The skills we teach deliver real ROI.

May 2012 archive

Receive FREE Training Compensation Courtesy of the Great State of Wyoming!

At the conclusion of one of our recent training courses, an attendee fromWyomingapproached the professor with a form to sign. It was a Wyoming Workforce Development Training Fund form. The attendee informed the professor that the state ofWyomingwould reimburse his training fees, up to $2,000, through a grant from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. Essentially, the attendee was receiving free training by gaining pre-approval of the course and then providing documentation of the training fees. That seemed simple enough.

So if the state ofWyomingwas providing free training fees, why wasn’t everyone taking advantage of it? Did I mention FREE training? Perhaps employees didn’t know this grant was available. Or maybe businesses weren’t informing their employees of this opportunity. Whatever the case, the Workforce Development Training Fund was established to help build a workforce of competitive and competentWyomingworkers. Training compensation is available to employees with an existing position at work who require a skill upgrade or new employees who require training in their area of work.

If you are an employed worker in the state ofWyomingthis grant is for you! Below is a list of the requirements to become approved for a training grant. See if you qualify or your employer qualifies.

  • A business entity that is registered with the Wyoming Secretary of State to conduct business inWyoming.
  • The business entity must be in good standing with the Wyoming Unemployment Insurance program, Wyoming Workers Compensation program, Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, and the Workforce Development Training Fund.
  • Training will either correct an employee’s skill deficiency or upgrade an employee’s current skill level.
  • There must be a direct relationship between the training and the trainee’s occupation or craft.
  • The training is not normally provided by the business entity.
  • The business entity will not substitute funds normally provided for training or funds obtained from another source with Business Training Grant funds.
  • There is a need for the skill upgrade provided by the training for the business entity to remain competitive in the industry or economy.
  • The skill upgrade provided by the training will enhance the business entity’s productivity or profitability, reduce employee turnover, or enhance employee wages.

Grants of up to $2,000 are renewable each fiscal year for qualified employees or businesses. You can find out more at

ASPE’s training courses have previous success of gaining grant approval. If you are a marketer and curious about the ins-and-outs of search engine optimization our SEO Boot Camp can help you become a SEO master. See all of our course offerings at, which include,

Wyomingisn’t the only state to establish training grants for employees and employers. These five states also offer training compensation with similar requirements and value of compensation.

SEO for Small Businesses

I recently got into a discussion with someone on Twitter about SEO (search engine optimization) and small businesses. She had been advised that small businesses often do not have the budget for SEO and ranking organically. When I asked what the proposed solution was, I got a surprising answer.  The advice given was that,

“Sometimes PPC (pay per click advertising) is the best, fastest, and only way to go. So don’t be afraid of ONLY doing PPC.”

I have to disagree with this statement. PPC is expensive, especially for small businesses with limited advertising budgets.  These companies will often find themselves bidding on the same keywords as much larger competitors, with much larger budgets. Even if they outbid their competitors, in reality they’re still paying for every single one of those visits to their site.  And in a way, PPC has an addictive quality. Once you start getting clicks, you want more.  And in order to get more, you have to spend more. Worse yet, to maintain the level of traffic they have, they are forced to maintain their spend.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine’s organic (unpaid) search results.  What does that mean? It means that visits from organic search results are FREE! Once you get into hiring an agency or a contractor to do your SEO work for you, yes, you’re talking about some major cash flow. But where does SEO start? It starts with good, quality content and you don’t have to be an SEO “guru” to write it.  Any small business is capable of becoming effectively involved in SEO by producing good, keyword focused, quality content on their own without burning holes through their already shallow pockets. But where should they start?

The first thing is to do your research. Find out what keywords are relevant to your product or service and find out what keywords are receiving high search volumes. I like to use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.  First I plug in the web page I want to optimize without any keyword suggestions and let Google come up with keywords it thinks I should focus on for that page.  Then I’ll start coming up with variations and long-tail forms of those keywords to see what their actual search volume is. Long-tail keywords are more like phrases. Rather than focusing on marketing training I am going to focus on social media marketing training or even social media marketing training in Raleigh.  These two long-tail keywords are going to have lower search volume than marketing training but they’re easier to rank for in search engines and correspond to more niche markets. Once you have your list of keywords you want to focus on, you’re ready to start writing content.

Now going back to PPC, I’m not saying it isn’t a great advertising tool for small businesses; it is – it’s just expensive.  But optimizing your pages for quality, keyword focused content is the first step to getting the most out of your PPC budget.  If your landing pages are keyword optimized for the same keywords you’re bidding on, you’ll increase your quality score, increasing your impressions and improving the position of your ads, therefore, paying less per click.

Here’s the bottom line: the only cost associated with small businesses becoming effectively involved in SEO is the time it takes to write quality, keyword focused content.  If they have the budget for PPC, they have the budget for SEO. PPC, although a great advertising tool, is extremely (and increasingly) expensive when used alone in order to be effective.  To get the most out of your advertising budget it must combined with SEO efforts.

So now that you have my 2 cents, I’d like to know yours. Do you think SEO is futile for small businesses? Leave a comment and let me know your opinion.

Are you a small business that wants to improve your visibility in search results? Have you been outsourcing your SEO work and want to bring it in-house? Check out our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Boot Camp and learn how to develop a strategy that fits your business, no matter what size or budget. Go a step further and learn how to incorporate PPC into you advertising efforts or become a Google AdWords Certified Professional. Check out our Mastering Google AdWords course for in-depth knowledge and hands-on training to help you achieve greater results from your AdWords campaigns.

More by this author: 

Second iPad Winner of 2012 Chosen! Only One More Chance to Win!

Congratulations to David Dillman from Lafayette, Indiana for winning our second iPad! When we notified David he said, “That is way too cool. I will enjoy showing it off at the Agile training when I go.” David will be attending the Agile Project Management course in Sacramento this June.

Don’t worry, there is still one more chance to win! Our last winner will be chosen on June 19th.

Sign up at for your chance to win the last remaining iPad, an exciting way to experience the web, email, photos, video, & more.

Enter to win a FREE iPad from ASPE!

How Businesses Can Benefit From Pinterest

Is Your Business Pinteresting?

Meet social media’s newest darling – Pinterest, the virtual pinboard that helps people connect on shared interests or tastes. A place where users can discover new fashion trends, gain kitchen decorating inspiration, or categorize their favorite recipes.

So what’s in it for me and my business? Pinterest is more than just a virtual scrapbook. It’s an arena for sharing ideas and products to interested and interactive followers. So join the conversation. Allow users to learn about your business and the products you offer. Pinterest can allow you to showcase the lifestyle of your brand to current customers and spark the interest of potential customers.

Take Chobani Yogurt (@chobani) for example. Chobani is a Greek yogurt company targeted at health-conscious consumers and brands itself as “nothing but good.” By creating a Pinterest account and regularly updating their pinboards, Chobani has grown their following to include 6,120 fans. Their focus is not solely on promoting their products instead Chobani focuses on promoting the lifestyle of their brand.

They have various pinboards with recipes promoting healthy snacks and meals that many times include Chobani as an ingredient. Since Chobani is also an Official Sponsor of the 2012 US Olympic Team, they created a “chobanipowered” pinboard with Olympic related pins. It is these sorts of pins that allow customers to understand more about their brand and relate to them on a more personal level. It builds brand trust and loyalty with just a few pins.

Another company that has taken advantage of Pinterest is Today (@todayshow). The Today show has gained over 12,270 followers because their account offers fans a behind-the-scenes look at the cast and segments that are featured on the show. One of their pinboards is titled “Anchor Antics” and contains numerous pictures of the cast between takes. It allows fans a more personal view of their favorite morning talk show hosts. Today also pins photos from segments of their show. These photos then link fans back to the Today website. Including links like this is a great way to increase website traffic and brand awareness.

There are many other features of Pinterest that can help your business grow. Pinterest allows you to post videos, in addition to posting photos. This could be a great opportunity for your business to share previews of your web seminars, clips of your staff at work, or sneak-peaks of your products. Many businesses are also allowing their followers to pin photos to their own pinboards. Since Pinterest is an interactive environment, it is important to hear what your customers have to say. Allowing them to add to your page enhances the diversity and creativity of your page while also making your customers feel involved with and connected to your brand.

Many service oriented businesses are non-visual and face the challenge of coming up with photos to post. Don’t let this obstacle stop you from using Pinterest! You can post pictures from an annual event you host, your staff at work or happy customers. The goal of businesses using Pinterest is to gain higher brand recognition and drive web traffic. If you are successful your new visitors could turn into leads or new customers!

If you’re interested in learning more about how social media can help launch your business into the 21st century check out our Social Media Boot Camp.


Marketing Hiring: A discussion between Dan London & JT Moore

I recently had Dan London, Senior Marketing Manager at Citrix/ShareFile, in the office to shoot a video as part of my Marketer Profile blog series. It’s always a pleasure to have Dan around because despite our very different companies, we share a lot of the same opinions and visions about the future of marketing. We probably talked for an hour about our challenges, what’s working and what’s not, the future of our profession, the meaning of life, etc. before shooting his interview video, and we both realized afterwards that we should of had the camera rolling.

So, after his interview, Dan suggested we just hit record and talk. There was no set topic or plan…just two marketers talking. He decided for us to talk about hiring marketers today and what we both see. The video below is the discussion.

If you enjoy the video, let us know. Dan and I are both somewhat quiet and reserved, but in this kind of situation we can talk for days. We’ll do this again if people like it.

Web Seminar Recap: Possibilities of Mobile Marketing

Today’s consumers are constantly on the go. We are quickly becoming a society that depends heavily on mobile technology to deliver information to our fingertips in order to make split second decisions. Mobile devices are quickly becoming the cornerstone of our mobilized society and directly impacting the way we communicate with each other. For many of us, our mobile device has become our primary communication and commerce tool. When our world sees a paradigm shift in technology or communication, marketing strategy changes. We need to be ready to change with it. The statistics are staggering and you can’t afford to ignore them anymore as a marketing professional in today’s business world.

On Wednesday, May 2nd ASPE instructor Jeremy Smith presented the free web seminar “Possibilities of Mobile Marketing.” In this web seminar, Jeremy discussed some of the possibilities of mobile marketing and how to embrace this change. He also reviewed a detailed description of mobile marketing, and explored key elements that increase views, subscriptions and, ultimately, revenue.

Listen to a recording of this web seminar in its entirety by clicking View Event Recordings (at the top right).

Do you have a question for Jeremy? Leave your comments or tweet us! Follow @ASPE_ROI and use hashtag #ASPEEvents.

Marketer Profile: Dan London, Senior Marketing Manager at Citrix/ShareFile

How long at ShareFile?  

I’ve been at ShareFile for almost 3 years.


Career accomplishment you’re most proud of:

Being a major part of a company that was acquired by Citrix.


Decision I wish I could do over:

Career-wise, it was not sticking with Computer Science as a major. I ended up switching to English after transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill from a small college in Pennsylvania. Life-wise it has to be not spending more time in the gym lifting weights and taking a shot at playing in the ECHL.


Size of team:

I have 3 direct reports, but I rely upon the design team as well as the content team and the support team quite a bit. We are actually growing pretty fast and I’ll be adding a few more reports by the end of the year.


Top initiative:

Hit our aggressive revenue goals.


What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t think I have a typical day. My mornings start out the same though. I get my kids ready for the day and then head off to Starbucks. My wife and I grab a quick drink then head off to our respective offices. I get in around 8 AM and usually start looking at the marketing numbers. We have an awesome data analyst who has created a dashboard that lets me easily track our goals. I usually check on my team and then dive into my DART account and look at the health of our display initiatives. I’ve done a decent job at avoiding meetings, but if I have one during the day, I usually spend some time preparing for it. I spend quite a bit of time working with our design and IT teams and often interact with them a few times a day about landing pages, creatives or trade show materials. I often skip lunch and just eat a bag of chips from the break-room, but if I can get out for a bit, I head over to the Jimmy John’s drive-thru, grab a Slim 1 and eat it as I drive back to the office. I try to leave the office around 5 to get home to spend time with my kids before they go to bed at 7pm. I always jump back on my computer and finish-up any lingering work for a couple of hours. I’m always checking my email on my phone, so I never have a problem of an overflowing inbox. Even on vacation I check my mail so I know what is going on and even jump into a conversation when needed.


How do you measure success:

Happiness. All the money in the world doesn’t matter if you are miserable at work.


One thing you’d like to do better:

Eat healthier at lunch.


Business professional you’d most like to have lunch with:

Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL


Emerging trend you are most interested in:



Pet peeve:

People who are self-proclaimed SEO or social media experts.


If I weren’t a marketer, I would be…

Hockey coach.