Organization and Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses


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 today and we’ll have your new or revised website and business listing up and running in 1-2 weeks.

Leesburg Today – Loudoun Business News

The following news article appeared in the Leesburg Today, Loudoun Business News section, on November 7, 2013

Gallop Web Services: Helping Business Grow Online

Leesburg Today - Gallop Web Services - Web Design Firm that Stands Apart from Others 11-7-13

Kathi Watts of Gallop Web Services works with a client at her office in Leesburg.

Gallop Web Services is not your average web design company.  Their philosophy is different—they believe quality is more important than volume. Customer satisfaction and education are paramount to successfully running their business.  According to owner Kathi Watts, “We strive to wow our clients with our customer service and give them the tools they need to be self-sufficient when it comes to maintaining their websites and gauging results.  If our clients are happy, they’ll tell others about their positive experience and we’ll get more business.  The majority of our clients have been referrals, even some in other states and countries.”

It is common practice in this industry to bill for a new website or redesign and continue to charge for updates and ongoing editing, without any personal interaction with the web provider.  “We don’t believe this is the way to manage client relationships,” said Watts.  “We believe in being true marketing partners with them from the beginning of the relationship.”  It was these very principles that led Gallop Web Services to be named Technology Business of the Year by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, a title they hold until the first week of November 2013 when the next award winner will be announced.

The Foundation Behind Gallop Web Services

Gallop Web Services owners Steve & Kathi Watts - Helping Business Grow Online

Gallop Web Services owners Steve & Kathi Watts

Owners Kathi and Steve Watts, have been married for 30 years and residents of Loudoun County for over 26.  Like many couples in the technology industry, they met on the job.  Kathi formed Gallop Web Services in 2010.  Shortly thereafter, Steve left the corporate IT world to come alongside Kathi and take Gallop Web Services to the next level. Over the past three years, they have added to their services a robust search engine optimization package and local business listing offerings. They have enjoyed working together again doing what they both love, right here in Loudoun County.

In the four short years since they have been in the web design business they have seen a wide range of local and regional clients with whom they’ve established an on-going and satisfying business relationship.  It is their belief that every client deserves excellent service no matter the size of their online business and what they provide is creative and helpful to the client’s success. The ability for a client to understand and participate in web technology for their business helps to alleviate the feeling of “being held hostage” by an industry where fees and billings are confusing and often not necessary.  “Many of our clients think of us as their partners, which we are” said Steve Watts.  “We greatly enjoy working closely with them as their expectations evolve and online interactivity continues to emerge as an integral component for businesses everywhere.”

Design and Enhancements for Local Business Mean Real Results

Gallop Web Services has been serving the online business needs of small and large businesses in the region since their inception.

In May 2012, Gallop Web Services worked with Loudoun Medical Group to re-launch their website while also providing hosting and web support services.  According to Mary Beth Tamasy, CEO, “Our new site now features an interactive ‘Find a Doctor’ tool, convenient on-line bill pay for patients, a unique mapping tool that allows our customers to quickly see the over 80 physician practice locations, and many other features built in for our staff who access information through a password protected portal.”  Gallop said they were thrilled to build an amazing new site for LMG but the proof is also in the numbers.  “Their online traffic has seen an overall increase of 41% compared to this time last year. The site has seen a 146% increase in people viewing the individuals physician’s biographies. People are looking into our Loudoun County doctors,” said Kathi Watts.

Gallop Web Services has also worked closely with Bonnie Sewell, Principal of American Capital Planning, a Loudoun County-based financial planning business, on the redesign of her website. Last year, Sewell started a new business entity and wrote a book to educate and financially guide couples who are already in the divorce process.  According to Sewell, “Kathi and Steve did designs for both of my sites and I was thrilled with the results.” One of Bonnie’s requests was for Gallop Web Services to create an online calculator for that helps individuals get a better picture of their financial situation as they consider divorce.  The addition of this tool on her website gives couples a reality check on how their money might be distributed in a divorce settlement. A glimpse of their financial circumstances has helped steer the conversation between Sewell and her clients.

Online Tips and Tricks to Make Your Site Work for You

Leesburg Today article on Gallop Web Services November 2013

Read the Leesburg Today article

According to the website Pingdom, there were 2.4 billion Internet users at the end of 2012 and a staggering 634 million websites.   It is imperative that businesses no matter how small or large, put their best foot forward to capture even a small percentage of this amazing potential.  According to Kathi and Steve Watts, there are certain things that business owners can and should be doing right now related to their online business marketing.  They were happy to provide a short list of essentials for all businesses.

  1. Mobile Responsive Web Design.  If you view your website on an iPad, Smart Phone or other device, does your site respond as well (or better) than it does on a desktop computer?  If your site does not readjust to accommodate the current devices used by many on a regular basis, then you may risk the loss of potential customers.
  2. Online Visibility.  Can your customers find you on Google?  Type your company’s business name into the search bar on Google.  Where does your business land on the list of results? How many relevant sites is your business listed on? By optimizing the search potential for keywords relating to your business, you can increase the marketing potential of your website and social media. The goal is to drive consumer awareness, get leads and make sales.
  3. Integrate.  Link your company website with all your social media interfaces.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN are popular examples, but there are many more that may be suited to your type of business. Be sure your social media and website convey the same brand identity. Use a free service, such as Hoot Suite, to combine your social media so you can quickly post and communicate socially through a user-friendly dashboard.
  4. Blog.  It gives you a great medium to share your expertise and keeps your website fresh.  A blog also serves as a great partner to all other social media, and adds relevancy with the search engines. It is ideal to have your blog on your website, but there are several stand alone blog services that will do the trick.
  5. Keep it Fresh. When was the last time you refreshed the photography on your website?  What about the content? Do you know how to go about editing the various areas of your website?  Simple user-friendly tools available to businesses today make it possible to easily keep your website fresh and current.



WordPress 3.6 Release

WordPressWordPress continues to be one of the best blogging and web platforms around! It’s latest release, WordPress 3.6 (nicknamed “Oscar”) has a beautiful new blog-centric theme, bullet-proof autosave and post locking, a revamped revision browser, native support for audio and video embeds, and improved integrations with Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud. The release has been named Oscar in honor of jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, who’s music is played in the release video shown below.

Sit back and view the short promotional video (which is quite good), enjoy the jazz, then check out our affordable WordPress services and theme designs.



Start Off the New Year with a Stronger Online Business Presence

When business owners discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with us what they are basically saying is they want to bring people to their website “now!” and it doesn’t really matter how they get there. Well, it does matter “how” you get people to a site and it also matters “why” you are trying to drive them there in the first place. If visitors go to your website and aren’t satisfied with what they find there then they don’t ultimately become customers. And getting customers is what the SEO game is really all about.

Heading into 2013, here are 5 current trends to consider with regard to your website and your overall on-line business presence.

1. Do you have a Responsive Website? – New to 2012, a responsive website is designed to adjust itself to size when it is viewed on a wide screen monitor, iPad, laptop or smart phone. You can check to see if your own website fits the bill. How? View the website on your computer screen, click to minimize the screen and then click and drag the sides of your browser window to resize the website’s width. If the website still looks good, and is easy to read and understand, then it is probably adequate for today’s web design standards.

2. Consider a Blog on your website – a blog is a great way to start a conversation. If you have ideas or knowledge to share with others why not put it on your own website to attract potential customers? You’ll build your online credibility with not only people, but the search engines as well.

3. Use social media and tie it to your website – If you own or manage a small business and are not using social media, then you are missing out on one of the most cost-effective tools available for promotion, branding and customer service. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. are all free and user friendly. At the very least, every business should have a Facebook company page! After setting it up, link your website the Facebook page and/or use a widget to feed the posts to your website for viewing.

4. Get on LinkedIn – every businessman and woman should have a LinkedIn account. It’s free networking!

5. Optimize your online presence as much as possible – perform a Google search on your business name to see if and how it is listed. Review the search results to see what’s what then take steps to build or improve your online presence. If you have a storefront, claim your local business listings and optimize the information with more details—business hours, logo, videos. Consult a professional to optimize your website for higher technical functionality, analyze keywords in the content, and increase visibility with the search engines. To see examples of online business listings, do a Google search on “Gallop Web Services, LLC”.

Which Browser Are You Using?

Keep Your Web Browser Updated for Better Security and Internet Experience

Old, outdated browsers can interfere with how a website looks and–more importantly–may be a security risk.  Check to make sure you are using the latest browser versions installed on your computer.  Current versions of the major browsers are Firefox 3.6,  Safari 5, Google Chrome 7, Internet Explorer 8 and Opera 10.63.  If you are using an old version of Internet Explorer and are blocked from updating your browser yourself, try the Google Chrome Frame plug-in. It will bring into IE some of the capabilities of Google Chrome.

Google Search Engines

How Google Search Engines Work

It’s so important to have well written, website content that is written not only for your intended audience but the search engines as well. Here is a short, very good explanation of how Google search engines work.

Starting a Small Business

Why You Should Hurry Up and Start a Small Business Already

If you’ve been thinking about starting a small business, you might want to take the plunge before the end of the year. Why? Goodies in several recently passed new laws offer tax breaks that were previously unavailable to entrepreneurs.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the breaks you and your investors could take if you start a business in 2010:

  • Only this year, you can deduct $10,000 of startup costs, double the previous figure.
  • Write off 100 percent of up to $500,000 in equipment costs your first year. If you have costs beyond there, you can write off 50 percent of them right away under the bonus depreciation clause.
  • Investors can sell qualified business stock between March of this year and January 2012 tax-free. Any profit is also exempt from the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Take a 35 percent tax credit on your company’s health-insurance premiums.
  • Your local community bank may have more money to lend you, thanks to $30 billion in new federal funding for small-business loans.
  • Take a $2,500 hiring credit if you hire a qualified worker this year, or $5,000 next year.
  • Get a credit up to $5,000 if you hire

There’s more, but this gives you some of the highlights. Consult your tax professional for details on all the many ways your startup can benefit from the tax breaks in new federal laws.


Choosing a Website Vendor


Websites for Small Business Owners

I just read an interesting on-line article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which was released yesterday, containing a list of do’s and don’ts for small business owners seeking to build a website for their business. Gallop Web Services operates on the same concepts expressed in the article so we want to share it with you here.  When looking for someone to create a website for you, keep the following points in mind:

  • Use a web vendor with a track record for servicing small business owners. Today’s web vendors should be more about customer service than technology. So look for referrals from other businesses, and ask the vendor if you can speak to some of his or her customers.
  • Look for technology that is “vendor neutral,” which means that if you become dissatisfied with your service you can find a new vendor. If you go with a proprietary software package, you lock yourself into that vendor. Target vendors that use open source software.
  • Have your vendor integrate your site with social networking sites. These sites are great for marketing your business and driving traffic to your site for a low cost.
  • Watch out for hidden fees. Some web companies offer low introductory prices or low monthly fees. Be aware that they may lock you into a multiyear contract, offer bare-bones technology and service, and charge you for additional requests.
  • Do not feel compelled to immediately purchase every software application a vendor may offer for your new site. A website is an evolving tool that is never finished. The right vendor and technology can go live today with the basics such as content management and e-commerce. More advanced applications can be added later.

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce magazine