Cheap Logos Can Be Costly

Inkwell Content Writer Advertising, Graphic Design Leave a Comment

The Pitfalls of Bad Logo Design


I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve had a small business owner hire me to take on their marketing planning and content strategy and present to me a logo that their neighbor designed for them or the kid next door threw together on the cheap. While that logo looked smashing in its initial applications, what most business owners don’t realize is that when you don’t have a professional logo designed for your business you are bound to run into some costly pitfalls.

Here’s an example. A government entity for which I did work several years ago had a logo designed for the organization. It was eye-catching; it was fun. All in all, it looked terrific! That is until we tried to use it in a variety of applications. It was a logo filled with many overlapping, colorful dots that were meant torepresent each of the entities working together to make this organization function. When that logo was produced in black and white it looked a lot like a giant ink blot, which did not communicate anything about the personality or “brand” of this business.

When we tried to use the color red for a one-color application the logo suddenly looked like blood splatterings. When we wanted to have the logo appliqued on jackets and t-shirts, the embroiderers were unable to make it work because of the complexity of the logo design.

The lesson learned here is that the graphic designer who created this “stunning” logo should have known to test it in a variety of likely scenarios. In this case, he did not and the organization spent a lot of money finding out the hard way that they had made a mistake in who they hired to design their organization’s logo. Anytime we wanted to use the logo, we had to have the logo reconfigured to fit whatever application we were using. It was not a good investment. Lesson learned.

This scenario is extremely common for small business owners, especially, as design budgets tend to be limited. So let me give you a few things to consider when thinking about who you hire to design your next logo. Just because it looks cool on your computer screen doesn’t mean it’s a good logo. Here are some things to look for when you hire a professional, experienced graphic designer. You’ll save money and headaches in the long run.

Signs of a Poorly Designed Logo

  1. The logo is not properly built. Sometimes this results in the logo being blurry when printed or used.
  2. The logo is difficult to reproduce on a variety of platforms and applications (t-shirts, coffee mugs, pens, etc.). It simply doesn’t fit the space correctly. Or it has so many details that it doesn’t reproduce well on things such as signage. Sometimes the fonts chosen can be difficult to read when reproduced or printed on various items.
  3. The logo has to be rebuilt or reformatted every time you try to apply the logo to various materials.
  4. Low-quality logos are often designed using software that does not produce high-quality vector graphics. A qualified graphic designer will design the logo using appropriate software.

A Well Designed Logo will:

  1. Be unique and memorable
  2. Be timeless. It doesn’t necessarily follow the current trends that everyone else has adopted.
  3. Create a unique identity for your business. It should not be an imitation of what another business has already created.
  4. Be scaled to any size without losing quality in publication.
  5. Be easy to edit when minor edits do need to be made to adjust for various applications.
  6. Be an original design and not created from stock images that your business may or may not have the proper permissions to use. Inexperienced graphic designers can get you into trouble with copyright law so be sure he knows what he’s doing before paying him to design your logo.
  7. Use fonts that reflect the personality of your business. A logo is a branding tool that will help the viewer develop an impression of what sort of business you run. Make sure your logo accurately conveys the image you want to present to your current and prospective clients.
  8. Not be cluttered up with multiple fonts or too many details. Overly complicated logo designs can cause confusion in the mind of the viewer. This makes it difficult for the viewer to recognize the business which the logo represents when they see the logo out of context. The reason people know Nike by the iconic swoosh is because the design was simple and easy to identify, even when the word Nike was not present at all. Simple is better in this case.

So the moral of the story is this. Before you hire the kid next door to design your next logo, think about the long-term consequences that may await you. Your logo is an investment in your business, much like anything else you pour into it. Be sure you have not paid the wrong person to produce a design that simply doesn’t reflect the high-quality products and services for which your business wants to be known. A good logo is likely to last you

A good logo is likely to last you decades if designed properly. It might require a few upgrades as the years progress, but ultimately a well-designed logo is one of the most important building blocks of your company’s brand. So while you may need to make minor adjustments to expenses around the office, skimping on the budget for your company’s logo development should not be on the table.

Inkwell Content WriterCheap Logos Can Be Costly

Pay-Per-Click Ad Campaign Tips

Inkwell Content Writer Advertising, Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Pay-Per-Click Campaigns Leave a Comment

In working with clients who are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve, it helps to have a good sense of who they are trying to target in their advertising campaigns before we begin crafting their ads and promotions. This is true in traditional advertising as well as in emerging technologies, such as pay-per-click ad campaigns.

Before You Launch Your Next Text Ad

With the rise of pay-per-click ads, a marketer or content writer needs to think about what his audience truly looks like before sending ads out to the universe. He also needs to consider whether he has an adequate website page in which to direct his audiences. Here are a few questions we at Inkwell Creative Media, LLC, ask ourselves and our clients before launching a text campaign.

  • What does your audience really look like? What needs do they have? Where do they live? Do they have kids? Are they married or single? We can use the answers to all of these questions to develop an accurate buyer’s persona. A buyer’s persona paints a picture of the lifestyles and values of the people we want to reach with our PPC campaigns.
  • How is your product or service different from your competitors? We can use this information to help us determine the text and site extensions that need to be used in our PPC campaigns.
  • To what web page will you be directing your customers in this ad? If clients are selling a specific product or service and do not have adequate information about this item on their website, then a landing page should be created. A landing page can improve a user’s experience and thereby increase a business’s online sales. A strong landing page should provide details about the product or service, as well as offer any information about how or where the item can be purchased. The easier it is for a customer to find your information, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
  • Are there any special offers we can run in order to increase the click-through rates (CTR) on the ads that promote the products and services we are trying to sell? Not all campaigns lend themselves to discounts and not all clients should offer them. However, if a coupon or special rate would be compelling to the “right” audience then it’s a good tool to utilize in driving online sales.
  • What is the one thing we want users to do? Whatever that one thing may be is exactly what we should tell our audience to do. If it’s “buy tickets online” then our ad should state that clearly.
  • What are the long-tail keywords and phrases people are searching the Internet for in order to find similar products and services? If we’re trying to sell tickets to upcoming live performances at a performing arts venue, then we might establish an Ad Group within our campaign that focuses on a specific show. For instance, if the venue is going to perform a production of Annie, we would great an Ad Group titled Annie. Then we would form a list of relevant and related keywords that consumers are likely searching for in order to find similar events.

Write Strong Content & Test It

Once we understand the audience we are trying to reach and have identified how our products and services will meet the individual needs of our target audience, we are better equipped to write strong content for pay-per-click campaigns. Campaign managers will have to test several versions of the ads in order to see which text ads garner the most clicks, assuming generating clicks is the goal of your current campaign. In time, trends will become apparent and managers will begin to understand how their audiences are engaging with their products and services through their digital marketing campaigns.

Inkwell Content WriterPay-Per-Click Ad Campaign Tips

Digital Content Strategy Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated to Be Effective

Inkwell Content Writer Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Pay-Per-Click Campaigns Leave a Comment

I help clients develop digital content strategies designed to grow their businesses. One of the challenges of the digital marketing world is that it’s very fast-paced and difficult to keep up with, especially when you’re a small business owner or a manager trying to balance all facets of your business.

What I’m finding through experience and research is that businesses that focus their attention on developing and maintaining a relevant digital content strategy tend to be successful. One doesn’t have to implement a complicated SEO strategy, which may or may not prove beneficial to your business, in the long run, to be a winner in the digital marketing era.

Here are 3 key factors to consider when developing a long-term digital content strategy:

1. Build a Mobile-Friendly Website.

  • Is your website easy to read and interact with on a mobile device? With more than 50% of Google users searching for information on their cell phones these days, the search engine gives preference to those sites that are “mobile-friendly.” (Also referred to as “responsive” sites.)

NOTE: For travel and tourism businesses, while your website might be responsive, be sure that the online booking agent your site uses is also mobile-friendly since a growing number of travelers are reserving their hotel rooms and vacations via mobile devices.

2. Write High-Quality, Relevant Content.

  • Is the information on your website and social media pages current?
  • Can customers easily find the information they seek (phone, e-mail, address, current hours, a list of products or services, etc.)?
  • Is the content on your website well-written? Does it explain your services and offerings accurately?
  • Does your site’s content answer those frequently asked questions that you and your staff often get asked?
  • Are you using high-quality images and videos on the site? While original photography is preferable, high-quality stock images that reflect your firm’s brand can easily be obtained and should be used to increase the visual appeal of your site.

3. Increase Online Reviews.

  • Have you claimed your listings and locations on review sites such as Yelp, GoogleTripAdvisor and Facebook? Direct your clients to review your business on these sites and other online review sites that may be relevant to your industry.

More and more users are going to these online review sites to find out if you’re running a reputable business. These reviews can be hugely helpful in driving quality leads to your business. And don’t be afraid of negative reviews. Respond to them in a positive manner and then move on. It may be hard to believe, but negative reviews can actually lend credibility to the positive reviews of your business on those sites.

There are certainly other things one can add to their digital content strategies, such as pay-per-click campaigns which tend to drive qualified leads to a business, but these are three things to get your business started on the path to smart digital marketing strategy.

 

Inkwell Content WriterDigital Content Strategy Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated to Be Effective

Cut Through the Digital Marketing Muck

Inkwell Content Writer Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy Leave a Comment

In a world where everything changes minute-by-minute (sometimes quite literally), it’s difficult to know what’s worth the investment in your marketing plans. There are a lot of shiny objects out there today and most small businesses don’t have the budget to invest in all of them. So how does one cut through the muck and get to the good stuff?

Where I often see clients run into trouble is in the digital marketing world. Some business owners simply avoid it altogether because they find it intimidating. Others buy into every gimmick that the various marketing firms try to sell them on. It seems that everyone is getting into the world of social media and search engine optimization, but not everyone is qualified and experienced enough to write a good strategy for either.

Unfortunately, most small business owners don’t have the time, nor the manpower, to stay current on the latest digital marketing trends. Therefore, they must rely on the advice of their marketing agencies.

Digital marketing, and “new media” as we called it back when I first got into advertising, has been on a steady course of evolution for the last 15 years. We’re learning more about it every day, but it still, like most marketing efforts these days, requires a bit of trial and error to get things right. So here are a few pointers I’ve gathered over the years that should guide small businesses into smart, strategic thinking.

Why Doesn’t My Business Appear on Search Engine Results?

If you recently launched a new website (new URL, specifically) your website is not likely to show up at the top of the search engine results immediately. This is a process that can take several months depending on how competitive your industry is. No matter what size your budget, it’s important to develop a digital content strategy. Old school SEO plans still work in some cases, however, they are becoming less relevant, especially to small businesses in small to mid-sized markets. Consumers are moving away from directories and onto Google. They’re paying more attention to Google reviews and Facebook reviews to make their purchasing decisions. Make sure that you’re not spending your digital marketing budget on outdated techniques that can waste thousands of dollars each year.

How Can I improve My Rankings on Search Engines Like Google?

While businesses can hire someone to improve their SEO by updating the various online directories, there are more affordable ways to accomplish the same thing. This is where developing a content strategy comes into play. Much of your digital marketing success comes through creating a positive experience for the user. If visitors to your website can easily find the information they are searching for, they are much more likely to spend more time on your site and may even become a paying customer.

Make sure your website has high-quality content that your customers will find relevant.

This includes updating your website to be mobile-friendly. Did you know that over 50% of Google users are now accessing the site on their smartphones and tablets? If your site isn’t mobile-friendly you’re very likely to eliminate at least 50% of your potential audience.

A blog can go a long way to providing relevant content that your customers will find useful, as well as help Google understand what your business is all about.

Be sure to include relevant keywords in your posts and image titles, but don’t get too bogged down here. If you overstuff your posts with keywords Google will penalize you and that will hurt your website traffic. However, it’s smart to think of the longer phrases that people are likely searching for to find the information you are posting. We call these long-tail keywords. They are much more specific and will likely deliver better quality traffic to your blog or website.

And be sure to share your posts on your social media pages so that your customers will know that you’ve added something new that might interest them. (See below for information on how to get those posts noticed.)

If a blog post doesn’t work for your business or you are unable to keep it current, that’s okay.

There are other things you can do to make your site relevant. Consider implementing a pay-per-click campaign. PPC campaigns tend to generate more qualified leads than old school SEO practices. A PPC campaign allows you to determine who you want to see your ad. Make sure your website contains the information that your ad alludes to, otherwise your visitors will find your site unhelpful and that can lead to a lower ranking on Google, simply because your site lacks relevance.

Having a social media presence is a great way to improve your rankings on search engines, but it’s evolved into a pay to play environment.

No longer does a simple post get noticed on Facebook. Now businesses should plan to allocate a percentage of their marketing budget to social media sponsored ads and sponsored content. By 2018, it’s estimated that over 30% of the world’s population will be on social media. That’s a figure that can’t be ignored.

Increase your online reviews.

There are various ways to do this and if your marketing firm is skilled in creative problem solving they’ll be able to direct you to a few tactics to make this happen. Keep in mind, this, too, will take some time, but it’s worth the investment of your time and money to make this happen.

For more insight into ways to build a smart content strategy into your firm’s marketing plans give us a call or shoot us an e-mail.

 

 

 

 

Inkwell Content WriterCut Through the Digital Marketing Muck

New Year, New Marketing Resolutions

Inkwell Content Writer Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Written by Guest Blogger and Online Marketing Executive, Ankita Patel

As the New Year is just ‘round the corner, most of us have started making our “New Year’s Resolutions.” Most of these pertain to healthy living, improving our career, furthering our education or even establishing a new business. These are all personal resolutions, but have you given a thought to your marketing goals for 2016?

Marketing trends change every year, as do customer needs and expectations. There’s never an end to market research and, of course, there’s never an end to new ideas on how to gain more customers! So here are a few New Year’s resolutions your business can take note of in order to boost your 2016 marketing plans.

New Years Resolutions written on a note pad.1. Understand your audience.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”
-Damon Richards

If you found it difficult to appeal to new customers in 2015, then conduct research on what your potential customers are looking for. As modern marketing continues to transform traditional marketing, gathering information on consumer behaviors is easier than ever before. Online tools and applications make it easy for digital marketers to study what a customer is doing online and how they can be reached.

2. Let’s Get Social.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media; the question is “How Well We Do It.” -Erik Qualman

This should be at the top of your business’s 2016 resolution list. It should also be your marketing department’s motto. In 2015, social platforms were rock star performers for generating new business. That’s going to continue in 2016 as social media continues to be an affordable and effective marketing tool.

Social media is great for keeping customers engaged with your quality products and services. You don’t want a first-time customer to buy your product and then disappear. Instead, set goals that allow your social media plans to better engage customers. Find ways to encourage shoppers to refer your products or services to their friends and family. If 2015 wasn’t your year for making the best of social media marketing, then do it in 2016. It’s not late to begin!

3. Focus on Content Marketing.

“Everyone loves something new, something better. Not only humans, but search engines too!”
-Ankita Patel

Updating your business’s website content helps search engines find your products and services. It’s also a good way to provide useful information to potential customers. People are looking online for more information about products and services than ever before. If they find your website relevant they are more likely to refer your business to their friends and social media followers. Developing well-written online content can be the difference your business needs to convert online traffic to sales.

4. Learn from Your Mistakes.

“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.”
– Unknown

Everyone makes mistakes, including business decision makers. The key is to learn from them. There is more to goo marketing than a great idea. Some of the best marketing ideas fail because they are not properly executed. So take a look at what didn’t work so well for your business in 2015 and consider ways to implement a more effective plan in 2016. Consider what your competition is doing well and find ways to counter their activity.

There are many marketing resolutions your business could go after in 2016. These are only a few to get your 2016 marketing plans rolling in the digital world!

Happy New Year!

Inkwell Content WriterNew Year, New Marketing Resolutions
blog-content

What To Blog About

Inkwell Content Writer Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy Leave a Comment

blog-contentMost business owners don’t have time to sit down and draft an editorial calendar for their blog each month. In fact, that’s how digital marketing content writers stay in business. It’s our job to think about clever ways to promote a client’s business by using words and digital media to tell a unique story that consumers want to hear.

As search engines continue to grow more savvy of consumers’ Internet usage habits, it’s even more important to create relevant website content in our blogs that people will want to share through social media and other digital platforms.

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of competition out there. Businesses no longer compete solely against the guy next door. Today they’re competing with businesses all over the world. So how does a business use their blog to cut through the clutter and to deliver more qualified website traffic?

Here are two tips that can help you develop interesting, sharable content for your blog:

1. Conduct Long-Tail Keyword Research. For those not familiar with this term, long-tail keywords are longer, specific phrases that people might search when looking for information about your products and services. For instance, a search for “guitar speakers” is likely to garner a lot of impressions, but a guitar speaker business is going to compete against a lot of international players in order to show up in those search engine results.

A more effective approach is to develop a list of long-tail keywords that can be used to enhance the content on your website. For example, that same guitar speaker company could use a more specific long-tail keyword such as “build guitar speaker cabinet.”

These more specific keywords are often a great starting point to generating new ideas for blog content. (Google has a free keyword planning tool that can help businesses to identify those long-tail keywords.)

2. Keep a List of Customer’s Questions Handy. When one customer has a question about your products and services, it is likely that many others share the same interests. Use your blog to educate consumers. Be careful not to give them a sales pitch for your business, but rather help them to understand how your business works. Some ideas include:

  • Tips for selecting a ripe artichoke (grocery stores or natural food stores)
  • Questions to ask when hiring a repairman (plumbing, HVAC, etc.)
  • Warning signs to look for when buying a house (realtor, mortgage lender, home inspector)

The trick to writing relevant web content for a blog is simply knowing where to begin.

Inkwell Content WriterWhat To Blog About
addy winner, paducah, horizon media group, content writing

Advertising at It’s Finest

Inkwell Content Writer Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Every once in a while marketing folks get to have a little bit of fun together working on advertising campaigns and sales promotions. Inkwell Creative Media was recently privileged to work with a great team of creative folks over at Horizon Media Group, an advertising and creative agency located right here in Paducah, Ky. As fate would have it, the project that won these amazing folks at Horizon a Gold ADDY at the regional level just happened to be the one that Inkwell Creative Media was able to be a part of.

We are more than thrilled for Horizon Media Group and honored that our team of writers was able to add value to this campaign. Here’s a little more information on what these guys have achieved and where they’re off to next!

 

PADUCAH AD AGENCY RECEIVES TOP HONORS AT AAA SHOW

On February 20, 2015, Paducah advertising agency, Horizon Media Group, received top honors at the American Advertising Awards (AAA) Show hosted in Cape Girardeau, MO.

Recognized as one of the region’s most innovative advertising firms, Horizon was awarded a Gold ADDY for an original sales promotion they designed for Omnia Skin Care Products under the Print Division, in the category of Sales Promotion. Their award was one of only eight Gold ADDYs given in the Print Division this year.Addys Winners insert

“We’re lucky enough to have an extremely talented team,” says John Benjamin, Creative Director at Horizon Media Group. “It’s never just one person tackling a design; it’s always a group effort. Teamwork is what allows us to do extraordinary work for our clients.”

Horizon’s Gold ADDY is eligible to compete in the second level of the three-tiered AAA Competition, also known as the District 9 competition. Their sales promotion will compete against other American Advertising Federation clubs throughout Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Judging will be conducted this month.

If Horizon’s entry wins Gold at the District 9 competition, the team will go on to compete at the national level against 40,000 entrants for the honor of winning a national ADDY Award, the advertising industry’s largest and most prestigious award recognizing creative excellence in advertising throughout the world.

This is the second Gold ADDY that Horizon Media Group has been awarded in the last two years. In 2013, the team was awarded a Gold ADDY for a catalog they developed for Sabona of London, a premier manufacturer and marketer of fashionable and functional copper and magnetic jewelry.

In addition to bringing home the Gold, three Bronze ADDYs were also awarded in the categories of Advertising for the Arts and Sciences and Digital Advertising. ADDYs were awarded for a membership brochure designed for Maiden Alley Cinema and website designs for the River Discovery Center and Maiden Alley Cinema.

 

Congratulations Horizon Media Group for another job well done! 

Inkwell Content WriterAdvertising at It’s Finest

How Remarketing Works on Google

Inkwell Content Writer Digital Marketing, Inkwell News, Marketing 1 Comment

I’ve recently teamed up with other marketing professionals in Western Kentucky to help our regional clients get noticed by more people online. We’ve begun helping clients build digital marketing strategies and thought it was time we share some basic information that may help other businesses gain face time with consumers through some complex, but easy to implement tools available through search engines such as Google’s Display Network and keyword search.

Familiarize yourself with something called “retargeting,” sometimes referred to as “remarketing.” This is a process that allows a business to reconnect with a customer who visited their website, but who did not make an online purchase.

The way it works is fairly simple. A potential customer views products on your webpage. They do not make a purchase. So, you set up a campaign that allows you to place ads in front of these individuals, typically about the product category in which they were interested in on your website. If you’re doing this through Google, your ads will appear within any pages connected to the Google Display Network or when the individual searches for specific keywords within the Google search engine.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a person goes to Shoe Store A’s website and looks at a pair of shoes, for instance, a pair of pumps. For one reason or another that person decides not to buy the shoes at that time. With retargeting, Shoe Store A can now reconnect to that consumer by sharing display ads for pumps that will appear when this consumer looks at other webpages within a display or search network. We like to use Google.

There are any number of marketing professionals who can help you get started or if you have some spare time on your hands, you can do this yourself.

Inkwell Content WriterHow Remarketing Works on Google

Unleash the Queen of Marketing

Inkwell Content Writer Advertising, Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Developing the Not So New Queen of Marketing

We’ve all heard that content is king, but I recently read a phrase that grabbed my attention. “If content is king, then stories are queen. We know who wields the power!” In an era of ever-changing marketing tools and evolving technology, it’s difficult for most small businesses to stay ahead of the curve. We all know that we need to use social media for our business, but it’s not always easy to know what we should say or how social media can really drive new business our way.

Stories can be short and sweet, such as those we may share in a tweet, or in a :30 second commercial, or a longer story may be told through such vehicles as a YouTube video or published article. Stories can shape the way people view a company and its products or services. They can be powerful tools to effect change when advocating for a cause. They can also persuade an individual to change his buying habits and to shift his loyalty to another brand.

A lot of businesses boast about their great products and services, but often find little payback for all of the time invested in managing their social media accounts. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to tell a compelling story when developing their marketing content. A recent study conducted by Stanford University shows that people are 22 times more likely to remember a good story than they are to remember plain old facts. The human brain is wired to relate to the world through stories. That’s why more and more businesses are finding success in moving the message of their marketing campaigns from a product-centered message to content that is driven by a good story.

Here are a few tips to help determine what story your business should be telling, whether in your advertising campaigns or social media platforms. First, define a misconception that your consumers may have about your products or services. What myths do they believe? What keeps them from using your products and services, verses those of your competitors? Many businesses don’t actually know what their customers or potential customers think about them. They may even have a perception of themselves that is very different from the perception that their customers actually have of them. Stories are an effective way to close that gap and to help individuals see your business as you want them to see it.

Determine why your message is important to the audience. What would make them want to listen to what you have to say? Be authentic and relatable. When crafting your story, try to find a hook to grab the attention of those viewing your ads or reading your social media posts. For instance, you may want to begin your story with a joke or an attention-getting statistic and then engage your audience with an authentic story that they can relate to.

Some businesses may be telling stories, but they may be sharing the wrong stories. For instance, don’t just tell your audience that your strength is customer service; instead share a story about how your customer service benefitted a customer.

Lastly, engagement with your audience should enable action. Think about why your audience would want to pass your story along to others. Find ways to make it easy for your audience to share your story with others. Social media makes this simple. For instance, if your business hosts a regular blog on its website, then each time those posts are updated a link to the blog can be shared through social media. This not only allows people to help spread the word to others, but it also drives more traffic to your website.

Good marketing has always been about telling effective stories. That fact holds true today. Good stories are the building blocks of any successful content strategy, so make yours a memorable one to share!

 

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Inkwell Content WriterUnleash the Queen of Marketing

Have a Marketing Plan

Inkwell Content Writer Advertising, Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Leave a Comment

As a small business owner, I have been tempted to deviate from a strategic work plan and engage in projects that, although seemingly good in nature, really don’t fit the mission and focus of my business. When I lose focus on my over-arching goals, I am less successful in accomplishing my goals for the year.

Here are a few tips that will help your firm build a successful plan.

  • Identify your customer. What does he or she look like? Male, female, college-educated, upper-income? Know what they value and do some research on their lifestyle so you know how best to reach them.
  • Work through a S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats):

What do you do well? Examine the year prior and determine where your business saw success.  After some analysis, you may see that your current approach is working and begin to see opportunities to build on those successes. But you might also begin to notice places where you could be stronger.

Determine where there room for improvement. Work with your staff and talk to your clients in order to determine solutions to problem areas. As business owners, we like to diagnose our own problems, but we usually get a better grasp on reality when we invite our customers to share feedback.

Define opportunities for growth. Brainstorm a few ideas and come up with some practical steps for pursuing opportunities that make sense for your business.

Finally, know what’s going on in your industry. Not only do you need to understand your own company and your own clients, but identify your competition. Note where they are acheiving success and position yourself in such a way that allows you to compete.

Also, consider factors going on in the economy and technology. If your company has never prided themselves on keeping up with trends in the communication world, this may be a threat to the future of your business. Consider ways in which your firm can advance to meet the ever-changing needs of your clients.

  • Have a Marketing Plan & Budget. Marketing is more than just advertising. It includes networking, sales, graphic design, promotional materials, maintaining a user-friendly website, customer service and communicating with your target audience on a regular basis. A good marketing plan is crucial to building top of mind awareness. Having a plan can also save you money.  You’ll be less tempted to make last minute decisions that may or may not fit your firm’s long-term goals.
  • Outsource when it makes sense. As you work through your analysis and consider how to go about implementing your plan, you may notice that there are important tasks that you and your staff are not finding time to get done. Things like updating web content, keeping up with regular blog posts and e-newsletters, or managing the content on your firm’s Facebook page, are vital to effective marketing. Due to time constraints, these are often areas where firms fall behind on keeping things current.

These are just a few things to consider when developing a plan. If you are able, consult with a marketing agency who specializes in strategic planning and build a plan for your firm that makes sense. When you define your firm’s mission and provide your employees with a vision for the year, you will begin to see improvement. Planning takes time, but it pays off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inkwell Content WriterHave a Marketing Plan