Over the summer, we were approached by Robert Holley Productions with an idea for gathering together local businesses to do something special for one military couple in Loudoun County. Rob asked us to provide the website pro bono and we said count us in!
Through Rob Holley’s efforts, seventeen local vendors are teaming up to offer a free wedding in 2019 to an as-yet-to-be-determined military couple. We’ve launched an online essay content to pick a winner. Potential brides and/or grooms who want to be considered simply submit an essay through the Loudoun is for Lovers website.
The local wedding vendors have the enviable job of reading through the essays next spring and choosing one deserving couple. The wedding will be held on Sunday, November 17 2019 at Kalero Vineyards with all the bells and whistles provided.
Gallop Web Services is honored to be a part of Loudoun is for Lovers. We are looking forward to the announcement of which lucky military couple will be getting a free wedding!
Watch the Veteran’s Day interview about Loudoun is for Lovers through NBC News.
False information (aka ‘fake news’) has sadly become a plague of the internet. No matter what the source, or the subject matter everyone should be on guard about anything they read online. Think through what you read or are told and make an educated decision about what to believe.
Here are some things to watch out for that may provide clues as to what is real or not:
- Oftentimes, there are signs that something online is a hoax or totally fictional. Headlines that make questionable claims, articles that contain grammatical errors or typos, broken English, and information that simply sounds over the top could be a signal that what you are reading is fake.
- The website article or page should have a legitimate source. If the author of an article isn’t mentioned, then be suspicious. If you don’t recognize the writer, look up their name to see what else they have written and look around for reports from trusted sources that back up their claims.
- Ensure the website is legitimate and not a spoofed or counterfeit site that is designed to resemble the real site. Phony websites happen more often than many people realize. If suspicious about a website, then copy a unique sounding line of text from it and paste it into a Google search. If the same exact verbiage shows up in the search results on another website (without a clear reason for duplication), then the website could be a counterfeit. We did this simple test with a client’s website and found an exact copy for a supposed business in Kenya. The client’s site had been spoofed.
- Don’t click indiscriminately on what looks like sponsored content or ads. They may look like they are part of the standard articles, but could actually be parasites of the legitimate organization’s editorial content. Instead of helpful and real, they are written to sell products and could very well include malicious links or content.
- Learn to recognize the difference between fake news and satire. (The definition of satire: “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues”). Rather than trust ANY source, first research whether or not the source is known for spoofs or comedy. Social media especially is a hot bed right now for fake news. If you see something on social media that doesn’t seem quite right, it probably isn’t.
- Most importantly, protect yourself and protect your business brand. Do a search often to see how your business shows up on Google and elsewhere and what links are associated with it. Your reputation is at stake if someone pretends to do business with your company and doesn’t, or leaves negative reviews on line and you’ve never heard of the reviewer. Be prepared to defend yourself if accused. For example, if you or your business gets a negative review from someone you’ve never heard of respond politely to that review and state you don’t know that person. Or if the reviewer is truly a disgruntled customer then apologize in your response and offer to make things right. Even if you aren’t at fault you have been humble in public and that goes a long way with a lot of people.
Technology is great, but it isn’t a replacement for the human capacity to reason. Think through what you read and make up your own mind. Then turn off the noise and read a good book.
It’s hard to believe we are quickly approaching the end of another year. Like most business owners, at Gallop Web Services we like to review how things have been going and then create new goals for the new year. When discussing their own business goals with our web and marketing clients, we are often asked for advice on software and marketing strategies. Of course, cost effective business management is an important consideration in all things, too. As you review your own business goals for next year, here are a few suggestions:
Organize your business.
Write up a business plan and refer to it often.
It helps to keep you on the straight and narrow with your business goals if you refer to a business plan. You can update the plan as needed, but generally your original reason for starting your business as outlined should remain constant and clear.
Use a bookkeeper, if possible.
It will free you up to do what you do best and make your life easier if someone else manages the financials. Whether or not you do the bookkeeping yourself, we highly recommend QuickBooks invoicing software to send invoices and accept payment online. Quickbooks invoicing is easy to use and you may find (as we did) that your customers will pay more promptly. Another plus is digital online payment bypasses the need for paper (i.e., sending invoices and receiving checks by mail), which reduces expenses and is kinder to the environment.
Hire a student to do general tasks.
This may sound like an odd things to suggest, but the right high school or college student can be a valuable part-time employee and save you some money. Young people have excellent computer skills, get excited about working for more than minimum wage, and are willing to work for less than you would have to pay an adult. We’ve hired students to do data entry for us and they have shown themselves to be eager and very capable at the tasks we set before them. Contact your local high school to discuss a co-op working arrangement with their business-oriented students. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Work on your online marketing.
Get a new website (or refresh an old one).
If you don’t already have a website, you should plan for one in the new year. Start off on the right foot with online visibility for your business. We have the tools you need, too. Our JumpStart package offers a complete, mobile responsive starter website and full business listing with Google. We consult with you and build a website that includes: web hosting with a secure SSL (free the first year if you sign up now!); a 5-page website with content management system, banner, social media integration, basic SEO; a branded Google local business listing; and 1-hour consultation to train you on how to use the tools we provide for a successful online business presence. #StarterWebsite
Focus on your marketing — a lot.
Having a website is an important first step. As mentioned above, JumpStart includes the set up of a Google business listing. Beyond that we also create some real power house business listings that will publicize your business online. We also recommend email marketing. MailChimp offers free email marketing for up to 500 email addresses. It’s a great way to communicate with your current and potential clients.
Utilize social media.
Yeah… we know it’s time consuming, but it is worth the effort to engage your audience and publicize your services and products through the various social media sites. There are so many resources to choose from and we can help you sort out what would work best for you.
Be ready for the beginning of the new year. Review your goals and get organized. Contact us for JumpStart today and we’ll have your new or revised website and business listing up and running in 1-2 weeks.