Evolving Business Plan for my Studio

Kitchen Table TalkI like to try to be available to listened to the Kitchen Table Talk show on the Pulse Network on Tuesday afternoons with Joe Sorge and Chris Brogan and if I miss it, take some time to listen to it at a later time in the Pulse Network archives… Over the last few weeks they have been talking about business start-ups and yesterday they interviewed Tim Berry, who spoke about Business Plans in the real world and the need to make them changeable… There was/is some great info to hear and think about shared on the show, which you can check out here: http://thepulsenetwork.com/technology/kitchen-table-talks/

Over the last year, I’ve been working on my reopening my studio, ArtWorks of Candor and have been using what I call an “Evolving Business Plan”… Now most people do a business plan to obtain funding or a loan, but I do a smaller one- 3-6 month practical plan and a year goal oriented plan…

Business plans are just estimated number projections with a overview of the “plan”, without many of the details and so much can change in just a few months, let alone three years… From new taxes, gas prices to the basic cost of business with adding in new products and services you might use, create and offer…

So a 3-6 month business plan filled in with working capital is what I and many of my friends use in Business… An Evolving Business Plan is one that can grow and be able to handle the unforeseen bumps or change in directions in the road of business better for me… It also allows for smaller, more affordable steps and allows for change for the future…

To help support this concept in an unforeseen way was Chris Brogan, at the end of the show announcing he was writing a new book with a 6-week deadline on “How to use Google”… Now Chris Brogan is a busy fellow and the Google + Project has only been out for barely 2 months now… He also did a seminar on how to use Google Plus 2-3 weeks ago, which must have taken him lots of time just learning this new Social service, let alone create a presentation to help others with using it effectively… There is no way you can tell me Chris had this in his business plan 6 months ago…

And by the way, Yes, I will be buying one of Chris’s books about Google when it comes out…

How does this relate to my reopening my studio with an evolving business plan? I was gearing up to teach some Social Media Workshops and I’ve chosen to wait while the Google+ Project grows a little more- after they have opened it up fully to the general public and have added Business Pages… I’ve lesson plans outlined already for the Facebook & Twitter workshops, still needing to tie them together a bit with images, visuals and create a hand out booklet… I now want to be able to add Using Google+ to the class… I know this will be truly valuable in this area that seems so challenged in adding and using Social Media effectively for their online presents… I am also enlarging the idea, to teach it in VA near where my Mom is, so as to be able to spend some time down there…

Having the “Evolving Business Plan” also allowed me to instead of just adding the Giclee Fine Art Printer to sell my own limited edition prints to creating a 2nd business to offer Giclee Fine Art Printing Service to other Artists and Photographers online and in the local area… So keeping a changeable, flexible, evolving business plan with ideas in mind really helped with several new concepts and services I am working on for reopening my studio…

Even though I’ve had two bank Vice Presidents in the past tell me I had created one of the best business plans they had seen in their 20-25+ years of their being in banking, I’ve also set aside time for a workshop webinar Thursday about Business Plan development he will be offering- “Plan-as-you-go business planning methodology”… You can read more about it on Tim Berry’s website:
http://timberry.bplans.com/2011/08/please-join-me-online-live-this-thursday-aug-18.html I believe you can never know enough and there is always something new you can learn…

So having a Real World Business Plan that is changeable to the times is key and being a little flexible can pay off…

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Should HP Create a Quality Art Printing Partnership?

Recently HP, ProofTag and the Wilhelm Imaging Research all partnered together to create the ARTrust (www.ARTtrustonline.com) offering a new print identification and authentication solution for photographers & artists using HP Pigment Ink Printers…  This unique print identification is a non-removable, numbered Bubbletag™ for each artwork, which is registered on a website and accessible for visual control by the public or anyone the artist designates.

The service also offers:

  • Unique identity of each print for instant visual verification via the Internet
  • Most secure solution in the world for print identification and authenticity
  • No limit in substrate or paper type for photographers and artists, which offers greater creative possibilities.
  • Longevity rating for the papers and media tested by Wilhelm Imaging Research (above 200 years, above 60 years, or unknown if the media has not been tested by WIR)

You can visit the HP page describing this new partnership here: http://h10088.www1.hp.com/cda/gap/display/main/index.jsp?zn=gap&cp=20000-20058-20295-20457^298704_4041_100__&jumpid=re_r10931|en-us|apr10|ga|ipg|features|arttrust|ppage

This new service is at a cost of about $25 for each piece of artwork or photo, with a minimum of 10 Tags you will need to order…  Odd they don’t have a phone number to call to get information about this service, or an affiliate program for Art printers to offer this service… I’m looking into this now, waiting for a response from ARTtrustonline.com

Now this is a great idea, for the Higher End Fine Artists, curators and collectors, I will be looking into offering this myself for my own artwork and also as a service for other artists and photographers…  But this got me to thinking….

You would think HP would have some sort of Partner Program that a Business could post on their website, Official HP Media Provider, with the print longevity if I use only HP Paper, Ink and Canvas products…  Maybe even offer courses on Mounting and Laminating large images for art, as they already share these in Video’s in their YouTube area…

Yesterday I calling HP to try to find out if they offered a “HP Partner” or Certify an Art Print Shop that uses HP Printer/s & HP material, or some sort of certification of print longevity ratings, which is very useful for heritage institutions, museums, and auction houses similar to what ARTtrustonline.com offers…  Think I spoke with 4 different people at HP during the course of an hour, being transferred here and there- Everyone I spoke to weren’t sure if HP offered such a service or partnership…  I can be certified to sell; repair and I believe all sorts of HP customer service training and certifications, but not showing Quality of HP Printing…

Today I received a call back from someone in the HP Graphic Design and Sales Department ( @ 1-888-772-9897), explaining this idea and asking if they had such a Program, Partnership or Certificate for Fine Art Printing Services such as the one I will soon be offering…  He too was not sure if they offered such a program, but saw what a great idea and marketing it could be for a Fine Art Print Shop and a benefit to HP…  He told me he would look into it and if there wasn’t any, he would recommend there should be…

With HP having  YouTube video’s such as “Ideas for presenting large format” 

where they have a Design Technician showing “Finished Artwork from their Design Jet printers…  It would be so easy to set up an online certification for such imaging finishing too… It could be HP helping some of their Business Clients that provide a great visual Art Printing services…

Now I have found a site that show off their HP Partnership logo and showing it on a webpage that is only highlighting Large Format Printing Service… Further down below the HP Partner  logo they highlight half their large format printers being Epson Printers…  I view this as kind of False Advertising, as HP for what I understand doesn’t offer one for Printing Quality- this being misleading to the consumer…

What do you think, Should HP support a Registered Partnership for Quality Art Printing Partners, that share with you the quality of the inks and say, Mounting & Design for the Arts?

Would you feel safer ordering your fine Art Replications from someone who was backed or Partnering with HP or do you just shop for the best price?

Gander Mountain seems to be Twitter Challenged…

Those who know me, know that besides my being an Artist and am very good at Marketing/Advertising and my use of what is now called Social Media, that I am an avid Outdoorsmen, enjoying hunting, fishing, hiking and camping… I also often shop at Gander Mountain in Johnson City, NY for my outdoors needs since they opened their store there…  I have bought camping equipment, tent, sleeping bag, cooking supplies, fishing gear and hunting equipment there, many hiking boots, hunting cloths and hunting equipment & supplies such as my .50 caliber inline muzzle loader…  I even called them recently as I had need of supplies for this coming hunting season and they where very helpful!!!

Hunting photo of me while hunting whitetail deer in Central New York State with my CVA .50 Caliber Muzzleloader CVA Magna that I bought at Gander Mountain…

That being said, after I called Gander Mountain the other day, I looked them up on Twitter, then on Facebook…  I found it very interesting; I have more Twitter followers then one of my favorite outdoors shops- @GanderMtn… So I started to look into it from a Marketer & Advertising viewpoint, since that is part of my studio services…

As an artist who has designed many websites in the past locally in my small town without a stoplight with business sites increasing their sales of up to 1200+% and a hunting lodge that received two calls before I had the opportunity to drive the 5 miles to show him the hunting lodge area updates to his site, and also the marketing behind a Major University Cartoon logo that was originally just a game logo- I do know my way around the internet & marketing…

So I used some basic tools online to look a bit deeper into their online presents…  Their Website: www.gandermountain.com received 1,088,251 Unique Visitors out of 1,656,435 Total Visits during the month of September 2010…  These stats I gained through using Compete.com website…

Using WhenDidYouJoinTwitter.com I was able to find out when they joined Twitter…  They joined Twitter on January 22, 2009 and now have 1,869 people they follow and 3,724 who follow them on Twitter and with only 254 tweets since their starting the account…

I joined twitter on December 8, 2008, and now (as I am writing this) have 5,388 people I follow, 4,900+ people who follow me and have tweeted 24,383 times…  Not bad for an artist in a town without a stoplight that will soon be re-opening my studio & services next month…

Of the 165 million users of Twitter, there should be more followers that go to Gander Mountain and use Twitter then are following them… With so many visitors to their website each month, visit their stores and even their Facebook Fan page, I believe they should have far more people following them on Twitter and should be posting far more often then they do…  Though I am not going to give here all of my recommendations on how to use Social Media in Marketing…

They do have a great Facebook Fan page with 77,812 people who “like” their Fan page…  Though I haven’t looked much into their Facebook use as I think this is not too bad with their following or “Like” of their fan page, but could use some improvement seeing how Facebook has over 500 million users… I also haven’t noticed any sidebar advertising in Facebook from Gander Mountain…  Which I should have with knowing they set up reverse searches based on the subjects and fan pages people follow…

Whom ever is handling Gander Mountain’s Twitter account and Social seem to me to be a bit “Social Media Challenged”… Seems to me their missing a HUGE opportunity in their using Social Media in marketing for Gander Mountain…  Though I will not say here how to improve their Twitter or Social Media followers…

I’m posting this, with hopes others in Twitter and FaceBook will also Re-tweet it and ask the Gander Mountain Advertising Department if they might be interested in hiring me to help with their Twitter account and with their Social Media online presence…

So with this in mind, I offer to Gander Mountain Advertising Department my personal Cell Number to give me a call- (607) 229-5600…

Please be advised this next two months I might be working on re-opening my studio or will be out in the Great Outdoors!!! It is Small Game & Turkey Hunting Season here in Central NY State and Deer Season right around the corner… So I might have my cell phone on vibrate only and might be whispering so as not to scare the game away…

Are you marketing your products towards Woman online?

Are you aiming your advertising more to women then men, maybe you should be…

In an attempt to become a better and up to date online marketer, I dove into marketing statistics, online use, buying trend stats, and online user information… What I found was very interesting!!! If you’re a man, and doing web designing, graphics, marketing and branding and/or advertising you better be thinking and trying to understand how Woman view sales and marketing, or think to get some other job!!!

As an artist and marketer in designing websites and creating advertising and custom images the need to understanding how the Internet has changed since it was created in 1989 has been a major part of my research- always try to keep up to date on trends… What I found in my research was very enlightening and has forced me to change some of my views and future research and the way I need to look for designing websites and images online…

Now I am a guy and some might even put me in that “Guy’s Guy” category, as I enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, car racing, driving fast, watching action movies and working with power tools … On an average afternoon & weekend in the fall, you will find me in the woods hunting or in my side yard using a Chainsaw and a log splitter for firewood for my home and studio… I can also be found on my off time doing carpentry, renovations to my house redoing or building things in my woodshop or on my property… So I know I understand marketing to men, but I know that I need to think to “How to Marketing to Women”…

In an attempt to get into this line of thinking or understanding how woman think, besides looking up and spending many hours reading and goggling stats, I tried a different in-depth look into the female mind from a man’s view- I threw in the 2000 American Romantic Comedy film DVD “What Woman Want” starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Though I was not going to go so in-depth in my research as to put on toe popping red high heal stiletto shoes, nylons, makeup, miniskirt and wax my legs- I’m devoted but I am not that crazy!!!

I will admit there is a photo from my senior year of high school of my wearing a miniskirt for Powder Puff Football, where the girls wear pads and the men dress as cheerleaders and a few of my friends and I did…  I have told people that I won’t do this again until I get a chance to go to visit the land of my heritage, being a highlander of Ireland and Scotland areas… Only then I will buy a Kilt and be proud of my heritage, but a kilt is not a miniskirt!!! And NO, don’t even ask me what a Scotsmen wears under his Kilt!!!

So with wanting to understand How Woman think, I sat and watched the movie over and over… Yes it was a great movie to laugh with and at, as a “Man’s Man” gets zapped and somehow can hear the thoughts of woman in his mind… The movie is interesting as it truly shows how women think a bit different then men do… So I used this movie as a foundation leap into my understanding the mindset of Woman, before to start the research part of numbers and trying to understand how woman make their choices in why or how they buy things…

I highly recommend talking to woman online and in person, what and how they make their choices and whom they talk to in making these choices… I also recommend being ready to talk- ask questions and learn how woman make their choices, or sit back and watch how women communicate with each other… It is very different then how men tend to make choices in buying things… Women tend to like to see choices and make choices by what they like, more then by function or use, as most men tend to buy by… Men tend to make choices on what they need more by function, need and then cost and often don’t shop around… Women on the other hand will often shop around for the best price, and if they feel they got a Great price on an item, they will tell their friends… Men tend not to brag about the price as much as the function…

Women account for 85% of all Consumer Purchases in the US, including anything from autos to sneakers to computers… So if your into Marketing, Web or Graphics Design, Advertising or Branding Online, and you’re a “man”, you truly need to try to get into the mind set and understanding of what and why women buy things online and how they are influenced to come to their choices…

Women represent the majority of the online market:

* Digital Divas By The Numbers:*

• 22% shop online at least once a day
• 92% pass along information about deals or finds to others
• 171: average number of contacts in their e-mail or mobile lists
• 76% want to be part of a special or select panel
• 58% would toss a TV if they had to get rid of one digital device (only 11% would ditch their laptops)
• 51% are moms
*Mindshare/Ogilvy & Mather

If you aren’t aiming your advertising, imaging and changing your marketing techniques more towards women then men, adding more clear photos of the items or even video or turn around panoramic of the items you are marketing online, maybe you should be…

The Goat Boy’s Coffee Bar with WiFi…

My area of Central New York, just below the Finger Lakes Region and the city of Ithaca, is Tioga County and the county seat of Historic Owego…  On one of the main streets of this beautiful town of Owego, known for having so many different time periods of architecture is a new little Internet Café named “The Goat Boy’s Coffee Bar”…   Where I currently am sitting writing about this lovely establishment…

Owners Lisa and Denise Coratallo have enlarged their unique Gift’s Shop “The Goat Boy” that they have had now for 32 years, to include the location next door between them and the Tioga County Arts Council…  Their Gift shop has a nice collection of Polish Pottery, Pormeirion, Ahava, Vera Bradley Handbags, Duffels, and Luggage along with delicious chocolates from LifeSoSweet.com, a local Chocolate and Classic Candies show in Trumansburg, NY…

Having just come out of the Tioga County Art’s council when I had the need for an espresso, I walked into this new coffee bar next door…  They opened this beautiful little Coffee Bar that include Wi-Fi, great coffee, chocolates and locally baked goods and my favorite Espresso…

Sitting in the back corner of this new establishment enjoying some good music and great polite service from Shelly who was is one of the employees that was making many tasty Java drinks for people who wondered into the café, as I sat back enjoying my espresso…

As I was writing this, two women stopped in to taste of their wonderful chocolates, both enjoying some of the chocolate…  Then they started talking about how good and tasty it was, she telling them it was made locally… Then one of the two women asked if she would take a photo of them by the delicious display of the large array of Chocolates and sweets, she happily took their photos, with them holding up the half gone pieces with a smile, saying they would be back again…

I sat back, taking a couple photos from my vantage point of this roomy warm Coffee Bar, as I sipped a very tasty espresso in a very interesting espresso mug that is so Art Deco, liking the tiny mug very much…  They have a nice spread of tables and chairs including a little area with a sofa and a couple of chairs and coffee table with some magazines spread across it…  They have two artists they stick to showing their artworks in the café, and I have included some photos…  Though I forgot in my enjoyment of the moment to look at the names of the artists…

I was fortunate to have a chance to meet Lisa, one of the owners, having a very pleasant conversation with her…  She was a professional photographer for hotel advertising before settling down to open the shop next door, which has a lot of very unique forms of gifts, arts and crafts within it… As a guy I would say this shop would be a Woman’s joy of browsing and buying, and I also feel this would be a great place for a guy to go to find something for his mother, sister/s and the woman he cares for!!!

Lisa told me they don’t use Twitter and that much of their clientele are people that work and live locally and also the tourists, but they do have a Facebook fan page… I do understand and agreed with this sort of Social Media use, as using Facebook is such a great thing for Businesses, so many people are now using it, even some of my friends that are fairly “Tech Challenged”…  There is also the point that people can opt-in to follow and they can not only see new posts on their Facebook Fan page, but also receive highlights or specials via cell or smart phones…  She said that many people follow them on Facebook, and look forward to see what new crazy things and specials they are offering in the shop and the new Coffee Bar…  Which in my book, is a great-untapped use of Facebook in the county and area that more local businesses should be using!!!

A great Coffee Bar offering Wi-Fi, so you can sit back enjoying a Java, some chocolate, some baked goods or ice cream and check on your e-mail, social networks of get some Blogging or work done with a pleasant comfortable atmosphere…  You can locate them online at www.thegoatboy.com, but I recommend befriending them on their Facebook Fan page to find out what fun and savvy specials, advertising and events they will be offering…

Is the Digital Divide in Rural America Because of News?

Small Town America, the true backbone of our country is quickly falling behind the Digital Divide in using New Media and Social Networks for business- is part of it because of lack of news coverage?  I have been finding that there is little to no coverage of Tech & Social Media in small town America and I am starting to believe this is one reason many small town businesses, organizations and local government have so little understanding of Technology and using this as a tool for communication and marketing…

So often those in large or major cities take for granted what they have around them…
Until they get a flat tire while on vacation out in the country and don’t get reception for their cell phones, or try to ask where an internet café is while on vacation…

Many small towns don’t have a large magazine/newspaper shop to buy Tech Magazines or an Internet Cafe…  Yes it is covered in many Business and Tech magazines and hard to ignore, but if you don’t have those magazines articles to read, it is hard to know about it…  Yes it is covered some on TV news; they refer to it almost every day now…  Many watch the nightly news while families are sitting having supper…  But do they really talk much about the Internet relating to business and how it can help?

In many small towns, the local café or restaurant is a main gathering point for small business owners…  Read the local newspaper, have a coffee, talk some with fellow business people, then go to work, then stop back for lunch or maybe supper on the way home if there is carry out…  If that local Newspaper doesn’t have a section that talks about Technology, what news of Technology or Social Media’s with it’s use in business is a small town local business person going to hear about?

It isn’t like the local Walmart has a good Tech magazine or book area…  And lets be honest, how many small business people really read much about Technology in Small Town America?  In my home town without a stoplight, if I ask local Business Owners if they use Social Media for their Business and ask if they have a website, many don’t even have an e-mail account, let alone know how to add an attachment to it…  They are business owners just trying to keep their heads above water in making enough money to get by month to month as if they are still using the same methods of marketing as where used in the 50’s-70’s…

Small Town America tends to be way behind the curve for cable TV in the past- now they are struggling to even attempt to catch up with Cable Companies offering this new found information technology…  Even now, many in rural areas still don’t have cable or DSL as a choice to get online…  A friend of mine on Twitter said that 26% of America still doesn’t have high bandwidth as a choice, with dial-up being their only method of getting online…

Recently I wrote to ask some local Newspapers if they might be interested in my reporting about some of the largest New and Social Media Conferences in the country, and they just weren’t interested…  I offered to interview some of the best people in Social Media and Marketing online adding the use of Twitter and Facebook for Business… Two of the newspapers are part of the Gannett News conglomerate and they where just going to rely on the reporters the Gannett News has covering the Event…  So there will be no articles about these major business marketing and advertising conferences or the people that are respected in the industry they considered to be news worthy for their readers in Social Media…  So much for local news papers informing their readers…

I am sure from reading this newspaper my whole life, an article might be printed of the numbers of people and a few tech devices that where the buzz of the convention, but nothing about how it could help small town business…  Doing a search I wasn’t able to find any mentions of the large Social Media Events like South by South West Conference or Blogworld Expo- two of the largest New Media and Social Media Conferences in the country…  So Small Town America near me received no news to read about these events…

There has been no articles about how 54% of Business Websites get more sales if they have a Blog connected to their website…  Only articles about user base is reported of major Social Media services like FaceBook or Twitter, but even that is rarely covered in small town newspapers…  There was nothing about Foursquare or Gowalla- location-based social networking services covered in the local newspapers in my area in…

One such newspaper in a city that has over 30,000 College students in it and a county population of 101,136 people…  I just did a search in this local city newspaper 20 miles from my town, where close to half my town population works…  I searches for the words “Social Media” and got a result of 9 articles with these words in it in the past year…  Twitter had 19 articles and 46 articles with Facebook in them, the iPad had three articles, the iPhone had eight articles- these words where searched in their archives over the last year…  So with so few articles and many having only a reference to someone else using Social Media, how do small Business Owners learn about this amazing form of Marketing, Advertising and Communications and E-Commerce?

So maybe part of the problem of the Digital Divide in Small Town America is really the lack of news coverage the local news agencies give to Social Media and what news the local Business owners receive… With local News not covering Social Media, it is costing our local Businesses the needed information about using New Media in business, costing them jobs and money…

For Business Websites, Add Interesting Employee Profiles!!!

I was looking for information about Etsy.com when I came across this web page that highlights all those who work at Etsy.comhttp://www.etsy.com/about.php This “About” page is very informative and inspirational in their description of what Esty is: “Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade”. Included next to this description is a great video about Esty.com that includes Robert Kalin, Esty Founder of this great online Arts and Crafts online selling tool… He explains how he came up with the concept of it being an online Community for selling Arts and Crafts that are truly unique… I love the way he highlights that the Core of Esty is the ability to Human to human relationships…

For those of you who don’t know, Etsy.com is a social commerce website focusing on handmade

Etsy Screenshot

Etsy.com Screenshot

and/or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies, allowing people to sell their items and products online through the website… The company charges users a flat listing fee (of 20 cents per items), and takes a commission of 3.5% off all items sold… The site received 20,820,503 Visits and 5,154,574 Unique Visitors in June 2010… Over 70% of Etsy users are in the US and Canada…. Etsy has a number of great features for users who are looking for items to buy… There is even a “Geo-locator” making it very easy to find items by location. The site also allows sellers to customize their virtual storefront pages to display their items to possible buyers….

The “About Page” is not only is it an informative page about Esty.com, this page has an area that

Screenshot of Etsy Employee's

shares photos of all that work at Esty and is split into the different departments of the business… This is something should add to their Business Websites!!! It gives more of a human touch to online business, not just cold sales and dry information about a business…

I found this page GREAT, it gives the name and a photo of each person that works at Esty.com… Then to make it even BETTER, many of the photos have a link to a page that has a bio of that person, with each person’s page being different… What is really interesting is it isn’t your normal Bio Page of Information like a resume or highlighting their responsibilities… Some highlight hobbies, some basic backgrounds or what ever that person wanted to post on that page about them selves… Other Bio’s have pictures when they where young, some have artwork and some added video to these pages- making them all very unique and very personable… Most of the people who work there are also Artisans and Craft people whom have an Esty account and add with a their Esty User name with a description of their own artistic interests… They might even talk some about their own artwork they sell within this great website that sells Arts and Crafts online…

The end of the page is called “Fun Facts”… This area is filled with interesting views, history, statements of the person and even what others might say of the person at work or what they might view of someone else at work…

Highlighting the employees of a business is a great way to highlight the people that work within a small business!!! Giving the viewer- be it a client or possible client, a way to get to know better the people working there, a personable touch…

In relating, sharing and become more personable, small businesses that do business online could attract more customers by being nicer, relating to them with interests, treat them like they wanted to be treated and making them feel comfortable… In doing this in a small business, you will be able to attract more clients and make it easier to connect with adding Social Media to your Online Advertising plan…

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