Business Tips

How to Attract Online Holiday Shoppers: Show Up On Top!

At this time of year, online holiday shoppers are buying gifts for their loved ones and gears for the new year. This is the perfect time to push marketing efforts and promotions for your products and offering. If you're a Verlocal host, we've got you covered through our newest marketing campaign. This will be something that you can utilize for the future as well.

Presenting the "Deals" section on! Landing Page Landing Page

This section will be launched by the time of our annual holiday marketing campaign.The 7 Days Till Christmas Holiday Deals will be available for current and new members of Verlocal to book your class as it will be displayed on the top of the Verlocal landing page, search page, an actionable display on your listings and a dedicated ads expenditure. Search Page Search Page

How To Get Featured:

1. Simply sign on to your Verlocal host account. [Not a host? Sign Up Here

2. Go to your Verlocal Business Dashboard and go to Tools > Discounts

Business Dashboard > Tools > Discounts

Business Dashboard > Tools > Discounts

3. Create your discount code. i.e. enter code: xmasdiscounts

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4. Select the options according to the display below: 

  • Enter Fixed or Rate based discount amounts
  • Ensure discounts are applied Verlocal Marketplace to be featured.
  • Ensure to select "yes" under promote on marketplace
  • Then, select your specific listing
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That's it! Once discounts are created, allow us to take the rest of the work and promote your classes through our advertising channels, newsletters, and 3rd party promotional channels. 

How to Use Email Marketing to Encourage Word-of-Mouth Referrals

For centuries, businesses have depended on word-of-mouth marketing to attract new customers. With the advent of digital channels such as social networks, not much has changed.

Conventional marketing methods such as print and broadcast advertising, together with pay-per-click advertising can spread awareness of your brand. Still, regardless of how well you pitch your products and services, traditional advertising often fails to build trust.

For the most part, trust comes with experience. For this reason, shoppers have an intense interest in the experiences that other people have had with your brand. Even when a testimonial or product review comes from a complete stranger, it can have more influence than any branded messaging.

So, if you want people to believe that your brand is fantastic, you need to let other people tell that story. To make this happen, consider using email. The following tips will help you effectively use email to build word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.


Adding a hashtag to your email messages is a subtle way to spark conversations. As a matter of fact, by clicking the hashtag, recipients can instantly transition from email to social media. Also, by connecting with a hashtag, you will have a chance to monitor what people are saying about your message and brand.

Make sure that you choose a hashtag that accurately reflects your brand, so it makes sense to your users. Meanwhile, you want to control your hashtag while also making it easy for users to remember and use.

Hashtags also give you a good way to encourage people to share photos of your products in use. Regardless of where you post these images, your hashtag can tie them all together. Moreover, you can organize contests and other incentives to encourage people to share their experiences.


Include special offers in every marketing email that you send. When you do, you encourage them to share the opportunities and thereby promote your brand. Such referrals can result in a surge of short-term sales and build long-term goodwill for your business.

To accelerate your word-of-mouth results, provide special referral incentives that specifically ask your recipients to act. You may even limit such an effort to your best customers to reward them for their loyalty.

When you ask people to refer customers, treat them courteously and make the process as effortless as possible. In other words, give people the VIP treatment. This includes rewarding referees with discounts and freebies.



Connect with influential people in your industry to expand your audience and build the authority of your brand. You can get started by sending emails to prominent bloggers who might give your brand a mention or recommendation.

Essentially, you want to build an entire network of influencers whose opinions rank almost as highly as those of a friend. To find people who can promote your brand, search pertinent hashtags on sites such as Twitter. You can also find influencers in private Facebook groups.

Sometimes incentives can boost the responsiveness of influencers. So, consider offering them free products or special deals that will help them justify spending time and effort on your brand.


Getting messages opened and read presents a major challenge for many email marketers. Some simple practices can improve the performance of your email campaigns:

  • Wisely choose your email platform and a professional email address. Different providers may have different advantages. For example, Gmail offers high security while Outlook lets you recall messages.

  • Create short, personalized subject lines that both have pizazz and avoid spammy words such as “buy”, “discount” and “order.”

  • Carefully craft your content. Keep it focused on your message and avoid wordiness.

  • At the end, make sure you include a clear call-to-action and a button or link that is easily seen and clicked.

In summary, you can harness the power of email as part of an effective word-of-mouth campaign. By including hashtags and inspiring people to share, you can dramatically increase the number of referrals that you get. In the end, your efforts to include influencers and solid email practices will pay off in the form of steady sales growth.


Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.


How to Broaden Your Audience

No business can hope to succeed without customers. Sure, you might think that the only thing you need to do is open up shop and wait for customers. Truthfully, it's much more complicated than that. Today's market is saturated with various businesses and they all struggle to attract the right customers. Also, you can't just start promoting your business to random people either, because it would only be a waste of time and resources.

If you want to reach success, you need to identify your target audience. Your target audience is essential for your business because they are the consumers that will show interest in your products or services. Moreover, they are the people you'll most likely convert into customers, and use relationships you've built with them to expand your reach and grow your business. Here are a few ways to broaden your audience.


Identify your audience

When your business is fresh on the market, its influence isn't developed enough to effectively reach everyone. More importantly, no one has the funds to appeal to everyone. It's better to identify a specific niche and focus your efforts there. For instance, you may target consumers that fit the criteria of "everyone who's interested in buying my products or services", but that is a bit too general. Instead, define the market further to identify consumers who are most likely to buy from you.

However, that doesn't mean you're excluding everyone that fits the previous criteria; instead, you're currently focusing your investment where it will generate the biggest ROI. Don't worry, as your ability to generate more income improves, so will your ability to reach a broader audience. Still, you'll need to conduct thorough market research in order to you identify your target audience first and make sure your efforts aren't in vain.


Determine who isn't a part of your audience

In order to identify who isn’t a part of your audience, you must take a closer look at your existing audience. For example, who are your current customers and why did they decide to buy from you? What characteristics and interests do these consumers have in common? That will help you identify people who could also benefit from your products or services but are not a part of your audience for some reason.



Then it's up to you to identify the problem - what is it that drives them away, and what can you do to mend the situation? Here's a good example, Universum, a Stockholm-based company, had difficulties reaching out and engaging with their non-academic audience. With the use of the right social media analytics, the company has managed to identify a problem and adapt their content to pique the audience's interest. Therefore, the problem could simply be in your approach.


Market to audiences, not people

Personalization allows you to target specific individuals with customized offers and lead them to make a purchasing decision. However, too much personalization can show consumers that you've gathered a bit too much information on them. Also, too little personalization, and your offer will feel the same as any other. But in truth, individual personalization isn't always as effective as entrepreneurs tend to believe.

First of all, it would cost too much to tailor personalized messages to each individual customer in your audience. Second, you need too much data and time to identify each individual's preferences and dislikes. That's why marketing to audiences is much more effective. The main reason is that once you identify common interests and preferences in your audience, you can leverage that to tailor messages and promotions to everyone in your focus group.




Broadening your audience doesn't mean you have to do it alone, especially if you don't have the right idea or you lack the funds to properly implement one. A good way to extend your reach would be to establish a partnership or simply team up with someone from similar niches and leverage each other's audiences to expand both of them. For instance, let's say you're in the business of selling nail polish, while your partner from a similar niche sells makeup. Both niches have women as their target audience in general, but aren't competitors in any way.

You can collaborate and organize a beauty event which would bring both audiences into a shared event space. That way, you'll be helping each other out by recommending a similar business to your audiences, who share the common interest in beauty products. If you recommend to customers that like your nail polish a business that sells makeup, and vice versa, you're basically expanding each other's consumer base.


Content, content, content

Content is king in the marketing world because it offers something of value to the customers, such as education, entertainment or simply information. A familiar cliché when establishing relationships with customers is:  "You get what you give". Simply put, you must provide value to customers to get engagement and loyalty in return, and content is the best way to achieve that. However, the content you provide must be relevant to your audience to produce the best results.

Let's go back to the Universum example. In order to reach their non-academic audience, the company launched a "Millennial project" that consisted of six-part eBook series accompanied by other content. The research addressed the issue of millennial concerns about career, retirement, work-life balance and so on. By addressing an important issue, Universum managed to get the uncooperative part of their audience aboard. The point being that, by adapting your content to different needs, you’ll be able to reach a broader audience and expand your consumer base.


Broadening your audience doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you nurture and cherish your relationship with your customers, both your business and your audience will grow over time.




About Jolene Rutherford

Jolene Rutheford is a marketing specialist-turned blogger. Interested in media and social media, digital marketing, and psychology. Loves coffee, jazz, dystopian and fantasy movies.

4 Reasons To Use Instagram To Market Your Business

Have you been looking for a fun way to market your business? If you haven’t considered Instagram, then it’s time you did. With half a billion users, 300 million of whom are active every month, the potential locked up in that social media platform is enormous. So why should you use Instagram to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your site? Here are a few reasons!

Stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind – Even though you want to make sure that you offer fascinating and even mind-blowing content, you will be surprised to know that if you publish average content consistently, you will be able to engage your clients and gain followers with ease.  By creating your Instagram business profile and sharing useful information, fun facts and more, you will engage the audience and appear at the top of their news feed.  

  1. Marketing strategy – Before you dive right in, you need to create a content strategy that targets your potential clientele. You want something that will grab their attention and also cater to the various preferences represented by your audience. Not only should you post great pictures, you also need to make sure that you use the right filters to show off your pictures to their best advantage. In addition, make use of the Instagram stories feature that allows you to showcase live videos for twenty-four hours. Be sure to diversify the content as well so that people expect more than the same old stuff day in day out.

  2. Market real-time – Today people are going live on social media all the time and Instagram is not being left behind. You can do some real-time marketing that allows you to reach the audience you are targeting right in the nick of time. You can use a company like Gramista to help you come up with your Instagram marketing plan and action it so that you keep up with all the changes that happen. If you are having a sale, a promotion or some other event, you can post live and encourage your audience to come by. This makes people feel connected to what you are doing and gives it a personal touch.

  3. Have a great time with marketing – Even though marketing your products and services is serious business, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have fun with it!  Instagram makes it easy to post your photos and go live, which will save you lots of time. You don’t have to worry about having perfect pictures, or content that is extraordinary; you just need to make sure that you showcase your pictures to their best advantage and post regularly too. With the videos, you can let loose and have a little more fun as you show your audience what happens behind the scenes as well.  Make marketing fun and you will make more sales.

Make sure that your business profile is high-quality, stay visible, direct traffic to your website and create an unforgettable brand. Be sure to engage your target audience and by so doing, leverage their networks as well.  

Bio: Harris is a leading blog writer and content marketing professional with thousands of real Instagram followers for his postings.

How to Create a Results-Oriented Marketing Campaign


Marketers often struggle with getting the results needed to justify their budget. For this reason, you should design every campaign to maximize your return on investment. Of course, to do this, you need to know how.

Decide today that you will not be one of the many marketers who fail to define their audiences and choose the wrong tactics. Instead, create results-oriented marketing campaigns by investing time and effort in market research and planning.

Additionally, after knowing what you want to achieve and whom you want to reach, you can improve your results by adjusting your tactics. The following tips will help you learn how to create a results-oriented marketing campaign that delivers the results that you deserve.


Your marketing plan defines what activities you will use to connect your brand with prospective customers. In that sense, you can think of your plan as being a master strategy that will help you stay focused as you work.

Every campaign functions within the scope of your marketing plan and should, therefore, contribute to your overarching goals. Every time you create a campaign, you attempt to achieve a specific goal that contributes to the overarching goals of your firm.

With this in mind, your campaigns should directly address your target market and acknowledge their communication preferences while working towards precisely defined objectives. Also, make sure you define the duration of your campaign and how you will measure success.


Your results-oriented marketing campaign should be designed to meet the particular needs and interests of your audience. Such targeting can supply you with desirable results more quickly than if you used a one-size-fits-all approach.

Although creating a custom message for each one of your prospects is impractical, you can improve your focus by segmenting your audience. This involves defining the characteristics of your ideal customers and creating custom messages for each one. When you do this, your message will more closely resonate with a larger percent of the people that comprise your audience.

Additionally, you should define every step of your marketing funnel and publish content that addresses the questions and concerns that shoppers will have at each step. Finally, improve your focus by reviewing the performance of past campaigns. Afterward, you can emphasize effective tactics and avoid wasting time on those that failed to get results.


You can increase the efficiency of your marketing campaigns by learning how people in your target market communicate and choosing their preferred channels. After all, what good do you accomplish by sending messages via channels that will never reach your audience?

You need to know where audience members live, work, play and travel. You also need to know whether they prefer printed materials such as magazines and newspapers or if they depend on their smartphones. Again, the quality of your market research will affect your choice of communication channels.

In the end, you will get better results by targeting a few effective channels than you could ever get by attempting to use all available communication methods. Additionally, by narrowing your focus you save time, effort and money.


A haphazard approach to marketing can easily lead to failure. Planning can help you get better marketing results. After all, when you know what you need to do at any given time, you will stay focused on your goals and avoid wasting time.

You can include as many details as you want in your plan. Just remember that simply writing things down will do a lot to keep your campaign on track. You can further improve the performance of your campaign by coordinating your activities with the availability of financial and human resources.

Include basic information such as the start and stop dates of your campaign in your timeline. Additionally, schedule incremental activities on your calendar, so you can don’t forget about anything.


Based on the preferences of your audience, certain types of content such as video and infographics may perform differently than text or static images. By using digital tools to monitor interactions between your brand and prospects, you will find more opportunities to engage with your audience. 



In addition, you and your team will have centralized access to essential information that can help facilitate the automation of routine tasks and optimize your campaign in real time.

For example, if your goal is building your mailing list, monitor the number of new email subscribers generated by your campaign. Similarly, if your goal is website conversion, you might want to keep an eye on click-through rates.


By following the above tips, you can create a results-oriented marketing campaign that contributes to your overarching strategy and helps you achieve your business goals. From the moment you set your objectives through real-time optimization you are in control, so get started now. 


Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.


Essential Tips For Starting And Growing An Online Business

Starting out a business is no laughing matter and setting up a palpable online presence is nigh-impossible when faced with the obstacles that come with the turf. Although seemingly-insurmountable, most of these hurdles can be overcome with just a bit of forward thinking and preparation. The truth of the matter is that there is a tried and tested formula that is guaranteed to give a business the right footing to venture out into larger circles and try its luck. Think of it as a trial by fire, pushing fledgling companies into the thick of it to see whether they have what it takes to survive in the harsh world of online marketing.

Lock onto your target

First and foremost, take special care to figure out who your product is for and what your best method of attack is. Many new companies mistakenly believe that broader strokes help rack in more people, but actually cause more harm than good. Without an established brand and presence, the only way to get noticed is to cater to a specific group by offering it something they do not have. When a focus group has been established, the majority of the company’s focus should be on the perfected delivery of said product/service. This will both establish your brand, strengthen your position in the area of your choosing and build an online following.


Dish out quality content regularly

When talking about quality content, the point is not to spam our site with throwaway content that is neither informative nor entertaining to the average reader. Dishing out content needs to be regular, but not at the cost of quality. Anything posted should incentivize users to come back for more, whether it be advice articles or cooking recipes. It doesn’t really matter what is getting posted as long as it is achieving the desired effect, a blog is a perfect hub for various writers to put in their two cents and answer any possible questions or concerns in regards to our site, service or anything in-between.

Apart from users, the content should also cater to our autonomous overlord over at Google’s HQ. However much visibility we might muster up will be for naught if Google’s very own Hummingbird decides that our site isn’t compliant with its search parameters. This is why any site management should be done with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind. This will guarantee that that content provided suits everyone visiting the site, human or artificial. Keep the site fast, neatly organized and you’re sure to see results from our real life Skynet in no time.

Make it personal

As the focus group starts forming and you start to build a steady readership coming back for your offers, articles and so on, it’s time to hit it home. Unique online experiences are far from unreachable and most people have come to expect it. This can easily be achieved by monitoring where certain users end up when on the site, what their interests were and what they previously decided to purchase. This will help your underlying system pitch offers and other options closely relevant to their search patterns, making them feel special while also boosting the odds of making another sale.

Keep mobile in mind

Mobile .jpeg

Although this doesn’t necessarily make every company’s priority list, it still is a very important factor for both SEO and real users alike. AMP capabilities aside, doing our best to optimize site load times for various Android and iOS devices will show a great increase in traffic both from Google’s organic funnel and people staying for the quick load times. Nowadays, everyone expects a site to load in a second or two, anything longer and they start to lose interest and more than often just back out. With so many people in a rush and the market itself shifting towards mobile, investing might not be such a bad idea after all.

Keep it sleek and simple

There’s no easy way around it, you are going to need good web design. The majority of the reasons listed above pretty much spell it out for us and there is a reason why. Simply put, anything that looks “stock” is considered a huge turnoff for a great many people as they do not wish to spend money on a site that looks like it came out of a box. Thankfully, premium web design is more than affordable and helps small businesses get exactly what they need without having to blow the entirety of their budget.

Subs are worth looking into

Among several payment methods, a newer one that has been gathering steam has been the subscription business model. Although it has been present for decades, its resurgence came with the rise of gaming culture around the world. As the marketplace migrated more and more into the digital landscape, people started getting used to the notion of certain services being automated. A good example of a subscription model doing it right is Loot Crate, their business model is completely based on monthly subscriptions and is mutually beneficial for both parties involved.


Feel around

Despite covering all of the bases mentioned above, the online world is sure to throw a curveball or two our way during our first few runs – stay vigilant. There is no telling what obstacles we’re bound to find on our way to the top, but we can certainly make the most of what we have and do our homework. As the customers start to rack up and business starts to flourish, we will be faced with a new set of challenges and it is imperative that we face them with the same calm approach we tackled anything that came before – turning obstacles into nothing more than stepping stones.


Helen Bradford

The Guide to Advertising Your Business and Beating the Competition

The movement you go out for a walk or some other purpose, you find many advertising boards which draw your attention and makes you wait for a second at least to read what is mentioned on the signboard.  This sort of reaction is widespread in public places.  Either the advertisement will force/tempt you to purchase the product, or the information is stored in your brain, even though you actually won't go and buy the product. A business with a good advertisement campaign will always succeed.


What is a business?


A business can be termed as an activity which is done by provision of goods and services to consumers to earn some profits.  Business can also be called as an enterprise, a firm or a company. In previous days, marketing was known to be a part of any business. Every firm had a separate team of marketing professionals working in favor of the enterprise.  Even now, the same concept is continued. But some companies are approaching the professional services, who deal with marketing activities only.  Today, the concept of advertising for marketing various products is becoming popular.  It has come to such a position that it has become a business for itself.  The business agencies which deal will professional marketing services charge a nominal amount for the professional services rendered by them.


Social media – Developing quickly


The social media is growing so fast that the usage of marketing tools is changing very drastically.  The technology used today may become outdated tomorrow.  Today, the usage of digital media players is seen everywhere.  Digital signage has become a modern approach to business advertising and a challenge to the marketing team to keep the interest of the viewers in favor of the company or the brand.  At any cost the brand image of the product has to be maintained- this is the central principle on which any marketing team works.


What is branding?

Branding can be defined as a name of a product or a slogan which describes the product. The signs, symbols, or particular design used to identify any product can also be termed as branding.  By using signs, symbols or specific designs, no two products of same nature will remain the same.  Each one will be having their own identity.  However nothing can be promised in case of duplication of the original brand, not only image of the brand is lost, but even the profits earned also decreases.  The management of any brand should be so high that it can face any competition.  The brand image of any product can be maintained by the latest technique “Digital signage” which not improves the business both volume-wise and profit-wise but also creates a special place in the hearts of the customers.  A good brand will always have a loyal customer who is emotionally attached to that particular branded product.



Signage refers to the usage of specific signs, symbols, images or written text to deliver a message.  The usage of signage technique to promote a brand of a product is one of the marketing strategies used by the businessman today. A good digital signage makes or at least creates a temptation to buy the product. Following are some of the tips which have to be considered before placing a digital media player:


  • Both the digital signage and branding can work out successfully only if placed in suitable position.  The needs of the ultimate consumer are to be identified, and then the digital signboard of the branded product has to be placed accordingly in public areas.  For instance, digital sign boards related to liquors should not be kept in a place where people go for worship.  People just look at the signboard and move.  Judging the probability of any business in such situation is hard.

  • The digital signboards should be clear and at the same time to the point. No extra details should be mentioned. In the case of any promotional discounts, appropriate images are to be used so that the message reaches the target audience.

  • Digital signage is not a one-time project.  It had to be frequently changed and kept up-to-date to retain the interest of the people.

  • No false commitments should be mentioned on the digital signage.

  • Proper usage of LED lights on the display screens will attract the customers more efficiently.

This is indeed the world of Digitalism.  A digital media player is the type of consumer electronics which was created to connect the home network with digital media like digital videos, digital photos, and digital music. The technology of digital media player is so good that one can access files from storage of network, server or personal computer and the same can be viewed on the Television screen or projector used for home theatre. Use of a remote can control the digital media player.


Digital signage technique

This concept of digital media player can be used as a digital signage method to promote the branding of any product.  The display screens have to be installed in appropriate places.  The required content will be affixed to the screen through the use of remote control situated at a common point from where various display screens can be monitored and managed.  As it is not internet based, there is 100% chance of display screens working even without internet connectivity.  The cost of installation of digital media players is comparatively less than other sorts of marketing media.  The content can be programmed in such a way that it keeps scrolling on the display screens.


Proper strategy


An approach can be said as effective one only when it gives the required output at the right time.  Not only at public places, but the digital media players can also be installed in the premises of a restaurant, hospitals, corporate offices, schools and college’s campus, etc.  The usage of digital media players is not only for advertising purposes.  In Restaurants, it can be used to give menu and price details, in Hospitals, it can provide details of doctors, in Corporate Office, Schools and Colleges it can give required information regarding the organization.  A digital media player is multifunctional, only a right person is required to operate its system.


Author Bio: 

Karen: A Business Tech Analyst. She is very responsible towards her job. She loves to share her knowledge and experience with her friends and colleagues.


5 Tips on making sure you and your guests have the best experience at your cooking class

1. Be prepared

Prepare all required ingredients and have everything in its place before your guests arrive. This is so that you can greet guests as they come in, with a warm smile.  Other nice touches that help guests feel taken care of is giving each guest an apron to use during the class, as well as a possible snack and water. You can also let them know where the restroom is, and provide a place to put their bags. Make them feel welcome as if they are a special guest in your home.


Also, if you have all ingredients prepared, you will not have to scramble to get what is needed during class, when all eyes are on you. For example, if I am teaching a class, like the mochi class, that involves 4 different dishes, I put all the ingredients for each dish on 4 separate baking sheets. This way I can grab each baking sheet as I teach each dish, and I don’t have to run around the kitchen getting each component I need to teach the next recipe.


2. Be an expert


Guests want to feel that they are getting the most value for their money during their cooking experience. Be prepared not only with expert advice on the specific cooking techniques you will be teaching, but also study up on the origin and background of the foods you are creating. Find unique bits of information about the dish you are teaching about and share it with your guests; they will appreciate the extra information and will feel that they are learning intellectually as well as through hands-on experience.


They will be more well-versed and knowledgeable about the food they are making, and this provides added value to your cooking class. For example, for my homemade Pho class, I give guests background information on the origin of pho, the regional varieties, and the recommended way of eating pho. I have noticed guests love to know about the information surrounding the dish, in addition to learning how to cook it.


3. Create the atmosphere

Create an atmosphere that is relaxed and fun. It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous before every class, or excited. Maybe you feel a little underprepared, and that’s ok too. The important thing is to take a deep breath and to have a fun time teaching your class.  Remain calm and speak at a good pace; if you are calm, then guests will also feel calm. Speak slowly and not too fast; guests will have a hard time understanding you if you talk too fast.

To break the ice, I like to have students, in a circle, introduce themselves and why they chose to come to the class. This usually generates some laughter, especially if someone was dragged to the class by their partner. A lot of times guests may not know each other, so breaking the ice helps them to relax, loosen up, and enjoy the process of cooking together.


4. Focus 100% on the experience, and not on what you will get in return

It’s easy to start fixating on how guests are doing, or to read too much into their expressions. It’s easy to start worrying about if guests are enjoying your cooking class or not, or if they will leave you a positive review. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can. During a cooking class you can control the quality of ingredients, the amount of ingredients, the venue, how prepared your ingredients and the venue are, and how prepared you are, both physically and mentally. All you can give is your best. So, give in-depth explanations of the dishes, be accommodating, warm, welcoming, and maybe a bit light-hearted or humorous.


Being present allows your guests to be present and open so that they have a fun time while they cook and enjoy their food. This was a learning process for me, but I realized (through both being a high school teacher and a culinary teacher) that people’s expressions don’t necessarily translate to what they are feeling, and that I can sometimes impose my own worries onto people’s expressions. A lot of times they are just enjoying your experience and the process of cooking. Some people are loud and engaging, some are quiet and observant. It doesn’t mean that you are doing a good or bad job depending on their personality, or how they react during class. Over time I learned to just enjoy the time I have with guests as I teach and to just be myself. Your guests want your true unique self and not some expectation of what you think you should be.


5. Most importantly, have fun!


Most of the hard work of teaching cooking classes goes into the preparation for the class, and the clean up afterwards. As long as you prepare well for the class, you shouldn’t have any problems. While you’re teaching a cooking class, it’s important that you are having fun, and you are excited about teaching people what you are passionate about. Express your innate excitement and appreciation of the dishes you are cooking, and your guests will start to feel excited too. Ultimately, your guests will have a good time if you are also having a good time!


Host Article: Chef Kaori


Originally from the Bay Area, Kaori Becker is a cooking instructor and owner of Kaori's Kitchen cooking school and catering. Drawing from her Japanese roots, Kaori has taught culinary classes and demonstrations in Columbus, Ohio at the Franklin Park Conservatory and The Seasoned Farmhouse, as well as Kitchen on Fire in Berkeley, Draeger's School in San Francisco, and at other Oakland locations.

Why it is beneficial to settle debt for your small business


Businesses of all sizes must depend on debts, especially unsecured debts, to keep the business operations smooth. However, sometimes debts can become quite uncomfortable, especially for small business and if you do not address the issue on time, it could ultimately sink the business. If you have several loans and capable of making payments, then it is the time to think about some strategy that could make loans more manageable and provide relief. For tiding over business debts, debt settlement is a viable option.  It is not that you must go for it, but considering the benefits outlined in this article, you may find reasons enough to give it a shot. Moreover, on going through debt settlement reviews you could gain more information that would be useful to support your decision. 

The process of debt settlement

To settle your debt, you must take the creditor into confidence and make him agree to waive a portion of the amount you owe. It entails hard bargaining to convince creditors about your inability to pay back the loan, which is the reason for seeking a settlement. The proposal must be attractive for creditors who would feel that it is better to go for settlement rather than losing out on a bigger amount, should you decline to make any further payments.


Stay away from bankruptcy

Declaring yourself bankrupt could rid you of debts but it would also leave a black spot on your life that would remain in the credit ratings for at least a decade. Effectively, it could ruin your business. You would not be able to avail any new financing schemes and other financial support necessary to run the business would be out of your reach. To avoid the negative consequences of bankruptcy, debt settlement is a better option as it does not disrupt your financial prospects to damage it permanently.  After settling your debts, you can plan again to recover the lost credit score by reorganizing your finances with a positive attitude. Debt settlement gives you the much-needed breathing time to recoup finances.

Quick relief from debt

The process of debt settlement does not take much time provided you entrust the job to a professional debt settlement company. Moreover, the cost of settling the debt, even after paying the fees to debt settlement companies, would be less than any other form of loan repayment that you can think of. Since time is critical for business, debt settlement gives you an edge over other methods of seeking debt relief. 


Relief from debt collectors

Once you have settled debts, the greatest relief is the thought that you will no more have to take calls from debt collectors that can often turn out to be quite an embarrassment.  Debt collectors pay the least respect to debtors and do not mind to cross the line of decency when pursuing payments. All this keeps happening with total disregard to your good record in making timely payments.

Debt settlement has turned out to be a very popular measure to mitigate the burden of debt without having to take any fresh loans. 

About the author:  Isabella Rossellini is a debt adviser for individuals as well as companies. Cooking is her favorite past time and she takes interest to experiment with new recipes. 

How to Streamline Organic Search Through SEO

For small businesses and freelancers just starting out, SEO is the scariest set of three letters that ever graced the Earth (well, maybe the second scariest after VAT). SEO, what it is, how to do it, what is it supposed to do for you: these are all questions that everyone thinking about e-commerce nowadays has asked themselves. And the answers are often confusing. The only thing everyone seems to agree is that SEO is very important.


It hasn’t always been like this. During the Internet’s salad days SEO used to be a quite straightforward. People soon figured what were the main factors to get to the top of Google organic results: keywords and links. And so, people used and abused the system, using it to get their sites to the top regardless of content and quality. Google soon got fed up and said, “no more.” Enter Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, the updates to Google’s sorting algorithm that to this day haunt SEO experts all around the world. These updates started punishing those that abused the system buying links from other sites and abusing keywords, pushing their sites to the bottom of their search results.

Google algorithm has gotten so complicated, and sometimes so punishing, many are timid to use traditional SEO techniques at all. There’s a fair amount of guesswork and even superstition. Self-proclaimed SEO gurus sell themselves as modern day alchemists. They’d have you believe SEO is magic.

However, at its heart, there’s nothing arcane or obscure about SEO. It’s not high tech. It’s not witchcraft. The core foundation of how to get good Google organic results is today the same it has always been:

Content. That’s the secret.

It’s simple, and yet it’s still the most effective way to get to the top. Relevant, quality content. Providing value to the customer. Old-fashioned tenets, yes, but they’re guaranteed to shoot you up Google’s PageRank.


Good content, however, is not easy to come by. Luckily, there are plenty of tools online devoted to make it easier for small companies. Sites like Market Domination Media help you craft relevant, SEO friendly content, design an adequate website and prepare a sound marketing strategy.

It’s also very important to publish new content regularly. Google loves fresh content. Make sure to keep your website or blog up to date, making regular publications with information of interest to your target clientage. A quick and easy hack in this regard is to freshen up old content. Change the date of publishing of your copy to a more recent date and Google will already look kindly on your website.


You should also make sure your customers have no problem navigating your website. Keep in mind that most people nowadays prefer to use their phones to check Internet sites than a computer. Google’s sorting algorithm is known to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than the rest.  Make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. Small details like these are crucial for your success in the organic search result page.

It’s also vital to be mindful of social media. Have a profile on all the main platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Google+. On this topic, one of the most frequent SEO mistakes to avoid is having inconsistent info on your different profile. Make sure to keep updated every change in phone number, address, company name, etc. Consistency is key to get recognized by search engines as a single entity.


That said, don’t forget the old-fashioned essentials of SEO: keywords and links. Yes, lately has become quite punishing lately, but only to those who cheat. High-quality links still play an important role in SEO. The key is not going for the spammy strategies so popular just a few years ago. Instead, go for quality over quantity: shoot for links on respected websites. Guest blogging is a very popular way to build links these days, as is infographic distribution.

The same principle of quality over quantity applies to keywords. The days of stuffing your content with non-relevant, overly general keywords that send useless traffic to your website are over. To avoid getting punished by Google’s algorithms, make sure you use targeted keywords that are relevant to your business. Be as specific as you can. If, for example, you own a home improvement company in Dallas, don’t use the general keyword “home improvement.” Instead, you want something more precise, like “Dallas home improvement.” This will send you the kind of traffic that is specifically looking for you, therefore raising your overall SEO performance.


You might think that even having this in mind, you still don’t know how to craft good content. However, there’s no excuse in the Internet age: there are plenty of tools and sites, like Five Technology, that can help you optimize your content and bring the tech-savviness your business needs.

These are the basics of modern SEO practice. OF course, there’s much more to it, but following these guidelines you’re guaranteed to get a competent organic search position for your website.

Author Bio:

Rachel Summers has been a social media manager for seven years, working for a variety of companies, both big and small, including Top Canadian Writers, a leading custom writing service. In her free time, Rachel also helps and advices a variety of small and start-up businesses on their social media strategies.

Ensuring That Your Escape Room Business Succeeds

Get to Know Your Market and Competition

Before you start an Escape Room business, make sure you know that there’s a need and want for it in your local community. There’s hundreds of escape rooms in the US, do some research and understand how your competition operates.



  • Visit Existing Escape Rooms: Take time out of your busy schedule to visit your competitor's facility and identify the good, bad and ugly. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and experience the escape room how a paying customer would.


  • Figure Out Your Escape Room Theme: Based on your targeted audience, you will need to come up with a theme (ex: Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion)  that will best serve their curiosity and interest.




Be Unique, Be Different

Make sure that your Escape Room stands out. If you are planning on running a successful business you have to make sure that it is unique and different from other surrounding escape rooms. No one is going to want to visit your escape room if it’s similar to the ones around your area and has the same theme.

But just because you have a unique idea for your escape room that doesn’t mean it will be successful. Listen to your community and learn what their needs and likes are and go off that. Just add your own twist to it.



Is Your Escape Room Up To Code?

Before you go and start taking bookings, make sure your Escape Room is up to the safety code. Businesses get shut down all the time due to fire codes which will cause you to lose business and time. Contact a contractor/city planner/fire marshal to make sure that there are no violations that can cause your business to be shut down.


  • First and foremost is if you are allowed to lock people in rooms in your county: because if you can’t then there’s no reason at all to start building an Escape Room business in your community.


  • Parking restrictions are also a big deal. Know where your customers are able to park and where they are not.


  • The legal occupancy for your business: You should also be aware of the number of people you are allowed to have in the building. The legal occupancy depends on the size of the space where you are holding your business.



Marketing Your Escape Room

To ensure your consumers know about your brand and company, you need to market your business. Make it a priority. As a small business owner, it is likely that only a handful of people that will know that you have recently opened your business, which probably only includes your family and close friends. But you can’t rely on word-to-mouth to let consumers know about your exciting new escape room.


  • Blogs and Forums: Posting articles on blogs and forums are good sources of distributions to further reach your consumers.


  • Social Media: As you can tell at this day and age most businesses have moved toward online marketing.When marketing your escape room use all social media channels.


-Facebook & Instagram






Facebook and Instagram allow you to create advertisements and set goals for your business. Either to gain more brand awareness, conversions, and traffic to your website.



  • Wide Consumer Outreach: Facebook is a very well-known social media platform with many users so creating content and posting it on Facebook could get a lot of people to view your advertisement


  • Conversion Measurement: By creating a Facebook pixel, you are able to track actions users take when they view your ads


  • Mobile: Facebook has over a billion active mobile users. When creating an ad Facebook allows you to target users anywhere on mobile devices


  • Split-testing: When creating an advertisement of Facebook you can create a split-test ad where you can target 2 different audiences for the same ad and then get results to see which one gives you better results.

Even though there’s a lot of pros to advertising on Facebook and Instagram not a lot of small businesses have enough experience to promote their business or a Marketing budget to cover those cost.



  • High Advertising costs: Advertising through Facebook can be really costly. Many companies spend hundreds to thousands of dollars a month when they advertise through Facebook and if you are just starting your small business it is likely that you don’t have a Marketing budget.  


  • Inexpensive Marketing: Creating social media posts is a really useful too but that doesn’t mean that will always be successful. If you don't have any experience in Marketing knowing who your main consumer audience is and targeting them might be something you will have trouble on. If you aren't sure what kind of consumers you are trying to reach when creating advertisements your ads won’t always be successful and won’t receive the conversions results you wanted.


  • Identifying Target Markets: When distributing content you want to make sure that the right audience is seeing your advertisements.Facebook and Instagram won’t know who your target audience is but will target an audience that it thinks will best fit your ad. Sometimes it does an okay job in distributing content but most times it fails to deliver the information to your main audience.

Unable to Create Discounts and Promotional Codes: Although Facebook provides many helpful tools, it does not allow you to create discount or promotional codes.




A lot of small businesses don’t even have a budget for Marketing but there are platforms like Verlocal that are dedicated to helping local businesses, which provide and handle all of the Marketing for your business for FREE.



  • Marketing Tools at NO COST: When you sign up with Verlocal they will handle all of the Marketing for your business for free. They manage all of your customer interactions so that your time and money are better spent on improving your business.


  • Facebook Retargeting Ads: Verlocal retargets customers visiting your website and create Facebook advertisements that appear on their newsfeed. So there’s no need for you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a month on Facebook ads and your advertisements are more likely to reach your target audience. Your brand and product remain visible, as consumers scroll their social media feed.


  • Ability to Create Discount and Promotional Codes: When you become a Verlocal host you have the ability to create promotional codes on their website at no extra cost.


  • Newsletters and Retargeting Emails: Verlocal also targets consumers with their daily newsletters to help promote your brand, keep them updated on information about your company, and special promotions.


  • Customer Reviews: Past customers are able to create reviews on their experiences and will be posted directly to your website. A feature that you should consider is a review reminder that collects reviews from previous consumers. Mention that these customer reviews will be posted right next to our book not page. Customers can access customer reviews without opening another window to access the customer review on Facebook/Yelp


  • Easy-to-use booking tool: They provide a booking system that is easily embedded onto your website, allows you and your potential customers to see how many spots are available for your listing.



Get Feedback and Learn From Your Mistakes

Actively ask your past customers to give a review on their experience. By knowing what the consumer’s thoughts and suggestions are, you are then able to fix the issues and improve your business. It is better to know what the problems are with your escape room before it drives all of your customers away and puts you out of business.


  • Allow Customer Reviews: Create a page or section for customer reviews on your website or have customers fill out a survey at the end of their experience rating and giving you suggestions on your escape room.