Aug 22

Business describes Internet marketing platform option


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Aug 21

9 Inexpensive Ways to Get Your Business Noticed Online

Congratulations on launching your startup business. The only problem is, no one knows about it. So how do you get the word out online,

without having to spend thousands of dollars on advertising or PR, or buying Facebook or Twitter followers?

Dozens of small business owners and social media, SEO and marketing experts share their nine top tips for how new businesses can get

noticed online, without having to spend a lot of money.

1. Establish profiles on the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest). Before launching any social

campaigns, take time to figure out which social media site or sites your target customers frequent. Then set up pages or profiles on those sites —

and post content regularly, at least once a week. To centrally manage your social media posting, consider using a service such as Hootsuite.

[ Related: 8 Ways to Use

LinkedIn Groups to Boost Your Business ]

2. Create fresh, shareable content. “Business blogs are the most cost effective way to boost your organic traffic,” says Lisa

Chu, owner, Black N Bianco Children’s Formal Wear. “Google loves original and

valuable content. By [creating] informative articles, not only will Google reward your site, but people will organically start sharing your blog

posts. [Just] remember: Write for your target audience not for Google.”

“Create interesting videos [and graphics with your target audience in mind] and share them across all of your social media profiles,”

suggests Hannah Diamond, marketing coordinator, UrbanGirl Office Supply. “Offer

something fresh and unique [that speaks] to your company,” without it coming across as an ad.

Finally, “make it easy for your followers to share your content,” says Melissa Johnson, content editor for Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal. “Make sure that people can follow you

on Facebook or Twitter [or Pinterest] directly from your site [by including hot-linked buttons to your social media pages], and add buttons so that

they can share your content and products on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, StumbleUpon, [Reddit] and other networks.” The easier it is

to share content, the more people will share it.

3. Ask friends, family members and employees to get the word out — and reward referrals. Even if you don’t have many (or

any) followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, chances are some of your friends or family members or your employees do. Ask them

to follow you/your new business on social media sites and spread the word. Better yet, reward people for sharing links to your site or products

by offering them referral discounts, say 10 percent off their first or next purchase, or a freebie.

[ Related: 7

Ways Crowdsourcing Can Boost Your Brand and Customer Loyalty ]

4. Offer influencers/bloggers free product(s) in exchange for mentions and/or reviews. “When you first start your business,

it can be difficult to direct traffic to your site,” notes Chu. “A simple way to start a buzz around your product and website is to send out free

samples to influential bloggers. Most bloggers will be happy to take your free sample and review it on their blog,” she says. “Once the review

goes up, there will be a link directly to your site. That link will give you a nice SEO boost on search engines” and will drive traffic to your


“If a company has not yet been in business long enough to grow a substantial customer base, they can gain visibility online by conducting a

product sampling campaign, [where you offer] consumers free products in return for accurate, unbiased, and insightful reviews (which can

include text, photos, and videos),” says Matt Krebsbach, director, Global Public Analyst Relations, Bazaarvoice, a platform for consumer ratings and reviews.

“A product sampling campaign helps generate accelerated word of mouth and increased sales for a product launch,” Krebsbach says.

Moreover, “each sample can result in a review that influences tens, hundreds or thousands of prospective customers for each free product. And

Bazaarvoice’s research shows that, depending on the product category, increases in both the number of reviews and the average rating for a

product can increase orders 10 to 50 percent.”

5. Co-market with an established business/brand. “Pair with an on-brand company that already has a loyal following to

offer something unique and sharable,” suggests Zoeuml; Scharf, cofounder creative director, greetabl. “When greetabl wanted to increase awareness, they paired with Strange Donuts, a popular donut shop, to

celebrate National Donut Day,” she explains.

“Greetabl, a greeting box that folds your message into a shippable present, made donut-themed cards. Strange Donuts made 1,000 donut

holes. They offered a one-day-only sale where customers created a custom message printed on a greetabl that was paired with a donut and

shipped to the recipient,” she continues. The result: “They sold out and expanded brand awareness nationwide.”

6. Use paid search (Google AdWords). “This refers to paid search marketing, like Google

AdWords,” says Mike Sprouse, president CEO, The Sprouse Group,

which provides marketing and SEO services. “This can be a very effective way for new businesses to test online marketing by driving to their

website from Google. I recommend starting with a small budget, like $5 or $10 a day, and testing a variety of ad groups and creatives of at least

three variations,” he suggests. “Marketers should also utilize either the CPC (cost per click) or CPA options for their campaigns.”

“A great way to test keywords is to do small PPC ad buys, and see which keyword sets get clicked more,” adds Daniel Honigman, a marketer

with G2 Crowd , which reviews business software.

7. Follow and engage industry influencers on Twitter. “Build a Twitter following by favoriting and retweeting key people in

your industry,” suggest Amir Tarighat, founder CEO, Superdense, a Web design and

development firm. “Use Twitter’s advanced

search to find people located within a specific area related to your market and engage with them. You can also create Twitter lists of people

in the markets you are trying to reach. Many times they’ll engage with you or follow you back.”

“Participating in the occasional industry-related Twitter chat is another great way to get noticed,” adds Honigman.

8. Create a Facebook ad.Facebook’s ad platform

allows you to get very specific with the target audience,” says Terry Lin, founder, #BALLER Leather, which sells fine Italian leather wallets and leather goods. How much you spend is up to you. As Facebook

notes, “You can choose between a daily or a lifetime budget, as well as a cost per thousand impressions bid or cost per click bid. [You] only pay

for the clicks or impressions you receive, up to the amount you set for your budget.”

One strategy Lin recommends is “running ads on your competitor’s Facebook page, [as well as] targeting [pages] your customers read, like

magazines, shows or celebrities in [your] niche.”

9. Sign up as a source on Help a Reporter Out (HARO). “Another great way to drive traffic is using HARO,” says Shmuli Rosenberg, CEO of fwd/NYC, a boutique digital agency specializing in startups. HARO is a publicity service that links reporters with sources.

The service sends out three newsletters a day with listings of various media opportunities. You can sign up for the free, basic service or pay

between $19 and $149 per month for one of their subscription packages, which allow you to create different profiles and filters and get text

alerts about new media opportunities.

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Aug 20

Digital Media Marketing: 5 essential things that affect your online reputation – The State Journal

Posted Aug. 20, 2014 @ 1:01 am

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Aug 19

Who Can You Trust On The Internet?

Ronald Reagan liked to say “Trust but verify” when talking about Russia and arms control. That’s now become my mantra — and should be yours — when reading online reviews, counting Facebook likes or measuring Twitter followers to size up a firm’s reputation before buying a product, booking a hotel room or making a restaurant reservation.

Sadly, a growing number of the reviews and endorsements are fake, often trumped up by public-relations campaigns to boost a company’s image.

Case in point: In March 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled charges with ADT for misusing three safety experts to promote its Pulse home-monitoring system. According to the FTC, ADT failed to disclose that they were paid more than $300,000 to promote Pulse online on radio and TV shows.

(MORE: Best and Worst Customer Service)

Why Some Online Reviews Are Suspect

Chances are, you’ve become increasingly reliant on online reviews and social media ratings to make purchasing decisions. I know I have.

A recent study by the British search engine optimization firm shows that 88% of U.S. consumers not only regularly read reviews to determine “whether a local business is a good business,” but also trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Gartner, a technology research firm, says businesses see online reviews as a gold mine because they translate into greater trust and, in turn, more business. “At a restaurant, a half-star improvement in a rating has been shown to increase bookings by 30 percent,” Jenny Sussin, principal research analyst at Gartner, told me.

So it’s no surprise that many firms have figured out how to manipulate these reviews. Sussin co-wrote a 2012 report that said as many as 6% of ratings and reviews were fake or deceptive and predicted 15% might be this year. “I believe we’re there,” she told me.

(MORE: Perils of Posting Reviews Online)

Subtle Manipulation You Wouldn’t Spot

Often, the manipulation is so subtle you’d probably never spot it.

A common practice: Companies dangle incentives such as gift cards or free products so customers will write positive reviews or become faithful Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Another favorite tactic — entering you into a sweepstakes if you post a positive review or show it some love on Facebook or Twitter.

Beware of ebullient bloggers, too. Some businesses give bloggers free products, vacations and discounts on future services to encourage their writing positive reviews. And many times, bloggers don’t disclose these freebies (although the FTC and state attorneys general say they should).

Worse still, many companies have no compunction in simply paying for positive reviews, fans and followers. They now shell out “anywhere from $1 to $200 for a good review,” says Sussin. The biggest offenders, she says, are in the retail, hospitality and publishing businesses.

Paying for Positive Reviews

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Aug 18

How Taboola and Outbrain are battling a bad reputation… and each other

Outbrain and Taboola’s founders set out to make the Internet a better place. So why does everyone seem to hate their products?

Outbrain is Yaron Galai’s fourth company, but it’s the one he wanted to build all along. He has sought to make money, and help publishers do the same, by recommending their content to online readers. With his other three digital advertising companies, which had successful exits, he got distracted by banner ads and other common forms of online advertising. With Outbrain, it’s different. This time he kept focus, he told me in 2012, avoiding the “highly optimized crap” of banner ads.

It worked. Outbrain-style content recommendation widgets are now ubiquitous on the Web. Since 2006, the New York-based company has grown to 400 employees with $99 million in venture backing. Outbrain makes 180 billion recommendations each month to an audience of 550 million people. The company wouldn’t disclose revenue, but reports of a rumored IPO have circulated for the past year.

The purpose driving Taboola, a rival content recommendation startup, is similar. Adam Singolda started the company in 2007 with the goal of providing the best recommendations, or the reverse of Google search results, he likes to say, because the results seek an optimized viewer rather than the other way around. Taboola sought to show people things they didn’t know they were looking for and “make every piece of information you could find on a search engine [find] you at the right time,” he said.

Taboola has quickly gained on Outbrain’s early lead in the market. It now reaches 400 million monthly unique visitors and serves 1.5 billion recommendations each day. After a recent acquisition, Taboola predicts annual revenues of $250 million based on its performance for the year to date.

Prominent publishers such as the BBC, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and the Boston Globe use Taboola on their websites. (As has Fortune and other publications owned by Time Inc., it should be noted.) Meanwhile, Outbrain works with CNN, NBC News, ESPN, and Fast Company.

Publishers can earn sizable chunks of revenue from the use of these services. Advertisers (which sometimes include other publishers) who wish to recommend their content can pay to promote links; the revenue gets split with the publishers. The services pay publishers anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to tens of millions of dollars per year. As banner ads fall further out of favor, publishers are eager for any kind of income they can get.

Growing backlash

Despite their founders’ best intentions, many believe Outbrain and Taboola have made the Internet worse for the wear. It’s easy to see why. The links in their “related content” widgets, which typically appear at the bottom of a blog post or news article, often represent the worst of the Web.

Examples of recent headlines include “15 Good Looking Celebrities who destroyed themselves with plastic surgery,” which appeared on and led to a site called SheBudgets, “Dog Tells Cat To Get Off His Bed, Hilarity Ensues,” which appeared on a story about murder on and led to, and “Seven causes of low testosterone,” which appeared on and led to a website called HealthCentral.

Last year, the digital media publication Digiday declared that “content marketing has a quality problem,” arguing that the new format is worse than the lowly banner ad—it’s spam.

Readers are frustrated by the methods used by many marketers through these widgets, which many view simply as spam. A Twitter search quickly reveals the attitude many now have towards some of these ads. Terms like “spam” and “bait-and-switch” are commonly used to describe them.

Indeed, recent Tweets on the matter are almost universally negative. “Really tired of Taboola and Outbrain,” technologist Greg Sterling wrote. “I’m secretly wishing that Taboola would tell me about celeb tricks for losing belly fat,” videographer Benjamin Harrison wrote with a dose of sarcasm. “Taboola ads really get on my nerves,” wrote investor Thomas Loverro. “Outbrain, the offgas of content,” added Trustev CMO Rurik Bradbury. It goes on.

The most notable expression of annoyance came from Marc Andreessen, the prominent venture capitalist, who also happens to have invested in digital publications such as Business Insider and PandoDaily. Any serious publishers “should be shot” for using related content links, he wrote, because they degrade the user experience and the advertiser experience. They are a “part of the ‘race to the bottom’ pervading Internet content,” he added, noting that the income they bring in is a short-term substitute for building a long-term quality business.

The outcries over Outbrain and Taboola’s approach to content marketing have intensified in recent months. Investigations by the Better Business Bureau and the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority have been opened. At the behest of the Better Business Bureau, Taboola agreed to make the sponsorship disclosures on its widgets more prominent. After the Advertising Standards Authority criticized Outbrain ads that did not “obviously identify” themselves as ads—a criticism that followed Outbrain’s declaration that it would remove “spammy” content from its network at the expense of 25% of its revenue—the company last month banned a new group of content producers from its platform, with a particular focus on “fake” stories, or ads disguised as content.

One site, the tech startup news site PandoDaily, actually did remove related links from its site after finding their content distasteful. The recommended content in question was a story with “shocking” tips for picking up women, powered by a company called Gravity, which is owned by AOL


. “There’s no amount of money that justifies that crap appearing on our pages,” editorial director Paul Carr wrote. (Disclosure: I previously worked at PandoDaily, though I departed before this decision was made.)

The backlash has put Outbrain and Taboola on the defensive. According to Galai, people don’t understand that free online content costs money to produce. The complaints come from “people that are into ad blocking and think content for free is our birthright,” he told Fortune. “That’s kind of whiny to me.” His goal is to help provide a sustainable, long term business model for digital content.

In that way, Outbrain has succeeded, Galai says. “We serve recommendations and links that are far better than anything else on the page that helps the publisher monetize and support journalism,” he says. “I truly believe that.”

Taboola’s Singolda believes his company is bringing back return on investment in journalism. “An article used to generate an exciting amount of revenue,” he says. “But something is broken now.”

A heated rivalry

As the companies defend their businesses, their rivalry has intensified. (More competition is on the way, too. Google is reportedly testing a similar content recommendation algorithm.) At one point, Galai posted a photo of himself eating a tabbouleh salad on Facebook with the caption, “Eating Taboola for lunch.”

(He’s not known to mince words. After Taboola publicly revealed its run rate, he managed to swipe at the company and its coverage in a single tweet.)

The companies’ approaches to the quality issue have become points of differentiation between them. Outbrain says it deals with low quality links by weeding them out before they hit its network, preaching the gospel of reader trust. The company’s spokesperson has accused Taboola of hosting links from financial scammers.

Taboola, meanwhile, says its approach is to allow the editors of each site to weed out the bad stuff and give readers the option to down-vote content they don’t like. More than 1.3 million readers have “exed out” content since introducing Taboola Choice in September 2013, Singolda says. “By exing out content, you won’t see it again around the Web. Others benefit from this signal, and Taboola gets a bit smarter,” Singolda says. Likewise, Taboola measures post-click engagement so that if users are dropping off after clicking a certain link, it is determined to be low quality or recommended to the wrong audience. The company has indexed five million pieces of paid content. “The more data we feed into the ecosystem, while giving people choice, and measuring, it will help surface great recommendations you may like and never knew existed out of millions of potential pieces of content,” Singolda says.

With its acquisition of Perfect Market, a programmatic advertising company, Taboola moves toward a more traditional advertising model, recommending products and services in addition to content.

Outbrain’s Galai says the deal demonstrates that his rival is no longer a “true content player.”

“We’re at the fork in the road where the true content players are going to be differentiated from the ad networks and ad-tech that are masquerading as content,” Galai says.

Singolda says content was never his focus. Taboola shows people information they might like, regardless of whether it’s an ad, an article, a social media post, or an app. “The definition of content is minimizing the potential of this category,” he says. “If you limit that to only slideshows and articles by publishers, you’re limiting what people can find and what the publishers can earn from it.”

An existential crisis

In the end, though, Outbrain and Taboola may be solving an impossible problem. Popular content isn’t always good content, and an honest picture of what people want online reflects the ugly, honest truth about the world: People have some pretty unsavory desires.

The most popular content on Taboola’s network is typically how-to advice related to finance and fitness, Singolda says, which is another way of saying that people care a lot about money and looks. On Twitter, Outbrain’s Galai admitted that the Web has bad taste in content: “Sadly, what you see is many times what the audience is engaging with the most,” he wrote.

“If it were just me setting the global taste of what’s being served to everyone, it would all be Pulitzer-winning content,” he told me. “I cringe when I see Kardashian content. [But] I know it’s the algorithm working as designed.” The only thing Outbrain can do is improve its targeting, so that audiences that want “15 Good Looking Celebrities who destroyed themselves with plastic surgery” will see it and audiences that don’t, wont. “The Kardashian link should be on a celebrity site, but probably not on the hard news section of CNN,” he said.

The shallow desires of the Internet puts Taboola, Outbrain, and publishers in an awkward place. Their algorithms have been finely tuned to offer up the most relevant and click-worthy content on the Web—the “best,” by all available metrics, even if it equally repels us and compels us to click.

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Aug 17

Facebook offers Zambia free Internet access

In the African nation of Zambia, few can afford an Internet connection. Watching a few mobile videos on YouTube requires a data plan that costs 51 cents – roughly half the daily earnings of many Zambians.

It may seem purely altruistic, then, that Facebook is working to provide free Internet access to the country. But the Menlo Park company stands to benefit greatly if it manages to connect the developing world to its social network.

Working through its coalition, which includes a number of tech firms including Samsung and Nokia, Facebook has launched a free app that provides limited Internet access to Zambians who have cell phones without data plans.

Bigger base

Customers of cellular provider Airtel can download the app for access to 13 outlets, including Facebook and Wikipedia. They can find out about the weather, women’s rights and job openings for several months before they will eventually need to decide whether they want to buy a data plan. The app doesn’t directly show ads, but users can see ads through certain websites accessed through the app.

Facebook says that by increasing Internet usage, it will improve access to health care and boost the economy in developing nations.

“Growing the Internet is going to pay off for a lot of different companies and a lot of different people,” said Guy Rosen, product management director for “We really think it’s going to be beneficial for everyone.”

For Facebook, expanding Internet access helps expand its user base. Facebook wants to remain the dominant social network in the world. But after saturating developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, the company is rushing to convert people in developing nations into Facebook users before competitors can target them. Anyone who signs up for Facebook in Zambia through the free app will count toward the company’s more than 1.3 billion monthly active users worldwide.

“There’s a lot of companies that are racing on how to bring those people onto the Internet,” said Brian Blau, a Gartner research director.

Google balloons

Count Google as one of them. The Mountain View search giant is testing technology that uses balloons that float 12 miles above the Earth’s surface to offer the Internet to rural areas of the globe. Google says each balloon could connect hundreds of people to 3G speed Internet. Last year, Google released 30 such balloons in New Zealand, serving several dozen testers.

Google hasn’t revealed how much it’s spending on Project Loon. Facebook says there is no business plan for its project and declined to disclose the budget of its initiative or how many people in Zambia have downloaded the app. Currently, 33 percent of Airtel customers are using the Internet, either through a data plan or through the app.

Advertising experts say there is great demand for a digital way to reach consumers in developing countries.

Right now, advertisers in developing countries run billboards and print ads – forms of advertising that don’t provide as much data as social media ads, which can target specific consumers based on their age and interests, said Leo Ryan, group head of digital consultancy for Social@Ogilvy, United Kingdom. If Facebook’s app becomes the primary way people in Zambia access the Internet, it could dominate the nation’s ad market, Ryan said.

“In some ways, that makes it more valuable than a mobile phone does in a developed market,” he said.

Even though more than 85 percent of the world lives in areas with cellular coverage, only 30 percent are accessing the Internet, according to But Facebook spokesman Derick Mains said there are no plans to monetize the app.

“If we wanted to focus on just making money, the right strategy for us would be to focus solely on the developed countries and increasing the engagement of people already on Facebook,” Mains said. “Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected means the entire world – not just the richest, most developed countries.”

Generating followers

It could take a while before Facebook is able to generate the number of followers for advertisers to be interested in specific markets, like Zambia. Eight years ago, Myspace struggled to sell ads in areas like Malaysia and Vietnam, even though it had a large audience in those countries, said Jay Stevens of the Rubicon Project, which automates the buying and selling for ads online.

“The biggest barometer of how online spend (by advertisers) is going to go is how big the middle class is,” said Stevens, who used to run the European operations for Myspace.

For example, the cost of a desktop ad viewed 1,000 times in the United States would be roughly double that of an ad in Southern Europe, Stevens said. The cost would continue to go down from there for emerging markets like Southeast Asia and Central Africa, he said.

Simply put, ads are cheaper in Zambia than in the U.S. because customers there don’t have as much disposable income. But if Facebook is able to increase its base of users worldwide, it could become especially attractive to companies that operate on a global level, Stevens said. For example, if a global brand like Dove or Coca-Cola wanted to run a single campaign in many countries, Facebook could be its best avenue.

“The reality of it is, Facebook is making a play largely on their belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” Stevens said. “That puts them in a very, very unique position. They have the ability to command the lion’s share of marketing spend.”

Facebook has had experience whetting users’ appetite for Internet. Last year, the social media company partnered with a cellular carrier, Globe, to give its customers free access to Facebook in the Philippines. In the first three months of the campaign, 3 million people who didn’t pay for Internet before tried the service.

There is potential for huge growth in emerging countries. Even among the few people who do go online in such nations, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are popular, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. About 1 in 4 cell phone users in those countries go to a social-networking site “regularly on their phone,” the report said.

“Once people have the opportunity to use the Internet in those nations, they tend to incorporate it into their lives very quickly,” said Richard Wike, the center’s director of Global Attitudes Research.

Testing out apps

Earlier this year, Facebook and Ericsson announced a lab in Menlo Park where they will test out apps for developing countries. Rosen says the initiative is a “really, really long-term project.” He recently swapped his iPhone 5s for a much simpler device – a Moto E phone – and tried to maneuver his way online.

“We’re all trying to really understand using the Internet outside of California,” Rosen said.

Wendy Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @thewendylee

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Aug 16

5 Business Lessons From a Goat Milk Soap Entrepreneur

PJ Jonas has probably told the story a few hundred times: One day, she was bathing her six kids in one bathtub when she looked at the ingredients on the soap she was using, and realized it was full of chemicals. At that point, most women would have resolved to buy a better soap. Not Jonas.

“That’s not me,” she says. “I’m always investigating new things.”

See also: 6 Marketing Ideas Small Businesses Can Learn From Big Brands

That was in 2006. Jonas spent the next six months researching soap-making on the web. “There’s a lot of information on the Internet,” she says. “A lot is good, and a lot is bad.” After experimenting, she came upon a winning formula that featured goat milk. Happily, there was a robust supply of goat milk nearby since the Jonases lived on a 3-acre goat-laden farm.

Flash forward eight years. Jonas’ business, Goat Milk Stuff, is now bringing in seven-figure revenues, and is profitable enough to support her family and their now 37-acre farm, plus a few employees. Goat Milk Stuff has also allowed Jonas to achieve her dream of living a bucolic life in rural Indiana, and teaching her now eight kids the value of hard work.

Getting to that point required not only toil, but sacrifice and stress. Here are a few lessons Jonas learned along the way:

1. Get out and talk to your customers

Goat Milk Stuff has always had a web component, but especially early on, Jonas’ primary marketing was at craft shows and fairs. By working such venues, Jonas and her family got to hear what customers really thought about GMS’ products and why. “The biggest thing is to figure out who your customer is and what they want,” she says. “We had hundreds of thousands of touchpoints with our customers, so we could see which they picked up. We’d ask them questions about it.” The company asked the same questions on its website and social media, and continued the conversation.


The Jonas’ family van.

2. Expect copycats

Goat milk soap is fairly replicable. Jonas expected some knockoffs, but she was taken aback at times by the outright appropriation from competitors. “My website is plagiarized all the time” she says. “We have people copy our look, our packaging, our design.” One person even stole her bathtub-epiphany origin story. Jonas has sent out a few cease-and-desist letters over the years, she says, but finds that the rip-off artists tend to go away quickly. “They’re usually gone in six months,” she says. GMS also addresses copycats on a section of its website entitled “All goat milk soap is not created equal.

3. Good enough is good enough

When GMS first started, Jonas wasn’t hugely versed in web creation. So she taught herself HTML, and was able to create a passable site. In 2010, when the business started to pick up steam, she hired a web designer and programmer to create a much better site. She doesn’t recommend skipping the first step. “I think we learned a lot doing it ourselves,” she says. “We had a lot of information, and knew which questions to ask … It’s okay to experiment if you start out slowly.”

Jim Jonas

Jim Jonas with a few of the Jonas kids.

4. Sell your story as much as your product

One of the main reasons for GMS’ success and the reason you’re reading about it here now is that the story of the Jonas family became as integral to the experience as the goat milk. When you buy GMS products, you’re financing a lifestyle and mindset, and to a certain degree, you’re buying the story. A mother of eight who home-schools her kids, makes her own soap from goats on her farm and puts her kids to work, has natural appeal to the media. In Jonas’ case, during one of the family’s numerous craft-show appearances, they attracted the attention of a local TV reporter, who was impressed with the way Jonas’ kids comported themselves. That led to a Today show appearance in 2011 that obviated the need for an advertising budget.

“I never did AdWords or any of that stuff,” she says. “It was all just people talking about the product.” By the way, if you’re thinking that the Jonas family would be a good premise for a reality show — sort of like 19 Kids and Counting meets Duck Dynasty — you’re not alone: They’ve received some interest in that area, Jonas says.

Making Soap

Hewitt Jonas makes soap.

5. Accept sacrifice and risk

When the Jonases moved to Indiana from New Jersey, Jonas’ husband Jim worked as a garbageman even though he was a University of Virginia graduate who had previously been a schoolteacher. He eventually got a job as a teacher in Indiana, but gave it up in 2009 when GMS was expanding. It was a risky move, especially since that meant the family went without any insurance for a year. (Their current insurance plan is to sign up with an insurer for about a year, and then switch when that insurer raises its rates. Jonas says Obamacare hasn’t helped at all. “It’s hurt,” she says. “Our insurance went up $300 [a month].”)

Along the way, Jonas had to deal with well-meaning (and maybe not-so-well-meaning) advice from friends and acquaintances that her idea was too moony to succeed. “People at the beginning told me I was crazy,” Jonas says. “I just ignored them, and pushed on.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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Aug 15 to Host Free Marketing Seminar to Help Northern New Jersey Small … to Host Free Marketing Seminar to Help Northern New Jersey Small Businesses Strengthen Online Presence

    Small Business Summit to be Held During The Barclays

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 15, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — (Nasdaq:WWWW), a leading provider of Internet services and online marketing solutions for small businesses, will host a free Small Business Summit designed to help small business owners in Northern New Jersey learn how to successfully increase their business’ visibility and better market themselves online. The Small Business Summit will take place on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. ET at The Barclays golf tournament to be held at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. Through’s agreement with the PGA TOUR and as the umbrella sponsor of the Tour, developed the Small Business Summit as a benefit to small business owners in communities across the country. Vice President of Operations Joanne Del Toro will share information and tools to help small business owners increase visibility and optimize marketing efforts online.

    Topics and content at the Small Business Summit will also focus on ways small business owners can achieve a successful Internet presence, including the elements of a great website, how to determine if their website is working for them, increasing traffic to their website and business, mobile marketing and decoding how to efficiently market their business on Google, Facebook and Twitter.

    “ has established a long-term commitment to give back to the communities we serve. Through our free Small Business Summit, we give small business owners the opportunity to hear from experts on how they can better market their businesses online,” said Del Toro. “Every day, helps millions of business owners address the challenges of building and maintaining an effective web presence that helps their businesses grow. Each Small Business Summit covers a range of key, timely topics designed to address the online challenges small business owners face.”

    Event Details:

       -- Where: The Ridgewood Country Club, 96 W. Midland Ave, Paramus, NJ 
       -- When: Tuesday, August 19, 2014; Networking and continental breakfast at 
          9:00 a.m.; the presentation will start promptly at 10:00 a.m. and will 
          conclude by 12:00 p.m. 
       -- Cost: Attendance is free, but advanced registration is requested at 

    For more information, contact or call 800-862-8718.

    Attention Editors/News Directors:

    For a glimpse into what it’s like to attend a Small Business Summit event, please click here for a short video.

    About Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:WWWW) provides a full range of Internet services to small businesses to help them compete and succeed online. meets the needs of small businesses anywhere along their lifecycle with affordable, subscription-based solutions including domains, hosting, website design and management, search engine optimization, online marketing campaigns, local sales leads, social media, mobile products, eCommerce solutions and call center services. For more information, please visit; follow on Twitter @webdotcom or on Facebook at For additional online marketing resources and small business networking, please visit

    About the PGA TOUR

    The PGA TOUR is the world’s premier membership organization for touring professional golfers, co-sanctioning more than 130 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, Tour, NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR China.

    The PGA TOUR’s mission is to entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, generate significant charitable and economic impact in the communities in which it plays, and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players.

    Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to nearly 945 million households in 225 countries and territories in 32 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations in order to maximize charitable giving. In 2012, tournaments across all Tours generated more than $130 million for local charitable organizations, bringing the TOUR’s all-time total of charitable contributions to $1.86 billion.

    The PGA TOUR’s web site is PGATOUR.COM, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

    Note to Editors: is a registered trademark of Group, Inc.

    CONTACT: Elaine Steinfeld 
             Golin for 

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