Back in June 2014, around the fourth, I saw and ate beautiful red surinam cherries at Cracker Creek. Because of the plentiful rain we experienced this year, the two large bushes produced a bountiful spray of fruit.
From the handful I ate, I kept few seeds to propagate at home.
Having read the article in the link below, I planted four seeds the next couple of days after I collected them.
Then nothing happened. I watched for weeks to find no activity. Then two months later, there were three pups in the garden at their new home in Orlando, Florida. Probably take 10 years to fruit, so it’ll be a while before berries.
We had a great day celebrating the Port Orange Centennial and recognizing our pioneer heritage. Come join us again this year for another fun Cracker Day on 31 May 2014 from 10am until 4pm!
Cracker Creek’s own Cracker Cowboy, Doug Homan, delighted festival guests showing off some of his barnyard critters, including Pal, the newest member of the family.
Over a hundred years ago, Cracker Cowboys roamed western sections of Port Orange, an area that was very densely forested pine scrubs, palmettos, and hardwood hammocks - the real Florida pioneers.
This article has been reposted by Frank Gould for Janelle Homan who originally wrote this in facebook as a photo album. Frank reposted this so he could see all the pictures and captions on a single page.
As my acquaintances, friends, and family know me, I have a diverse range of skills and talent for creating all kinds of products. From carpentry, to software development, to web design, to project management, to video production, I can produce products that people appreciate and use. Well, a few months ago, I realized that I was missing an important piece that connects all these diverse product sets. Of course, the web is the most important marketing venue these days and the pieces I was missing was branding and content marketing.
Well, this Fall, my dear friend Jill Musson Williams asked if I could help her increase her video and written content for her company Cracker Creek. I had no specific ideas what she wanted but had helped in the past and wanted to continue doing so. I had an idea what that entailed but I didn’t have any scope for how far to go and exactly what to do.
Along popped up this article from Social Media Today talking about the new Google Hummingbird algorithm that is supposed to comprehend and process a broader range of data and how it “de-emphasizes specific keywords in the search/search results schema in favor of semantic searching.” Then in that same article, it mentions how to use the web to increase marketing channels and connect with web users and buyers. It went as far as to say “content marketing so helpful people would pay you for it.” A book called Youtility appeared on my screen and after downloading a Kindle ebook copy, I learned how to connect all my skills and talents to market a product, online.
Some of the concepts I learned included charts as displayed below that are from both Youtility and Epic Content Marketing.
They needed results and to do that I needed a way to measure traffic with a focus on inbound traffic into Daytona, a much higher recognized brand over Port Orange, where they are located. The Daytona-brand location would increase their exposure and competition, however, target those interested in Old Florida, tropical ecosystems, kayaking, canoeing, and tours. Besides the location, Cracker Creek had, over the years, created several names such as Cracker Creek Canoeing, email@example.com, and just Cracker Creek. Today, we’ve minimized the contact to www.crackercreek.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, I had my work cut out for me. I needed to expand the Cracker Creek presence on the web and focus the products for search engine optimization. As I had researched the different web services targeting audiences and product marketing sites to learn user popularity, I started putting Cracker Creek on the maps of watercraft launch sites, campgrounds, road trippers, and boat rental sites. I also added links on the Cracker Creek website to different vendor’s mobile apps that were applicable to the Cracker Creek products, such as knot typing apps for campers.
Having tested Google Webmaster Tools with another friend’s website, I setup Cracker Creek to recognize the Cracker Creek sitemap. Then I installed Google Analytics to start collecting accurate statistics and reporting results. However, since there were no statistics before my changes to the website, we could not see historic results prior to my website updates. Below is the graph directly from the Google Analytics view of the Cracker Creek website.
Now being new to the Google world of the internet, I learned that their software still has bugs and on many occasions, I had to wait a few days before Google cleaned up it’s data. For instance, below are two message windows about logging into Google Analytics within seconds of each other (click to enlarge image).
Attempt to get password sent to email address
Attempt to create new email address
This kind of dysfunctional behavior also happened with a file called robot.txt where the “test” resulted in being blocked from analyzing a public website. Another when sitemap couldn’t find the server which became frequent as I setup different aspects of Google web tools. The example below is when trying to setup the Cracker Creek website using tags associated with the images and text on the page as part of the semantic algorithm.
These kinds of anomalies continued to hit me across the web. Be it a rental site that on a mobile device displays all prices at hundreds of dollars too high, even too high to purchase a vessel like displayed in the ad, or fixing driving directions on Google maps where it takes visitors to a residential neighborhood instead of Cracker Creek.
Besides that, I have to have multiple identities to work on Cracker Creek accounts as well as my own personal sites. This created a delay in the creation of a Cracker Creek business account and website on LinkedIn where my first attempts failed to deliver the activation email. Finally solved this one by changing the LinkedIn email address to mine so I could activate and create the Cracker Creek business page.
I have since worked through most of the outstanding issues and we are now linked to the major social media sites with icons prominent on the home and contact pages, as illustrated below. In the lower picture, you can see the floating left social media bar courtesy of a Joomla! plug-in that illuminates the social media icon when the mouse hovers over them. The Zap Weather forecast window shows a week’s predicted weather. The Tide Forecast window, not shown below, and the weather forecast window are tools to help people decide to go fishing, kayaking, or just a day out canoeing down the creek. That was my attempt to provide “marketing so helpful people would pay for it” by visiting Cracker Creek.
To measure the website’s improvements, I took a snapshot of the hubspot.com Market Grader application’s analyzer in October and took another today. You can see in the snapshots below that the website’s marketing score has increased almost double from what it was when I started.
And finally, for the sake of content marketing, I just finished adding the voiceover for an online marketing campaign focusing the values of Cracker Creek for elementary students. This video required me to attend two events with local third grade classes and another event to record the different options available for teachers, organizations, and parents. To view the final version, click on the video below.
In closing, this project has connected all the dots in my skills and talents pool. I created a chart to show the different roles I’ve accomplished for this project and some product learning curves since September 2013, illustrated below. The difference today versus 5 years ago is now all of these tools are in high definition and the world is inundated with apps.
As for results, I’ve been credited with increased inbound marketing from Google searches that have brought in customer calls and has created a reservation for 40 visitors in January, from Illinois. Thus, our target market. After two months, Google Analytics shows the site is still getting over 80% new unique visitors, and we’ve yet to start online transactions (macro conversions) that will take some time to integrate into their business operations and procedures.
Update 24 January 2014: Over the last month, I’ve worked on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Designated Paddling Map for Spruce Creek. In it was old and misinformation about the area and no mention of Cracker Creek being an access point.
Today, they published the new map and copy which now includes links to Cracker Creek and more information about Gamble Place and the Russell Property that share residence on the creek. Click on the image below to see the Volusia County website and scroll down to Spruce Creek to see the full document.