Shawn - August 20th, 2010
How can you connect with your client base today? You can blog with them. A blog is your brick and mortar storefront; it’s the next best thing to being there.
Blogging gives business owners the unique advantage of real time dialogue with their current and potential clients. Just as you log onto MLB.com and vent your frustrations about a blown call or squandered trade opportunities, bloggers can voice their opinion directly to the people that are involved in something they are passionate about.
For your company, a blog is a literal porthole into the consciousness of the goods and services buying public.
SO…what are the benefits of adding a blog to your website? There are at least 10 of them:
You are creating a community – your blog can speak directly to interested parties and you can get as topical and granular as you want/need to.
Once you establish the blog you can actively solicit comments in your blog posts and ask your readers what they think. Their comments will spur those of others and you’ll create a conversation.
You can keep the conversation going; if someone takes the time to comment, make sure to get back to them via the blog so everyone else knows what you guys are talking about.
Try not to use your blog as a podium or a soapbox…stick to the key issues about your company and industry; unless you’re selling politics or religion, you may want to steer clear and keep the focus where you need it.
Neither your website nor your blog or anything written or video recorded should be all about you. You get one page on your website: About Us, that’s it. It’s more important that you post content that your target audience will find useful and informative.
It is not worth establishing a blog if you are going to neglect it. It needs to be maintained with a steady stream of fresh and compelling content. Post to your blog at LEAST once a month, weekly or daily is actually even better…
You can use your blog as a showcase for interesting projects that have either universal appeal or highlight a new trend in your industry; a blog is definitely the place to post case studies and featured projects.
Encourage visitors to come back to check for updates or do a three-part series.
You can re-purpose the content…take the month’s best blog posts and incorporate them into a monthly email newsletter so you can share the great info with your offline readers.
The more effective the content you post, the more opportunities you’ll have to get your website ranked better by the almighty search engines. Need I say more? What do you guys think? Any blog success stories?
Shawn - August 16th, 2010
To promote your business, we believe in the power of blogs and the benefits of social media to brand yourself and make contacts, but email marketing really completes that balance and gives you another avenue to target your market.
While some companies subscribe to print ads and postcards (which can be very effective if your budget allows for it and you’ve got a really polished campaign that extends over a period of time) many companies leverage Email Marketing, Bulk Email, and Newsletters to keep their business on the consumer radar. Personally, we partner with iContact.com for their flexibility, their reasonable prices, and their feature-rich selection.
While email is a more affordable solution than traditional print media, we’d like to recommend some guidelines that you’ll find useful or this whole electronic crusade could really backfire on you!
The Number one rule for effectively keeping in touch with your database is to be consistent; twice a month is probably a good interval.
Rule number two: Know the distinction between spamming your potential clients to death and consistently imparting interesting information about your industry while subliminally reminding them that you are an excellent resource for that need.
Rule number three: Don’t make your emails or newsletters all about how great you are, but provide useful tips; you’ll spotlight yourself as a resource, not as a loudmouth capitalizing on a captive audience. (How do you know if you’re doing it wrong? You’ll find that your “unsubscribe” notifications will start to mount.)
Basically, we don’t recommend emailing your entire client and prospect base from Outlook or other normal email software because it is not effective. Reasons for using a service like iContact.com:
Reason number one: They focus on insuring your messages get delivered to your recipient's Inboxes and not their Spam folders.
Reason number two: They are also looking out that you follow all spam regulations so you don’t get reported for not following the permission-based marketing etiquette.
Reason number three: They provide really useful statistics so you know who is opening, reading, and forwarding your emails. You can even get reports on the unique click-throughs on the hyperlinks, so you get a handle on what people are responding to in your emails.
Between blogs and social media and the good use of email marketing strategies, you can reach a ton of people efficiently and affordably…and spend the savings on a vacation.
Shawn - August 3rd, 2010
Do You Need a Website for Your Business?
It’s not just because we run a website design company in Tampa Bay that our answer to that question is “yes!” The need for a website for your business is probably as important as having a stack of business cards on hand to give to potential clients.
The reasons to have a website are pretty straightforward:
Because people Google everything
Because it’s the most efficient way to present your credentials and services in one easy- to-update venue
Because every other business has one
As small businesses grow and turn a profit they can start to afford things like PR professionals and marketing strategies to improve their business.
But with I guess probably no exception, whether you run Joe’s Plumbing or Walmart…the website is your hub: the storehouse for your goods and services detail, your case studies, your testimonials; and it can also provide a platform on which people can pay you.
Websites are available in zillions of sizes and shapes; they can be extraordinarily complex with all kinds of built-in blogs and bells and whistles or they can be a basic template that is customized with your colors and logo and a Home Page, Services Page, and a Contact Us Page.
If it is designed correctly from the beginning, a website can grow with you. Easy to use content management system (CMS) add-ons will also enable you to tweak your content to reflect changes in business scope and to keep your verbiage current.
Basically, there’s nothing static about a website. It’s not a brochure that you create and print and then have to update and reprint and re-disburse. Websites can be optimized and edited and can keep pace with your target audience.
A website is a living/breathing thing, just like your business. It can be adapted and it can be enhanced, but you can never be without one.
Shawn - July 14th, 2010
Whether you’re building a brand or building a business, your first step is to establish your venue. And in the world of all that is virtual, that venue is your website. Without an effective and fully functioning one you’re kind of nowhere.
However, after the shiny slideshows and brilliant graphics are complete and your website is hosted and optimized for all mobile devices, you’re still kind of nowhere because you need to market your website.
So where to start? Well you know you need to be optimized to be found. But website optimization can be expensive and is an effort that takes some trial and error.
Our suggestion?...it’s never a bad idea to start with the free stuff first! You should absolutely go in true Gary Vaynerchuk style and leverage the ton of free marketing solutions through FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media. If you’re consistent and fresh, you can really establish a following.
Then, probably the best place to spend your marketing dollars is with Google AdWords or other Pay-Per-Click marketing programs sponsored by the major search engines. If you do opt for AdWords, we would suggest combining your social media marketing efforts in association with AdWords efforts. (Then you can follow with SEO once you have some statistics.)
For AdWords, basically what you’re doing is creating ads by choosing words or phrases related to your business so when people search using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results.
What’s cool is that you’re essentially singing to the people who like the same songs because they are searching for what you’ve got. In addition, you’ll be able to collect statistics as to what keywords convert well for your business. So you’re literally compiling market research from targeted audiences.
After you’ve pulled some statistics as to what keywords are converting well for you in your AdWords campaign, then you can launch your SEO campaign with some assurance that you have the signposts for the traffic you are seeking.
It sounds calculated because it has to be, but by monitoring these statistics you can consistently remain current on how people are searching and adjust accordingly.
You just need to bear in mind that while SEO takes time and patience, you can obtain more immediate gratification by leveraging Pay-Per-Click and social media marketing. And if you start out reaping some results, you won’t get as discouraged waiting for your SEO to hit its stride.
Bottom line -- your marketing plan is just as important as a good-looking, well-designed website. Just don’t get frustrated in the beginning or believe there is a fool proof plan to get to the coveted Page One.
You can do it, but in the interim, you can steadily build a solid fan base using social media and some Google Tools.
Shawn - July 7th, 2010
In website design, simplicity is strength. The presentation of a clean, clear message that gets you heard above the roar of the crowd is our goal. Making websites better, faster, and able to fly super-hero high is what we love to get up and do every day. The source of inspiration is not from the Planet Krypton or by a bite from a radioactive spider; it’s the passion we have for what we do.
And in our opinion, no one in contemporary business building has demonstrated how to harness the power of passion better than Gary Vaynerchuk. We think his book: Why Now is the Time to Crush It! has dramatically advanced how people see and leverage social media. He shows how web-based technologies can be bent into an infrastructure that will help support and promote the thing you love and turn it into a business.
While reading this book a few times will really enable you to absorb its impact, you can open to any chapter and find concrete examples and explanations of how to tap the power of the Internet.
Called the “ultimate driver’s manual for the modern business” whether you use all or some of Vaynerchuk’s techniques you’ll be renovated. At the very least, you’ll be able to develop a social media campaign enabling you to hit consumer markets that were either previously inaccessible or that you may never have considered viable.
This guy’s success story is genuine; but he wasn’t some overnight sensation. He took his Dad’s local discount liquor store, added passion and the effective use of existing social media tools and transformed the business, his life, and became a virtual pioneer of brand recognition and business promotion. Hate to use the word “inspiring” because it may sound overboard, but pick up this guy’s book or check out the site and prepare for the revolution.