Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Web Site Program Update

As we near the end of June, I wanted to provide an update on the Stokes County Web Site Project. At this time we have 40 web sites live and functioning with 40+ more in process. These sites cover a wide variety of businesses and non-profits and range from the simple to a little more advanced. There are blogs, twitter accounts, facebook pages, flicker accounts, on-line shops, menus and much more.

The impact of this project over time can be significant. These are businesses that had little or web presence and now they do. As web marketing continues to evolve, the need to be engaged will become even more important. This isn't true just for businesses that intend to sell products on-line but to those that are supplying services of almost any kind. If you can't be found on a search engine, you are giving business away. It is the goal of Stokes County Economic Development that this not happen to our businesses.

There is still time to be included in the process. It is very simple: if you have a business in Stokes County and would like to have a web site, we can build on for you. The total cost to you is $59.95. This covers acquiring your domain name and hosting the site for 12 months. We will work with you to set up your site, populate the information, teach you how to update your material, link you to other sites, promote your site on our facebook page, blog, EDC and tourism web sites and you will be on your way. Each of the sites are using one of four templates developed for the project and each has internal content management.

If you have a business in Stokes County or know someone who does and they do not have a web site, have them contact us today!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Moratock Park Project

Thanks to those who took time out from a stormy Thursday evening last week to attend the public meeting on how an updated Moratock Park might look. I think you saw a glimpse of what the future of the park could look like. The two notional site plans that were presented were well done and incorporated some very interesting alternatives. For those who were unable to attend and would like a quick overview, I have the boards on view in my office on the 3rd floor of the Reagan Building in Danbury.

Briefly, the two plans show how the park could be better utilized and updated to provide more recreational opportunities to the residents of Stokes County and our many visitors. This includes updates to the ball field, an open air theater, equipped playground, raised walkways around the river, protected stream banks, a frisbe golf course and much more.

The next steps will include a funding plan with costs estimates and a possible timeline for this project. For this project to be successful, we will need public input and participation. Let me know if you have any questions or comments on the Moratock Park Project and there is always room to jump on the bandwagon, it should be a great ride!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Don't let the Nays have it.

Everyone meets people who have made up their mind before the discussion starts. They have reached a conclusion and no amount of factual reasoning is going to help. The article that I am attaching below addresses this very nicely. Don't let the nays get you down. If the idea is well thought out and you can get ample support then take the ball and run!

How To Win Over People
Started by Colin Thompson, Managing Partner, CAVENDISH
You have a great idea that will increase revenue and improve profits, but you have a challenge on how to win over people. There will be the typical naysayers who will be able say exactly why it will not work. There may be supporters but can they overcome the negativity of the naysayers?

There are ways on how to win over people to help implement your great idea despite the negativity of naysayers.

Often people get carried away by a small group of people who are typically very supportive of initiatives that are rolled out. These people do not need winning over.

On the other hand, there are the naysayers who typically know all the reasons why an initiative will fail and are resistant to management initiatives. These people can really drain your enthusiasm and energy if you let their negativity get to you.

The good news is that you do not have to focus on the naysayers! The more you focus on them, the greater the power you are allowing this group.

Other than the supporters and the naysayers, there are a whole bunch of people, who form the greater number of your employees. The technique is to focus on these people.

They are neutral and with the right presentation of the initiative and the benefits it will bring to the organization, this group of people can be won over to help you implement the initiative. Remember to make sure you include benefits to the individuals to motivate them in making it a success.

Of course, the supporters will be a great help in moving this forward. Once the resistors see the rest of the organization supporting the initiative, there is little else they can do but to join in. If they really feel opposed to the idea, they may leave. That, however, may be better for the organization.

While the group of people to focus on is a key part of the technique, it is crucial that the leader is mentally tough. This is a key ingredient in winning over people.

Mental toughness is the ability to remain internally focused, relaxed, determined and confident in the face of the external stress that you will face. You need to be able to perform at your peak even under pressure.

Be mentally tough. Be determined and persevere against whatever objections and the related stress that comes with it.

This is possible if you are convinced that the initiative you are planning has been thought through and thorough. Your sheer belief that it can succeed will give you the motivation and the mental strength to see it through.

In driving the initiative, it is best to work on things that you have full or at least limited control. It is also important to let go of things that you cannot change.

Another point to note will be not to create any more resistance than is necessary by controlling every aspect. While you provide guidance for delegated tasks, make sure that you give enough freedom.

If there is any resistance, do not take it personally. The resistance is targeted at the initiative or the extra work that needs to be done.

If it is against the initiative, take this as a good sign as people are actually giving thought to it. Take some time to study this and you might get some valuable feedback that will help you improve on the initiative.

Resistance to the extra work and needing to learn new things is normal in any organization when change happens. Just go about your normal steps in managing change.

Consider these factors when you next think about how to win over people for the next initiative or project that you want to launch.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Glass is...

If you have faith, you believe you get what you need when you need it. It is part of the human condition to worry and not have this faith. I am as guilty of this or maybe more so than most. I sweat the details and all the what ifs. I was discussing this very issue with Missy, my Administrative Assistant and friend this morning and she mentioned that her son had the attitude that you take care of what you can and then take things as they come. I think he is right and that worry is a waste of time, but how to take his advice and let go of issues after we have done all that is within our powers is easier said than done.

With this still on my mind, I saw the article below on optimism and it helped me put issues in better perspective. If you are in business, I think you must be an optimist but in a realistic way. Hope this article helps you in your quest.

How to Be an Optimist (Without Being an Idiot)

Jun 06, 2010 -

“If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, ‘Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,’ but most of us would say something more along the lines of ‘Aaaaah! My arm! My Arm!’”—Lemony Snicket

It’s easy to mock an optimist, isn’t it? Those who hope for the best are scorned as “Pollyannas.” Bart Simpson mocks Lisa’s idealism. Lou Grant mocked Mary Richards in the newsroom. Voltaire enjoys many a knowing smile at the expense of his Candide.

Yet optimism is one of the key strategies for overcoming fear, anxiety, frustration and skepticism in order to make a small business thrive, argue Clate Mask and Scott Martineau in their new book, Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business (Wiley, 2010).

The key, however, is to practice not unbridled, idealistic, romantic notions of cheerfully annoying optimism, but rather to practice “disciplined optimism.”

“Disciplined optimism,” Clate and Scott say, inspires you to maintain confidence and get to work removing whatever obstacle is in your way. It allows you to own the problem, and do something about it, because you have a sense that doing so gets you closer to your ultimate goal.

The authors define disciplined optimism as “faith you will prevail plus discipline to confront the brutal facts.” In other words, disciplined optimists do something about the little black rain cloud over their heads—they erect a very large umbrella, say—while blind optimists simply sit in the muddy puddle and cheerfully wish for the rain to stop (and then get wet and chilled and distraught when it doesn’t).

A good way for small business owners to practice disciplined optimism is to spend some time with unhappy customers. It stings when a customer complains about our product or services, and it’s easy to get incensed, defensive, and, ultimately, be simply unresponsive.

A disciplined optimist, however, assures an irate customer that they both want the same thing: A seamless customer experience. So the optimist (1) apologizes for the malfunction or disappointment; and (2) thanks the customer for bringing the issue to his or her attention so that the business can make this right and help future customers avoid the same frustrations.

The key here, however, is the bigger picture: Responding with confidence and enthusiasm, not just going through the mechanics of fixing an issue, because you see customer issues and other roadblocks as entirely fixable things that, once corrected, hasten the progress toward your long-term goal, Clate and Scott point out.

I particularly like this section on optimism in Conquer the Chaos. Why? Because much as we all know that a doing something about a problem is a better response than simply wallowing in it, it’s easier said than done, right? We all know that a customer complaint is an opportunity to turn an opinion around, but it’s hard not to get ticked off and impassive.

“We’ve all heard that we need to view customer complaints as opportunities to improve, try to turn lemons into lemonade, blah, blah, blah,” Clate and Scott write. But actually doing it is way harder than simply voicing it.

In a larger context, too, it’s hard to maintain disciplined optimism with all of persistent business pressures that make up our workdays—competitive threats, cash flow worries, an underperforming employee, competitive threats, limited resources—or on those days when business feels more like a battle than an adventure. Some days, you need a shot glass full of optimism just to get through the afternoon. But the disciplined kind—not the clueless kind that makes you smile blithely and ultimately give up because things don’t change the way you want them to.

So how do you nurture disciplined optimism within yourself? How do you make an effort to be more of a half-full, and less of a half-empty, kind of person? Here are eight ideas, based on Clate and Scott’s advice in their book as well as my own two pesos.

Face the problem (and quickly). This one is from Clate and Scott, who say, “Don’t brood and dwell on difficult experiences,” like a thorny customer or looming cash crunch. “Go to work right away.”
Rewind. Go back and address situations you wish you’d handled differently. It’s never too late (well, it’s never too late at least to try.)
Rewire your brain. Be conscious of your negative thoughts. Boot them out of your brain and make room for positive thoughts. (This might sound squishy and New Age-y, but it works.)
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Believe in yourself and what you are doing, but don’t take yourself too seriously. (Those who do are one of my biggest pet peeves, by the way.) “Laugh at yourself. Have a little fun. Roll with the punches,” Clate and Scott say.
Read customer testimonials. Or shake the Magic Google 8-ball: Search on “I love {insert your company name here}.” This does wonders to remind you of the good feelings you engender.
Give a compliment. Spread sunshine yourself by telling someone what a great job they are doing. You’ll feel better about yourself, too.
Fake it ‘til you make it. This old catchphrase is a great way to shake up your behavior. It’s usually applied to confidence, but you can apply it to optimism, as well, especially if you aren’t naturally a half-full kind of person: Imitating optimism will generate real optimism by producing success; that in turn reinforces your optimism.
Be grateful. Those of us here at OPEN Forum are a lucky bunch, aren’t we? We have passion and a curiosity and willingness to learn and grow our businesses and ourselves. (Otherwise, why would you be reading OPEN Forum at all?) That’s an amazing thing, isn’t it? And for that, we can be grateful every day.

What about you? Are you a so-called disciplined optimist? How do you maintain it?

Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs. There’s nothing more fun than following her on Twitter @marketingprofs.

Photo credit: KitAy

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fan Pages for your business

If you have a business and you are not on facebook you should probably be there. If you have a business and are on facebook but don't have a fan page here's a good article on how to do it and why.

How to Create and Optimize a Facebook Fan Page and Why a Home Business Owner Needs One
If you use Facebook as part of your marketing strategy to generate leads for your home business it is a good idea to start a Facebook Fanpage. A Facebook site is limited to 5000 friends and while it is unrealistic to have a personal relationship with that many people it is easy to have a business relationship with many times that with attraction marketing. If you are building a home business and want to succeed, you will have to use attraction marketing principles.

Every successful home business owner or network marketer had to become a leader and to be successful you will have to become one too. That intimidates some people because they don’t understand that being a leader is a mindset and an assumed posture that happens as the result of a decision. Once you have made the decision to become a leader the only steps required to achieve that goal are working on your personal development to change your attitude, belief, and posture and learning skills that your followers will find valuable.

It is common for a top marketer to have hundreds of thousands of followers and with the current explosion of social media it wouldn’t take long to max out your Facebook friend limit. Since there is no limit on followers of a Fanpage it is a logical and necessary step for a home business owner to create one.

To have a Fanpage you must have a personal account. Then from your home page you will see a selection on the left for “ads and pages.” After you click there you will click on the "pages" selection in the same area. Then you will have options at the top where you can choose “create page.” You will be taken to a page where you can choose “local business”, “brand, product, or organization”, or “artist, band, or public figure.” Take the last selection, name your fan page, check the permission box and click on “create page.”

Just as you should have done with your personal page you need to upload a picture and fill in all the information fields they ask for. Doing so will help others relate to you and will cause Facebook to suggest your page to likeminded people.

Now to optimize your page there are 3 steps to get started. First go to (this is no affiliate link) and get a free account. Then you can get 2 free applications for your Fanpage or upgrade your account and get more. I would suggest the Twitter and the YouTube apps. If you don’t have accounts with them, go set them up. Follow the prompts, get your apps and then return to your Fanpage and click the plus box, allow the connection and add them to your page. If you have these apps on your Fanpage they will look like mini sites and even include your profiles that were set up at those sites. As you build up your Youtube rank it will build your Fanpage rank.

The second thing to do is to put a Facebook badge on your Wordpress blog. To do that, click on “edit page”, then you will see on the right side below “admins” (where you could add other administrators if you wanted to) “create a badge.” When you click there you will be able to choose “other” and get an html code you can copy and paste into a text widget on your blog. Simply go to the dashboard of your blog, click on appearance, and widgets, and drag a widget to the location you want and paste in the code and click save. Now the traffic you drive to your blog can join your Fanpage.

My third suggestion is to buy a domain name and mask forward it to your Facebook Fanpage. It will be easier for you to promote it from different sites because the URL will not be so complicated and it can help you get the page ranked if you have a keyword in the title and the URL.

Dan Lambeth
Get your attraction marketing system with free training on generating home business leads online=>

Monday, June 7, 2010

Water Under the Bridge?

Below is a nice article concerning the Seven Island Bridge and possible efforts to reuse portions of it. If you are interested in this or Moratock Park in general, Please join us June 24th at 6:30 to see the unveiling of two notional site plans being developed for this purpose. Things are happening and we need your assistance and input. Special thanks to the WS Journal and Lisa O'Donnell this article.

Water Under the Bridge? Preservationists hope historic structure can find new life at Moratock Park
By Lisa O'Donnell
Published: June 5, 2010
Like an old Chevy that has seen better days, the Seven Island bridge rests on blocks in a clearing in the woods not far from where it spanned the Dan River for 100 years.
Weeds shoot through what was once the floor of the bridge. Rust chips away at the posts and bracings that supported the weight of countless wagons hauling tobacco, horse-drawn buggies, trucks and school buses.
When workers with the N.C. Department of Transportation disassembled parts of the steel truss bridge and unloaded it in a field in early 2005, officials with the town of Danbury and preservationists hoped that it would find new life as a pedestrian bridge over the Dan at Moratock Park, a few miles down the road.
At the time, town officials estimated it would cost between $200,000 and $800,000 to place the bridge in the park.
The town, which was given ownership of the bridge, had hoped to start a fundraising drive, but those efforts were almost immediately put on hold while the town dealt with more pressing issues, such as the potential loss of Sheppard's Mill, another historic site in Stokes County, said Jane Priddy Charleville, who served as mayor of Danbury for several years.
"We delayed fundraising to focus on Sheppard's Mill so that the two wouldn't compete with one another," Charleville said. "And the town, as things go, started work on a sidewalk project. It was put on the back burner."
Although the bridge is tucked away in a sharp curve on the lightly traveled Seven Island Road, the passion to preserve it and get it back in service remains strong.
Willis Overby, a former county commissioner, has been a longtime advocate for preserving the bridge for nostalgic and practical reasons.
The bridge on Sheppard Mill Road, which links downtown Danbury with Moratock Park, doesn't have a designated walkway, making travel unsafe at such popular park events as the Stokes Stomp.
"We have a lot of people at the park when there are county functions, and there is a need for a walking bridge," Overby said. "But aside from that, people just like to walk over the river, and if we have that bridge there, we could construct it for walking and viewing the river."
People such as Charleville view the bridge through a sentimental lens.
She recalled how generations of people picnicked and swam in the shadow of the bridge. Many couples were married on it.
"We've lost a lot of our history and our historical things in and around Danbury," Charleville said. One of Stokes County's truss bridges, for example, is on display in Davidson County, she said.
Jimmy Walker, the chairman of the Stokes County board of commissioners, said that he believes people would support a fundraising project to move the bridge.
"Folks who live in that area and who know the area well really have strong feeling about the future for the bridge. I have a feeling if there were a project undertaken to move the bridge, there'd be good public support for it in that area," he said

Moratock Park Update

As a part of our Long term focus on growing the economy and developing tourism, we have embarked on a project to ID our main tourism assets and establish a strategic plan to develop these assets. I have said many times during the past 15 months, we don;t need to create tourism in Stokes County, it is already happening, we need to learn to take advantage of it. We have approximately 600,000 people a year visiting Hanging Rock State Park, thousands more that visit the Dan River and many more who enjoy driving our roads, enjoying the scenery, hiking our trails and many other outdoor activities. What we do not have is a well developed plan on how to offer these visitors to our borders an opportunity to stop, visit our shops and spend more time and money.

To counteract this, we are working to map our assets, bring our allies into focus and for the first time, develop a plan that will have all the partners pulling in the same direction.

The first step in this is to look at Moratock Park and develop a plan to enhance it. We have contracted with and experienced planner to assist us in this and we are very excited about the possibilities. There will be an opportunity to view notional site plans on this project June 24th in the third floor conference room of the Regan Building in Danbury. The meeting will be at 6:30 and we hope that you will take a few moments from your busy schedule to join us.

It is our intent go look for State, Local and Federal funds to complete this project and public support and participation is very important to our efforts. See you on the 24th!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Interesting Facebook Facts

Found this info on one of my feeds yesterday and thought I would share it with you.

Facebook: Did you know?
By vibelog
Facebook is quickly growing in popularity and usage on a daily basis. The statistics* are so amazing, I had to share some fun facts!

1.There are over 400 million active users on Facebook
2.The median user age is 33
3.1 in 3 U.S. residents has a Facebook account.
4.50% of users log in on any given day.
5.There are 55 million status updates on Facebook every day.
6.3.5 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each week.
7.The fastest growing segment of Facebook users is women aged 55+ years.
8.Facebook surpasses Google as the most important site on the internet.
9.There are more groups on Facebook than videos on You Tube.
10.Facebook supports over 65 languages.
11.Over 700,000 businesses use Facebook.

Are you on Facebook? If so, how often do you log in? Does your company use Facebook yet?

While I don't believe Facebook is a salvation for or sole answer to a company's advertising strategy, I think it should be incorporated into a well thought out marketing plan. It is hard to argue with 400 million users and why would you want to try?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Truffles in Stokes County

Yes, you aren't seeing things. There are truffles growing in the hills of Stokes County. I just posted a link to their site on my facebook page ( what an interesting story. Who would believe that such and exotic product would spring forth from the ground of this area. I think it is a testimony to the fortitude of our citizens to not give up or give in because their world is changing but to look for new opportunities and attempt new things. We have truffles, mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, several varieties of sweet potatoes, herbs and many other crops being grown. These are not meant to replace the cash crops of the past, namely tobacco in Stokes County, but they are creating new sources of income and creating new opportunities.

Another site that went live today is OinknCluck ( I have had the opportunity to sample their food at several events over the past year and have found it delicious each time.

These are only a few of a wide variety of businesses, common and uncommon that we have had the opportunity to work with over the past six months. Many of these can be found via links on this blog and a host of others on our business directory at Don't leave the county to go shopping before you check these out and if you are here visiting, stop by and give them a try!