The bulk of day twenty-one was spent looking at code and admin pages and trying to get my CafePress content to look just right on the Lactivist web site. Along with that, I spent some time reviewing media lists for our upcoming public relations blitz, did a little more work with ClickTracks and uploaded half a dozen new shirts.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
Chicago Spans Creativity
There must be something about Chicago that inspires creativity because day twenty-one saw me coming up with six new shirts in a matter of about ten minutes. I literally had to grab a post-it note while blow-drying my hair to get them all jotted down before they flew right back out of my head. The best part of this spark was that it led the creation of two new product lines; one for tandem nursing moms and one for breastfeeding on demand.
Both of these topics are popular among moms that spend time discussing breastfeeding in online forums, so I knew that there would be some interest in them. For tandem nursing I added an "i share!" shirt with the milk bank text removed, a "two breasts, no waiting" shirt for moms and a "mommy has two for a reason" shirt for children. For breastfeeding on demand I added "my baby gets it fresh" and "self-serve." Finally, I added another shirt to the breastfeeding in public section that reads "I'm not playing peek-a-boob, I'm just trying to feed my child."
Preparing for our Public Relations Blitz
By day twenty-one, I'd received the first press releases from Karon Thackston of Marketing Words. I'd read them over and could tell that they would work really well for online news releases as Karon's specialty is SEO copywriting. That means that the releases were well optimized for my targeted keywords and were likely to show up really well in the search results.
For online press releases that you plan to submit to news engines as a traffic source, it's essential to use good solid keyword phrases to help releases rank well in the search results and to get them to show up in the news alerts that journalists set up. For example, I have Google news alerts setup for a variety of search terms so that breaking search news gets delivered right to my inbox. Karon's releases made use of my keywords by using them in the title:
A Passion for Human Milk Banks Spawns Fundraising Site - Raising National Awareness of Human Milk Banks is Driving Force
The content of the release was also optimized for the keyword phrases that I was planning to target. For example, Karon wove all three of my target phrases into a paragraph that promoted the unique slogans of the shirts:
"Some of the slogans printed on the t-shirts include, "Modern Day Wet Nurse," "I Share," "Express Yourself" and "My Kid's No Weaner." The slogans are designed to increase awareness of extended breastfeeding, breastfeeding in public and human milk banks."
On the offline side of things, Amy Hooker from maven communications had also sent me over a starting list of magazines, newspapers, web sites and blogs that we would want to consider pitching to. My job was to go through the list, review each site or magazine and then rank them according to how much of a fit they were for our pitch. For instance, sites like American Baby, Blogging Baby and Mothering were obvious fits for the upcoming pitch, while publications like College Parent Magazine and Parents News UK weren't. Finding fits isn't always on the PR exec either, Amy suggested that I go out and do my own digging to make sure there weren't some essential sites that hadn't made it on to her initial list.
Since I already keep pretty good tab on the sites that talk about breastfeeding, I was able to add several sites to the list including KellyMom and Breastfeeding.com. It took several hours, but I finally made it through all of the sites on Amy's list along with my own research. I ranked each site from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most important to target and sent it back to Amy so that we could make further plans.
Getting CafePress Integrated with TheLactivist.com
On day nineteen I'd discovered that a third party program named cpshop had been created by a fellow named Marty McClowsky that allowed CafePress shop owners to fully integrate their store content with their own URL. All I needed to do was install a PERL and CGI script onto my server and then properly call the content into a template using some special tags. I had figured that it couldn't be very difficult to install because Marty was charging just $13 to do the installation himself.
The lesson that I learned here is that just because someone that created a script can install it quickly doesn't mean that everyone else can. Despite my best efforts, I simply could not do anything more than simply upload the scripts and watch my template page break time and time again.
This is why the ability to sweet talk (ok, beg) your more tech savvy friends into helping you out is a vital part of running an online business. As I've noted before, I struggle quite a bit with hosting and tech issues, I'm really more of a marketing type. I know my strengths, I work on my weaknesses, but ultimately, I sometimes have to ask for help. (Remember, no one starts and runs a business entirely on their own, everyone gets a little help from somewhere, even if it's just having someone to bounce ideas off of.) That's why I asked Robert to see if he could help me figure out the problem.
Of course Robert, the wonder-geek had the script up and running in about ten minutes. As it turns out, getting the script installed wasn't the hardest part of the integration, it was getting the template up and running. It's not so much that creating a template was difficult, it was more the fact that the software was designed for old-school table driven designs and I was running an XHTML search engine friendly tableless design. That meant that I needed to make some changes to the way Marty had the starter template coded, but eventually I figured out that simply changing the DOCTYPE statement at the start of the code would make things work.
Once I got that figured out, it was mostly a matter of putting shopping cart links and bread crumb trails in the right places and testing to make sure products could actually be added to shopper's carts. Finally, after a couple hours worth of uploading, previewing, code changing and starting over again, I could see my entire CafePress store contents on TheLactivist.com site.
Tracking More Referrals
Tracking my incoming traffic with ClickTracks was making things a bit more fun. I saw new links coming in from blogs like Pixel Meadow, Jon Payne, Oren Media, Spear's Grotto and another post from a foreign blog.
Coming up on day twenty-two, I don't get much work done but I do get quite a bit of feedback from readers. Some of it good, some of it bad, all of it highlighting just how important it is to constantly think about building your personal network.
Jump to Day twenty-two.
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December 15, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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