It’s a new year, which means we all have an opportunity to start fresh with a new approach. Leave your bad marketing habits behind and start the next 12 months off with a positive outlook. Below are my top 5 marketing resolutions for the year. I’ll be making these five items a priority.
1. Measure and adjust.
We all have a lot on our plate, which means we don’t always make the time to measure how our marketing is performing and then adjust our approach based on this information. This year don’t flush marketing spend down the drain! Make sure every campaign has some method of measurement. If you are running an online campaign, make sure you are tracking clicks and conversions. If it’s a print campaign, try a unique phone number that will allow you to see exactly who contacted you from that ad. There are so many tools out there that allow marketers to track ad performance. Use them!
2. Make a schedule and stick to it.
Blogging, sending email newsletters, posting on social media. These are all items that can get lost in the shuffle of running a business. Don’t let it happen this year! Create a schedule for posting and stick to it!
3. Pick three web metrics and track them monthly.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with date when it comes to a website. Google Analytics provides an overwhelming amount of data. This year, make it a priority to track just three metrics. Maybe it’s as simple as visitors, conversions and mobile visitors. Whatever your top three are, keep track of them and make sure they’re heading in the right direction. If they’re not, make changes to your site to get the trend line moving up instead of down!
4. Create a style guide.
Don’t let your brand get away from you! Know what colors are in your logo and make sure you have that documented. Pick a few fonts that you always use and include that in your style guide as well. Have your style guide saved as a PDF and share it any time you are working on a design project or placing an order for collateral material.
5. Don’t forget face-to-face meetings.
It can be easy to hide behind your computer and focus your time on digital interactions. But many a business deal has been closed through a face-to-face interaction. Take time in 2018 to build networking into your schedule. The right meetings or events will pay off!
What are your marketing resolutions for 2018?
Pretty much every business person I talk to hates his or her website. After a redesign there’s usually a six-month to one-year honeymoon period and then the website gets stale. But just as most business-owners hate their websites, they are also overwhelmed with the thought of taking on a redesign (or launching from scratch). The biggest question looming over many business owners’ heads when it comes to the website is, “How much is this going to cost me?”
And like many things, the answer to this simple question is, “It depends.” I recently got quotes for a client from eight website developers and got prices back that ranged from $1,500 to $80,000. And keep in mind that I gave each developer, all of whom were based in Connecticut, the exact same set of specifications for the site. Imagine if you went to buy a loaf of bread at one grocery store and it cost $2, but at the next store in the next town it cost 50 times that amount.
Of course, bread is a commodity and websites are customized. So that’s why it makes it so hard to compare from one vendor to the next. Here are my recommendations on how to make sense of these wild cost differentials.
If you are just starting your business out, use an online service like Weebly, Wordpress or SquareSpace and build the site yourself. If you don’t have the time or the tech experience to do it yourself, you might have an employee who can, or you can always contact me!
If you are an established business, then you probably want something more customized and complex than what the above services can offer. In that case, you’ll want to work with a web development company. Try to look at local companies that are a similar size to you revenue-wise and find out what web developers they used. You can ask the business owners or you can simply go to their websites and scroll to the bottom of the page. The web developer is often listed there.
What I’ve found is that most web development companies have a customer sweet-spot. If, for example, a web developer works mostly with banks and hospitals, that developer is going to charge a premium because those types of clients are sophisticated, have big budgets and have a lot of security requirements. If a developer works mostly with small mom-and-pop businesses, it will likely have a more affordable price, but might not have the expertise to take on more complicated customizations. The number one thing that tends to drive up a website's cost is integrations. Anytime you need your website to talk to another website, whether it be for ecommerce or custom relationship management purposes, you are going to see an increase in cost on the development side.
From your research, get together a list of three or four developers and get quotes from them. Try to provide the developers the same information so you can get an apples-to-apples comparison on price.
If doing all that homework sounds daunting, then again, you may have an employee do it, or you can always call a consultant like me to manage the process.
Are you a small business owner that has generally handled marketing yourself? Or have you used an ad agency sporadically with mixed results? Then working with a marketing consultant, like Hall Davis Marketing Strategies, might be right for you.
But what does a marketing consultant do? Whatever you want it to do! Well, within reason, of course.
Here’s a quick list of some of the services we offer:
Basically, if it has something to do with interacting with existing or potential customers, a marketing consulting firm like ours can help you. And you don’t have to be a “big” business in order to work with a consultant. Small businesses may find a consultant useful to “outsource” certain tasks that may be weighing down the owner or an employee whose strengths are in other areas.
For example, maybe you have a company newsletter that you still send out in printed form. And that newsletter is written and sent out by an employee who also juggles a variety of tasks, including answering phones and sending out bills. A marketing consultant like Hall Davis Marketing Strategies could take on your newsletter, convert to an email newsletter, and manage the content each month. You have a happier full-time staffer and you get a better newsletter that also drives traffic to your website, which helps with SEO. It’s a win-win!
Think you might benefit from a marketing consultant? Contact us for more information!
Email newsletters are a great tool for connecting with existing and potential customers. But don’t get sloppy! A poorly planned email campaign can at best do nothing, at worst, hurt your brand.
Before you conceive of an email or series of emails decide what your goal is. Here are some common examples:
You may look at this list and think, “I want to do all of these, or three of these things.” And to that I would say, “Great. But pick one thing to accomplish per email.”
Too often people cram six messages into a single email newsletters and then are disappointed in the results. But think of how you use email. You go through emails pretty quick, right? How often do you scroll all the way on a marketing email? Not very often, I’d bet.
Pick one main message that you want to convey in each email. You can throw in a few added bits of content/links on the off chance that you catch someone’s attention. But don’t expect a reader of an email newsletter to spend more than a few second scanning what you send. If your message doesn’t convey quickly, it’s not worth sending.
Want help developing an email newsletter program? Contact Hall Davis Marketing Strategies today!
Being a small-business owner is a time-consuming endeavor. Most of the work falls on your shoulders. Often, the last thing a small-business owner has time to do is actually market the business. They are too busy keeping their existing customers happy to stop and put any effort into finding new customers. Gone are the days when a few print ads in the local paper will keep the phones ringing. In today’s environment, a social media presence is a requirement for any small business. But setting up that social media presence takes time.
That’s where Hall Davis Marketing Strategies can help. We’ve developed the Small Business Social Media Startup Package to help small business owners in Connecticut get an important foothold in the social media marketing world.
Here’s what the Small Business Social Media Startup Package includes:
The total cost for the Small Business Social Media Startup Package is $599.
Additional services, to be billed separately, can include:
Let Hall Davis Marketing Strategies take some of the stress of social media marketing off your shoulders. Contact us for more information today!
I recently met with a small business owner who was just looking to rejuvenate her business. She met with me because she was interested in Facebook advertising.
She was already sold on the idea of Facebook advertising, but wasn't sure how to go about it. She wanted me to help start running ads.
But as we started discussing her goals, it became clear to me that Facebook advertising wasn't the right first step with her. What she needed to do was simply put herself out there in her face-to-face interactions and pitch her business. I'm convinced she'll have a much better conversion rate if she just starts telling people what she offers than if she starts spending hundreds of dollars on Facebook.
She admitted to me that she was uncomfortable with "putting herself out there." And I get it. It is HARD to take the first step and try to sell your services. It feels icky to most people except those who are natural-born sales people. But guess what, no one will know about your business if you don't tell anyone!
I often think that business owners want to find a magic pill -- a paid advertising campaign -- that will miraculously bring qualified customers to their doorstep. But the reality is, for most businesses starting out, it's much cheaper (sometimes free!) to just tell people that you meet what you do. It may not feel comfortable at first, but it will feel comfortable eventually.
As if the world of website metrics wasn't confusing enough, Google just went ahead and made a little more confusing.
I was visiting my Google Analytics account for this website and became a little confused. The metric "sessions" kept displaying and I couldn't find my unique visitors. I though maybe I had selected the wrong metric to display, but after some digging I realized it wasn't just me. I did what everyone does now when they have a questions -- I Googled it. I found this post on Search Engine Roundtable noting that Google has made the following changes in its terminology:
Visits = Sessions
Unique Visitors = Users
Yeah. Kind of confusing, huh? You know all those reports you've been keeping for all these years? Yeah, they have to be updated. And you're going to spend extra time searching around to make sure you're getting apples to apples data. And you're probably going to have to write down the above equation on a Post-It and place it on your computer monitor so you don't forget. At least, that's what I'm going to do. So, here's my Post-It. Fee free to print it out:
Want to be at the top of search engine rankings? Then you better start generating some content!
Just what is content? Well, it's what you're reading right now. But it doesn't just have to be words. It could be pictures, or videos or infographics. Content is a blanket word for digital material that people consume online.
And the reason why content is important is that it really helps improve search engine results. The more relevant content you push out through your website and social media channels, the more likely you will be to grab the attention of potential customers. And the more potential customers visit your site, the better your search engine results will be.
So what are you waiting for? Get to producing some content!
Maybe your company has a social media presence, but it's disjointed. Or perhaps, your business has never dabbled in social media. The five steps below will help you get on your way to developing a comprehensive social media marketing plan.
1. Determine your audience. Not all social media channels are created alike. Some are more popular with teenagers, while others are likely to catch a more general demographic. Before you set up a social media account, think about who your customers are and how you would describe them. Are they young? Old? Both? Are they wealthy? Or middle-income? Outline the demographic of your average customer and then review our report, "Know your social media audience," to find which platform fits your audience.
2. Pick your platforms. Once you've identified your audience you can pick the social media platforms you want to focus on. If you are just starting out, it's probably wise to just pick one or two platforms to focus your efforts on.
3. Start promoting your presence on your platforms of choice to build an audience. Now that you've picked your platforms it's time to tell people about it. Send an email blast to all your customers inviting them to find you on the social media platforms you've selected. Have a sign at your cash register inviting people to find you online. Any time you interact with a customer, find ways to promote your social media channels.
4. Create a schedule for posting content on your platforms of choice. Now that you have a social media presence and a following, you have to give that following something to interact with. The best way to guarantee a steady stream of content is to create a schedule. Set a goal, like posting once per week. Create a spreadsheet and identify the topics you are going to post about those days. Try to write up your posts in advance and use tools like HootSuite or Tweetdeck to schedule the posts to publish in advance.
5. Measure and adjust. As soon as you start posting, start measuring. You'll want to track what types of posts are the most popular as well as the times of day when your audience is most engaged. If a social media channel isn't popping within a few months, consider dropping it and focusing your efforts in areas that are showing more promise. There's a ton of data available on most social media platforms. Be sure to use it!
I really like the distinction this blog post makes about owned v. rented online marketing channels. As the post illustrates, your website is the channel you own, while your company's presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the places you rent space to market your company.
The author makes the point that companies must do both in order to be sucessful, but if you have to choose one over the other, it's better to focus your efforts on the property you own: your website.
While I think that's true -- that you'd want to pick your website over your social media presence -- I think it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore social media, even for the smallest businesses. A website without a social media presence is kind of like a tree falling in the woods. If there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound. Social media is how brands get heard today. If you want your company to make a noise, you better have your rented social media channels established.
I'm Christina H. Davis and I'm the founder and owner of Hall Davis Marketing Strategies. Learn more about me on my LinkedIn profile.