Blog

15
May

Creativity + Content = Blogging

Blogging is a key component of good search engine optimization. The equation is simple, the more you blog original content rich with keywords, the better your search engine rankings will be for those terms. Only common issue is… how to keep a blog interesting over time.

#1 The Relevant Theory

Make sure your topics make sense for the now, not the past. The best way to get readers interested in you content is to write about current information. Relate your business to the most recent industry news or get creative and write your blog post as a current celebrity. Giving your blog a fresh approach that allows you to reach to a broader audience.

#2 Know Your Numbers

Know who you are writing to. The only way you can reach your demographic through content is by getting to know them. If your target audience is 65+ and your using 2015 lingo like “bae” there is a good chance you will not win any points or returning readers. Do the research and put yourself in your target audiences shoes. If your customers are interested in “how to” tips, than give the people what they want. Make sense?

#3 The Sum of Your Brand

Don’t forget about your brand when you go to write your blog. Your brand’s voice will need to be strong in order to keep your target audience interested in what you have to say. By writing with your own flair, you are creating an atmosphere through your content which will set up the experience they can expect when interacting with you or your business directly.

#4 Unparalleled Topics

There is no need to blog about the same topics over and over again. If your customer base has read it before they don’t need to read it again and again. Keep the topics fresh so that your content won’t seem redundant and loose it’s steam.

Following the four rules of blogging will keep your blog from getting negative marks. Think outside of the box, do your research and you will be primed for success.

08
May

Becoming a Social Sally in 5 Steps

If your business is a wallflower in the social media world, it might be time to spiff up and step out. Social media is an incredible marketing tool that allows you to connect with customers, drive traffic to your website and expand brand awareness.

Getting started may seem like the hardest part, but it is also the most fun…

#1 Be everywhere.

We see so many businesses pick only one social media platform to post on. One is a great start, but when you have numerous opportunities to connect with current, potential and future customers, why wouldn’t you?

Don’t be afraid to be too aggressive when signing your business up for social media accounts. The more opportunities you create, the more exposure you have. As we like to say, “the more the merrier,” just make sure you are able to stay active on all accounts, because a stagnant social media page will not do anything for your business.

#2 Be creative.

Blending in is what you want to try and avoid when taking on your social media. Why? Because no one wants to hang out with a “Boring Barbara”. Creativity is the name of the game and your followers/customers will appreciate it. Redundant and generalized content posts are more likely to be overlooked. Fresh and creative copy however, will give you bonus points. Let your brand’s voice come through on all social posting and it will give you a creative edge your competitors don’t have.

Tip: Next time you are on Facebook, pay attention to which posts you click on and take note why it is enticing.

#3 Make new friends.

Actively building your following takes time, but it is well worth it. Build your network by following other businesses or individuals, boosting your posts, or utilizing hashtags to reach potential social friends. More followers = a larger target audience.

Along with building a network of customers, you will be adding value to your social brand. Potential customers like to see that you are liked. If you have a single follower, others that cross your page will either feel bad or turned off. The best way to avoid this is by showing your business is booming and proactive.

#4 Show off your good looks.

Social media is visually driven. As a social media addict we like to see bold beautiful images, videos, professional cover photos and logos. This will again add value to your company and give your following something to gander at.

Quality design goes a long way. More individuals are utilizing social media as a tool to decide whether they will purchase a product or invest in a particular service. With that shift in social media, the importance of having a professional page is a necessity. Since social media pages and websites are now some of the first places to make a first impression on your customer base, make sure it is up to the standards you would create for your own store or office.

#5 Stay active.

Social media is not for the weak. It is a long and strenuous journey that is constantly changing and needs to be frequently maintained.

If you were thinking you could get away with a few posts a year, we are here to whip you into shape. The more you post and the longer you work your social media, the bigger the results. Unfortunately, social media it is not a short term game, you have to think of the long term picture. As with blogging, social media constantly needs fresh content to stay relevant and on your customer’s minds to have an impact.

Social media scares a lot of businesses, but if you take it one step at a time and build a strong foundation, you will be able to step out in your fancy shoes and show off your social savviness. Are you up for the social challenge?

01
May

Ring the Alarm: Building a Brand (Through Beyonce Song Titles)

Every new business has to start somewhere. Knowing the amount of design and marketing work needed to create a successful venture can be overwhelming to a small business owner, which is why so many overlook the key elements that have now become a necessity in order to stay competitive. There is no need to be Jealous of your competitors, because starting from the ground up allows you to create an original vision with a sturdy foundation.

Listen, we’ve got you bae. Building a brand is a huge undertaking, but it also the start to your businesses successful future. This week we are going to break down which items are on your brand building checklist, and why they will be important down the road.

#1 Say My Name

Your domain name is no joke. When new businesses are throwing around names they hardly even consider if they can get a domain name that aligns. Even though the name you’ve chosen may be Irreplaceable, make sure a website domain is available or a similar variation will cohesively work.

Often small businesses will choose a website domain that may not include the name of their business, and find that customers have a difficult time finding them online. The closer your domain is to your actual business name, the easier your website will be found. Why is this important? The more individuals you drive to your website, the more opportunities you create to make them a customer. (Not to mention it will help your search engine rankings).

#2 If I Were a Brand

Brand development. This is the time to think about Me, Myself and I. Your branding elements should ultimately reflect the vision you have for your business. If you are an existing entity with a brand that falls flat don’t be afraid to Start Over.

Decide how you want to be perceived by customers? How your product or service is unique? And what style/personality traits you are looking to project? Once these questions are addressed you can give your designer the Green Light to develop a logo that represents who you are as a company, and what it is you are providing. The design and content created for your brand will serve as the structure for future marketing and aesthetics, and is why your branding needs to have a strong concept that will last over time.

#3 Flawless, Web Design

Since web design is one of the more costly branded aspects, small business owners tend to either leave it out of their plans altogether or go for the bare minimum to save. Your website may be one of the first interactions your customers have with your business, so it needs to be able to say Hello with a striking design and user-friendly experience.

By investing in a responsive web design that is aesthetically pleasing with easy navigation, you are creating an opportunity for your target audience to leave your website with a sound impression. So many individuals make purchasing decisions based on the quality of a website, so if it means spending a little more to ensure you receive a top of the line design and structure, than it is worth it.

#4 Crazy in Love with Content

In reading social media posts, blogs or resources on your website, your target demographic should be able to get a clear sense of your brand. Copy provides numerous opportunities to really reach out to potential or existing customers. By giving useful tips in social posts or sharing recent news through blogs your business is opening up the floor to create further discussion and interest, which could turn into a sale or lead.

Another reason why content is the Diva of your branding checklist is because it works to drive customers to your website. By adding new content regularly you are nurturing your website so it can be properly indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. In providing original, keyword friendly copy, your business will be optimized for increased search engine visibility making it easier for customers to find you and your products.

#5 Run the World

With the right domain, branding, web design and content you are situated to Blow your competitors away. A solid foundation for your business starts with building your brand and from there you can grow anywhere.

 

Beyonce Photo Credit: This image, which was originally posted to Flickr.com, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 03:30, 8 June 2010 (UTC) by Truu (talk).

25
Apr

A Brand’s Tale, of World Domination

Alright, evil genius, calm down… we don’t actually mean world domination, but more how your brand can help you dominate any industry. Your brand stretches across multiple facets including your website, social media, product packaging, marketing, etc. Some of the top brands around the world have paid close attention to their business, making sure every element cohesively works throughout their visual identity.

As a local business or growing venture, it is incredibly important to create a solid brand that will showcase your business in the best possible light to your potential customers or target audience.

Step 1: Domination always begins with an evil plan.

The great thing about a start up business or venture in its’ “early stage” is that the possibilities are endless. Your brand doesn’t have recognition yet, so you have the ability to create a unique vision that will align with your goals and how you want to be perceived.

Are you looking to gain local clients? Do you want your brand to work on a global level? These questions will help mold your vision. Keep in mind, the more concise the vision, the easier it will be to convince others. Too many concepts or goals will not only be confusing to explain, but will hinder your brand’s ability to market itself effectively. If you are looking to create a local feel, then creating that sense of community will be the basis of your brand. From there the focus will be singular. Attract local consumers, cohesively work with the local atmosphere (ex. beach area, downtown) and research what your target customer looks for in a brand.

Once you have compiled research that supports what you are looking to do with your vision then it is time to plan how you will develop all aspects of your brand to work together.

Step 2: Executing… your plan.

A vision is laid out, which means you are ready to move onto the next phase, which will be putting it all together. Branding covers a wide spectrum, but most business start with the visual of all visuals…the logo. A good logo design is crucial. The professional quality will add value to your brand and be the visual piece that customers recognize.

Once your logo design is created, edited and approved your business will be able to use that as a catalyst for all other design elements. Your website, social media channels and marketing collateral will not only have the logo attached, but by using the same color palette and feel, will start to truly build out your brand.

By branding all elements of your business you are creating a complete foundation. Customers will be able to associate with your venture regardless of where they see it. That lasting impact is how brands gain success that will continue over time.

Step 3: Band of Loyal Minions

Your customers are perhaps the most integral component in building your brand. The more you help them, the more loyalty they will have. A solid customer relationship begins with their perception of you. In the beginning process of creating your brand, you will have addressed the most basic question, how do I want customers to perceive my business?

Branding the language you use to create a consistent voice for your business is key. As sometimes your website is the first interaction a customer may have with your brand, be sure to utilize your brand’s voice whether it be uber professional or casual and warm. Why is this important? When customers take the time to visit your website, the same vibe they receive through your content should be equal to what they would experience in person. If you succeed in meeting their expectations, chances are they will be loyal and long time customers.

Every great brand starts somewhere. Nail down your vision and nurture it until it is ready to be presented to your target audience. From there your brand could potentially rule the world… or at the very least the market.

09
Apr

Give My Regards to Blog-way!

The art of blogging has become a critical tool for businesses of all industries and sizes. The more blogs your website posts, the more opportunities to engage your target audience and the better search engine rankings your website will get.

Blogging is a simple concept that creates new traffic which turns into fresh leads and more returning customers/clients. Now, how do you dominate the blogging world? By following a couple of easy to execute ideas you will be able to get the most out of your blogs.

Title of Show

It is all about the title of your blog. The title is the first opportunity to grab your target readers attention, so don’t always go for the obvious choice. For example this blog could have been titled “How to Write a Blog”, but although that title explains the core of the entry, it is a bit lackluster.

Be creative in your approach. Puns, light humor and a play on words are great go-to-concepts when creating your original blog title. Take ours for example, “Give My Regards to Blog-way!” is a play on the lyrics “Give My Regards to Broadway”. Corny? A little, but it stands out among the various titles out there in reference to writing blogs.

Stay on point. In your creativity, make sure you don’t stray too far from the topic. Your title should give a clear direction of your blog to avoid any confusion or reader disappointment.

Blogs and the Amazing Technicolor Image

In 2015 we are officially in the visual age. With the popularity of platforms like Instagram, Youtube and Vine it is evident that the use of imagery is appealing.

Articles with images gain 94% more total views. What?!? Who would ever post a blog without an image then? You’d be surprised how many businesses miss out on key viewer opportunities by not including an image in their blog.

Another photo perk? Social media allows users to share, and if you have a big beautiful image with a link to your blog, your followers are more likely to share the post which will drive more traffic to your website.

The Brand and I

Branded content. Your brand identity should come forward on all writing. Why? Because for some, a blog post could be a potential customer’s first interaction with your business. By writing with your brand identity in mind, a reader will get a good feel as to the kind of atmosphere you are looking to create.

Not sure how to write as your brand? Look at how you interact with your customers/client base. Are you casual? Highly professional? These aspects are a great base to work off of when creating a specific tone for your content.

Alright blogger, you are now officially ready to take the stage and get the most out of your blogging.

06
Apr

The Ten Branding Commandments

  1. Thou shall be creative. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and be bold, innovative and different. In a competitive industry sticking out is a good thing when it comes to the success of your business. Creative branding provides an opportunity to stand out and dominate your competition.
  2. Thou shall make it simple. When brainstorming ideas for your company keep to a few strong ideas. Brands that have too many focal points and concepts usually come up a bit short. A strong brand should have the ability to be described in a few words. So if yours takes more than a few, try narrowing down your scope until you have a defined idea.
  3. Thou shall know your customers. In order to market an idea, you have to know who you are marketing too. Without that knowledge your brand will have no basis. Knowing your demographic is key when developing a brand. It will help define the type of logos, tagline and personality your brand will look to emulate.
  4. Thou shall create “more than a feeling”. Branding is so much more than typefaces and imagery. A brand should be able to make a positive and emotional connection with each customer.
  5. Thou shall brand it all. Your companies individual branding should be present on all items (i.e. website, print collateral, social media, etc.). The more prevalent a brand the more opportunities it has to resonate with a customer and draw them in.
  6. Thou shall brand your domain. Nothing is more confusing to a customer than a website domain that has nothing to do with the company’s name or branding. In order to avoid any confusion choose a domain name that makes sense within your brand.
  7. Thou shall not covet thy competitor’s brand. No one likes a copy cat. Be original in your concepts that way your customer base will be able to distinguish between your product and your competitors.
  8. Thou shall be consistent. Consistency is the only way to get your customers to jump on board. If your brand jumps around with each marketing campaign, then your target audience might find it difficult to recognize you.
  9. Thou shall make it personal. It’s okay to get a little personal. Your brand represents your company. The keyword here is “your”. Brands that have personality and reflect those who are behind the company are often more successful. Why? Because customers like to know there is someone looking out for their best interest and appreciate a brand that has character.
  10. Thou shall create an amazing logo. Your logo is often the most impactful component of your visual identity. In following each of the commandments your logo will be present on all platforms, which is why it needs the most attention out of all branding aspects.
27
Mar

Go Organic… SEO Tips to Enhance Website Visibility

When working in a competitive industry, having great search engine visibility is key. Why? Because how else will your target audience find you. With a vast majority of individuals jumping online to search, it is crucial you make yourself as visible as possible, and there are a few things you can do to ensure that happens.

#1 Fresh Content

Give the people what they want… fresh content. In order for your website to stay relevant in the eyes of search engines like Google you need fresh copy added to the mix.

Adding content daily would be incredible… but lets be honest if you are trying to take on your own SEO, you don’t have the time. So, if you can’t make the daily commitment or even alternating days, try once a week or at the minimum bi-weekly in the form of blogs, videos and images that will give your website ranking the boost you’ve been waiting for.

#2 Focus on Hearty Search Phrases

Keywords are important, but hearty search phrases are good for you. Why? Because when a potential customer searches online, often they search phrases as opposed to one singular word. Your search phrase should include words that describe your business and will narrow down searches for your potential customers. The easier you make it, the quicker you can get your content to the right people.

#3 All Natural Language

We don’t want you to sound like a robot to your target customers and Google is smart enough the recognize the different between the folks spamming their website with an unnecessary abundance of key words and those doing it the “right” way.

If you are writing a blog for your website about your All Natural Popsicle brand and you create a sentence such as follows:

“If you like natural popsicles, then these natural popsicles are the natural option for popsicles”.

Hmm… sounds kind of strange right? Google, Bing and all of those other search engines think so to. Be cautious how you write because overusing the same keyword phrases over and over again could earn you a website penalty and loose you some confused customers.

#4 Trust the Process

SEO efforts aren’t just a one off thing. It takes time and consistency. The more often you are adding new text, and the longer you persist, the better the results.

Once you hit the top, don’t stop. Since the rules of SEO are always a changing you have to be on your toes and continuously making new strides in order to maintain your #1 spot.

Utilizing these tips in your everyday SEO efforts will help you become the creme de la creme. Just remember to keep in mind that this takes time and consistency and by using that mantra you will be ready to serve your industry competition a slice of your SEO cake.

20
Mar

Marketing Avengers Assemble

Content, social media, and branding are all strong components on their own, but assemble them together, and your business could dominate.

The Branding Hulk

Branding is big. If there is one element of your business’s marketing strategy that needs thorough attention, it’s branding. Your brand is how you connect. Although it may seem like simple visuals, it is so much more than that. Logo designs and print collateral should all sync together in order to create a professional and well rounded appearance that can emulate an emotional connection and in turn a strong customer-business relationship.

How does branding work in tandem with content and social media? Wherever your brand goes, they follow. Content & social media channels should always reflect your brand’s personality. If you are marketing to kids and you utilize stiff adult-lingo (which isn’t cohesive with what you’ve created visually) then the kids may be slightly confused. Your brand should be created with a demographic in mind, because without that knowledge or consistency in all marketable areas, your brand might be lost.

Captain Content

Much like in the mad men era, today content is king. In the past slogans, taglines, or descriptions had to sell the consumer a product. Although marketing channels have changed, the need for quality copywriting is still very much a booming facet.

Mix content with good social media posts and branding and you have yourself a pot of gold. A good tagline beneath your logo or copy for the home page of your website can make all the difference in the world. Those who don’t take stock in the use of quality writing will find their target audience pretty unimpressed. Your business’s website and social media posts should always be thinking about content. Without it, your organic search engine rankings could go down and your online followers will get bored fast. Content should always be new and should consistently be working to entice the consumer.

If He Be Worthy, He Shall Possess the Power of Social Media

Social media is where it all comes together. Why? Because the vast majority of online users have one or more accounts on social media outlets.

The idea behind social media is to drive traffic to your website or business. By promoting your website on social media, you have the opportunity to drive them to directly the information you want them to see. However, this should go both ways. Social icons should always be present on your website. Why? Because the more ways you can communicate with your customers the better. By following you on Facebook or Twitter, they could get updates on sales, discounts, or promotions which will result in more frequent interactions and opportunities to snag a returning customer.

Content plays a pretty big role when it comes to maintaining and marketing your social channels. So many businesses post generic run-of-the mill content and unfortunately no one interacts with them. Like all facets of marketing you have to engage the consumer, so the more character your posts have, the better chance you have of customers following your posts in the future.

Assembling a crack team of content, branding, and social will have a huge impact on your marketing efforts. Alone they are strong, but united they could take on the universe.

12
Mar

Lessons from Movie Marketing

Every year film companies pay out billions in an effort to bring new, and creative ideas to movie marketing.

So, what does high cost movie marketing have to do with small business? Although you won’t be spending billions on campaigns, the fundamentals and innovative ideas that now propel the film industry can be used on a smaller scale to give your brand an interesting and competitive edge.

The Oscar for hilarious marketing goes to… Unfinished Business

Recently the marketing folks for the new Vince Vaughn flick released a series of images featuring the main cast posing in stock photos. Stock photos may seem like a boring tactic for a movie campaign, but in staying with the context of the film (a comedy about business), it made sense.

We’ve all seen the typical stock photos of individuals in suits pretending to be working in a fake environment. They are ridiculous. So, in playing off of that, and offering them up as free stock photos, they created a comical campaign that had the ability to go viral… and it did. Within hours of launch the photos were trending all over social media creating a momentum for a film that didn’t have much traction prior to the stunt.

What can we learn? Sometimes the most creative and successful marketing plans are the simplest. Elaborate marketing tactics are impressive but not always necessary. By creating an image or post that is well executed and easily shareable, your business can open a door to a larger target audience by spending little to no capital.

The Marketing Knight

The Batman films are a huge franchise that has had success for years. The first installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman had an incredible following, however that didn’t stop the Warner Brothers marketing team from going above, and way beyond what their target demographic expected for the second film The Dark Knight.

Kicking things off, the team designed a campaign website for the political character Harvey Dent. This idea served two purposes. First, it promoted the film with an interactive element, and second it created a marketing tool that could actually measure the website traffic which would most likely translate to movie tickets sold. A little brilliant. The next phase was the development of a fictitious newspaper titled The Gotham Times, which was distributed on street corners in various cities across the US. The tactic utilized the brand and created an atmosphere for fans that was tangible. The last stop on The Dark Knight marketing train began with a viral website named whysoserious.com. Again creating a outlet to drive fans, the website also offered “joker army” messages which could be tracked. Those who tracked all the messages were given an opportunity to take part in a scavenger hunt type adventure within selected cities. They were then given an address (to a local bakery) and instructions. Once they arrived and gave the password (Robin Banks) they were presented with a cake and a number on it. Once the fan called the number a phone would ring from inside, and beneath the cake layers was their very own Gotham Police evidence bag with a phone and joker related items. Pretty cool, am I right? Creating the ultimate fan experience is a strategy that will never get old and will always be appreciated by the consumer, not to mention it was crazy fun and effective.

Why? Because it kept their target demographic anticipating the next campaign. Building a hype through marketing initiatives resulted in a box office boom. The first installment generated $251,188,924 while the second installment took over with $533,345,358. Not a bad jump.

How can your small business benefit? By getting creative. By changing up your website to reflect a marketing campaign for a new product or by developing fun print items to reflect your brand, you are providing your target customers with a physical and visual reminder of your product or service. Don’t be afraid to get a little innovative and build anticipation. You don’t need to bake any phones into cakes, but you can give your consumers a fun way to win rewards. Creating a hype and driving customers to your business doesn’t have to be so traditional. Your customers will enjoy the change of pace and entertaining offer, so ask yourself… why so serious?

Ready to amp up your marketing efforts? Take to social, your website or your physical location and promote your brand, product or service with a fresh edge. The great part about being in control of your marketing is you can spend $0 or $10,000. Just make sure to have professional print materials, design items and content. The better your business looks the more enticing it will be to your customers.

05
Mar

Welcome to the Big Bad World of Social Media Management

Unless you have a hired team member to sit, monitor and post on your social media daily… it most likely won’t happen, and a stagnant social profile won’t give you much success. Not having an active social media presence is no longer an option for today’s businesses.

The first step to realizing you need social media help, is by admitting it. Once you have, you know that in order to stay competitive, get leads and market your business right, you need to put social media on the top of your to-do checklist. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are there for you. They will connect you, drive traffic to your website, build your brand reputation…if you put in the time. However, very few business owners have that time…. because you are trying to run a business… so what do you do? Find a social media guru.

What Can Your Guru Do For You?

Your guru, also known as your social media manager knows that all social platforms are constantly changing and consistently growing. As a business without management you will most likely always do the same thing, and unfortunately thats why you may not be seeing results. Did you know that words associated with life events get bigger bumps on Facebook? Or that boosting a post for let’s say $10 bucks can get your content seen by a larger number of followers? Or that Twitter has these free things called website cards that followers can click on, and it takes them directly to your website? There are so many facets of social that are being upgraded to help your business succeed and by having a social manager that stays on top of the latest information means only one thing… better exposure for your brand.

Branding is Social Gold

Social media allows for you to reach a larger target audience while engaging with them as a brand. I mean… how cool is that. Can a print ad do that? Eh, not exactly. Although print is still incredibly important for marketing purposes, social media creates interactive opportunities for the customer and business. By following your page they can get a sense of your company’s identity, what you have to offer and how you treat other consumers.

A social media manager will constantly monitor your social networks ensuring that all posts, interactions, customer questions and complaints (yes, customers will complain) are answered quickly and with your brand identity in mind. Branding is incredibly important on social platforms. If you are a laid back business that is known for their great personalities and casual ambiance, but post really boring links on Twitter with no personality, than your followers won’t really want to follow you. A social manager will know how to add character to your posts that will engage your following, reflect your business and not put anyone to sleep.

Graphic Punch

So, we know a social media manager can post and interact as your brand. They know social networks latest trends, how to use analytics to better your reach, but can they make you look good? Of course. One of the most important aspects of your business page are the visuals. Cover photos, profile pics, campaigns are the images your customers see and let’s be honest… judge you on. One of the biggest turn offs for a customer on Facebook or Twitter is a blurry cover photo or profile pic. If it looks messy to you than it will to your customers, which in turn will affect your customers opinion. Professional quality graphics will do wonders for your business, and a social manager will make sure all images are the right specs and work with your entire social package.

Seems to me like a social media manager sounds like the best person ever, am I right? Let Sixth Gear know what you are looking for with your business’s social media or ask us to evaluate your pages and give our top recommendations.