) An adjudication of the woman's maternity;

(c) Adoption of the child by the woman;

(d) A valid surrogate parentage contract, under which the mother is an intended parent of the child, as provided in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260; or

(e) An affidavit and physician's certificate in a form prescribed by the department of health wherein the donor of ovum or surrogate gestation carrier sets forth her intent to be legally bound as the parent of a child or children born through alternative reproductive medical technology by filing the affidavit and physician's certificate with the registrar of vital statistics within ten days after the date of the child's birth pursuant to RCW 26.26.735.


(2) The father-child relationship is established between a child and a man by:

(a) An unrebutted presumption of the man's paternity of the child under RCW 26.26.116;

(b) The man's having signed an acknowledgment of paternity under RCW 26.26.300 through 26.26.375, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged;

(c) An adjudication of the man's paternity;

(d) Adoption of the child by the man;

(e) The man's having consented to assisted reproduction by his wife under RCW 26.26.700 through 26.26.730 that resulted in the birth of the child; or

(f) A valid surrogate parentage contract, under which the father is an intended parent of the child, as provided in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260.

Surrogate parenting — Definitions.
As used in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260:

(1) "Compensation" means a payment of money, objects, services, or anything else having monetary value except payment of expenses incurred as a result of the pregnancy and the actual medical expenses of a surrogate mother, and the payment of reasonable attorney fees for the drafting of a surrogate parentage contract.

(2) "Surrogate gestation" means the implantation in a female of an embryo not genetically related to that female and subsequent gestation of a child by that female.

(3) "Surrogate mother" means a female, who is not married to the contributor of the sperm, and who is naturally or artificially inseminated and who subsequently gestates a child conceived through the insemination pursuant to a surrogate parentage contract.

(4) "Surrogate parentage contract" means a contract, agreement, or arrangement in which a female, not married to the contributor of the sperm, agrees to conceive a child through natural or artificial insemination or in which a female agrees to surrogate gestation, and to voluntarily relinquish her parental rights to the child.


Surrogate parenting — Custody of child.
If a child is born to a surrogate mother pursuant to a surrogate parentage contract, and there is a dispute between the parties concerning custody of the child, the party having physical custody of the child may retain physical custody of the child until the superior court orders otherwise. The superior court shall award legal custody of the child based upon the factors listed in RCW 26.09.187(3) and 26.09.191.

Surrogate parenting — Provisions violated — Penalty.
Any person, organization, or agency who intentionally violates any provision of RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260 shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

"He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart."
-J.A. Shedd


Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving
Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC

Monday, November 23, 2009

LaMothe Services, LLC is Announcing the Launch of the Redesigned Blog, The Business of A.R.T.


LaMothe Services, LLC is announcing the launch of the redesigned blog, The Business of A.R.T. Found under the URL http://theagencyangle.blogspot.com/, the Business of A.R.T. is aimed at professionals in the Assisted Reproductive Technology industry who don't have the time to scour the internet looking for ways to improve their visibility within the current market.


Not only does The Business of A.R.T. blog share articles regarding social networking, branding, marketing and self promotion written by some of the top gurus in the marketing industry, Sharon LaMothe also writes about her own experiences as a surrogacy agency owner sharing tips on starting an agency, working from home, and business structure just to name a few of the more informative posts.

" Whereas LaMothe Services, LLC is designed for clients who desire to hire an assistant, of sorts, who is an expert within the infertility industry to guide and advise them, the blog, The Business of A.R.T. is a perfect compliment for those who simply need to catch up with the newest marketing and networking opportunities available." says Sharon LaMothe

For those not familiar with Sharon LaMothe, she is the Past Owner of Surrogacy Consultants of Florida, LLC and most recently the Owner of Infertility Answers, Inc. (http://infertilityanswers.net/) and is the author of the blog(s) Surrogacy 101 (http://infertilityanswers.typepad.com/surrogacy_101 and http://surrogacy101.blogspot.com/).

Sharon's responsibilities as an agency owner included interviewing new Surrogates, educating and assisting Intended Parents and Surrogates, managing relationships, writing packet forms, intake sheets, brochures and website content, marketing and advertising. Prior to owning SCF, Sharon worked with an adoption/surrogacy attorney. Sharon has also been a Gestational Surrogate, giving birth to twin girls in March of 2000 for a Florida couple, and in January 2005, gave birth to girl/boy twins for a New York couple.

Sharon's educational background includes a Social Services major which encompassed classes in Crisis Identification and Intervention, Interviewing and Counseling, Communication in Groups and Organizations. Sharon's continuing education classes include Total Quality Management (TQM) and Shared Decision Making. She has offered her unique perspectives and expertise by holding round table discussions and speaking on the topic of Surrogacy for SMART ART, RESOLVE, American Fertility Association, Fertile Dreams and by arranging staff development luncheons and meetings with various clinics, hospitals and law offices. Sharon is married with two children and currently resides in Seattle, WA.

Says LaMothe "I encourage anyone who is interested in growing their company, especially in our current economy, to subscribe to The Business of A.R.T. at the http://theagencyangle.blogspot.com/. This blog will most certainly save you time and money and will most likely motivate you to try out new marketing and networking opportunities."

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Culture of Gratitude Part #1


When I read this article, below, by Liz Jazwiec, I thought Who ever talks about gratitude in the work place. Actually "IN" the work place? And it's so important to have. Being thoughtful and thankful and having honest communication is the back bone to a great organization.

I have broken this article into two parts so please keep a look out for the 6 Ways to Create a Culture of Gratitude in Your Organization next! ;-)


Sharon LaMothe

LaMothe Services, LLC




Here’s a question just in time for Thanksgiving: Does your organization encourage a culture of gratitude? Not in an obligatory (and fear-tinged), “In this economy you’d better be grateful just to have a job, buddy!” way, but in a, “Gee, I really appreciate my coworkers and the feeling is mutual” way? Chances are the answer is no. According to a recent Gallup poll, 65% of people say they don’t feel appreciated at work. And that feeling quickly leads to pervasive negativity, low morale, and (worst of all) decreased productivity.


Companies can deliberately infuse their cultures, from top to bottom, with the proverbial “attitude of gratitude.” In fact, those who don’t put gratitude on a pedestal, especially in today’s high-stress work environments, are shooting themselves in the foot. “Too many people leave work every day thinking, My boss doesn’t appreciate me,” says Liz Jazwiec, author of Eat That Cookie!: Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off…For Individuals, Teams and Organizations. “When you feel that your boss doesn’t fully value your work, you start to care a little less. You don’t provide the kind of service you would if you felt appreciated. You don’t make an effort to help your coworkers. “And when the majority of the people in a workplace feel this way, the overall environment is hugely impacted,” she adds. “Productivity decreases, turnover increases, and it can become very difficult to stay afloat, especially in a tough economy.”


Jazwiec stresses that workplace gratitude isn’t something that is passed only from the boss to the employee. To have a real impact on workplace positivity, employees should show it to one another and to their bosses. And leaders and employees should show it to their customers. “It’s obvious when you are in a workplace where people value gratitude and graciousness,” says Jazwiec. “There is a really great vibe in those places. And when gratitude and graciousness are missing, it is equally evident. People in those environments seem to have a sense of entitlement. Coworkers who come into contact with them might say, ‘There is just no pleasing those people!’ Customers might say, ‘They just don’t care about me!’ Neither reaction is good for business.”


The great thing about infusing gratitude into the workplace is that it can come from anyone, regardless of position. “If you are a leader, you can infuse gratitude from the top down, perhaps by making it a required standard of behavior for employees,” says Jazwiec. “And if you are an employee, you can start your own grassroots gratitude movement by expressing gratitude yourself and encouraging your coworkers to do so as well. Everyone—and I mean everyone—can show gratitude in a workplace and influence others to do so.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Social Networking, Social Media....are you ready?







I work with your business to promote YOU in the social media world...see how important it is for YOU to promote yourself and your company using social networking..and yes, that includes FaceBook!~ Click the title to watch You Tube's Social Media Revolution!


Sharon
LaMothe Services, LLC
727-458-8333

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sharon LaMothe Will Be Attending the ASRM Meeting in Atlanta, GA Oct. 17-21

I will be attending the annual American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting in Atlanta GA! If you are in the area and would like to meet please contact me at the cell number below. I will be arriving late Saturday evening October 17th and leaving the afternoon on October 21st. I am looking forward to all of the great educational opportunities offered and meeting other professionals within the Infertility field. I will blog about what I observe and learn when I return.

I hope to see you there!

Sharon LaMotheInfertility Answers, Inc.
http://infertilityanswers.org/
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/
727-458-8333

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mental Marketing: It's All In Your Head!

I wrote this short article with Deborah Simmons for the Mental Health Professional Group's Spring/Summer Newsletter. It was so well received that I thought I would post it here! There is a part 2 coming and I will share that with you after it's printed! If you need help with marketing your practice then please visit my website LaMothe Services, LLC at http://lamotheservices.com/

Sharon

Mental Marketing It’s All in Your Head!
By: Sharon LaMothe and Deborah Simmons, PhD, LMFT

The world of marketing can be very confusing, especially when services and people, not products, are being sold. There are a number of components to marketing, including sales, advertising and branding. There are several venues in which to “sell” or promote services. Below you will find a few simple steps to help you conquer any concerns that you may have about marketing your unique mental health services on the Internet and elsewhere.

The very first thing to consider is who you would like to serve. By deciding on your desired clientele, you can focus on what is referred to as “niche marketing.” There are many good general therapists around but you have something special to offer. Own it and promote it. If you have several areas of expertise, you can use the same marketing techniques to reach potential clients as well as professional referral sources.

Along with knowing to whom you are marketing and what your expertise is, you need to know what your message is. Why should people come to you? What makes you special or memorable? Do you have unusual approaches, like EMDR, hypnosis, or special experience, or perhaps years working in a fertility clinic? Remember that your services and your “brand”--you-- make up your business and every business has competition. No one likes the idea of competing for clients but if you want to stay current, fresh, and focused in our new economic environment, you need to market yourself actively and differently then you might have been doing so in the past.

Now let’s look at positioning yourself on the Internet. While working with the Web can be daunting, it is increasingly your biggest and best tool. Not only will your personal web site reach other professionals, you will be connecting directly with actual patients or clients in a very personal way. Providing public access and information about you and your practice is one of the most important moves you can make. Google and websites have become invaluable search tools. They are often now the very first place where you “greet” your potential clients. Although it is great to ask other professionals to hand out your cards and refer clients to you, your website can offer so much more. Think of it as a living biography of who you are and what you do, as well as a form of web-based education and resources. You are offering the hope of solutions to people who need both, in your office and through linkages to other resources. With pages regarding your services, your biography (with a photo), your professional resources, events at which you will be available, books you have written or recommend, and a page regarding a personal statement about your practice and philosophy, a potential client can form enough of a connection to entice him or her to pick up the phone and make an appointment. Clients surveyed have mentioned that they were drawn to the photographs, philosophies, and the help that is offered on websites before they even consider making a phone call.

The Internet also offers an opportunity to ‘blog.’ Having a blog, especially if it is connected with your website, allows professionals, clients, and others to know more about you, how you think, and how you approach life. A news article or your comments on a current event allow people to connect with you on a level that normally wouldn’t be available.

Networking is a huge component to marketing your services. You already are doing that when you attend conferences, visit clinics, and join associations like the MHPG, ASRM, EDSPA, APA, AAMFT, or NASW. Networking in person builds trust with your peers and allows them to comfortably refer clients to you without hesitation. Go and meet fertility clinic nurses, doctors, and office managers. Do the same with OB-Gyn clinics. Clients deeply value personal referrals from people they trust. It certainly helps that you have provided several unique business cards to share with your website, blog and contact information boldly printed on them!

Let’s not forget the social networking sites available to anyone who owns a computer. Millions are using Face Book, LinkedIN, and Twitter to name a very few. There, on your “page,” you can list your biography, photo, website and import your blog. You can be easily accessible to potential clients. Take advantage of the professional groups available which will widen your professional net work. The book Ladies Who Launch and its accompanying website, http://www.ladieswholaunch.com/, is for entrepreneurs and who want to connect with others, whether it is about business or new ideas.

It is time to move past introversion and fear of the unknown and to embrace new ways of spreading your own wisdom to a wider clientele. Remember that marketing ‘services’ is all about marketing your professionalism, your compassion, and your approachability—you! Thing big!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Having trouble staying focused? These tips are for YOU!


Having trouble staying focused in your home office? There are so many distractions and in order to get everything done during the day that needs your attention you need to focus! Below are several tips that you probably already know about but just haven't put into practice. I suggest you give these ideas another try!

Sharon
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/

The Art of Staying Focused

Many new and even seasoned internet marketers find it hard to stay focused on their tasks.
When you work online it can be nearly impossible to get anything accomplished when you run across new opportunities, are tempted to visit websites, watch videos, check email, browse forums, check your stats, listen to tele-seminars, browse Google and do other distracting online activities. Not to mention other offline distractions.

Here are a couple things you can do to diminish distractions.

1. Work alone in a quiet space

If you have young children you'll understand how crucial it is to work in a quiet space where other people can't distract you. It seems just about when you're ready to start working you're barraged by requests to do something or help with something.
Now, there's nothing more important than my family but when you need to work you must get down to work.

Go to a quiet space and carve out a solid amount of time where you can be productive. If someone else is in the room with you while you're working you run the possibility of getting distracted.

2. Throw your TV out the window

That's right. Turn it off and get rid of it. This will curb your curiosity of wondering what's on TV. When you're tempted to see what's on you tell yourself "well, I'll only watch a little bit."

Before you knew it your watching an hour or more of TV and aren't getting any word done. This can also be a form of psychologically avoiding tasks you need to get done - procrastination. Procrastination is a surefire way to make sure nothing gets done.

If you find yourself doing this, remember you can always record what you miss on Tivo, or better yet, you can probably find the shows you miss on online.


3. Get Rid of Internet Distractions

While it may be fun to look online for the latest viral videos, check you stats, check email, browse forums, you can literally waste hours doing these activities and check your favorite social networking site. These activities don't get you closer to your goal.

Force yourself not to do any of your favorite internet time wasters until you've gotten some real work done and can see actual results from your real efforts.

If you don't see results don't give up and give into temptation, try again and again. When you see results then reward yourself with your favorite activity.

If you don't actually have the will power to prevent yourself from engaging in your favorite online activities there is actually software which will block these activities for you.

By implementing at least one of these strategies you'll find your productivity going up and your goals will become much closer than you thought.

About the Author: Bill Thompson is an internet marketer and writer. Discover how Niche FAQ gets the niche research done for you so you can have more time to do your favorite activities

Friday, September 4, 2009

Twittering Your Small Business

I am sure you know by now I am pretty big into the whole social networking deal...and I love using twitter....I sign up clients for this FREE service and then we all twitter away. I hate hearing about who is driving to the store or whose kid is getting potty trained but for those who are using twitter as a business tool....sharing links and tips and sometimes an uplifting quote, its great! Check out this article below and then start twittering away! (I have over 500 followers! Feel free to join us at http://twitter.com/SharonLaMothe)

Sharon LaMothe
http://lamotheservices.com/

Twittering Your Small Business
By SCOTT CARMICHAEL, GADLING.COM

Word on the street is that "Twitter" is the latest rage, but chances are you have either ignored it, or simply didn't have the time to look into what it has to offer.

Thankfully, Twitter is extremely easy to explain -- they call themselves a "microblogging service". Micro blogging allows members to talk about anything they want, in bite size portions of 140 characters or less. That is essentially the entire service. What makes Twitter so popular is not what it does, but how many people it does it with. There are millions of people on Twitter, some very active, and some that signed up but never quite understood the concept. Like many blogs, the majority of people on Twitter use the service to relay information about their life. They'll post what they had for dinner, or what time they got up in the morning.

Hidden away in all those blog entries, could be the information you need to gain a customer, or prevent losing one. Here is a good example -- if one of your customers makes a purchase off your web site, but the product arrives damaged, they might take their complaint to Twitter before they even consider calling you.

Keep in mind that a disgruntled customer is often capable of creating a PR nightmare for you. A very simple way to be proactive about these things is to keep an eye out for keywords related to your business. The Twitter search feature allows you to search for anything in the millions of "Tweets" posted every day.

Get your own Twitter account, and if someone pops up with a complaint about your company and tries to spread the word to the rest of the Twitter world, step in and offer to help them out any way possible.

Remember, many Twitter users have their entire social network following their posts and badmouthing you or your products will often spread like wildfire.

Of course, Twitter can also be used to reach potential customers. You can do this by setting up your own Twitter page. I wouldn't recommend sitting at your desk all day describing what you see out your window, but a post a day about your deals, upcoming promotions or even as a place to hand out discount codes for your products will generate some goodwill and show your customers that you are at least aware of the latest social networking trends.

Just don't trick yourself into thinking that Twitter will magically increase your sales overnight. Getting your company on Twitter starts with registering an account -- do it now, and make sure you register all variations to your company name. Remember, Twitter is like domain names; if you don't register the name, someone else might, and the last thing you want is someone posting "Acme Widget Inc. sucks" using your company name.

Once you have your account setup, the hard part begins -- what to say?

I'd suggest beginning with some basic stuff. Post about a new product, post about trade shows you plan to attend. Think of Twitter as the message board at your local grocery store -- a place to share the good news about your company. Posting your messages to Twitter can be done through their web site, but also through one of the many "Twitter clients", available for most mobile phones and computers.

Once you've gotten a hang of posting, it's time to start doing some marketing. Make sure your Twitter profile page contains all the right information and be sure to use your company and product names in your "Tweets", that way the search engines will pick them up, making it easier for people to find you.

If your company specializes in "Widgets", start talking about them, provide general tips and tricks for people to use the product, and before you know it, you'll be seen as a specialist in your field (provided you are not posting utter rubbish).

There are of course also a couple of things not to do on Twitter -- most importantly, remember that anything nasty or rude you say can and will be used against you. If you badmouth a competitor, or a customer, make sure you are ready for the repercussions. Social networks are notoriously unforgiving, and if you screw up badly, it'll be all over the "blogosphere" before you know it.

Even if the entire experiment only yields one new customer, it is one customer you did not have before you started Twittering, and at the end of the day the whole thing will not have cost you anything other than your time.

By staying up to date with the latest social networking trends, you'll be ready for the next new service to popup, and before you know it, you'll be a pro at reaching new markets.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to School

We are all learning from life every day and so I thought I would post the article below...In the field of reproductive technology even the professionals are learning every day...there are no degrees for agency owners (Surrogacy, Egg Donation) for example. Those who run agency's in the US are not licence or certified. However we hope that will change in the near future with seminars, classes and online modules to assist professionals working within the infertility industry to better serve their clients. It's never too late to learn....or to teach!


Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/
Back To School
by Will Craig
The kids are back in school. Are you?

We live in a knowledge-powered economy and if we're not continually upgrading our capabilities we become obsolete. The good news is the educational choices we make at 18 don't need to be hard and fast choices we're stuck with for a lifetime.

You can choose to look at lifelong learning as the homework assignment that never goes away. Or, you can choose to look at it as an essential strategy for living long and living well.

I'm not suggesting you must go to college to gain the necessary knowledge. What college did do for me was make me recognize that organized learning, whether in traditional schools or through condensed courses and teleclasses, would significantly shorten my learning curve.

"Don't let your schooling interfere with your education."
- Mark Twain


Had I to do it all over again I might choose a succession of bite-sized learning opportunities in the specific areas of my interest (recognizing those change over time). Short-term, condensed educational programs have become more available and recognized as an efficient way to gain specific expertise in less time without spending your life's savings on a long program.

Learning does not take place in a box we call a classroom or in a hotel conference room. We learn more, we learn better, and we learn faster by doing and being actively involved. How are you upgrading your knowledge and abilities?

Will Craig is President of Coach Training Alliance and holds a Masters Degree in Education and Human Development. He is co-author of the #1 best-selling coaching home study course, the Coach Training Accelerator.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Background Checks...A Necessary Tool

Background checks are so important when you are screening Intended Parents and Surrogates. The IP's want to make sure that their surrogate has no DUI's or criminal activity in their past and the Surrogates want to be reassured that their Intended Parents don't have any child molestation or abandonment issues in their past. The form below is a sample. I suggest that you find a professional outfit to run your background checks for you. You can build in the cost into your agency fees.

Sharon LaMothe
Infertility Answers, Inc.
http://infertilityanswers.org/
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/


BACKGROUND CHECK RELEASE FORM

1) Signing this authorizes a background check.

2) You may not be offered entrance into or Surrogacy or Egg Donation Program based on it.

3) You can review the report and dispute errors prior to official turndown.

LAST NAME FIRST MIDDLE NAME SOC.SEC# FULL DATE OF BIRTH ______________ ________ ________ _______ __/__/____

PRESENT Address___________________________
CITY,ST,ZIP_____________________County____________ Years_____

PRIOR Address___________________________CTY,ST,ZIP____________________
County_____________Years_____

List any other counties in which you resided in
the last seven years. DRIVER LIC# _____________STATE:___ Your phone( )__________Cell _______________Home ______________Work

Other names used ____________________________

COLLEGE 1)_______________________City,ST_________________Dates(years) there: ______________DEGREE?________

2)___________________ ______________ ______________ ________

HIGH SCHOOL_____________________City,ST_________________ Dates(years) there: _______________Graduate? _________

DEGREES/LICENSES________________________YEAR EARNED_________

Name then if different ________________________________________

LIST ALL CONVICTIONS INCLUDING TRAFFIC (Indicate “M” for misdemeanor or “F” for felony. ) YR. NATURE OF OFFENSE WHERE(CITY/ST COUNTY) YR. NATURE OF OFFENSE WHERE (CITY,ST,COUNTY) 1)______ ________________ _________________ 2) ______ ________________ _________________ 3)______ ________________ _________________ 4) ______ ________________

_________________ ______________________Use space here for others: NOTE: INABILITY TO IDENTIFY YOUR PRIOR EMPLOYMENT CAN CANCEL OR DELAY PROCESS.


EMPLOYER NAME STREET CITY/ST PHONE NUMBER SUPV’R NAME DATES THERE 1)_______________________________ ________________ _____________________ ( ____)______________ ________________ FROM_______TO______ YOUR POSITION______________________EARNINGS_____________WHY LEFT?________________________CO-WORKER NAME___________________ 2)_______________________________ ________________ _____________________ ( ____)______________ ________________ FROM_______TO______ YOUR POSITION______________________EARNINGS_____________WHY LEFT?________________________CO-WORKER NAME____________________ 3)_______________________________ ________________ _____________________ ( ____)______________ ________________ FROM_______TO_______ YOUR POSITION______________________EARNINGS_____________WHY LEFT?________________________CO-WORKER NAME____________________

*CIRCLE ANY EMPLOYER WE ARE NOT FREE TO CONTACT. PLACE CHECK MARK BY ANY EMPLOYER YOU ARE INELIGIBLE FOR REHIRE.

I hereby authorize this release to ______________. Any information held by any parties regarding my prior employment , criminal, credit, driving, workers compensation and educational history as well as information regarding my general character and reputation can be released. I release any providers of such information from any liability for providing same. I understand the information may be reviewed initially and periodically by______________. I understand that any falsification of my information may make me ineligible for the ____________ program.


Signed__________________________________ Dated_____________

Notary: ____________________________ Stamp:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How I'm going to use social networking to steal your identity!


I liked this article so much that I wanted to share it with you. Although I am a huge fan of social networking there are people out there that will take advantage of you and Ron really shows you how it could be done and it can really make you think! I look forward to your comments...

Sharon
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/

How I'm going to use social networking to steal your identity!

Ron Shulkin
Chicago Social Networking Examiner


I think about all my trusted advisors in real life: my attorney, my doctor and others. There are questions that if posed by my insurance agent, I’d react by getting up from the table, letting him know it’s none of his business. But in the spirit of connecting socially, I easily answer these same questions in a Facebook quiz. It’s a cathartic release, a confession. Sometimes it makes up for the close mouthed, private way I act in real life. I know it seems great to “share” with others. And social network communities are the perfect place to dive in. Somehow sitting alone at the computer gives us license to answer some very intimate questions.


So the first thing I’ll do to steal your identity is find out everything I can about you. I can take a quiz, as apparently 34 million others did and with almost 200,000 fans, for “How Well Do You Know Me”? I’ll find out your birth date, where you were born, the names of your parents, your spouse, and your children. And I’ll find out their birthdates. I’ll find out your hobbies and your interests. I’ll see who all your friends are.


I’ll read “25 things you didn’t know about me”. I’ll know what sports you like, what your middle name is. I’ll know what your favorite stores are. I’ll figure out where you live by seeing where you shop. Your grammar school and your high school will be listed. It won’t be long until I find out the name of your first pet. Oh look, you used to have a space between your two front teeth!


I’ll read what Greek god you are, what Sex In The City character you think you are and who is your celebrity twin. Then I’ll figure out your childhood nickname, in what city you met your significant other, the name of your favorite childhood friend, the street you lived on in third grade. It won’t be long before I know your oldest sibling’s birthday month and year, the middle name of your youngest child, your oldest sibling's middle name, the school you attended for sixth grade, and your childhood phone number including area code. You’ll have listed your oldest cousin's first and last name, the name of your first stuffed animal and the city or town where your mother and father met.


Your MySpace or Facebook Info page will tell me your email address and your employer. The “Who Are You Related To” will tell me all your relatives. It’s great to know what cities you’ve visited, so when I start using your credit cards I won’t set off any suspicious behavior.


Somehow or another, one of the eight thousand eight hundred and eighty four Facebook quizzes that everyone’s taken will provide me with the answers I’m looking for.


Because your bank, your credit card, your school, your payroll company and your employer might ask these security questions, I’ll read your blog so I can find out the first name of the boy or girl that you first kissed, the last name of your third grade teacher, where your nearest sibling lives and your youngest brother’s birthday. After reading your blog, even if I don’t have a direct answer to any of the security questions, I’ll know enough about you to start making really good guesses.


On LinkedIn you’ve listed the name of your elementary / primary school and the city or town where your first job was. I can see your college history and even all the people who connect with you doing business.


Even without all this data I could probably figure out what your passwords are. Most people use the same password for every web site. Here’s the top ten according to PC Magazine:
1. password
2. 123456
3. qwerty
4. abc123
5. letmein
6. monkey
7. myspace1
8. password1
9. link182
10. (your first name)


Didn’t have to do any research for those. And the default password usually included from your vendor will also let me try: sun123, Cisco, Alcatel, Kyocera, McAfee and IBM. A surprising number of people never change the password from the default after installation. If it’s a six character requirement I can guess, and likely be correct with shadow or summer. Eight characters? Then desklamp or portable. I’m guessing people start looking around when they have to come up with a password quickly. If the password requires a number, it is almost always “1”.


But unless you’re using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols in a random order, I can either try a top ten favorite from above or dig into your (not very) private life and figure out your password. Or if I can’t figure out your password, I can answer the security questions that let me reset your password to one I like. Then you can’t get in, but I can.
My first step will be to break into your email. Most of us have had our email addresses for a very long time, so it is likely the password we used was a product of that time period. I signed up for my Yahoo email when it came out, probably a decade ago. I wanted to grab my name before other computer savvy “shulkin”s did. These were eras with less security concerns about password strength.


I’ll do this hacking into your email account late at night, so when the notifications of password changes come in, I can delete them before you wake up and check your email. Hopefully you’ll have a folder in your email system called “passwords”. That will make the rest of this identity theft easier. And if there’s anything good in your inbox, I’ll read them and mark them “unread” before I go.


Once in your email system, I’ll crack your credit cards and bank. I’ll answer the security questions to change the password, “in case I forgot it”. Then they’ll send that notification to the email address and I’ll delete those too. I’ll know what web sites you subscribe to, so I’ll go on eBay, Hoovers and all your other resources. This will let me know more about you, as well.


My next pass will be to get into your cell phone account. You manage it on line, so I can get that password with security questions. I can look up all the phone numbers you get calls from and to whom you call. These friends of yours might be my next targets. Maybe your girlfriend is using a combination of your first name and your birthday as her password. Worth a try. It will still be hours before either you or she wakes up.


So if you wake up one morning and all your credit cards are cancelled or you’ve bought some airplane tickets or a nice HDTV (and had it drop shipped to an address one door down from yours where I’ll be waiting wisely informed as to when with the results of the record tracking on shipping); if your cell phone has ordered a bunch of custom ring tones or if your bank has had most of its funds transferred to my favorite charity, you’ll know that you answered one too many questions on that Facebook quiz.


Some things are meant to stay private. When you get on Facebook, stick to reminiscing about high school.

Monday, July 13, 2009

SMART ART X: Come and Join me in Orlando

Calling all ART professionals! I will be hosting 2 luncheon round tables at this years SMART ART in Orlando, Florida. Below is the information if you haven't had the chance to sign up yet! It's FREE and very worthwhile! I hope to see you there!

Sharon LaMothe
www.InfertilityAnswers.org

The SMART ART™ X Conference has extended the deadline for Call for Nominations for those practitioners that have advanced reproductive medicine in their practice and/or outreach and education to their community. Finalists will receive a travel stipend to attend the SMART ART™ X Conference in

Orlando

where they will be specially recognized.

If you have registered for the meeting (www.123enroll.com/SMARTART to register) and have already made your travel plans, it is not too late to submit yourself or a colleague. Winners may use the travel stipend toward existing travel.

You may nominate yourself or a colleague. Nominations should include: your name or the name of the nominee, degree, position, practice, contact information and a brief description (~500 words) of how the candidate has made a significant impact within their practice or community. Submissions to include:
• How clinical procedure/practice or community outreach has fulfilled an unmet need in community or clinic;
• How fulfilling the unmet clinical need benefited patients or clinic/practice; or how community outreach benefited or enriched recipients.

Limit nominations to yourself or one nurse that has made a significant contribution in reproductive medicine in the clinic or community where she/he practices. (All other submissions will be eliminated, regardless of the merit of the nominee.)

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Nominations must be received via e-mail, fax, or mail no later than Wednesday July 15, 2009. Finalists will receive a travel stipend to attend the SMART ART™ X Conference where they will be specially recognized.

Questions and nominations should be submitted to:
Letters & Sciences
Attn: Jamie Miller
9 Whippany Road, Suite B2-5
Whippany, NJ 07981
Phone 973 560-1234 ext 16
Fax 973 560-1247
jmiller@letsci.org

REMINDER TO THOSE NOT YET REGISTERED:
Location and Accommodations
Hilton in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort


1751 Hotel Plaza Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: (800) 782-4414; (407) 827-4000


The SMART ART™ X Conference has negotiated special hotel rates at the Hilton in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort. Rooms have been reserved at a reduced rate of $115.00 per night, single or double occupancy, plus tax. To take advantage of these rates, please book your hotel reservation by July 21, 2009. After that date, the SMART ART™ X room block will be released.

Hotel reservations can be made directly through Hilton reservations online, available through our website, or by calling toll free (800) 782-4414 or (407) 827-4000. Please ask for the "SMART ART" group block at the Hilton in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort to receive the discounted conference rate. Hotel cancellations must be made at least 5 days before check-in to obtain a full refund.

Visit www.123enroll.com/SMARTART for more information on hotel, travel and local dining and

Thursday, July 9, 2009

3 Steps to Becoming a Trusted, Customer-Focused Business

Where has the customer service gone people ask....maybe department stores can ignore the importance of customer service these days but "service related" industry's simply CAN NOT afford to allow their clients to believe they are not special, unique and cared about. Your clients are your number ONE marketing and networking tool. Seriously folks! If you have a happy client they are going to spread the word about how wonderful, compassionate and caring you are...have a client who is disgruntled, unsatisfied and ignored will cost you more then money when THEY start telling their story! Customers need to know that you care...that they mean something to you other then a pay check. Treat them as you would like to be treated and watch your business grow!

Sharon
http://lamotheservices.com/

Times Are Tough. Do Your Customers Know You Care?


3 Steps to Becoming a Trusted, Customer-Focused Business
by Larry Streeter, Constant Contact Vice President, Customer Support

Here in the Constant Contact Customer Support center, we have the benefit of connecting with our users every day -- either by phone, through live chat, or via email. We've been listening carefully to what they're saying about how the economy is impacting their businesses and their lives. And you know what? We've learned something very interesting and extremely valuable to any business or organization:

A down economy is the best time to connect with your customers.

Consumers are seeking trusted business sources to hear their concerns and provide them with options. Customers want your ear and your empathy. They want to be heard and acknowledged. They need to know that you understand and care about what they're going through -- even if they're not buying from you at this point in time.

It comes down to this: You may have the best product or service out there, but that alone won't guarantee your success if you haven't built loyal bonds with your customers. As we've often said, your existing customers are your best customers. They will thank you with their repeat business and send you business referrals. And they will think of you when they're ready to buy -- in good times and in bad. But customer loyalty must be earned.

Unlike big business, small organizations are uniquely able to cater to customer needs and earn their loyalty. How do you do that? By being 100% customer focused every day, with every interaction, in every aspect of your business. Here are three ways simple ways you can earn their loyalty by focusing on super-serving your customers.

1. Be Passionate About Your Customers
Being passionate about your customers starts with listening to and hearing their concerns. Make sure you always understand what the customer is saying or asking. Educate them on the value of the products and services you provide, and offer them solutions based on what they need. Passion means proving to customers you are vested in their success.

Passion also means being accessible, accountable, and HONEST. If there's a problem, don't gloss over it. Own it. And don't quit until you make it right. Saying, "I'm sorry, let's work this out" goes a long way toward earning your customer's gratitude and return business. Get on the phone or send an email and make that personal connection.

2. Use Every Interaction as an Opportunity to Build a Relationship
Consumers today are feeling beat up and shrugged off by the sorry state of some big-business customer service. Customers desire connection.

We have a mantra here: "Leave no customer unsatisfied." We give every customer our utmost respect and complete attention. This applies to all our users -- whether they are a current customer or have just signed up for a free trial. We make sure that with every interaction with our support team, that the caller is completely satisfied. And we take a lot of pride in that.

Every interaction -- be it over the phone, in an email, or across the counter -- is an opportunity to deepen your bond with your customer. Make sure all your employees share your commitment to your customers' success.

3. Learn What's Important to Customers and Deliver It

The businesses that are going to survive this economy unscathed are the ones who are listening to their customers and adapting their businesses based on customer feedback. By letting your customers know that you are not only interested in their feedback -- but you are willing to act on it -- you can build stronger customer relationships and earn your customers' loyalty.

Extend invitations for customers to give you feedback at every opportunity. If you have a physical store, put a suggestion box at the counter -- alongside your email sign-up list.

Include an open-ended question at the end of every email marketing communication asking, "How are we doing? What could we do better?"

Survey your customers to find out what they want and need right now. Ask them, if they're not buying from you now, why not? What would it take to get their business back? Report on that feedback to your mailing list in your future email marketing communications.

Write a Question-and-Answer column in your email newsletter inviting customers to sound off and tell you what's on their minds. Offer free advice. Use customer feedback to inform your email marketing content and drive your campaigns.

The economy may be turbulent for some time. The good news is, building loyal customer bonds is an investment in your business's future. Because when the dust clears and the economy picks up again, loyal customers are more apt to come back to a trusted source with whom they've done business before. But that's true only if they believe you're focused not on what you want to sell them, but on what they need. Today that might just be a good ear that shows you care.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Does Your Web Design Do For You



I think that everyone who is starting up their own business is looking to the Internet to provide them with information that, hopefully, will help them avoid the mistakes their competition maybe already making....which is why they look up and read every website in their chosen industry. They critique the design, look for typos in the content, take note of the colors and then try to dream up a unique design that will make a statement about how special their services are. The information below is a huge help....another thought is to hire someone within your industry to guide you in the best way to market in your niche. It truly helps to have someone in your corner especially when it comes to your largest marketing tool...your website!

Happy 4th of July!! Be Safe!!

Sharon

http://lamotheservices.com/

What Does Your Web Design Do For You

There are so many websites on the internet nowadays, so if you want a great website that stands out from the crowd, you are going to have to have brilliant web design incorporated into it.

A website that is badly designed will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. If you want a website that is remembered for the right reasons, you are going to have to have a design that makes your website unique.

Your web design is the first thing that people notice when they arrive at your website. If you have an untidy website with bad graphics and terrible navigation, you are going to lose your readers and viewers right from the start. That is why web design is important in the process of creating a successful website. Whether it is a personal website or one that you intend to use for business purposes, it needs to be well designed and well maintained.

If you can grab the reader's attention by graphics that are relevant and useful, text that is of a very high quality, colors and layouts that are easy on the eye, then you are half way there! Research has shown that more people buy from websites that are designed professionally and look trustworthy, rather than quickly made and with badly thought out designs.

So, you can see how important your web design really is now. There are many ways to improve your web design, both for free and by hiring someone else to do it for you. Which you choose will depend on your budget and your time frame. A busy web designer may not be able to fit you in for months.

How you layout your website is also very important. You may have lots of great content on your website that people would love to read, but what if they can't find it? If you haven't clearly and easily laid out your website in the web design process, your readers won't be able to find any other pages. This could be disastrous if you are selling some kind of service or product.

All in all the web design aspect is only a small part of getting your website up and running, however, it is very important. When you are designing your website, remember to make it easy to navigate, concise and clear.

If you are not familiar with web design and all the aspects that go into creating a website, it may be worth your while looking for a professional web designer or a pre made template. Web designers come with different price tags all depending on where you get them from and what you need doing.

If you want a relatively simple design you will be looking at a fairly cheap price. If you are looking for a complex website with many features you can expect to pay a fair amount of money for it. A good designer will include you all throughout the process. You will be able to approve the website as many times as required.

Ready-made templates are great if you don't have the budget for a professional designer and don't have the time to learn how to create one from scratch. There are many free ones that you find on the Internet or ones that you can buy for a small amount of money.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the Author: Daniel Millions - If you need high quality VPS Hosting or FFMpeg Hosting with a guaranteed high uptime look no further.

Monday, June 29, 2009

All Websites Are International

I think that this article could also be entitled "Selling Concepts" because that is what it's mostly about. The majority of people who read my blog are selling a service and, as I talked about earlier, in essence, selling themselves.( Meaning their reputations) Having said that, reading below maybe an eye opener for those just starting out with their business...moving it from the dream to the machine! (computer...Internet...you get the picture!)
Sharon
http://lamotheservices.com/

All Websites Are International

Tip O'Neill, the late Speaker of The House of Representatives is often quoted as saying "All politics is local," meaning a politician that helps a constituent with a problem is likely to win that vote based on the personal assistance provided, irrespective of that politician's stance on the larger, more weighty, geo-political issues. What then of business, is all business local or international?

Shopping Is An Experience

The world has changed dramatically since the days when neighborhood shopping was the main option, and people relied on their local merchants for products and services. The world of commerce today seems to be divided between two competing scenarios: on the one hand, people are more mobile than ever before, and more willing to travel to buy what they want, even with wildly fluctuating energy costs; and on the other hand, people are busier than ever and use the Internet to seek out the companies, products, and services they want and need.

What seems to be consistent is the underlying need to feel something, to experience the process. The higher the value, the greater the psychological component to the buying experience. The same is true for products and services that are considered non-essential.

People Wonder Why They Can't Sell More Stuff

We all have our favorite stores and websites, where we know we will be looked-after with more than the ubiquitous and perfunctory, "have a nice day," but sadly that sense of service is all but lost in a misguided rush to pseudo efficiency. Brick and mortar stores with their part-time, minimum wage time-fillers whose only talent seems to be a vacant blank stare accompanied by "that's not my department" is bad enough. But what of websites that don't accept phone calls, or any other kind of inquiry other than a form email that you can be assured will be answered in a week or two, along with a request for more information that generally corresponds to the information you've already provided - that's what passes for website service today. And people wonder why they can't sell more stuff.

The Web Is An International Venue

The Web of course presents one additional wrinkle to the service issue, one that puts a premium on communicating your message effectively: the Web is an international venue. No matter what you do, or where you're located, you can be sure people from all parts of the world are visiting your website if you have something of value to say. This then puts a premium on your ability to articulate a coherent message, one that eliminates the need for visitors to phone Mumbai, Beijing, or Lickskillet, Ohio.

English speaking companies have a hard enough time communicating effectively, but what of non-English speaking companies trying to break into the North American market? You find websites in many different languages, catering to local markets, but if you're looking for North American exposure, you best deliver your message in the language of the Web, and like it or not, that language is English.

Words Have Meaning

Far be it from me to criticize CBS news anchor Katie Couric, who generally does a fine job, but when she refers to the Democrats winning the House, Senate, and Presidency as "single party rule" it raises the hackles on the back of my neck. Words have meaning and presentation has impact. But I am not just talking about proper grammar, syntax, and usage, something many of us stumble over at times, but what of idiom, metaphor, and voice; elements that are just as important in effective marketing communication as proper usage.

Years ago while visiting London, England I passed a store with the sign that read "Fags and Mags," a disconcerting message until I got acclimatized to the British slang. When it comes to marketing, you can get away with a lot, but even countries that speak the same language have different patois, slang, and cultural references.

One of the great advantages of being from Canada with its proximity to the USA, its historical ties to the British Commonwealth, and its multicultural population is that we understand these differences and can translate them into effective North American marketing campaigns.

Crafting Your Web Marketing Message

What do you sell? A seemingly simple question any business executive should be able to answer, but can they answer it accurately? Ask yourself: do you sell a product, a service, or a concept? Does a shoe store sell shoes, or comfort and status? Does an accountant sell auditing services, or legitimacy and security? Does a politician sell tax cuts, or a better future?

When it comes to marketing you have to think concepts; if you build your advertising around products or services rather than concepts you will never be able to develop an effective campaign, let alone an effective website presentation.

Take Target and Walmart for example: they both sell similar products for the most part, a problem many retailers and most distributors have but refuse to face. Target markets itself as the leader in low priced, designer-styled merchandise, a distinct marketing position compared to Walmart that markets itself as the low priced leader and the heck with design. Each company delivers a unique marketing concept, one targeting consumers interested in price alone, the other aimed at shoppers who want a little style with their bargains: two different concepts, two different brand positions, and two different marketing strategies.

We All Sell Concepts Not Products and Services

One way or another we all sell a concept no matter what the product or service. When a client approaches us with the question "why aren't we selling more stuff?" a quick review of their site usually provides the answer: their website is not articulating in any meaningful, memorable manner, the conceptual premium their product or service delivers.

Before you invest in a new website or Web marketing campaign, decide what concept you are actually delivering. That concept is the basis of your marketing strategy and it informs what you say and how you say it.

Selling Concepts Is All About The Presentation

The recent US election is a great example of how to sell a concept. Putting all political bias aside look at the difference between how Obama approached his speeches and how McCain approached his. Of course both men talked about their policies and how they would handle different domestic and international situations.

McCain spoke to his constituency and delivered what they wanted to hear, but his words and presentation style fell far short of motivating the undecided or converting non-believers. Accusing a fellow Senator and Harvard Law alumni, with red baiting language like "redistributing the wealth" was obvious code language that failed the sniff test to all but his staunch backers.

Compare McCain's efforts to motivate through distrust and fear to Obama's message of hope, with his "Yes We Can" catchphrase echoing the American 'can do' spirit and traditional approach to solving problems. Not only did Obama say the right words to motivate his audience, he delivered his message with the motivational rhythm and cadence of an inspirational preacher.

Whether you're selling a political agenda or carbonated sugar water, you must learn to communicate your marketing concept in a way that people will understand, remember, and act upon.

Concepts Are Universal

The Web is an international venue. If you have something of value to say or sell, you will attract an international audience. Foreign companies that want to access the USA market must learn to speak "American" or hire a marketing communication company that does. American companies that want to grow beyond their local markets must learn to think concepts, the universal language of sales.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the Author: Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

6 Search Engine Marketing Strategies


With the economy in a (seemingly) downward spiral now is not the time to give up on marketing your services! Use your website and blog to get yourself and your business noticed above all of the others! below are some tips that I have found to assist you in your marketing techniques!

Sharon
http://lamotheservices.com/

6 Search Engine Marketing Strategies

Search engine marketing involves keeping your content fresh, using keywords that put you at the top of the first page and obtaining as many links to your site from other websites as possible.

Pleasing the Search Engines

1. Search engines love updated content. Pay attention to which sites show on the first page and you will notice that among the sites in keyword competition, it is the sites with the most updated content that win out. Either write your own articles and upload your own graphics and photos or outsource the job to freelancers.

There are many freelancers who write for reasonable rates. With one good writer or writing team, you can improve your site's rankings dramatically. Make sure the writer you choose understands SEO.

2. Keyword strategies include going for those people who instead of searching for 'weight loss' search for 'how to lose 20 pounds fast' and other more specific terms. Do not stuff your pages with keywords. The recommended density of keywords is between 2 and 3 percent of the text on your page.

Excessive keyword phrases are not only recognizable to search engines as 'stuffing', they can ultimately affect the quality of the writing. This is where LSI comes in. LSI involves using phrases that are synonymous with your original keyword phrase. Learn about LSI!

3. The more relevant sites that link to your page, the better your rankings will be. For example, if you sell creative scrap booking products, try putting links about your self-designed scrap booking pages on sites that instruct people on how to scrap book. This is one way of 'piggy backing' on the keywords used by other sites.

Write your own articles or have a freelance writer write some for you. Submit them to article directories and allow other sites to use them providing they leave the resource box or by-line connected to the article. It is a 'scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' strategy and it works for both sides.

4. You can use your blog for more search engine marketing. If you update your blog daily and ping it with blog directories, you will see an increase in your blog's search engine rankings. Link to your site from your blog. This is another means of piggy backing.

5. Purchasing clicks on search engines is another strategy used in search engine marketing. This is how sites are placed in 'sponsored sites' at the very top of the page and along the right hand side on Google. Depending on the keywords you use for this strategy, you will have to pay a few pennies to several dollars in order to beat out your competition.

Yahoo allows you to set a daily maximum amount of money for clicks. If your site is brand new, try the lowest amount of money for a week or so to test how many clicks you get and how many sales you make from those clicks.

6. Monitor your site traffic on at least a weekly basis. Note how much of your traffic is coming from regular search engine marketing. After a couple of weeks of tracking, make small changes to optimize your site's search engine rankings. Continue looking for ways to improve on your site.

Gather all the information you can find on each of these strategies. Search engine marketing, as with all other forms of marketing, is constantly changing. Stay up to date on everything there is to know about search engine marketing and you will see your sales increase considerably!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the Author: Karla Whitmore is a creative freelance writer dedicated to supplying fresh, original and SEO rich content and plr to online businesses, webmasters and affiliate marketers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who are you? Your customers really want to know!













The article below is especially true for those who are selling a service...which in turn actually means selling THEMSELVES! You need to know who YOU ARE and What YOU stand for!

Sharon
http://lamotheservices.com/

Who are you? Your customers really want to know.
Who are you, really?

Your brand, I mean.

What do you want other people to think when they think about your business, your service, or your product?

Do you want them to think your brand is the life of the party, or the designated driver? Is it a trusted friend, or a glamorous rock star? Are you a Volvo or a 'Vette'?

So I repeat...who are you?

You may already know this, and if that's the case, I congratulate you! Many small businesses struggle with this. If, however, you need a little help in defining yourself, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. How am I currently perceived by my customers?
If you don't know, do a quick focus group with a target segment of your market (10 - 20 people), customers and non-customers. Have a list of questions ready to ask.

2. How do I want to be perceived by my customers?
Realize that your brand needs to reflect and resonate with your target market. If you want to be a sports car, but your customer wants you to be a sedan, you should probably reflect what your customer's value unless you're trying to attract a different set of customers.

3. How far apart is how I'm currently being perceived to how I want to be perceived?
What will it take to bridge the gap? Do I really need to bridge the gap, or should I enhance my current image?

Once you've got a general idea of perception, time to make your personality more definitive. So, ask yourself these questions:

4. What are my brand's human characteristics?
As crazy as it may sound to you, many branding experts suggest you do this in order to put your brand on a level everyone in your organization can understand. Is your brand male, female? Old, young? Rich, poor, middle class? Where does it work? What does it do for entertainment? These are just starter questions...you can think of a lot more yourself!

5. If my brand was an actual person, what would be its name?
Think about it, when you hear someone is names "Biff," an immediate picture comes to your mind. I bet you can think of a dozen such examples! Pick a name that personifies your brand. Paris, Tom, Jane, Inga, Ian, Jeff, Elsa...

6. What is my brand's "life story?"
Biff needs to know where he came from, so create a brief, fictional biography of your humanized brand.

Once you figure all this out, consider building a Personality Board. This is very helpful in giving your brand a visual personification. Cut out pictures, stories, headlines, or any other visual reference you think would work to define your personality. You may even want to find a photograph of someone who is the image of your brand personality (your Biff) and place it in the middle. Display it proudly, and make sure your employees know what it is.

Now, when you create your advertising and marketing materials - from print ads to tv and radio spots, from websites to packaging, and beyond - you know what personality they need to reflect. And you will be on your way to delivering a brand with which your customers can identify.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the Author: Donna Williams is the founder and creator of BusinessBurrito.com - a website dedicated to helping small businesses grow to their maximum potential. She is also a 25-year advertising / marketing executive, creative director, writer, and producer. Together, Donna and her husband currently own and co-own five small businesses. To learn more about Donna and read more of her articles, visit her website at http://www.businessburrito.com.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The 3 Types of Website Traffic

...And this is so very important when you rely on your website to be your major source of visibility! Read below and put these ideas into practice!

Sharon
http://lamotheservices.com/

The 3 Types of Website Traffic

Where does traffic come from? Now I'm not talking about that stuff we all get stuck in during rush hour. Website traffic is essential, if you have no traffic to your website you are not going to get anyone buying your products or reading your articles. Traffic is one of the key components of your website and is available in these three forms.

1. Pay For It.

You can buy traffic typically using what is known as Pay Per Click advertising. The major names in this market are Google and their AdWords program and Yahoo Network Sponsored Search. There are many smaller companies around also but they all follow the same premise.

You create your account, grab a bunch of keywords and create your adverts. You can define the amount you want to spend per click or per day, what geographical areas you want your adverts to appear in and even what time they should appear.

When someone types one of your keywords into for example Google your advert will be displayed down the right hand side of the natural search results. If the searcher then chooses to click on your advert and gets forwarded to your website you will get charged for that click.

The price you pay for each individual click depends on a variety of conditions such as how many other people are competing on that keyword. The more competition the more it costs to be higher up the ranks. The position you want to occupy. The percentage of people who click on your advert, the list goes on.

Pay Per Click advertising can be very successful but has a steep learning curve, it is essential that you do lots of research into your chosen Pay Per Click vender and in the niche you are in.

2. Borrow It.

This option is not for everyone, but in certain niches it can be effective. The first method of borrowing traffic is what is called link exchange. This is where you put links to another website on your site and they put links back to you on theirs. This can be beneficial as you can get traffic from a more successful website reasonably quickly. However this traffic is not always targeted.

The second option in the affiliate marketing world is called a joint venture or a JP. This is essentially where you would contact another marketer or company who had products that complements yours. If they are interested they may send a mailing out to their list or put an entry in their blog alerting their visitors about you and your relevant products.

The key things to remember about borrowing traffic is that you have to give something in return. This can make it tricky when targeting very successful websites.

3. Create It.

Creating your own traffic is one of the best ways to start bringing people into your website. There are literally hundreds of ways to start creating your traffic but I'm just going to tell you about two of the most popular.

Articles are a great way of generating traffic. You can write your articles about your chosen niche, offering advice, definitions, explanations, news, reviews just to name a few. Once you have created your articles you can put them on your website or blog as content. You can also upload them to article directories or even assemble a few of them into a white paper or ebook to give away to visitors.

Video is currently the big thing on the internet world. Everywhere you look there are videos for everything. 50% of all web traffic is video and YouTube alone receives 12.5% of all the traffic out there. YouTube has made it possible for anyone to upload their videos for the whole world to see. Just as you can create an article about anything you can do the same thing with video. The best option is to do both: Create it in print and create it in video.

I wish you all the best of success.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the Author: Mark Voce - I hope you found this article helpful. Check out my blog to get more advice, tips, secrets and the latest news on Google AdWords and Internet Marketing.