AM-GARD, Inc.

Website Design & Development: AM-GARD.com

We were excited when we first learned that AM-GARD, Inc. was interested in having us work on their new website design project. We knew that they were a family owned company, with a long history of serving their community, and that they had a strong business that reached all the way across the country. What we didn’t know is that they really do some good things for people, and they work with some very large government agencies as well as important American landmarks. Check them out when you get a chance. We are proud of the way the new website turned out, and so are they.

Project Includes:

  • Refinement of brand color scheme
  • new website design
  • logo revision
  • website development
  • search engine optimization

Shuffle Off to Buffalo

Well, it’s been some time since I have posted anything here on the blog. I am always telling my clients that they really need to be creating good, quality content that people will want to read, on a consistent basis. This sometimes means multiple times a week. I have not been listening to my own advice.

My Excuses:

  1. We have a 7 month old baby in our house now. It’s amazing how fast time flies and how much time is consumed by this amazing little girl. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen the pictures. It’s been an amazing 7 months so far. I love every second of it.
  2. Another excuse, and the reason why I am writing this post to is announce the fact that I have moved, and as a result, theBREWROOM has moved. I am now a resident of Lake View (Hamburg), New York. theBREWROOM now has its base of operations in the Buffalo, New York region. I am excited about this move, and think that it will ultimately been a great thing for my family, and for my business. I hope that we get to start working with some local businesses that are looking for some help. If you’re in the Buffalo area, and need some help with your business, or know someone that does, please call or email me. I’d love a chance to sit down with you and talk about your projects and goals.

Why the Buffalo, New York area?

buffalo ny web designA lot of people have asked why we moved from Pittsburgh to Buffalo. While the main reason is to be closer to family now that we have the little one, there is also the fact that we feel like Buffalo is coming back. It has always been an affordable and family-oriented place to live, but it also seems like Buffalo is on the verge of something good, and we want to be a part of it.

What About Pittsburgh?

Glad you asked. We work with companies anywhere. We have clients all over the country, not just in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The great thing about doing what we do, is that we can do it from just about anywhere. So, I chose to do it in a place that allows me to keep my costs down, which helps me keep my prices fair and reasonable for my clients. We will still work with clients in Pittsburgh. As a matter of fact, we want MORE clients in Pittsburgh, so that I have more excuses to go and visit. We love Pittsburgh!

In closing

Well, that just about wraps this post up. I just want to end by thanking the people and business of Pittsburgh for all that you have done to help me create my business. I hope that I was able to return the favor by helping you grow your ideas and businesses as well. If you feel like I have, will you please let people know by posting a review? Like I already mentioned, I want to work with the people and businesses of Pittsburgh for the forseable future. We love and will miss being in Pittsburgh, but we will be back.

Thanks for reading,

Sam Insalaco – founder of theBREWROOM

It’s About the Content

Content Marketing comes down to the ContentWe have a process here at theBREWROOM. Whether we are redesigning an existing website, designing a new website, or reviewing a website and coming up with SEO recommendations, it always, Always, ALWAYS comes down to the content. No matter what your website is about, or what you are selling, or who you are selling it to, the one thing that needs to be done right is the content. It needs to be clear what you do, who you do it for, and why someone should hire you. If this is not clear, you have failed. We were recently asked if we had one specific piece of advice to offer to other developers that are looking to incorporate Search Engine Optimization into their website development process. We answered with:  “Always include SEO at the beginning of the process.” This means that it is not something that you do when you’re done designing a site. It’s not something that you do when you have already built your site, and you’re reviewing it with a client, or your team. It’s something that you do right from the start. After all, you are not just optimizing your site for search engines. You are optimizing your site for your customers, and to do that, you need to do the work at the beginning of your process.

Basic content marketing pointers:

  • Keep content short and to the point. Nobody wants to read a book on your site.
  • Make the content have a purpose – why do you want someone to read this?
  • Include clear calls to action – what do you want the user to do next?
  • Support your copy and content with an interesting or meaningful image. It has been proven that people like visuals.
  • Check your spelling! If you’re spelling things wrong and using poor grammar, then you won’t look professional.

Thanks for listening. Please share if you agree with the points mentioned above.

Let’s Keep Talking About Search Marketing

Search Engine Marketing Pittsburgh

Last night, we had the pleasure in taking part in the SEMPO Pittsburgh Meetup at LunaMetrics. It was a great turnout, with Search Marketing Pros from several agencies as well as in-house marketers in attendance. Let’s try to keep the conversation going, and work on learning from each other and making Pittsburgh a leader in Search Engine Marketing across the region, and country!  If you are a Search Engine Marketing professional, or enthusiast, please join the Meetup Group today so that you can take part in the next event, and keep the conversation going.

We are looking forward to the next event, and to meeting more members of SEMPO Pittsburgh!

Social Media Etiquette for Everyone

This is a brief post about some things that you really shouldn’t do on Social Media. It applies to companies as well as individuals.

What NOT to do on Facebook:

Social Media Etiquette from theBREWROOM

One of the things that bothers me the most is when people announce major life events of their friends on Facebook before the actual person gets a chance to announce it.

A friend had a baby recently, and someone went and posted this information on Facebook – tagging the friend and his wife in the post – and announced the birth of the child, as well as the name! If this were to happen to me, I would be furious! Sure, it’s Facebook and you shouldn’t take it too seriously, but… there are things in life that are important, and only happen once. You only have your first child once. You only get to notify your family of your child’s birth once. Don’t ruin an exciting moment for your friends and family because you’re excited that you just became an aunt or uncle. Have some respect for you friends and let them tell the work their exciting news in the manner that they choose.

Lesson: Do not spread your friends’ news unless they ask you to!

What NOT to do on any Social Media Platform:

Don’t just post one word blubberings…

For example:

“Seriously?!”
“What?!?!?”
“Fail!”

Nobody knows what you are talking about. If you want people to talk to you about something, bring up the actual subject of the conversation.

Lesson: If you want to talk about something, talk about it…

Don’t Complain, complain, complain…

Some people use social media as an outlet that allows them to complain about anything and everything. Don’t forget, once you post it, it’s out there, and you can’t guarantee that you will able to take it down, or take it back. If you’re going to complain and someone or something, make sure you’re willing to accept the consequences of your actions. People and companies that post positive messages generally receive a better response and more (positive) interactions.

Lesson: You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar!

Don’t be mean!

People have become really mean on social media these days. It’s like the separation caused by the keyboard and the screen from the actual public makes us think that our words and actions don’t have an effect on others… or maybe it makes us care less about their effects.

Lesson: People in front of their feelings have feelings too… not just when you are mean to their face.

Have any other advice for people? Post them below in the comments, or send them to me and I’ll update this post and credit you!

Networking: Top 10 Tips

Business Networking Tips
Networking has never played a bigger role in the job market than it does today.

With thousands of unemployed (but qualified) professionals in the market, competition for jobs is fiercer than ever. It’s not enough to have a college degree. Heck, not even a masters degree is enough anymore.

Finding a job comes down to you: your personal network and your unique value proposition.

Networking GroupAs an enthusiastic young professional, I’ve had my fair share of networking experiences. While each experience is slightly different (the size of the audience, the type of crowd, the style of event, etc…) there are some basic tips to keep in mind regardless of the opportunity to find yourself in.

  • Prepare: It’s not likely that you’ll get a job offer (or even an interview) at a networking event. However, it can’t hurt to be prepared. Read up on the professionals attending and have a one-minute elevator speech, business cards* and some examples of your latest accomplishments ready on hand in the chance that you get to make a “pitch”.
    *Be sure to carry your business cards in your breast pocket so they are easily accessible.
  • Dress the part: Dressing up makes you look good and professional. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you’re more likely to come across as confident. People gravitate towards people with confidence.
  • Show up early: Arriving early to a networking event is a much better idea than showing up a few minutes late. Events are usually less crowded early on which makes it easier to find people who aren’t already engaged in conversation. Similarly, arriving early will help ease your butterflies if you’re a nervous network-er.
  • Networking Tip - Don't Be ShyDon’t be shy: Don’t wait for someone to approach you to start a conversation. Take initiative! If you see someone you would like to speak to, go introduce yourself. If that’s too daunting, ask to be introduced to someone through a mutual connection or try walking up to a small group of people and ask if you can join their conversation.
  • Ditch your expectations: Attending a networking event isn’t going to get you a job immediately. The best way to approach it is to go in without any expectations.
    *Remember: this isn’t a sales pitch; it’s an opportunity to make a positive or memorable impression and get the conversation started.
  • Listen: Find a good balance between talking and listening. Don’t just talk; converse. When you listen attentively, you absorb — you can use the knowledge you absorbed to further foster the relationship.
    *For example: try to use the other person’s first name a few times during the conversation. (People like hearing their own name and it’ll help you remember it once the conversation is over.) Also try to remember something specific about each person you meet; you can include it in your follow-up with them. Remembering the little things goes a long way in showing that you’re someone who is engaging and interested in fostering relationships.
  • Be passionate: Excitement is contagious. Win people over with your excitement over your ideas. Talk about what you enjoy doing (and why,) and ask others to do the same.
  • Relax: A smile and a deep breath can go a long way in steadying your nerves and making you look more comfortable and inviting.
  • Mind your manners: This might seem obvious but it bears repeating: make eye contact, bring people into the conversation, chew with you mouth closed and say thank you.
  • Quality, not quantity: Ditch the idea that getting a lot of business cards means that you “killed it” at a networking event. Focus on creating stimulating, quality conversations with individuals you hope to connect with. Aim to converse (and exchange contact information) with a handful of people who you would like to build a real professional relationship with.
  • Focus on “we” vs. “me”: Networking should never be just about you. It’s about helping each other. Be proactive about sharing information and recommendations or offering to make an introduction.
  • Follow up: Since everyone has their preferred method of communication, I tend to ask people directly how they’d prefer to keep in touch (email, phone, LinkedIn, etc.). Regardless of how you follow up, make sure you do it within 48 hours of the event.
    *Remember: the follow up is just step two of the process – don’t forget to keep the conversation, and the relationship, going.
  • Don’t give up: You might not get a response to every outreach you make. Even if your efforts go unanswered, don’t lose hope. People are busy; emails get sent to spam; people lose track of time. Try reaching out again in a few weeks and see what happens.

I took to Twitter and asked my own professional network to share their number one networking tip with me. Here are the responses I received:

  • “Don’t just think about what someone can do for you, focus on what value you are bringing and what you can offer.” – Elizabeth Callahan @Bflo_girl
  • “Make it light and personal but don’t force connections. If you’re someone who is fun to be with, others will want to work with you.” – Taylor Griffith @TaylorLeigh_G
  • “Don’t make it about a sales pitch. Get to know people, connect with them. Make them remember you.” – Krystal Sondel @LovinOnBuffalo

Regardless of whether you use the tips above, the thing to keep in mind is that networking is about bridging a connection and a mutually beneficial relationship with another.

One event; one introduction; one conversation could open up doors that you never even knew you existed.

Happy Belated Birthday, Facebook!

Happy Birthday, Facebook!

For the last 10 years, Facebook has been our social media darling and is the central focus when we talk about connectivity in the digital age. While previous channels of social connectivity were around when Facebook came out, it was the social giant that seemed to get the formula for success down pat.

Facebook LogoThey were also the first with over 1 billion users and can be found in the proverbial dictionary under “social networking boom.”

So – what have we, the users, gotten out of Facebook in the last 10 years? I was able to collect a lot of different opinions on the topic by reaching out… via Facebook (and a couple of casual conversations).

Brittany Davies of Washington D.C. says that she uses social media for the purpose of keeping up to date with her family who are all located back in her home state, New York. Pregnancies announced, the goings on with siblings, and friends from college and high school are what keep her in the loop while she’s away. A devoted family person, she feels that it is Facebook that keeps her as connected as she needs to be.

And a lot of other people, in varying ways of doing so, agree that the number one reason for being apart of the site is to stay connected. Facebook is a tool for like or unlike minds to share experiences, share ideas, share opinions, and celebrate ones own life or the lives of those around them.

From my experience as an avid user of Facebook since 2006, I’ve also found this to be an incredible tool to cultivate professional and personal relationships that might be harder to do if I needed to reach each contact individually. And unlike the professional-focused LinkedIn or on Twitter, I feel like Facebook is where I can be more open with my opinions or my takeaways on whatever I post.

For some, Facebook has been a means of reuniting families (birth families of adopted individuals have been found via Facebook). For others, Facebook has been a means of revolution.

In 2010, Egyptians took to the social media channel to broadcast to the world the pain and suffering caused by Egyptian police and their government. Photos of brutally beaten, or killed, Egyptians began to appear the world over and individual Egyptians realized they were not alone and banded together.

Since then, Egypt has seen a lot of political and social restructuring as a result of the revolution. Since then, Facebook continues to be a tool for those hungry to stay connected.

For some, Facebook is a creepy, evil time suck of a website. For some it can cause social anxieties. Some use it to bolster their self-image (whether they do it right or not can only be judged on an individual basis).

As for the future? We can only wish Facebook the best. The times are changing and some would argue that the site is being severely challenged as the social Go To by the likes of Twitter. At any given time, you can read about how the executive team at Facebook is looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve, buying up companies that will help put Facebook ahead. Facebook’s mission is to keep us connected continues to show in their business and the news it makes.

And that is something worth liking.

Happy belated birthday!

Website Design & Development
CreditVest contacted theBREWROOM because they needed a major facelift for their existing website. They needed a new website that looked professional, showed off their services, and allowed their potential customers to find them, and easily contact them. CreditVest also needed a new logo for their company. theBREWROOM designed several different options for them, and helped them narrow their focus until landing on the winning logo – which you will see on the site.

theBREWROOM came up with a site that is responsive on mobile devices, has a clean slider on the home page, and effectively tells you who they work with, and what they do.

We feel that we helped CreditVest take their company website to the next level. What do you think?