Thursday, June 1, 2023

 Do you have pets, namely dogs or cats? Or how about children? Well, then you'll want to keep reading the 17th installment on Gardening Tips & Tricks about toxic plants that could harm your fur and human babies if ingested.

First, many plants are perfectly fine for pets or children, but some may look gorgeous and even smell great, but they can be deceiving.

Let's jump into the top 10 plants you should NOT plant or take caution if you have precious ones. Some may surprise you.

🐈 1. Lilies - yep, these striking plants can cause issues with dogs and cats (more severely in cats) and could result in acute kidney injury or death. Dogs may get an upset stomach if they munch down on one. This pertains to the bulb, leaves, pollen, flowers, or water in which the flowers have been sitting.

🐎 2. Azaleas and Rhododendrons - These plants can cause severe health effects if taken in large amounts for dogs, cats, and even horses. Irregular heartbeat, and seizures, can occur. A mild stomach upset is typically all that happens if in small amounts.

🐕 3. Sago palms are a no-no PERIOD. The entire plant is highly toxic to pets AND children. The seeds and nuts are the most toxic and include vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure, and death.

🐈 4. Tulips - If bulbs are ingested (highly unlikely), they can cause severe stomach distress, so if you're not immediately planting them, keep out of reach of little hands or pets.

🐩 5. Hydrangeas- one of my favorite plants, is, unfortunately, toxic due to cyanide; however, for most pets, only stomach upset occurs. Still, I would take caution when planting them. I have one in a container with a plant that my mutt hates, so he stays away. Two more are where he typically doesn't go.

🐈 6. Peace Lilies contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause mild stomach upset, drooling, and mouth pain, so if you plant them, ensure they are a houseplant kept high up on a shelf.

🐕 7. Devil's Ivy or Pothos - same as Peace Lillies, not highly toxic, but still can cause the above. Thankfully, neither plant is absorbed systemically, so no organ damage occurs.

🐈 8. Lantana - they smell Heavenly, but in rare cases, cats and dogs can experience liver failure if eaten in large doses. It's more common to get digestive issues, so be aware when planting them.

🐩9. Daffodils can cause severe upset stomachs if overeaten. They can also cause intestinal blockage, so keep them away from pets and teach children not to touch them.

🐈10. Hostas can also cause mild stomach upset, so keep an eye on your pets. They usually won't touch them because no smell attracts them.

Okay, confession here: I have 7 of these plants in my garden right now; however, my mutt never touches them - whew~

If helpful, hit the notification 🔔 for alerts.

Also, check out my IG @hotmamagardner and my website - and if you or anyone you know is looking for a marketing specialist, DM me.

Happy gardening!

#toxicplants #pets #gardening

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Digital Content Marketing Done Right With These Simple Rules

In the last fifteen years or so, digital content marketing has risen up in the ranks of marketing and promoting a company and its product or service, via the blog. What started out as Mommy bloggers posting their latest tips on juggling three young children and their Etsy business, or their love of food or DIY projects, has now become one of the top tools for marketing a business.

Now I see blogs for nearly every company’s website I visit, and for good reason. Content marketing pulls in traffic, and gets readers engaged in a product or service that then allows them to gain knowledge, resulting in an informed decision on what to purchase or continue learning more about for expertise on a given topic.

Done right, digital content marketing can increase a website’s traffic substantially - if you have the right SEO keywords, placed in the right area, coupled with a dynamite meta description. Long gone are the days of simply stuffing as many keywords into a blog or article, so Google or other search engines will pick those up and rank them. It’s now a matter of the K.I.S.S. Principal. After all, who wants to read a blog that has so many redundant words that make reading it confusing and turns them off from continuing further? Not your customers.

When using digital content marketing, here are some simple rules to live, er, write by:

  • Keep it short and sweet, unless it’s technical writing and your clients or customers are already experts in the area. A blog post of about 250-300 words can be all you need for a product description or information on a topic that is then sourced accordingly.
  • Ensure you have not just credible sources, but ones that are easy for readers to peruse, not just a wall of text that may attract a scientist or philosopher, but make your customers run the other way.
  • Use anecdotes to appeal to your target audience. A short anecdote or story at the beginning of an article can pull in a reader, helping them feel relatable to the topic at hand. 
  • Get to the meat of the topic fairly quickly, ensuring to post benefits or advantages of your product or service over the competition. Why are you different? What makes you unique and better than the other guys?
  • Keep visitors engaged by including infographics, short videos, images, memes, whatever gets the reader to stay on your site.
  • Always, always invite a call-to-action at the end of the article with contact information. This is your invitation for readers to check out your business, a kind of opening the door to your home and allowing a visitor in, type of feel; doing this allows them to see what’s behind closed doors and if they want a part of it.
  • Last, but certainly not least, a promotion, special, coupon, or sale campaign can further increase traffic and customers - especially if you’re a new business that needs customers and clients. Write what people are looking for, in their language, and in a relational tone. Online digital marketing is, after all, the top way to build your customer base and clientele; and the more you utilize its power, the bigger your presence gets, and the higher your ROI becomes. 
So, now you know the simple rules of digital content marketing, ensure you hire the right person who knows content marketing best practices and can lead a dynamic team to implement these...and I know just the person....😏

Friday, May 13, 2022

From Gardening to Digital Marketing: How Cultivating these Gardens Breeds Success

When you think of digital marketing, I'm sure gardening doesn't pop into your head. But, maybe it should. I have been an avid marketer for 30 years, about the same as being a gardener. I've wondered why I love these two things so much and I think I've hit on something. It came to me when I was interviewing for a job. If you're a marketer, learn why cultivating these two gardens breeds success in both your professional and personal life.

Your Marketing Garden

When cultivating your marketing, there are many variables to consider, and depending on what you use, it can make or break a company. Here are four crucial things to think about:

  1. What story do you want to tell? Who, what, where, when, and why (the 5 elements of journalism) also make a big difference in marketing. Who are you marketing to, what are you marketing, where (geography), when (holidays, special events, daily, etc.), and why are you marketing this service, product, etc. Granted, you want your company to succeed and make money, but think about WHY. 

  2. Layout & Design - Just like a garden, you have to know the layout of the space and how you want to design it; the same goes for digital marketing. Are you laying out a website, social media account, email campaign, book, blog, etc? And next, how will you design it? What images and content will you put in it? Will there be weekly blogs and service pages with full descriptions and links? How about your front page, landing pages, contact us, or bios pages? This is a vital key to getting your company out there and being marked as an authoritative source.

  3. What keywords are you using? You might ask what this has to do with gardening but think about it. With gardening, the "keyword" is the actual plants you put into the garden, just like keywords are used for marketing. You can put in a ton of keywords to see how well they rank on search engines, or, you can pick specific ones that match your gardening space, layout, and design (products, services, company theme, etc.) Using keywords in the proper place allows visitors to see your marketing garden first and foremost. When it's colorful, spaced just right, and looks inviting, people will want to regularly visit your garden.

  4. Fourth and the most important of all is your ROI and that comes down to cultivating all three above, so your garden breeds success and increases your bottom line. In gardening, cultivating the plants means fertilizing, weeding, watering, and trimming when needed. You need to do the same with your company to potential clients or customers. 
    • Appeal to their interest
    • Nurture them
    • Solve their dilemma
    • Keep them coming back

Seeds of Marketing Gardening Sucess

Once the garden has been planned, created, implemented, cultivated, and nurtured, the reward is a beautiful space that can grow and include many diverse plants of different colors, shapes, textures, and interests - the same as digital marketing. When a plan has been brainstormed, created, carried out, and tracked, you can see the rewards of success. You can see what went wrong and what went right, and learn and grow from the experience. Better, you can change out when needed and create more space to add more exotic and beautiful plants (or products/services) and weed out the competition for long-term marketing success.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Start 2021 with a Gift of Office Pro from TestOut! (Sample email)

For email campaigns to be successful, it’s crucial that subscribers click on the link(s) imbedded in your email, but how do you get them interested enough to click through?

Below is an email sample that has the five elements of good journalism (even though you’re not a journalist), and that is the who, what, where, when, and why. Humans are curious animals, but they just want the information and then they can come to their own conclusions. (media, what a concept, right?) And hey, if it works for journalism, why can’t it work for email campaigns or social media, blogs, articles, website pages, etc?

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.


Email Marketing Campaign for Office Pro and Grant: Sample One

Subject Line: Gift your students a 6 MONTH K12 Grant for Office Pro from TestOut!

Preview: (Name), give your students the best in certification software today with TestOut’s Office Pro grant.

Main: Ring in the new year with TestOut’s K12 Grant for IT and MS Office Pro courseware and see what the buzz is all about.

We are thrilled to offer this grant for the spring 2021 semester that starts January 1 and goes through July 30, 2021. With so many opportunities at your student’s fingertips, they will have a clear direction in which to follow for certification regarding Office Pro, which includes:

  • Word 

  • Excel 

  • PowerPoint 

  • Access

  • And Outlook

You can count on TestOut’s software with all-in-one training and skills testing in real scenarios. As a leading IT education software company, we include complete certification training software, enabling you to provide everything you need to ensure your student’s success.

Click here for more information and to apply for the grant.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this unprecedented offer, and give your students the best in certification software, today! 

— Our TestOut Family

Email Marketing Campaign for Office Pro and Grant: Sample Two

Subject Line: Take 2021 in Stride with TestOut’s Office Pro Grant that includes 6 Months of Certification Software at no cost!

Preview: (Name), boost your student’s success when you apply for a 6-Month Office Pro grant from TestOut! 

Main: With 2020 nearly behind us, it’s time to slide into 2021 with our generous Office Pro grant. Starting January 1 until July 30, we offer 6 MONTHS access to our MS Office courseware at no cost to you.

Now is a great time to get your students excited about their future with TestOut’s certification software program, Office Pro. This course includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, and Outlook, and is a completed training program that allows your students to get ahead.

We include everything you need:

  • Video instruction 

  • Demonstrations 

  • Lab simulations 

  • Text lessons 

  • Comprehensive practice exams

As a leading IT educational software company, TestOut provides proven methods that help keep your students focused and engaged, to ensure their continued success in education.

To learn more about the grant and where you can apply, click here. We know once you peruse our site and see why many schools have adopted these training programs, you will jump on board too.

Here’s to your student’s success and future!

— Our TestOut Family

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Strategy to Maximize an Employer’s 401K Match

(Article ghostwritten for Inquisitr, 2013)

Since many employers started offering 401k plans back in the early 80s, millions of employees have taken advantage of this gold nugget and maximized their retirement plans. However, due to the state of the economy and other retirement-based issues, experts have now discovered ways to further maximize this additional retirement safety net so your 401k plans go the way you always dreamed.


Some great strategies for 401k plans are discussed on US News money blog, with an article specifically addressing retirement strategies that will further protect you; these include some strategies about 401k you may not know about but could really help with retirement plans in the future.


An associated report from this Inquisitr article, Retirement Crisis Looms for the Unprepared, further drives home the point that workers aren’t saving nearly enough on 401k plans, and since cuts to social security and the ever-decreasing pension funds are occurring at alarming rates, these strategies will be even more critical to your 401k.


One such 401k strategy that is gaining popularity and importance is not accepting the default savings rate. New employees usually net only 3 percent for their 401k plans, so if you put in 3 percent, the company will match your investment. For many people, that may not be enough to secure the same lifestyle into retirement. A good strategy for 401k is every year you get a raise, take 1 percent and sock it away into your retirement plan. By doing so, you should have 20 percent of your pay devoted to retirement, and if the company continues to match your 401k, this could result in a future lucrative nest egg.


Implementing this strategy can also help with maximizing your tax break. Usually, 401K plans allow you to divert paying income tax on retirement savings since investors can contribute up to $17,000, as of 2012. After age 50, it jumps up to $22,000. For couples, it can reach as high as $57,500, and saving in a 401K plan can claim the saver’s tax credit, which can net savings of $1,000 for single people and $2,000 for couples.


Also, you may be tempted to cash out your 401k funds if you quit a job, but doing so before the age of 59 and 6 months amounts to a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty and income tax on the withdrawn amount. Withdrawing early can also cause you to lose out on compound interest, crucial for securing that 401k nest egg.

Utilizing this important strategy will ensure you get the maximum employer’s 401k match. Just remember to ask your HR rep about your 401k questions.

3 Ways Blogging Can Help Improve Your Brand’s Online Visibility

If you have a company, you know the importance, or should know the importance, of getting your content in front of an audience — and that means blogging to help improve your brand’s online visibility. However, writing just any old blog isn’t going to cut it; it needs to contain relevant and engaging information. Continue reading to learn about the 3 ways blogging can help.

  1. Blogging identifies you as an authority figure. When someone is searching for an answer to their question or would like a step-by-step instruction manual on how to replace siding, your blog should be the first one that pops up, or at least be in the first page of search results. It should have relevant keywords that Google or DuckDuckGo can crawl and pick up and rank. Including a catchy meta description captures people’s attention and they will likely click on the link to see what you have to offer. This is when a blog can establish credibility and answer someone’s question or solve their dilemma. Don’t underestimate what a good blog post can do for your brand.

  1. Guest blogging is a great way to improve your visibility online because it affords an opportunity for you to branch out and reach a wider audience. Setting yourself apart from the competition means getting your company’s brand out there. When you guest-blog, it establishes your company as a thought leader, thus increasing traffic when readers can link back to your site. If done every once in a while, it can boost your traffic and conversions.

  1. Blogging is the perfect way to engage social media, which then increases your online presence. When you post a blog to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al, followers can click on the link that takes them directly to the blog post. This can improve online brand visibility as well. The more followers, the more likely your content gets exposure. Using an infographic highlights the blog and is an excellent visual, as well as memes, videos, or reviews. The key is more visibility in key places that subscribe to your brand. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg with blogging. If you don’t yet use blogging for your brand, this is an excellent time to get started. Content specialists know what it takes to increase a brand’s online visibility, and they do it with YOUR vision, goals, and mission in mind. Contact a marketing content specialist to learn more.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

PPC for E-commerce, Target Revenue and Profit, Not Conversions (Ghostwrote for Inquistr)

When you pay Google $10k for traffic or clicks to your website, you expect something in return right? In fact, for that kind of money, you expect an increase of revenue or else why invest the money.

Over 95% of the market measures their success with the average cost per conversion (the so-called CPA model). The problem is, most online retailers carry hundreds of products and a conversion does not carry the same value across the board.

So what kind of return do you expect?

The CPA model is terribly incomplete. In the end you want an increase in revenue and profit right? How can you quantify the value of a ‘conversion’ if you have hundreds of products at different prices? Remember, keywords are NOT products! You need to know the value of each keyword based on the collective revenue it generates, whether the shopper buys one product or multiple products. PPC for eCommerce means Bidding for Revenue AND Profit.

What if you knew that for every dollar you spend on AdWords you could earn five dollars back? If you knew that the NEXT click = 2X PROFIT, would you bid MORE? Of course you would.

It’s All About The Outcome

The outcome you want from your advertising changes everything. Why? Because when the desired outcome changes, everything you do to influence that outcome changes too.

There are 3 buckets of activities that influence your performance from Google AdWords:   

(1) Increase PRESENCE

  • Keyword coverage - you miss 100% of the clicks when your ad doesn’t show up for prospect keywords
  • Are you participating in all the relevant keyword auctions that match the products you have to sell? This defines your market size.
  • What profitable PPC keywords are you missing? Your best keywords might not be what you think and you need to find these gold nuggets. 

(2) Effectively COMPETE  

When you’re bidding for a target keyword, the more certain you are about the outcome, the more aggressive or passive you can be; this is why knowing the outcome is so important.

  • Increase Your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) - whichever ad fills the consumers need the best wins. Period.
  • Bid Higher - when it comes to bidding, the more popular the targeted keywords, the more competitive they’ll be. If a keyword is more profitable, then you can commit more of your budget to getting the top spot. Your competitors are most likely ‘digging for gold’ elsewhere and will be spending their budgets ineffectively.
  • Effectively Use Ad Extensions - this is a feature that displays extra information on a business such as address, phone number, extra webpage links, or coupons. Changes ou make here could entice ap prospect to click.
  • Improve Your Quality Score - the higher your quality score, the higher your ad ranks without needing to pay more. It is also Google’s way of saying your ad meets your potential customer’s needs.
  • Effective Ad copy - You’re allotted 25 characters for the ad title and 70 for the description, this is precious real estate and makes all the difference.

(3) Continually OPTIMIZE

The ability to optimize comes from the very large data flow that comes from the keywords that drive your presence, the ads that create the clicks and the financial outcome that results. The amount of data available is your friend because it helps you reduce risk and create leverage behind your budget, but because of the sheer volume of data it can only effectively be managed by software.

  • Bid for Revenue - Using adwords’ value tracking capabilities, you can attach a monetary value to each product and track your ROI accordingly. You’d be surprised how many online retailers don’t use this invaluable function
  • Bid for Profit - using your product data feed, only Finch can tell you how much profit each keyword generates. 
  • Bid by match type - for each keyword there is a match type associated with it, which basically determines how broad or narrow a user's search query will match to the keyword in your AdWords
  • Bid on the sales funnel - you know your own sales funnel better than anyone else and should structure your adwords campaign accordingly 


  • Implement profiles - set up the right profile, which excludes visits from your internal IP, so you can see how much actual traffic your site is generating from outside of your business or organization. 
  • Bid progressively - this is where lead-scoring comes into play and affects how aggressive you can be with remarketing. If a visitor came to your site and left immediately, then they still need a lot of warming up. But lets say a prospect left at the checkout page, then you can be more aggressive with remarketing ads. 

For example, when Kitchenware Direct, Australia’s premier cookware and kitchenware online store, partnered with Finch they saw their revenue climb by 9% using PLAs (Product Listing Ads) that Google released February 2013 in Australia. They also decreased their adspend by 64%. 

About Finch

After working together for almost 10 years to build up one of the first SaaS eCommerce platforms that captured over $1B in online sales for their clients, Finch founders Eric and Bjorn grew increasingly frustrated by not being able to find partners that could deliver predictable, consistent, and profitable paid search advertising solutions for their clients. Paid search represents the largest online advertising channel for most businesses today.

It seemed the bigger the upfront promise, the bigger the upfront fees that partners would charge – only there were no repercussions when the partner failed to meet their promise. In an industry filled with aggressive upfront promises, upfront fees, monthly minimum payments, and two-year contracts, they found that the average client relationship lasted about 8 months. Clearly the wrong balance existed in the vendor-client relationships with the client taking all the risk and the vendor locking in their own revenues regardless of performance. This is where Finch found its start.

Finchbot is Finch’s revolutionary system that automatically analyzes and monitors keywords. Finchbot is Intelligent Automation that continually learns and improves the performance of your campaigns 24/7/365, never taking a day off. The combination of PPC model, systems, data analysis and algorithms is proven to work as shown by over their over 300 customers. They focus on bidding smarter not more because Finchbot can intelligently analyze keywords and make decisions based on their effectiveness, relevance, and importance.

Get Started

To get started with Finch, take advantage of a complimentary audit where you can observe your campaign’s past cost and conversion history, as well as see where improvements need to be made. This auditing process should take no more than five minutes and will provide valuable data to ensure your campaign is performing to maximize your profit. 

  Do you have pets, namely dogs or cats? Or how about children? Well, then you'll want to keep reading the 17th installment on Gardening...