Is Marketing Getting Lost In The Shuffle? Here’s How To Find It Again

A professor once said that marketing is fixing the problem with connecting the customer to the business. There is always a need, a want, a desire, a problem. If you can figure out reasons for the customer to need your business, then you can easily market it to them. This seems like common sense, but getting back to the basics of marketing might be getting lost in the shuffle. Think about how many advertisements you see in a day. Whether you are watching TV, listening to the radio or a podcast, looking at something on the internet and so on…advertising is everywhere. So how can your marketing be found in the flood of advertising? 

What’s In It For The Customer?

The market is saturated with similar products and services. It can be very competitive depending on what your business is. The best thing to always remember when marketing is how does it help the customer? Constantly talking about the product or service can just get boring. But saying how it helps the customer right off the bat can encourage the potential customer to keep reading to learn more about it. Here is a great example from ContentFirst Marketing.

Is Marketing Getting Lost In The Shuffle? Here’s How To Find It Again

Think about those old school infomercials. The ovens that cook turkeys in less time than others, the knives that can cut anything, or the ladder that extends higher than competitors but stores in smaller spaces. These always stood out because they were fixing a common problem customers could have. Potential customers saw value in the products. Stick to this way of thinking, and it will be a great way to build upon a campaign.

Stand Out Where Your Customers Are

Talk to any marketing professional and you will hear a different opinion of where your business should advertise or what platforms you should be present on. It seems like everyday a new social platform is born. It is nearly impossible to be present on all of them with a marketing strategy. And of course there are thousands of ways to reach potential customers, but figuring out where your target audience obtains their information would be a great place to start.

According to Seth Matlins, Forbes Staff, 3 out of every 4 brands could disappear in an instant with no one noticing or caring. That is a lot! That means those brands are not meeting a need, want, desire or solving a problem for their customers or there are too many competitors in the market. Within the same article, Seth mentions that almost 8 of every 10 searches on Amazon are by category, not brand. Customers aren’t searching for Suzy’s Honey but instead are searching for honey. When that search happens, thousands upon thousands of results of honey show up and Suzy’s Honey gets pushed to page 6, which hardly anyone ever gets to.

Instead of running around trying to be everywhere all at once, focus on maybe a couple of different places and do your best on those to market your product instead of just doing minimal efforts on many.

Start With The Basics

Many business owners and marketers are confusing tactics with strategies and strategies with objectives. In marketing, while copying something a competitor has done is flattering, it likely may not wind up working for you. Just because we think that we can jump straight in and copy the tactics others are using we likely won’t get the same results. Why? Even if something worked for them does not mean it will work for you.

Start with the basics again, even if you’ve already had successful campaigns. Go back to the problems your potential customers have and understand why they are having those problems and how your business can help them. Decide which group you are going to really focus on. Doing this can help narrow down your marketing strategy and help determine which niche your products fits in for this particular campaign. And finally, take a look at how this group buys something. What is their buying pattern? From step 1 of having a problem to step 2 of where they go to research how to solve their problem and step 3 of actually buying can help when deciding what kind of marketing you should do. Do your potential customers like to read, listen or watch a video? Do they like reviews? Do they like to go to a store to make a purchase or buy it online (if it is a product)? Do they like to call and speak to someone on the phone about a service or would they rather set up a meeting and speak face to face? So many questions but these can help get back to the basics.

The Bottom Line

Fundamental marketing may seem super boring and it may seem like you are leaving a lot of potential customers on the table if you aren’t marketing everywhere. However, the power of finding the right target market and the ways they buy, can work. Even the greatest and most expensive tactics fail. It isn’t about the amount of money or the size of the target market. It is, and always will be, about finding the right product or service for your clients.

What is a Marketing Agency and How Can We Help Your Business?

One of the most common questions we hear is, “How can we get the most bang for our buck,” when talking to potential clients. From small to very large companies, investing funds into marketing budgets can be a very hard decision to make simply because business-minded professionals want to maximize their return on investment. 

Working with a marketing agency can help boost confidence in finding the value of all aspects of marketing. From digital advertising to ghostwriting, to a full video production, a marketing agency can be a one-stop shop for all of those needs. Understanding how a marketing agency works, what they do and what services they can provide you is a great starting point to figuring out if working with an agency will be a good fit for you.

What Is A Marketing Agency?

Let’s start with an overview of Triple-Nine Digital. We are a full-service digital marketing agency centered on foundational marketing and run by technology. Our guarantee is to support you, your business and your team, and make you feel more relaxed with the marketing side of your business. What that all means is that we will help you with your marketing strategy, from whatever point you are at, to help you reach your goals. We help in whatever way is best for your business when it comes to implementing marketing strategies, solutions and evaluating results to reach your goals. 

Are Marketing Agencies Expensive?

Ultimately, your budget and needs will determine what is deemed expensive for your business. One of the best qualities of a marketing agency is that there is a whole team of professionals who work together to ensure your goals are met. When you figure out how much an account manager, writer, photographer, videographer, social media strategist, advertising specialist, and so on cost individually, you will likely find value in working with a marketing agency that employs all of them and gives you access to these professionals for a great price. 

Costs are always going to be different per client, per project, and per contract. They will also fluctuate depending on where you are located, the services provided (advertising campaigns are a great example) and what the goals are. 

Hiring a Marketing Agency

Now that you understand what it is that a marketing agency does, now you can research agencies in your area and start to interview them. We suggest working with a local agency so that you can have face-to-face meetings, they will understand your target audience better (if you are a local company) and will have a better reach with local advertising and media efforts. However, that doesn’t mean that a local agency can’t help with a business that is nationwide. Ask each agency how they can handle this for you.

When reaching out to the agencies, have a list of projects that you are interested in having services for. An example would be that you’d like a redesign of your website, monthly social media, and monthly advertising. Some agencies may ask what your advertising budget is and others may suggest a budget based on what they believe will help you to reach your goals.

Agencies should do some of their own research on your company to learn about your business, where they can see ways you can improve immediately, short term and long term in the marketing world, how they can help you to do this, and what your competitors are doing. 

After your initial meeting with the agencies, you will be sent proposals for marketing and/or brand management services based on your initial conversation and their assessment of your brand. This is a good time to compare and contrast, look at how they match services to your needs. Have they addressed your initial goals and concerns? What is their commitment to your success? 

Depending on the services you want, you may not have met the people you would actually be working with at the initial meeting. If you think you want to move forward with an agency, you can ask to have another meeting with the team you would be working with so you can meet them and see if they are a good fit for your business. Meeting with the team as a whole can give you a really good idea of what it is like to work with an agency. 

Can A Marketing Agency Help Your Business?

We like to pride ourselves on having multiple professionals with different focuses on our team that can help you reach your goals. Finding one person that can handle every aspect of your marketing strategy, plus day-to-day business operations, and do everything well, might be hard to find. But outsourcing this work to a marketing team that has years of experience under their belts is going to help you. Offloading your marketing from your table can allow you to focus on what you want to with your business, especially if marketing isn’t your forte. 

The Bottom Line

If you are ready to start conversations with a marketing agency, and are local to the Spokane area, we suggest contacting us. Let’s chat about the services you are interested in and how we can work together to create the best marketing strategy for your business.

A Look Into the Future – Possible Social Trends for 2023

It is hard to believe that 2022 is almost over. Not that we are rushing it away, but this last business quarter is a great time to reflect on what has been working on social media for your business and what ideas you may want to consider tackling in 2023. Take a look into our crystal ball with us to try to predict some social trends for the future. It may be worth paying attention to these so your next year is amazing!

Word of Mouth Influencer Marketing

You head to the grocery store and see a new product on the shelf. You look at the package, read whatever it says, but put it back on the shelf because you just aren’t sure if you are going to like it or not and don’t want to spend the money if it is going straight to the trash.

You go to a birthday party and see that same product in their pantry. So, you start asking around, “Hey, are those chips good?” and the feedback is positive. They all like the chips! So, the next time you head to the grocery store, you purchase a bag, simply because when you asked, people liked them so you thought you would too!

Influencing an audience with trustworthy people isn’t anything new, but it is in our faces more than ever. Obviously, we can’t predict who is going to talk to who about a certain product, but we can push the product and information about it to our audiences with positive influencers. Celebrities, athletes, performers, etc., are all over social media pushing whatever product to their target audience because they are a trustworthy influencer. 

As a business, pay attention to influencers in your industry. Take the time to get to know them, their brand, their audience and see if it would be a good fit for your product too. Turning an influencer into a brand ambassador for your business can have a huge impact with long-term results.

999- Blog header - A Look Into the Future - Possible Social Trends for 2023Short Videos Will Be Huge

Tik-Tok length videos are huge. They are now all over Instagram and Facebook too! Unfortunately, a lot of us have the attention span of a snail. No one has the time to watch 5-minute-long videos. But we can scroll through 15 second videos for 5 minutes. How does that work!? It is because each video is different, offers something new, and connects with the audience on several different levels. 

Traditional photo and caption posts are slowly dying. More attention is being given to video, which isn’t new, but audiences continue to crave information this way. 

So, for next year, plan to record whatever is going on. Own a restaurant? Record your chef making something. Edit it into several different 15 second videos and post it. Own a retail store? Record your merchandise and edit it into fun and engaging short videos. Don’t know how to edit or don’t have the time? We can help!

Live Videos Will Transform Social Media

If it isn’t a 15 second short video, then it is going to be lives dominating our social feeds. Lives allow for viewers to have the ultimate experience with whoever at a business, or maybe even an influencer like we mentioned earlier, with potential for conversation right then and there. 

Surprisingly, long live videos are fine as compared to uploaded longer video content. Seems like apples to apples but it is the live feature that makes the video unique. And if users are jumping on to watch a live, then whatever network it is being shared on will see the uptick in viewers, thus realizing it is good content, pushing it out even more.

Grab your target audience’s attention with a live video when you are at an event, when your store is running a special and you want to show the special off, go live when you want to make a special announcement or just go live and say ask me whatever you want! People love to go behind the scenes and see how something is made or work in progress. Lives can allow for that to become a reality!

The Bottom Line

Nothing is ever set in stone. If something works for you on social media, you can keep on doing it. Don’t be afraid to give something new a try. Your target audience will need to be trained to look for these new things, so don’t get frustrated if a live video doesn’t have a lot of viewers right away. It is new to them just like it is new to you! Leverage the resources and knowledge you have on your team, but reach out to us should you need new ideas.

Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?

Google My Business (GMB) is a bit of a gem in the business world. Google, a giant in the tech game, has their fingers in all aspects of the universe (or at least it seems). With a Google account, you have access to all of the Google products: Gmail, Ads, YouTube, access to log into sites with autofill and so on. However, if you don’t have a Google Account, no big deal, except you once were missing out on the ability to leave a review with Google My Business. Not now! While it is much easier to leave a review with a Google account, there is a work around to leave a review for your favorite (or not so favorite) business. Here’s how!

Step 1 & 2: Click The Review Link

Hop on over to Google, search for the Google Business Profile that you’d like to leave a review for and find the area that has some reviews already posted. Click there, then click Write A Review. 

Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?

Step 3: Create An Account

If you do not have a Google account, click on create account, then select “For my personal use”.

Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?

Step 4 & 5: Use Your Current Email Address

Make sure to select “Use my current email address instead”, then fill in your information. As always, use a secure password when creating your account. 

Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?

Step 6 & 7: Verify It and Agree

Google will send you a verification email. Verify that, then continue to fill in the required information. Read through and accept Google Privacy and Terms, then…

Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?

Step 8: Leave A Review

Now you can leave your review without a Google account! Adding photos if you have them is always great, whether it is a positive or negative review. 

Can You Leave A Google My Business Review Without a Gmail Account?

The Bottom Line

We understand that not everyone has a Google account. Hopefully this work around will help those who do not and allow for more reviews to be left for businesses. It is helpful for others to read about your experiences so they can continue to research and make an informed choice. It is also great for a business to hear about your experience – whether it is good or bad!

Advertising 101 – Where and How Much to Spend on Advertising

In today’s world, there are so many different places a business can advertise. It isn’t just the newspaper and television commercials anymore. It is social media, streaming services, at the movie theater before the show begins, electronic billboards, apps and so much more. So how can a business even start to determine where they should advertise and how much money they should be spending? Let’s discuss traditional advertising and marketing spend to get the most out of your budget.

Have a Marketing Plan that Includes Advertising

Word of mouth advertising is great, but it only gets a business so far. Creating a marketing plan that incorporates advertising through different mediums can be far more effective. Within your marketing plan, a target audience should be determined. Their age, likes, trends, etc. can help to navigate where they gather most of their information. And once you take a deeper look at those items, you can then determine which medium will work best for your business. 

A marketing plan without an advertising budget is like fishing without a worm. You might get lucky and catch something, but it isn’t going to happen as fast as you’d like, and it might not be your target customer. With an advertising budget, that is your worm that you are putting on the hook to lure in the right customers. 

How Much Should A Business Spend on Advertising?

There isn’t a magic number when it comes to advertising budget. Your marketing team or advertising agency can help determine what the best budget is specifically for your business and where they feel you will get the most bang for your buck. The business owner, manager, whoever is making the call on spending, needs to be comfortable and feel confident in the budget and return on investment.

That is not to say there isn’t a general rule of thumb. Within the business world, the general consensus is to aim at spending between 2-5% of your sales revenue on marketing. Small Business Trends reports a lower number at 1.08% of revenue for advertising, but of course it will vary from industry to industry. Some industries spend more, like retailers at about 4% while restaurants spend 1.93%. Business to Consumer (B2C) companies typically spent slightly more on average, with product companies spending 9.6% and B2C services companies spending 11.8%. Those percentages might scare someone but let’s put it into perspective. If your revenue were $1 million per year, your marketing and advertising budget should be $50,000 annually based on the 5% of sales revenue rule. From that $50k, you can drop different amounts into different marketing and advertising buckets. 

Advertising 101 - Where and How Much to Spend on AdvertisingTrack Your Return On Investment

When you are just starting out, it might seem like a hard decision to do a lot of advertising, but once you get rolling, it is a good idea to be reinvesting revenue back into the business through more advertising. You need to keep that momentum going, keep on pulling in more customers. But it is always best to track your return on investment in every medium.

Measuring your spending and the effectiveness of the advertising should happen quarterly. It does take some time to garner effective data, so if you are just starting out, give the advertising some time to get out there. Become a detective and find out which advertising works best for your target audience and which medium brings in the most business.

What are My Advertising Opportunities?

Working with an advertising agency like Triple-Nine Digital can help your business research which targeting tactics will work best for you. While we are always open to exploring new and different ways of advertising, here are the tactics that we pride ourselves on:

Targeted Display

This displays your ad on websites and mobile apps, frequented by users matching your target audience.

Search Engine Marketing (Google Search/Ads)

The average web user won’t go past the first five listings on a search engine results page. In fact, more than 67% of all clicks go to the top five listings.

Increase online traffic and visibility of your business with Google Search and be on top of search results at the moment customers are searching for your products and services.

Social Media Advertising

Displays your ad on social platforms frequented by users matching your target audience.

Video Pre Roll, OTT and CTV

Target your customers with your existing video on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and OTT/CTV platforms and channels such as Roku, Sling, AppleTV, CNN, Fox, CBS and more.

Google Discover and Direct Email Marketing

Powerful, cost effective programs to promote products, services and events by delivering ads to Gmail accounts and targeted email lists.

Waze GPS App

Your ad appears in targeted search results or when a driver is near your location.

The Bottom Line

Every business is different. Every budget is different. What works for one business may not work for another and that is fine! Let’s talk through your thoughts and ideas on what advertising means to you and how we can help drive more traffic for your business. Once we create a plan and put it into action, we will adjust as necessary, reminding you and our team of the goals and evaluating performances so we are all on the right track to success.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire A Professional Photographer and Videographer

Think back to the most recent purchase you made. Why did you make that purchase? Was it because it was something you needed or wanted to help solve a problem in your life, or was it a whim of a purchase because the product or service just appealed to you? Was it a video that you watched that told you about the business and what this product or service was? Or how about pictures that accompanied the video to physically show the product being used or how the service is done? 

These are a lot of questions to ask yourself right now, but the next time you are interested in a product or service, ask yourself what is making this so appealing to me? We can bet that professional photography and videography are helping to amplify your decision to make a purchase.

But as a business owner, you are probably thinking, I have this high-tech smartphone that says it takes the best photos and it has some video editing capabilities. I will just do it on my own! Not so fast. This is a decision that needs to be rethunk! Here are 5 of the top reasons any business owner should hire a professional photographer and videographer for their next big project.

  1. 1. Creative Decisions

As the business owner, we sometimes want to cram as much information into thirty seconds as we can to try to make sure the prospective buyer knows as much information as they can. You might end up sounding like an auctioneer if you do that. With a professional photo and video team, you can express your wants, needs and desires to them and allow this team to come up with the best creative ideas and decisions for the project. They will figure out the important keywords and best angles to show to ensure the whole message is getting told. This team knows how to make a video and photo shoot fun instead of stressful and the end product will surely show this.

  1. 2. Saves Time

After meeting with the photo and video team to work out what you want from them, it is up to that team to then get creative and figure out what they want to shoot. Depending on the project, they may come back to you and ask a couple of questions, but after the plan has been put into place, the only thing you will be needed for is filming or photography if you are actually in the pictures or videos. If you are, there is usually a script written for video purposes so you will know exactly what to say. And as far as photography goes, you will know the look and feel of how you want to present yourself to your audience. 

Once the camera crews come in and do their stuff, you can wipe your hands of it until the team shows you a first draft of their work. Imagine not having to stress over anything after that and being able to focus on other parts of your business! 

  1. 3. Saves Money

Do you have all kinds of fancy camera and video equipment? How about editing software? Those things are crazy expensive and if you aren’t going to be using them very often, it will just save you money in the long run to just hire professionals to get the job done right. Hire experts who have a keen eye for detail, understands your business and your audience, and knows your goals. Let them create video and photo magic for you.

  1. 4. Professional Results

Which leads us to the end product. Professional photographers and videographers will provide professional results. If they don’t, they aren’t professionals. Professional results can be checked off as the end product, but also being able to share a high quality project on your website, across your social media channels and wherever else you may want to show them. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to share a video on social media and the size or shape is giving you an error. Let your professional team provide you with everything you need to make showing your end products to your audience as easy as can be. 

  1. 5. Drives Sales

Professional videographers and photographers can help a business develop and achieve its business objectives through sights and sounds. Well-produced videos can attract, engage, and promote one’s brand and company on their own. That is why it is important to work with a professional team so your business doesn’t look low budget or low end. High end, high quality promote and give the same feel about your products or services, no matter the price point. With a professionally done video or photography session of your products or services, you will be able to draw in more potential customers, and grow your business! That is always the goal, right? Grow the business! 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that a professional photographer and videographer will help to make your business be more successful through their services. Reach out to us to learn more about the services we offer and how we can help your business grow.

Do These Things Now to Prep For the Holiday Marketing Season

It seems every year, the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier. It may actually be true this year since product shortages and delivery delays are still a lingering issue. 31% of U.S. consumers say they’ll begin shopping for the holidays before the end of October — well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals launch. So that means business owners need to step up their marketing efforts sooner rather than later. If you work with a marketing agency, now is a great time to share this blog with them and plan a meeting to go over your holiday plans. If you don’t work with an agency, here are some things you can do now and consider doing to prepare for the holiday season.

Plan The Schedule

Take a look at the calendar and decide what your holiday hours are going to be. Come fall, there are multiple holidays to consider, so plan in advance with what your business hours will be and share them with your marketing team. Hours should be shared on socials and posted to your website to give shoppers a heads up. Even if you are an e-commerce business, letting your customer base know when to expect slower than usual service because you are out for a holiday is best. 

Additionally, taking a look at the calendar allows you to plan for when specific posts should be shared. Knowing what day the holiday falls on and figuring out when specials should run should be a part of your plan.  

Lessons Learned from Previous Holiday Seasons

If you were in business last year, it may have thrown you for a big loop because of Covid. It was an interesting holiday for business owners and marketers for sure. So take whatever lessons you learned from last year, plus the previous holiday season and consider what worked and what didn’t work. 

This is also a great time to put feelers out for what your customer base is looking for and making sure you are trying your best to have it in stock. When everyone else is having delay or supply issues, you could be the one with super fast shipping and delivery because you planned ahead. Send out an email and ask what is going to be hot this holiday season when it comes to gift giving. What is really going to be on that list for Santa?

Don’t Miss Out

People mostly get their ideas for holiday gifts from the internet! So be sure to have your products front and center for people to research, share, and purchase. Given that 60% of early holiday shoppers say they consider purchasing items recommended to them while shopping online, much of this year’s holiday purchasing could be impacted by brands’ and influencers’ holiday content on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Social media is a great way to share your products and services so think of creative ways to let people know about your business so they are interested in it early on. Don’t miss out on those early shoppers because you can really get ahead with your own goals early on because of them. 

Check Your Online Presents – We Mean Presence

Now is a good time to be sure everything is still the way you want it to be on social media and the internet. What ads do you have running? Do they need to be changed up to meet your holiday plan and goals? How about your social media information – is it all correct still? Hours are right, contact information still goes to the correct person, and your posts are still relevant? 

This is also an opportune time to tune up your website. Take a walk through it to make sure all of the links work, the information on there is up-to-date, and get all of your products situated to your liking. There is nothing worse than a potential customer visiting your website only to find a broken link or a dead end.

Be The Human Part of Your Business

We can’t stress this enough. Behind every business is a human. Customers want to know that human, so let them. Re-introduce yourself if you haven’t in a while. Give your background story, why you created this business, and what it means to you when someone makes a purchase. We all know the objective is to make money, but where does that money go? Does it go back into the community? Share how! Does it go toward something for your family? Share where you went on vacation or what activities you do. Expand your brand and make your business more than just about the product or service. Make it about the people that make it go ‘round. Do you have employees? Share about them! Show your appreciation for their work and loyalty because it is sometimes hard to come by. When you make your business human, it makes it more than just an Amazon or Walmart. People will want to buy from you over them because they know where their dollars are going.

As always, if you ever need our assistance, we will be here to help you when you need it. Good luck this holiday season!

Social Media – Then and Now

It is hard to imagine that social media is roughly 25 years old. It has become such an everyday aspect of our lives that it is hard to believe that there was a time before social media, meaning there was a time before the Internet. The Internet came to a lot of our lives in the early 1990s, but it took some time before it hit the fingertips of users in homes. This is the same with social media. From 1997 to now, social media has changed drastically. From simple reasons to everyone having smartphones with social media networks right there, to businesses utilizing the networks to make money, social media has changed the way we communicate, live our lives and do work. Let’s take a look at how social media started and look at how it has changed over time.

A Time Before Mark Zuckerberg

If you ask the average person what the first social media network was, we can bet most would say Facebook. Some would say MySpace, and a couple would say Friendster. Take it a step back even further and you’ll find a website called Six Degrees. This was the first social media network that, you guessed it, aimed to connect people from six degrees of separation. A cool concept, but it didn’t last very long. After a short four years, the website was shut down (although still accessible when we checked it out!). 

This concept proved to be something users enjoyed and wanted more of. A couple months after Six Degrees “shut down”, Friendster and LinkedIn appeared on the scene. And not long after those came MySpace – the network that really upped the social media game.

MySpace had everything a social network user desired – a way to share photos, videos, flies and connect with friends. Who remembers Tom? Everyone was friends with Tom! Timing was also perfect for MySpace since their target audience was either just entering high school or college, thus creating a niche for finding new friends, dating and networking.

However, here comes Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in 2004 and it really blew every other social network out of the water. It started as something only for Harvard students, but quickly expanded to other colleges and universities. And then, something that was only for young adults with a college email address, opened its virtual doors to anyone 13+. And now we all know how the story of Facebook went. But why did it succeed when others didn’t?

Advertising and Monetization

Besides being desired by everyone who didn’t have a .edu email address, Facebook’s success can be linked to its ability to profit from users. They really did think out a solid business model when it came to advertising and monetization of Facebook. By giving businesses a way to directly market to their target audience, Facebook started to really rake in the money. Other networks then started to copy.

Big players in the social media game like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube followed with similar advertising and monetization success stories. It seemed like everyone would be a winner from the business to the social network to the user. But is the market too saturated now?

Social Media - Then and Now

Being Different in Social Media

From a business perspective, it is important to look closely at your target audience, their likes, dislikes, desires, wants, needs, etc., and find out which social media networks they use on the reg. Even though new social media networks still tend to pop up, they don’t ever really seem to catch on like Facebook did because they are just duplicating the efforts and not doing anything extraordinarily new. 

This is how a business should also approach social media when using it. Social media is all about breaking the mold and doing something outside the box. Social media can be a place where something new is tested on a market, where users connect and grow with a brand and where business comes full circle with stories from A to Z of how it has helped someone. 

Social Media is Here to Stay

Love it or hate it, social media will be here to stay for the long haul. From just the United States to now the whole world, people can connect with each other and see, hear and literally do things together on the Internet, though miles apart. Of course social media will change and veer off onto different paths as all businesses do, but for the most part, the concepts will remain unchanged.

As a digital marketing agency, we highly recommend checking out all of the social media channels available to you and decide which one or two you’d like to focus on the most. We can also talk about advertising budgets and which options might work best for you and your target audience. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, plus find us on Google My Business, and let’s talk social! 

Why Outsourcing Creative and Design Services is a Great Idea

Creative and design services literally are the look of your business. From your website to your social media, to your flier, mailers, and even business cards, creative and design services help to bring these business and marketing pieces to life. 

Your graphics should be a reflection of your brand, and they should be as sharp as possible. Your business’s professional image is likely the first thing a customer sees when going to your website or noticing an ad in a magazine. Wherever your business is, your image should be recognizable. As such, creative and design services are available to help establish your look, your feel, the story you want to tell about your business, all while pushing whatever the end goal is.

Good creative and design services tend to go hand in hand with good business. But not everyone is a designer or artist, nor do they have the time to meticulously work on each design they want to put out. That’s where hiring a graphic designer and creative team comes in. But is it worth it or even a good idea?

Creative and design services literally are the look of your business

A Business Needs Professional Design Services

So often we hear that anyone can create a Canva or PicMonkey account and piece together a nice looking flier. But there is just something to be said for a tried and true graphic designer’s work. Professional graphic designers are artists that bring a unique personal touch to any idea that is different from the already existing templates on design sites. 

Graphic designers make sure your designs are integrated into every aspect of your business branding. Designers have a keen eye for color and imagery as they are truly artists in the business world. As professionals, graphic designers know ways to make a business aesthetically pleasing to the eye, yet memorable to the mind. And it must be memorable as customers typically only give businesses mere seconds to make a mark in their memories.

Additionally, consistency is key as it helps to build trust amongst your current and future customers. There’s something to be said for businesses that are recognized just by certain shapes or color schemes. Sometimes it is as simple as a yellow M or a black check mark. We all likely know the businesses that are associated with those graphic designs.

Graphic Designers Actually Save You Time and Money

Business owners likely don’t have the skills a graphic designer would (and if you do, you are one in a million!) That is not to say ideas can’t become a reality, but it can become a reality much faster, and cheaper, with a professional graphic designer.

Graphic designers save businesses time and money in the long run. While the DIY attitude can be great, it isn’t always true in the design world. Spending hours learning design software, designing a marketing piece, then trying to figure out how to print it on the best quality paper could result in frustration and something that doesn’t look professional at all. Design experts are masters of the trade. They can design a concept in a fraction of the time with a much better result. They also should already work with printers who can bring digital designs to life. Not a piece that needs printed? Digital design is also something that can be hard to understand. Allow for a professional to design something right the first time around so it will perfectly fit onto your website, app or social media.

Along with time, a professional graphic designer can save you money as well. While time is money in the business world, you might not even realize how much money you can save with a graphic designer. If you don’t get your idea designed right the first time around, it can be a costly mistake and potentially have a negative impact on your business. We are sure that everyone can think of a brand that once had a costly design mistake. Nowadays those mistakes may go viral or completely unnoticed. Hopefully it is the latter if it is really bad. Plus, behind our graphic design team is an editing team that will give each design a look over to make sure it is perfect. There’s nothing worse than printing a billboard only to have a word misspelled. 

Frustration equals time and money that could’ve been better spent on a part of your business that you are skilled at and enjoy. Do what you do best and delegate the rest.

Finding the Right Creative and Design Team

Like we said before, just because someone knows how to “design” something on a design website, doesn’t mean they are a graphic designer. We all can make dinner, but that doesn’t make us all chefs! 

Work with a team like ours who doesn’t just scratch the service of your business. Find a team that meets with you to learn more about you, why you started your business, and what your business is all about (and we don’t just mean your mission statement.) Look for people who want to dive deep into the workings of your business and you. So many creative ideas, like potential slogans, for example, could be missed if people outside of your business don’t take the time to learn about you and your business world.

The reason you should find a team that goes so in depth into strategy for design is because their work is your work. It should have meaning and represent your business in the right way. Don’t just work with someone who is going to throw something together, and say done. Work with a team that wants to know what we are trying to accomplish with each project. Are you looking to get more members, promoting a sale, or just trying to get your message out there?

We all can’t be the best at everything. That is why it is important to be the best at what you want to be the best at and outsource other duties to other professionals. Graphic and creative design services is a great service to allow someone outside of your business world to take on. There are truly great people who take the time to learn your business, your industry, research the competition and see what others in your field are doing in terms of creative and design. We promise that together, you should be able to create the perfect marketing materials for you and your business needs.

How To Keep Your Website Safe and Secure for Visitors

Staying safe on the Internet can mean a variety of things. It can mean using the safest web browser you can find, blocking spam pop ups, using secure passwords, and only (hopefully) visiting safe websites. But how do you know that a website is safe, that it won’t steal or share your personal information, it won’t show you inappropriate content or it is regulated for the correct age of user before allowing access before actually checking it out? And what qualifies a website as “safe”? Luckily there are laws, rules and regulations in place that help to protect us during the time we spend online. It is important for business owners to be aware of the steps they need to have in place to protect their website visitors before diving into creating a website. It can be a tricky path to follow, but our team is always on top of ever-changing rules. Let’s take a look at some laws to be familiar with and a few ways you can help to protect your web visitors.

Privacy Laws

Internet privacy is concerned primarily with how personal information is exposed over the Internet, through tracking, data collection, data sharing, and cybersecurity threats. Once you step “foot” on a website, your path is likely being tracked constantly. When you enter credit card information, you hope that the website is secure and your data won’t be shared with anyone. But how can you be sure?

There is no 100% guarantee that your information is secure on the Internet. Just think about all of the big name companies and corporations that have been hacked lately. According to ThomsonReuters.com, there is no single law regulating online privacy. Instead, a patchwork of federal and state laws apply. Some key federal laws affecting online privacy include:

  • The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC)[1914]
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) [1986]
  • Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA) [1986]
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) [1998]
  • Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM Act) [2003] 
  • Financial Services Modernization Act (GLBA) [1999] 
  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) [2003]

It can seem like a spider web of weaved rules throughout everything on the Internet, but it is all done with best intentions in mind, at least we’d like to believe so. It keeps becoming more and more difficult to protect one’s personal information as technology advances and takes over more things in our lives. If there is one thing that you can control, it is how you are followed on the Internet.

How To Keep Your Website Safe and Secure for VisitorsCookies & Web Tracking

Unfortunately, we are not talking about Hansel and Gretel’s cookies and tracking them with their crumbs. Cookies are the trail you lead when visiting websites. They are files downloaded to your browser by a website that you visited that contain unique identifiable information. Sometimes cookies are useful. Some examples from contractscounsel.com of how people find cookies to be useful are:

  • Remembering items in a digital shopping cart
  • Saving customer language preferences
  • Using analytics to track internet market data
  • Retargeting ads to social media visitors
  • Offering CMS logins or blog commenting capabilities
  • Installing tracking pixels from third-party services

And sometimes cookies are just creepy. If you do not want the cookie trail to follow you, you can set your browser to delete cookies every time you finish on a webpage or do not allow cookies on your browser at all. Depending on where you are in the world, you may also have to accept cookies when going to a website. That decision is left up to you.

An even scarier trackable trail is IP addresses. This can be a hard topic to comprehend, but the gist of it is that hackers can trace IP addresses back to individuals. IP addresses are traceable if not protected. And did you know there is a whole database containing all web addresses on the Internet? Did you know that ownership information is easily accessible there? 

What Does This Mean for Businesses?

Protecting website visitors doesn’t just mean for websites that sell products or services. The database mentioned previously that contains web addresses is called WHOIS and you can request a private listing from the database manager. Think of it as having an unlisted phone number in the White Pages. This can help protect your website and visitors from being tracked.

As for businesses that use their website as an e-commerce site, there are great ways to help protect your site and customers from hackers and fraud.

Start by choosing an e-commerce platform that is well known and trusted. Not sure even where to start when researching this? We can most certainly help! It is also useful to partner with a trusted web team so you can work together to ensure your own and user data is safe and secure. Another thing to consider is to always keep your system, software and whatever platforms you decide to use up to date. When there are updates, do them. Typically a hacker’s way in is through glitches and bugs in a system, so when one is found, it is vital that it is repaired and an update is made to protect your system. 

And finally, it is important to educate yourself and any staff on online theft, fraud, hacking and security measures that your company has in place to thwart any of this. Random tests and continuing education are important not only from a business perspective but also from a personal standpoint. Things change so rapidly in the online world that it is imperative to stay on top of the latest and greatest for security and safety.