Employees fist bumping each other
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Top Ways of Showing Appreciation to Employees

Top Ways of Showing Appreciation to Employees

You can tell your employees how much you value them and their contribution any day of the year. No occasion is necessary. In fact, small surprises, awards and tokens of your appreciation spread throughout the year and help the people in your work life feel valued.

Looking for ideas about how to praise and thank employees? Please see suggestions below;

  • Praise your employees about a job that has done well. Identify the specific actions that you found admirable. This praise feels sincere since you took the time to spell out details not just, “You did a good job.” You also emphasize the actions that you’d like to see the employee do more often and everybody benefits.


  • Say Thank You! Show your appreciation for their hard work and contributions. Don’t forget to say please often as well. A gracious, polite, civilized workplace is appreciated by all. Also if you “ask” and not “demand or dictate” the employee won’t feel demoralized.


  • Ask your employees about their interests. Questions and acknowledgments about their family, their hobbies, their weekend or a special event they attended. Your genuine interested as opposed to being nosey. This causes people to feel valued and cared about.


  • Offer your staff a flexible scheduling for the holidays, if feasible. If work coverage is critical, post a calendar so people can balance their time off with that of their coworkers. This shows you care about their personal time and not all about work.

Rewards and Recognition

  • You can give a card for no reason at all, to celebrate a special day such as a birthday, or to offer sympathy when a employee is ill or experiences a family death.
  •  If you can afford to give employees money. End of the year bonuses, attendance bonuses, quarterly bonuses and gift certificates.
  •  Take employees to lunch for a birthday, a special occasion or for no reason at all. Let them pick the restaurant. Or, order pizza or lunch from a caterer or a store that delivers. Schedule a brunch for a team that has met its current goals.
  •  Bring in bagels, doughnuts or other treats.
  •  Provide opportunity. People want chances for training and cross-training. They want to participate where their talents are noticed all employees.
  •  Have a yearly charity event where the whole office takes a work day (paid) to work with a non-profit for the day. This is good for the community and brings the staff together for team building.

Employee appreciation is never out-of-place. In fact, in many organizations, it’s often a scarce commodity. Make your workplace the exception. Use every opportunity to demonstrate your gratitude and appreciation to employees. They’ll bring you success in employee motivation, employee recognition and in building a positive, productive workplace.

How many SSL security certificates do you need?
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How Many SSL Certificates Do I Need

How many SSL Certificates does my website need and why should I care about SSL?

Every small business owner understands the importance of their website.  With regard to marketing and good Search Engine Page Results (SERP), most small business owners know a solid website is essential.  However, there are many elements that factor into organic rankings on a SERP, as well as credibility and building trust with potential customers.  One of these factors is the security of your website.  This is described in technical terms as Secure Socket Layer or SSL.

SSL IS a big deal, and for almost every type of website an SSL certificate is essential, however, depending on the function of your website and the types of products or services you offer, different levels or layers of SSL are recommended (if not required by search engines in order for your site to rank on their results page).

So what is SSL?

  • SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the security for your website.  Think of it like an alarm system for your house.  In the same way you secure your home so that no one is able to poke around without your consent, an SSL certificate functions like a security system for your website.  SSL can prevent your site from being hacked, which would allow the hacker to collect data on your subscribers and publish content or add outbound links without your awareness.  However just putting an SSL certificate on your website doesn’t 100% guarantee your site won’t be hacked.
  • There are 3 levels of user trust for SSL Certificates and it depends on what your site will be providing to your customers or users as to which one to install.

So how many levels of SSL does your website need?  In other words, how many SSL certifications should you consider?

o    Domain Validated certificates (DV):  These certificates check against your domain register to confirm the validity of the connection.

o    Organization Validated certificates (OV): These certificates are strictly authenticated by real agents against business registry databases hosted by governments.

o    Extended Validation certificates (EV): These certificates are the highest level of trust and require more validation to ensure the person buying the certificate owns and manages the website the certificate will be installed on your site.

For any of these levels of security, you will likely need the assistance of your domain host to install the SSL Certificate, and get the proper amount of SSL Certificates on your site.


Does my website need an SSL Certificate

  • The short answer is YES but which one do you need.  The following guidelines should help you when choosing the right certificate for your website.
  • For sites where security isn’t an issue like an internally hosted website for your business or a public facing information only (no personal information is collected, which includes email address for newsletter subscriptions or contact forms) then an EV certificate would be ok.
  • If your site is used for transmitting personal data like email, address, credit card information then you would want to move up to the OV certificate at the least.
  • The highest level of security and most expensive is the EV certificate.  This type of certificate has the most rigorous validation process.  The EV certificate use the Green bar you’ll see on some of the bigger sites like Amazon, Google, Wal-mart, target and more.

If you have any questions about the security of your website, please contact the team at SavvySisterMarketing.com for help.  Our IT guru, Robert will be happy to help you.

Public Relations for Small Business Owners
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PR for Local Small Business – Yes, You Can

Many small business owners consider PR unnecessary, but the fact is that having some PR basics in place, and learning how to manage your public reputation IS something most small business owners can do. In fact, once you understand the basics of PR, and have some of the essential tools in your toolbox, you CAN handle PR and reputation management internally.

Here are some of the basics that small business owners need to have in place so that PR becomes semi-automated and integrated into the way you conduct business.

1. Support local non-profits or youth organizations. This is a great way to inadvertently get your name out into the community. In this world of ever-increasing global news and issues, people are craving the “yester-years” and simplicity of small-town life. Local, community papers are widely read, and having your business mentioned during the “Paint Your Heart Out” or “Arbor Day” celebrations in your town is a great way to touch the locals and neighbors who are most likely to patronize your business or request your services. You don’t need the name of your roofing company splattered all over twitter, you just need the elderly couple 2 blocks over to know you’re there when they need their roof repaired, have their carpets cleaned, or want to have pavers installed.

2. Have solid internal communication chains IN PLACE. This is huge not only for good customer service, but during a crisis or natural disaster in which your services may be needed, knowing who in your organization is reporting to whom will keep communication clear, and reduce the chances of a missed lead or poor customer service due to a botched hand-off. Knowing the points of contact within your organization for customers, project managers, staffing supervisors, and having clear expectations of which channels of communication are to be used by whom (text, email, phone, auto-notifications, etc.) will ensure that every member of the team is receiving the information they need to provide services requested, and report supplies and/or personnel needed.

3. Don’t be afraid to go public. If you’re not using social media, reconsider this. People are on social media, so if you want people to feel they can trust you and your team, you need to be there too. Whether you’re in the construction industry or have a food truck, you need to be posting content that makes people smile, offers them helpful tips, and showcases your expertise. Post images of your work, post quotes that satisfied clients have said to you, post blogs about simple recipes or helpful-DIY hints, create a fun # around your annual company picnic with hilarious pictures of the egg toss and the three-legged race. It’s absolutely ok to show off the good and the positive things that are happening with your work and your employees, so GET SOCIAL!

4. Invest in a professional Press Release Template, and start compiling a database of local reporters. Of course, Savvy Sister can provide this, but if you are really on a tight budget, just search up press release templates online and try to create a professional press release template that can be used to push out information to your business to local papers and reporters. As you see a story online or in the paper, make a note of the reporter. Most reporters cover a certain beat like lifestyle or “feel-good” stories, local schools, local council meetings, zoning issues, etc. Try to find reporters that cover stories relevant to your business, and start keeping their contact info in an Excel spreadsheet. When you have something to share, write it up (or let us do that for you), and send it out to those most likely to have an interest in covering the story.

5. Make asking for reviews part of invoicing. Having links to your business on Google+ or links to your profile on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, (whatever is relevant to your business) at the bottom of emailed invoices is very powerful, and allows customers the opportunity to share their experience with others. There MAY be negative reviews, but this is unlikely if you are committed to providing good service, and the amount of positive reviews is usually heavily outweighed, and is worth this effort.

These are just some of the basics of PR, but if you are using these tools on a regular basis (whether it’s an annual press release or daily posts to social media), you CAN internally manage your reputation. If you want to learn more about solid PR strategies for your organization, contact the team at Savvy Sister Marketing today. We are here to help the small business owner, the non-profit team, and the upstarts! WE WILL HELP YOU. Contact Us Today.

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Yelp Help

Yelp. Just the sound of that name brings joy to some and complete frustration to others. If you are a small business owner successfully and profitably running ads on Yelp, that’s fabulous, but you’re probably in the minority. If you are a small business owner and have a listing or reviews on Yelp, but have not claimed your business, keep reading. If you have claimed your business but find advertising on Yelp completely worthless, you’re not alone, and this article may offer some solutions for you.

Despite the horrible rating in BBB, and the many (MANY) issues that digital marketing firms and/or small business owners encounter when attempting to manage an ad campaign on that particular referral site, Yelp is NOT ALL BAD.

Let’s begin by explaining what an updated, accurate listing on Yelp CAN do for your small business. Yelp DOES:

  • Provide an in-bound link that offers veracity and increased dominance in local SERP.
    Allow Yelp users (we’ll talk about these people in a minute), to leave reviews for OTHER Yelp users (we’ll take about these people in a minute).
    Allow you to list specific services you provide and create a personal “feel” to your profile so potential customers can decide if you’re a good fit for their particular need.
    Allow direct messaging from Yelp users via the Yelp App to which an owner or manager can respond from their cell-phone, their email, or both. This is great if you offer any type of “rapid response” services such as plumbing or water damage clean up. You can communicate with a potential customer in real time, close the deal and be on the job site with little to no miscommunication.
    Allow you to respond to reviews and demonstrate good customer service in response to both positive and negative remarks.
    Allows “other advertisers” listings to be blocked. However, you must enter into a high-tier monthly spend 6 month minimum agreement with Yelp for this to take effect. (I’ll touch on this later.)
    Allows businesses with highly visual products and services to showcase their work. This is great for boutique bakeries serving beautiful eclairs, or for a local photographer specializing in children’s portraits. Yelp is GREAT for this type of business.

Here’s some important features and services Yelp does NOT offer the small business owner:

  • The inability to create specific ads for specific services. This CAN be acceptable if you are a housekeeping / maid service that also offers one-time deep cleans or other similar services because they are all represented in your company’s ad for “housekeeping services.” This inflexibility can be detrimental, however, if your company offers a variety of services like a concierge company. If you want to run ads for “dog walking” separate from “errands” and “house-sitting,” Yelp does NOT offer this capability. Yes, your ads for “concierge service” will show, but unless your staff is doing their due diligence on the intake form, you have no idea which services that Yelp user was looking for when your ad showed up. Services that will provide a greater ROI are obviously worth more per click, and if you only have the ability to run one ad to cover all services, this is not providing you, the small business owner, the data you need to determine if Yelp is really profitable. It’s been my experience, because I have yet to get data from Yelp to the contrary, that small business owners who run ads on Yelp pay the HIGHEST rate per click, regardless of which service the Yelp user was searching for. In other words, if the average Yelp cost for a “dog walking” click is $.80 but the average Yelp cost for a “errands running” click is $3.89, guess how much you’re paying for a dog-walking click? Yep, you guessed it, the higher rate. (Until I can see data from Yelp that contradicts this, I am presenting this as my own experience as an advertiser on Yelp and ad manager for clients with listings on Yelp.)
    The inability to set a top limit to what you are willing to pay for a click: Again, this is based on the lack of data and control that Yelp offers a small business owner. How the Yelp algorithm determines what a click for a specific query is worth is a mystery. The account managers and sales managers whom I have spoken to at Yelp will not disclose this information. If Yelp *arbitrarily* determines that a carpet cleaning lead is worth $12, that’s what they charge per click, and the small business owner has no control over setting a limit on that number.
    The inability to set specific geographical ad targeting: While you CAN list the specific cities you serve, if you are a pizza shop, you are likely limited by an actual radius, meaning that you are probably paying for Yelp clicks that are out of your service area.
    The inability to ACCURATELY track where a call / click / lead came from: Most small business owners who are in NJ would scratch their head and wonder why they have paid for a click from a call in Portland, OR. According to Yelp, the “location” of the user is reported based on whatever town the user listed as their “hometown” in their profile. (I will leave this without further commentary, because, in my opinion, this is just sheer laziness on the part of Yelp in failing to track the location of the IP address that the query came from… Absurd.)
    The inability to schedule ads: If you are a coffee shop that’s open in the morning and for lunch, your ads will run on Yelp whenever anyone searches “coffee shop near me” even if it’s 4 pm.So just when you’ve begun to think, “Forget Yelp!” I’m going to tell you not to. As I said in the beginning, Yelp is NOT ALL BAD. For many small business owners, Yelp is a great fit. This is how you EFFECTIVELY use Yelp.Enter into the top-tier agreement with Yelp if:
    1. You have a huge marketing budget, and your goal is web dominance in a multi-city area.
    2. AND you offer a VERY narrow offering of services like “Lawn Irrigation.” You don’t do landscaping, you don’t do lawn care, you ONLY do “Lawn Irrigation” or you only offer “Pest Control” or you only offer “Italian Eatery” (with multiple locations), or you are a “Public Golf Course”. Ok, moving on.

    Don’t enter a “mid-tier” agreement with Yelp at all, because regardless of the size of your business, they only offer 6 month contracts (at the time of the writing of this article anyway). If you are a small business and cannot afford the top-tier contract, I do not recommending entering into an agreement with Yelp that you WILL NOT get out of if things should go south for a season, or a slump in the economy, etc. Just don’t bother with any contract with Yelp unless you can afford to see that marketing money leave and not necessarily return.

    Run ads on Yelp that YOU CONTROL and you can pause the campaign at any time. That’s how you control the spend on Yelp – you must physically pause the ads (which cannot be done if you’re in a contract). I recommend this option for small business owners if they meet this criteria:
    1. Your business is seasonal – like a haunted house or a summer camp.
    2. Your ad budget is limited.
    3. You have the time and/or personnel to monitor the campaign every couple days and make sure you’re controlling the spend.
    4. Your business is year-round, but you offer specials like “back-to-school haircuts” or “summer sale on flip-flops.”

    Claim your business profile on Yelp, and keep your listing updated. Add updated images, respond to reviews, add a link to leave reviews on your website, etc. This should be done by EVERY small business owner. Even if you’re not actively running an ad campaign on Yelp, users can still find your listing organically on that platform.

    Which brings me to the last but not least important component of Yelp: The Yelp User. These are wonderful people. Yelp users are people who care about good customer service, who appreciate convenience (hence the app), and who are seeking to have a great experience AND THEN BRAG ABOUT IT ON YELP! Is there room for improvement in our relationship with Yelp? Absolutely, but the small business owner who understands Yelp (which now you are one of those super people), can make Yelp work for them without feeling like they’ve been taken to the (local 5-star) cleaner.

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Responding to Negative Reviews

It’s going to happen. There are individuals who truly believe that the internet is the appropriate place for them to vent their personal grievances against a business owner or their employee(s). Thankfully, most review sites have some policy guidelines that give business owners recourse to have these reviews removed, but if a review – regardless of whether it was true or valid – doesn’t necessarily violate the policies of the site on which it was posted, a response may be required. Here are some guidelines to help small business owners respond to negative reviews.

Don’t – If the review is truly a “rant” when people read it they will likely determine on their own that this is not necessarily a person from whom they can get an accurate assessment of the quality of products and services they can expect from your business. If the review is emotional, extremely long, and full of misspelled words and grammatical errors, it is probably best to let be its own best testimonial. Some people make it clear from their own words that they are unreasonable and/or not believable.

Keep It Professional – Do NOT make personal statements or offer any criticism about the client / customer who left the review. A great advantage to getting a negative review is that it can be an opportunity to showcase your customer relation skills, and demonstrate that you are committed to client satisfaction. State that plainly and clearly, and you will be likely be admired by potential customers regardless of the legitimacy of the review.

Offer A Solution – If the review is actually legitimate, it’s likely that it can be easily resolved. Offer a coupon, free shipping, free appetizer, a face-to-face meeting with the person, whatever is appropriate for the type of products and services you offer. The outcome may not necessarily be that you win that customer back, but it may demonstrate to potential customers that you are a business owner who cares about the opinion of your clients.

Don’t Explain Yourself – Don’t re-hash conversations you may have had with this person to resolve the issue. The chances of winning them over after you have tried to come to an agreement face-to-face or by phone or email are very slim, so don’t bother publishing your efforts on social media. Explaining your “side” will likely make potential customers feel as if you are not someone who listens and rather that you are someone who needs to have the last word. Don’t bother.

Apologize – If the review is legitimate, if you have truly tried to resolve the issue with this person, if you offered some type of recompense, it’s ok to just agree to disagree and let them express that they had a bad experience. This is so very, very rare. Most people are reasonable, and truly want resolution and peace, but there will be times when it’s just impossible. It’s ok to just offer a public apology and wish that person all the best.

By taking the high road, bad reviews can actually be an opportunity to show potential customers that you truly care, and that you are professional, educated, and willing to admit wrongs and try to make things right. It is a chance to be the bigger person and bring a little peace to your small corner of the world.

Local SEO Best Practices
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Smart Local SEO Practices for Small Business

The query “…Near Me” has become one of the most prolific search queries within the past couple of years.  If you are a brick and mortar business, it is absolutely essential that you understand local SEO and how your business is showing in a SERP.  Location specific queries are managed differently by search engines, so it’s important to understand which elements of your website are the most important with regard to local SEO.

When search engines, specifically Google, determine that the user is searching for something geographically near them, the results page has a “local pack” showing the data that Google has on file about relevant businesses in a specific geographic region.  This information is geography based, and the listed choices are featured on a map to the right.  Below the “pack” local organic results appear based on page rank as determined by that search engine at the time of that query.  The search engines are using the data that is currently on your website to display this information, so if your business is not updated with current info, phone number, hours of operation, and service description, you may be losing a sale.

Because it is still the most widely-used search engine, making sure that your Google My Business page is current is foundational to local SEO.  (If you don’t know how to update, edit, post, and reply to rankings on your Google My Business Page, become a member now for an in-depth tutorial on Google My Business or contact Savvy Sister Marketing for help.)

Local directory sites such as your local Chamber of Commerce website, BBB, Patch.com, Local.com, and the local online paper are important as well.

Contextually relevant citations in review sites like HomeAdvisor, BBB, Yelp, Manta, Trip Advisor, Wix, and FourSquare should be consistent across all sites.  Another important element is having “on-page signals” for the search engines that alert them to your physical location.  Your site should list the names of the cities, counties, zip codes, and regions that you service.

If your location is incorrect in Google maps, and you provide goods and/or services at your brick-and-mortar location, this must be addressed immediately.  If you have customers telling you that their GPS sent them to the wrong location, or they cannot find your location in their GPS, correcting this is also a priority.  For more in-depth information on how to ensure your business is showing properly in maps and GPS systems, become a member to access our tutorial, or contact Savvy Sister Marketing today.  Don’t put this off – you’re losing customers.

Getting good local SEO established can be very time consuming, and if you’re a busy business owner, it may be worth it to source this out so that you are certain it is done correctly and consistently across all relevant platforms.  Good local SEO depends on good website content as well as relevant inbound links, reviews, and citations.  It can seem an overwhelming task, but when done correctly it can be a game-changer for a local small-business owner in dominating the local SERP.

If you want an audit of your “local” presence, or if you want help making sure you’re listing properly in local relevant sites, contact Savvy Sister Marketing today.  We Will Help You!



Branded Search and Reputation Management

When people have done their due diligence, spent time doing research and decided they are ready to purchase, they typically will type in your brand name in order to find your site.  These people are at the bottom of the funnel, and are ready to convert.  They’re usually trying to get back to a page they already found, or they have been referred to your brand by a satisfied customer.

Looking good online when someone types “YOUR COMPANY reviews” as a search query is critical at this point.  This is why a good reputation management strategy is important.  A user gets a first impression oftentimes from star rankings on Google+, Yelp or Facebook.  If you have low star rankings, even a referral from their friend may not be enough to overcome this barrier of a low review score. That’s why having a solid, simple process for collecting reviews is important.

Here are simple steps to ensure that you’re consistently collecting honest, solid reviews from satisfied customers:

  • Deliver Good Service.  There’s no amount of online paid advertising or social media marketing that can replace good, quality service.  This should be the cornerstone of any small business.  If you have done something wrong, missed a deadline, delivered a faulty product, own up to it, correct it, and apologize.  Mistakes and misunderstandings are going to happen, but when a customer sees online that your overall goal, and your overall customer satisfaction rating is good, they are more likely to trust you.
  • Claim Your Profiles On Relevant Review Sites.  This can take time, but it’s important that you have claimed your business on all relevant platforms like Yelp, Google+, FourSquare, TripAdvisor or any other review site that is relevant to your industry.  Claiming the profile allows you to get links embedded into your site and emails that make it easy for customers to leave a review, but more importantly, it allows you to respond to negative reviews.
  • Create links on your site and in emails that make it easy for customers to leave a review.  When you email your customer their receipt, the email should contain text that is linked to wherever you want them to leave a review.  People ARE satisfied with your service, but they’re also very busy.  Making the process of leaving a review simple is a great way to show your customers that you respect their time, and they’re more likely to leave a good review if it only takes a moment for them to do so.
  • Respond to negative reviews.  Yes, do this.  Try as much as possible to sound accommodating and not defensive.  Yes, there are people who will leave reviews that are not accurate, ranting, and unreasonable.  While there are steps you can take to have these types of reviews removed, it’s best to respond in a way that is apologetic and demonstrates that you are willing to have further dialogue with the customer to try to remedy the situation.
  • Put the stickers up at your brick and mortar, and make it easy to leave a review. When you claim your profile on most platforms, you can put the stickers up indicating “We’re on Yelp,” reminding customers to leave a review.  If you want to go a step further and generate a QR code that directs people directly to the review site, that’s even better.

Having a solid, consistent process in place for collecting reviews will help ensure that you’re getting enough positive reviews, getting recent reviews, and getting reviews consistently.  All of this helps with organic results, but more importantly, it mitigates that unusual negative or marginal review, and helps keep your overall ranking high.