This is the End… of-Year Marketing Tip

When you own a business it seems like the last two months of the year fly by. With holiday sales, events, etc., the whole end-of-year marketing strategy sometimes gets left behind. But not this year, this year is the year where you step up your game, so that when 2016 hits, you are prepared and already have great momentum.

#1 Use Your Social Media

Although social media is the popular girl in marketing, it isn’t just there to sit and look pretty it’s there to help your business grow. An endless stream of possibilities just waits for you on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So what better way to spend a little of your end-of-year budget then on new graphics to entice new customers and post boosts. Boosting a post can open a whole range of new customer interaction and won’t drain your marketing piggy bank either.

#2 Spruce Up Your Website

One way to really utilize your end-of-year marketing budget is by being proactive before the next year starts, and your website is one of the areas that it could greatly impact. It is easy to keep pushing website updates on the back burner, because (A) your website might look okay as is, and (B) it functions, so why bother when you can get around to updates next year. But, let’s be honest, you said that in 2014.

Your website is the face of your business in many ways. Sure your logo and branding elements play a huge role in that, but your website is often the first interaction you have with new customers, so in make your first impression count. By adding a few new content & design tweaks you will be giving your brand a fresh look for the start of the New Year, and that fresh look may just be the edge you needed to stand out from your competitors’ 2013 web designs.

#3 Bright & Shiny Print Collateral

So you have done all of the website updates, you’ve spent a little on social media and you still have room for a few more marketing upgrades. New print collateral isn’t a bad way to start off the year or launch a new design. Think how great new rack cards or brochures would look at your business and show customers that you are ready to start things off in 2016 with a bang.

You don’t have to go on a huge budget spree to get the results you want. The small enhancements mentioned above are changes that can make a huge difference and be fairly simple and cost effective components of your total marketing strategy.


Bring Your Brand Back From the Dead…

Not every business can thrive from the start, brand growth takes time, creativity and a heartbeat. So what do you do when you feel your brand is dead? …Wake it up.

#1 Fresh Blood

When your brand’s corpse is rotting on the marketing slab, it might be time to give it some fresh blood, meaning you need to put some life back into it. If your brand is struggling to reach a target audience it may be because it’s key facets are falling flat. Your logo, vision and identity should all carry the same message and reflect the same visual aesthetics in wording and design.

A great design can really make a difference in the livelihood of your brand, so elevate your look, potentially add a more modern feel, and see if the fresh take gives your brand the jolt it’s been needing.

#2 Live Bodies

Loyal customers are the heartbeat of your brand. Without loyalty your brand will not have the backing it needs to survive. So how do you create loyalty? Implementing new marketing initiatives that involve perk programs, discounts, etc. is a great place to start. These types of programs let the bodies know that their investment in your brand matters, and that as a company you are willing to give back.

#3 Haunting Message

As a business owner you want your brand to “haunt” your customers after they leave your store or establishment. Whether it is through a catchy slogan or captivating logo design, it is important to create an emotional connection, so that regardless of where they see your copy or visuals they relate it back to your business in a positive way.

#4 Reach Beyond the Grave

Reaching beyond the grave is where your social media skills will come to life. Social media has become the marketing haven for dying brands looking to move past their fate. It allows you create connections with demographics that your brand may not have previously reached, and is why it is a necessary entity for any business looking to expand their customer base and solidify their place in the visual and social world.

Just because your brand may not seem to have a pulse, it has the chance to live again through a few marketing changes, aesthetic enhancements and defined vision. Don’t wait for the grim reaper to do his bidding, be proactive, pull your brand from the grave and live another day…


The Social Files

Social media is a mysterious entity. It is constantly changing and creating new patterns to link your business to the customers that follow closely. Keeping up with the latest social media trends may not be your field of expertise, however it will keep your business’s marketing on track and your brand on the forefront of successful discoveries.

Case 2312: Twitter, Website Card

Twitter, it is a platform that businesses from all over the world can thrive on. It allows you to follow relevant individuals within your area and start a conversation that will lead to an interest in your product or service. Leads come in everyday from utilizing Twitter as a marketing platform and is why they have worked to make connections between businesses and customers easy and effortless.

Website Cards are built to increase traffic to your website from Twitter in one click. The website card is equipped with a photo and brief description to draw in your individual followers and connect them to your website, and the best part is… it is free. Of course there are options to pay for better exposure, but if your budget is $0 than Twitter has you covered.

Case 6783: Facebook, Call-To-Action

Similar to Case 2312, Facebook has opened a new line of communication between individuals and brands by creating call-to-action buttons. The buttons which are located directly on your business’s Facebook page can drive social traffic to your website or email or to an app, book now or shop now option. This is a marketing tool being used by big and small businesses to allow easy access to various features that would normally be on a website. It skips over the extra step of searching through the website, and instead offers a direct line to your brand.

Case 9511: Instagram, Non-Square

Instagram is becoming the new frontier for business marketing. Since we now live in a visual era, the need for pictures to entice your customers or perspective clients is essential, however finding the perfect fit for Instagram has long since been a struggle, until now.

The latest discovery to come from Instagram is the implementation of non-square photos. Since the size of mobile phones have increased, they decided that size did matter, and now allow full landscapes and portrait photos to better help users post desired images. As a business that uses Instagram this makes all the difference. Instead of using a third party app or spending extra time cropping images, you can now easily upload and post.

The answer may not always be clear, but social media platforms roll out these enhancements to better help individuals and businesses make the most out of their channels. Be open to the change in the social media atmosphere and you will discover new abilities in your businesses marketing strategy.


“The Importance of Being Updated” (Like the Importance of Being Earnest… haha get it)

Keeping up appearances is a necessary part of being a website owner. Although having a prim & proper exterior is a crucial aspect of your household’s good name, it isn’t the only element that needs adoration.

Maintaining your website will allow it to work to it’s full potential and prevent strife from hitting your business’s beloved marketing tool.

#1 Keep A Watchful Eye on Your Plugins

As an agency that primarily develops with WordPress, plugins are essentially the sugar to your tea. They are added aspects that enhance your website, but also keep it safe from harm. Keeping your plugins up-to-date will do more than help your website run efficiently, but it will keep it in pristine condition so it can deter potential hacking threats.

In the past few years, website hacking has become a burden among the online community that even the smallest of businesses have to be cautious of. Anti-malware plugins and security add-ons will be there to dismiss the less distinguished hacking groups and keep your websites reputation in good standing.

#2 A Good Appearance Will Earn You Good Prospects

Appearances can be everything when it comes to attracting suitable customers. Those who keep their websites up-to-date visually will appeal to new customers looking for a professional and proper business. Now, this doesn’t mean that every trend that comes through the web design world should be added to your site, but if you want to compete for your customer’s hand, than keeping up with the always changing times will be beneficial.

#3 Rules of Engagement

As trends in web design sweep through, so do the rules of your favorite search engines. The top search engines like Google & Bing are constantly changing their algorithms, and your website should abide to their demands. They are the reigning houses in the online community, and their rules trump your outdated design.

If they say “responsive”, your website says “of course, right on it”. Why you ask? If your website doesn’t keep up with the changing rules, it will be sitting alone at the SEO ball. Search engines determine how you are organically ranked, and if you website doesn’t keep up pace than it’s rankings will slip.

It is a complicated world your website takes part in, but you can make sure that it remains at the top of society’s standings by keeping an eye on plugins, trends and the every changing search engine rules…or hire someone (ahem) that will hand all of those things to you on a silver platter.


Becoming A Triple Threat

Some businesses are just born stars, while others have to put in the hard work to get to the top of their industry. Regardless of how you claw your way to the top, there are three elements needed in order to make Mama Rosa proud. (If you aren’t familiar with Broadway’s Gypsy, than that reference will make no sense to you.)

#1 Branding Baby

As you know, brilliant branding is the foundation to every great business. From the vision to logo, every facet needs be well thought out and well executed. No one wants to be in the chorus line forever, so you have to make your first impression count. How? Start with the basics and create a mission statement using your vision as a platform. Producing a clear intent for your customers will go a long way.

Make yourself pretty. If you want to be chosen by your target audience for the role of industry forerunner than you need to look the part. A graphic designer will essentially be your stage mom. They will make sure every visual aspect of your business cohesively works with your vision and gives a clean aesthetic customers will applaud.

#2 Into the Web

Since your branding work is just waiting in the wings, it is time to put it to work and implement its’ design qualities into your website. Why? Consumers like to see consistency and a well-rounded business. If you have a great mission but a lackluster website, than you won’t really have the whole package.

The key is to be proficient in every element. Your web design should leave the same impression as the rest of your brand so that customers will know it is you regardless if it is online or in store.

#3 A Social Line

Now that you have two core pieces down, it is time to introduce your social side. It is easy to have a great looking brand, but keeping your target demographic interested in that brand is another thing entirely. Social media allows you to showcase your vision and character to potential and existing customers.

A strong social campaign utilizes the top platforms including channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. The more the merrier. Why? Because not only is it a free way to market yourself, it is a direct line to consumers, and a facet of your company that says you are professional and ready to take this show to the top.

Your business has the ability to be a triple threat. It is a combination of perseverance, a clear vision and all that jazz… or a great design. So, are you ready to hit the stage?


The Art of Being Cool

It’s hard sometimes… trying to hang with the cool brands. You see them, out there, with their fancy logos and multi-million dollar ad campaigns. As a small business you want to be them, but without a huge budget how can you compete with the existing “cool kids”?

The Art of Being Cool has nothing to do with the amount of money you spend per month on “cool status”, it is about the foundation that you build, the effort you put in and the opinions created by your customers, which doesn’t always mean spending $5,000 on a monthly social media campaign, capeesh? (Yea we still stay capeesh here)

Step 1: Research for Realz

What makes a brand cool? While being cool isn’t an exact science you can take note from other industry leaders. By looking at their brand you can get an idea what customers like about them. Do they have contemporary style that speaks to a demographic or does their content differentiate them from their competition? Your approach should always be original, however, it is okay to utilize what has worked in the past for similar businesses as a foundation as they have already played the game of what works and what doesn’t.

Step 2: Branding Is So Basic… Wait is basic a good thing?

Who knows if being basic is a good thing when it comes to the cool factor, but branding basics are essential to your efforts. First is the brand vision. The actual backbone of your whole branding persona comes from your vision and mission, which includes what it is you do or provide and how it will benefit your customer base. The simpler the better.

Next is the aesthetic aspect of your branding. The logo and brand guide. This is where “cool” comes into play. You can say a lot about a brand through their visuals and is why a great graphic designer will be able to create a persona you are looking to portray.

Step 3: The New Classic

Now that you have the look and can walk the walk, it’s time to see if you can talk the talk. Content & social media can be a game changer when it comes to the evolution of a cool brand. Many business get hung up on social posts and blogs for their website. The pressure of being engaging can sometimes be so much that the content comes across as flat or fake.

Our advice? Be yourself. If you talk to your customers through content as though it were a regular conversation, your posts won’t seem so robotic or generic. The more genuine and “real” you are, the more comfortable your demographic will feel and the more likely they are to see you as a “friend” and not a business that is just trying to sell them a product or service.

Being cool doesn’t happen overnight for a small business, it takes work from you and your customers. So keep their taste in mind and give them a brand to talk about.


Anatomy of the Web Design Vol. 1

The anatomical elements of a website vary depending on the needs of your business. Although every web design is different, their are three vital “organs” that ensure your website is functioning as a whole.

Your Home Page is Where the Heart Is

Considering your “Home” page may be the first interaction your customers or clients have with your business, it is imperative that you put your heart and soul into it. This is the area to not only attract your target audience with aesthetics, but present them with your vision and purpose.

A well designed and professional home page should have a clear focus. Too many times you see a cluttered or overwhelming page that has no direct purpose, so the solution is to have a clean design that is easy to navigate through, showcases your brand’s vision and offers a visually appealing first impression.

About Your Brand’s Internal Qualities

Although your “About” page may not seem like an important aspect of your website, it actually has a huge impact on the value customers place on your business. As a consumer we often look for validation in a company. Do they have experience or are they a qualified provider? These questions often help us determine if as a consumer we want to contact for further information or purchase a product.

So even though you might think this is a wasted page on your website, to your future customers this might be the element that helps them commit to your brand and services.

Contact for Assistance

A “Contact” page is the backbone of your website. The purpose of your site is to attract customers to contact for more information, hence the importance of a page dedicated to this function. An easy to use contact form is the best way to capture leads by email and open a conversation. One thing to keep in mind is to always include your business’s direct contact information, as some individuals like to have a personal interaction straight away instead of utilizing a web-based form.

The anatomy of a web design is simple. Your home page is the heart of the website, the about section serves as an internal function and your contact form is the backbone that’s sole purpose is to generate solid leads. With these core pages present, your website will be strong, healthy and ready to be an active source for your business.


I Love You Graphic Design

The root of all good looking aesthetics online stem from a graphic designer. Websites, cool cover photos, logos, ads they are all created by an individual that has an eye for amazingness and knowledge of branding, marketing and how to enhance a simple product or service with their artistic skill.

Since they are so wonderful, why does it seem like so many businesses are giving graphic designers a vacation and attempting to produce their quality level of work? Sadly the work is never the same, and the quality… well it has customers and graphic designers around the world cringing.

The Sixth Gear Solution… hire a graphic designer and see how they will act as a catalyst for your brand’s image.

#1 Social Media Really Loves Graphic Designers

The best businesses on social media have killer cover photos & profile pics. No one can argue they look the most professional, and that is a selling point for most followers (potential customers). Nothing turns a social media follower off more than clipart visuals and thrown together photos.

A graphic designer will carefully sculpt imagery to represent your business and it will be created to the specific size of each social media channel… didn’t know that each platform requires different specs? Your not the only one, but your graphic designer knows that, so let them do what they do best and create killer visuals that fit within your social media marketing strategy.

#2 Websites Want to Move In with Graphic Designers

A website is only as good as the design. Sure a developer makes sure every facet is laid out and functions easily, but the design is what entices customers. This is 100% not something you should do on your own. It is dangerous for your brand… we mean it.

Graphic designers have the ability to design a web presence that is a visual extension of your brand. This is crucial for websites, since they often the first interaction you have with customers. So why leave it to chance?

#3 Marketing Wants to Marry Graphic Designers

Marketing collateral is either the rise or death of a brand. Ever have a rackcard or flyer plastered on your car window. The color palette is off, the font is comic sans and the design is just… rough. Yeah, thats what happens when you don’t leave marketing materials to a graphic design team.

It isn’t cheap to invest in quality marketing materials, so if you are going to do it, might as well do it right so that the collateral can effectively create leads and a new customer base. If your marketing plan doesn’t currently include a professional designer, now is the time to rethink that strategy, because the more professional your materials look, the more likely customers will take your brand and products or services seriously.

I mean… we might be a little biased, but the proof is evident. Graphic designers are an essential aspect of your business. They are there to provide the visual support your brand needs. It’s okay to admit your not the greatest artist… your graphic designer will make sure no one ever knows.


Social Wars

Regardless of your trade, being a part of the “Social Media Empire” is a necessity. The invasion of social media has been a marketing haven for some businesses, while others don’t have the knowledge or time to plan their attack.

Now, we don’t want to play any Jedi mind tricks, but there is something, more like someone, who can come to your aid and change the fate of your business. They are the Supreme Chancellor if you will, they are social media managers…

Episode I: The Phantom Social Manager

One of the greater perks to hiring a social media manager is that they are the invisible employee that caters to your every will. They will know your brand inside out and be your sole line of communication throughout all of your social channels. Their job is act as an extension of your business, so that clients and customers feel as though they are experiencing an interaction with your business first hand.

Episode II: Attack of the Posts

Posting on social media is the burden most business owners can’t wait to hand off to a loyal subject. A social media manager is that loyal subject who constructs each post with your brand and vision in mind.

It can be a challenge to write for your own product or service, which is why an outside perspective that has extensive experience in writing, can gear the post towards your target audience and add elements that they will find engaging and sharable.

Episode III: Response of the Social

When running a business, setting aside time to respond to messages or re-tweets on Facebook or Twitter is just not possible. Unfortunately many messages and communication lines go overlooked and neglected, leading to missed opportunities and missed sales.

Your social media manager is there to pull you from the dark side. With their focus on customer interaction, they will be checking your social channels frequently for any questions or comments from potential or current customers. The response time is fast, which can go a long way when trying to secure new leads. They will give your business exactly what it needs to continue the same customer service standard you provide on a daily basis.

The galaxy is vast, and social media is the link to day-to-day life. The force is strong with social media managers, so take the next step and consider what they can do for your business and social marketing strategy.


You’ve Got Email Marketing

With all of the marketing options out there, its’ hard to to decide which ones are best for your business. Social media is always an easy choice and for good reason, but what about the other guys? What about the forgotten and often neglected… email marketing? You know those pretty emails that pop up and entice you to check out a new deal, product or article. What is it about those e-blasts that draw us in and propel us to read more. There isn’t an exact science behind it, but there are a few things that tend to capture our attention and make e-mail marketing a must have in your comprehensive strategy.

The Subject of All Things

Subject lines are the heart of email marketing. Why? Because typically that is what prompts you to open up the newsletter. If your target readers aren’t intrigued by your email subject, than that newsletter you worked so hard on, typically goes into cyberspace trash.

A subject line is not the time to get crazy and over the top creative, but instead fresh and urgent. What do we mean by urgent? If your target customer doesn’t feel like there is something worth looking at now, it will be out of sight and out of mind. Create a sense of urgency without using the words “urgent”. By giving readers a little fire beneath them while staying true to your brand’s voice and style, they will be more likely to click open and see what you have to offer.

Get a Little Action

Creating a call-to-action is probably one of the more important facets of your email marketing campaign. Give your reader an easy way to take the next step towards interacting with your business. Whether it is a link to your website, a product or coupon, it allows them to have an immediate response from your business and not just a standard email. As a consumer we like to get to the point and a call-to-action will expedite that process.

Short & Sweet

It is easy to be long winded when it comes to your brand. Mainly. Which is great, however for those who joined an email list and may not know you so well, they don’t want to read through paragraphs of an e-blast.

What to do? Make it short, simple and to the point. Align your subject line and copy to reflect the same promises. If you are having a 50% off sale but have the subject read “Puppies” than it won’t really make sense. You want to deliver what was offered in a few sentences with a creative flair cohesive to your brand’s identity. With this, your customers won’t feel overwhelmed, and will more than likely choose to read, not trash.

It’s easy to fall in love with email marketing. With this marketing tool you have the ability to send out e-blasts daily, weekly or even monthly, while opening up numerous opportunities to capture new leads. Now doesn’t that sound like marketing love at first sight?