Tuesday, October 30, 2012

reviews on multiple sites amplify smbs presence in local search

To call the myriad offerings on the Internet extensive may be a slight understatement. And while it’s tempting to generalize the growth of the Internet as exponential, the reality is the Internet’s growth is actually sigmoidal (apparently), or S-shaped.

In this choice-filled online world, small business owners know best that the vast number of options available, in everything, online are overwhelming. Whether choosing a social media platform or seeking reviews for your business, it’s important to diversify.

Local reviews of your business build credibility, help your rank in local search, and act as a form of word-of-mouth marketing but, as if you haven’t heard this enough, you can’t be content with just one review outlet online.

“The reality is that to 'get found,' they [businesses] need a profile on every citation source and review site that they can get,” says Ben Lloyd of Amplify Interactive.

Diversify: Seek Reviews Across Multiple Sites

As previously recommended, it’s necessary to create review-ready business profiles that contain real, up-to-date information about your business—and important to create these profiles across multiple sites.

“Never put all of your eggs in one basket,” advises John McPhee, the vice president of Formic Media, a Portland firm that specializes in search and social media for small businesses. “Give your customers options on where to leave reviews. Try to get reviews from Google, Yelp, Yahoo/Bing Local, and any other review sites relevant to your industry.”

Encourage reviews during an interaction in-store, via email and social media, or by using links or badges on your website, directing customers to your profile on review sites.

Find out more about where you can go to diversify and why hyperlocal search matters on Neighborhood Notes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

5 noteworthy things to do in portland's foster-powell neighborhood

Portland’s Foster-Powell neighborhood sits at the center of several southeast neighborhoods whose borders blend together and the people share parks, bars, bike lanes, and food carts. Affectionately dubbed FoPo, the area is rich in diversity and the variety of businesses in the community reflect this. As new venues crop up to complement neighborhood staples, a flux of new and old, youthful and aged, Vietnamese, Eastern European and American residents come together to shape a district in transformation.

EAT: Transcontinental Coalescence

Originally a commercial supplier, FoPo’s An Xuyen Bakery might be most popular for its $3.99 bánh mì and Vietnamese iced coffee special. Yet, the expert provider of fresh, daily, natural French bread still supplies loaves to bánh mì joints, restaurants and grocers all over town, as well as the next door Foster Burger with speciality brioche buns. Stop in for a to-go lunch, add a pork or veggie (cabbage, carrots, noodles) bao if you’re extra hungry, and top it off with a selection of fresh-baked sweets—choose from a variety of tropical cookies (like guava or pineapple), towering puff pastries, red velvet cupcakes, or sugar-covered, deep-fried Hawaiian doughnuts.

An Xuyen Bakery, 5345 SE Foster Road, 503.788.0866

SHOP: Multifariously Eastern European

Besides a handful of easily recognizable brand names, most of the products lining the shelves of Good Neighbor European Deli Market are utterly foreign—and that’s not just because many of the labels are written in Cyrillic. With an impressive selection of canned fish, herbal remedies, teas, and sunflower seeds, Good Neighbor offers more than 70 varieties of meat with a cold case dedicated to baloney, two for salami, one for smoked and dried fish, and another for Eastern European cheeses, as well as a freezer full of pelmeni and perogi dumplings. A rear corner features a wall of colorfully wrapped, assorted candies in bins, but owner Alex Shkurov, who runs the grocery with his brother Slava, says he’d “take a pickled cucumber over candy” any day. Pickled goods, like cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans, are amongst the in-house specialities made using old-fashioned recipes that don’t use vinegar, while other rarities include jars of pickled apples and watermelon. Other highly recommended and hard-to-find items include house-baked Georgian flat bread and German rye-based breads as well as cheesy puff pastries. And if anything starts to feel too unfamiliar, ask for a sample and the staff will gladly oblige.

Good Neighbor European Deli Market, 4107 SE 82nd Ave., 503.771.5171

Find three more things to do in Foster-Powell on Neighborhood Notes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

portland credit unions : local alternatives to big banks

Portland’s Occupy movement and like-minded activists around the nation have highlighted, using various methods, the benefits of transitioning from big banking to small during the last 12 months. And while some 6 million Americans have switched "their banking business from corporate-level, for-profit banking institutions to not-for-profit credit unions that strive to promote economic growth in our communities," according to the official Bank Transfer Day Facebook page, the reality is that those millions of people still represent only 3 percent or so of banking consumers.

Increased fees and poor service have definitely helped convince many Americans to choose smaller banks and credit unions, but, as Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, points out, there are plenty of constructive reasons for choosing a community bank or credit union over a big financial institution—like growing your local economy, supporting productive investment, and keeping decision-making local amongst institutions that are committed to your community.

While the Occupy movements and Bank Transfer Day were capturing headlines almost a year ago, Neighborhood Notes would like to remind you about some of the community-based credit unions around town that offer support for your local economy and neighborhood.

But first, let’s spell out the basics: A credit union differs from a bank in that it’s a not-for-profit financial cooperative that’s owned and democratically controlled by its members, allowing for competitive, low interest loans from the pooled savings of members.

Now, here’s a selection of five Portland- and Oregon-based credit unions that actively support their communities and the local economy through charitable service, small business programs, and community support.

Advantis Credit Union

With four centrally located branches in Portland, Advantis is a credit union with an 84-year history and a core value of making “a difference in the communities it serves,” says Community Relations Officer Misti Rooney. With a reputation for community involvement and charitable giving, “Advantis has been recognized as one of the top 10 small companies in Oregon for supporting charitable projects in the community,” Rooney says, including the launch of GROW: The Advantis Community Fund in 2011, which “awards local nonprofits with funding for locally identified needs,” Rooney says. Donating $50,000 in grants per year, “Advantis awards grants to seed projects that offer the most potential for long-term benefits in the community,” Rooney adds, plus the credit union recently initiated some innovative work with the Leaven Project to create a crowdfunded lending program. “Advantis also offers a very unique loan program that is addressing a very real community problem of many abandoned, foreclosed, distressed homes in our neighborhoods,” Rooney says. “The Advantis Rehabilitation Mortgage Program allows homeowners to purchase abandoned and distressed homes and turn them into their dream home. This program is new, and as far as we have learned, [we are] the only credit union in the country offering this program. It’s a mortgage loan that covers the purchase of the home plus the upgrades needed to make it an attractive, livable home, while revitalizing the neighborhood and community.”

Advantis Belmont Branch, 3010 SE Belmont St., 503.785.2528
Advantis Downtown Branch, 120 SW Taylor St., 503.785.2528
Advantis Fremont Branch, 3515 NE 15th Ave., 503.785.2528
Advantis Lloyd Center Branch, 825 NE Multnomah St., Ste. 110, 503.785.2528

Find out about four more local credit unions on Neighborhood Notes.

Friday, October 19, 2012

new portland memories in the making : a q/a with other lives

Like so many burgeoning bands out there, it's not surprising that Other Lives has spent the better part of the last two years on the road. But, unlike most bands out there, the Stillwater, Oklahoma, five-piece has already had the opportunity of a lifetime—honestly, opportunities of lifetimes—as their haunting sound has impressed the likes of Bon Iver and Radiohead, which has resulted in the band opening for both in the last two years.

Unable to be simply classified as some brand of folk, the complex and swirling melodies of Other Lives are layered with multiplicitous harmonies and multifaceted instruments played by multi-instrumentalists. On stage, band members grab and swap instruments many times throughout the course of single song—trading a trumpet for a violin or a few touches on the vibraphone, drum sticks for a woodwind, complemented by harmonium and harmonica plus cello and a mellotron. Needless to say, they travel with a lot of gear, but it allows them to deftly recreate their intricate works live.

Headlining the Wonder Ballroom on Saturday, October 27th, Other Lives will have a few pieces of new (or previously unreleased) material to share. Jesse Tabish (vocals, piano, guitar and percussion), Jenny Hsu (cello and backing vocals), Jon Mooney (violin, horns, piano and percussion), Colby Owens (clarinet and percussion), and Josh Onstott (bass and percussion) are set to release a four-track EP, Mind The Gap, out on October 23rd via TBD Records.

Recorded this past summer on the road as well as during a brief stint in a studio in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, England, the EP's opening track, "Take Us Alive," is "based on a violin loop that was written in my parents’ backyard," Tabish explains. Plus, the EP features a remix of the second album title track "Tamer Animals" by none other than Thom Yorke under his band moniker Atoms For Peace, as well as the song "Dead Can," which was written during the band's recent world tour and was “mostly recorded in the van using a laptop, because we were touring so much. That's what gives it an electro feel," Tabish says.

OMN caught up with Jonathon Mooney in anticipation of the Portland gig as Other Lives kicks of their fall tour dates today.

We're excited to have you guys back in Portland again, headlining your biggest gig here in town. Looking at all the festivals you've played and the bands you've opened for during the last two or so years, it all seems crazy to me. How does it feel to be in your shoes?

We're excited as well. Portland has always been one of our favorite stops. It's definitely been a long road, but also a good one. We've been going almost nonstop for the last 16 months, but the bands we've gotten to play with and the places we've gotten to visit make up for how little time we've gotten to spend at home.

You've got a new EP out soon, much of which was written and recorded on the road. After meticulously crafting your last album at home, how does it feel to be writing and recording on the road?

Almost all of it was written on the road. We did stop for a week to record in a studio in England, but even parts from the demo we intended to re-record ended up on the final tracks. We've always been believers that it's usually a waste of time to try and recreate parts you've already recorded.

What's the story behind "Dust Bowl" from the new EP, and how does it relate to "Dust Bowl III" from your second album?

The dust bowl was a huge visual inspirations for some of the songs on the last record. We were obsessed with the imagery and story at the start of recording Tamer Animals. We would even project footage on the studio walls while we were recording. "Dust Bowl I," "II," and "III" were a result of that obsession, but only "III" made it on the record.

Watch the video for "Dust Bowl III," created by music video competition winner NOAMIR:

So, "Dust Bowl II" is still somewhere out there?

Yes, "Dust Bowl II" is out there. It's the only one we don't have a studio recording of, but we do play it live sometimes. Perhaps at the Portland show?

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, October 5, 2012

5 noteworthy things to do in portland's kenton neighborhood

Located in the shadow of Paul Bunyan, Kenton may feel sleepy on certain days of the week when the antique and resale shops are shuttered, but there’s always plenty of activity within this North Portland neighborhood that feels like you’ve stepped into a small, tight-knit community where neighbors know each others’ names.

SEE: Stumptown’s Patron Saint

Built to celebrate the Oregon Centennial in 1959, Kenton’s towering concrete and metal Paul Bunyan statue has become a symbol of the neighborhood and was even added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Originally slated for demolition following the Centennial Exposition, state officials ultimately decided to allow the 31-foot sculpture remain standing, and over the years, it was relocated 50 feet to a new plaza when TriMet needed to make room for a new MAX line. And although there’s no Babe, TriMet also commissioned bench-sized imprints of the Blue Ox’s feet at the base of the statue.

Paul Bunyan statue, corner of North Interstate Avenue and North Denver Avenue across from the North Denver Avenue light rail station

SHOP LOCAL: "One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure"

A worn wooden sign above a doorway reads "One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure" in the symbiotically crafted retail space affectionately dubbed The Fort, where the owners of three independently owned businesses—Salvage Works, Solabee Flowers and Boys' Fort—have come together to share not only their space but also their manpower and talents. Packed with salvaged and recycled curiosities, Salvage Works offers vintage building materials and custom, handmade furniture while Boys’ Fort peddles everything from bowties to lighting fixtures to oil can and voltage meter robots by Dean Freiman of Tin Bones Manufacturing, and Solabee Flowers brightens up the place with botanicals and floral arrangements. If all that sounds just uniquely lovely, don’t miss the grotesque display of decapitated Cabbage Patch and Chucky-esque doll head planters by Tim Brock, which make good reuse of discarded (and mutilated) children’s toys.

Salvage Works, 2030 N Willis Blvd., 503.285.2555
Solabee Flowers, 8315 N Denver Ave., 503.307.2758
Boys' Fort, 2030 N Willis Blvd., 503.886.9077

Find three more things to do in Kenton on Neighborhood Notes.

how to write quality consumer reviews that help local business thrive

By writing quality consumer reviews, you have the opportunity to contribute to the success of locally owned businesses, not just by influencing others' buying decisions but also by providing critical feedback to business owners. Your input will enable businesses to provide better services or products, which will in turn help them stay open and thrive.

The reviews that you write also help local businesses gain online credibility with other consumers as well as search engines.

But that doesn’t mean all reviews are good reviews—and we’re not talking about glowing versus scathing reviews. While often good intentioned, many reviews are simply not helpful.

If you want to write reviews that truly help businesses in your community, then consider what makes a quality review from the perspectives of the business owner, the search engine and the customer. Because really, no matter if you’re an independent proprietor, an Internet robot, or a living, breathing consumer, you all want the same thing: relevant, accurate, usable information.

What Kinds of Reviews Are Helpful to Business Owners?

Winemaker and Hip Chicks do Wine owner Laurie Lewis says “factual unbiased information” is most helpful in customer reviews.

A review is valuable to her if it answers questions like: “Were you greeted in a timely fashion? Did you get the information you were looking for? Was our staff helpful, informative and pleasant?”

An important point about these questions is that they are all things that Lewis can control, not subjective opinions.

“Writing a review saying, ‘I didn't like this wine,’ is not helpful to the business owner or consumers looking for information,” she explains.

Lewis stresses the importance of being specific with your feedback: “Things like, ‘this packaging was hard to open’ or ‘the food was cold.’ Those things are helpful because a business can improve on them.”

Business owners want to know if their products or services meet a consistent level of quality, especially when they are not present. Being absent from their businesses means they can definitely miss out on certain customer experiences, so it’s important for Jenna Forzley of Atomic Pizza to get customer reviews that allow her “to hear if our quality of food and service are consistent.”

Lewis also recognizes that there are often things business owners don’t want to hear—like my server “spent more time on his or her cell phone than assisting me,” “the bathroom was dirty,” etc.—but those “are all things that show where some attention needs to be focused.”

Whether you’re leaving a positive or negative review, it’s important to remember to be constructive, offering factual, rational information or examples to support your accolades or criticism.

Find out what makes a good review in the eyes of consumers as well as search engines on Neighborhood Notes.