California Capital FDC Newsletter
April 2015
In This Issue
Welcome to the California Capital E-Newsletter.  Here at California Capital, we value up-to-date research on small businesses and we want to share that information with you.  In this monthly e-newsletter, you'll find an abundance of newly released data relevant to a wide variety of small business-related issues.  This month we put the spotlight on showcasing your business via social media and press releases.  In this newsletter, you'll also find a list of upcoming classes offered through the Women's Business Center (WBC) and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).  Enjoy and we hope to see you at California Capital events and workshops!

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How to avoid the pitfalls of social media marketing

Dasha Amrom

Saturday 5 July 2014


"Social media marketing has become a hot topic for businesses and entrepreneurs are constantly bombarded by information about how to increase their social media impact and optimise engagement.  Getting social media strategies right can be a great way for a business to engage with its target market, but bad social media efforts can drive potential customers away just as easily. 


One of the most dangerous errors you can make is being overly promotional.  Social media marketing allows you to engage and converse with your customers in a meaningful way.  It is not just another way to sell your products or promote your brand.  Sure, subtle, brand building is implied in the very essence of marketing and your social media presence will undoubtedly enhance the perception and value of your brand if it is conducted skillfully.  


In the same vein, make sure you respond to all comments your followers post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other channels you may be present on.  This applies to both positive and negative comments about your company or services.  The biggest pitfall to avoid would be to delete negative reviews and pretend it is business as usual.  Address them and, if persuasive enough, you may be able to swing the odds in your favour and your critics may become your most ardent fans.  And never post negative messages about your competition.  Engage with as many thought leaders in your field as possible.  Follow them on Twitter and comment on their blogs to ensure you are seen to be on top of the latest trends and news in your industry. 


Another crucial lesson is that just as you can't buy love, you can't buy true and loyal fans and followers.  Yes, of course, there are myriads of websites where for a small fee, you can 'purchase' Twitter followers and Facebook 'likes', but what does it all mean for your business success if none of them are people who are truly interested in your brand and willing to spread the word about it? 


They will not share your content, won't buy your services, won't comment on your blog posts or appreciate your innovations.  Quality over quantity is what really matters.  I tend to automatically get suspicious of those with tens of thousands of followers unless they are a well-known company or a famous person. 


How many of us have had those days when you have so much on your plate that posting an update on Twitter, LinkedIn or in other media just simply isn't one of the priorities?  And here comes another common mistake - not being consistent in executing your social media strategies.  One of the things you can do to rectify this is to outline your goals and objectives for social media marketing, including the optimal networks you are going to concentrate on.  I can't stress the importance of deciding how you are going to measure return on investment from your campaign in various channels.  Your ROI metrics for Facebook campaigns can be the total number of 'likes', people talking about your business and shares.  For Twitter, it's the number of followers, retweets and mentions.  On your blog you may want to track the number of comments and subscribers.  But the ultimate testament of the effectiveness of your social media efforts will be the total volume and value of sales achieved.  


I would also recommend allocating a specific amount of time per day that you can dedicate to your campaign and setting out the limits, for instance, on how many updates you are going to post per day.  It doesn't make sense to even set up a social media account if you can't allocate sufficient time on a regular basis to service it.  


And the ultimate no-no of effective social media marketing?  Not paying enough attention to proofreading.  Proofread everything prior to posting on your networks, a few times, and ask somebody to read over the most important content for you if you can.  It is better to be safe than sorry."  


Dasha Amrom is managing director of Career Coaching Ventures.




How to write a successful blog that also promotes your business
By Abidemi Sanusi
Tuesday 24 June 2014

"A business blog is one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to promote your business.  Done right, it can drive traffic to your website, increase your sales, establish you as an authority in your industry and also help you to reach new markets.  Unfortunately, many small businesses are yet to wake up to the benefits of this tool.  Valid reasons range from lack of time for writing the blog posts to a lack of ideas for quality posts.  Here are my top tips for writing and building a successful business blog. 

Write for your customers

Your blog, like your website, is not for you.  It's for your customers, so write for them.  Ideally, your blog should aim to either solve a problem for your customers or provide fresh insights into your industry. 

Plan your content

Lack of time and ideas are the most frequently cited reasons many small businesses cite for not having a blog.  However, with a bit of planning, you can have enough ideas to keep it running for weeks or even, months ahead.  

Your posts can be answers to the questions most frequently asked by your customers.  For example, if you are a jeweller, you could write a blog post on what to look for when buying a diamond. 

Google Adwords Keyword Tool is another great way of finding keyword phrases that people are using to search for your services.  The keyword phrase, once you've identified it, could be your blog title.  It's a simple and effective way of driving traffic to your blog and letting the world know about your services.  So, for the jeweller mentioned, his blog title, based on keyword volume research via Google's keyword tool, would be 'how to buy a diamond'.  

Create valuable content

The key to a successful business blog is giving your readers valuable content.  That is how you establish your website's authority in your industry.  In addition, if you give your readers valuable content, they will reward you by becoming return visitors and also parting with their money.  

If lack of time or lack of writing skills is an issue, you could outsource your blog to a blog writing service.  These do exactly what it says on the tin- write your blog to meet your customers' needs and also drive sales for you. 


Opinion is divided on how frequently you should update your blog.  Aim for a frequency that you can maintain.  Fortnightly or weekly is fine.  The key is consistency.  Don't start a blog and then abandon it halfway.

Search engines like fresh content and the more frequently you update your blog (and by extension, your website), the more likely your website will climb up search engine rankings and also gain visibility for your target customers. 

Develop your blogging style

Blogs are meant to be informal, so let your blog reflect the human face of your company. Give it some personality and try to keep the sales pitch down.  You'll find that people are more likely to respond to you and also buy your services.  

Word Count

As a guide, a blog post should be about 400 words.  If your post is longer than this, think about serialising it.  People tend to scan web content, so make every word count. 


Just because your blog is not getting any comments does not mean that it is not being read.  Think about the number of articles you read or blogs that you visit.  Do you always leave comments?  Many people don't.  However, you will find that you get more comments as you slowly build up your readership.  

Make your blog shareable

Links are the lifeblood of the internet, so make it easy for your readers to share your blog.  The easiest way to do this is by using share icons.  These are social networking icons... that make it easy for people to share your post and consequently, drive traffic and potential sales to your website.  

Measure your blog's performance

If you haven't already done so, make sure you have a web stats tool to measure your website's performance.  The most popular one is Google Analytics.  It's free and literally takes minutes to install.  Over time, as you add more posts to your blog, it will give you a clearer picture of how people are finding your blog and, most importantly, which of your posts are popular so you know the kind of content your readers like.

There are many benefits to having a business blog and with these tips, you should be well on your way to creating a successful blog that also promotes your business."

Abidemi Sanusi is the founder of Ready Writer Copywriting.  The company can be found on Twitter @readywriteruk



How to write an effective press release  

Janet Murray

Friday 20 February 2015

"If you're looking to get media coverage for your small business, being able to write an effective press release is an essential skill.  But how long should a press release be?  And what kind of information should you include?  Here are a few tips to help you get started: 

Make sure your story is newsworthy

Before you even attempt to write a press release, think about the things you like to read, watch and listen to in the media.  Most of us are generally interested in things we haven't heard before, find surprising or help solve our problems.  So before drafting your press release, it's worth asking yourself these questions: 


1.  Is there anything 'new' in my story?

2. Is there anything unusual or unexpected about it?

3.  Would this be of interest to anyone outside my business?

4.  Will anyone actually care?


The last one sounds harsh, but is probably the most important: you might be excited about your new marketing director or the launch of your new product, but will anyone else be interested?  If the answer is 'no', hold off on that press release until you've got a better story. 

If you're not sure whether your story is newsworthy, read, watch or listen to the publications or programmes you'd like coverage in to get a feel for the kind of stories they typically cover.  

Write Killer headlines

Most journalists get hundreds of emails every day, so it's a good idea to label emails containing press releases with the phrase 'press release' or 'story idea'.  A great subject line is also a must.  

But don't try to be clever: most journalists will spend just a few seconds deciding whether something looks interesting.  If they don't immediately understand what your story is about, they'll move on to the next thing in their inbox.  

So if your story is about the launch of the first financial planning consultancy for women, say exactly that.  'Women cash in on financial planning' might sound like a better headline, but may mean nothing to a busy journalist scanning their inbox. 

Get your top line in the first line of your press release

Getting a journalist to open your email is important, but if your first sentence doesn't grab them, they may not read any further- which is why you need to get the 'top line' (the most important bit) of your story right at the beginning of your release.  Your first line should be a summary of the story (in no more than around 15-20 words) and read like the opening of a news story.

Journalists are generally taught to get as many of the 'five Ws' (who, what, where, why and when) in the opening line of news stories, so if you want examples of great first lines for press releases, look no further than your daily newspaper.  

Another trick is to imagine your story is going to be covered on a TV or radio programme.  A presenter generally has around 5-6 seconds to introduce each item eg 'And coming up next... why a local cafe owner is giving a free coffee this weekend to anyone born in July.'  If your story was going to be featured on the radio today, how would the presenter introduce it?  Asking yourself that question should give you the top line of your story.    

Be concise

The ideal length of a press release is about an A4 side or about 300 to 400 words (the length of a short news item).  That's just three or four short paragraphs and a couple of quotes.  If yours is longer than that, you've probably got unnecessary waffle that doesn't add anything to your story.  

 Don't be tempted to include background information about your company in the opening paragraph.  This - along with any other additional information - can always be included in a 'notes to editors' section at the end (it's fine to fun over a second page for this). 

Sub-headings and bullet points can be useful to make information easy to digest, particularly if you're including figures or statistics.  

Use quotes to provide insight, not information

Including quotes from people in your company can be helpful for journalists (and on regional or trade publications are often used, word for word).  A common beginner's mistake is to use quotes to provide information, for example, 'last year, we employed 100 staff in 12 different countries and turned over 5m.' 

Quotes should be used to provide insight and opinion and sound like a real person said them.  They definitely shouldn't be full of jargon or technical language.  

A few more tips...

While it can be a useful background document for journalists, a press release isn't a story.  If you want to maximise your chances of getting press coverage, you will have to tweak your idea, and your release, for different publications or programmes.  You can find more information about how to find journalists' contact details in this article.  

When you send a press release, it's a good idea to include a short outline of your idea (no more than a paragraph) and where you think it might fit in the publication you're pitching to.  Paste your press release underneath, as a busy journalist may not bother to open an attachment.  Photos can be helpful if they add something to the story, but avoid sending big files that will clog up peoples' inboxes. 

And finally... aim high, but be realistic in your expectations.  Most journalists are swamped with press releases, so it may take you a few attempts and a bit of chasing to land press coverage for your business.  Don't give up though; determination and a willingness to learn can take you a very long way."

Janet Murray is a freelance journalist and media consultant.  Her blog can be found here.  She tweets @jan_murray"





California Capital is excited to congratulate Imda Kairi Hye, a former staff member, who has been selected to attend the Delegations of Engineering and Technology in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and New Zealand hosted by the International Scholar Laureate and Honors Society.  Congratulations Imda!









April 2


1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Business 101

CA Capital WBC

April 7

9:30 am - 1:30 pm

State Payroll Tax Workshop with the California Employment Development Department

CA Capital WBC

April 8


9:30 am - 11:30 am

Department of General Services (DGS) Certification Lab

CA Capital WBC

April 9

9:30 am - 11:30 am; 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Franchising Labs (Parts 1 and 2): The A to Z of Franchising

CA Capital WBC

April 14


9:30 am - 11:30 am

Understanding Food Taxes with the Board of Equalization

CA Capital WBC

April 14

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Creating Your Government Opportunity Forecast


April 14

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Veterans Contracting with the Small Business Administration

CA Capital WBC

April 21

9:30 am - 11:30 am

Hiring Assistance Program with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency

CA Capital WBC

April 22


9:30 am - 11:30 am

Contracting with Sacramento County

CA Capital WBC

April 23


9:30 am - 11:30 am

Facebook for Small Businesses

CA Capital WBC

April 28


10:00 am - 11:30 am

Breaking Down Federal Solicitations


April 29

9:30 am - 11:30 am

eProcurement with Sacramento County

CA Capital WBC

April 30

9:30 am - 11:30 am

Disaster Training Lab

CA Capital WBC

See our website calendar for more webinars and events.

Thank you for reading our e-newsletter!  We hope to see you at California Capital events and workshops.