MaryAnne and I brought our girls to Knotts Berry Farm today. Knotts does a great job keeping things fresh. With Valentines Day approaching, Knotts made some nice changes around the amusement park from decorations, fun crafts for kids, valentines themed food, and great themed entertainment. Love songs were blaring constantly. MaryAnne caught me humming along to Love Will Keep Us Together from Captain & Tenile. (Hey my sister played that album all the time when I was a kid.)
We had fun dipping strawberries and marshmallows in a chocolate fountain at the Ghost Town Bakery. If you haven’t visited this bakery it’s definitely a must. Great deals on sandwiches too and amazing pies, desserts, and cupcakes. I bought a mini coconut cream pie and devoured it when I got home.
Our kids had a blast reminding me of all the great times I had as a kid going to Knotts Berry Farm. Odds are each season or holiday Knotts will do something special. So treat the kids or your significant others and head on down to Knotts.
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My family and I have been going to Rosarito Mexico for several years. I’m back again for a bachelor party dudes trip, which inspired this recipe.
I started a tradition during one of our trips to Las Gaviotas where on at least one morning, I would make a Mexican twist on the old breakfast fav Eggs Benedict. I’d call it Eggs Benedicto – adding salsa and lime to the hollandaise sauce.
This weekend resurrected the tradition although we changed it up a bit. Having so much left over BBQ’d filet mignon, we collectively agreed in between margaritas to make a surf and turf Eggs Benedict for breakfast. We had Aunt Penny’s Hollandaise sauce. We had the English muffins and butter. We had lots of left over filet mignon. Now we just needed lobster. So it was off to Popotla Fishing Village in Rosarito by the Fox Studios lot.
We needed to find a very large lobster so that we could cut the lobster tail in medallion shaped pieces. Off to the beachfront for some fresh fish.
- Toasted English Muffins
- Aunt Penny’s Hollandaise Sauce
- Leftover BBQ’d filet mignon
- Poached eggs
- Boil the lobster tail 10-20 minutes depending on size
- Cut the lobster into medallion shapes
- Flash fry the lobster in melted butter and lemon juice
- Heat up the BBQ filet mignon but don’t over cook
- Poach your eggs
- Heat up the hollandaise sauce
- On one English muffin place the filet slice. On the other place the lobster medallion.
- Put the egg on top of each muffin.
- Pour the hollandise sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle some paprika on the sauce.
Serve with Mexican beer. Don’t forget the steak knife.
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Tags: eggs benedict, eggs benedict recipe, las gaviotas, rosarito mexico, surf and turf
My good friend Dana Flink is getting married soon. His request for a bachelor party was to spend 5 days in Rosario, Mexico. 7 guys are in. Day one we had a 7some at Bajamar Golf Resort, then headed to our abode at Las Gaviotas. Here are the pictures and events. Will try my best to update daily. Here are the last 24 hours.
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Marissa completed her two year REP (Religious Education Program) course at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Irvine recently. Yesterday, Marissa celebrated her first communion with her classmates. “Miss Agnes and Miss Annie were great teachers”, says Marissa. “I was excited to eat the bread. I enjoyed getting dressed up, hanging out with my family, and enjoying cake after.”
Here are some pics:
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I dedicate this song to John “JB” Bradford Wendt. Currently working on the song’s melody. Here are the lyrics:
The Sun Shines in Heaven©
I saw your picture today
My big bro I never got to know
Mom was never the same
She’d ask God why?
She’d call out your name
On your birthday she’d cry
Where would I be today?
If you were still around
We could have played
Would you have showed me the way?
We’d fight like brothers do
And it would’ve been so great
Really wish you
Rise up from tragedy
Gotta move on
Find the strength
To carry on
To honor a soul
Don’t lose faith
Let God show you the way
The sun shines in heaven
The sun shines in heaven
One day you’ll see
The sun shines in heaven
Mom hit the bottle hard
So many dark days
Never questioned why
I saw the truest love
A mom could have for a child
No more despair
Now that she’s up there
Here I am now
Got two kids of my own
Can you see how they’ve grown?
Please tell Mom
Her love for you
Has carried on
I put your picture next to Mom’s
Now you’re togther
You can move on
I imagine when
Mom grabbed your hand again
It must have been
The brightest day in heaven
I imagine the brightest day in heaven
Save a seat for me
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So you’re ready to launch your latest online venture or update your company’s web presence. Like many folks out there you wish you had a huge budget to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get started. Having worked for Internet service providers, major dot coms, and having launched several websites and ecommerce businesses from scratch, I’ve navigated the pitfalls and the triumphs of online marketing. Here are some practical tips from experience for small and medium sized businesses operating on a shoestring budget.
1. Know thy business:
Many times throughout my career I have been approached for advice from various entrepreneurs on website concepts and new business ideas. When I ask for a basic business plan or SWOT analysis and positioning maps, it’s rare that I get a well-conceived response. Often times it seems articulation of a business strategy is surprisingly difficult for many people. And while launching a business without a formal business plan is possible, consider that the odds are against the survival of most new businesses. My recommendation is to have a clear strategy in place before you even think of your website. Be passionate about your new business. Know who your customers are. Don’t be all things to all people. Find the opportunities that will lead you to a place where you can compete. But keep in mind, your website will only be as good as your plan and your ability to execute.
2. War Plan.
Starting an online business is like going to war. Do you think General Norman Schwarzkopf would have succeeded in Operation Desert Storm without the “Left Hook” plan of attack? Do the same. Do your homework. If you don’t have a fully prepared biz plan, at least do these two things to discover your left hook:
SWOT Analysis. Write down your strengths. Then opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. Writing this down (vs. just thinking about it) forces you to crystallize your ideas and often times leads to new ideas. Prior to launching an online consumer electronics ecommerce business for example, our SWOT exercise revealed very little competition in the discount game console niche. And while we had access to thousands of products, it helped us focus our product strategy and then our web efforts where we could compete effectively. And we killed it.
Positioning Maps. Once you’ve identified the opportunities and your strengths, pick two key functions to focus on. Literally draw a positioning map and show where your competition lies. For the electronics business we mapped ourselves on customer service and price as we were the value leader. This exposed a weakness in the marketplace on the service side and helped guide us down the right path. Find a place in the map you can win. With a SWOT exercise completed and positioning maps sketched out, you will likely have a better business plan and a clearer more defined strategy.
With so many me-too companies, this is perhaps the most difficult part of your business strategy. Seek to be different. Think outside the box. Tiffany combines elegance with consistent use of turquoise in its branding platform. Target uses ingenious floor merchandising. Zappos reinvented customer service. Woot.com invented the daily deal with amazing product content descriptions that defies traditional web copy selling just one product per day (since evloved). RueLaLa.com defied traditional online retail requiring membership then made every attempt to wow their customers becoming a leading fashion online retailer practically overnight. Prior to launching your website, figure out creative ways you can be different. This is way more important than the colors of your website, the look of your logo, or conversion rates. Consider this: There are over 13 billion web pages — People still have the idea that “build it and they will come” applies to websites. That’s just ridiculous. A great website is just an extension of a great strategy. Once you have your analysis complete, you know your competitive edge, and how your business can be different, then and only then embark on your online mission.
4. All in a name.
It astonishes me how often I see a business today that gives such little thought to a company name. Would you call your baby Kid? Your business is your baby. Give it a name that matters. A 1980’s Harvard Business Review study on business naming once stated that business names ideally should be: relevant; easy to pronounce; not confusing; easy to remember. This is still relevant today. But now you need an Internet name and with more global competition than ever you have to consider other languages and cultures. Chevy couldn’t sell the Nova today– In Spanish ‘No Va’ means doesn’t go. Think strategically about your name. Key to naming today is your Internet name—your online brand. But dot com names are hard to come by so it’s harder. Be prepared to beg barter or buy your coveted domain name. See a name that someone owns? Try http://www.whois.net (or your registrar’s domain search tool) to see who owns the domain name they want. We once bartered a refurbished laptop worth $400 for a key domain name that we wanted and got. Just ask. Also .CO names may be more readily available but try to get the coveted .com domain. If you can’t get the best name don’t sweat it too much. Shorter the better. The Founders of Whrrl must have been stoked to get a 5 letter domain name, so rare that they named their nice location based app business after it. As part of your domain name plan reserve some long tail phrase domain names too (which may be easier to get) as your secret Internet marketing weapon—for targeted landing page promotions rich with high-relevance key words. These can support segmented landing pages that include links back to the mothership as part of your search engine optimization plan.
Before you register your domains though, do a quick check at the US Patent Office and search Trademarks. Also check the fictitious name records with your local county clerk’s office. Don’t select a name that is close or already in use. If your plan is to conquer the world, then check out Thomson Compumark. They offer a more exhaustive search service for optimal search results including international services and screening.
5. Your Top Ten keyword Phrases.
But wait we haven’t discussed web design and you’re mentioning key words? Yup. As a start-up Internet company or if you’re revamping your site, you have to leverage organic search engine optimization from the get-go. Pick at a minimum the ten top phrases that tie into what people would type into Google that don’t know who you are. If you don’t know, ask your customers. Don’t have customers ask your competitors. Search Google for Google’s Key Word analysis tool. Chances are your competition is missing the boat on this. When you beging to write the content of your website, write the text with these key words in mind.
Also, consider key domain names that have these keywords in them. For instance let’s say you make the best pineapple BBQ sauce on the planet. You got your company domain say BBQMasters.com. You think a top search phrase would be: pineapple BBQ sauce. Register pineapple-BBQ-sauce.com in addition to your business domain name. Why? Landing page Internet marketing is key to building a strong online presence and improving SEO. The most successful Internet marketing is very targeted. When POM wanted to promote their pomegranate health pills, they didn’t link to Pomwonderful.com they registered and directed ad campaigns to pompills.com complete with focused search marketing ads etc. Focused Internet marketing activities will result in greater conversion rates, the holy grail of selling online.
6. Get out the pencil (and a big eraser).
You’ve got your strategy. You have your domains. You have some landing page domains in mind. Now you can start envisioning what your site will look like. Brainstorm. Most companies think of the home page and all the other pages follow from there. I implore you instead to think of your website as a website of websites. What I mean is every web page should have its own reason for existence. Its own content. Its own metatags. Its own key word rich URLs. By creating a refurbished Xbox category complete with metatags, backlinks, keword URLs, alt tags, pic file names with key words and alternative keyword metatags for example, we landed on the front page of Google ahead of billion dollar retailers selling the same products. We researched key words and knew a lot of people searched for Xbox360 as one combined word. Chances are you too are David vs Goliath. By mastering SEO from the onset you can compete with the best of them.
7. Identify each page you’ll need.
Arrange them on a wall or on the floor and envision how users will search for your information. Move ‘em around. Add delete modify. Think how users will link from page to page. Now document this on a simple word document. With this exercise complete, you will be able to provide your web designer with a Website Hierarchy, the first milestone to launching your website.
8. Write Your Own Content.
I’ve seen it before—company founder ready to launch website and web designer asks for the content and the founder says “um I thought you could do that for me”. This is frankly the biggest mistake ever for business owners. You know your business better than anyone else. You either need to write all of the content or at least employ a strategic web copy editor that works closely with you. While it can take a lot longer to write, as they say in the web business Content is King. If you’re not prepared to burn the midnight oil to get your content done correctly just give up now and wait till you can focus on it. Still need help? Go attend a local tweet-up and meet some progressive Internet marketing folks. Get your twitter account and search for the next #tweetup in your city. That’s how I met Tanya Salcido from Design Action Studios in Orange County.
“Creating content for your website is critical in order to communicate the true value of your company’s values, products and/or services”, says Salcido. “No one knows your company better than you do. Take the time to share your story with your audience; let them learn about you and how you can help them. ”
If you do write your own text, educate yourself on SEO before writing a single word. Remember to incorporate your key words I your content from step #5.
9. Step in your customer’s shoes.
Write your content as if nobody knows who you are. Think of what words they would search for in Google. And do this for every single page of your website including category and subcategory listings. Treat every page of your site with the same vigor as the homepage. If you can, outsource your content creation to an Internet marketing company that fully understands search engine optimization. Employ SEO tactics when writing your copy. Think just as hard about the page URL and metatags as much as the copy itself. In the 90’s you could load up your keyword content and that’s all you needed.When I launched throttle.net in 1998, we were #1 on Alta Vista on a key word phrase that I plastered all over the site which resulted in a lot of sales for DSL services. But that won’t work today. Google and the other top search engines have complex algorithms based on 200+ attributes. While I won’t focus on optimizing organic search in this blog post, just know how critical it is when creating your content prior to building your website. Want some SEO tips? Go check the link that is #1 on Google organically for “SEO Tips“:
Did your cousin who took one design class do your logo for you because you wanted to be nice? Would you go to dental school student to give you a root canal? Entrust your business and product logos to an expert. Many high-end design firms can charge a fortune for “corporate identity”. I have saved a ton by using third party logo companies like Logo Bee in Canada. For a few hundred bucks I get logos that look like I spent thousands for. You keep all legal right to the designs and you get original artwork in digital format. They are a great group. It’s all they do and they do it really well for cheap. (Save $20 with the coupon code below) A good web designer will be able to build a look and feel for your website consistent with the logo you have created even from a 3rd party.
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Still have fluorescent pics from the 80’s? Digital cameras today have surprisingly good quality. If you can, though find a talented photographer that is skilled in composition, lighting, and editing. Great photographers can make a good image great and can more accurately reflect your brand. Great pictures can make all the difference online especially if you are positioned as a high quality product or service. Want a great deal? Search http://www.craigslist.com for photographers in your city.
12. Now you’re ready to hire a Web Design firm.
You can articulate your business plan. You have a plan to stand out in the crowd. You have your content, metatags, URL’s, and top key word phrases identified. You have your domain names and/or landing pages registered. You have your pictures, logos and text and site hierarchy laid out. You’re donning your loin cloth and you’re ready for battle. Congratulations you’re probably in the top 2% of all folks that speak to a web designer. This is the dream scenario for a web designer and they will work harder for you for being fully prepared. You’re ready to go and the developers have all the stuff they need to do a great job. In today’s economy getting the $5K-$10K+ to build a custom website is a tall order. Using templates don’t exactly achieve differentiation. Luckily for you there are great deals to be had if you ask enough people or do some searching online you can find cheap custom website development deals.
Apptivo is a software as a service company that offers a hosted business management platform with all kinds of free modules like project management, CRM, HR, and eCommerce. As they are trying to grow their website hosting and ecommerce business, Apptivo launched a program whereby they charge $100 flat fee for a custom website up to 15 pages. Think it’s too good to be true? You’d think. But I know the Apptivo team. They they built a complex custom ecommerce system from scratch for us where we sold thousands of consumer electronics and gaming products online leveraging various sophisticated technical integrations and built-in SEO tools. The result? We sold over $2 million in sales on Apptivo’s platform. The downside? It may take a few iterations to get your site right. Some of the development will be performed in India during off hours due to time zone differences. And depending where you are they may not be local to you. They are offering this to the first 25 companies and the offer expires on April 1st. (So don’t tell everybody.) The only catch is that you have them host your site with them at an affordable $9.99 per month. For more information go to http://www.cheapwebsitedeals.com.Or ask around and see what deals are out there. The key though is getting your content done right and before you contact a designer.
13. We’ve only Just Begun.
Of course launching your new website is just the first phase. Consider updating your website often as Google will give you props for fresh content. Work out an arrangement with your web designers or an Internet marketing firm for website maintenance—making ongoing updates to websites. Try to negotiate some free hours every month prior to signing the deal. Many web designers will charge $50 – $100 per hour for updates. So understand their hourly rate before you commit. Many web designers including Apptivo have platforms that let you make many changes easily yourself through a backend secure admin interface. This feature alone will save you thousands over time.
14. Internet Marketing.
So your site is launched. Your business plan is unfolding in front of your eyes. You have differentiated your business and users are taking notice and buying your products and services. Now the fun begins with Internet marketing. Be sure to add Google Analytics and review Google Webmaster tools. Google AdWords has a free instructional certification program. (Great way to learn all about search advertising). Since you built your website with SEO in mind from the very beginning you are already establishing a competitive online edge. If you’re not experienced with online marketing, like AdWords, Blog Management, back linking, online PR, Affiliate Marketing, social media marketing, search marketing, attend a local tweetup and ask around or contact the folks at Design Action Studios. David can beat Goliath with analysis, creativity, differentiation, good partners, and great deals on custom websites.
Filed under: Internet Marketing, Marketing | Leave a Comment
Tags: 100 website, affordable web design, cheap custom websites, cheap website design, david vs goliath, web design deals, website design tips
On a whim we decided to take the kids to Laguna Beach today. We stopped for breakfast at The Cliff, and although we didn’t bring any gear, we headed to Main Beach. The air temperature felt like 75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Catalina Island could be seen in the distance. An amazing beautiful day in February in So Cal. After building a massive sand castle, and playing at the park, we stopped by some galleries before heading home. Here are some pictures from today’s adventure.
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Recently MaryAnne and I went to Newport Beach and rented some bikes after leaving the kids with the baby sitter opting for a “date day”. It was a blast. Soon after we had to get new beach cruisers. MaryAnne put our trek on the calendar and realized the US Open of Surfing happened to be going on. So the decision was a simple one: Park on Superior in Newport Beach, bike to Cappy’s for a bloody Mary (food great but Bloodies had old celery and weak flavors), and head to Huntington. The people watching was stellar. Way better than DMV.
Cool to see Surf City supporting eco-friendly products. We were surprised to see a ton of vendors with booths on the beach hawking cool stuff. Ford was touting its green car program. Ford’s Free car contest: Go to http://blueovalgreenbeaches.com or text DRIVE to 64718 for your chance to win. Alternative energy is becoming cool. I’m holding out for the Fisker Nina unless I can get a windfall and get a Karma. We sampled Guayaki eco-friendly tea made of organic Yerba Mite. Besides being a sustainable rain forest product they had me at “Get clarity and focus”. I grabbed a sample can. Great stuff. It didn’t cure my ADD but hey with all those antioxidants,it can’t hurt right? I’ll be looking for this at Mothers Market or Whole Foods. The generators used for the event were using bio fuel. Did french fry grease power the loudspeakers? Sweet.
MaryAnne waited in line to use a porta potty but after a dude had a terrible look on his face after exiting (MA’s OCD kicked in) we redoubled our efforts to find a clean restroom at Dukes. Mission accomplished.We caught some skateboarding sessions, caught one of the surfing contest heats, snapped some pics with my telephoto, ran into the Pacifico girls and then headed back to Newport for bodysurfing and food. HB was packed but under control and had a great time.
After bodywomping at 18th street aka “The Point” we grabbed some Mexican grub at El Ranchito. Service was great and food is always good there. Beautiful day. Good exercise. Here are some pics:
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Tags: beach cruiser, body surfing, Dukes huntington beach, eco-friendly, el ranchito, free ford, guayaki, hobie sunglasses, porta potties, us open huntington beach, us open of surfing, wahoos fish tacos, yerba mate
So I keep thinking about dishes to make for our forthcoming Tequila Tasting party. On a whim this morning I decided to have a BBQ, invite a few friends over, and try out some new concoctions. I decided on BBQ carne asada, a summer salad, some fresh garlic bread, corn on the cob, and an ice cream dessert.
The Main Dish
For the carne asada I wanted to kick it up a few nothces but not make the meat so spicy my kids wouldn’t eat it. I went for a lime jalapeno marinade. First I cut up my peppers and jalapenos and baked them in the oven with olive oil. Once they were golden brown, I whipped them in a bowl mixed with diced cilantro, lime juice, and minced garlic. After pinching some salt and pepper on the carne asada, I pured the baked jalapeno puree marinade over the meat and let is sit for two hours before cooking.
No Surf and Turf?
I wasn’t in the mood to BBQ fish. So I decided on an app I wanted to try out. I decided on a shrimp-crab guacamole appetizer. After buying pre-cooked crab and shrimp, I wanted to zestify the crustaceans. I marinated the crab legs in lemon juice, Mondavi Chardonnay, butter, and garlic. The shrimp got the same attention. I made sure not to overcook the crab and shrimp so cooked ’em for just a bit. Then I cut up 4 fresh ripe avocados, more cilantro and prepared the onions. I grilled half an onion along with some fresh garlic in a tad of extra virgin olive oil. I then poured the onion mixture, chopped up crab and shrimp in its Mondavi Chardonnay lemon garlic reduction into a bowl and mixed it all together. Added some garlic salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and topped it off with a dash of chili pepper spice. Served it up with lime Tostito chips. Damn, it seemed the guac was more popular than the main dish.
Corn on the Cob
What I didn’t go crazy with the corn? Actually I did take the extra step of pre-boiling the corn to make it tender prior to BBQing them. I sprayed the corn with Pam– Pam now has an olive oil product, use it all the time. Gave it a dash of garlic salt. Simply great.
Strawberry Banana Salad
First I doctored up some ranch dressing. I took 1/3 of the sliced strawberries I made for the salad and whipped it up (along with a dash of brown sugar). Then I made some buttery crunchy almonds. After throwing in some crunchy banana chips, Candice was nice enough to toss my salad. (She even cut the meat, oops I forgot she’s a vegetarian.) Candy you’re welcome in our kitchen anytime. #greatsport
Besides the excellent Bohemia Mexican beers in-laws Adam and Adrianne brought, we finished off the meal with a mango and mixed berry compote served on Dreyer’s vanilla bean ice cream topped with a glob of whipped cream. (just the store brand frozen stuff. Baking’s not my thing).
That was today’s meal. Looks like the guac was a winner. I’ll have to make that fo sho when we have our Tequila Tasting party. Buckets not included.
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