Pelland Blog

How Would You Like to Increase Your Market Share by 15% or More?

May 22nd, 2013

Remember the days when there were 3 major television networks – ABC, NBC and CBS? Needless to say, there are many more television networks these days of cable and satellite TV, and the “Big Three” no longer dominate the market. In fact, can you name the fourth largest TV network in prime-time ratings? It is Univision, the Spanish language television network. (In case you are wondering, the Top 5 Networks, in order, are now CBS, Fox, ABC, Univision, and NBC.)

According to Wikipedia, Hispanics and Latinos now comprise 16.7% of the population in the United States. Of these, 90% speak English, 78% speak Spanish, 69% are bi-lingual (Spanish and English), 22% speak only English, and 9% speak only Spanish. Are you reaching out to this vast market, or are you simply following an outmoded and incorrect stereotype that says that Hispanics and Latinos are not part of your customer base?

The Growing Hispanic & Latino Market

Most small businesses work on very small margins, and incremental increases in income can make the difference between profit or loss. Factors such as additional retail sales in your store, extended stays, lower credit card processing fees, propane fills, and firewood sales all come into play and have a cumulative effect; however, these shy in comparison to the potential of an overall increase in market share.

For several years now, my company has been building French language versions of websites for Northeastern clients with businesses located in destination areas that consistently draw significant percentages of French Canadian vacation traffic. Those clients have frequently been complimented by their French Canadian customers, thanking them for providing a French language version of their website that was thoughtfully created, carefully translated, and contained full content. One of the comments that was shared with us earlier in the year (accompanying a reservation that was made with one of our campground clients) read, “Thank you for your French site. It’s the first time that we see this quality of French language out(side) of Quebec, whether it was on menus in restaurants or on web sites. Nice work and nice attention.” The message that is conveyed to customers says “we want your business and we care about your business”.

We all make buying decisions that are based upon purchasing products and doing business with companies that lie within our personal comfort zones. Those comfort zones may be defined within a variety of standards, and they are particularly crucial when you are trying to persuade a group of people to try something new. What better way could there be to communicate with new customers than for your marketing to speak their language?

In the case of the French Canadian market, the need generally applies to businesses within driving distance of Quebec, in historical destination markets (such as Old Orchard Beach, ME; Hampton Beach, NH; Cape Cod, MA; The Wildwoods and Cape May, NJ; Ocean City, MD; and Virginia Beach, VA), or that are conducting online commerce and seeking out that market. In the case of the Hispanic and Latino markets, there are no regional limitations. If you are running a business in the United States today, you need to be reaching out to these vast and growing populations in the language that represents their comfort zone.

The skeptics – or dare I say the ignorant – like to say that Hispanics, Latinos, and other demographic groups simply do not camp. My response is that these are people who have simply not been sent the invitation to engage in the experience. One fact is certain: They are not camping with your competitors, giving you the opportunity to introduce them to camping and to essentially define the experience.

Think of automobile manufacturers 10 or 20 years ago who viewed the market in China as nothing more than a nation of people who did not drive cars. Did that mean that the Chinese middle class did not want to own vehicles, or did it mean that the biggest demand in automotive history was ready to flourish? In hindsight, we all know the answer, and the companies that have successfully tapped into this market are doing so in their new customers’ native language, using marketing messages that are consistent with their native culture.

Your new markets are much closer to home. Speak their language.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

QR Codes – Dead or Alive?

April 24th, 2013

Everybody is familiar with QR codes, those two-dimensional barcodes that bear a resemblance to square Rorschach tests but provide informational links to the user of any Smartphone with a QR code reader app installed. QR stands for “Quick Response”. Originally invented by Toyota back in 1994 as a means of inventory control during automobile manufacturing, QR codes have been widely adapted to a variety of advertising uses in recent years, generally linking to a website or a page on a website that provides either more information or a call to action.

There are several newer technologies that now compete with the open-source QR code concept, and even the QR code itself has been adapted to offer more colorful, brand-recognition alternatives; however, the bottom line is whether or not any of these marketing tools have been broadly adapted by consumers. There are certainly applications that make sense. A poster on the streets of New York City might advertise a first-run feature film or off-Broadway theatre production and include a QR code that takes users directly to online ticket sales. A transit ad in an airport shuttle might allow users to check the status of arriving and departing flights. I have even seen QR codes on potted plants in garden centers, where a scan will display information such as growing conditions and guidelines. All of these are brilliant applications, but they still do not overcome the fact that QR code adoption and usage rates have been consistently low.

QR codes can be displayed almost anywhere – direct mail, packaging, magazine and newspaper ads, websites, posters, e-mail, and TV commercials. Although there are studies that present encouraging statistics about young adult usage, the studies generally only ask respondents if they have scanned a QR code within the past 12 months; there is little or no data to support consistent repeat usage. According to a study conducted by Pitney Bowes and released in January 2013, the highest usage rates are for QR codes that appear in magazine ads and, to a lesser degree, other printed materials. QR codes on websites, embedded into e-mail messages and on TV commercials get very low rates of response. (Think about it: Is somebody already on a website going to click on a QR code to … go to a website?)

Use the following QR code to download the complete Pitney Bowes report:

There are many reasons that QR codes have not been more broadly adopted, either in the United States or internationally. One reason is that neither Android nor iOS (Apple) phones come with a QR code reader app pre-installed. Other reasons include QR codes being displayed in places with poor quality or nonexistent wi-fi signals (like subway stations and many campgrounds) and the disappointing initial experiences of users who have been brought to Web content that was not optimized for mobile devices.

Most campgrounds have limited advertising budgets and need to spend their dollars wisely. Few campgrounds advertise in magazines, although most advertise in printed directories that bear some similarity to magazines. With regard to printed materials, QR codes certainly do no harm (other than their lack of visual appeal) when added to things like directory ads, rack cards, postcards, and business cards – allowing users to scan through to further information. None of this makes sense, however, unless it is supported by actual scans by end users who embrace your subsequent call to action and are converted into buyers.

How Do You Measure Effectiveness?

All online traffic needs to be measured. Thanks to Google Analytics (which should be running on your website!) we can easily measure the amount of traffic to any particular page of your website from any search engine or referring site. What about traffic from your QR codes? Without taking a few added steps, that traffic is nearly impossible to measure. One solution is to have the QR code link to a specific page that is uniquely linked to the code. That works fine, but it requires your webmaster to create a separate landing page for each code that you generate (so that you can measure the traffic from each specific code application, not simply overall traffic from any and all QR codes that you may be displaying).

A better approach is to have the QR code go to a specific URL that you can create for free using the Google Analytics URL Builder, a very useful tool that is not widely known. (The URL Builder is primarily intended for tracking traffic from a Google AdWords campaign, but it will also work perfectly for this purpose.) First of all, determine the page that you want people to reach through your QR code. Keep in mind that this should probably be both a “call to action” page and a page that is at least mobile-friendly. It might be an existing page on your website or a new page that you will want to create.

Go the Google Analytics URL Builder – – and follow the instructions. Enter the URL of your landing page in the box that says “Website URL”. For “Campaign Source” and “Campaign Name”, you might enter something like “2013 Rack Card” or anything else that identifies where the QR code will appear. For “Campaign Medium”, enter “QR Code”. Click “Submit” to generate your tracking URL.

The next step is to copy and paste that tracking URL into a QR code generator. I particularly like QuikQR – – an easy-to-use, free QR code generator, where you simply paste your URL and generate your QR code in one quick step. An optional step would be to paste your tracking URL into Google URL Shortener – – to generate a shortened version of the tracking URL. After generating the shortened URL, click on the “details” link under the new URL, and you will be shown a QR code for your shortened link. Click on the QR code, then right-click on the image on the next page to save the file to your computer to be used in your offline advertising campaign.

Follow the same process to generate QR codes for any other advertising campaigns that you would like to measure. Now any traffic from that QR code will be tracked in Google Analytics, under Traffic > Sources > Campaigns. A few weeks, months, or a year down the road, you will be able to know – with certainty – whether your QR codes are being used and whether or not the traffic is converting into sales!

One caveat: As with any of your advertising, do not presume that the traffic that is generated directly from a QR code is the sole measure of an advertising campaign’s effectiveness. This exercise will only measure whether or not QR codes are generating business in your advertising, as well as whether their adoption over time is trending upward or dying a slow death.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

A Quick and Brilliant Social Marketing Campaign from Ace Hardware

March 15th, 2013

Yesterday on Facebook, I was presented with a link to a brilliant promotion from Ace Hardware. They call it Free Paint Saturday, and it encourages you to print a coupon for a free quart of Clark+Kensington paint. The coupon can only be redeemed at a local participating Ace Hardware store on Saturday, March 16th. It appears that the offer was also promoted on the Ace Hardware website and in its weekly circular. Here is the original Facebook post:

Note that within 10 hours of the original post, the offer had gotten 378 likes and – more importantly – 688 shares. No doubt, there were many more people who simply proceeded to download the coupon. The intermediate step took users to a Facebook App, shown below, that explained more about the line of paints and the services available through the local Ace Hardware store. It also included a link to print the actual coupon. This app had generated 309 original comments at the time of this post.

Finally, clicking on the link allowed users to print the coupon, shown below.

Okay, why do I say this is brilliant? Let me count the ways:

  1. Saturday is the highest traffic day in the hardware industry. By offering a limited supply of the free offer per store, customers are encouraged to arrive early, getting sales records off to an early start.
  2. Each store has an average availability of 40 quarts. How many things can be covered with a single quart of flat enamel paint? I believe that flat enamel paints are most typically used on interior walls and ceilings, where a single quart is going to provide very limited coverage. Chances are that customers will purchase additional paint (probably gallons) to go with the free quart.
  3. The offer presents a perfect opportunity to introduce a new product line or to attract customers who might otherwise not think of Ace Hardware as a paint store.
  4. No purchase is necessary; however, most people, once they have entered a store, are unlikely to leave without making a purchase. People who have gotten something for free are even less likely to leave without making a purchase.
  5. Each quart of paint probably costs Ace Hardware a maximum of $5.00. With participation on the part of the paint manufacturer, their cost is probably less than half of that. I cannot find statistics for the average consumer transaction per hardware store visit; however, this customer acquisition cost is extremely low.

Clearly, this is an example of how profitable it can be for a business to give products or services away, particularly when the reach of the promotion is dramatically extended through the social media. Can you think of ways that this same concept could work for the benefit of your business?

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Give Things Away and Increase Your Profits

August 10th, 2012

I have been reading (and highly recommend) the book “Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing” by Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired Magazine. Despite mixed reviews and charges of plagiarism, I am a fan of both the book and the concept that it promotes. Practicing what it preaches, there is a FREE audio version of the book that can be obtained online (285MB). Using many historic marketing examples (such as the way that demand was created for Jell-O at the turn of the century through the distribution of recipe books that told people how they could use this new dessert), as well as current examples (such as how Google concentrates on providing dozens of free services that help to enhance their branding and insure that theirs is the – highly profitable – search engine of choice), the book presents a convincing argument for embracing the concept of businesses giving products or services away for free.

To be effective, what a business gives away must have genuine value.

Ideally, it will be something that the business’ competitors are not offering for free … or perhaps not even offering at any price. Some of my favorite local spots for breakfast offer pure maple syrup to accompany pancakes and similar breakfast entrees, while other restaurants (and even many upscale hotels) do not even have pure maple syrup available at a price. Guess which restaurants I patronize when going out for breakfast or brunch! Pure maple syrup is not inexpensive; however, it builds loyalty and introduces many people to a product that might be a new culinary experience. If the sugarhouse that supplies the product is named on the menu or a label on the container, they might very well realize a new source of business.

For another example, Lake Compounce – a popular family theme park in Connecticut – has offered its guests unlimited Pepsi-Cola products for several years now. That fact is promoted in all of the park’s advertising, and the products are probably provided to the park by Pepsi at either no charge or a serious discount in exchange for the promotional opportunities (and the fact that rival Coca-Cola products are probably not sold at the park.)

Everybody wins.

Consumers are getting something for free, the business benefits, and in many instances another business enjoys indirect benefits through cross-promotional opportunities.

Do your competitors charge for parking? Differentiate your business by offering free parking. It can be as simple as that! Since my company works with a large number of family campgrounds, let me start a list of suggestions for how campgrounds might profit by giving things away for free.

  • Give away a free round of mini golf on Friday night. If campers enjoy the course, the are likely to return for paid play on Saturday. They are also likely to tell other campers how much they enjoyed the game, increasing paid usage by other guests. Casinos have been doing this for years, giving new guests free plays to get them using the slots.
  • Do you have paddleboats or canoe rentals? They are not earning any income when they are tied up to you dock. If they are sitting unused early on a Saturday afternoon, offer free half-hour rentals on a first-come, first-served reservation basis during a limited time period. People who enjoy using your boats will likely pay to use them again. Other people will see campers out on your lake and may decide to give it a try themselves, making this almost a form of free advertising.
  • Offer your guests free wi-fi. This is pretty widely available these days, putting a campground that charges for its wi-fi service at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Offer free coffee in your store between specific hours in the morning. Guess what? Those people who come in for the free coffee will usually purchase other items. How about displaying the donuts and pastries right next to the free coffee, or offering premium blends and other beverages at full price?
  • Does your store sell postcards? Why not give them away for free? A postcard typically includes an indirect testimonial – “Having a great time at XYZ Campground. Wish you were here!” – and is sent to friends or relatives who may also be campers. I would even supply the stamps for free!

What are your own ideas for how you can profit from free? As always, the only limits are your imagination and your desire to grow your business!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Don’t Waste Time Fishing in an Unproductive Pond

August 15th, 2010

Lots of fishermen tend to waste time fishing in unproductive waters just because of “the big one” that legend holds was caught and got away 25 years ago. If the legend is true, the time that has passed far exceeds the life expectancy of the fish, even if it wasn’t caught by another angler in the interim. Then, of course, the pond itself could have died, the victim of acid rain, eutrophication, or another type of pollution. The same logic applies to advertising buys. In simple terms, times have changed.

Just as a successful fisherman will spend time fishing in a productive habitat, any advertiser should focus ad buys on media outlets where prospective buyers spend their time. A Harris Interactive survey released in late 2009 found that 80% of U.S. adults are Internet users, and these users spend an average of 13 hours per week online. Of that time, the number of hours on social networking sites (the vast majority of which is on Facebook) now exceeds the amount of time either reading e-mail or conducting the (previously) conventional “search and surf” routine. Another recently released report, the American Time Use Survey issued by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that the average adult American spends over 19 hours per week watching television. Those numbers are actually in decline, primarily cannibalized by Internet usage (where, ironically, a significant volume of television programming is now being viewed online). With readership levels down, recent statistics have also shown that the average American who reads a daily newspaper spends only 15 minutes per day (but up to 90 minutes on Sundays). Similarly, and with circulations spiraling downward, the average reader spends a scant 45 minutes reading the average magazine. Keep in mind that your target demographics (strongly considering factors such as age) will strongly skew any of the numbers which may be applicable in your particular instance. For example, newspaper readership has been in steady decline across all population segments, but the amount of time spent by younger people reading newspapers is virtually nonexistent. At the same time, it is fair to say that cell phone usage and text messaging is skyrocketing, particularly among those same younger demographics that eschew newspapers.

Comprehensive and current statistics on how we spend our time are not easy to find. If the information was easily accessible, it would probably be outdated as soon as it was published. We can sometimes only work with bits and pieces and get a general feeling for overall trends. For a general feeling with a comical spin and graphic effects, I would suggest a visit to the “Life and Time Spent by the Average Joe Blow” post on the Canadian blog, “Life in the Fast Lane”. (Seriously, check out that blog, run by Fast Lane Transport, Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, a freight trucking company serving Canada’s four western provinces.) In general, if you are trying to reach a mass market but cannot afford (or afford to wait for) the Super Bowl, which of the following makes more sense: Online advertising (where 80% of adults are spending 13 hours per week) or direct mail (where we each probably spend an average of 3 minutes per day deciding what gets a second glance and what goes into the recycling bin unopened)? Advertising over the years has relied upon the type of inferential data which has only proven to be slightly better than this type of generalization. Have you ever noticed how many erectile dysfunction commercials have text that reads, “See our ad in Golf Magazine”? The presumption, no doubt correct and based upon expensive market research, is that the demographics of the two markets overlap. With the advent of social media, where users volunteer and share a wealth of demographic information, we now have access to the type of real data which allows target marketing to go beyond inference and finally live up to its real name.

Advertising generally falls into one of two major categories: Advertising which is intended to fulfill an existing demand, and advertising which is intended to create a demand. Brand advertising is a textbook example of the latter, accounting for 80% of the two-way split. Ideally, your message should be designed to either reach out to consumers who are willing to embrace a new or improved product or service (now most typically as the result of viral marketing and social networking), or effectively introduce yourself to consumers who are already sold on your product or service but are unfamiliar with your company or brand name. When using social networking as a viral marketing tool, it is important for an advertiser to remember that they not be controlling the conversation but simply joining the conversation. Although it may seem contrary to the old rules of the game, it is best to sit back and allow the satisfied users of your product or service to be your most effective spokespersons.

Once you find the right pond, you will be pleased to discover that it is loaded with fish, and those fish are on a feeding frenzy!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Find Marketing Inspiration Beyond Your Immediate Surroundings

May 13th, 2009

When I started in business back in 1980, my primary client base consisted on smaller to medium-sized ski areas in the Northeastern United States. We produced collateral advertising for these clients, most of whom were struggling to hold their own, as their clientele increasingly felt that they had “outgrown” the smaller, more local mountains. The problem was that everybody had skied at one time or another at the “big” resorts in Vermont and out West. As disposable incomes increased, leisure time became more highly valued, and it increasingly seemed to make sense to book a flight to the Rockies or Europe. The small ski areas that have survived are mostly the ones that repositioned themselves within this market. They no longer saw themselves competing against the other nearby mountains but against the marketing of the bigger resorts elsewhere in the region or partway across the globe. As time has gone on, they have further redefined themselves, extending their seasons with golf courses and other non-winter attractions. The fact is that they are no longer just competing against the bigger ski resorts but against foreign travel, the cruise industry, and the full range of options that vie for the consumer’s leisure dollars.

When we offered marketing solutions to our clients in the ski industry, we closely examined what was being done at Killington, Vail, Stowe, Sun Valley, Park City, Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole and others, including the big resorts in Canada and Europe. The same thing has happened with our clients in the amusement park and attractions industry, where everyone has visited Disney World and has come back with higher expectations. The same thing happened as well with our campground clients, where every camper has at one time or another stayed at a five-star resort. In every instance, the idea is not to present your business as something that it isn’t, but to present the unique advantages that your business offers that allow it to remain relevant in the overall scheme of evolving consumer expectations. You need to closely examine – and visit – the leaders within your industry, as well as industries that compete for the same consumer dollars. Then come back and see how you can apply the lessons learned to make your business hold greater appeal to both your existing clientele and an expanding base of prospects. In almost every instance, the issue is not size but the quality and level of services that you are able to provide. You know your clientele better than anyone else, so you should know exactly which services are the ones that they will most highly value and appreciate. Offer them those, with a smile and a personal touch!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

How to Correct Your Business Location on Vehicle GPS Systems

March 14th, 2009

I have explained in the past how to correct your business location on Google Maps; however, what do you do about getting your location corrected (or even listed!) on the GPS software that comes with many new motor vehicles or as after-market add-ons? Contact Map Reporter from NAVTEQ. This service allows you to easily take control of how your business is represented to the countless number of travelers who may be relying upon accurate guidance in finding their way to your door. NAVTEQ’s Map Reporter allows you to tell the company, the leading supplier of data to the GPS consumer products industry, where an update to a map may be necessary. Simply login, enter your address, zoom-in to the map interface, then report any of the following:
• Missing addresses or wrong locations
• Missing roads or incorrect road names
• Missing, incorrect, or defunct points of interest
• Traffic restrictions that should be added, corrected, or removed
Remember, it is ultimately up to YOU to take control of your business and to maximize every new tool that will help your business to prosper. This is one of those tools.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Banner Advertising Is Not the Road to Riches

March 8th, 2009

I am frequently asked to share my thoughts about banner advertising. Either the owners of a business would like to sell banner ad space as a source of revenue-generation on their websites, or business owners want to get their share of the “enormous” volume of traffic that will be generated by placing their own banner ads on high profile sites. These business owners have been sold a bill of goods about the fortunes waiting to be made through banner advertising, the Internet’s modern-day equivalent of the old story of the streets being paved with gold. Don’t fall for it.

If you are contemplating the placement of banner ads on another site, keep in mind that the people who are most likely to profit from your expenditures will be the people who will take your money to produce the ads or the hucksters selling the banner space with unsubstantiated promises of page views and impressions. If you are contemplating the addition of banner advertising to your own site, as a means of revenue generation, consider the costs of cluttering your site, with the result that both your website’s primary content and your business itself begin to hemorrhage credibility. It is a fact that websites with banner advertising have a lower trust factor in the eyes of consumers, with a corresponding decrease in perception as a source of either information or product reliability. The problem is that very few people are willing to admit to this “dirty little secret”.

As Marko Saric recently posted in his blog, “traditional banner ads take away from the user experience. They distract users and because of that users tend to ignore ads.” He goes on to reference the proven phenomenon called “Banner Blindness”. This term was coined by Dr. Jakob Nielsen back in August of 2007. For those who may be unfamiliar with Jakob Nielsen (and why his research is so highly creditable), he has been called “the guru of Web page usability” by The New York Times, “the world’s leading expert on Web usability” by U.S. News & World Report, “one of the top 10 minds in small business” by Fortune Small Business, and “one of the world’s foremost experts in Web usability” by Business Week.

In his study of banner advertising that first coined the term “Banner Blindness”, Dr. Nielsen summarizes that users rarely look at website display ads, and that the most common methods of increasing the effectiveness of banner advertising is to engage in deceptive practices to trick users into clicking, for example by incorporating fake “OK” or “Cancel” buttons into the ads. His earlier studies have shown that such online ads are either “very negatively” or “negatively” perceived by 94% of Web users, just 1 percentage point behind universally hated pop-up ads. His studies further concluded that, when users dislike online advertising, they “transfer their dislike to the advertisers behind the ad and to the website that exposed them to it.”

Getting back to Banner Blindness, Dr. Nielsen conducted extensive eyetracking studies that have conclusively proven that users “almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement.” In a 2003 survey conducted by PlanetFeedback, only 8% of U.S. consumers responded that they trusted banner ads (right behind infomercials, but ahead of door-to-door salesmen, spam, and pop-up ads) and 53% responded that they were annoyed by banner ads.

Substantiating this research, a study published in BusinessWeek in November of 2007, titled “So Many Ads, So Few Clicks”, reports that “the truth about online ads is that precious few people actually click on them. And the percentage of people who respond to common banner ads … is shrinking steadily”, with the average click-through rate having fallen to 0.2% in March of 2007 after several years of decline. The results of this study have been substantiated elsewhere in other independent research. Consider this if you are an advertiser, or contemplate joining the pack, since most advertisers pay based upon the number of impressions rather than clicks. It doesn’t take a mathematician to conclude that these ads do not represent a very sound investment.

Finally, if you are thinking about adding banner advertising to your own website as a source of revenue generation, consider the professional advice of Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, who suggests that you “crunch the numbers” before jumping onto the bandwagon. Based upon a combination of monthly page views and the cost per thousand impressions that you might be able to charge for your banner advertising space, your site will have to be generating an enormous amount of traffic (in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of page views per month) before your site would begin to generate any sizeable amount of income from the sale of banner advertising space.

Consider the cost of compromising your online integrity through the use of advertising that users both ignore and find annoying. Whether you are thinking about selling banner ads or buying banner ads, there are simply far more effective ways of growing your business online.

Additional references:

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Marketing Outdoor Recreation & Travel Businesses in 2009

February 8th, 2009

The following comments were my contribution posted earlier today as part of the discussion “What do you think are the most important marketing messages for outdoor recreation and travel for 2009?” on the LinkedIn Outdoor Recreation and Travel Industry Marketing Network group.

I think that a viable campaign might follow the concept of “Slow Down and Get Off the Interstate”. I’m not referring to “Easy Off / Easy On” interchanges, toll booths, or the McDonald’s / Exxon rest areas. When times get tough, we tend to search for nostalgia. For different generations, this has different meanings and relates to different historical times. In every instance, that nostalgia involves a time when the pace of life was far slower, with a great deal of enjoyment gained from simple things. With every news cycle reporting more job losses and criminal behavior from the Bernie Madoffs of society, people want to slow down and get off of this wild ride.

With belt-tightening an economic necessity along with that search for nostalgia, I suspect that families will be doing more together. Grandparents and grandchildren will travel together, siblings will revisit their childhoods through family reunions, and the providers of outdoor recreational services are positioned to provide the venues and amenities to make it all possible.

We do not know what the future has in store, other than change itself, in either the short or long term. Gasoline might be $2.00.9 per gallon or it might be $450.9 per gallon … and the cost of jet fuel might put the cost of air travel out of reach for the average American (if it isn’t already). Regardless of where the ride takes us, Americans will still spend leisure time together. It is the responsibility of the outdoor recreation and travel industry to persuade people to spend that vacation time “close to home” rather than “at home”.

With the outstanding value that family campgrounds, in particular, have to offer, a simple marketing messages sums it all up: “Slow Down and Get Off the Interstate” … and rediscover America, your family, and yourself in the process.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Your Website and the Importance of Inbound & Outbound Links

November 24th, 2008

One of the most effective ways to improve your website’s organic search engine position is to increase the quantity and quality of both inbound and outbound links to established, highly rated sites. As an added benefit, any inbound links are going to directly increase the amount of traffic from the referring sites which provide the links. Too many people obsess over the concept of “reciprocal links”, and this is unfortunate. Whether or not another site provides a reciprocal link is not nearly as important as the links themselves, even if they are one-way links. Let us take a separate look at inbound and outbound links.

Outbound links from your site to another site should provide your visitors with sources of additional information that relates to your business or your site’s content. Let’s say that you own a business that sells small kitchen appliances, it would be a good idea to provide links to the manufacturers that you represent, independent product reviews, and general consumer information on the various appliances. By doing so, you are enhancing the usefulness of your site to its visitors (and lessening the likelihood that they might choose to turn elsewhere … perhaps a competitor … for that same information). Simply by association with these sites, your site’s own search engine ranking will improve.

There are a few guidelines when setting up outbound links:
1) Setup the links to open in new tabs or browser windows so that your visitors do not lose track of their point of origin.
2) When choosing outbound links, try to find sites that are, in themselves, highly search rated. A good reference is a site’s “PageRank”, as indicated by the Google Toolbar that you should have installed on your browser. (It’s free!) Try to choose businesses that have a PageRank that is as high or higher than your own.
3) Links that are anchored to text (such as my Google Toolbar link, above) are more valuable than links that are anchored to graphics. If possible, use the two in conjunction.
4) Links that relate to the content that appears on the linking page is more valuable than more general links.
5) Do not include more than a maximum of 50 outbound links on a page.

Inbound links from other sites to yours are even more important. Most of the same guidelines still apply. Every link counts when determining your search engine ranking, as long as it appears on a recognized page of a highly rated site. What you don’t want (but probably cannot prevent) are incoming links from so-called “link farms” which are trying to build their own search engine ranking by capitalizing upon their outbound links to your sites and hundreds of others, typically with totally unrelated content. Obtaining inbound links from the same websites to which you are supplying outbound links should be one of your top priorities, particularly if their websites are more highly rated than your own. The appliance manufacturers, for example, may have links to “where to buy our products”. Try to insure that your business is not only listed but that there is a link to your website. Inbound links from any directories that relate to your business should be your next priority. Don’t forget to include blogs, and even appropriate MySpace and Facebook pages. Whatever effort you put into link creation today will pay dividends tomorrow. In difficult economic times, I can’t think of a better way of helping to insure your continuing success.

This post was written by Peter Pelland