Manatee Chamber Makes Media Exposure for Businesses Easier than Ever

(Manatee County, FL) –   What better way to help area businesses than by assisting them in getting the word out about their products, services, events, new hires, and more?  In 2006, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce became the first Chamber in the country to offer an online Press Release Submission Tool free of charge to its members.  It was an immediate success, particularly with smaller members with little to no marketing staff.

And now it’s even better!  The online tool has been improved to offer additional information and functionality, including: the contact names at each media to whom press releases are sent, a field to individualize the subject line of each release, and the ability to print mailing labels and follow up on your electronically submitted information with a hard copy.

How does it work?

  • Members of the Manatee Chamber receive a unique login to access the Press Release Submission Tool
  • Fill in contact information and press release
  • Attach photos and documents (optional)
  • Select media to whom the release should be sent
  • Click submit

“In today’s fast world and faster news cycle, it’s more important than ever to get your information into the hands of the media,” stated Manatee Chamber President Bob Bartz. “The Manatee Chamber’s Press Release Tool reaches more than 90 media representatives in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to newspapers, television, radio, and magazines, releases are sent to blogs and electronic news outlets. More than 80 million individuals get their news online every day and major media outlets get a significant percentage of their stories from local media outlets.  We believe in helping local businesses promote their good news.”

For more information on the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Press Release Submission Tool, contact Carey Miller at 941-748-3411.

The Manatee Chamber of Commerce Announces “Cash Mob Manatee” Event Saturday, March 24 at Main Street Bazaar

(Bradenton, FL) –
You’ve heard of “flash mobs,” but have you heard of a “cash mob?” The Manatee Chamber of Commerce will be promoting Manatee County’s first “Cash Mob Manatee” for Saturday, March 24 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at Main Street Bazaar (8111 Lakewood Main Street, #J101 in Lakewood Ranch). The entire community is encouraged to participate!

What is Cash Mob Manatee? A fun, fast-paced and concentrated shopping event designed to draw more awareness, visibility, and shoppers to locally-owned businesses.

How does a “cash mob” work? We start by getting the word out to everyone who is interested in supporting our local businesses that there is a “cash mob” event happening on a specific date at a specific time. Shoppers then show up during the designated time frame at the featured business and buy something. There are three rules: spend a little cash at the business, meet people you didn’t know, and have fun!

How was Main Street Bazaar chosen as the first “Cash Mob Manatee” location? It was drawn from a list of retail businesses that are local members of the Manatee Chamber.

“Encouraging consumers to spending their money locally couldn’t be more important than in this time of economic recovery,” stated Manatee Chamber President Bob Bartz. “Shopping in the Manatee County region saves jobs, preserves our local flavor, and reduces environmental impact and transportation costs. According to a Michigan State University study, 73% of dollars spent at local businesses stays in the community. Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally and create two out of every three new jobs. It’s critical that we support these small businesses.”

The Manatee Chamber plans to host additional “Cash Mob Manatee” events in the future. For more information, contact Carey Miller at 941-748-3411.

Small Firms = Big Targets for Hackers

Hackers are starting to move away from “big scores” that are harder to accomplish, and are moving on to smaller and ultimately easier and more profitable thefts from small and medium-sized businesses, whose generally lax to non-existent security systems make for easy and quick money.

In physics, there’s a concept called ‘the path of least resistance’. The meaning is plain enough objects that move in a system take the path where they will encounter the least challenges and hurdles in order to quickly move to wherever they are going.

Apparently, the same principle applies to hackers nowadays. Instead of targeting larger firms for that big ‘score’, hackers are now considering it more feasible and much easier to victimize smaller firms and companies, even for a much smaller amount of money.

Why is that? First, smaller companies generally have much more vulnerable IT systems. Security is minimal or average at best, and the hackers don’t get as much heat or attention when compared to trying to breach the much more complicated, state-of-the-art security systems of bigger firms and businesses. Take a small newsstand business in Chicago: cyberthieves were able to install a Trojan in the cash registers which sent swiped credit card numbers to Russia. When the jig was discovered, Mastercard subsequently demanded an investigation – at the expense of the business owner – and the proprietor had to shell out a hefty $22,000.(i)

A survey in the United States reveals that more than half of small or medium-sized businesses believed that they ran no risk of being victimized by hackers, and less than half of the respondents had security systems in place.(ii) That looks like a path of least resistance, as far as hackers are concerned.

The loss of a few thousand bucks may not be much for a big business, but it can make a significant dent on the profits and sustainability of smaller organizations. And in the case of implanted viruses that steal credit card information, your reputation can also take a big hit. So if you want your business to stay truly safe before it’s too late, please contact us so we can discuss options and blueprints to make your business secure.

References: (i) and (ii)

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Article contributed by:
David Spire, President
United Systems Computer Group
www.uscomputergroup.com

Pay Per Click 101: Traffic vs. Conversions

Over the past few years Google AdWords (also called Pay-Per-Click or PPC) has started getting a bad name because of the way some internet marketers and large media companies have misguided their customers.  If someone is running a PPC campaign for you and the primary success metric they track for you is “traffic”, then your campaign is doomed from the start.  The primary success metric you should be tracking is “conversions”.  That is a much more difficult result to achieve, which is why many don’t focus on it.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you look at PPC as an option for marketing your business online:

Landing Pages

When someone clicks on your PPC ad, you typically should not take them directly to your main website because it probably is not designed to receive traffic from a PPC ad.  Research shows that people who click on PPC ads are much more conversion-oriented, which means they are ready to make a purchase or complete an action.  So instead of taking people to you website, you should take them to a Landing Page that is specially designed to successfully convert visitors in some way that you can track: clicking a button to “Buy Now”; submitting information through a contact form; calling a phone # you can track internally; etc.

Ad Placement

Your PPC ad will appear higher than your competitors if you are willing to pay more Per-Click than they are.  The inherent problem with this model is if your competitors are running campaigns that aren’t optimized properly they may be artificially inflating the Cost-Per-Click for everyone competing for the same words and phrases.  Increasing your Quality Scores can help mitigate the impact of competing against poor campaigns.

Quality Scores

This is often something business owners are unaware of.  Google assigns Quality Scores to your PPC campaign based on the quality of your ads, the quality and substance of your Landing Pages, how long people are staying on your Landing Pages and whether or not they are converting.  If you have better Quality Scores than the other ads you are competing against, you will pay less than every time someone clicks on your ad—even though your ads are positioned above your competitors.

Return On Investment

If it costs you $5.00 every time someone clicks on your PPC ad, and you understand that average Conversion Rate for a PPC campaign is 10-15% (it varies from industry to industry) and you charge $15.00 for your product, you can quickly see the math doesn’t add up and a PPC campaign may not be the answer for you.  If your internet marketing team isn’t going through this exercise with you be prepared to spend a lot of money and not get any ROI.

It’s easy to throw a bunch of money at PPC and get traffic to your Landing Pages, but if that traffic isn’t targeted (i.e., they aren’t qualified leads) you are spending money attracting people to your Landing Pages who really aren’t interested in your product or service.  High traffic and no conversions means you are fighting an uphill battle.  Your business can’t afford to run a campaign this way.

Article contributed by:
Troy Newport, Business Development Director
Webtivity Design Solutions
http://blog.webtivitydesigns.com

China… the Mysterious Orient

What’s on your bucket list?  For most people, one of the top things they want to do in life is travel.  Preferably to an exotic destination.  We can help you with that!

The Manatee Chamber has partnered with CITSTLINC, International to offer individuals a chance at the trip of a lifetime.  Nine days in China at the unbelievable (but definitely accurate) price of $2,000 per person for members and $2,300 for non-members.

No, that’s not a typo.  What’s more, it includes your airfare from JFK in New York, three fantastic meals daily (you’ll eat Peking Duck where Nixon did), 4- and 5-star hotel accommodations, incredible shopping, and more. Tian An Men Square, the Summer Palace, the Yu Garden, pagodas, tea houses, and… the Great Wall of China.  What visit would be completed without it?

If you’d like to learn more about this amazing opportunity, visit the Manatee Chamber’s website.  An informational meeting is set for April 20 at 6:00pm in the Lakewood Ranch Office at The McClure Center. Ask specific questions regarding the trip and pay a deposit to reserve your seat.

Happy New Year!

Excitement is building over the Annual Dinner on Tuesday, January 25th. Invitations went out in the mail last week. The new venue this year (Feté Ballroom at Polo Grill and Bar) will be more inviting than ever! We have added a silent auction this year with some fantastic opportunities to consider. A sneak peek at one of these items being auctioned is “Happy Trails” Imagine you’re a cowboy or gal and working on a cattle ranch for an afternoon. This fun auction item will let you try your hand at roping, skeet shooting and eating lunch grilled the cowboy way. Don’t miss your chance to bid on this and many others escapes and adventures during the networking social at the Annual Dinner. For more information and to RSVP, contact ElbaV@ManateeChamber.com or call 941-748-4842 ext. 122.

The latest buzz around the Chamber office is our 2 new employees who have joined us recently. Chyanne Payne is our newest Membership Development Representative. She has many years of experience with two previous Chambers and we are glad she decided to join us. Cindy Unzicker, Business Development and special project Coordinator in the EDC, is sitting in Debbie Scott’s old seat but with new responsibilities. Cindy is busy helping prepare for the Economic Forecast Breakfast next week on January 20th at the Bradenton Auditorium. This annual event features Hank Fishkind, Ph.D who will give his economic forecast of the coming year for Manatee County. To RSVP for this coming event, contact Cindy directly at CindyU@ManateeEDC.com or call 941-748-4842 ext. 126. Welcome Chyanne and Cindy to the Chamber, we’re glad you’re here.

On that same note, Debbie Scott can be found at Senator Mike Bennett’s office in Bradenton. Congratulations on your new position, Debbie!

Our first coffee club of the year will be this week on Thursday, January 13 at the Manatee County Fairgrounds. Jim Vett will be there to officially kick-off his year as our 2011 Chairman. That same day beginning at 5 PM our Manatee Young Professionals will be at Urban Flats. No RSVP is needed for either of these events. For more information contact the Chamber at 941-748-4842 and Reba, our Information Specialist can answer any questions you may have or direct your call to the correct person for more details.

Tina West, our Better Business Council Manager, is busy proofing the 2011 BBC Directory this week. This publication is of all our current BBC members and will be published and placed in the January 28th edition of the Bradenton Herald. It will also be available in the Chamber’s two lobbies, downtown Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch if you would like additional copies. For more information about membership in our BBC contact Tina at TinaW@ManateeChamber.com.

Well, this week starts the beginning of planning and laying out the February issue of Current. The cover will feature the Pittsburgh Pirates and spring training. Look for it in your mailboxes the first week of February. All for now!

Karen Jones
Communications Director
Editor Current magazine

Bradenton is home to U.S. Soccer’s Residency program for future FIFA World Cup atheletes

What does a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast have in common with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa? Several of the U.S. players trained in Bradenton at the IMG Academies, home to the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program.

Since its inception, 170 players have been through the full-time Residency Program, and more than 60 of those players have moved on to Major League Soccer or the professional leagues in Europe. Fifteen players have also registered at least one cap with the full MNT: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Bobby Convey, Eddie Johnson, Justin Mapp, Oguchi Onyewu, Santino Quaranta, Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven, Jonathan Spector, Heath Pearce and Josmer Altidore.

The U-17 players live on campus at the Academy and train in the morning under the guidance of Wilmer Cabrera and assistant coaches Paul Caffrey, Gerson Echeverry, Keith Fulk and Paul Grafer. In the afternoon, the players attend classes at Bradenton Preparatory Academy. While in the full-time residency program, the U.S. team not only trains daily under Cabrera, but also has access to the IMG Academy’s spacious facilities.

The team regularly uses IMG’s state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, as well as some of the nation’s best sports psychologists that work at the Academy. The IMG Academy includes top-of-the-line soccer equipment, three Bermuda grass fields, an indoor dome with artificial turf, two swimming pools, newly renovated student housing and dining facilities.

The EDC is proud that Manatee County is home to this wonderful program that trains the Team USA atheletes that we are all getting ready to watch in this year’s World Cup in South Africa .