Halloween Safety Tips

The candy bowls are full, the Jack-o-Lanterns are carved and your children have been wearing their costumes around the house in anticipation. However, before your children take to the neighborhood on October 31, it’s important you proceed with the proper safety precautions to ensure everyone has a great time while scaring up some fun. Here are a few helpful Halloween safety tips for both parents and chPumpkinsildren alike.

Costume Caution

As much as possible, encourage bright or light colored costumes. However, if your children like to take the scare factor to a whole new level by donning costumes fit for a horror movie set, there are ways to make even the most frightening frocks safer. While it might be difficult to convince your son of the need to brighten up his Batman costume for fear of “totally ruining it,” try adding reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to the bottom of dark costumes and candy bags. Carrying flashlights and glow sticks can also make dark costumes more visible to drivers while not taking too much away from the costume.

‘One size fits all’ might work for the manufacturer, but such store-bought costumes are often far from that. Make sure your child tries on the costume with whatever footwear they intend to pair it with. Pay special attention to the costume’s length, and make sure it is the right size, as a costume that is too long could more easily result in trips and falls.

Masks can make it difficult to see and can hamper your child’s peripheral vision. Nontoxic face paint or make-up are better options, but start by testing a small amount your child’s arm beforehand to check for any possible reaction.

Safekids.org recommends that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult. While chaperoning the group’s movement from house to house, make certain everyone remains on the sidewalks at all times and cross the street at crosswalks whenever possible. If a street does not have a sidewalk, always walk along the left side watching forward for any oncoming cars.

And if you’re children are old enough to venture out on their own, it’s best to remind them of these trick-or-treating rules. It is also a good idea to have them carry a fully charged cellphone and stick to familiar, well-lit neighborhoods.

Drivers, remember the popular trick-or-treating times are between 5:30 and 9:30 pm. Proceed with caution and keep an eye out for children, especially in neighborhoods, when out on the roads.

Rules of the Road

Safekids.org recommends that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult. While chaperoning the group’s movement from house to house, make certain everyone remains on the sidewalks at all times and cross the street at crosswalks whenever possible. If a street does not have a sidewalk, always walk along the left side watching forward for any oncoming cars.

And if you’re children are old enough to venture out on their own, it’s best to remind them of these trick-or-treating rules. It is also a good idea to have them carry a fully charged cellphone and stick to familiar, well-lit neighborhoods.

Drivers, remember the popular trick-or-treating times are between 5:30 and 9:30 pm. Proceed with caution and keep an eye out for children, especially in neighborhoods, when out on the roads.

Candy Collecting

The Food and Drug Administration suggests giving your children a light meal before heading out. This can help prevent hunger, and cut down on the temptation to snack while trick-or-treating. This is especially helpful for parents as it provides you an opportunity to inspect your children’s candy after getting back home.

When checking your child’s candy collection, be on the lookout for homemade goods and any suspicious wrapping. A good rule of thumb is to stick with only candy or sweets found in commercially wrapped packaging.

Whether you will be out trick-or-treating with your children or on your way home from work, just remember to keep these safety tips in mind on Halloween night. We hope everyone has a safe and very Happy Halloween!

Summer Savings Tip: Turn off the lights!

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household dedicates about 5% of its energy budget to lighting.Summer Savings Tip: Turn the lights off

It’s an easy budget to start trimming, and here are tips to get you started:

Make the switch
Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills, and you have lots of choices, including halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Energy-efficient bulbs may cost more than ones you’re used to, but you’ll save over their lifetime.

Visit Energy Star to find the right light bulbs for your fixtures.

Off vs On
Think twice about that old electricity myth that says it uses more electricity to turn a light back on than it does to keep it on. Today’s basic wisdom suggests that, depending on the type of light, you’re apt to save by turning it off, no matter how short the duration before you’ll be turning it on again.

Time out
Use timers and motion sensors to automatically control the amount of electricity you use. Dimmers also provide savings.

Natural light
Take advantage of daylight by keeping your curtains, blinds or shades open, or using curtains that allow daylight in. When you’re decorating, remember that lighter colors reflect daylight and enhance available natural light in a room.

Crunch the numbers
Curious how much you might save — in terms of dollars or energy — by turning off the lights when you leave the house? It could add up. Check out this breakdown at The Simple Dollar.

Find more tips!
Looking to save even more? Visit websites for your local utilities, including the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), for more energy saving tips on everything from appliances to heating and cooling.

Is your family good about turning off the lights?

Big Savings for Small Business

Are you a small business owner looking to maximize your margins? Are you trying to realize opportunities to save 75779888registerwithout disrupting your day-to-day processes? With a little creativity and thrifty thinking there are ways you can save without sacrificing efficiency or quality.

Smarter Spending

Used cars cost less than brand new models, and the same is true for office equipment. The next time you’re looking to pick up a printer/copier or conference table opt for a “pre-owned model,” and pay a fraction of the new sticker price. But before heading over to Amazon, eBay or a local office e-tailer, check out these tips http://www.nfib.com/article/buying-and-selling-used-office-equipment-52144/ to help guard against potential scams.

Other discount options exist in the growing number of surplus stores like Overstock.com http://www.overstock.com/, which resell outdated or previously unsold inventory from brand names and top retailers.

DIY Marketing

Of the many advantages of social media, it’s hard to ignore one very appealing fact – the price. All the major channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., are free for businesses to set up and maintain a profile. Using social sites as promotional vehicles for your latest products and services also improves your search engine rankings and therefore the likelihood of attracting more prospects.

Public relations opportunities are also monetarily attractive options. In addition to drafting and distributing your own press releases in conjunction with events or promotions, consider making senior managers and other specialists within your organization available for interviews and speaking opportunities. The benefits extend beyond the free press coverage, as your business will be seen as a go-to resource flush with industry experts.

Go green to save some green

According to PC World http://www.pcworld.com/article/257306/how_to_save_money_on_printing_costs.html, each sheet of printed paper costs about 10 cents, and that figure jumps significantly with respect to color. When you multiply that by the number of pages printed by each employee over the course of a year the expense grows exponentially.

Opt to “go green” and digitize whenever possible. In lieu of mailing or faxing inventories and purchase orders, send them via email. The same applies to inter-office communications, why print when scanning and sending does the trick. If you’re a brick and mortar business, try offering your customers the option of an e-receipt instead of a printed version. In addition to saving on ink, toner, paper and machine maintenance, your business will also benefit from the goodwill generated by your eco-friendly initiatives.

An even simpler, low-tech opportunity can be found by examining your overhead…lights that is. Replacing your incandescent bulbs with more energy efficient LEDs or compact fluorescents can result in a savings of up to tens of thousands annually. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100863041

What tips or tricks have you used to save your business money?

Friday Focus: Belle Grove Plantation

In its three hundred year history, Belle Grove Plantation has stood witness to many of America’s greatest historic events and has hosted many famous and historical people. As the Plantation prepares for its first major fundraising event, a Blues Concert and Picnic Under the Stars on July 4, we caught up with representative Michelle Darnell for this week’s Friday Focus.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: Belle Grove Plantation, the birthplace of President James Madison, located in King George County Virginia, is now the home of Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast. Our Southern Plantation was established in 1670 on the banks of the Rappahannock River. Belle Grove’s stately, historic mansion has four master suites with private baths and views of the river and plantation. Each room is named after a family that owned Belle Grove Plantation through its history, and each is decorated with period antiques to reflect the period that a particular family lived at Belle Grove. Gourmet breakfasts await you in our formal dining room or on the riverside balcony. Social hour at 5:00pm will allow you to relax as you watch the sunset on the river.

Built in 1791, this mansion offers the charm of Southern days gone by. Here you will find the elegant Southern wedding of your dreams or a peaceful retreat for corporate and social gatherings. With historic and local attractions within easy drives and award-winning vineyards just around the corner, Belle Grove Plantation makes a great place to come home to after a day of adventure.

Just 90 minutes from Washington DC or Baltimore, 50 minutes from Richmond and less than a half hour from Fredericksburg, Belle Grove Plantation is a hidden jewel of the Northern Neck.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: This one is a hard one to answer. We have had so many special moments since we opened in August 2013 and even before we opened. I have to say that one that sticks out in my mind was a very special visit we helped arrange for a local descendant of one of the owners of Belle Grove. Over the years, no access had been given to the public to allow others to come and enjoy the beauty of Belle Grove and to touch the ground where many of the local families’ forefathers once walked.

We were contacted by the wife of one of these families before we opened to arrange a very special birthday surprise. The family was about to move far away and the husband, who was a direct decedent as well as the family historian, had driven by this plantation many times, longing to come back and see where his forefather once called home.

His wife and I made an appointment on his birthday for them to come to the plantation. This was just a day or two before they were to leave for good. She blindfolded him and drove him to the plantation. As she helped him out of the car, you could feel the excitement of seeing his reaction once he knew where he was. When she removed the blindfold, his jaw dropped and I could swear I saw tears in his eyes.

That time with him was not only helpful to us as we were building the past history to preserve, but it was one of the most special times we had as we walked this decedent through the same halls his forefather had walked years ago.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Like with any business or historic landmark, our biggest challenge is money and fundraising. Our historic home, despite being here since 1791 and our plantation, founded in 1670, are really not very well-known landmarks. Most people assume that President Madison was born at Montpelier and don’t realize that he was actually born here; we have been working hard to get the word out to others who, like us, want to preserve this important landmark.

Our biggest challenge right now is the restoration and preservation of our three 1720 outbuildings. Our Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse are the oldest buildings on the property and stood here when James Madison drew his first breath. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has even told us how important they are. Structures like our Summer Kitchen, which is half kitchen and half slave quarters, just aren’t around anymore from this time period, and it kills us as we stand by watching boards pop loose and bricks fall in, all while we rush to raise the needed funds to stabilize them and to restore them.

Our hope is to restore these structures back to the 1720 time period, and to make the Summer Kitchen into a small museum. We would like to use the kitchen side of to house the artifacts we have already found and to tell the story of the history of this elegant Southern plantation.

We would also like to take the slave quarter side of the Summer Kitchen and turn it into a memorial to the enslaved people of Belle Grove Plantation. While the slave cemetery has long been lost, we do have many of the names of the enslaved people from the early 1700s to just after the Civil War. We have uncovered them through death records, wills and inventories. Our goal is to place a bronze plaque in the slave quarter side of the Summer Kitchen to give these very important members of the plantation a name—to let everyone know that they were here, too.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: On July 4, 2014, we will be having our first major fundraiser to help us restore, preserve and improve Belle Grove Plantation. This event will be a Blues Concert and Picnic Under the Stars at Belle Grove Plantation, starting at 6:00pm. We invite the public to bring their lawn chairs or blankets and come enjoy an evening of music, food and fun. There are no fireworks this year, but when you hear the voice of our main band, The Alexis P. Suter Band from New York, you won’t need fireworks—Alexis has a powerhouse voice that will not only excite you, but move you! We will also have an opening act, Mike Mallack from Maryland. His Southern-fried rock sound will make you swear that you are listening to and seeing Chris Daugherty.

Tickets are available through our online store or by calling us directly at 540-621-7340.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways you can help make a difference at Belle Grove Plantation. We have volunteers that help us in so many ways. You can see our list of volunteers on our website under our “Employment” page.

If you can’t volunteer, you can help us by spreading the word. ‘Like’ our Facebook page and share it with your friends and family. Ask them to share it with their friends and family. Help us by taking some of our postcards or brochures to local businesses and encourage them to display them.

Help us with our fund raising efforts. Besides donating yourself, you can help us in our upcoming donation drive to raise the needed funds to get us to the next steps in restoring, preserving and improving Belle Grove Plantation.

Support our public events, tours and bed and breakfast accommodations. By coming and enjoying our events, you are not only have a great time with us, you are helping to provide funds we so desperately need!

For more information, visit www.bellegroveplantation.com or email information@bellegroveplantation.com.

 

Young Adult Blog Series: Renting Your First Apartment

The day has come—you’re finally ready to move out of your parents’ house and find your own place!New Houses series

Renting that first apartment can be exciting and a little bit scary. You will probably look at several apartments to find the one that has the location you want, includes the amenities you need and is affordable.

That’s the exciting part.

Before the landlord will hand over your keys, you’ll need to go through the process of signing a lease. Often times, you’ll also need to do an application before the landlord will rent to you. Be sure to understand all the details, fill out the application completely (and honestly) and ask questions about anything you do not understand before signing anything.

As you go through the process, remember that the landlord is running a business and you are the customer. However, unlike making a purchase at a store, this transaction will span a much longer period of time, and your relationship with the landlord will continue as long as you live in the apartment. Starting the relationship on a good note and living up to your responsibilities as a renter can make the relationship (and your overall experience) more pleasant.

Here are some of the things you may encounter when applying for the lease:

Personal Information – You will probably need to provide information on your prior places of residence, your employment, contact information in case of emergency, information on your car and whether you have pets. You may also be asked about any legal record you may have.

Application Fee – You will probably have to pay an application fee which may be non-refundable. This covers the cost of the landlord processing your application. It’s worth it to ask your landlord if your application fee can be applied to your rent. You may not get it, but there’s no harm in asking.

Security Deposit – Once your application is accepted, the landlord will probably want a deposit that could equate to a couple months’ rent. The landlord holds this as security in case there are damages when you move out. Be sure to inspect the apartment before you move in to find any existing damages. Discuss anything you find with your landlord immediately, and make sure you are not charged for them when you move out.

Credit Report – It’s normal for a landlord to run a credit check on you before approving your application. This is one of the ways the landlord gets some comfort that you will pay the rent each month, based on your creditworthiness.

Guarantor – Depending on your situation, the landlord may require that someone else guarantees your lease. Remember, the landlord is in business to make a profit and he wants to make sure that the rent gets paid on time and that the apartment is well taken care of. It’s especially common of the landlord to ask this of young tenants who haven’t rented before. Don’t be alarmed or frustrated—ask a parent or guardian to be the guarantor.

Finally, be a good renter. Renters and customers that are pleasant to work with and pay their bills promptly usually get better service. A good relationship with your landlord can be important if things go wrong. Remember, your landlord is whom you are going to call if there is a leak in your roof at 3 a.m. or there’s no hot water. A good relationship may get the problem resolved easier and sooner!

Make your first renting experience a good one—check out this article for tips on avoiding 7 common mistakes among first time renters!

Young Adult Blog Series: Student Loans

If you’re spending the dollars on a higher education, you likely have the prospect of student loans hanging over your head. You’re not alone—Forbes.com reports that two thirds of students graduating from American universities today are carrying some amount of debt with them. Even more staggering, the total student loan debt in the United States is estimated at around $1.2 trillion, with the average graduate owing $26,000.

In the flurry of excitement that comes with graduation, job searching and (hopefully!) snagging that first job, it can be easy to put off thinking about loan payback. Consequently, nearly one quarter to one third of borrowers are late or delinquent on their student loans, a misstep that can have a negative impact on a financial future down the line.

When it comes to student loans, it’s beneficial to take the time to understand your personal situation. Every student is different, so be sure to find out who you owe, and how much you have in debt. As you go through that process, there are a few things to keep in mind:

What type of repayment plan will you have? Many loan programs allow you to defer starting the repayment process until you graduate and then have level payments for up to ten years to pay off the loan. Depending on the type of loan you have and your situation, you may be able to extend the term or have variable payments.

What are the terms (repayment and interest rate) of your loan? As you review your loan, be sure to compare the student loan rate with any other borrowing you may have. For example, it may sound nice to pay off your student loan just to get it behind you, but if that means that your credit card balance would grow, it may not make sense.

Would consolidating your loans or refinancing them make sense? Again, you need to review all of the terms of any existing loan with the terms of a potential consolidated loan. Be sure to consider rates, terms and any costs of consolidating or refinancing.

What if you are having trouble making your required payments? Living up to your repayment responsibilities is serious. Missing payments may trigger penalties and ultimately that may be reflected on your credit record. If this is an issue, contact your lender immediately. You may be able to work out an agreement to extend the repayment period or change the terms to ease the problem. Your lender does not want to see the loan go into default and neither do you.

Looking for additional tips for managing your student loans? Click here to read more.

Hot Tips for Summer Vacation Savings

Summer becomes a hot time to give yourself and your loved ones a badly needed break. But with rising food, fuel, and hotel costs, for many people, a summer vacation may seem out of reach financially.

Rest assured, however, there are some ways to cut the cost of summer vacation and ensure you get your time in the sun.

• Be flexible – it pays. If you’re open to trying different vacation spots, you’ll increase your chances of saving money. For example, look at both lake vacations and beach locations for the best deals, and make your decision accordingly. Having flexibility on your vacation timetable will also make saving easier, especially if you choose a cruise, which can offer significantly lower rates during summer season.

• Stay out of the hot spots. While a lot of us love to be where all the action is, vacationing in crowded “hotspots” can cost you a lot more. By staying away from these locations, you won’t just avoid crowds and traffic; you’ll save money.

• Cash in your rewards. Do you have a credit card that offers travel rewards? Summer is a great time to cash in. You may be able to reduce or eliminate the cost of hotels, airfare, entertainment, and rental cars. Plus, if you stay at the same hotel or use the same airline, you can earn rewards that can be redeemed for next year’s vacation. How’s that for smart vacation planning?

• Get a vacation rental. One way to save significantly on your lodging costs is to rent a condo or cottage. Research has shown that renting homes is a lot more affordable than staying in hotel rooms. Plus, with a home, you’ll have more room and privacy – always a plus when you’re traveling with children.

• Dine in. Another advantage of renting a home is that you can make your own meals, putting more money in your pocket. If you plan on staying at a hotel, see if you can book a room with a stove or refrigerator to allow you to make your own meals and store snacks.

• Team up on your vacation. Invite family members or friends you enjoy spending time with to accompany you. With a vacation rental, you can split the cost of the home, making your vacation a whole lot more affordable.

These are just a few simple ways to save. Find more information on ways to save on vacation planning all year long with help from National Geographic.

Young Adult Blog Series: Do you know your credit score?

If your answer is “no”, don’t feel bad; a recent study by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions found that there are many misconceptions and a general lack of knowledge among Americans when it comes to their credit score.

When you’re young, a credit score probably isn’t something you regularly think about, but as your level of financial responsibility increases, it becomes an important thing to keep track of. So what is a credit score, and how do you find out yours?

Essentially, your credit score is a snapshot of your borrowing history, comprised of information from credit card companies, financial institutions and other companies. This history is used to calculate your creditworthiness—in other words, your likelihood of being able to pay back money that you borrow.

Each time you apply for credit, whether you complete a credit card application, apply for an auto loan or sign a lease for an apartment, someone is probably checking your credit report. When it comes to loans, your credit score is a major determining factor on whether or not a lender will approve you. It can also affect your interest rate; the lower your credit score, the more likely you’ll end up paying more in interest.

Here are some tips to help you build and maintain a solid credit rating:

-Make your payments before the due date Remember, promptness counts! Making your payments ahead of schedule will not only help you avoid late fees, but it will keep your account from delinquency.

-Pay more than the minimum on all credit cards if you can. Having a high credit card balance relative to your credit limit can negatively affect your credit score. If you have a high amount of credit card debt, make every effort to pay down your balances as quickly as possible.

-Order a credit report once a year There are three major bureaus that house credit card information: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You are entitled to one free report per year from each of the financial institutions, so make a yearly credit check-up part of your life! If you notice any errors on your credit report, contact the issuing bureau immediately.

Want to test your knowledge? Take this quiz and see how much you know about your credit score!

Friday Focus: Accokeek Foundation

Along the Potomac River just across from the historic Mount VernDSC_0915 Becky talks about watermelonson plantation sits Piscataway Park, a 5,000-acre span of natural landscape. The park is a product of a large-scale conservation effort begun in the 1950s, when rapid development threatened to
destroy the land. Today, the stewardship of the park is a joint effort between the National Park Service and the Accokeek Foundation, an organization dedicated to sharing the land and its heritage with visitors. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Anjela Barnes, the Foundation’s Marketing Director, who shared some favorite moments and the Foundation’s plans for celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812!

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: The Accokeek Foundation’s mission is to cultivate passion for the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and commitment to stewardship and sustainability. We were founded in 1957 to protect the view from George Washington’s Mount Vernon as one of the nation’s first land trusts, and we continue land conservation efforts today to ensure continued protection of the viewshed and the working landscapes in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the Foundation uses Piscataway Park to interpret agriculture and environmental stewardship to its 20,000 annual visitors, including school youth, local residents, recreational enthusiasts and D.C. area tourists. The National Colonial Farm, a well known historic farm museum established in 1958, demonstrates Maryland agriculture during the 18th century, and has been the backdrop for hundreds of school tours each year. The Ecosystem Farm, a certified organic 8-acre farm, teaches visitors about sustainable food production using innovative growing techniques. It is the goal of the farm to demonstrate a compelling variety of possibilities that inspire people to want to grow while creating a thriving, engaged community.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: There are so many favorite moments that it’s hard to choose just one, but I would say that the best moments come by way of the school tours offered to kids aged 13 or younger. Last fall, the organic farm we operate was host to a group of kids from D.C.’s Mundo Verde Public Charter School. The kids learned about what it’s like to be a farmer, where their food comes from and even helped to harvest carrots–a lot of carrots! For many of the kids, it is their first time visiting a farm, an experience quoted by one teacher as, “one they’ll never forget.”

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Because of recent federal budget cuts, including sequestration and the October shutdown, the Accokeek Foundation has been impacted by a decrease in federal funding. Support from private foundations and individuals help to provide the funds needed so we can maintain and provide an open space that is available daily and free for all to enjoy its beauty.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Yes. We’ve just launched a free monthly workshop series on Modern Homesteading which integrates classroom learning with practical, hands-on work on the farm. The series will be held on Sundays through the fall and will cover topics such as composting, permaculture design, kitchen gardening, canning and food preservation and seed saving. We are also in the midst of planning for a large public event on July 12. The event, “Celebrating with Pride on the Potomac”, commemorates the War of 1812 bicentennial with a visit to the Potomac by the Pride of Baltimore. The event will feature deck tours aboard the Pride, shore side captain talks about the life of a privateer, kayak tours by Atlantic Kayak Company, music and historic interpretation on the National Colonial Farm. Admission is $10 per person, and children 10 and under are free.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways to get involved with the organization. Volunteering on a recurring basis is often the most rewarding way to get involved and give back by helping with the gardens, caring for heritage breed livestock, working the on-farm market or lending a hand during special events. Individuals and families can also join and become members of the Accokeek Foundation to support the natural and cultural heritage programs offered. Or simply visit, bring your family and friends, and enjoy the natural beauty of Piscataway Park, preserved and protected for generations to come.

The Business of Online Advertising

Learn through customer analyticsOne thing is certain about today’s consumers–more and more of them are spending more and more time (and money) online. If that’s where they are, shouldn’t your business be there too? If you’re a busy small business owner and not sure where to start with online advertising, here’s a brief background and a few best practices to get you digitally dialed in.

The Basics
Email marketing, display advertising, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, online video and social media marketing all fall underneath the digital umbrella. You can click here to for a quick reference guide http://www.quirk.biz/resources/emarketingone to find more information on the different channels and which are best suited to your current strategy.

And if you’re like most business owners, decisions about how to allocate limited resources will also play a significant role in which channel(s) to explore. This easy-to-read chart http://moz.com/learn/local/digital-marketing-options can help you compare options based on the amount of time and money you can expect to invest in each.

Best Practices Before Getting Started
As with any type of campaign, make sure you set out with a clearly defined goal. Whether it’s generating more awareness for your brand, driving traffic to your site or increasing sales be sure your objectives are designed to help you achieve a certain end.

Dare to be different, and don’t be afraid to try something a new. http://www.inc.com/ss/7-successful-viral-marketing-campaigns Take advantage of the ability to provide prospects with interesting and engaging content. Whether this is an interactive game, funny video, a little creativity can go a long way in getting you noticed by more users.

A great ad with eye-catching imagery, compelling copy or an irresistible offer is only the beginning. If you promise something in your ad, be sure you’re delivering on the other end through a custom landing page, a digital storefront or an information request form. The last thing you want is to get your prospects to act only to find the destination confusing or completely irrelevant. http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2014/02/28/5-landing-page-mistakes-that-are-killing-your-chances-at-conversions/ And it doesn’t end after “going live,” don’t forget to test your ad to ensure everything is working properly!

Measure Your Success
A challenge marketers face with traditional forms of advertising is navigating the murky waters of the measurement. This can make it difficult to determine the return on investment and overall effectiveness of a campaign.

However, you can track and trace you online efforts easily with the help of tools like Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/. The wealth of information in these reports can provide you with data and insights you can learn from to help sharpen your strategy and improve your messaging and conversion rates over time.

Do you plan to include online advertising to help your boost your business’ bottom line?