About Kate


I’m a scrappy, southern marketer loving the west coast and all things related to branding, marketing, startups, mobile, and technology. Art, music, and pop culture fuel me. I love Twitter, finding viral videos first, dresses, and design thinking. See what inspires mehere and please reach out and say “hi!”

Anything written in this blog is strictly my opinion and not the opinion of my employer.


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An Interview with an Elite Yelper

It's amazing how much social media has changed small business.  As I mention often, embracing social media can make or break a small business.  Being open to it allows you to communicate with your customers, control your brand and public relations, and stay on top of your business through feedback. 

The scale of the Internet and social media makes a customer complaint or praise VERY loud.  Yelp is one of the top review websites in the country.  As they say, it's the "fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great - and not so great - in your area."

Yelp gives the users they feel are the most influencial and active (on and off the Yelp webstie) the honor of being in the Yelp Elite Squad.  These are your marketing mavens, the people that are in the know and talking to your audience for you.  I interviewed one of Seattle's Elite Yelpers today, "KatyFace."  This interview is very revealing of how social media works for small business and why it is important...

You're an avid Yelper. What made you start yelping?

Initially I started Yelping to create a stir about a local company that was practically scamming people with their prices. I wanted to make sure that people knew they could get the same service elsewhere for half the price.

How many Yelp reviews have you written?

So far I'm up to 146. I try to sit down every few weeks and think of new places I've been and sum up the experience.

What makes a business worthy of a Yelp review?

I'll Yelp just about any business. However, I try to only review places where I feel the experience was a good enough sample of what the average experience might be. If I go into a bar and decide not to stay after just 5 mins, I think my review could be unfair. How much do I really know after just walking in and out? I try to only write about places that I got a good feel for.

I understand that sometimes people have bad days and maybe a waiter is just really busy. I try to put that all into consideration and be as fair as possible. I'm totally aware that these reviews can really make or break a business these days. It's not about whining or being snobby.. it's about being honest. It's a good way for restaurant owners to learn about making improvements or even learn about their staff members being really great or really bad.

Are there certain experiences or interactions you look for specifically from a business?

First and foremost, I look for the quality of customer service. One issue I have with fellow yelpers is that people often use the site to complain. (similar to my first Yelp experience.) However - for as often as people complain about a business, I feel they should compliment other businesses. I want to know where to go just as much as I want to know where to avoid.

I also find that there are a lot of "foodies" on Yelp. People who consider themselves to be connoisseurs. I appreciate their opinions but often find that they give poor reviews to places that aren't the typical 5 star joints. I try to base my reviews off of the entire experience. If I am aware that I'm eating at an inexpensive, hole-in-the-wall place, I can still give a 5 star review if the food was worth it's cost and if the service was good. Great reviews are about the overall experience and are not specifically relative to how much I had to pay for a world-class meal. Likewise, a really popular and expensive place could get a bad review for poor service. It's not entirely about the ambiance, the price, the quality .. it's about all of it combined. One place I've given a 5 star review to isn't fancy at all. But if you're hungry, you have a time limit and you're on a budget - it's great! You have to keep lots in mind before you callously rip apart someones business.

Have you ever been approached by a business that you've Yelped about?

All the time! I get thank you notes from owners for my reviews. I've even been offered coupons and free drinks on my return visits. It's quite a perk!When I give a bad review (which isn't too often) I've gotten letters oof apology and coupons as well. I just don't have the courage to use those coupons and explain I was the disgruntled customer!

How did you feel about being approached?

I suppose that I like being approached. Even fellow Yelpers communicate with me. There's a great little sense of community when you're really involved and it's nice to know that people are actually reading what I type. Especially when they offer me coupons or thank me for the review.

Have you ever been approached by readers in regards to a business you've yelped about?

I have been approached many times actually. Most recently I was contacted by someone who read a review about the apartment complex I live in. He wanted to know more information and I actually helped convince him to move in. Thanks to the review I made a friend AND money! He used my name as his referral and we split the check.

Now that you've written 146 reviews, what makes you keep yelping?

I don't know... I guess as silly as it sounds, I feel like it's almost a duty of mine. I still feel as though a lot of people write unfair reviews. I'm still peeved about this 1-star review I read once. A woman berated a restaurant and gave them 1 star because they didn't have vegetarian options. (Which is actually not true- they do have veggie options.) It's a restaurant I frequent and I took offense at the harsh review because the woman didn't actually eat there. How can you review food when you don't eat it? It just seemed so unfair. A poor score like that can really hurt the reputation of a small business. Hopefully by being honest and taking all kinds of other factors into consideration, I can provide readers with the most accurate portrayal of the average business experience. I know when I depend on Yelp to lead me to a tasty dinner or a good doctor, I hope that I can really trust the review. Otherwise - what's the point?



Don't Forget Local Search, People!

I've had several clients contact me lately to do reviews of their Internet marketing and website content.  I've noticed that a lot of local small business owners are not showing up on local searches within their industry.  For example, if you own a dental office in Seattle, you want to come up when I'm googling "Seattle dentist!" 

There are several ways to build up your local online prescence.  First, you want to talk to your website optimization person to make sure your optimized for geographic searches.  Second, take an hour and set up FREE local listings through these websites.

Free Local Directories:

  • Google Local -  You can add your physical location, hours, website, logo, videos and website here.  You'll also be able to enter a description and categories.  Choose these wisely. 

    Here's an example of what your listing will look like: 

    You'll see above that I made sure Lilipip! Studios was showing up under Seattle marketing agencies. 

  • Yahoo Local - This will only take you 5 minutes.  Enter your basic information- website, location, hours, and description. 
  • Windows Live Search - You'll have to set up a Windows Live ID, if you don't already have one.  Otherwise, this is very similar to the Yahoo Local submit.
  • Yellowpages.com  - Go for the free listing!
  • Yelp - Yelp is huge in major cities and is growing.  Add your business, but be prepared to stay on top of user reviews.  See what people are saying about you.  Contact unhappy reviewers to see what you can do better, and contact happy reviewers to thank them.  This is a powerful tool!


Be sure to encourage your clients to write reviews for you, if they are happy with your service.  Reviews on your Google listing and Yelp (in most areas) are most important.   Also, be sure to search for online local directories for your business.  Get listed!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend,


When to Start

You've got a good idea.  You have the right skills to get it done.  When do you take the leap of faith and start giving a new project your time and money?

That's an answer I'm trying to find right now.  Through the process of starting and operating TheSecretIngredients, I learned so much, and I know that I will respect the lessons I learned from mistakes and not repeat them.  Finding the confidence to launch a new project is taking more courage this time, and I find myself hesitant to commit fully to one project right now.  So, the question I've been asking myself is...

What's the safest way to launch a new startup?

I've put a lot of thought into this over the last several months, and I have a plan for my new startup project:

  • Devote enough resources in the beginning but be VERY conservative, thrifty and resourceful.
  • Get advisors involved before you build anything to make the best possible decisions about your initial business model.
  • Build something inexpensively.  Make it look good and professional but it doesn't have to be perfect.  (I've got resources for this.  Contact me if you need some ideas.)
  • Get your network's feedback and start marketing on a small, local level.
  • Put feelers out in the community to get an idea of what events you should be attending and who you should know in the industry.
  • Collect your feedback and decide if changes need to be made to your test site.
  • Market your site more and more as you have time but keep the pace equal to your delivery speed.
  • Analyze the results and if it's worth your efforts to get serious.

These are the steps I've taken with my test project, GetYourChick.com, a dating advice website that offers confidential, honest feedback for men.  I built the website myself in April and was able to get everything up and ready for under $350. SBDC in Seattle provided me with free one-on-one business advising (highly recommended), and I asked my contacts and consultants from past projects to add their two cents.

So far, I've gotten a wonderful response from the test site.  The local crowd thinks that it will resonate with the Seattle dating scene; I've got singles events lined up; and, I'm meeting with contacts in this industry.  I'm still hesitant to begin PR efforts, but I am blogging on a regular basis, link building, and starting to do my search engine magic. 

I'll keep you updated on this test and if my efforts are successful.  Please ping me if you know anyone in the dating industry that I should know, or if you have questions about the methodology I'm using.



Don't Get Me Wrong about Social Networking!

Last week, I was approached by a local business owner who had done his pre-networking event home work and read my blog.  He says, "You've got me scared to death of social networking!" 

OH NO!  That definitely was not my intention!  Let me clear this up for the record:  Social networking is not only fun and great for business, but it is crucial that you embrace it now if you are a business owner.  If you don't, your competition will and you'll feel it later.

Why? Social networking establishes a conversation with your customers and audience.  It strengthens your power online and reinforces your brand.  It allows you to stay on the pulse of your target and build relationships and partnerships with others in your industry.  All these things lead to one thing- more sales! 

Yes, it's important that you know how to use these tools correctly, and that was the purpose behind my blog posts on social networking etiquette.  This isn't as important for older folks, but more for my generation (20-30s crowd) who have grown up in a more casual, technology enabled time. My best example is with Facebook.  Most people use Facebook to connect with friends.  Your friends can tag you in photos and write comments on your wall.  It's important that if you accept business contacts to see your Facebook page you are aware of what they have access to.  Showing photos of your buddies at the last beer pong match isn't the best idea!

There are also strategies that you need to know when you're using social networking.  I'll go into these more in a future post, but I'll share some examples regarding Twitter now.  When you are thinking of what to tweet, remember to write things that are engaging, show your personality, and will be valuable or entertaining to your reader.  You can say, "I'm reading an article on small business financing," or you could say, "Time for me to jump into fundraising mode.  Anyone else? " and then include the link to the article. See the difference?

More on that later, but for now YES! keep up the social networking.  In the meantime, check out this Slideshare, "Good Tweet vs. Bad Tweet: A Guide to Being Not Boring on Twitter".Learn the skills that make it worth your time.


Biznik events. Come meet me next week.

Ksenia Oustiougova and I are hosting two events at the Lilipip! office next week. We've been doing Biznik events for two weeks now, and we are excited about the results. Our strategy has been to host round table discussions about subjects we're passionate about.

This week we had a talk on Social Media and one on Marketing Videos. It was interesting to hear how business owners in different industries are embracing these tools and what's working for them. We've also generated a lot of interest in Lilipip through these events, although we do not talk about the company during the discussions. 


We've hosted three events, and each crowd has been completely different. Our Online Video Roundtable yesterday afternoon was the liveliest group yet. We had a private investigator, dentist, toy maker, videographer, and media specialist. I joked on Twitter that it would have been the perfect guest list for a murder mystery dinner table...

This group was older and predominately male. Because Ksenia and I have mostly networked within the tech community in the past, it was very interesting to talk to people who have successfully marketed a local service business and to listen to their experience in using social media and video effectively. Because I'm used to web 2.0 and a more national target, I found the wisdom behind the more old school mentality refreshing. It was also inspiring to hear of local businesses blending both old school marketing and hip Internet marketing.

If you're an enterpreneur in Seattle, please join us next week. We noticed through our other events that many business owners struggle with branding and carrying the brand through social media. We're conquering that subject this week.

Branding Roundtable

When: Tuesday, May 12 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Fee: Free
More Info & RSVP: Biznik

Online Video Roundtable

When: Thursday, May 14 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Fee: Free
More Info & RSVP: Biznik


500 Aurora Avenue North, Suite 405
Seattle, WA 98109
Look for the Seattle Visual Concepts building.  We're on the 4th floor.