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Monday, September 26, 2011

Minority Supplier Development Week: Focusing on Economic Growth and Job Creation

Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) one of the winners of the $37 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

To spur Economic Growth and Job Creation in 20 Regions across the Country
 “This cluster concept is so important… When you get a group of people together, and industries together, and institutions like universities together around particular industries, then the synergies that develop from all those different facets coming together can make the whole the greater than the sum of its parts.”  -President Barack Obama

MichiganMinority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) is part of the Southeast Michigan cluster which has been awarded $2.1 million dollars through the federal Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to create new jobs and technologies related to the rapidly emerging advanced energy storage system (AESS) industry cluster. 

 Advanced energy systems are critical to the future of the automotive industry, which is innovating rapidly around vehicle electrification and hybridization.  The alternative energy economy also relies heavily on energy storage systems, like batteries and powertrains, to prolong the life of energy generated by solar and wind systems.
 “Our role here at the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council will be to focus on diversifying existing firms that are affected by the rapidly shifting automotive industry so they can create jobs now and long into the future, said Louis Green, President/CEO of MMSDC, which is located in Detroit.

 “We are excited to be assist the emerging majority create new jobs and technologies related to the rapidly emerging advanced energy storage system,” said Green.

The multi-agency grant comes from the Employment and Training Administration, the Economic Development Administration and the Small Business Administration. The SBA’s grant of $150,000 will directly support the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council’s efforts to build diverse business opportunities for minority suppliers. 

“We are making steady progress towards putting America back to work," said U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis in a conference call with reporters. "The accelerator program uses federal dollars in a smarter way to build up regional economies."

The announcement of the award was made in Washington DC from: Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank; U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce, John Fernandez; and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, Karen Mills. 

“SBA has a long history of support for regional clusters and the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is an important next step, said Karen Mills.

 “I am pleased that SBA is contributing funding to bring underserved small businesses into regional clusters across the country.  By working with other federal agencies, we can link, leverage, and align our resources to give small businesses the tools they need to work together, grow and create jobs.”

The SBA is an organization that the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council works with to move the economy forward.

 “It’s no secret that Michigan’s economy has been hit the hardest. So this two million dollar investment in jobs for the southeast Michigan region is just what is needed to ignite new industries and create new jobs, said Green, “and we are the ready to get to work.”
For more information on the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, visit: www.eda.gov/InvestmentsGrants/jobsandinnovationchallenge.
About the MMSDC:
Founded in 1977, the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMBSC) has more than 1,300 certified minority businesses and over 300 corporate members working to further its mission to certify minority businesses; provide access to procurement opportunities; and develop capacity for minority business development.

The MMBDC was recognized by the National Minority Supplier Development Council as “Council of the Year” for its work with major corporations to promote minority business development and growth. MMSDC is a non-profit, 501c 3 organization. For more information visit the MMSDC’s website at (

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Google Adwords explained: Video of Chris Genteel from Google (Ann Arbor)

Google AdWords is Google's main advertising product and main source of revenue. Google's total advertising revenues were USD$28 billion in 2010.[2] AdWords offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, cost-per-thousand (CPM) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads. The AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution. Google's text advertisements are short, consisting of one headline consisting of 25 characters and two additional text lines consisting of 35 characters each. Image ads can be one of several different Interactive Advertising Bureau(IAB) standard sizes.

Pay-Per-Click advertisements (PPC)

Advertisers select the words that should trigger their ads and the maximum amount they will pay per click. When a user searches on Google, ads (also known as creatives by Google) for relevant words are shown as "sponsored links" on the right side of the screen, and sometimes above the main search results. Click-through rates (CTR) for the ads are about 8% for the first ad, 5% for the second one, and 2.5% for the third one. Search results can return from 0 to 12 ads.
The ordering of the paid-for listings depends on other advertisers' bids (PPC) and the "quality score" of all ads shown for a given search. The quality score is calculated by historical click-through rates, relevance of an advertiser's ad text and keywords, an advertiser's account history, and other relevance factors as determined by Google. The quality score is also used by Google to set the minimum bids for an advertiser's keywords. The minimum bid takes into consideration the quality of the landing page as well, which includes the relevancy and originality of content, navigability, and transparency into the nature of the business. Though Google has released a list of full guidelines for sites, the precise formula and meaning of relevance and its definition is in part secret to Google and the parameters used can change dynamically.
The auction mechanism that determines the order of the ads is a generalized second-price auction. This is claimed to have the property that the participants do not necessarily fare best when they truthfully reveal any private information asked for by the auction mechanism (in this case, the value of the keyword to them, in the form of a "truthful" bid).
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdWords

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Content Strategy for the Web

What is the GAME CHANGER? Content marketing! (and content curation). Not just buzz words but necessary in marketing and promoting any online business (or online business presence). Businesses and corporations today need to know about Content Development & Marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM).

Great book we recommend for clients: Accelerate! Grow Your Business Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing.

Amplify’d from www.verticalmeasures.com

Web Content Strategy

You probably have a website. Has your philosophy for it evolved with the times? Contemporary websites offer more than just information about your company, contact information, and your product offerings. They now provide resources for solving customer problems, can be hubs for social activity, and, most importantly, are rich with fresh and engaging content that is regularly updated so that visitors will frequently return. Content strategy, then, begins with the question: What’s the point of your website?

Many business owners think that the purpose of their website is self-evident, that the questions “Why do you have a website?” and “Why do you produce web content?” are rhetorical ones that don’t need answering. I think just the opposite. Businesses must answer these questions first and foremost.

What Do You Want To Accomplish?

When our clients come to us for help with their content strategy, we ask them right off the bat what they want to accomplish. Sometimes, our clients don’t have the best answer. They tell us things like, “We know that content is king, so we need to add more content.” Or, “Our competitors are putting some really great things on the web so we need to too.” While both answers contain truth, they miss the mark when it comes to the strategy. We tell our clients that the question is actually quite simple, but the answer is not. Organizations should develop a content strategy because:

  • Web content provides the customer with clean, logical access to products and services and should funnel them to the site’s conversion pages.

  • Web content provides information that answers some of the toughest problems customers face.

  • Web content positions the organization as the trusted expert in its industry.

Notice that the purpose of your web content centers on the customer’s experience. Just like keyword research attempts to identify what your customers are searching for in your industry, your website can provide the answer to those searches. A smart content strategy begins with understanding what the customer needs rather than what you want to offer them.

Content Strategy

Measurable Objectives

In order for your content to deliver, you need a strategy with specific objectives that guides your content creation. By implementing measurable goals, you will be able to assess the success of your various projects and discover what’s working for you and what’s not. You need to consider the measurable objectives that will drive your content development.

The objectives for your content apply both at the macro level for your whole content enterprise, and at the micro level for each individual piece of content. Your content will be working for you when it:

  • Develops and increases your brand awareness

  • Generates traffic to your site and garners new customer leads or sales

  • Enhances your online reputation

  • Encourages natural links and optimizes your search engine rankings

  • Increases your competitive advantage

When you produce any single piece of content, it should accomplish one or more of these goals, and the sum total of all your content should accomplish all of them. An investment in a content marketing strategy is largely a matter of time and effort, and you want to be sure that every minute you devote to creating content yields a product that works to your advantage. By basing your content creation on your main objectives, your content development campaign will be much more efficient, maximizing the return on your investment.

Keep your objectives at the forefront of every piece of content that you develop. Before you create new content, hold it up against your objectives and ask:

  • Will this content position my company as a thought leader?

  • Does it help solve my market’s challenges?

  • Will it generate qualified traffic to my site?

  • Is this content better or different than what my competitors are offering?

Begin by taking a step back and looking at your overall content portfolio. Determine if you’ve created content that fulfills these objectives in one way or another. Are there any holes? Have you neglected any particular objective? For example, has it been a while since you’ve tended to your product pages?

Your objectives will guide you, not only as you create new content but also as you evaluate the current content you have. It’s critical that each piece of content works toward your objectives. Let’s go through each one of the objectives in detail to understand how they work in your strategy.

Create Mindshare and Branding

How do you want your customers — and the world, for that matter — to perceive you? On a philosophical level, your branding lives in the content. BusinessDictionary.com defines mindshare as the “Informal measure of the amount of talk, mention, or reference an idea, firm, or product generates in public or media.” For your content marketing strategy, you need to get people talking, mentioning or referencing, linking to and especially sharing your branded content. As your brand consistently provides valuable information to your customers and potential customers, you will increase your mindshare.

Informal measure of the amount of talk, mention, or reference an idea, firm, or product generates in public or media.

Increasing mindshare is all about distribution and promotion of your web pages. By consistently generating shareable content and ensuring that you distribute it through multiple channels and promote it throughout your network, your voice and your brand will make up an ever-increasing part of the conversation about your industry. The more you promote and distribute your content, the more you will boost your mindshare online, while at the same time strengthening the message that your brand is the expert solutions provider for your industry.

Generate Traffic, Leads and Sales

Certainly, increasing traffic is important for your site; however, unless you have advertisements on your site, and you’re getting paid for page views, you won’t get much out of increased traffic apart from reinforcing brand recognition. The ultimate goal for increasing traffic is to increase conversion and generate sales for your business. Your content should always work to funnel the traffic that you’re getting to your conversion pages.

Ultimately, your content will only add value to your business when it’s relevant, timely, and engaging. Content that fails in this regard won’t have a chance at going viral in social media channels, and rather than gaining valuable traffic will instead lead to high bounce rates. On the other hand, when you generate engaging content, you will find bounce rates drop and conversion rates go up; you’ll see your content take off in social media.

You can objectively measure traffic increases and conversion rates. That makes this objective a great one for your strategy, not only as you develop your content but also as you measure its success. When you see positive results, you can rest assured that your other goals for your content — the ones that are harder to measure — are reaping the benefits, too. That is, if you see increased traffic to your site and an increased rate of conversion when that traffic lands there, then your brand is strengthened, your mindshare has increased.

Proactively Manage Your Online Reputation

The mantra for reputation management is simple: Don’t wait for a problem to develop. Proactive reputation management ensures that the organization’s own content fills the search engine results page when that organization’s name or key people get searched. By ensuring that the organization’s content is visible, it becomes much harder for negative content to rise up to the page one search results. Most searches generally don’t go past page one of the search engine results page. Organizations (even individuals) that want to manage their reputation ought to focus on keeping page one filled with quality content that reinforces a positive brand image. When customers search for your brand, they should find nothing but positive information about your firm, and a smart content strategy ensures that they will.

In order for your organization or you as an individual to achieve this, your content should be distributed through a number of channels. Through social media, businesses can communicate to their customers and manage the communication that flows to the customer. Social media sites typically allow you to create your own profile page. Profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great examples of starting points for developing a social media platform. If your industry has any industry-specific social media sites, these are certainly places to have a profile, as well.

The same content strategy is true for the reputation of your brand as well as key executives within your organization. Take me, Arnie Kuenn, for example. A search for my name returns with a variety of content — nearly all the content on this page is content that I have developed and promoted, which is exactly how it should be.

Content for Search Engine Rankings

Any set of objectives for a content strategy would be incomplete if it ignored search engine optimization (SEO). Without considering SEO at the development stage, the possibilities for your content are diminished.

Content development and search engine optimization go hand in hand. On-page SEO is about assuring that each content page has the nuts and bolts in place so that the content will have the best chance for ranking highly in search. This means that your content needs to get plenty of links, and that onsite SEO best practices (free guide) – including titles, optimized metadata, and assurance that the pages don’t have excessive load time – need to be taken care of. As the content is developed, keeping these SEO factors in mind will ensure that it goes live in the best condition to improve your search engine rankings.

Note: the above is excerpted from my book Accelerate! Grow Your Business Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing. It is a 250 page, step-by-step guide that any organization can follow to kick their content marketing strategy into high gear. Buy your copy today!
Read more at www.verticalmeasures.com