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How old is old?  Your relative age seems to be a guide to that alluring perspective when it pertains to such judgment.

A small child may think their parents are old.  The teen would undoubtedly think someone in their 30s or 40s is ancient.  Maybe someone at midlife, like myself, might feel anyone in their 70s or 80s is up there.

Recently my Mother, for the first time in her life, admitted she thought she was old at 77.

We all race toward that checkered flag of finality.  Some speed through life without much regard for the obstacles around the bend.  Others take a more conscientious approach to the race we run.  Self reflection may or may not sprout in us at times, but when tragic circumstances knock upon our door or that of others it often invokes those reflective thoughts indeed.

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When we meet someone in a networking setting and tell them we’re in public relations, they often ask these types of questions:

"So, you can design a website for me?"


"So, how many superstars do you have on speed dial?"

When we say that we don’t design websites or have Lady Gaga’s unlisted number, the response is, "Well, then, what exactly is public relations?"

It’s surprising how few people understand public relations, and how it differs from advertising, graphic design, and other areas of marketing. While the lines of distinction are blurring more and more, there still are key differences. Too many business owners don’t know how powerful PR can be as part of their marketing mix.

So, here are “Cliffs Notes” on how advertising and public relations differ:

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By Jennifer Knight, Show-N-Tell

Many of today's small business websites are basically one-sided efforts to relay information to the company's online audience.  Like many sales presentations, these sites are usually loaded with valuable facts and figures, but are they really serving their purpose?

Average websites focus on the company.  Good websites focus on the company's products and/or services.  Great websites focus on the company's audience.  But amazing websites focus on all three in reverse order:

1. Audience
2. Products/Services
3. Company

"If I were in that online audience, what would be most important to me?"

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your online audience.  There are three basic questions potential patrons will ask themselves about any website.  These questions are asked sub-consciously and very quickly, usually while viewing a company's home page: 1. Do I like this website? 2. Do I understand this website? 3. Do I believe this website?

Now think of the last time you were browsing online and a company's website occupied your screen. Honestly ask yourself all three of the questions listed above, but in the past tense.  Did that company win you over with their online personality?  To the point of purchase?

The world is advancing; advance with it. Resolve today that your customers expect and deserve the best, clearest and fastest online interaction you can provide. Websites are no longer digital billboards for the plastering of basic information.  They are serious tools for interactive communication between the end-user and the company.

About the author: Jennifer Knight is a business writer and Internet marketing professional for Colorado start-up, Show-n-Tell. Drawing on over 15 years of sales and marketing experience in real estate, web design and software development, she coaches executives and entrepreneurs on interactive business issues. Jennifer works with forward-thinking visionaries to employ their website as if it were the best and brightest member of their staff and urges them to evaluate the website's performance as such

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By Jennifer Knight, Show-N-Tell

If you are a small business owner in today's digital world, SEO is most likely being sold to you as the solution for all marketing and lead generation problems.  Be aware.  If your website is not properly developed, Search Engine Optimization can be hazardous to the health of your business and will stunt the company's growth.

Before investing in a campaign for higher search engine ranking, please consider putting the following ideas into motion:

1.  Use Google's analytic capabilities to track what is currently happening with the website.  Know what is already working and where the traffic comes from now.  Expand in those areas before you start spending money in additional areas.  Before you can know where to go, you must know where you are.

2.  Make sure a clear and present message is resonating with those that are already showing up.  If your offering is not resonating to the point of purchase with at least one out of ten customers there is no good reason to open it up to a thousand.  In fact, if you open yourself up to the masses with a poor message, you will be doing more harm than good.  Those that do stumble upon your site will not return, nor will they refer you to others.  This is branding in reverse and it is fatal.

3.  Put yourself in the computer chair of a total stranger who has never heard of you or your company and ask yourself this question: Is this website (not the company, but the website) friendly, responsive, intelligent and helpful enough to compete for my business?

And if all else fails, try this:

Visualize a young married couple walking into your physical showroom.  They look right past you and quickly glance around the store.  They turn to leave without asking a single question.  You have no idea who they were or what they were looking for.  They didn't give you a chance and you're not sure why.  They're just gone... forever.  Now multiply that experience and imagine it happening to you all day long.

Most customers don't behave this way in person.  But this is precisely how they behave online... all day long.  Pay attention to digital rejection.  There is good reason for it.

Search Engine Optimization is a wonderful thing.  I don't mean to downplay its importance, but engaging in SEO before you are ready can be a painful experience.  Not having much web traffic is bad.  But increasing web traffic before the time is right and reverse-branding your company is worse.

A great website will actively market a business for you, not just advertise it.  Your website should be quite literally working for you.  Once the website has grown to become a vital and productive member of your staff, you are then ready to revisit the endless possibilities of Search Engine Optimization.

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After the financial system meltdown of 2008, Congress and the executive branch decided to "clamp down" on risky trading by large financial institutions and enact reforms aimed at making them more transparent and solvent. More consumer protections were put in place, including the elimination of certain fees and stricter reporting requirements. They also decided to go after tax cheats by requiring foreign banks to keep more detailed records of transactions in American accounts overseas. These and other measures are supposed to protect consumers from the evil greedy capitalists, but like Joan Robinson said "The only thing worse than being exploited by a capitalist is not being exploited by a capitalist." Consumer protection measures have actually hurt the very people is was supposed to help.