Clearly Communicate Requests with Designers

Designers are used to getting Requests from Clients, but…

designer submits original concept to client

Clients beware–you might just get what you asked for. Which isn’t necessarily what you really want.

Check out this “ad campaign”…it is really a spoof, but it certainly points out some of the types of requests designers are faced with.

client makes crazy requests of advertising designer

So the designer dutifully makes changes, with the magic of photoshop, and you can see the results as the designer created a “cheesy” version of this ad

designer creates cheesy version of advertising campaign

Of course, you guessed it, this is not the end of the requests for the intrepid designer…

advertising campaign change requests 2nd round

Clearly some of these requests are pretty ridiculous, but from the designer’s perspective, they may not be as far-fetched as some of the real requests they get.

The Designer’s Final Submission for the Advertising Campaign

designers final advertising submission

Designers want to make clients happy, and will try their best to incorporate changes that clients feel are important to their message.

The key take away (IMHO) is to communicate upfront what your intended message is. Of course to do that, you Mr or Ms Client must know what that message is. When you have a clear idea of what you want your customers to feel or learn about your product–the kind of image you want to project into that happy internet, the better the designer can get the job done. And the job will give a better result, more quickly, for less money.

So if you want an image that is more fantasy, or you have specific thoughts like aliens enjoying your product, tell the designer upfront so they can incorporate those ideas into the design from the very beginning.

Sometimes a reshoot is a cost effective solution. Other times, the magic of photoshop is key. Often it may be both.

And please, if you radically change your concept, understand that your designer may also radically change their fees.


Thanks to DesignTaxi for the original article

Thanks to Kimiko Foo for the translation

Build Your Brand: Why SEO is Important

Google Says Better to Hire SEO NOW…So Why Do So Many People Wait?

seo branding

For a lot of people, SEO is an afterthought.

It’s strange, as even Google says that IF you have to hire an SEO, you should do so early rather than late, like when you’re just planning to launch a new site.

Now, why would Google say that?

Because SEO isn’t a topping that you can just pour on top of your site. It’s a base ingredient.

Yes, this applies to websites–but to your brand, too. Don’t wait until later or you will miss out on much on a lot of good business $$$.

Why is SEO important…important enough for Google to tell you that it IS indeed important?

 
Google (and other search engines…but Google is still, at least for now, #1) rely on providing a good ‘user experience.’ They want the people who are using their search engine to be happy and to find what they are looking for.
 
After all, if they don’t, Google knows that they will start searching using some other tool. This is exactly what happened to the phone books, right? We all used to look things up on the phone book until Google made it so much easier to use the internet.
 
Google wants to have happy customers because if people find what they are looking for, then businesses will advertise on Google. It is all economics.
 
So what does Google want from you, your site, your brand? They want speed, a site that is easy for their robots to understand, that is mobile friendly, that has fresh content….
 
If you think SEO is not related to this, you would be wrong. SEO affects so many levels of the user experience.
 
Check out this diagram from Peter Morville. It gives a basic idea of what it feels like to be searching for something online.

user experience honeycomb tfE2pU

Think in these terms, they are the very foundation of a good user experience. Evaluate your website and brand based on them.

  • Useful: Your content should be useful and relevant.
  • Usable: Your site should be easy to navigate.
  • Desirable: Your design should appeal to your target audience.  
  • Findable: You should focus on content and make searching for information easy..
  • Accessible: Your site should be mindful of people with disabilities.
  • Credible: Your brand must show signs of authority and prompt trust.

Most of these attributes, like being useful, usable, findable, accessible and credible map directly to SEO. After all, search engines gauge the overall user experience and decide if your site is the best result to show.

If you haven’t already optimized your brand for the search engines, this is the best time to start, because you probably want to market to the MILLENNIALS. 

 The millennials are used to having information at their fingertips and making purchases IMMEDIATELY!

This is why it is so important that your business is able to be found online RIGHT NOW.

This is exactly what SEO does for you. It allows people who are looking for what you have to offer–right now–to find YOU as opposed to finding your competitor.

Most people today are purposefully searching online. They are not responding to spam-vertising. This is what we call, “in bound marketing” as compared to “interruption marketing” which would be like the old school type of advertising on the television or radio.

inbound marketing

 

One of the most important parts of branding, and marketing in general, is that you have to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client.

No business can appeal to all buyers. Who is your ideal target market? Why are they looking for the service or product that you offer?

And consider HOW they are looking for you. This is an essential part of SEO. You and your colleagues may have specific terms or jargon that you use repeatedly, but that doesn’t mean people who are outside your industry–people who are prospective clients and customers–know that slang.

“Keywords” is a term that we use in the internet marketing space. Some people believe that keywords are dead. Well….they are and they aren’t.

The WAY in which keywords were used in the past is indeed dead. But keywords, the basic concept of them is very much alive. In essence a keyword is simple a word that a person might type into the search bar to find something…if you offer that something and have used SEO properly then that prospective customer will find you. Because of SEO and keywords.

That is a short summary of how SEO is important to your business and your brand.


Read more on the topic from Neil Patel Here: via How to Use SEO to Build Your Brand

 

Facebook Takes Aim at Yelp and Angie’s List

Will Local Search Move to Facebook?

Read how Facebook may be preparing to become the local services search engine:

Facebook services page

Local businesses have recognized for some time now they need to have an internet presence. The days when potential customers used the telephone book to find services, whether a doctor, restaurant, or plumber, are gone. (If you didn’t know that already, please read Why Local Search)

While there may have been a few telephone directories in the past, the options for your potential customers is more varied now. One of the biggest advantages for individuals looking for the best provider is that these options include “social proof,” also known as reviews.

Google has long been the major search engine for big business as well as local business. But that status is not guaranteed, especially as they keep changing their system, frustrating users and businesses alike.

Other options include services like Yelp and Angie’s List.

Facebook started moving into this territory as well. To conduct a search in their area, a Facebook user simply types in the URL Facebook.com/services and they will see a screen similar to the one shown above.

Although your home city (what you registered when you created your Facebook account) will be displayed, you can easily change that by simply typing in the city and state where you happen to be. That means if you are at work or on vacation, you can still use this new service.

Like many other directories, and most notably Angie’s and Yelp, Facebook has compiled a searchable directory.

Car won’t start? Use Facebook to find an Automotive Repair shop nearby that can get you back on the road.

Facebook search automotive repair

This appears to be a silent test. No announcement has been reported coming from Facebook. But the word is leaking out…and here are out thoughts…

A Facebook spokesperson recently issued this statement about the feature:

“We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in.”

The site is pretty easy to use. It is simple and straight forward.

Although many other sources are purporting this new service is only available on desktop computers, we had no problem accessing it from either an iPad or Droid phone. Clearly, not a conclusive test, but still a good sign for mobile users.

Facebook services lame images

A user can find a business by clicking on one of the pictures or scrolling down to the list. At least for now, the pictures offering services was pretty weak. First, there were only 8 options offered. Worse, the pictures had little or nothing to do with the category–the “Medical & Health” category featured a picture of a local sports bar!

The challenge with the list method, “Explore other services” is that it could easily lead someone to believe these are the only categories that Facebook is serving up. This is not true, and we actually found that simply typing into the search box was the easiest method of finding the type of business you are looking for. Just start typing and a list will show up that you can choose from.

All Encompassing

What we like about this search method is that it appears to be all encompassing.

Facebook is not trying to specialize in only home services or only entertainment, or other limiting factors. That means we don’t need to switch between Angie’s List, Yelp, Hot Frog and any number of other directories to find the businesses we are looking for.

The restrictions?

Well, the business must have a Facebook page. You do have one, don’t you?

How are the results determined?

Since Facebook isn’t issuing a big announcement about this service we are left to wonder how they are serving up the businesses. It doesn’t appear to be biased towards the number of ratings. Or is it?

During our, non-exhaustive search our conclusion is that if you already like a business, it is going to come up first in your search.

On the other hand, if you have not liked a business page in that category then you are likely to be served up the highest rated businesses first. Now, how the algorithm determines the highest ratings seems to be a combination of the number of different ratings and the number of stars they were rated. *whew* That sounds like too much math for me!

Bottom line:

If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, it is important that you get one, pronto.

If your business already has a page on Facebook, be sure it is optimized so that users in your area can find you–that, in a nutshell is what local search is all about.

If you don’t know how to do either of these things, contact us and we can get that done for you.

Small Business Saturday Success: It Isn’t Too Late

Northern Colorado Local Businesses Win with Small Business Saturday

Read how your business can benefit by taking part:

Small Biz Sat Image

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a “shopping holiday”–a special day, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It falls on the Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving.

That means this year the big days in (Saturday) November 28, 2015.

While Black Friday is geared for large retailers and Cyber Monday is an internet purchasing event, SBS is a day for small, local, brick and mortar businesses to get their share of the holiday action.

The first Small Business Saturday was held on Nov 27, 2010, with the concept originated by American Express (who has the trademark on the term, btw.)

#SmallBizSaturday, #smallbusinesssaturday, and #shopsmall are commonly used on social media sites to promote the day.

Why does it work?

Yes, it does work. Last year nearly $6 billion dollars was spent during Small Business Saturday.

There has definitely been a shift among many consumers to support their local businesses. There is even some backlash against the impersonal nature of shopping online. There is something to be said after all for the ability to see and touch something in person. And there are the people–that would be YOU the store owner and your employees. People like to do business with people they like.

Sure, everyone wants to get a good deal, but they also want to feel good about the experience.

Local governments are supporting the event. Let’s face it, local businesses support local governments because they pay local taxes. It is in the best interest of the entire town, village, city or county to have local dollars stay local. Most employees of local businesses live near by, at least relatively speaking. So when we buy locally we are helping out our neighbors earn paychecks as well as helping our community take care of itself.

The national GoLocal Cooperative also gives five great reasons to buy local:

  • Buying from locally owned businesses keeps your money circulating three times longer in the local economy.

  • With that money, local businesses create the majority of new jobs.

  • Local businesses are, by far, the best supporters of community projects and nonprofits.

  • Because they live here, local businesses provide the best customer service and support.

  • Most of all, supporting local business and products strengthens and preserves our unique community.

The day has been so successful in the US that the event has also been adopted by shopkeepers in the UK since 2013.

How can my business take part?

Team Up: Consider teaming up with another local business.

Say you own a candy shop. You might offer discount coupons so when one of your customers buys some treats they get a discount at the neighboring coffee joint, and vice versa.

Or maybe you offer a small sampling of another store’s products and they offer some of yours. So your top selling Christmas candy shows up at the local bakery and some of their specialty cookies or cupcakes are in your case as well.

Consider creating package deals. You might create a basket that has cookies and coffee, chocolates paired with a great Merlot.

At the very least you can cross-promote a compatible business–be willing to tell your customers about other shops in the area, and have sales fliers and their coupons available to hand out.

Talk It Up: promote the day, your business, and each other

Have fliers or posters up in your shop alerting customers to SBS.

Use Social Media to start generating buzz–now! And keep posting about the day. Let people know what you will be doing special for that day.

Be specific in your advertising–whether that is fliers, ads in the newspaper or online ads. Let customers and potential customers know why they should come to your store on Sat the 28th. Offering a discount? Are specific items on sale? Donating proceeds to charity? Are you having special entertainment or activities? What will you be doing on the 28th that makes it imperative people show up on that day, as opposed to any other day?

If you are holding a special event or donating some of your proceeds to a charity then be sure to do a press release. By getting the word out you have a much better chance of having more people come to your store.

American Express is offering some free promotional tools. It is probably too late for some of them, but there is some printable signage as well as email promotion ideas available here.

Small Business Saturday image from American Express Corporation

 

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Your Site Name

This is part 5 of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Should Your Site Name be Your Business Name?

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Your site nameFor many businesses, they want their website name to be the same as their business name. And for many this makes sense. Especially if you are a big, well-known brand. Someone looking for a hardware store in your area may just type in the name of one of the big box stores rather than using keywords. In those instances have your site name (your URL) match your business name is important.

If you aren’t a big brand, you might consider using a keyword in your URL, possibly in conjunction with your business name. If your business is specific to a town then you may want to also consider using your town name in your site name. Both of these can help the search engines know what your business is about and where you are located.

When people search for a Mexican restaurant they may not include the town they are looking in. That’s okay, because the search engines are smart and know the IP address the search was made from—and the town that that IP address is located in. It isn’t perfect, but it means that they will tend to serve to the potential customers the Mexican restaurants nearer to them, not ones across the state or country.

By including your town in your URL you can help the search engines serve up your listing to people in your area.

One word of caution—if you have your town in your URL then you do not want to put your town in every page and description. Sometimes that can be misinterpreted by the search engines as “keyword stuffing”

OK, you want to build a brand and therefore you want to have a website with your name, not a keyword based URL. That’s okay. There are ways that you can have your cake and eat it too. By having two URLs you can take advantage of local search strategies and still build your brand and name recognition.

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Reviews

This is the final part of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

Search Tips for Local Businesses: reviewsDid I mention reviews?

Reviews = “Social Proof” that your business is real. Positive reviews on a variety of sites, including Google+ are in important part of getting found online. If you think you are doing everything else right and you still are not ranking—take a good, hard look at your reviews.

Do you have reviews with stars? These are extremely powerful. You have to have 5 reviews at the time of this post in order for the stars to show up on Google. So if you don’t have stars, get more reviews. Ask your happy customers to review you on your Google+ page.

Make it easy for people to give you a review. Hand out a postcard or colorful piece of paper letting your customers know where to place a review. Be sure to list the sites that are popular in your area. If Yelp is big where you do business, be sure your Yelp site is up, accurate and give folks that link. Angie’s List big in your town—ditto. Facebook? Whatever service(s) your customers use the most, be sure they are active pages with accurate details, and have those links handy. Whether it is the biggest in the country is not the issue (other than Google—that ALWAYS makes a difference.)

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Content

This is part 4 of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Provide Important Information, AKA “Content”

Search Tips for Local BusinessesWhen you are building your pages pay attention to both the content which is the information ON the page, and the tags and metadata—the information behind the scenes.

Even though some people will claim that the search engines don’t use keywords any longer, that is really a misinterpretation. It is true that keywords have been overused and abused, which has led to changes in how search engines work. But a keyword is at its most basic simply a word. It is a word, or group of words that people use when searching for your business. As long as people use words to search, then keywords will have a place in search engine algorithms.

Think about it this way. Twenty years ago if you wanted to find a place to have dinner you would grab the phone book and look under the restaurants section. “Restaurants” was your main keyword even back then, we just didn’t call it that!

Now, if you had a hankering for great chili rellenos, you would further refine your search and look for “Mexican Restaurants.”

Of course the phone book you grabbed was for your city or town, or neighborhood, right? You wouldn’t be looking in a San Francisco phone book and expect to find a great Mexican restaurant in Phoenix.

That is the importance of the information behind the scenes. By using metadata, tags, and even titling for your posts, pages, and images, you are helping the search engines determine which “phone book” your business belongs in.

Place your most important keyword, like Mexican restaurant, in your titles, images, and descriptions. When you are building your page content, you want it to sound natural, but you also have to create the right road signs so search engines can find you.

Some of your “road signs” will include links. These may be external links that take a reader to another site for additional information. You should also have internal links: links that go from one page of your website to another page on your website. Think of links as another way to help your readers (and the search engines) to find the information that is most important to them.

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Multiple Locations

This is part 3 of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Multiple Locations, Multiple Pages

local business search tips for multiple locationsIf you have more than one office or storefront then you will want to create a webpage for each physical address. Depending on your business you may choose to have separate websites, but that may not be necessary, or even desirable.

Is each business a separate entity? Does each office service different cities or areas? Then you may want to have multiple websites.

On the other hand, it can be helpful if someone learns of your business from a friend or associate that they can discover you have multiple branches. They can then choose the location that is most convenient to their home and the one closes to their office. This can actually help you get more business than if each location had its own website.

Whether you have separate pages or entire sites is up to you, but either way be sure to have all the location information for your customers. Maps and photos of what the specific office looks like are a big help, too.

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Your Home Page

This is part 2 of a 6 part series

Your Front Door AKA Home Page

Search Tips for Local Business: Your Home PageWhen it comes to search tips for local business, your “home” page is vitally important when you are building your website. Compare it to your front door of your business. You can have a beautiful storefront, but if your number is not visible then important visitors won’t be able to find you. Sure your friends will know which door is yours, but how will the Fire or Police Departments find you?

Your entrance also gives other important data to people who stop by. You have signage that gives your name, your business hours, even a phone number so people can contact you. Either through your signage, or by peering through your window, potential customers can get an idea what your business is about and decide whether or not it is interesting enough for them to come in.

Your home page serves a similar function. It allows search engines to find you online, and that is how most potential customers will “happen by.” A good home page will let the customer know the most important part of your business, how to contact you, and when you are open. It will give people a peek into your store or office so they can determine if they want to enter.

Think about your home page like you were a potential customer. What information is most important to them? Is it easy for them to find it? Not everything has to be on that page—that would make for a cluttered page, but you want a customer to easily find how to get that information.

Social proof is an important part of marketing today. Make it easy for people to find your testimonials so they can see how wonderful other people think you are. Have you been in the news lately for a donation, a new service, or community involvement? Be sure links to these pages are up front and easy to find.

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Local Search Optimization

This is part 1 of a 6 part series

Local Search Optimization

local search marketing

Be sure your business is optimized for local search. It is important to note that this is different from traditional SEO practices. While having a website can be a great idea, it is not necessarily the first place you should start–even when talking about getting found online! (I know, sacrilege, right?)

What local search optimization does for you is it actually helps the search engines and your potential customers to fine you online. It also helps them to find what content is most important on your site, if you have one.

The first thing you must decide as a local business owner who wants to improve their local search rankings is what is most important for YOUR business. And that depends on the type of business you have. The needs of a retail shop will be different from those of a restaurant and those of a doctor, for example.

Most local businesses want more customers to come into their physical location. As one friend puts it, “boots in the door.” With that goal in mind, you want to focus your web presence on getting local search results.

If you don’t have a website yet, this is the ideal time to get it done right. A website is not just about looking good. It is about being found, and that requires the right structure. It takes some planning, but really is a pretty logical process. You can take this on yourself if you have or get the right training. Otherwise, hire someone who specializes in websites for local search results. This is a very important distinction to make when having your site built.

Already have a website? No worries. You can tweak what you already have to get found more easily by Google. If you don’t know how, give us or another local search company a call to improve your results.

The tools of the trade to get results: website structure, optimizing each page, using tags properly, and adding keywords, links, and metadata.