No Support from Tech Leaders Slows Workflow

COVID-19 has thrown almost every small business in an unpredictable whirlwind. Downtown Design, LLC is no exception. Our staff and myself has struggled with keeping up with the demand of clients needing emergency COVID-19 responses on websites, keeping some of restaurants and shopping center clients alive by adding online ordering, not to mention our own personal lives making time to homeschool children and help our local community – but the most challenging part is the much slower response we are getting from our tech leaders that play an everyday vital role in getting our client’s projects done. We have had multiple tech and support issues with Google, Paypal and Facebook. Some of these issues include being unable to reach support, extremely slowed servers, connectivity issues, being unable to post – and even unable to login entirely. We are working around the clock to keep up with our demand, however with these leaders not being able to be responsive constant troubleshooting causes much more time and energy, therefore increases wait times and overall costs. We ask that our clients are patient and understanding during this time. Rest assured we are working around the clock to respond to as quickly as possible. We thank all our clients for their business, it means everything to us. We wish everyone to stay safe – we believe our business and entire economy will come out stronger than ever.

Creating Opportunities During a Pandemic

“Is this real life? What is happening?!?” The global pandemic COVID-19 seemed to come out of nowhere and sent us for unbelievable whirlwind of very unexpected turns. High hopes for the new year of 2020 has quickly turned upside down to gloom and doom. People are dying. Stock markets are plummeting. Shoppers are hoarding. Individuals are quarantining. Events are canceling. Schools are closing. Finally, businesses are shutting down. Employees are being sent home. Many are losing their jobs. The small business owners take a huge it – some aren’t going to make it. Everyone seems to be effected. Many of us that were not taking this so seriously in the beginning are finally being taken down with the storm. We are all scared. Seems like so many of us were doing so well just a week ago. It was so sudden. Our businesses are losing the battle. My clients are scared, they are weeping in anger and fear. This was not in our first quarter plan.

So now what? As a business owner of three very different types of businesses, I really saw first-hand how much damage an epidemic could do. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but we have been cutting major costs, problem solving and crunching numbers around the clock to see what we could do to stay alive. Everything took such a huge hit, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to recover. The absolute hardest was our restaurant and bar. The county mandated for doors to be shut down. Not being able to serve our customers meant absolutely no income for weeks, maybe even months. How could we possibly get through this? Within a couple days, I watched each restaurant in our small town having to shut down, closing their doors … one by one. I was determined that there was a way we could come together and make this work. I knew there had to be a creative solution. Then like a ton of bricks … it hit me. We can do DELIVERY. Now this was not new. I quickly researched the companies that already existed that did fast food delivery. However, none of them available in our small town, but with my website abilities I knew there was a way to create one. That’s when “Local Diners Deliver” was born. I was fired up and in three days had the plan, the brand and the website done. I wanted others to join but started with our own restaurant first … we launched and it was an immediate success! We are now open for business and ramping up our online sales for pick-up and delivery. We have had great feedback and we hope to continue to grow.

I truly believe you can take almost any situation and make it good. Sometimes it takes some creativity, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find that new opportunity.

Check out the website at: www.DinersDeliver.com

Clark Location Moved to New Location on Highway

We’ve been growing! Last month we have moved into our new office, a larger location with much more exposure right on Highway 212, next to the Clark Courier and local attorney in the old Moritz Publishing location. This has been an amazing transition, and it fits us perfectly down to the ink splatters on the original wood floors that remind us everyday of the hard industrial work and commitment that founded our industry, bringing business and readers together, benefiting the entire community.

This keeps our small town roots in place, our local businesses and the people that live here is what matters most. We are here to help those businesses take marketing a step further, with print as the foundation – but online as well using many digital marketing options. Using both print and digital, creates strong, effective marketing campaigns that cannot be ignored.

We would love to learn more about you and your business and help you grow in the community and create your own success story.

WordPress Database Update Required

This first quarter of 2019 has been a busy one for WordPress developers. There has been 10 significant updates for WordPress 5, 5.1 and 5.2, not to mention some huge PHP updates this quarter as well, that has resulted in some required maintenance and updating needed on some of our websites. We have been running checks on all our client’s websites, but it’s a good reminder to take a look at your website and make sure that your site is running optimally. If you see any concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you are hosting with us, most likely we can fix any issues at no cost to you. The most recent update we are getting is the database update that’s required, in which you can go ahead and click, “Update WordPress Database” in the window that pops up the next time you login. We’ll keep you updated on any other actions needed for you, but most of these updates are completed by us behind the scenes. As always, let us know if you have any questions.

Share-a-Sale / WP Engine Affiliate SCAM

I thrive on being positive, however this last week I was seriously disappointed with two companies that I had so much respect for – until now. I feel like those in the same position should be aware that some affiliate companies can be a scam and should stay away. As professional digital marketer, trying to make some extra cash on the side by way of online affiliate programs is not a stretch. I’ve recently been able to throw my skills into an affiliate program for a company that I use everyday, our WordPress hosting company, WP Engine. As a hosting provider, they are the best I’ve ever worked with – their security, backups, intuitive technology and their intelligent and extremely accessible tech team make choosing this company for our hosting a no brainer. Another company I’ve been anxiously waiting to work with is Share-a-Sale, a very well known, reputable affiliate company locally owned in Chicago. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that WP Engine actually listed as a merchant to sell for inside Share-a-Sale … perfect! I love that I would be able to market for a company I already know! Furthermore, they come with a healthy payout of $200 per sale. Awesome! This is an affiliate merchant I can really get behind. So after a few late nights, I had created a successful Google PPC click campaign and within one week I so excited to see I successfully gained WP Engine 6 new clients, earning a commission of $1200 in one week. I was so excited! After the week ended, and Monday came around I logged in my account to see my final payout for the week of work – but then felt my whole body deflated when I saw the screen. WP Engine had taken the sales but declined and voided all the commission payments before they could be paid out. I was shocked and so disappointed by these two companies that I always had high respects for, just completely dumbfounded. Lesson learned. I love the idea of an affiliate program, but when they don’t follow through, it’s no longer a win-win and also against all my morals to be a scam and cheat. Next time … well there will not be a next time with any other affiliate program again. But it did strike an idea. I’ve always wanted to be able to have no-risk solution to digital marketing, affiliate programs are supposed to be kind of that way, however what if I could offer a program where clients only pay us when we get a customer? Pay for sale? How would that work? I’m open to any thoughts and suggestions, let me know!

Next Year’s Marketing

Have you planned next year’s marketing? What did you do last year for marketing? Did it work?

Starting and running a business can be stressful – even more so when sales aren’t where they should be. It can be downright scary. However, there is good news! When you have a marketing plan in place, it can eliminate that stress. The sooner you start, the better. If you’re anything like me, I like to start fresh at the beginning of the new year. So now is the time to get that plan in place. There are unlimited opportunities – including social media, email, optimization, pay-per-click, press releases and more! Our marketing packages start at $1000/mo and can include ALL of that. After a free consultation, we can come up with the perfectly crafted marketing package that fits your needs – and your budget. Contact me today for a free consult to learn more.

– Christy

Website Design Agency Now in Minneapolis

We’re excited to announce as of October we now have an office space for our website design company in Minneapolis, MN! It’s a shared space with other creatives, named “Fueled Collective”. It’s located in Minneapolis right in the heart of “Nordeast,” the city’s vibrant arts district nestled within a historic, century-old restored building. This sunlit, productive shared workspace offers both private suites and semi-private campsites perfect for meeting with potentially new and existing clients, as well as dedicated desks for for us to work at during the day. There is WordPress Wednesday to share knowledge among experts plus other creative marketing events for all of us to learn, share and grow. Additionally, there are microbreweries, art galleries and ethnic restaurants abound in this part of town, making it a solid social destination as well.

We’ve always marketed as a website design agency in Minneapolis – so we love this opportunity to be able to play … ahem I mean work … with others in the industry in such a creative and inspiring work environment right downtown. This also offers convenience to meet with clients located closer to downtown and the southern suburbs.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Original website designer of Clark, SD – Showcasing new office at Potato Days!

Since May, 2018 Downtown Design, LLC has quietly created a second home next to Backroads Floral in the heart of the small town of Clark, SD where I grew up and also where our new amazing and talented administrative executive, Nichole DeLauriers lives with her husband and children. Not only does this allow for me to work during extended visits back to my hometown and allows for our admin to have a basecamp for working and to host meetings, but also I am hoping to bring affordable, technical and professional marketing options to the local businesses in the area. I’m not sure how well it will go over, but if we can help the businesses here to grow, I would love to continue to pop-up in more rural areas in the midwest.

The particular building surely feels like a home, as it once was … but has been used as an office for the Clark Abstract & Title Company location for the last couple decades. Reidburns, owner of Backroads Floral has purchased the building upon moving on the block, as it is nestled between their beautiful store and their newly built quaint little greenhouse. We have been working on giving it a facelift, painting the walls and we plan on getting new flooring in a couple months. It’s really worked out to be the perfect location that we were looking for, making it a great local place to come to work everyday.

This last weekend was Clark’s famous ‘Potato Days’ event and we were fortunate enough to be included in an event that allowed many to walk through the door so they could take a look at our office and I could explain who we are and what we do, ask them to follow-us on Facebook and give us any referrals for business owners in the area. The event had a great outcome, I couldn’t have asked for a better turnout!

I’m just so glad I have spent as much as the summer as I can here in Clark, but this fall I will be going back to stay in the cities with my husband, coming here for smaller periods of time including weekends. Thankfully technology allows Nichole and I to work just as effectively using chat and video throughout the day.

Now that the Clark, SD office is up and running, it’s time to go back and finish getting my new Anoka, MN office up to speed. The Anoka office is our main office so I have big plans for that location that include collaborating with other creative professionals, hosting training events for local business owners, growing our personal team and finally changing our huge sign from “Sign Station” to “Downtown Design” – the future is exciting!

– Christy Huisenga, Owner
Downtown Design, LLC

We’ve Moved!

It’s official! We’ve moved just down the road on the west side across of 169 on Hwy 10 and Greenhaven, where Barbara and Maris Schilling’s Sign Station was for so many years before. Sign Station has purposely downsized and is now being mostly ran out of their home so the Schillings could enjoy spending valuable time with their grandkids. This great space has been empty for about a year when our lease was up in January, in the busy downtown location on the east side. We were looking to make a location change and after talking with Barb about the space — it just made sense! It was like it was meant to be!

“We love the stand alone building! It has artistic loft features that makes it unique and fun – much like a college art classroom! It’s also much quieter, yet has much more exposure and it’s so much easier to get to. The best part is saving all the money I was spending on parking tickets! (kidding, not kidding)”
– Christy, Owner

We have enjoyed having the Schillings as clients for years – and now we can enjoy having them as landlords too!

The new location address is 560 West Main St, Anoka MN 55303. Please update your records!

Christy stays owner of Downtown Design, LLC

Looking back at 2017, the business kept up well this year despite the family emergency that took Christy away at the end of August. Her father struck ill suddenly, suffering multiple strokes and heart attacks. With her family residing in eastern South Dakota, it made it very difficult for Christy to tend to her clients and her family at the same time. It was important to her to be with him to care for him during this difficult time in his life. He has spent the last three months in a variety of rehabilitation facilities and is now expected to return home in February. During her absence to avoid taking funds needed for her staff that were still running the business in Anoka, she started what was supposed to be a temporary freelance agency, Wonder Woman Marketing. This would allow Christy to start working with friends and relatives in South Dakota to earn a income for mortgage and daycare.

Before her return, Christy was working on a deal with her long-time employee/office manager, Jennifer “Rocky” Borchardt. Jennifer was to continue the success of Downtown Design, LLC while Christy continued her spin-off business. However, there was a quick turn in events that made the deal fall through during the final stages. Upon Christy’s return, it was very apparent that making this deal was not the right decision for the company.

“My clients are the most important aspect of my business… if it wasn’t for them there would be no business.” says Christy. “I need to do what is best for my clients.”

Christy plans to make big changes to Downtown Design, LLC in 2018. Some of her new plans include a higher-trained industry specific staff, more personalized services for clients, increased administrative attention, a much larger emphases on search engine optimization and a carefully chosen advisory board of business professionals.

“It’s been a tough year, but I’ve learned so much – and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on. I’m looking forward to all the accomplishments I know we are going to make in 2018 and delivering a higher quality service to my amazing clients!”