ADA Website Compliance, a Topic of Utmost Importance for Businesses

So ADA Website Compliance, for those who have not heard of it, yes it’s a thing. For those who have heard of ADA psychical compliance, yes it is related but it relates to your website instead of physical space and also to parts of your online presence. And just because your business does not have to be physically ADA compliant, does not mean you get a free pass when it comes to online website compliance.

If you have a brick and mortar business you should be ADA website compliant. If you are on online business, it’s another gray area, but you should be regardless. A recent court case in CA brings up the point that we may have to be as well. See: A Second California State Court Judge Says the ADA Covers Online-Only Businesses. 

This first came to my attention a few years ago when the lodging association I work for started getting a lot of lodging properties hit with threat letters saying that their websites are non-ADA website compliant. And so it was that I had to get up to speed with what ADA website compliance meant.

And here comes the rub, for small businesses, there is no set in stone legal guidelines we are supposed to be following, only suggested guidelines and they are important for businesses to follow for several reasons besides just making a website compliant for people with disabilities.

One, WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) also has a lot to do with good SEO (Search Engine Optimization, ie getting found in Google search) but it also has a solid basis in good marketing, ease of navigation, ease of readability, etc.

For example, if your customer base is over 55, chances are they no longer all have 20/20 vision, if the text on your website is font size 6, not only is it not going to be ADA compliant but it will also probably not be user/customer/guest friendly, odds are you will have a pretty high bounce rate (i.e. they will navigate away) with the people that can’t easily read the text on your website who will probably go elsewhere to shop, so you have lost a sale. And that’s just one example out of many.

Why do I bring this up now if it’s been around for several years and not a new thing? With the start of Covid, we saw a drop in the number of cases and threat letters, unfortunately in the past few months, both have been on the rise.

Two, there are an awful lot of business owners who are still unaware of this, and three, the bill that has been sitting in the government languishing literally for years is being reintroduced. House Bill Introduced to Require Accessible Consumer Facing Websites and Mobile Apps was introduced (or technically reintroduced with changes from some years ago) at the beginning of October. Whether it passes or not, we won’t know probably for a while, and there are some big pros and also some big cons for businesses if it does. If that does come to pass, we may have more direction (which would be good) but we may have fewer protections (not so good) but again we won’t know unless it passes.

This is a tough one as well because even if you or whoever you work with as a website designer makes your website on the technical side 100% ADA compliant, it doesn’t mean you would pass a visual site audit by a specialist or be oked by someone using a screen reader whose job it is to specifically test websites. There are technical audits you can run to check your site at least to start with and get a heads up if your website is in really bad shape compliance wise. It’s a good place to start.

Website Accessibility Checkers

There are a ton of things that you can do (many are small changes) to make your site as accessible as possible. Adding an accessibility statement to your website is very much suggested as well as when you (or your web designer) make changes to the site, you document document document. If your business does end up going to court, having proof that you gave someone an alternative way to get the information provided on your site as well to show the fact that you know a business needs to be compliant and you have been working on it (and documenting that you have been working on it) seems to go a long way in the court cases that I have been tracking.

There is some hope for ADA complaints (which the bill, if it passes, may or may not help with), The Eastern District of New York Provides Businesses an Early Holiday Gift in Strictly Construing Standing Requirements in ADA Title III Case, the gist of this was that a woman wanted to purchase tickets to a performance and failed to actually contact the venue to see if snacks she had to bring because of her disability would be allowed, read the full article to see the full version of this as it is important from a standpoint of having an accessibility statement on your website and giving people alternative means of contacting you, i.e. sending an email or calling vs having to make any sort of transaction or reservation on your website.

I am also glad to see that the serial threat letter senders are starting to make the mainstream news so more people are aware of this. Woman files ADA lawsuits across US as ‘tester’ of compliance as this has been a huge issue for years with a handful of lawyers and plaintiffs sending out threat letters to lodging facilities, art galleries, car dealerships, and many many more types of small businesses.

The importance of having an ADA compliant website is so that your website should be as ADA compliant as possible because it is good business practices and because it should be accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, the ongoing slew of drive-by lawsuits are not helping this get recognized as the true reason to do so, instead relying on scare tactics and the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) because it’s been such a gray area for so many years.

All of the people with disabilities I have discussed this issue with are not very happy about this either. It reminds me (and I personally have a huge problem with this) of people passing fake service dogs off as the real thing, it makes it that much harder for people that have real service dogs. As someone with a disability myself (dyslexia and I name that because I am great example of if your website has text (small font size and/or fancy dancy script on it) you’ll see me click away faster then freshly cooked bacon disappears in this house and that’s darn quick!), the drive-by lawsuits absolutely horrify me because it minimizes the real importance of businesses taking this seriously to make sure that a website IS accessible to everyone.

I’d recommend businesses get up to speed on ADA and learn the basics, talk to your web developer (if you have one) and get as much as you can done to make your site as compliant as possible. Even if this bill doesn’t pass, it’s likely to come up again plus your business could be hit with a threat letter at any time.

My two favorite law blogs to follow, they both have a free newsletter subscription so you can keep up to date on current news regarding all types of ADA.

Additional ADA Website Accessibility resources:

State and Regional ADA Resources (not every state has ADA resources, check your regional offices first for information)

I am not an ADA expert, I just know more then your average person but I am also learning new things every day as additional issues get raised and as businesses get hit with threat letters and come to me looking for additional information. Awareness is the first step, taking action to make your business accessible is the second.

Facebook Options for Businesses advertising COVID safety


As usual Facebook when they add (or delete) things, they tend not to let users know. This is one that I suspect not a lot of business owners know about as I’ve only seen it so far on two business pages.

If you are advertising additional safety measures that your business is doing to help keep people safe you may want to consider enabling this option. I suspect we may see additional changes in the next several weeks to a month as since I had done a SCORE workshop on the new business format there have been over a dozen small page changes since then.

In order to get the banner, go to “Edit Page Info” (on the left) or on the left alignment in the body of the business page and then scroll down towards the bottom (in the middle) and you will see various options. I’d recommend not just sending people to your home page unless you are actually advertising the information on your home page but instead directing people to specifically where on your website that information is listed so you don’t make people hunt.

B&Bs, What Does Your COVID Messaging Say? (or Not Say)

Covid Pop-up box example
COVID is an issue with lodging, whether you believe it is a real threat or not. Studies by industry experts have shown that a large majority of people traveling take it seriously and are concerned for the cleanliness and sanitation of a facility.

Recent news highlights that many hotels and homestays as well are not paying attention to standards even though they tout they are.

Where does this leave other legal lodging properties?

It leaves us with a golden opportunity to capture the market of people who are leery of traveling and are very concerned for their safety. While most B&Bs and other lodging properties are making a point somewhere on their websites of mentioning what they are doing to keep guests safe, Some are not. That needs to be fixed, especially if your property is implementing additional safety standards. Your potential guests won’t take the time to inquire, they will just go elsewhere.

Pop-up box exampleI did want to point out some things I am seeing that can be improved and adjusted with many of the properties that ARE advertising what they are doing. One of the biggest pitfalls I am seeing is the use of pop-up boxes. Pop-up boxes are great, I love pop-ups, BUT not so great for advertising what you are doing for cleaning and safety standards if that is the ONLY place you are letting guests know about it. I am seeing a lot of properties have these boxes, but nowhere else on their site are they talking about the additional steps they are taking.

As a guest, I may (or may not) bother to read the popup, once it’s closed, it’s gone. What if I have questions? What if I did want to now read it but now can’t do so because I’ve closed the pop-up? I am not going to search and I probably won’t bother to inquire, I’ll go elsewhere. I’d add the pop-up boxes that go on for over a page, the ones with the fancy script that’s impossible to read and the text that’s font size 6 where even with a magnifying glass it’s hard to read as ones that are not helping to properly let guests know what your property is doing. 2 out of every 3 properties with pop-ups only have the information on the pop-up. I’ve been tracking this as I look at dozens of property websites a week.

As a guest, and in normal times I am one frequently, I want to know what a property is doing to keep me safe. If I had to travel now, I would definitely stay in a B&B, with the caveat that I can find easily what the property is doing to keep me (and other guests, and themselves) as safe as possible.

While I do agree we don’t want to go overboard, think of how a guest or potential guest views your site to potentially make a reservation (looking at your Google Analytics would help as well), they land on your home page (and may not scroll down below the fold if that is where you have your safety information listed). Where else if anywhere is your safety information listed? Is it a separate page? Do people know to go there, ie is it under the same drop-down tab as your rooms? Does it have a brief mention on your rooms pages or your policies page or your reservations platform? Have you posted about it on Facebook or other social media? How many times? If it was only once, how about mentioning it every few weeks? Have you taken advantage of Tripadvisors ability to let guests know what you are doing additionally? What about Yelp? What about your Google My Business listings?

If your property is taking the extra time and added expense to enhance your cleaning and safety standards, please let your guests know about it. They want reassurance and you can advertise that you care, but you need to let them know you do in ways they will actually see and remember.

Tackling Some of the Challenges of Takeout Food for Restaurants

A variety of takeout food in black togo containersFor at least the foreseeable future takeout is probably here to stay for a bit. Love it or hate it as a restaurant owner, having to accept the fact that it is a viable revenue stream is still tough for a lot of owners and managers to adjust to, especially for fine dining restaurants. But as the colder weather approaches it bears a lot of thought to re-address all aspects of takeout.

I’ve seen many restaurants trying to offer the same menus for in-person dining repurposed to do as takeout, unfortunately for many restaurants, that can be a fatal flaw. Not every menu item adjusts to the takeout scene well, in many cases, reheating it causes overcooking, dryness, or in the case of many fried or sauteed items (like a chicken Marsala with a chicken breast that has been egg and flour dipped and then sauced right before serving) ends up being soggy in transit and may not lend well to reheating.

I’ll be addressing doing a deep dive on the menu itself in the next blog but wanted to address some things regarding takeout containers first.

Questions to ask:
Does it reheat well? And specifically, have you as the Chef or management/owners tried to reheat it in a variety of ways? To take the chicken Marsala as a good example, microwaving the chicken will probably kill it (unless you like rubber chickens), and nuking the sauce will probably break it. Heavy cream doesn’t generally play nice with microwaves. A perfect reheat would probably be the chicken heated up separately in a hot oven with the sauce separate and reheated with the mushrooms in a saucepan and the sauce packed to go separately.

So…Do your customers know how to reheat your food? And if not, how would they know? And if you don’t want to bother considering that, is a rubber chicken with broken sauce doing your restaurant any favors as an example? The number of reviews I have seen since Covid hit mentioning that people were not very happy with their take out for restaurants with normally good to great reviews has not decreased much so it’s still apparently a big problem.

Pasta with red sauce in a white takeout containerNext, Is it going to look attractive in the container? While some restaurants may not have the style of dining that plate presentation is high on the priority list, if you have a fine dining restaurant (for example) and you take pride in that, it is a consideration. While I have worked a variety of types of restaurants no matter the level of dining, plate presentation was always important to me, but in some cases, a takeout burger and waffle fries may not have a ton of ways to dress it up but even that can either look attractive when unboxed (or not). I am seeing a huge amount of takeout photos on Instagram and Facebook, so the love affair with taking food photos has not dimmed much. Does this container of pasta look ok? Or could a little garnish improve it? Not sure? Take a few photos with your smart phone yourself? Does it look attractive? Appealing? If you saw it posted on Instagram, would it make you want to get take out from your restaurant? 

Are there reheating instructions? A medium-rare steak will not be MR when reheated improperly, does that reflect on the restaurant if customers overcook a dish at home? I would say yes because you can’t expect people to know.

Can customers reheat a dish directly in the container or does it need to be transferred? Is it easy to transfer? Is it messy? Do you loose sauce or ingredients in transferring?

Is the takeout container reusable? To use an example of why that may be a consideration: when we lived in CT, there were two oriental restaurants with similar pricing and fairly comparable food. We ordered from one because A. the containers were not flimsy, the other ones were and we gave up ordering food from them when we had a mess to clean up at home almost every time, and B. the containers were washable and reusable.

Is the takeout container cheap and flimsy? (see above) If you want to go for non-reusable/non-recyclable containers, is the container going to stand up to travel, being lifted out of a bag, and held with one hand (or will it take two and fold over spilling everything everywhere?). We have gotten take out from restaurants who use the round oval aluminum take out containers which while they are fine for light food like salads, load them up with a heavy entrée with sauce and the result can be a mess on the customers end. They might remember the food was good but they will also remember the hassle and inconvenience.

Does the container retain heat well? or remain cold? If I order takeout from a restaurant minutes away I expect the food to remain hot until I get home. And is it protected from anything that is not hot? Is there a layer of cardboard or another item in between. Is your staff giving attention to packing up take out so salads don’t end up directly above or below a hot item? Or cold desserts getting melted by being close to a hot item? Yum wilted warm salad. Delish!

Having a variety of containers on hand for different types of items are highly suggested. And add the price of takeout to your menus, it may only be 15-20 cents per but it can add up very fast if you don’t factor it in and it appears looking at a lot of menus from pre-Covid and current, many restaurants are not. It’s a small adjustment but worth it.

Chinese food takeout containersConsider the Chinese takeout container, high sides, fairly heavy-duty, and well designed, there is a reason this design has been in use for a very long time. It also stacks well and that is an additional factor to think about when evaluating your takeout containers. I’m not saying every restaurant should use these, but merely to consider things that need to factor in choosing containers. Stackability, structure, and compact fit in a bag vs rounds or an assortment of different shaped oblongs. The vast variety of takeout containers available on the market offers a plethora of options, find what works for you instead of purely going by price or looks. The final result is the important part and again if a decent container that fits the bill is 5 cents more then the cheap round, buy it and add it to the menu price, your customers will thank you.

Upcoming SCORE Workshops

Here are some of the Upcoming SCORE workshops I am teaching, check out some additional workshops that both of my chapters have on the calendar as well at Merrimack Valley SCORE and WMass SCORE.

Building Your Website with Weebly
Tuesday, August 25, 2020 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM EST
Weebly is also in the list of DIY website builders designed for flexibility and ease of use. In this free online workshop you’ll learn why this is an excellent platform, with some caveats and pros and cons, for you to consider in building your website yourself. We will be going over photos, navigation menus, installing google analytics, basic site design and some of the other backend bells and whistles you need to be aware of. We will have a seperate session on the Weebly online store if there is enough interest.
https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/building-your-website-weebly

The Startup Roadmap – Day 3 – So Many Opportunities, Where Do I Start?
Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 6:00pm EST
Now that you’ve thought about who your target customers are, how do you get their attention and interest? In Day #3, you’ll learn how to establish your brand, build awareness, set your prices , and decide which marketing channels might be most effective to reach your target market.
https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/startup-roadmap-day-3-so-many-opportunities-where-do-i-start-0

Basic intro/Blogging for beginners
Thursday, September 3, 2020 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM EST
Learn blogging tactics for marketing your business and some tips, tricks and techniques to leverage your posts for maximum exposure to potential clients and customers. Learn about Guest Posting and how to integrate your other social media marketing and offline marketing with your blog. Develop a marketing plan utilizing a blog including a blogging
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=769gtsdab&oeidk=a07eh9gdoluc342cd1c

Effective Email and Newsletter Marketing
Tuesday, September 8, 2020, 2:00pm EST
Learn how to craft a good subject line, what content is working for business newsletters, and what is not. Basic tips and best practices for businesses just getting into email marketing for the first time. What ways can you aggregate and get email subscribers, and information about the CAN-SPAM act which is the National Standard regulating commercial email communication.
https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/effective-email-and-newsletter-marketing

The “New” Facebook for Business
Monday, September 14, 2:00 PM EST
The old style of Facebook is going away permanently in September, if you are a business owner and having trouble navigating and finding where things used to be, please join us for this session. We will be going over some of the additional additions (and deletions) of business page options.Registration Coming Soon, check back at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4

Ad Design
Thursday, September 17, 2020 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM EST
Learn what makes a great ad, both online and offline. We will go over crafting the perfect hook, tracking revenue, where to source images legally and what colors and fonts to use as well as ones to stay away from. We will also review the free online options you can use for ad design if you do not have access to a professional design program. We will also touch on Copyright and review ads for pros and cons and go over how to make ads better and more relevant to your market.
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=769gtsdab&oeidk=a07eh9giuhf2fe11900

Building Your Website with Squarespace
Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 2:00pm EST
Squarespace is also in the list of DIY website builders designed for flexibility and ease of use. In this free online workshop you’ll learn why this is an excellent platform, with some caveats and pros and cons, for you to consider in building your website yourself. We will be going over photos, navigation menus, installing google analytics, basic site design and some of the other backend bells and whistles you need to be aware of. We will have a seperate session on the Squarespace online store if there is enough interest.
https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/building-your-website-squarespace

Virtual Tradeshow Prep Checklist

Virtual Booth Tradeshow Prep (prior to the virtual show)

So I was scheduled to do a SCORE workshop yesterday which got rescheduled to next week due to an unplanned power outage (Mother Nature had it in for me 🙂 There is still an opportunity to attend now next week, How to Up Your Marketing Game at Tradeshows and Events, July 21, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT-What goes into a good trade show booth and display? Business to Business Expos and other Trade or Event Gatherings are great places to market your business, whether you are a service provider or a business with products to sell. Learn what goes into making a good trade show booth, both in person or virtual. Register HERE if you are interested in attending, it’s free and it’s on Zoom!

Virtual Trade Show ImageI had made up this checklist a while back as I’ve had a lot of people ask for advice and direction venturing into the new realm of doing virtual tradeshows. While there seems to be a ton of information out there about running and hosting a virtual tradeshow, I could not find much direction in terms of being a vendor and having a virtual tradeshow booth.

So I put together some thoughts based on doing webinars, Zoom meetings, participating in 4 virtual trade show events and attending since March over 100 virtual tradeshows as an attendee. Being an attendee was very helpful because I got to see some of the online glitches and errors that booth hosts could probably have avoided with a bit more prep in advance.

If you happen to come across any good articles on organizing and running a trade show booth and/or you’ve run or participated in one and have some additional suggestions or things you’ve come across, please leave them in the comments and I’ll add them (with Kudos and a track back to the submitter if you leave a helpful non-salesy comment (i.e. not buy my stuff as sales pitch).

  • Familiarize yourself with the online virtual tradeshow format as far ahead in advance as the information is available to you.
  • Google the format as well, find out if others have had trouble with the system prior so you are prepared in advance.
  • Schedule a test run call with your booth co-hosts before your live event. (at least one call, if the booth co-host is having difficulties or seems very uncomfortable, make sure you schedule at least a second one closer to the event as well) (If applicable or the options are given do it on the platform, having a test run prior on Zoom or other online meeting if the platform is not yet available is suggested to at least do a run through in advance.)
  • Add any polls ahead of time (choice of one choice, or multiple choice polls) ask the co-presenters in advance if they are going to run polls, and coordinate when during the booth virtual they will be run. Polls may not be available with all software (If applicable or the options are given) or if they are only available day of, prepare them in advance.
  • Gather any online handouts and links ahead of time and pre-load them in or have them easily accessible to reference in a Google doc or other format.
  • Clear your browser cache out prior (for reference: https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-clear-your-cache-on-any-browser or https://kb.iu.edu/d/ahic)
  • Bring up any links you will referencing “live”, Proof the links in advance, nothing is more embarrassing then finding typos or wrong outdated information while you are doing a demo for booth attendees.
  • Don’t depend on the internet, so if displaying things on web pages “live”, it is better to do screenshots and pull up the net “live” if there is time near the end of the session with an attendee or group of attendees. Or at least take screenshots and have a powerpoint ready to go for any displays or examples if the rest of the web is not cooperating.
  • Prior to the booth session, turn off or unplug any phones including cell phones, neighboring computers you might get feedback from, and make sure your “space” to going to be quiet. Free the rooms from potentially barking dogs, kids, spouses, significant others and other distractions. Don’t have anything in the oven that can potentially set the smoke alarm off even if you have someone in the house, you can’t rely on them to take care of it.
  • Start early before you go live to give yourself time to get logged into everything and quickly fix any issues or restart/reload any windows/applications, check video/sound, etc.) At least 15 minutes prior to the booth session, ½ hour is much better, make sure any booth co-hosts login in AT LEAST 15 minutes prior if not before, recommend ½ hour pre-login as well for yourself. Logging in right before the booth session starts, one almost always runs into a technical glitch.
  • Make sure you have your introductions ready for yourself and any booth co-hosts and have rehearsed walking through it. Check for name pronunciations prior to the webinar if needed.
  • Until you go  “live” it may seem safe to discuss anything under the sun, but refrain from discussing anything confidential or personal, glitches do happen and you don’t know what is actually logged in the backend of a system you may be in.
  • Have some general Q&A questions done up ahead of time to spark discussion and inspire booth visitors/attendees to ask questions. This is also helpful if you don’t have a huge attendance or people just can’t think of things to ask.
  • Be connected to the Internet via Ethernet/Hardwired connection. Wireless connections will work, but your audio and video quality will suffer, and you may have playback issues if you are recording.
  • If you plan to use music, videos, or images, remember to use only what you have permission to use. YouTube can and will remove all sound from a video with copyrighted music even if it’s in taped format if you are recording the session and have plans to use any part of it afterward for marketing.
  • Have at least several glasses of room temperature water handy and remind your booth co-hosts to as well.
  • Turn off any program or device that will compete for your bandwidth. This includes things like Google Drive and Dropbox that automatically update.
  • Make sure any popups, ie. Anti-virus reminders, Windows updates are not going to pop up during your presentation, remind any booth co-hosts as well if they are screen sharing.
  • Make sure Windows or OX is up to date prior to starting, preferably the day before. Having a computer decide to update or reboot mid-session can be a drastic interruption especially if you are the sole booth host.
  • When screen sharing be aware that depending on the virtual tradeshow software used, generally everything can be seen, including bottom taskbars and if you are using the internet, bookmarks as well as open tabs on a browser. Remind the booth co-hosts of this as well.
  • Recommend having two computers if you are the booth host, one to be the host, the other to be logged in as an attendee (make sure and mute the sound from this one). This helps for two reasons, one there is sometimes a small time lag, and if you are speaking you want to make sure any slides or anything online you are speaking to are consistent with what the other booth visitors/attendees are seeing. 
  • Be prepared for interruptions, door bells ringing, dogs barking, kids etc. If you have booth co-hosts, have a key word or phrase ready to let them know they need run point/take over for a few minutes until an issue is dealt with if needed.
  • Be prepared for things NOT to work, the booth co-hosts can’t get on, they don’t have audio or visual, etc. 
  • Practice using the camera on your computer, phone or laptop. You can do this at any time prior to the booth session.
  • Plan your lighting so that your face is well lit.  Avoid sitting with your back to a window or other source of light and be aware that some overhead lighting can also make it difficult to see you clearly. Eye glasses tend to have a glare and if you tilt the back of the ear pieces up and the nose piece slight down it can reduce direct glare.
  • Position yourself so that your upper body is visible, not just your face. This will allow you to be more expressive when speaking and people can see hand gestures and movements.
  • If you are using a phone or tablet, ensure that it is placed on a stable surface.
  • Ideally, position the camera so that it is at eye level when you are looking forward. This makes for better “eye contact” with the viewers. If you are using a laptop, consider putting it on top of some books or other platform so it brings the webcam up to eye level.
  • When speaking, make “eye contact” by looking directly at the camera lens.  This can feel uncomfortable at first and takes practice, but it makes a significant difference to the effectiveness of your online communication.
  • Wear a headset if possible, it cuts down on external noise and audio and mics are easier to hear and have a better sound quality then having someone call in on their phone.
  • Virtual backgrounds are fun but also suck up bandwidth, consider having some sort of backdrop especially if the room you are in is “busy”, Even a bed sheet hung up works well. If your business has a pop up display for in person tradeshows this can also be used as a partial background. Table coverings with branded logos make an excellent background if they are available (for use in in person tradeshows)
  • Remember to use the “mute” feature when you are not speaking to eliminate background sounds, and be aware of where it is at all times in case you have an unexpected distraction/interruption.
  • Wear muted and solid colors, patterns/stripes/busy patterns are very distracting. No hats, suggested jewelry is small and not shiny (shiny jewelry reflects computer light and can be distracting if it flashes when you move, not just earrings but watches, and large rings as well)
  • Be cognizant of your facial expressions on camera, touching your hair and face is common but can also be a distraction to the booth visitors/attendees. If you use hand movements while you talk to describe something, be aware that your gestures need to be seen in the frame of the camera.

Some additional questions to ask yourself prior to the virtual tradeshow:

  1. How are you going to capture information?
  2. How are you going to follow up?
  3. Is your virtual booth going to have demos (demonstrations) at set times or ongoing ones or is going to be a general Q&A or will there people on hand to break off for one on one discussions (if the platform allows).

Some additional Prep:

  • Have logos and photos available in different resolutions/sizes and formats in advance.
  • Check any links you will be submitting to use for advertising on the host/virtual show site, check for updates/typos and out of date information.
  • Have head shots prepared (not all virtual tradeshows offer this option but many do) and available in different resolutions/sizes to use as needed.

Some questions after the fact to ask yourself after the virtual tradeshow:

  • If the virtual tradeshow had a cost, did you make your money back or is there a good chance you will?
  • Was the time spent preparing and running the virtual booth worthwhile? This is not necessarily the same question as did you make or potentially make a profit from it.
  • What could you do better or differently if you did it again?

 

 

Upcoming SCORE Workshops

Road sign saying Road to Recovery AI Next ExitThese are some of the upcoming SCORE workshops I am teaching for Merrimack SCORE. All are welcome to attend, they are free 🙂 Just be warned you will have to listen to a short shameless sales pitch about how wonderful SCORE is and how everyone should sign up and take advantage of free SCORE mentoring.  Check out some of the other workshops our Chapter is also hosting this month. The podcasting one sounds really interesting! Find more information at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4.

In all seriousness though, if you are a business owner or starting a new business, even if you are not interested in getting a business mentor, I very much encourage you to check out the SCORE content library. With hundreds of recorded webinars, articles and resources for every stage of business it is truly a wealth of information. SCORE helped start my business in 2003 and for that I am eternally grateful. I love being a SCORE counselor and giving back to the business community (hint hint we are always looking for mentors…..) and I have really enjoyed mentoring small businesses so far.

June 2, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT: Online Reputation Management
Learn how to respond (and not respond) to Google My Business, Yelp, Tripadvisor (if applicable) and other review sites comments and reviews. Reputation Management is not just about reviews, social media comments are always a part of it: learn how to respond to Facebook, Twitter and blog or forum comments. Learn which sites have management responses enabled and what methods you can use to combat reviews by competition or by people who have never used your services or bought your products. Find out how to use negative feedback constructively and how to set up review and comment alerts. We will also review good techniques for responding to reviews including proper customer service oriented keywords to include.
Register at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/online-reputation-management

June 9, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT: Practical Steps to Recovery for Your Restaurant and Foodservice Establishment
Please join as we review some of the industry issues that are affecting and will continue to affect the foodservice industry for some time. We will be reviewing menus, industry shortages and projected shortages and the effect of an interrupted supply chain on the industry and what establishments can do to balance those issues. We will also address how to focus on the free and very low cost advertising venues that establishments can take advantage of and further leverage especially prior to a reopening or operating in limited capacity. Additionally we will touch on coop marketing and supply as well as further exploring food and menu re-purposing.
Register at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/practical-steps-recovery-your%C2%A0restaurant%C2%A0and-foodservice-establishment

June 16, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT: Leveraging Facebook Groups for Business
While businesses do need to have Facebook Business Pages, learn how to leverage and optimize Facebook groups, both starting your own and taking advantage of local and targeted groups. Paying attention to group etiquette and rules as well as learn how to set that up in your own Facebook group and how best to moderate a group.
Register at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/leveraging-facebook-groups-business

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 2:00 PM EST: Social Media for Employers and Jobseekers
For employers, find out how to use social media and Google search to research job applicants the right way without violating privacy or hiring laws. For job seekers (and this is helpful information for employers to know as well) Find out which social networks can be used to enhance your online resume and portfolio, how to clean up your online reputation/profile and how to leverage connectors and search engine optimization to find your perfect job. We will be doing some in depth focus on using and customizing Linkedin, Twitter and Blogging for networking and job hunting. We will also be talking briefly about ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) that many employers use to organize and review job applicants and applications.
Registration Coming Soon

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 2:00 PM EST: ADA Website Compliance
We will cover what we know about ADA (America with Disabilities Act) website accessibility lawsuits, what is currently required for ADA compliance, the difference between state and federal ADA rules, why it matters that your website is accessible to people with disabilities, and how to help protect yourself from so-called “drive-by” or “surf-by” lawsuits. Even if your business is not required to comply with ADA physical standards, your website should be complying. ADA Website Compliance also ties into the basics of good search engine optimization and is also important in many ways not related to ADA for marketing your business online.
Registration Coming Soon

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 2:00 PM EST: A Social Media Strategic Plan for Online Crisis. An Outline for Businesses
Many businesses large and small don’t think about creating a social media crisis strategic plan until after the fact. Your business is in the news in a negative fashion or a customer decides to have a meltdown online aimed at your company. Planning ahead on how you would approach an online crisis before it happens is key to helping your business survive an incident.
Registration Coming Soon

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 2:00 PM EST: How to Up Your Marketing Game at Tradeshows and Events
This webinar is useful for any type of business. What goes into a good trade show booth and display? Business to Business Expos and other Trade or Event Gatherings are great places to market your business, whether you are a service provider or a business with products to sell. Learn what goes into making a good trade show booth, what types of literature and other items to bring including “just in case” items to plan for every eventuality. We will also touch on virtual marketplaces and virtual events.
Registration Coming Soon