What the Net Neutrality Repeal Could Mean for Small Businesses

 

The Removal of Net Neutrality Could Affect the Way Small Businesses Are Valued Online

Net neutrality gave web users equal access to the internet. Equal opportunities to speedy web access allowed businesses to compete on an even field.  Small, online businesses were able to reach people from all over the world.

On December 14 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the regulations of 2015 for free and equal internet access. Since then, there have been several speculations as to how this will affect the way users access content on the internet. The truth is, there is no absolute answer to how or when to expect to see a change in internet services.

While many large internet service providers (ISPs) have stated that they do not plan to drastically change their services, the end of net neutrality does leave small businesses vulnerable to several possibilities.

Pay-to-Play for Web Speed

Those who can afford faster web speed will have faster web speed. Those who cannot will simply lag behind. Without regulations enforcing equal speed to websites, ISPs could start charging websites for prioritization.bigstock--210893887

Paying for website prioritization is different than paying for ad space because rather than paying for space to attract consumers to your company’s site, you are paying for your webpage to load faster than the competition’s site.

For small businesses who rely on web traffic for business, page load time is crucial for keeping consumers on their site. In a 2015 study, researchers found that 57 percent of web users will abandon a site if the page takes longer than three seconds to load. That is a huge loss in potential sales for a small business.

Struggle for Ranking on Search Engines

The speed and accessibility of your website impacts the quality score of your website. The higher the quality score, the better your site ranks on organic search. Most small businesses will not be able to afford the faster internet access that large corporations can afford. The slower load times will cause a small business’s quality score to drop and rank lower on the search engine results page.

Websites on the fibigstock-Hand-Holding-Mobile-Phone-With-172288184rst page of a Google search generate the highest click rate and web traffic. The farther a website is from the top result, the less traffic it will generate.

Paid marketing can also be affected by the quality score. When you bid to appear for certain search terms in AdWords, your website’s quality score affects how much a business pays for keywords and ad space. The lower the quality score, which is affected by speed, the more you pay per bid. This affects start-up companies looking to get their foot in the door and small businesses trying to compete with corporate giants who can either afford the faster speed or can pay the extra per bid.

Blocked Content

There’s no certainty to what the ISPs will decide to do with the deregulations. Many ISPs including Cox and AT&T have already announced that they do not plan to block content, but have remained unclear about providing fast lanes for particular websites.

An internet service provider could significantly slow down websites it views as a threat to its own content or to the content of the companies the internet provider has a partnership with.

The advantage consumers have over their ISPs is their freedom to choose who they choose as their internet provider. If one ISP begins to block content or slow down particular websites, people will simply just switch to a different provider. The diversity in internet providers could be what protects small businesses from falling through the cracks.

Again, nothing is set in stone. The repeal of net neutrality could change absolutely nothing, or it could greatly affect the innovation of starting companies and the way small businesses compete for web traffic.


Ashley Boudreaux is a senior at LSU. She is currently studying Mass Communication and French. In her free time, she enjoys visiting petting zoos and climbing trees.

Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc. 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving clients over the United States but is proud to call Baton Rouge, Louisiana home. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.

 

Importance of Phone Etiquette

Importance of Phone Etiquette

Increase Customer Loyalty with Proper Phone Etiquette

There are many components to good customer service. One of the most important elements to customer service is telephone etiquette. It is important to let your customers know you are listening to them and genuinely care about what they have to say. This helps to build customer loyalty, which leads to repeat business.

Like most other business interactions, phone calls leave your customers with an impression of your business. Proper phone etiquette is important to your company because it’s usually the first contact point for a customer and represents how your business will treat them in other conversations. Make sure to leave a great, lasting impression on every customer who calls your business.

Answering and Professional GreetingsIt is important to answer the phone is a polite and professional manner

Answering the office telephone promptly is an excellent display of professionalism. A typical rule of thumb is that your phone should not ring more than four times without being answered. This rule helps you avoid the problem of a customer hanging up before you have the chance to talk to them.

Answering the phone is better than allowing the call to be forwarded to an answering machine. Customers may not leave a message, opting instead to hang up and call a competitor.

Even taking a message and getting back to the customer at a later time is better than ignoring the phone call. If you answer the phone, and a customer is calling for someone who is unavailable, taking a message is more beneficial than allowing the phone to continuously ring. Taking a message prevents you from losing a potential customer by giving them a reason to wait to hear back from your company.

Answering calls right away tells your customers that your business is organized, well-staffed, and ready to help with any situation.

When answering the telephone, you should always be professional. Answer the phone with the business’s name followed by your first name and an offer of assistance. A friendly “how may I help you today?” lets the caller know that you are professional and are ready to assist them with any issues they may have.

Conversations

Whether you are answering calls from new customers or handling issues for existing customers, listening to a customer’s needs is important.

Try your best to avoid any interruptions while on the phone. Distractions such as talking to co-workers or eating your lunch are extremely rude to your customer. This can produce a negative perception about your business. Listening to the customer without distractions helps to ensure that they have your full attention.

Being patient with customers who have questions is a crucial part of phone etiquette. Be sure to listen to what the customer has to say fully, before you try to respond to them. This helps to build a relationship with the customer. Forming a relationship with the customer also helps to improve customer loyalty.

Ending the Call

Nothing is as irritating as playing phone tag with someone. If you have to call the customer back for a follow-up, or if you are too busy to take a lengthy call, make sure to get the best time to contact the customer. Finding a time that works best for both of you will reassure them that you dedicated to helping.

 Ask QuestionsAsk questions to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the results.

Making sure the customer is satisfied with the solution to their issue is important for your business. Asking questions such as “did we provide a solution?” or “is there anything else I can help you with?” is a great way to know if you should provide any more assistance or information.

The overall goal of establishing standardized phone etiquette in your office is to make sure that your customers feel good about your company and the service they receive. Leaving them with an impression that you care about and will take care of their needs helps you to build a lasting relationship with each customer.

The more often your customers have pleasant experiences with your company, the more likely they are to tell their friends about your business. Professionalism and having a pleasant tone on the phone helps to build customer loyalty and could lead to new customers by word of mouth. Make sure to stand out in a positive light against competitors with proper phone etiquette.


Patsy Hartsell is a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is pursuing a degree in mass communication with a concentration in advertising, and a minor in English. She loves coffee, but loves cute coffee mugs even more.

Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc. 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving clients over the United States but is proud to call Baton Rouge, Louisiana home. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.

Don't be a Delta Airlines, Prepare Your Business for a PR Crisis

Don’t be a Delta Airlines, Prepare Your Business for a PR Crisis

Every Business Needs a Public Relations Crisis Plan

We are all familiar with the current scandals surrounding the airline industry, specifically with United and Delta Airlines. These incidents that the airlines are dealing with give other companies a chance to learn from and prepare for similar events. While smaller companies may not face crises as extreme as what United or Delta faced, they will experience some that test the business.

As a company, having a response plan and knowing how to communicate during a public relations crisis will determine whether or not you continue to thrive in your industry.

This Will Be YouAvoid the Delta Airlines PR Crisis

Crises and incidents happen to smaller companies all the time. A common crisis a small company may face is an upset client making an unplanned stop at the office, or a negative Yelp review that lowers a company’s outstanding 4.5 stars rating to a sad 2.0. Small companies frequently face problems, and how they handle it is vital to their survival.

Plan for the Disaster

When disaster hits, crisis management is key. Having a plan set in place can make all the difference in helping your company through a crisis. According to Melissa Agnes, president and co-founder of Anges + Day Inc., when referring to crisis management “…always focus on building a relationship with your customers, fans and followers, you will always find yourself communicating in the right direction.”

A crisis plan can simply be a timeline for when to communicate to the public, or a fully detailed plan with drafts of speeches almost ready to go. Plans vary from company to company, but make sure your plan focuses on fixing and building your relationships with the public.

Timing is Key

Whether your company has a crisis management plan or not, a timely reaction will get the recovery process started. Some companies fail to react in a timely fashion, waiting a full 24 hours or more to respond. Waiting too long leaves the offending company open to speculation and rumor that hurts their relationships. Companies that address the issue and apologize in a timely manner start the process of recovering hurt relationships before the issue gets out of hand.

Social Media is Your FriendPlan a public relations plan with your team

For example, there is a small mom and pop bakery with a handful of employees. The bakery is trying to expand their target market to a younger demographic. A new customer who recently ordered a cake posted a negative review on Yelp and Facebook. The customer stated online that the bakery messed up and the cake was burnt. This causes the rating of the bakery to fall on both platforms.

To start fixing and repairing the relationship, the employee in charge of public relations should respond to the review on Facebook and Yelp quickly. In this instance, the bakery might issue an apology and offer the customer a refund. If the bakery would like to step it up more, they may offer the customer an additional item such as a gift card or a free product. The bakery is attempting to mend the relationship with the consumer as well as improve the relationship with new target demographics by fixing the problem they created initially.

Your Take Away

Crises happen: it is a part of any company. It happens to million-dollar, high-profile companies like United and Delta, but they also happen to smaller companies. For smaller companies it can be even more devastating to their relationships. Having a crisis management plan can cushion the blow, and even a simple, “We are sorry, let us fix this,” will help.


Samantha Territo is attending school at Louisiana State University studying in mass communication specializing in digital advertising with a minor in business administration. She loves coffee, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and veggie pizza.

Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc. 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving clients over the United States but is proud to call Baton Rouge, Louisiana home. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.

social media for business

Social Media Tools for Small Businesses

Social media has become essential for effective marketing. It provides your business a direct line of communication with your consumers and gives you insight and feedback on what your consumers really want.

For small businesses, managing different social media accounts can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are many tools out there to help you simplify your social media accounts and make them more manageable.

 

HootSuite: Listen, Engage, and Analyze

hootsuite

Listen: Display multiple news feeds from different social media accounts at once. Monitor emerging trends, find out what your audience is saying, and filter only what you want to see.

Engage: Connect, post and engage with your audience in an easy and organized way. Respond to messages, mentions and comments. Schedule posts at optimal times, and send bulk messages to a network of people with only a single click.

Analyze: Real-time social analytics let you know how you’re doing online. View charts that show where and when your social profiles are growing, analyze your audience demographics, and measure clicks, likes, retweets and more.

Pricing: HootSuite offers Free, Pro ($9.99/month) and Enterprise options to satisfy the needs of individuals, small businesses and large companies.

 

Buffer: Schedule Posts and Analyze

SocialMediaBuffer

Schedule Posts: Compose drafts for posts and messages, choose which social media accounts to send them from, and schedule the perfect time and date to send them out. This lets you gain social media presence throughout the day without having to be at your computer.
Analyze: Buffer provides analytics that show the total reach and engagement of all your posts. Find out how many people are looking at each of your posts and when the most optimal time to connect with your audience is.

Pricing: Buffer lets you sign up for free, but only for a short time. They also offer a $10/month plan and a $50/month plan geared towards small businesses.

 

Everypost: For the Business and Business Owner On-the-Go

Comparison-table_free-basic-2

For the Business: This app can schedule posts for a variety of social media handles at once, and works great for mobile. You can upload photos from your camera roll, YouTube, Flickr, and Grooveshark. It also offers URL shortening and a Twitter text shortener. Everypost can connect to a company Facebook Page, a Google+ Page, a LinkedIn Company Page, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Dropbox and email.

For the Business Owner: You can also use Everypost for your personal Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Dropbox and email.

Pricing: Everypost is free for as long as you want it to be. It’s $9.99/month for the Pro plan. The differences between them are listed above.

 

Crowdbooster: Measure and Optimize Social Media Marketing

crowdbooster

Optimize: Schedule your posts to be sent at the most effective time. Crowdbooster is a tool that provides analytics and suggestions for when you should post on social media. This simple tool connects to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, showing you the impact of each of your posts and what time most people see them.

Pricing: Crowdbooster offers Bronze ($9/month), Silver ($49/month), and Gold ($119/month) membership plans.

 

Bitly: Shorten Links and Understand your Audience

SocialMediaBitly

Shorten Links: Bitly shortens your links to make your posts look cleaner and neater. Especially on Twitter, when you’re challenged with a character limit, this tool is incredibly efficient.
Understand Your Audience: Analyze your social engagement by seeing the total clicks and reach of each of your links. Figure out what’s working for each of your posts and how you can improve your reach.

Pricing: Free

 

IFTTT: Manage Social Media through Recipes

ifttt

Create Recipes: Connect your social media accounts with the formula, “If this, then that.” For example, you can program IFTTT to send a twitter post every time you publish a new blog entry. You create “recipes” for different online actions, which saves you time by managing your social media presence. IFTTT can also work with HootSuite and Buffer to simply your accounts even more.

Pricing: IFTTT’s services are free, though there is talk of adding paid plans in the future.

Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc.
Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving south Louisiana and headquartered in Baton Rouge. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.

Avoid This SEO Scam with 3 Simple Questions


Have you ever gotten a phone call from a company claiming to “specialize in SEO” and “get your website on the first page of Google”? Did they offer their services with no contract for less then a few hundred dollars a month? If you’re nodding your head right now, you may have been targeted by a scammer. Now pay attention to this next part:

SEO scammers don’t actually do anything for your website. They take your money every month, offering you lower prices each time you call to complain. By the time you’re finally fed up and tell them to hit the bricks, you’ve lost thousands of dollars for nothing. Our clients get calls and emails like this all the time, so we wanted to let everyone know: don’t fall for it!

Here’s 3 questions to ask yourself before paying a company you don’t know to optimize your website for search:

1. Are they certified by the search engines?

Partnering with Google or Bing requires you to pass certain tests and meet strict criteria. If an “SEO firm” is contacting you unsolicited and they are not certified with either Google, Bing or a similar search engine, run.

2. Will they give you something in writing?

Legitimate companies keep a written record of the work they perform. If a company balks when you ask for their SEO claims in writing, hang up the phone.

3. Do they sound too good to be true?

My mom always told me, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Real companies get realistic results and give you realistic expectations. Promising you the moon for free sounds great, but isn’t practically feasible and presents a major red flag.

These scam companies make millions of dollars preying on good-natured businesses trying to promote themselves without spending much. If you want to get your business’ website found by the search engines, do it right. Ask tough questions and make sure the company you trust your money with is using it correctly.

 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving south Louisiana and headquartered in Baton Rouge. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.

drawing global concept in book

Make Sure Your Marketing Plan is Working: An Honest Conversation that Could Save Your Budget

This article is part one in a 4 part series to make sure you’re getting the most out of your online marketing efforts. This week, we focus on your overall strategy, the first and most important piece of your marketing campaign.

 

You can’t properly promote your business without a strategy. You’re throwing money away if you’re buying a Facebook ad here or a billboard there without following a strategy based on your business goals.

If new opportunities present themselves down the road, you can ask yourself if they are in line with your end goals. Too often, people get pulled in a direction that isn’t parallel with an already determined strategy. (Remember Crystal Pepsi? Ouch)

 

1.    After 3 to 5 Years, Your Website Looks Old

Ok – basic questions: Is your design up to date? This is the easy one. As a general rule, you should update your website’s design every 3 to 5 years. If your site looks old, viewers associate ‘old’ with your business. Sometimes, you luck out and ‘established’ is substituted instead, but make no mistake – your material is the face of your company. If you look outdated, why should I pay attention to you?

2.    Keep Up With Industry Trends

This is a good opportunity to take some time to review your industry as well. Are there new promising new trends or ways of doing things? Has technology improved? Take some time to review new ideas and solutions within your industry. If your website or marketing material doesn’t address this, that needs to go on your list to update. Not next year, now. Don’t wait, and don’t let your competition step up in front of you.

3.    Stick to Your Story

That being said, make sure all of your materials are consistent. This is where you allow your strategy to guide your decisions. What do you want to say to consumers? How do you want to say it? How will get your audience involved? ALL content needs to be consistent. People want to buy from someone they know and trust, and if you send mixed messages, you’ll confuse and alienate potential customers. It doesn’t matter if you need to reach distributors, manufactures, your client base, your board of directors – 

4.    Focus on Your Customer

Finally, is your message about you? Are you speaking to viewers or are you talking about yourself? This relates directly back to the “what’s in it for me?” question in everyone’s mind. There is a fine line between saying how awesome your product and services are and filling the room with it. Give your audience a chance to connect with you and your vision (hell, have a vision in the first place – but more on that later). Rather than talking about yourself and how amazing you are, tell your audience what you can do for them. Speak to the benefit.

 

It’s 2014. Audiences need to connect with what they are spending their money on.

 If your message isn’t well designed and consistently compelling, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.

 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving south Louisiana and headquartered in Baton Rouge. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.