Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Importance of Having a Good Routine

I can't even begin to tell you how many self improvement books I've read over the years. My friends would tell me that I need many many more. :-) But little by little, I've picked up a few important things over the years that I feel have been helpful in my everyday business life.

One of those things happens to be the creation - and adherence to - a good morning routine. Aside from the captain obvious tasks of showering, shaving and breakfast, there are certain routine items that I endeavor to do on a daily basis each and every day that I feel get me in the mode for a highly productive day. Granted, there are some mornings that doing each and every task is nearly impossible, but for the most part it is good to revert back to these items that I will list below. I encourage you to create your own list of tasks to accomplish each morning, so that you can finish most days like I do...with a sigh of relief.

My morning routine:
  • Read - I am a reading machine. Typically I start off with 3 chapters of the Bible. For me this is important to connect with something other than the 8,000 other priorities that come up during the day. Quite frankly, all that other stuff doesn't mean anything. It's best to start with something that is uplifting, and will remind us of the importance of living a good, decent life.

    After that, I like to read a lot of technology articles. I use ZDnet off my iPad to keep up to date on trends in the industry, as well as Mashable for Social Media, TechCrunch and even LinkedIn articles that are shared.

    Sometimes I'll get into a good book on Kindle - the latest was 18 Minutes - Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done.
  • Finances - I'll check how healthy the business is doing, and review a few charts that show past and future trends. This is also an important step, because it gives me a bird's eye view of how the company is doing, and helps to identify what needs to be focused upon in the short and long term. There are a variety of tools for this. such as your own online bank account, as well as your accounting software such as Quickbooks, Peachtree or Freshbooks (online).
  • Projects - At the beginning of the week, I'll review the projects that need to be accomplished in that given week. But moreover, that review occurs once a day as well. The reason is similar to the above: to get an overall picture of what needs to be accomplished on that day, and where each project stands.

    Microsoft Project is great for this sort of work. Combined with a good tasklist, it keeps things grounded in reality throughout the day.
  • Calendar and Tasklist - I use Google Apps for my calendar and tasklist. The benefit is that the items can be reviewed on any laptop, and especially on my best tech friend, my iPad. The important thing is to continually review them throughout the day, and stay focused on what needs to be done now...and next.

    If a phone call comes in or an email needs to be addressed, I've gradually gotten into the discipline of putting necessary items on the tasklist or calendar, rather than jump to that task immediately and lose focus. Very important.
  • Social Media - Before you say Facebook is a waste of time, I'll say that I agree - IF you are in the wrong network. But for me I am connected with lots of business associates, so it makes sense to put out a little post in the morning saying hello, and scanning the news feed to see if I can help my friends in any way (even with a link to a good resource).

    Of course, LinkedIn is a great business-minded Social Media network. If you are connected with people that legitimately interact with you, instead of simply writing once "Hi, I'd like to add you to my network on LinkedIn" and then never hearing from them again, then it's ok. :-)
That's the general routine that I like to adhere to these days. There are certainly a whole lot more routine items you can use. The main point here is that you should find a set of tasks that will help you to start, then roll through your day in a manner that will make it more enjoyable and less worrisome.

Announcement: We are moving to Tumblr! All the old blogs will remain here, but new blogs will be written and posted to our Tumblr account. Details forthcoming in the next few weeks. Thank you for your readership all these years! =)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What You Should Be Showing On Your Website: A Depth Chart

A few days ago, my colleague and I got into an  "energetic discussion".

One of our clients was very gung-ho about adding tons of Slideshows to their new website. Unfortunately, this is a bad way to attract search engines, and an even worse way to keep interested potential clients on a website.

However, since my motto is typically the customer is always right, I capitulated to the wishes of our customer, and asked our developer for this project to look into which slideshow system would be best suited (design and features) for this website. Shortly thereafter, he asked me to call him. Here's how the conversation went:

    "Tom, why did __________ hire you?"

    "Because they knew we were gonna build them a great website."

    "Do they trust your expertise?"

    "Well...yeah, I hope so."


In my warped, 'life is a beautiful place with happy puppies and kittens' brain, I consider this a pep talk. :-)

Truth be told, he is 100% right! When a potential customer comes to a website, there is a certain expectation that they have, one that if not available, will be a barrier to doing business with the customer. Today I'm going to talk about a simple, 1,2,3 depth chart for your website, which is considered part of best practices for engaging your users and continuing them into the sales funnel that you are creating.

Level 1: Home and Landing Pages - This is the place where your content should be clear, concise and abbreviated. If you are dazzling your first time visitors with slideshows or video, this is the best place to do it. Just make sure that the content is not overkill, with too much text, too many pictures, or too many moving items. It should be clean, crisp and easy to read, and most importantly, focuses the visitor in on just a few products, services or solutions that are your best sellers.

Level 2: Category-level and summary pages - Once a visitor clicks through on a menu item, such as a list of services, they should see a decent number of the offerings from your business or organization. Even if it is a blog post, they should see a nice listing of the many blog posts that you have written for your audience. If it is an eCommerce site, you should have categories of items, that if the user clicks, will take them to the next logical level (subcategory) of items. Example: If I am on a clothing website, and I want to buy a pair of jeans, I might click on the jeans and then next expect to be seen some subcategories of jeans, such as loose fit, tight fit, etc.

Please note that level 2 pages can be a group of pages 2, 3, 4 or more in depth, but the point is that on this level, you are guiding people to an end result, which is...

Level 3: Here is where the customer is looking for the bottom-line about a product, service, solution or even blog post. If they have navigated this far into your website, they are their to get very specific, very detailed information. It could be do-it-yourself guides, whitepapers or an explanation of your process used when taking care of clients. The main thing to remember is that here you are dealing with people that are looking for facts and figures. They are very close to calling you, buying something, or signing up.

...and as I learned a few days ago, don't put slideshows on level 3. :-)

The post-script to this story is that I decided to go back to the client and negotiate with the client, giving them the reasons our developer laid out. Thankfully, based on his expertise that I was able to convey, the customer decided to move the slideshows to a place where it would not prevent their future users from clicking through and continuing the sales funnel.

I also was able to prevent the developer yet another headache that he might have gotten from banging his head against a wall after  dealing with me. ;-)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

10 Do It Yourself Website Promotion Tips You Can Use Today

Below is an email I sent out to my networking group ProMetroNet ( today. As I was writing it, I realized it might help some of you that are struggling with combining online and offline efforts.

Oftentimes, if you are intimidated by the web or worried about promoting your business in a manner that is out of your time-tested comfort zone, you may not embrace new methods of building your business operations.

The following 10 simple tips are a down to earth set of practices that you can do yourself to increase the visibility of your Feel free to reach us on our social pages to ask questions about any of these items, we will be happy to e'splain, Lucy. =) God Bless.


Hi folks.

Good meeting today. Thanks for giving me the time to speak. Hopefully the tips I discussed will be useful for your business.

As a follow up, here are the tips I mentioned in the meeting today on how to do some really simple everyday things you can do to advance your business - both online and offline.

If you liked anything I discussed today, please write a little testimonial about us! If you are on Facebook, please go right now to [Like] our page, and then on the right side please write a recommendation for us. One sentence is fine.

(If you prefer LinkedIn, go to


Ok, here are the top ten items:

1. Always ask for Email address or social address during initial client assessment/intake
2. Send brochure / sell sheet by email within 24 hours (Even an MS Word Document works)
3. Email Signature line - always add some sort of event or promotion or good deed you are working on
4. Send invoice by email / mobile device, instead of giving a paper copy
5. Ask for testimonials after you do a good job...but ask them to post on their Facebook/LinkedIn page! They will be showing it to their 150-350 friends
6. Yelp, BBB, Angie's List, Blue Book - make sure you are listed in those locations
7. Write Press release of good work you've done, send through PR Newswire
8. Write do it yourself tutorials, post to your website. Great way of bringing back people to your site
9. Deals on Facebook, Yelp. Create them and post them, point to your website
10. Qr code on print ads - put them on your print publications

Most of these items are do-it-yourself. Of course, if you need help with anything, Rockland Web Design's team can help. We offer low hourly rates, quick work, and measured results. Check us out at


Tom Ossa
Web Strategist
Rockland Web Design
Sent from my iPad

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How a Company or Marketing Person *Should* Ask for a Link to Their Website

Nanny Classifieds - The Ten Most Popular Mommy Tweets
Now this is a website with whom we want to link!
Yesterday I got a request from a blogger, Abby Nelson, to link to an article she wrote about what working Moms post on Twitter. You can check it out here: The Ten Most Popular Tweets by Real-Life Working Moms. Below is the text from her request:
Hi, Tom.

I just posted an article on my blog called "The Tem Most Popular Tweets by Real Life Working Moms, and Why You Might Tweet Them Too". (Link) I figured I'd bring it to your attention in case you thought it might be interesting enough to drop a quick mention on your site about it, as I'm trying to increase the readership of my blog.

Either way, thanks for your time!"

Not for nothing, but I get a lot of these requests, and typically we ignore 99.716% of them. (By the way, 84% of all statistics are made up spontaneously.) But I really liked the way that Abby approached us.

This particular request was a bit different for several reasons, and we thought we should quickly outline three reasons why we chose to link to her blog at Nanny Classifieds. I figure many of you that are reading this would want to have links coming into your website, and want to know the best way of going about it, read on:
  1. Authenticity - Abby is clearly not like most people requesting links. She doesn't throw some random BS at us saying "I love your blllooooog (misspelled), and this is very happy useful information - for more useful information, please visit my blog" Instead, she said she is trying to increase the readership of her blog. Honest.

    She also left the decision up to the person that owns the blog. Some people simply expect the person they are contacting to fulfill their wishes. Um, no. But Abby simply said "in case you might be interested." Excellent.
  2. Relevance - We are a web design firm that performs Social Media Campaigns. Twitter is certainly part of that mix, so an article about Tweeting is certainly relevant to our audience, and we would want to share it!
  3. Quality - When I read the article, I was impressed. It was well-created, and the topic was clearly well thought-out. Plus the blog it self looked really nice, I was happy to show my audience another cool techie that takes pride in her website's appearance.
I gotta head to a meeting now. But I just want to thank Abby for a great blog and a great request. And for you readers, keep the above suggestions in mind when developing your website's or blog's link strategy. If you need help, we can assist you with one of several very cost effective Social Media Programs. Give us a call or contact us at Rockland Web Design.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Using Web Marketing During Hurricane Sandy - A Case Study (kind of)

(I said "kind of", because I'm not doing any major documentation as a case study should entail. This is simply a quick story, one in which I was deeply involved.)

If you live on the East Coast, you know the devastation that Superstorm / Hurricane Sandy caused. In my own town, several roads were severely affected - such as River Road, Beach Road, and Ba Mar Community. Over 60 families needed to evacuate their damaged or destroyed homes at the height of the crisis, and we were blessed to participate in the initial relief effort. Read the entire story here.

But once the basic needs were met, we turned our heads to organizing a long-term relief effort. This is where Rockland Web Design's ACE Web Marketing System that we've been evangelizing for the past several years comes into play. And what better way to deploy the system than to help people in need?

Before I explain how we applied the system to our work to help the Superstorm victims, I will identify what the system entails. You can also learn more about it at Rockland Web Design's site.

The ACE Web Marketing System consists of:
  • Website: Control the content of your website with new and compelling offers, events and services that your company knows will be needed.
  • Blog: Continually update your blog with new information about things that you are doing within your business, or even just general ideas about your industry. Something. Anything!
  • Newsletter: Short and sweet - letting people on your email list know that you've created these cool new posts on your website and blog. (Some of you might be reading this as a result of our newsletter - ahem)
  • Social Media: Only do this step after you post new materials to your website, but once you are done, go on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and interact with your friends! Comment on their interests, likes, dislikes, events, happy and sad know, like a regular human being. I'll repeat that - like a regular human being.

    (Every once in a while (no more than 20% of the time), remember to promote your offerings, and link back to your website and blog posts)

  • Search: The great thing is, if you have done all the steps above, search will happen. You create a buzz about new offerings on your website, and talk about your blog, people will start searching for you, especially in a local area.
So how does this apply to Superstorm / Hurricane Sandy?

Soon after the crisis, we decided to do some fundraising for the families that were displaced by the storm. You can read about the entire story here, but I'll quickly go over the same exact points I presented above, except to show what was done in each example for this effort.

How we applied the ACE Web Marketing System:
  • Website: We created a donation portal, through the North Rockland Business Alliance, called From there we developed several very important pages:
    • Donation page: To send money online to help the families
    • Events pages: To show the local fundraising efforts at restaurants, bowling alleys and bars.
    • Request help page: To allow families a method to ask for assistance.
    • Items donation forms: To allow the community to donate clothes, toys, furniture and more

  • Blog: Halfway through the effort, we wrote that blog post that I mentioned above, about our efforts to help the local market. Click here to read it.
  • Newsletter: We wrote a newsletter - a very short one - and asked over 1000 people on our newsletter list to donate, and linked them back to the website.
  • Social Media: In our area, we have a great Facebook Group called the North Rockland Community. This community was started by my friend Diego Aviles, who is a vibrant and active member of the local community, always helping to connect people.

    There are over 2000 people in the group, and many took to that group to post their wishes to help those affected by the hurricane.

    We studied this information, and when the time was right, we posted information about the donation and relief efforts we were doing through the North Rockland Business Alliance. The thing to emphasize here is that we continually pointed them back to the website, to give the audience a consistent, consistent message. This way, our information did not get lost in the fold. All we had to do was keep providing the link at the necessary times, when people asked for it. That's the point of a website - to create a branded, consistent message.

    Mind you...we did not just make the information about ourselves. Several entities, such as Immaculate Conception Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Wayne Hose Fire Company, and of course Stony Point Town Hall were referred to continually throughout our communications. The key was to make it a two way conversation, so that people felt comfortable that there were humans on our end that empathized with those families that needed help the most.

  • Search: The great thing was, we got unbelievable traffic! Google and Bing hits quadrupled, and even media outlets such as the Rockland Journal News, Rockland County Times, and News 12 began inquiring about the efforts.

  • Net result: We raised about $30,000 for the families! Shortly thereafter we began distributing the funds. Families got $200, $350 and $500 checks written directly to them. We also were able to partner with the Stony Point Seals - who jump in the Hudson River each year on Super Bowl Sunday - to raise many thousands more! You can learn more about this Yerar's plunge at The Stony Point Seals Website.

    In addition, the North Rockland Business Alliance's business mission for 2013 was revitalized, and many former members and prospective members came back to the organization to participate.

    Finally, the NRBA became part of Rockland County's new Disaster Recovery Coalition, to help create a long term recovery plan for all of Rockland NY, in the event of future disasters.

    To me, it proves that the ACE Web Marketing System that we painstakingly refined over the past several years works. To learn more about the ACE Web Marketing System, go to our website Rockland Web Design.

    I must emphasize that what I'm describing here is certainly not the only reason why the results occurred. As always I like to say that God had a hand in helping us to do what we could, and guided us as it got stressful. There were so many good people that helped out during the effort. I have an anonymous friend that I am grateful to, as well as several that I can name publicly, such as Lionel Mathis, Alison Bimbo, Robert and Patricia Manfredi, Mark Engelman and Chelle Cordero from Stony Point Ambulance Corp, Trinity United Methodist Church, Stony Point Center, Jean Talamini, Christian Church of Rockland, Supervisor Geoff Finn and so many more.

    So this case study is only covering a very small about of what happened. And the work will continue for many, many months to come. There are still many families in need, and in some way shape or form we hope to reach as many as possible. Right now, the best thing you can do to help is to learn more about the Stony Point Seals.

    For your purposes, and for your company, organization or cause, remember to apply The ACE Web Marketing System, or a variation of this system to your work to do good in your community. Always remember who you're working for (those in need), and why you're doing what you do (to help). Aside from a nice system to help organize it all, that is really the driving force behind all the good things that you will do.