All posts by Steven

Digital Branding

Why You Shouldn’t Attempt to Do Your Own SEO

If you have been thinking about promoting your website on the World Wide Web, you might have done some research about doing so. Along the way, you might have heard about search engine optimization, which is used to help promote your website on the major search engines. There are a lot of instructional guides and videos out there that are supposed to teach you how to do your own SEO, and as a business owner who might like handling things by yourself whenever possible, this might seem like an appealing option. However, it is usually not a good idea to attempt to handle your search engine optimization campaign all on your own. Here’s why.

You Could End Up Doing More Harm Than Good

One thing that many people do not know is that it is possible to make your search engine rankings worse when attempting to execute a search engine optimization campaign. This can be done in a few ways, such as if you follow old and outdated SEO methods. Since you are probably looking to promote your website, the last thing that you probably want to do is make your search engine rankings worse. If you hire a professional like the team at http://seattle-seo.net/, you will know that this will not happen. Instead, you’ll see the positive results that you are looking for.

It Can Take More Time Than You Realize

Another thing that many business owners do not realize is just how much time it takes to put together a search engine optimization campaign and to run it as it should be. If you’re like most business owners, you might stay busy doing all the many things that you have to do to run your business. This means that you really might not have the spare time to put aside to run your SEO campaign. If you hire a professional team to do it for you, however, you will know that there will be a whole team of people working on running your SEO campaign as it needs to be. Then, you can dedicate your time to the other things that you need to do.

You Won’t Be Able to Take Advantage of Other Professional Assistance

A lot of good search engine optimization companies offer more than just SEO services. Some of them will help you with things like creating social media profiles for your website and promoting them to your audience. Others will help you set up a pay-per-click or other type of advertising campaign that can help you bring in more traffic. A good SEO company can help you with marketing your website in multiple ways.

If you have thought about doing your own search engine optimization campaign, you should know that this usually is not a promising idea. However, if you work with a team of professionals, you can help ensure that your website is promoted online in the way that you want it to be.

Local Branding

Money Saving Ideas For Parents

Having children is the most rewarding, enriching, and exciting thing a person can do, It is also one of the most expensive.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is roughly $300,000, (and I doubt that even considers the costs of the latest iPhone they think they need by the time they are six). Needless to say, that is exactly the reason why a great number of people turn to financial plan solutions – to get prepared for the little ones. As the experts from My Wealth Solutions would say, it’s a series of well-planned investments that would help you reach the financial stability much needed when expecting.
We all want to provide for our children but it is not always easy to make ends meet. However, there are ways we can save money and still enjoy the life we are creating for our families. Below you will find a few tips that will help.

Money Saving Ideas For Parents

Car seat

It has to to safe, not stylish   

Parents tend to think they have to have the best and latest of everything for their little ones. Manufactures know that and put every bell and whistle they can think of on their products. The fact is, your child is going to outgrow many of the things you purchase, long before you even try out all those options. Take car seats for example. Your child will go through at least three car seats (or more). Your car seat needs to be safe and installed correctly. Spend your time researching the car seat and not your money on options.For ideas on what you really need to travel with baby, visit sites like bottlesandbanter.com.

Stroller

Strollers

Did you know some strollers cost hundreds of dollars? They recline, lock, have reversible straps, umbrellas and come with HBO. (Okay, no HBO) Then they fold up and “fit” into the trunk of your car. When you get to the mall, doctor’s office, or the park with your screaming baby in their car seat, you struggle to get this stroller (which is much like a Volvo) out of the car and then fight to set it up. By now your child is having no more waiting and the minute you strap him in, he goes into a melt-down that makes every mother in the area wonder if he is being kidnapped. You push your child, his diaper bag, your purse and the Volvo into the mall, where the fit continues. You end up pushing all that back to the car with one hand and a worn out baby on your hip. The next time you venture out, you grab the $20.00 umbrella stroller that you keep in the backseat and just go.

Money saving ideas

Buy, Sell, Trade

Use consignment shops, shops that buy and sell baby clothes and save a bundle. It is shocking how fast a kid grows. They often outgrow something before they even wear it. Sell it at a shop like Once Upon A Child or on EBay. Take good care of the clothes your child wears – your child learns about frugality from you. You can trade them if they are in good condition. Co-Op with other parents and have swap meets. Get the most out of your child’s clothes and the things they need.

Support Groups

Make arrangements with friends to trade off babysitting, mother’s day out and other things that cost you money. The group I was in even cooked double meals once a week and traded. That way we always had a meal in the freezer that we had not had the day before. Take turns taking the kids to dance class, practice, or the park. You save money and find a little time just for you.

For more ideas, visit www.femmefrugality.com. This site is a great go to site for just about anything parent/ money related! There are a lot of ways to save money listed on the internet. Use common sense and remember one rule.  Just because you did not have it as a child, does not mean your child needs it.

Digital Branding

Things You Should Not Forget About Your New CRM Software

There is a magical moment that occurs when one opens their brand-new customer relationship management (CRM) software for the first time. The possibilities of what could happen spill through the minds of the beholder. While that is all good and exciting, there are things to stop and contemplate about this new program. Before you get too far ahead of yourself, take some time to sort these things out. 

Reward People for Using It

You will probably hand out information about the new CRM software to your entire staff. It is your expectation that they will use it as it is designed to be used. While you sit there excited about the possibilities, some workers may look at this as just another task laid at their desk for them to do. 

Some marketing strategists suggest that you do not forget to look at it from their perspective. To encourage engagement with this new software, consider rewarding those who adopt it into part of their daily routine. Give them the opportunity to get used to how it works, and then start to give out little rewards for using it. 

Bring It to All Aspects of The Business, Particularly Mobile

Business is not just conducted in the office from nine to five anymore. Business can be conducted anytime and anywhere with the very powerful computers that most of us carry in our pockets all the time. Remember that you can still use your salesforce.com software even when you are doing business in a mobile fashion. 

Encourage the staff to plug in numbers and information into their mobile devices when they are on the go. Doing business out in the field is something that any business looking to expand is going to need to do. CRM software can be used out there as well. 

Use the Software to Solve Problems

The CRM software that you use ought to help you solve some of the business problems that you encounter. Hopefully those problems are kept to a minimum, but at least you know that you can always use the software to help get yourself out of a tight jam. 

If you are having trouble acquiring new customers for example, you might turn to the software to see what it is that you are doing wrong. The data contained within the software can be the answer key to a lot of the issues that come up. 

Adapt to New Metrics as They Arise

Encountering a new data point or metric that is worthy of the CRM software is not uncommon at all. Business owners see things in a certain way and may realize that there is something not currently in their software that they would like to track. They should take every opportunity to do exactly that. 

The more metrics that one has in the software program the better for the most part. It is good to know as much about customers as you possibly can. It is impossible to know when a detail about a customer will come in handy.

Salesforce CRM
Digital Branding

How to Create the Right CRM Strategy to Meet Your Business Goals

Since time immemorial, the need to maintain a trustworthy and healthy relationship with the customers has always existed, and so the idea of a customer relationship management is not something new according to NetSuite CRM. Over the recent years, new strategies for CRM have evolved into more technology and automation oriented practices because of the changing dynamics of doing business. The reasons why CRM presently needs to be well planned and more robust is because now, more than ever before, business is becoming customer centric.

 

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that deciding on the most appropriate and responsive CRM strategy requires much more than just selecting the right software for CRM. Below are a few tips to help guiding you in creating the right CRM strategy that can serve your business needs.

  • A blue print of what you must achieve will assist you to know what new strategies you must adopt for your business. The same principle also applies to the CRM you need because simply starting without a goal in mind can be counter-productive. Having a set of goals and how you plan to achieve them is critical to the adoption of such a system. Break down all your objectives in smaller units which are flexible and easy to execute.

  • One size fits all does not work with contemporary customers, and so to get the best services to them, you must categorize your customers. You should separate your loyal customers from the rest of the pack to make your CRM efficient.

  • To gather all pertinent information about your customers, you should synchronize various sources of information apart from those generated by your CRM. Areas from which you can gather information include back office systems like human resources, manufacturing, accounting, and any other inventory that can provide a 360-degree appraisal of customer behavior. Integrating all the information from various sources and deploying them for the growth of your enterprise is the most efficient way of managing a CRM strategy.

  • The system will not work well without the input of your employees, so you must communicate with them while guiding them through the most crucial aspects of your CRM. Every step of your objectives and the future plans you have must be clearly communicated. It is important to give them sufficient training while also living the doors open for suggestions that can improve the system.

  • All departments of your business must be synchronized and integrated into the system because a CRM system that stands alone cannot be effective. Deploying the system is a continuous process that requires constant evaluation. You should be prepared to change anything that is a hindrance to the growth of the business, and only retain or implement what works best for you. You cannot readily pinpoint the shortcomings of the system, so you must be flexible to any changes that might be needed.

In a modern business setup where excellent customer service counts for everything, it is important to have a workable and robust CRM strategy.

Digital Branding

8 Steps to Building a Successful Brand

When a customer hands over their hard-earned money for your product or service they are making a commitment to your brand. Having a strong brand means that customers know, like, and trust your business. Strong brands are rewarded with high customer approval. Successful companies know this and invest heavily in building and improving their brands. Your brand doesn’t just exist in your marketing message. It lives in every interaction your business makes with customers. The five steps below will give you a head start on creating a successful brand.

Purpose

Purpose

With the advent of the internet, consumers have a lot of options when it comes to

selecting products and services. Just having a catchy slogan or a slick logo won’t get you very far. Your brand has to stand for something. You have to know why your business does what it does and you need to make sure that all of your customers are aware of this as well. Your purpose is the absolute, innermost core reason of why your business exists. When customers can align with your purpose they will buy into your brand at a cellular level

In Simon SInek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” TED talk he shared that what separates great companies from good ones is the fact that great companies lead with their purpose in everything that they do. For example, Apple’s core message is to “Think Different” in everything that you do. They promote this message through selling products that are beautifully designed and exquisitely minimalistic. This is what allows them to stand out from the pack.

Emotion

emotion

Contrary to popular belief. We don’t buy based on logic. We buy based on emotion. Emotion is the reason why people spend thousands of dollars on designer handbags when a similar sized bag from Wal-Mart or Target could hold their personal items just fine. When someone chooses to spend this type of money on a handbag they aren’t buying a bag. They’re buying status. To make a successful brand you must create this type of emotion in your customers.

Community

Community

Humans aren’t meant to live alone. We thrive in communities. Powerful brands build communities that empower their customers and give them a direct line of communication to their audience. Now, any business can use social media to create a community with their customers. In a Business News Daily article, Manta CEO John Swanciger said that a brand’s top priority for social media should be community building.

Big brands know the importance of building a community. Take H&R Block for example. They created a section of their website, titled “Get Answers” that allowed users to ask tax questions and get quick answers from professionals. The community empowers user to share and learn all on the H&R block website. The company promoted this new feature with their “Get It Right” campaign on social media which gave them a 15% increase in business vs. the year before when no social media was involved in their marketing.

Consistency

Consistency

Many businesses make the mistake of branding themselves inconsistently across different platforms. They may take one marketing angle on their website, a different one on their Facebook page, and continue this pattern across several platforms. Usually, this is done to try and connect with several different audiences but this usually has an adverse effect. Inconsistent branding confuses customers and creates a disconnect. To create a strong brand, you must maintain a consistent image and message throughout your entire business, including your website, marketing, logo, social media channels, etc. Being consistent allows consumers to become familiar with you, and later trust you.

Value

Value

If you don’t provide value to your customers, they will quickly run to your competitors. Why should a customer choose you over anyone else? What can you offer that is head and shoulders above all others? You don’t have to be great at everything. Start with focusing on being great at one thing and do it better than your competitors. Offer outstanding customer service. Take a customized approach with your clients. Reward your customers for their loyalty.

You can’t mention customer service without bringing up Zappos. CEO Tony Hsieh has made it his goal to provide legendary customer service. In a Forbes.com article, it was revealed that to understand customer service, Hsieh gave each of his employees $100 and asked them to buy two pairs of shoes from Zappos.com – one to return and one to keep. He then asked the employees to share their experience with the team. Zappos invests heavily in customer service over marketing. They want to create more personal connections with customers by tracking and observing customer behavior. Although Zappos spends a lot of money on customer analytics they understand that there is a human touch that is essential in customer service that can’t be quantified.

Wrapping Up

Building a successful brand isn’t an easy task. Any strategic marketing consultant would lay out these foundations for growth and it’s important to get the strategy right from the start. Brands become extraordinary not by gaining customers, but by creating fans. Every brand mentioned above offers something unique that makes it stand out from all of it’s competitors. When you’re bold, honest, and transparent in your marketplace you’re rewarded with customer approval.

Digital Branding

6 Branding Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

When it comes to creating an online marketing strategy for your business, you’ll want to begin with your brand. Strong brands are powerful, consistent, and focused. When people engage with a powerful brand they feel something. Good brands create familiarity in consumers, which leads to likability, trust, and then sales. Without having a clear, concise, and consistent brand image, you’re setting yourself up for an epic failure. However, many small businesses don’t think twice about their branding or brand themselves the wrong way. If you want more customers, and happier ones, you need to get started on your branding. This article will outline a few branding mistakes that you need to avoid.

Not Creating Clear Brand Guidelines

Not Creating Clear Brand Guidelines

You know that you need a brand, but you don’t know how to start. When you’re building a brand, you want to make sure that you have clear guidelines that cover everything relevant to your company. This includes your colors, logo, taglines, fonts, company voice, mission statement, etc. You’ll want to begin by compiling these guidelines with a style guide. Having clear guidelines will allow you to create a consistent brand image and create a clear marketing message in all of your communications. If your brand isn’t clear, it will create confusion in your audience, which will lead to them running off to your competitors.

Being Inconsistent

Inconsistency is definitely one of the most common branding mistakes made by small businesses. Have you ever seen a company that has a website, Facebook page, Instagram profile, Twitter account, etc. that all look different? This is inconsistent branding. Again, inconsistent branding leads to confusion and ultimately lost sales.

Not Protecting Your Brand’s Image

Not Protecting Your Brand’s Image

Building a brand isn’t easy. You want to make sure that it’s represented exactly the way you want. Putting in a lot of sweat equity to create a successful brand only to see a competitor creating a marketing message eerily similar to yours won’t give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. You want to make sure that you stay on the lookout for any misrepresentation of your brand that may come up in the marketplace.

It would be wise to create a Google Alert for any phrases associated with your brand so that you can get the jump on any issues that may occur. Also, make sure that you consult with legal representation to protect your brand or take any legal action, if necessary.

Sloppy Rebranding

Sometimes your brand has grown old and ineffective. In this case, you’ll need to rebrand. However, proceed with caution. No matter how hard you try, rebranding will cause you to alienate some of your existing customers. But, if you’re strategic in your rebranding process, it can prove to be a very profitable decision. When you do rebrand you’ll want to make sure that you keep all of your existing customer in the loop so that you don’t experience any unwanted backlash.

Being Too Vague

Having a vague brand is just as bad as inconsistent branding. The last thing you want someone to wonder when they come to your website, Facebook page, etc. is, “what do they actually do?” You want your brand to have a clear, simple, unambiguous value proposition.

For example. food delivery service Sprig offers healthy meals on-demand. Their value proposition is simple. “Delicious Meals. Honest Ingredients. Delivered Now”. This is an excellent value proposition. It explains everything about the company in very few words. When you’re creating your own value proposition, try to sum up exactly what your company does and/or stands for in one to two sentences. Also, use clear images and logos to solidify your message.

Being Too Complicated

Being Too Complicated

When branding, it’s important to remember that simplicity is key. Think of some of the biggest brands right now: Google, Apple, Amazon, Visa, etc.. These billion dollar companies all have something in common. Their brands are simple. We’re not just talking logos here. The most successful brands make an effort to get out of the way of their customer and make it as easy as possible for them to buy or use their products. Apple does this the best. It prides itself on minimalism and giving users a clear, simple interface without sacrificing beauty and design. You have to avoid adding too many features to your branding. Don’t confuse your customers. Have a clear service and/or product offering. Delve deep inside every aspect of your brand and constantly figure out ways to refine and streamline it.

Conclusion

This is definitely not a comprehensive list of the marketing mistakes that can be made when it comes to branding. You don’t have to have your entire brand figured out in one sitting. Proactively working on building your brand, avoiding any mistakes above, and taking notes from other successful companies will put you well on your way to crafting an irresistible brand.

Digital Branding

6 Examples of Great Co-Branding

Partnering strategically with another business in your marketing can be wildly successful for everyone involved. However, if the relationship isn’t constructed properly, a co-branding campaign could turn into an epic failure. Both companies have to be on the same page with their target audience, vision, promotion, and price to create a successful campaign. The whole point of co-branding is creating an agreement that will make both parties more successful than they could have been on their own by finding a partner that complements them well. There are plenty of examples of great co-branding and below you’ll find six from major brands that can help you in your own business.

Red Bull and GoPro

Red-Bull-and-GoPro

In 2012, Red Bull and Go Pro teamed up for the event “Stratos” which featured Australian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumping from a helium balloon 24 miles above the earth. During the jump, Baumgartner broke three world records, shattered the sound barrier, and used a Go Pro camera to capture everything. The event was wildly popular and a successful project for both Red Bull and Go Pro.

Stratos worked because both brands target the same audience. These companies market to thrill-seekers, extreme sports fans, and those who want adventure. Red Bull’s director of sports marketing Sean Eggert has said that “GoPro camera technology is allowing us to compliment the programming by delivering new athlete perspectives that have never been seen before.”

Cold Stone Creamery and Tim Horton’s

Cold-Stone-Creamery-and-Tim-Hortons

In 2009, ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery and coffee shop Tim Horton’s launched a partnership where each company would put the other one’s menu in 50 of its stores. Executives from both companies decided to partner with each other because they share many of the same customers and each company does most of their business during different parts of the day. Tim Horton’s sees most of its sales come in during the morning and afternoon while Cold Stone serves more customers in the evening. After seeing an increase in sales during a test run, both companies decided to expand the initiative. The two even started offering joint menu items such as coffee floats after listening to the requests of customers.

This co-branding strategy made sense because each company looked at their sales activity and realized that they could complement each other since many of the same customers enjoyed products from both brands at different times of the day. They believed that creating co-branded stores would draw in more customers and they were right.

Uber and Spotify

Uber-and-Spotify

Who doesn’t like listening to music in their car? This partnership allows Spotify users to listen to their favorite songs while they’re in an Uber ride. When you’re waiting for your car to arrive you can queue up a playlist so that your song starts playing as soon as your driver begins your trip. It gives an exclusive experience for Uber riders, Spotify customers have another a reason to pay for a premium membership, and it also gives both companies a unique differentiation over competitors like Lyft, iTunes, Pandora, and YouTube.

MasterCard and Apple Pay

MasterCard-and-Apple-Pay

Both Apple and MasterCard understand that cashless transactions are where our society is headed. MasterCard became the first credit card company to support Apple Pay. This gave Apple an ample customer base to work with while it tweaked its service and gave MasterCard a brand new functionality that was exclusive to their customers. Apple has since teamed up with other major credit card companies to expand their user base.

Dr. Pepper and Bonne Belle

Dr.-Pepper-and-Bonne-Belle

The oldest partnership on the list started in 1975 between cosmetics company Bonne Belle and beverage company Dr. Pepper. After launching the flavored lip balm line Lip Smacker in 1973, Bonne Belle successfully formed a partnership to create Dr. Pepper flavored lip balm. This flavor of lip balm still exists today and continues to be successful.

Nike and Apple

Nike-and-Apple

This is an absolute no-brainer and is an example of very successful complementary branding. Nike knows that their customers who are runners want to listen to music when they exercise and track their progress. So, they formed a partnership with Apple so that their customers could do both. Nike developed a footwear line called Nike+ and Apple created a microchip that fits into the shoes which records the users progress when they activate the feature from their iPod or iPhone. This microchip will tell the user statistics like the number of calories burned, speed, distance, and time. You can even program your Apple device to start playing a particular song when you reach a certain point during your run.

Conclusion

Co-branding can be an excellent way to grow a company without having to make a major investment in resources in branding agencies like Ramotion or create expensive marketing campaigns. It creates a “best-of-both-worlds” relationship where each business benefits from the reputation, image, and customer base of the other. However, co-branding isn’t an end all be all solution and should be executed with caution. If co-branding initiatives aren’t performed correctly, they can turn into absolute blunders. However, if executed properly, they can pay off greatly for all involved and make customers happy. Did you know that having a pet around could make you better at branding? Learn more here.

Digital Branding

The Top 5 Best Ad Campaigns of All Time

What makes people buy? The best advertising campaigns are able to invoke an emotional response from consumers, connect, and engage with them at their core. A product rarely achieves advertising success based solely on merit. The best marketing and ad campaigns psychologically and emotionally create a response in all of us. With the growth of the internet and social media, brands are constantly fighting over the attention of consumers. To make your product or brand stand out you must get creative. Here are four brands that created insanely successful ad campaigns.

Dos Equis – The Most Interesting Man in the World

Dos-Equis---The-Most-Interesting-Man-in-the-World

In 2006, Dos Equis took a drastically different approach to selling beer. Instead of positioning their product as a must-have for getting the attention of attractive women, Dos Equis turned their beer into something that promoted distinction and curiosity. Played by actor Jonathan Goldsmith, the character “The Most Interesting Man in the World” says the following tagline at the end of every commercial: “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” The ad campaign was so successful because it didn’t feel like a commercial. It felt more like a comedy short. Viewers became enamored with the character’s experiences and the character has even been turned into an internet meme. This unique positioning by Dos Equis opened the company’s product to a wider, more youthful audience.

California Milk Processor Board – Got Milk?

California-Milk-Processor-Board---Got-Milk-

California milk sales rose 7% in one year thanks to this clever ad campaign. The interesting part of this campaign is that it wasn’t created to target non-milk drinkers, but those who were already drinking milk. This is important because it’s not always beneficial or cost-effective to try and reel in a new audience. Sometimes, it’s better to market to your current audience and get them to not only start buying your product more, but become fans that promote your product to others as well.

Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Old-Spice---The-Man-Your-Man-Could-Smell-Like

You usually don’t see a lot of overnight successes in online marketing but Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign is an exception. In February 2010, ad agency Weiden + Kennedy launched the first commercial in the campaign, featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa, and it was a viral sensation. Later that year, Wieden + Kennedy devised a social media video campaign in which Mustafa made 186 video responses to viewer comments online. Wieden + Kennedy creative director Jason Bagley described it by saying, “We were creating and sending miniature TV commercials back to individual consumers that were personalized, and we were doing it on a rapid-fire basis…No one expects to ask a question and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through”. The video responses made this campaign extremely successful. Weiden + Kennedy capitalized on the momentum of their initial TV spots and engaged with followers and fans. Through all of this, sustaining the brand’s new image and voice were always kept as a high priority.

Dove – Campaign for Real Beauty

Dove---Campaign-for-Real-Beauty

In 2004, Unilever discovered that only four percent of women thought of themselves as beautiful. So, with the help of Edelman Public Relations and Ogilvy & Mather, the company launched a campaign that challenged people to rethink how they perceived female beauty. The campaign gained a flood of attention from the media and discussions of female beauty started taking place on talk shows, in magazines, newspapers, and online. One ad features a sketch artist who first draws a woman’s face based on the woman’s description of herself. Next, he does a sketch of the same woman but based on someone else’s description. Once complete, the sketches are both posted side-by-side and the subjects look at them. In every case, the drawing based on a description from a 3rd party is more flattering than the woman’s own description of herself. This video went viral and contributed in a big way to the success of this ad campaign. This campaign was successful because it touched people emotionally and allowed people to realize that “normal” standard for female beauty isn’t always attainable and that just being yourself is enough.

Progressive – Flo

Progressive---Flo

It’s not easy to make insurance interesting. With the help of stand-up comic Stephanie Courtney, Progressive launched an ad campaign that featured an upbeat, perky sales agent named Flo. In these commercials, Flo talks to customers about Progressive’s features in a sitcom style setting. Viewers loved the ad campaign so much that Flo has appeared in over 100 commercials since 2008. Progressive was able to successfully break away from the negative public perception that people have of insurance companies by creating a fun and interesting character.

Conclusion

Creating amazing, viral marketing isn’t easy. For every incredible success, there are many more failures. However, if you focus on engaging with your customer and creating a psychological and emotional connection with them, you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful campaign.