Coal Creative: What’s the Benefit of Marketing Online Services Locally?

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The Web, aside from its ability to shrink the world, can also transform a small business into a global entity.

This is especially true when the company offers online services. Think about it: To get your offering, your target client need only access the Internet via a desktop computer or mobile device.

Geographical proximity, or lack thereof, simply isn’t a factor.

However, while the Web certainly provides massive potential to reach a mega audience, sometimes a local approach is called for. The trick is to know when.

The solution depends largely on who your target client is and where they are located.

Gerard Durling, founder of Coal Creative, an online marketing consultancy that positions itself expressly as “Northeastern Pennsylvania’s creative marketing consultant,” is an example of a company that believes in promoting local businesses as part of its mission.

Durling, from the beginning, has worked to cultivate clients in his region of Pennsylvania, roughly a two-hour drive from Manhattan and Philadelphia.

A key benefit he brings his clients is his ability to find inspiration in those cities. Local businesses, Durling says, generally are less savvy about the latest and greatest in online marketing efforts and cutting-edge related technology.

Coal Creative offers marketing support in various formats: traditional, online and “guerilla-style,” which Durling defines as the ability to throw local events that are slightly edgier, which helps fuel engagement with the target audience.

He will utilize all three marketing formats if necessary. He pulled this off in a widely touted promotional campaign to kick off the grand opening of a local nightclub client.

Where ZU (pronounced “zoo”) is based in Northeast Pennsylvania, nightclubs tend to focus their promotional muscle on publicizing “aggressive drink specials,” Durling said.

So for ZU’s grand opening, he took a page from the big city nightclub’s playbook.

In keeping with the ZU’s name and theme, makeup artists painted various animal patterns on women who then danced inside cages on opening night.

But to build buzz, Coal first created a time-lapse video showing a bikini-clad model being painted to resemble a leopard by two makeup artists. He posted the video on a Facebook page called ZU. The only content accompanying the video was a line that referenced “the most interactive nightlife experience in NEPA [Northeastern Pennsylvania].”

One local report wrote of the effort:

“An intriguing time-lapse video was uploaded to Facebook last night of a woman being transformed by makeup artists into a leopard, and while what exactly it’s promoting is not yet clear, a few hints have been dropped so far.”

The event was a hit, garnering lots of media attention and wide coverage on social media, including on SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook.

Discussing specifics of the company’s business model with Small Business Trends, Durling said: “We act as a marketing consultant for local companies. They might not be ready to hire somebody full time. We have people in-house to work with us and we also freelance some of the work out.”

Coal Creative also works with local schools to take in interns to educate about opportunities in locally based businesses.

Durling started the company about five years ago, when he recognized local businesses generally were a “little behind in the times in some areas.”

“My focus is on trying to get our community in tune with the times. It’s not just looking at them as clients — it’s about community growth,” Durling said.

Coal Creative is currently working on a video project to help build awareness of all the fun activities available in Northeast Pennsylvania.

“We have a lot of things around here, including a water park and a casino, yet there is a very negative mindset among some people who think there’s nothing to do.”

The company is using the support of local businesses to assist in this effort.

Also fueling his passion to work with local businesses is Durling’s great appreciation of direct communication—meaning face-to-face chats versus sending them texts or email. “Being able to work with someone and feel their enthusiasm is something relatable to people.”

As online marketing guru Ivana Taylor, who runs, puts it: “Marketing online services locally makes a great strategy if the service can be used locally.”

Medina, Ohio-based’s client mix is half local and half global.

As with any marketing effort — online or off, global or local — the emphasis needs to be on the client, she added. “The target customer is the focus of everything.  When you’re marketing online services, you’re truly covering a solution to a specific customers’ specific problem. The customers understand that location is an element but it’s not the central element.”

A global focus offers immense benefits. “I love the online service model precisely because it makes pricey marketing services available to a broader range of clients,” Taylor said.

In Taylor’s case, “there isn’t much difference in how my services are delivered locally or online virtually. I often have phone or Skype meetings with my clients whether they are two miles away or thousands of miles away.”

What ultimately determines whether your marketing efforts are focused locally or globally is the “customer with a specific problem” on who you focus, she added.

DIYMarketers, Taylor added, is a virtual marketing department that specifically assists business owners by executing the marketing efforts they dream up.

“We are just the hands that make it happen.”

Image:, Pictured from L to R: Interns Amanda Montigney, Luzerne County Community College; Karisa Calvitti, Lycoming College; Michelle Chavez, Cedar Crest College; Therese Roughsedge, Kings College; Josh Alberola, Graphic Designer/Marketing Consultant; and Gerard Durling, Founder

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Restaurants and Consumers Benefit from a Mobile Ordering App

Restaurant and Consumer Benefits of a Mobile Ordering App

Mobile ordering apps have changed the food delivery and pickup game for the better. With more and more retailers and restaurants adopting for these kinds of apps, consumers are placing fewer delivery and pickup orders over the phone and instead are opting to use a mobile app. Why? Because these mobile ordering apps offer a number of key benefits that more traditional methods of ordering over the phone or waiting in line cannot match.

Consumer Benefits of a Mobile Ordering App

Consumers are certainly downloading mobile ordering apps at lightning speed. When Chick-fil-A released its first app, it reached No. 1 in the app store during its first three days. These apps are popular for several reasons:

  • There’s no more waiting in line or getting put on hold.
  • Ordering ahead provides convenience during a busy day and allows you to pick up food on the go.
  • You get the whole menu right at your fingertips, including items you may not have known existed.
  • Loyalty reward points are easy to track directly through the app and lead to big savings if you order frequently.

Restaurant Benefits of a Mobile Ordering App

While these apps may be created for the customer, they achieve a number of important objectives that can greatly help out the restaurant or retail store as well.

  • They can handle more orders; Chipotle claims it manages six more orders an hour when placed through a mobile app, as no one has to stop what they are doing to physically take the customer’s order and engage in small talk.
  • Customer’s spend more through an ordering app than in person because they have more time to make a decision, the whole menu is in front of them and they typically want to score more reward points.
  • Ordering accuracy improves — it is easy to misunderstand a complex order when someone is calling or even talking to you in person, but that doesn’t happen with a mobile app order because it is printed just how the customer placed it.
  • Integrated loyalty programs ensure customers keep returning.

What to Remember When Designing Your Own Mobile Ordering App

Chances are you’ve used at least a couple mobile ordering apps in your lifetime. Designing them may seem easy and a simple matter of converting your physical menu into a mobile environment that allows for ordering. In large part, it is. However, there are a number of design elements to look out for and consider when designing your own mobile ordering app.

Product Mix: Is your mobile ordering app going to include the whole menu or just part? You may jump to offering your entire menu, but that can easily make your app look cluttered and overwhelming. Sometimes too many features results in fewer users. By example, Starbucks does a good job by including most of its menu on the coffee chain’s app, but not all of it. Instead, Starbucks sticks to the most popular and frequently ordered items, which keeps the app looking clean and refined. However, including too few items can have a dramatically different effect.

Additionally, you have to consider further menu options like when and how to ask if someone wants an order of fries or how they can nix the pickles on their burger.

Loyalty: Combining your mobile ordering app with a loyalty or rewards point program makes too much sense to ignore. But, if you don’t already have some form of loyalty program, creating the foundation for one on your mobile app may take some time. You have to determine how points are earned and how quickly and then what those points can be used for. While most companies connect rewards to discounts or freebies, you can get even more creative with it.

Location: While some consumers don’t like the idea of sharing their location with apps, it is important for mobile ordering because it ensures that the customer’s order is placed at the nearest possible location. If there are multiple locations nearby, there has to be an option that allows the consumer to pick which one. Otherwise, they could go to their preferred spot without realizing their order is at the sister location.

Payment: The questions that should be on your mind, in terms of of payment, are things like whether the app is compatible with Wallet or Apple Pay? Or, will it only use credit cards? How will payments be processed? How will loyalty points factor into charges. All of these questions are going to sculpt your payment approach. Most of them will likely be answered by your company’s consumers, as you are trying to cater to their needs. If many of them prefer using a mobile payment app, then you may have to adjust your payment policies to meet that need.

Updates: Any app developer will tell you that updates are an absolutely essential part of delivering a successful mobile app. Even if your menu or offerings don’t change, the preferences of your customers might. For example, they may go from disliking Apple Pay to preferring it. Not to mention, new Apple Store guidelines dictate that apps need to be routinely updated to stay present on the market. Updating your app can also help its success. The most popular apps are updated 20 to 25 times a year, according to a report by Business Insider. And, apps with fewer than nine updates a year are rarely awarded above-average ratings.


With more and more people turning towards mobile ordering instead of picking up the phone to dial their favorite stores and restaurants, it is becoming more and more critical for these businesses to have a functioning and innovative app that caters to the current and future trends and needs of their customers. Knowing how to design and utilize such a mobile app will allow you to stand out among the competition and help achieve current and future business objectives.

Restaurant App Photo via Shutterstock


A benami property can be solely bought for personal benefit



I had bought a flat and added my wife as a joint holder, but she did not make any payment towards it. In my Will, can I bequeath 100% of the property, or since my wife is the joint holder, only 50%?

—Ravindra Gupta

As per the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, when a property is transferred to a person for a consideration, paid or provided by another person, then such a transaction is known as a benami transaction.

The person in whose name the property is recorded, becomes the real owner and the person who actually paid the consideration is prohibited from bringing any kind of action to recover such property. Benami transactions are prohibited by law and are punishable under the Act.

But an exception is given under section 3(2) of the Act, for transactions where the property is purchased by any person in the name of his wife or unmarried daughter. Section 3(2) also provides that, unless the contrary is proved, there is a presumption that such property had been purchased by such person for the benefit of the wife or the unmarried daughter.

Thus, a person who has purchased such a property in the name of his wife or unmarried daughter can, by appropriate evidence, prove that the property was not purchased for the benefit of his wife or unmarried daughter, and assert his true ownership rights in the property.

So, if the husband is able to prove that the property he purchased, in his wife’s name, is for his sole benefit, then he can claim the property completely, and can dispose it as per his wish. (Please see Nand Kishore Mehra v. Sushila Mehra (AIR 1995 SC 2145) and Nand Kishore Mehra v. Sushila Mehra (80 (1999) DLT 670.)

In such a situation, the intention of the husband will be ascertained from the surrounding facts and circumstances, to determine the real ownership. Some of these would be: the source of purchase money; the nature and possession of the property, after the purchase; the motive or reason for giving the transaction a benami colour; the custody of title deeds after the sale; and the conduct of parties concerned in dealing with the property after the sale, including whether the husband accounted for the property in his own tax returns and not that of his wife.

Thus, if you are able to prove that the property was not purchased for the benefit of your wife, and it was always intended that the real ownership lies with you, you would have the right to bequeath the entire property in your Will to a person of your choice. You should specifically state in your Will that the property was purchased out of your personal funds and that your wife’s name was added only for convenience and not purchased for her benefit.

Maintain appropriate records that are available to your executor and heirs, to prove your real ownership of the property, if your Will is challenged.


No tax benefit if mediclaim premium is paid in cash

iStock Photo

iStock Photo

I pay the health insurance premiums for both myself (67) and my wife (63). Would I get tax exemptions on both?

—Shayan Basu

An individual can claim tax deduction on payment made towards health insurance premium under section 80D of the Income-tax Act, 1961. The deduction can be availed on premium payment for self, spouse, dependent children and parents subject to prescribed conditions.

For senior citizens (above 60 years), during a financial year (FY) the deduction is restricted to Rs.30,000 (includingRs.5,000 towards preventive health check–up). However, this benefit is not available if premium is paid by cash. Since you are paying for health insurance for yourself and your spouse, and both of you qualify as senior citizens during FY17, you can claim up to the maximum deduction of Rs.30,000 in aggregate, for the both of you.

My provident fund (PF) subscription is less than 5 years old with my previous employer. I have got a job in another company and want to withdraw the PF amount maintained with the old employer. Will I be taxed?

—Rakhi Sharma

PF withdrawal is taxable in the same FY if it is withdrawn without rendering continuous services for 5 years, as per the Act. However, if the accumulated PF balance maintained with the old employer is transferred to the PF account of the current employer, then the period of previous employment is also included as part of continuous service.

Assuming that your job with the ex-employer was your first one, or that you had not transferred your PF balance with your employer (if any) before that—as the total period of service with the ex-employer is less than 5 years—withdrawal of accumulated PF balance shall be taxable.

If the employer maintains a private PF trust, the tax would be deducted at source. In this case, you will receive the Form 16 issued by the PF trust depicting the taxable income and taxes deducted. If the PF trust has not deducted the tax, then you should report the income in your tax return and pay taxes.

If the PF balance is maintained through the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, taxes may be deducted at the rate of 10% if amount of withdrawal exceeds Rs.50,000.

If you transfer the accumulated old PF balance to the new employer and, in future, withdraw the accumulated PF balance maintained with the new company, while computing the period of continuous service, the period of service rendered with the earlier company will also be included.

If the cumulative years are likely to be more than 5 years, there will not be any tax implications on PF withdrawal.

PF withdrawal can be as per the provisions of the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, which requires you to have a non-employment period of two months after leaving your job.