2017-02-22 / Front Page

Sunnyside Chamber Holds February Luncheon

By Thomas Cogan

Brandon Mosley, an art director/designer, spoke at the February luncheon meeting of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, held Valentine’s Day at Dayboat, 41-16 Queens Boulevard.  He was there to explain how those interested could market their businesses in a digital age, and do it on a budget.  His business is called Manji Designs, manji meaning charms and symbols of good luck and benediction, used in Persia, India, China and Japan, and among natives of the Americas.  No doubt as a way of qualifying himself, he said he had taught himself code and built three Web sites by the time he was in seventh grade at school and hasn’t stopped since.  He is currently a freelancer to small businesses and agencies, having worked also at nonprofits and in higher education.

Mosley began by giving out business cards made on heavy stock by a graphics outfit called Moo, saying at the same time that anyone attempting to market a business must do it digitally these days.  In today’s society you can’t just hang out a shingle or roll down an awning and wait for your customers to arrive.  You must have a Web site, and a branded one at that, and must be prepared to go mobile with it.  He said that nearly a third of consumers start their mobile research with a branded Web site.  A brand must be developed early, he said, and must reflect your audience’s perceptions of your product or service.  It’s more than just a logo, though it includes logos, fonts and colors that are combined to represent your brand.  Your Web site must also have what is known as responsive design, to be able to adapt to different screen sizes, ranging from those of large desktop monitors, to laptops, pads and small smartphone screens.

When starting a Web site it’s best to register a domain name with a web-building platform, some of the more prominent of which are Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Typepad and Wordpress.  They also offer free templates, which, he warned, are open to everybody, so there’s the danger of choosing one and subsequently finding your Web site looks like a lot of others. These free templates also are not always attuned to search engine optimization, or SEO, or mobile devices.  He described purchasable templates as “more robust.”
SEO is the business of getting your site on page, a means, as Mosley said, to design code and write Web content that produces excellent search results.  This is the time to state your business in print, and seriously—no sentimental references, no kids or pets.  Content must be literate and to the point, and competently divided by headings.  The purpose is to persuade your online readers that they’ve come to the right place.  You should establish what Mosley calls “a hierarchy of information.”  That would require creating a blog or news feed to spread your content even further.  Add page titles.  Your url (uniform resource locator) is best limited to .com or .net, he recommends.

He believes emails are necessary between you and your customers but can be misused, especially by flooding or spamming those same customers; and writing poor content and using bad photography is no way to establish a long-term relationship.  Strong content and pictures are necessary if you are offering them incentives, such as coupons and discounts.  A vital resource, he finds, is MailChimp, the emailing service that allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails monthly, for free.  To use it, your content must be connectable to smartphones.  
Of the social media, Facebook has been and remains the most vital, he said.  Twitter gets into the news all the time because of President Trump’s constant use of it, but Mosley said that despite its invention of the hashtag and the publicity it engenders, Twitter is in decline. 

LinkedIn is a place for him to write articles and talk to other designers, while other people in business use it to communicate with each other, so of course he favors it; though Pinterest, which was described by a past luncheon speaker as “a visual scrapbook in which you can upload, save, sort and manage images” and “pin things that relate to your business,” is other people’s thing but not his (it’s perhaps too food-oriented for him).

Mara Ohanyan of Cruise Planners asked about both Facebook and Instagram, a site for sharing photographs and videos.  She seemed to want advice on adopting Facebook.  Mosley said again that everyone must diversify and so should she.  Ohanyan said that Cruise Planners specializes in river cruises, “and not just Viking.”

Since it was Valentine’s Day, there were several raffle tickets sold and several rum cakes awarded to the lucky winners.


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