Friday, December 30, 2011

Representing Your Brand in the New Year

My favorite part about New Years, are the resolutions. Sure sometimes they can be a little silly and most people never follow through with them, but the idea of wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch has always been a neat thought. This year, why not make a resolution for your business? Start thinking, how am I going to stand out from my competition?

Since your logo is the physical representation of your brand, this may be a great place to start. Maybe the only thing wrong with your logo is that it’s a bit outdated. Giving your logo a modern feel, without completely changing it, makes people take a second look, often causing people to notice your business that may not have before. It will also remind previous customers of your presence that may have forgotten about you.

I recently drove past a restaurant that updated their sign outside of their business. I had totally forgotten they were there until this new sign popped out at me as I drove by. We tend not to notice something that is just always the same, but when it is given a fresh look it stands out — much like a new business would.

Start thinking about your products and services, and think about what new things you can offer your customers in the New Year. If there are products you sell that perhaps don’t move as quickly as others, maybe its time to start thinking about what you can offer that will move quicker. Out with the old and in with the new so to speak. Service based industries can start offering new services to better serve the needs of their clients. Launch your new products and services, recommitting your dedication to serving your customers in the New Year.

The new year is also a good time to change your print and web material. It is important to keep all of your collateral consistent with the colors and feel of your logo to better brand your business. Here are a few suggestions on how to update your material.

  • Switch out old pictures with updated pictures (hair styles, clothing, cars, etc. change so frequently, it’s important to consistently update them)

  • Incorporate your new updated logo

  • Tweak you business’s mission statement and description to represent any changes in service your have made (with technology changing so frequently, you may not be offering the same things that you were 10 years ago)

  • Feature something new (what are you now offering your customers that you have not offered them in the past)

  • Incorporate your social media (this is a good time to insert your social media icons into your print and internet material)

It is forever important to stay fresh in the minds of your consumers. This is why you see companies like Pepsi giving their logo periodic tune-ups and offering different products and flavors. As small businesses, we don’t have the resources to necessarily evaluate our brand presence as frequently, but we should look at the New Year as an opportunity to re-assess how our businesses are representing themselves to present and potential customers.

Have A Happy And Safe New Year From All Of Us At BBG&G Advertising!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Extending Your Reach With SEO

In order to grow in business, we know that it is most important to extend our reach to as many potential consumers as we can. It only makes sense that the further your reach, the greater number of prospective customers you will bring through the door.

Take for instance the maple tree. It is such a massive tree that it wouldn’t make sense to drop its seeds right at its side. The shade it provides covers a large area around the tree, which would inhibit any growth close by. Mother nature found a way to fix this problem by putting wings on the seeds so they would fly away from the tree in the wind.

It wouldn’t make too much sense to start yelling out the back door of your business to let people know you are there, much like it would not make sense for the maple tree to drop it’s seeds at it’s side. Anyone that can hear you yelling out your back door probably already knows you are there.

So how do we extend our reach? One way is through search engine optimization. SEO (search engine optimization) is a great way to open your business up to limitless amounts of potential customers.

How do we do this? Well, there are several ways we can do this. Probably the most important is being keyword rich in all of your content and having a presence on multiple platforms on the web.

How do we word our content to be keyword rich? Start by answering these questions:

· Who are you?

· Where are you located?

· What do you offer?

When people search for something on a search engine, they will typically search by a location and a service or industry. We have now provided search engines with that key information in our business description.

A great example of this is from Go Green Express Home Services. They have addressed who they are (Go Green Express), what they do (green plumbing, heating and HVAC) and where they are located (Hudson Valley).

In today’s market, most businesses are on several platforms on the web from websites to business listings and to social media. Your key words and phrases should be in all of your online content. It is also important to link all of your online content to each other creating your own web of information on the Internet. When you link your different platforms, it keeps readers viewing your content longer.

There are more technical ways to improve your SEO, through meta tags, meta names and meta descriptions which are embedded in the html code of your website, but most people are not familiar with working in html. Being keyword rich in all of our online content is one of the best things that a business owner can do to improve their SEO. Also be sure that your online content varies slightly between platforms to give your potential customers something new to discover about your business as they are conducting their online research.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas That Support Your Local Economy

With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to talk about some great ideas for gifts. There are many unique ideas right here in the Hudson Valley community that will support our local economy. Important, when 64% of every dollar spent local — stays local.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is Christmas morning breakfast. We always have the neighbors over for a nice breakfast before we all head off to our relatives’ houses for the rest of the day. We serve your typical cuisine from scrambled eggs to my personal favorite, fluffy buttermilk pancakes with fresh local maple syrup. I always get our guests a little something to take home and this year will be no different. Everyone agrees the fresh local maple syrup is delicious, so I will be getting all of our guests a bottle of their own to take home from Crown Maple Farm in Dutchess County. Their light, medium and dark amber syrups all have a unique taste of their own, which is absolutely delicious.

We all have that relative that seems to be overwhelmed with life. Perhaps they have a few kids and a full time job and just never seem to get time for themselves. They probably never get time alone with their spouse to do adult things like going out to a nice restaurant, taking in a scenic drive, or just spending some one-on-one time with each other. A night away at a local Bed & Breakfast would be the perfect gift for them! Sure you will probably have to volunteer to babysit for a night, but it’s a gift they are sure to really appreciate. If you need a suggestion, my personal favorite is Simmons’ Way Inn. They are a short drive to the Berkshires with great scenery and tons of things to do.

Gift cards go a long way, but let’s be a little more creative with our delivery than putting it in a card. Have a friend that is a wine connoisseur? Get them a gift card to their local wine store but give it to them in a nice decorative wine glass. Tie in a gift certificate for dinner with a little bit of dessert by presenting it with a box of chocolates, perhaps from the Village Sampler in Montgomery. Gift certificates tend to be sort of thoughtless, try to spruce them up so that your loved ones know you are thinking about them.

Supporting our local economy for the holiday season is a great way to give gifts to friends and family, as well as giving back to those businesses that support us. There are a lot of great resources for finding these businesses. The 3/50 Project was set up to restore the brick and mortar businesses that have helped build this country. Their website provides resources that will help you find businesses right in your community that you may not even have known about. ABC News has also recently started a project called “Made in America” where you can get great gift ideas for products that are made right in the United States.

This holiday season, think local and try to be a little creative. Remember your local businesses are an essential part of your community — supporting our schools, local events, and non-profits. A little creativity goes a long way in gratitude.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Social Media In Motion for Non-Profits

When we used to think of social networking we thought of all of these online profiles like Facebook and Myspace which have since expanded to Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and so on. It was originally just social sharing among friends. It has since grown into an advertising tool for businesses with business pages and targeted marketing ads.

This newer evolution of social media platforms has been great for marketing. It’s been an asset for many businesses who have invested the time to market effectively through these online tools. Companies have used the platforms to add a personality to their business, target their audience, reinforce brand awareness and gain invaluable feedback from customers.

So now we know social media is great for socializing with friends and we have also found a lot of great ways to use it for advertising, but how else can it be used?

Recently I witnessed something that made me realize just how powerful social media is. Social media was successfully used to raise money for a local non-profit.

Tarantella’s Pizza Alley, a local pizzeria in the Montgomery community, often hosts fundraising nights where they donate a portion of the sales to a local charity. November 16th was a fundraiser to support Boy Scout Troop 31 of Walden, NY. Five o’clock hit and the doors were almost instantly flooded with customers, the phone ringing off the hook. Employees scrambled to take care of everyone as fast as they could, but were still being overwhelmed with the unexpected flow of customers through the door.

It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. Customers started presenting coupons at the cash register, which were sent out through Facebook and e-mail saying “Come Support Troop 31”.

Being the computer-savvy techies that today’s youth tend to be, they took the initiative to upload these coupons to their walls in the form of a picture and tag all of their friends in it. Under the coupon was a caption that said, “Print this picture and come to Tarantella’s to support my troop”. We have all had the Boy Scout or Girl Scout at our door with a candy bar or box of cookies and just could not say no. They have now figured out a way to get into our e-mail, onto our computer screens and into our smart phones.

This successful marketing campaign, via social media, created a huge benefit for everyone involved. Troop 31 was able to raise a ton of money to support their program and Tarantella’s was able to reach potential customers it may not have been able to reach otherwise.

Kudos to the scouts for schooling the professionals with a great way to use social media! And, to Tarantella’s as well. In the three years they have been doing these fundraisers, on November 16th Troop 31 more than doubled the largest amount of money raised in one fundraiser night.