The Reign of Content Marketing

It is easy to post on social media, or throw up a blog on a website. However it is another thing to actually put together a content marketing plan and keep it consistent and innovative. So many businesses and brands get caught up in the lack of content, but that doesn’t have to be you. You can be strong, organized and always be looking for new ways to make your content stand out.

#1 Know Your People

The first thing you learn in marketing 101, is to know your target audience. Why? Because they are who you will be writing your content for. When researching your demographic, try to get a good sense of what they like to read. Do they like informative blogs, tips or are they more image and video focused. By narrowing down the type of content your target audience finds appealing, you will be able to push information out in the format that they are most likely to view, and in turn open up a conversation regarding your services or products.

#2 Get Ready to Socialize

Regardless if you are a fan of social media or not, it is a necessity. Any business that wants to be taken seriously by their customer base, will have accounts on the top social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Why? Because social media is not just for chatting with old high school friends, it is a driving force when it comes to managing your content marketing. With a few words, you can reach hundreds, even thousands of potential consumers. Through engaging posts you can stand out from your competitors and allow your demographic to stay up to date with your business’s news without having to check the website on a daily basis. Through social media, the information is accessible and always ready to be shared.

#3 Sharing is Caring

If you want your content to really move, you need to ensure it is sharable. One way to guarantee your customers share is to make it easy on them. Add social media share buttons or email links to your blog, that way if they like what they read, it can easily be shared to email contacts and friends on Facebook. The easier the process, the more likely individuals will be to spread the word.

#4 Optimization Prime

That term SEO always seems to pop up, and for good reason. As you know in order to have great organic search engine rankings you need to keep your website updated with new keyword friendly content. Blogging is the gem in your content marketing plan. Don’t believe us? When Sixth Gear first started blogging, when searching “branding jacksonville” our site wouldn’t even show up in the first few pages of results, which mean’t no one saw us. So what did we do? We started blogging about the various services we offered and gave tips for those looking to market and brand their business. After two months our site made it to the top spot when searching “branding jacksonville” and we have stayed there ever since. This didn’t come easy to us, but through weekly blogs we have kept our top spot and know first hand that if you want to make a plan for content marketing, a weekly blog needs to be at the top of that list.

Marketing isn’t always a strict science. You find what works for your brand and what doesn’t, and than proceed from there. By adding social posts and blogs to your business plan, you could begin a long reign atop the competition.


The Good Kind of Traffic

Website traffic, it is the peanut butter to your website’s jelly. The goal of all websites is to have consistent new traffic searching through your pages. The longer an individual stays on your website the more chances you will have to turn them into a lead or a consumer. When you launch a new site, you will not automatically see thousands of views per day without putting a little sweat equity into it. You have to work, but that work will help you reach your traffic goals.

The Content Game

We have said it once and we will say it again, content is key. Not only will quality content help with your organic search engine rankings, it will help you avoid being penalized. Search engines like Google are doing everything they can to reward websites that are playing their cards right, and penalize those who are trying to cheat their way to top rankings. When websites have little content and big self promoting ads next to it, Google will see that as potential to be flagged. They are looking out for your customers and want to reward you because you are making an effort to give them enticing copy to view.

So, keep in mind that the better the content, the better your rankings, and the more website traffic your business will see. Play the game by putting out consistent and keyword rich content and you shall be the winner.

The Responsive Movement

Responsive web design used to be the trend hitting the streets, but now it has become a necessity to survive on the world wide web. How many times have you searched for a business on your phone or tablet, and get a website that has tiny font, no way to navigate without expanding the view or is incredibly slow. Those businesses suffer from being irresponsible and not updating their websites to a responsive design.

Mobile devices are becoming one of the most common ways to browse the internet. So, top search engines like Google are coming to the rescue again by penalizing websites that do not utilize those designs. Google wants everyone to be able to view your website as it was intended on any electronic device. They reward those who agree and is why a responsive design will not only make the experience easy for your customers, it will give you a better ranking which again means better web traffic.

Although creating content in the form of blogs, videos, photographs, etc. is time consuming, it is a facet of you business that needs constant attention. Moral of the story? If you build a website, it doesn’t mean they will come, you have to put in the effort and time in order to see a change in new website traffic.


Wherefore Art Thou Print Collateral?

There are some out there that do not believe print materials are necessary for a small business. Although digital marketing has taken the lead, it doesn’t mean you should go without. Brochures, business cards and stationary are just a few of the print items you could consider having designed for your brand. Why? Well you will just have to read and see.

#1 Brand Awareness

Sure your target clients or customers can see your branding on Facebook or at your location, but that doesn’t mean it will stick with them. Say there are two popsicle joints in your town. Each have great products, good branding and prime locations. One sends a well designed post card in the mail, and one doesn’t. Who do you think will stick in the target audiences’ mind?

Any chance you have to put your brand in front of your consumers is a good thing. Sometimes the only interaction your customers have is at your store, so make sure your business sticks with them after they’ve left.

#2 Professionalism

You never want to be that owner that has to say they don’t have a business card. If you want to add value to your company and brand, you have to look the part. A business card is a direct line to your brand. It is a print item that a potential customer or client can physically keep with them as a reminder of your services or products sold. In a competitive industry it is important to keep up a professional image, and business cards or branded stationary sent to clients lets them see the effort put into to creating that image.

#3 Sales Tool

The whole idea of marketing is to generate sales, and your print collateral is no different. Whether the rack card you had designed is letting your audience know more about your services or your new website, it acts as a catalyst to prompt further engagement. Many brands utilize custom mailers to interest their customers through sales, discounts and visuals. Although you could post that information up on a your social media channels, a print item is an additional reminder that could be the sales pitch they needed to commit.

Don’t underestimate the power of well designed print collateral. It opens a line of communication, interest, and brand awareness for your business. When it comes to marketing your brand, the more the merrier, so consider how your print materials can enhance your vision.


Lord of the Industry

In any industry or local market there is going to be a ruler. That one business that has fought their way through Mordor to deliver the message that they are forging their journey to greatness through branding and marketing. The rest of us look up to them and often wonder why can’t we leave the Shire and join them on this quest of incredibleness… well, who is stopping you?

The Fellowship of the Local Businesses

Your band of brothers… or sisters, can help you more than you know. Without the support of other local businesses you will be a party of one that no one wants to travel with.

The key is to create good working relationships with businesses around you. Why? Because if the business next door sells cloaks and you sell walking sticks, and a cloak customer needs a walking stick… guess where the owner of the cloak store will send them. When businesses have great customer relationships it is not uncommon for them to ask for other business recommendations, and you want to be on that list of recommendations. So, by creating a great community of small businesses, you can each benefit from one another in big ways.

The Two Marketing Tactics

Now that you have your band of loyal followers, it is time to market your business. Social media and branding are you two best mates. They will be there to pick you up when you are down, and will keep working even though you are done for the day.

A complete brand is what will help you on your journey to greatness. Your logo, vision and voice are the branding elements that will speak to your customers and stay with them, if done right. Creating your brand is not a task for the weary, but for those who are willing to risk it all for the ultimate result. Branding can make or break a business. It is an important aspect that requires you to decide how you want your business to be portrayed and how will that entice consumers. Once that is decided, than you can work with a graphic designer and copywriter to build out your vision into an aesthetic and feeling that will prompt your target audience to stop by or get more information.

Social media is the other half of your marketing duo. Over the past few years social media has become a necessity for businesses. If your not on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram your falling behind the pack and your customers will have one less way to reach you. It is important to be accessible anywhere and everywhere, and social media is the bridge that allows individuals to find your business and share details of a sale, change in menu, etc. with the click of a button. It is marketing made easy, and requires a simple daily post and a share of another.

The Return of the Efforts

As you have completed your brand, posted on social media and banded together with your fellow businesses, you are ready to see a return of your efforts. Although social media marketing, brand awareness and maintaining business relationships are an ongoing process, with all three elements you will be able to see a change/increase in foot or website traffic over time, and that is where greatness begins.

So are you ready to stand up and fight to become the one business to rule them all?


Top 3 Tips for Being Social This 4th of July

If your business is closed this fourth of July, that doesn’t mean you have to let your social media accounts take a day off. With hashtags in full force and social users bombarding news feeds with holiday activities, your business has the opportunity to catch your customers attention with these three P’s.

1. Post

Whether you schedule posts for your business ahead of time, or spontaneously post throughout the day, you are actively participating in the social frenzy. Businesses will be marketing their 4th of July sales, events, etc. and you don’t want to be left out. By utilizing holiday hashtags and gearing posts towards your customer base, you will be more likely to have others re-tweet and share your content.

Even if you are closed this 4th of July, your business should still be active, and social media is the ticket. Don’t worry about posting every hour on the hour. 1-2 posts will be sufficient enough to get your target audience engaged and thinking about your brand.

2. Promote

For businesses that are open this Saturday, there is a good chance you are having a sale. Customers look forward to the many advertisements and sales opportunities the weekend has. So, if you haven’t planned any sales tactics prior or will be closed this holiday, you still have an opportunity to take part in the festivities.

Since social media traffic will be at its’ peak, think about promoting your brand through a surprise sale or spontaneous discount code. With little to no marketing effort you can throw up a post announcing your sale or percentage off for the following day. That’s it? Yeah that’s it. Nothing fancy is needed when it comes to a good discount, and it is a great way to keep in tow with your competitors and draw in some extra foot traffic over the holiday weekend.

3. Participate

If your followers are engaging with your posts, feel free to do the same in return. Re-posting images or content of your products in use or local events happening will expand your brand’s social circle. Being an active participant in social media doesn’t necessarily mean hours in front of a computer. Make it easy on yourself and share posts when available or re-tweet when significant. Just a little participation can go a long way when it comes to your business’s social media following.

So, kick back and relax while your social media works hard this Independence Day, and let your business reap the benefits. Cheers!


Websites in Wonderland

Some websites seem to fall down the rabbit hole, or just don’t exist. This is a problem. W..H..Y? Because in order for your customers to find your brand online, you need to have an active website.

Your business’s website is the key that unlocks the door to new customer traffic. Those customers need a platform to be able to search for product information or services your business offers. Don’t let yourself become a DoDo bird and disappear from your customer’s radar. Have a website that is responsive, unique and full of SEO friendly content.

Chapter One : A Content Race

Content is more important than you might think. Not only does it give your customers information to read, it helps your organic search engine rankings, which will ultimately get customers through your doors.

An easy way to get your website to the top of the list when customers utilize search engines, is to blog. By publishing a new blog each week using keywords and phrases relevant to your business, you are creating new opportunities for search engines to index that content and in turn making your website more likely to show up a top the search results for those words or phrases. It is a race between you and your competitors to get that top search spot, so be consistent and try to be original.

Chapter Two: A Mad Design

Having a great website design is not only visually engaging for your prospective customers, but it allows you to set yourself apart from your industry’s competitors.

Since we live in a visual world, it isn’t enough to just have a website, you have to have a design that impresses too. Using your brand color palette and logo as a foundation will help your web designer create a platform that is cohesive, but unique to your industry. This doesn’t mean you have to go completely mad, but offer your customers a creative, yet easy to navigate website.

Chapter Three: We Are Painting the Website Responsive

Responsive websites are not just an option anymore, they are a necessity. Having a website that is optimized to be viewed on multiple electronic devices is crucial, as the majority of individuals searching on the internet are using mobile devices and tablets.

Search engines are now penalizing websites that do not utilize a mobile friendly design. Why? Because search engines want top quality websites at the top of their search, and a design that does not cater to the user experience, does not make the cut.

It is a competition out there. Regardless of the industry you are in, you need to have a presence online, and a website is your answer.


The Fantastic Four… Things You Should Know About Branding

Branding is the foundation of every successful business. Big or small your business’s brand is what connects you with your customers, ignites their loyalty and sets your company up for long-term growth.

It may not be easy, but once you are committed to creating a rock solid brand, then you are on your way to showing the world… or at least your target audience what your company is all about.

#1 The Science of Becoming Fantastic

The goal of every brand is to be well liked, and lets face it… fantastic. So how do you get there? Start by developing your vision. In order for others to believe in your business, they need to understand it. If you can’t describe what your business does and what it offers within a sentence, then how can you expect others to.

Make it simple. Not only does an easy concept translate well on marketing materials, but it allows you to create a brand that has a clear vision, which customers can understand.

#2 Find Your One Thing

Every great brand has that one thing that sets them apart. Without it, your business will just be another brand in the crowd… and that won’t win you any customers. How do you know what sets you apart? It doesn’t have to be an out of the box concept, but something simple. Do you go out of your way to provide incredible customer service or work with a local supplier? Those are facets that your competitors may not provide, and it is something that your customers will notice.

#3 Ignite Your Brand with a Torch

The foundation for your brand is built. You have a vision, an element that makes you different… what next? Building out your visual identity is probably the most fun you will have. This is the time when you bring your whole concept to life.

Your logo is your mark, so make it count. When you look at big name brands like Target or Whole Foods, their branding is everywhere. From the bags to receipts, their logo makes an appearance, and for good reason. Your logo is there to be your sidekick, its’ job is to be present on everything with your business’s name on it, so that consumers will start to recognize your brand anywhere.

#4 The Numbered Days of Being Invisible

If in the past your brand has been invisible, then now is the time to step out of the shadows and showcase what you can do. One of the most important ways to showcase your branding is through marketing efforts. Once your vision, logo, website, print collateral and social media platforms are ready to launch, it is time to utilize your new look and show your competitors you are here to be the alpha in your industry.

This is the time to do everything you can to be present. Try launching your brand on social, send out a press release, contact local media, or even do a giveaway in honor of your new or improved branding efforts. The more traction your logo, tagline or name has the more likely it is to stick in your customer’s mind. Consistency and repetition are the key to staying current when it comes to your target audience, just make sure you aren’t being a disruptive marketer and are still producing engaging, relevant and brand infused content.

The fantastic four items we’ve listed are simple yet effective when it comes to creating a brand. Take your business through the stratosphere by giving your brand the basics it requires in order to dominate evil… or in this case, just your competitors.


Make Friends With Your Social Media

If you haven’t utilized your business’s social media yet, there is no time like the present. If you are a business owner that doesn’t really understand the impact of social media, we are here to help you realize the beauty in a well focused social media marketing plan.

#1 Be Everywhere.

Every platform you use to market your business should have links to your social media channels. Like your website for example. If you have a blog or new product, add social buttons so that customers can easily share your content and items. The more customers share, the better exposure your product or content has.

Set up social buttons in your email signature, or include them in a digital campaign to really boost your marketing efforts. The more cross channel sharing and traffic you can create, the more likely customers are to value your product or service.

#2 Be Different.

With such a high volume of businesses on social media, it can be very easy to become a wallflower. With lackluster graphics and minimally engaging posts, customers will be less likely to share your content. Give your social media posts a voice of its own that is interesting, compelling and different.

Yes, different. Thinking a little outside of the box isn’t bad when it comes to a competitive industry. Social media is your playground to really sell your branding and drive consumers to your website or location…and you can’t do that being a “Boring Barbara”.

#3 Be Consistent.

Tending to your social media garden every few months, will not do much for your business. Why? Since social media is constantly changing and is always current, if you don’t actively participate your business is likely to loose out on missed opportunities, including website traffic.

You don’t have to be a social media guru that posts multiple times a day…because let’s be honest, who has the time. Daily, every other day, even weekly is better than the once a month update. Staying proactive is the best way to utilize your social media for marketing purposes.

The social media heartbeat is only going to get stronger. As a consumer, we love content and is why sites like Twitter and Facebook are the source for all current media. So, make friends with your social channels, and give your business the social marketing plan it’s been craving.


Four Ways to Increase Your Website Traffic

As a business owner you know that increased website traffic means more potential customers or clients… but what are you actually doing to increase that traffic? It is a common misconception that you have to pay top dollar in order to get a steady stream of traffic coming through your website. Although the use of online ads and SEO specialists will be able to give you everything your heart desires, there are things you can do on your own in order to start getting your website where you want it.

#1 Use Social Media

Never underestimate the power of social media. By creating pages for your business on multiple platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, you are opening the door to new customers. Engaging posts, imagery and links to your website, are three elements that are needed in order to get the new traffic moving. One thing to keep in mind is that it won’t happen overnight. Social media management requires a commitment in order to provide the website results you crave, and need.

#2 Don’t Discount Email Marketing

Sending out mass emails may seem like dated marketing methods with all the fancy smancy options available but the bottom line is they work! Having an email list can be key to website traffic success. Creating links to blogs or important sections within the website on your monthly or weekly newsletter will get customers from the email to your site, with the click of a button. Make sure your email utilizes a creative headline to capture your customer’s attention.

#3 Have We Mentioned That You Should Blog

Blogging is no joke, especially when it comes to building up your website traffic. Consistently writing new content for your website is what drives your search engine rankings up. Clever titles and filling out the blog with keyword rich material isn’t always easy, but it will give you results. Like social media, blogging is a commitment. Writing a post every other month, may not be enough depending on how saturated your industry is. In order to get your website on the top of it’s rankings we would recommend anywhere from daily to weekly or at the least bi-weekly postings.

#4 A Responsive Website Is Must

As mentioned in our blog last week, Google and other search engines have or are in the stages of changing their algorithms to penalize websites that are not responsive and mobile friendly. Why? Because in order to create a quality user experience, individuals need to be able to view your website on any electronic device. Those who have responsive websites are now seeing their sites climbing the search engine rankings, which means… more website traffic.

You don’t have to invest thousands when it comes to increasing your website traffic, you just have to invest your time. By consistently putting out quality content in your blog, or creating links within your e-blast, your business has the opportunity to get a slice of that sweet online traffic pie.


Mobilegeddon… The Aftermath

April 21, 2015 marked the day the internet world would change forever (well, at least until Google changes it again in 6 months). Google rolled out an unforgettable algorithm that would have a catastrophic affect on websites around the world.

Their mission, to destroy websites that are not mobile friendly…well not destroy, but penalize them. Why? Because non-responsive websites aren’t user friendly, and Google is looking out for the user experience. Thank you Google.

As a non-responsive website owner you might be asking, why would they do this to us? Google isn’t trying to blast your web dreams into a million pieces, but simply save online searchers from the pain and suffering of looking through a non-responsive websites on their smartphones and tablets.

Is a non-responsive site really that terrible to look at on a mobile device? Yes, yes it is. With the small print, closely placed lines and tiny navigation bar, it is one of the most frustrating ways to search for a product, service or business. With mobile and tablet devices being some of the top platforms to browse on, having a website that caters to the non-desktop users is a necessity for two reasons. First, with Google’s change in algorithm, your organic search engine rankings will be affected if your website is not mobile friendly. The “deep impact?” That #1 spot your business holds for organic searches is no longer secure. Without the upgrade to a responsive and mobile-ready design, you might be pushed down to page 3 or worse, due to the lack of mobile adaptiveness. The second reason is your customer’s sanity. The website user should be able to easily click on a menu item and read content without having to pull out a magnifying glass in order to grab information. So, even if they do find you on page 3 of the Google search, there is a good chance the customer will quickly exit your page because of its’ navigation and readability issues.

The roll out of Google’s latest mission had a slow start, but non-responsive websites are starting to see a shift in the internet’s crust. Rankings are changing, and businesses are starting to see the importance of responsive website design. Although Google is the first of its’ kind, search engines like Bing are following closely behind waiting to detonate their “mobile friendly” bomb.

The solution is simple. Take the time to switch to a responsive design before you draw the short straw and get left behind on page 3, for Mobilegeddon is already upon us.