email marketing

Don’t do these 4 things when sending marketing emails

I don’t know about you, but I am on more email marketing lists than I remember signing up for. If I find the guy that sold his list… anyway! I wanted to just drop a quick few notes of advice when it comes to sending out emails on behalf of your organization.

  1. Don’t be too wordy. Today, nobody wants to read a long email – especially not a long marketing email – that goes on and on about the service or event that you’re trying to sell them. Just give them some enticing details and send them over to your website using some very clear calls-to-action (links) to the page on your website where they can learn more.
  2. Do not use comic sans as the main font in your newsletter. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t use a font that they use in comic books. If you like the font, use it in your signature at the end of the email, or somewhere less pronounced. Pick a clean, easy to read font that is a web-safe font.
  3. Don’t just send your emails out via Outlook, or any way directly from your email program on your computer. Why, you ask? Because permission marketing is smart. You give your audience the choice of whether they want to receive your messages. When you use a program like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, etc… they have built in controls that allow people to say whether or not they want to continue to receive your emails (unsubscribe buttons). These are important. And maybe for a reason you haven’t thought about. When someone gets an email directly from you, that is obviously just a mass-email that you’re sending out to everyone in your address book, there’s a good chance a few of them are going to want to STOP receiving those emails from you. Maybe it’s an old customer who no longer does business with you. Maybe it’s a failed prospect. Or, maybe it’s even a former coworker that doesn’t really want to hear from you anymore. Let’s face it, this stuff happens. Well, how are they going to let you know that they want to stop receiving those emails. Here’s some scenarios:
    1. Scenario 1: They receive your email and then email you back and say “Please stop sending me these emails, thanks.” – that’s fine, and nice enough of them, but you’d put them in a weird/uncomfortable place. They are put in the spot where they need to tell YOU to stop. Not where they are given the power to choose, without having to contact you directly. You know what I mean? Don’t put people in the uncomfortable position of having to ask you directly to stop emailing them.
    2. Scenario 2: They really don’t want to talk to you, or email you, so they click the Mark as Spam button on their email program. Uh oh! What? You’re a spammer now? Yes, you are. You’re emailing people without their permission. So, people are going to mark you as spam. When that happens, you get flagged. And if you get flagged enough, you’re going to get blocked from sending ANY emails. Yes, that means you can’t even send your coworkers photos of your cat because your ENTIRE domain is blocked and listed as spam. Yeah, you don’t want that. So don’t send emails from Outlook, gmail, whatever. Set up an account with an email marketing system like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor (my two favorites) and use their professional services for sending out your marketing emails. If you need help setting this up, let me know.
  4. Use high quality graphics, and make them the right size – but don’t make your entire email an image. Don’t leave it up to the user’s screen or the email program to display the images in the email the way that you want them to be displayed. If your graphics are too big, or too small, then you’re putting at risk the level of professionalism that you’re hoping to show when you’re sending your email. And please, whatever you do, do NOT stretch an image (distorting it) just to make it fit the open space within your email.  If an image needs to be 600px wide by 250px high, then resize and crop it down to that. Don’t take a 2000px wide by 1000px high image, stick it in there and expect it to fill the space correctly. The ratio is not the same, and it will either look distorted (depending on how you put it in there), or it will be too tall for the space, and possibly push some things out of place. Even worse, don’t take an image that is already smaller than the area you want to fill and make it stretch. It’s going to look terrible, trust me.If you make the entire email an image, then only some of the people who get the email will even see it. Some email systems block embedded images entirely within emails. This happens often at offices and inside corporations who take hacking and virus checking pretty seriously. Gmail even does this by default. Use images to support the text in the email. Yeah, I know that an image can look prettier, but what’s the point of pretty, if not that many people are even going to see it? And ALWAYS include the text version of the email message when you create it in your email marketing system. Then those of your subscribers who have chosen to receive the text version will actually see something. MailChimp has some great resources on email design best practices. You should read them.

I hope you found this helpful. Let me know if you need help with your email marketing campaigns. I’d be happen to take a look at what you’re doing now and suggest ways we can work together to make it better. If you’re doing any of the things I mention above, stop. You’ll thank me later.

TeuxDeux – Finally, a To-Do List App That I Use!

I have to admit, I’m not exactly the most organized person on the planet. I work from multiple computers, in multiple locations, take notes on scrap paper, in a binder notebook, on my iPhone, on my iPad, and who knows were else some of these notes that I could have sworn that I wrote down disappeared to! Well, I have been looking for a solution to this issue. It’s a big issue for me, too. Running a business, having a family, starting a local blog, shooting photos with my wife and just day to day tasks and responsibilities is a lot to keep track of. I really thought that writing it all in a notebook was the answer for me. But, I often found myself out, without my notebook around, with a need to make a note of something that I needed to check on or someone that I needed to contact about something, so I would make a note somewhere else. Now I have notes all over the place!

Well, my problem is official solved!

I recently discovered TeuxDeux. And I am so glad that I did! TeuxDeux is a very cleanly designed, simple to use, and cross platform application that I now put all of my notes into. That’s because it’s on my computer (via any browser), plus it has a nice iPhone and iPad. Let’s face it, chances are, I have one of those things with me when I’m anywhere.

Top 5 things I love about TeuxDeux:

  1. Keep it simple: TeuxDeux makes is simple to keep everything that I need to do, no matter who or what it’s for, all in one place.
  2. Task rollover: You can assign a task to today, or a day in the future. If you don’t complete the task on that day, TeuxDeux will automatically move the task to the next day! No more tasks being left behind. If you don’t complete all of your tasks for today, when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll find that the tasks are now all moved over! This is probably my favorite thing about it.
  3. Task formatting: You can include links in your tasks to save you time from having to look up a website. You can also make words bold or italic
  4. List organization: You can create additional lists of tasks that don’t necessarily have dates tied to them, but just need to be noted and eventually done. You have full control over what you call these separate lists.
  5. Accessibility: I can access my TeuxDeux list from anywhere, at any time!


If you’re like me, and have a lot of balls up in the air, then you might want to give TeuxDeux a try. It has a 30 day free trial, and then it’s very affordable once your trial expires. It has definitely helped me to get better organized, and get more done – which to me is exactly what I needed. So, thank you to TeuxDeux! Keep up the good work!

Why you need to join Periscope today

Live streaming is becoming an increasingly powerful and popular tool for businesses, and individuals, looking to provide people a behind-the-scenes look at an event, process or organization.

live-stream-photoApplications like Periscope and Meerkat, both still relatively new to the world of social media, are growing in popularity and audience by the day.

It almost seems as though every time I log in to Periscope, I discover a number of friends and businesses that just created their profiles.

There are a ton of reasons why applications that provide a live-broadcasting service are growing in popularity. I could spend hours writing about the different benefits that organizations and brands can provide to their audiences by connecting via live-stream.

However, to air on the side of brevity, here are the top four reasons why I think mobile broadcasting is booming, and why you need to set up a profile for your small business:

  1. Social media is becoming a visually-dominated space: Any article you read will show you the strong statistics that prove photos and videos are the future of social media. People have become lazy and don’t want to read text anymore. When all your fans need to do to get a behind-the-scenes look at your event or business is open an app, it makes it much easier for them to take action and tap in.
  2. Fear of missing out is real: It’s exciting to feel like you’re a part of the action. The great thing about these applications is they enable you to feel that way regardless of where you live, and whether you can get to the event or organization in person. Viewing broadcasts on Periscope make you feel like you’re really there.
  3. Real-time drives results: People enjoy, and seek out, opportunities to get involved in something in real-time. Why do you think Twitter chats have become such a powerful tool for organizations? Using a live-streaming app lets your audience get engaged with you in real-time, and also provides them the opportunity to ask questions. (Periscope has a chat feature.) This means that as a business, you can connect to your customers immediately, while also providing them with answers and information that they’re looking for on the spot.
  4. Show your human side: Live-streaming applications provide you with the opportunity to showcase the human side of your business. Take them on an office tour or backstage at an event, or maybe feature your President or senior team… Regardless, it’s a great way to show the faces of the people who do the work, and doing that will undoubtedly make your audience feel more connected to you.

I highly encourage you to hop on Twitter and create your Periscope profile today so that you can start to use this technology as a way to connect, inspire, inform and educate your audience.

Photo credit: Anthony Quintano

create campaign photo

3 components of compelling campaigns

As a marketer, you want to create campaigns that draw attention and engagement.

As a marketer, you want to make noise.

However, small businesses often struggle with finding the time and tools to create these campaigns.

Often times, it’s hard to know where to start and what to do in order to create a movement or a compelling marketing campaign.

I recently participated in the “30-Day Bravery Challenge,” an effort started by a friend to inspire people to push themselves outside their comfort zone.

Through the experience, I discovered three critical elements that you must incorporate if you want to successfully create a compelling campaign:

  • Community: In order to create a successful campaign, you must first create a group of people who can function as a community. Facebook groups are great ways to bring people together to engage in a topic. For example, Greg Faxon (the creator of the challenge) created a Facebook group so that all Bravery Challenge participants could interact and engage with each other. By creating a community, you create engagement. Being a part of a community is empowering; it creates accountability and connection. Members of the community rely on each other for support, advice and guidance. Strong communities help push their participants to work together to accomplish shared goals. Knowing that there is a group of people supporting you is extremely helpful to allowing people to overcome their fears and keep pushing towards greatness.
  • Consistency: Another critical aspect to creating a compelling campaign is consistency. Individuals need to know how often they will be communicated with as well as how often they will be asked to engage or participate in group activities. Consistency helps create expectations and engagement. It’s much easier to join a movement, or engage with a campaign, when you know, beforehand, what will be expected of you. Letting people know what, and when, to expect your outreach helps create buy-in and anticipation.
  • Collaboration: The last, but most important, piece to creating a compelling campaign or movement is collaboration. The community must have an outlet to communicate with each other; to share ideas and experiences and learn from each other. By engaging with other members of the group, participants feel more connected to the movement as a whole. By sharing stories and life experiences, people create lasting connections which makes them more eager and willing to work together.

Creating a community, consistently communicating your goals and expectations, and creating an outlet for collaboration are critical in order to create a compelling, powerful campaign on or offline.

Take Control

Control How Facebook Displays Your Web Pages

Did you know that you can control how Facebook displays your web pages when they are shared on the social network? You may have found that when you post links to articles on Facebook, it sometimes pulls in an image from the post, also the title, as well as a description of the article. This is because the website is feeding Facebook with information that goes into the Facebook Open Graph Protocol. In short, this protocol is a little bit of information that lives on every page of your site that tells Facebook what the title, description, url, image, etc.. are for that particular page. Rather than making Facebook scan through the article and try to decide for itself, you can do some things to make sure that Facebook is using the information that you want it to use when the article is posted to Facebook.

If You Are Using WordPress:

If your website or blog is on WordPress, you’re life is made a lot easier if you want to control how Facebook displays your pages. Here’s what you do:

STEP 1:   Install WordPress SEO by Yoast. Yes, this is not only the best SEO plugin available for WordPress, but it also has a feature to control how your posts appear on social networks. Nice huh?

social-settingsOnce you activate the plugin, you will want to turn on the Social functionality. This is done by going into the plugin’s Social settings. Click on Social, and then check the box to Add Open Graph meta data. You might want to do the same for Twitter as well as Google+ while you’re in there.

After activating the social functionality, you will see the section (see below) on each of your posts that allows you to manage the SEO settings for that post. Click on the Social tab.

Social Media Settings - Yoast

Step 2:    Enter the Title that you want to appear when this article is posted on Facebook. Do the same for the Description of the page. You may also want to specify the photo or image that you would want to appear when you share the article on Facebook. Sometimes Facebook is smart enough to pull the featured image from the page, or another image from the page, but this is the easy way to tell Facebook which image you WANT to appear. You can choose from amongst your Media Files that you have already uploaded too.

You will notice that you can do the same for Twitter, as well as Google+ posts. If I were you, I would go ahead and set these up. Even if you don’t use those social networks, it doesn’t mean that your article won’t get posted on them. And if your article is posted, you’ll be smart to make sure that it appears the way that you want it to look.

Step 3:    Once you publish your new post, the information that you have included in the Social section of the Yoast plugin will be included on the published page. Just to make sure, you can test it out using Facebook’s Open Graph debugging tool:

Make sure that you have published the page. Facebook will not be able to scan a draft post.

Enter the URL to your article and click Debug.

You will see what Facebook sees when your article is shared.

Facebook Open Graph Debugging Tool

Each of the elements that you edited on the Yoast plugin should appear, including a thumbnail of the image that you chose.

You will also be able to see a preview of how it will look when the article is shared:


Say you made some changes to the page, and want to test it again? Once you publish your changes, click the Fetch New Scrape Information button on the debugging tool. This will clear the page from Facebook’s cache and fetch new page info. You should see your changes there now. You can also use this method to clear Facebook’s cache at any time, for any page.

Once you have it looking the way that you like, go ahead and share it on Facebook, and anywhere else you want it to be shared!

Not on WordPress?

If you’re using another system, or building your web pages from scratch, you will want to make sure that you include the Open Graph tags in your page <head> tag. You should follow the official open graph protocol instructions, which are available here.

We hope that you found this article to be helpful, and that you can get started with making your sites pages more easily shareable and attractive to users when they are shared. If you need help with any of this type of stuff, let us know. We would love to help. Thanks for reading.

pictory productions wedding videography

Pictory Productions – Pittsburgh Wedding Videographer Website Design

Pictory Productions boasts creating “Wedding Films For Fun People“.

Well, theBREWROOM wanted to make sure that the website design and development experience for Pictory was fun for them as well. After all, if they want their clients to have, shouldn’t they have fun as well? We think so.

Megan, of Pictory Productions was heavily involved with the project, and took it upon herself to jump right in and work on the content and visuals for her new website. We love this. We love (clients) people who want to be really involved with their project, and have a real passion for the learning how to do things themselves. We love to work with these kinds of people. Megan was serious about how she wanted her site to look, and that passion for the project comes through in the end result. We hope that she is as happy as we are with the outcome.

Website Facts:

  • Built on WordPress
  • Hosting by theBREWROOM
  • Video integration
jeremy hazelton website

The Personal Blog of Jeremy Hazelton

Not only do we have the pleasure of being able to work on the website for Jeremy, but we also call him a friend. This guy has a real passion and gift for what he does, and when he speaks, that is obvious. We hope that you read his blog, and we hope that you reach out to him to learn more about what he is working on in the City of Buffalo.

jeremy blog facebook post

We’re really looking forward to great things to come from Jeremy. Especially the book that he will be writing soon. Go check out his website, and let him and us know what you think.

Website Facts:

  • Build on WordPress, using Genesis Framework
  • Hosting by theBREWROOM
  • Integrated email newsletter management

Tag Friends on Facebook Page Photos

If you reading this, then you are probably like me, and thousands of other people, and you have found yourself frustrated because you can’t tag your friends or page followers in photos that you post on your Facebook Page. Feels good to not feel alone huh? Anyway… Please note, this is not your personal Facebook profile that we are talking about here. I’m talking about the Facebook Page that you have for your business or brand.

Ok, so you’re posting a new update, and you’ve uploaded the image. Now, you have written something witty to go long with the image and you want to tag your friend, or a follower of your Facebook Page. You click Tag Photo, and you don’t get a single person that you know in the list! What the ?!? How frustrating!??!?!?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple. Go ahead and create the post. Don’t panic. Once it is up, click on the image itself. This will bring up the lightbox or “theater” view of the photo:

Tag Facebook Photo on Facebook Page

Now, look at the URL in your browser window. It will look something like this:
Delete everything after the “?”.
So, it would now look like:
Hit enter, and you will see the old Facebook image page. Click Tag Photo and BAM! There you are! There are actual people that you! Yep. It’s that easy!
Tag Your Friends on Facebook Page Photo


I hope you found this helpful. If you did, please share it with some friends, because chances are they’re having the same problem that you’re having. And friends help other friends, right?

Social Media Marketing

How To: Simple Social Media Posting

This is going to be a quick and painless posting about the simplest things to do when you are posting on social media for your business.

Here are some quick how-to pointers:

  1. Don’t post as your personal account.
  2. – If you are posting for your business, then you should be using your business’ social media account. You can always share your business posting via your personal account once you put it up on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  3. Use an image in your post.
  4. – People are more likely to see and engage with your posting if it includes an image. Embed the image right in the post, or make sure that your website is set up to display the images from the page when a page is shared on social media. If you don’t know how to do that, let us know.

  5. Include a link to the content that you want to promote.
  6. – If you’re promoting a product, piece of content or something else that you talk about on your website, link to the actual page of content. You ultimately want to drive people to your website, right?

  7. Use no more than three #hashtags in your post.
  8. – Don’t clutter things up. Use up to 3 appropriate and meaningful hashtags in your posts, should you have the character limit space to do so.

  9. Don’t tag yourself in the post.
  10. – You are already posting the social media update, so people will already see that it’s from you. You don’t need to tag yourself in the post.

    Like I said, these are just some simple tips to get you started posting the right way. If you want more help with your social media marketing, let us know.

    Do you have more simple suggestions for people? If so, post them below!

Transforming content from good to great

Transforming content from good to great

There’s a big difference between good content and great content.

You know great content when you see it; you’re immediately interested in consuming it and are inspired to share it.

However, creating great content isn’t so simple. It takes practice.

And while there are a lot of tools and best practices to follow to creating great content, below are 3 tips that I’ve found extremely useful in helping turn your content from good to great:

  • Placement: This first step to making your content shine is placement. Are you putting your content in the right place? Are you sharing it on social media? Is it on your website? In order for your content to be great, it has to be visible. You have to be strategic to place your content in the areas that your target audience spends the most time, be it your social media profile, website or blog. If your content isn’t placed where your audience looks, it will never perform well because the people most interested in it won’t end up finding it.
  • Relevancy: Once your content is found, the next factor that influences its performance is relevancy. Is your content relevant and interesting to your target audience? Does it align with their goals? In order for your content to be great, it has to resonate with the audience and make them feel something (inspired, curious, excited) that gets them to take action to share your post online, or talk about it with a friend. Posts that elicit feelings in your audience are much more likely to be shared.
  • Quality: Placement and relevancy alone won’t get your content to go viral. In order for your content to perform fantastically, it has to be quality. Does it have links? Rich media? High-res images? Did you double-check your work? In order for your content to be shared repeatedly, it has to be of high quality. No one wants to share a blog post with spelling errors or a photo that’s blurry. Taking the time to ensure that your content meets high quality standards is critical to helping it perform well.

Creating great content isn’t easy.

However, if you place it in the right channels, make it relevant to the target audience and fill it with high quality images and media, you’ll be on the path to transforming your content from good to great.