May 28, 2015

9 Tips for Marketing Your Business

9ball_rack_2As a Communicator/Marketer | Web Designer | Writer and Blogger, I’m a big fan of Inbound Marketing, the Internet is a great forum for any business to present itself to customers who are researching “what’s out there” before they buy. To help you attract attention online and to honor the unusual date 09/09/09, I’ve put together  9 tips for Marketing Online. Forget, trade shows, traditional advertising, cold calls, and the yellow pages, the web is where you should be.

1.) Develop a flexible website:

Many of the clients come to RavenWood Creative seeking to either establish a web site or redesign one where they can “control the content” and “update it” whenever they like, without having to depend and wait on IT Professionals to make the changes. Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and other Content Management Systems today make it the right choice for businesses today. It enables business owners to control their content and more importantly respond to changing market conditions, world news, and their competition online, where the customers are looking.

2.) Make your Online Presence – Attractive:

Anyone can have all the greatest content and be subject matter experts in their field, but much like a box of cereal on the market shelf, without attractive packaging and an organization behind the content, no one will spend the time to stop and peruse the offerings. Visuals in Web Communication are as important as the words on the screen. People often forget that the World Wide Web is a visual medium, much like television. That images and how information is categorized is paramount to the content itself. If a potential customer can find what they need from you in an easy and attractive fashion, you’re one step closer than the competition to landing that customer. People like clean and easy, they move past unorganized and screens full of text for sites NOT designed in the 1990s. Break up the text with visual cues, and use visuals as part of your navigation.

3.) Don’t forget “Grammar” School:

Writing, that subject you learned in grammar school, is also important. Sure you’ve attracted a potential client to your site by means of a good ranking in a search engine and a visually attractive web site, just to make them click the back button. Why? Because your pages are full of typos, run-on sentences, and a general “let’s put everything up there” attitude about the web site. Your site shouldn’t be a dumping ground for every profile or market report you’ve ever produced. Editing is good. People scan web sites, if they want more, they’ll ask. Less is more on the Web, and your bad-typing skills and lack of organization over your content will lead them to look elsewhere.

4.) Seek Other Opinions:

Sure you know your business and you know what your customers want, you wouldn’t be successful if you didn’t. But, have you ever asked your customers how you can better serve them? The web is a great place to get other opinions about your work. Polls, surveys, comments, and testimonials are the backbone of most social media sites and other successes on the web. Why do you think people seek out recommendations on LinkedIn, or answer a polls on Facebook? Businesses like people seek feedback. Generally, the feedback is constructive and helps you focus your efforts. Use the tools available on the Internet to your advantage and allow other to comment on your work. The next five tips on on tools to use to spotlight your business online.

5.) The Magic of SEO:

With every web design client RavenWood Creative works with, the question of search engine optimization, SEO soon pops up. Many clients have heard of it and many know they should have it on their web site. It makes sense, increase your web site’s ranking in the search engine and drive traffic to your site, but how? It’s like some sort of magic to most, but it all comes down to using the right keywords and other tools within your site that match what a typical or ideal customer will search. The confusion comes from which search engine the customer is using, Google, Yahoo, Ask. Or what the search engine returns, BING returns are slightly different than Google rankings. But all search engines like new, fresh content (see #1) and any way you can do that for your business will pull your information closer to the top in rankings.

6.) Blogs:

You reading one right now, you probably read one more often than you think. Blogs are a great way to keep your site fresh, up-to-date and relevant (remember, search engines like this type of content). But it’s more than a way to post information fast, blogs are a two-way street and comments and conversations are their life blood. Post as often as you can and comment on other blogs more often and soon you’ll be positioning yourself and your company as a subject matter expert. Blogs can be your entire web site, as WordPress and other blogging technology gets more and more sophisticated, keeping your content rich and your visuals up-to-date is easier and easier.

7.) Social Media Worlds:

Each day the Social Media sites converge more, and with this convergence your customers, old friends, and existing clients are spending more time on the sites. It makes sense to be in the location where your customers are asking questions, seeking advice, and sharing thoughts. Ask Comcast, Zappos, and other corporations that are using social media like Twitter to address customer needs. It’s the future of customer service, no longer do you search out an 800 number to call, you Tweet about your service on Twitter and more often than not, you get a response from someone with advice or help. Go where your customers are, go on social media sites.

8.) Social Media Releases:

Gone are the days of typing up a press release on paper and sending it to the local business editor. Social media releases are rapidly taking the place of the static, and stale press releases. Releases with video clips, images, and actual quotes or testimonials are helping get the word out for many companies. PRXbuilder, Pitchengine, storycrafter, realwire are some of the companies helping to push the social media release technology.

9.) Viral Marketing:

We’ve all received them in our inbox, a video or photo that has circled the globe with sleeping cats, crashing cars, or blenders chewing up an iphone. Take advantage of the human behavior to share the fun, the wacky, or the unbelievable. Don’t take yourself or your business too seriously and word-of-mouse techniques can work for you. Ask for opinions, ask them to share and reward those that help you. Sooner or later something will go viral, ask the Blendtec folks.

Have any other tips about inbound marketing to share, please share a comment below. Until next time, Tim


Great Idea – Business Cards for Bloggers

Today, I stumbled upon a great idea from Brian Yerkes, a blogger and designer who is collecting business cards of bloggers. You can add your business card to the mix by visiting Brian’s blog. Great idea Brian! Here’s mine:

RavenWood Creative Business Card

And I have to say, I stumbled upon the idea by checking out one of my favorite blogs from designers who blog.

Until next time, TIm



Going Green – What’s a Communicator to Do?

 Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I had some computer issues I had to work through. But now I’m rockin’ and rolling again.

Recently, it seems it’s as hot as the planet is predicted to get to say you’re going “green.” I’ve seen Al Gore on abc touting his We advertisement program, and then I’ve seen those same ads “We were…” all over TV. I’ve seen retail giant Walmart hawking its green products with cool little stats that if all 220 million of its customers would install a CF lightbulb or use less paper what a better planet it would be.

 Now, I’m all for going green, reducing the greenhouse gases, and our dependency on oil foreign or domestic. Read Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us and you’ll do everything you can to reduce plastic waste and the use of chemicals and preservatives in your life.

The latest trend I’m seeing is for going green becoming a business issue, see communicators debate the issue – myragan. I’m all for it, I recently received an invitation to a bank opening reception in my community. The invite was mailed, but it was printed on 100% recycled paper and had wildflower seeds embedded in it to plant the entire invite under 1/4 inches of soil rather than just throwing it away. I applaud Harleysville National Bank for doing that, and I know everyone who received the invite thought it was cool.

I also wholehearted support the use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paper products, SmartWood, Green Seal, and the EPA’s Green Power Partner program. We need to reduce the number of trees being cut down and increase the use of recycled products. RavenWood Creative has an active recycling program, we recycle more than we throw out, we subsidize wind power for our electric use, for about $7.00 a month, and recycle packing products whenever we are shipping something – just three of the ways we are going green.

 So what do you do or your company does to reduce, reuse or recycle? How are you going green, and does it need to be a company initiative or just how you conduct business?

Let me know, until next time, Tim



LinkedIn Grows and SEO Comes of Age

There’s an interesting thing going on out on the Net, social media and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are both coming of age. I was reading a cool new blog recently from Dinkum Interactive where its head was discussing his thoughts on how News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch were toying with the idea of buying LinkedIn. This business-centered networking site, where you can keep “connected” with present co-workers, past co-workers, college-buddies, and just friends or colleagues, is growing so rapidly (currently 6th biggest of its type and gaining) and its successful that it’s attracted the attention of big business and the media.

I’m a member of LinkedIn – View Tim Ernst's profile on LinkedIn and see if we know anyone in common, it’s that simple. The ability to keep connected to people you know is very powerful, I know when I started RavenWood Creative, it was daunting to think, “Okay, I have started this business, but how do I start doing business.” Well, networking and social media has taken a lot of that fear away, people want to connect, people want to do business with nice people, and I’ve found that through cyber-networking and old-fashioned shaking of hands people want to see other people succeed and do well. Friends want to help friends and my friends have certainly helped me. Thanks Regina, Marci and of course, Eileen, and the countless others who have given me words of encouragement and support.

As for SEO, I’m off to a luncheon meeting today of the local Rotary, another great way to network, and the speaker, the head of Dinkum Interactive … I’ll let you know what he has to say about SEO in its coming of age in the next entry.

In the meantime, how do you network? What sites do you use to network? What do you think of LinkedIn? Please share your thoughts … until next time, Tim