Small Business: Nine Tips To Get Twice As Much Out Of Your Printed Ads

Every small business is restricted by a budget. Every dollar matters. 

One of many stunning Kohler print ads. They have actually been approached by people seeking to purchase copies of the ad for framing.

One of many stunning Kohler print ads. Kohler has actually been approached by people seeking to purchase copies of their ads for framing.

Print ads can be expensive, both to produce and to run. Yet they possess substantial value for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Printed advertising is an excellent investment, here are nine tips to ensure if you have paid for a print ad, you get every dime out of it.

Look at it this way, you have paid for the ad, therefore the ad is now yours, so look for any and every means available to place that advertising message in the hands of prospective customers. By doing so you can double the return on the money spent. Here are nine examples:

Nine Ways To Re-use Your Printed Ad’s:

1. Order an extra supply of reprints – then go hard distributing them to both, existing and potential customers. Use every avenue available to place the ads into their hands.
2. Anytime you are sending out literature, or passing out brochures, include a print of the ad. This will reinforce your message and remind the customer of the reason they found you in the first place.
3. Distribute the ads internally as well. Ensure everyone involved with your company, is given copies of the ad. It will keep them up to date and engaged with your most recent message. It aligns them with your business and brand vision.
4. Supply extra prints to all of your retail and sales staff (essentially anyone in direct contact with your customers) and encourage them to distribute the prints freely to customers.
5. Utilize the ad in a unique way but turning it into a product and service data sheet. Simply add additional information and specifications to the back of the ad reprint. This provides with a nice eye-catching cover for your data sheets, without having to design, source and purchase new ones built from scratch. What is more, now the reader will get a double dose of your message.
6. Use ad reprints as inexpensive direct mail. Look at mailing the reprints alongside a sales letter and/or reply card. The ad will grab attention, and the sales letters, all done internally, can quickly be modified for each specific market group on your mail-out lists.
7. Do you have more than one ad created for the same product or service line? If so, consider publishing a bound collection of the reprints as a product brochure. This will increase your brand and product exposure to consumers and save you the costs of designing and printing a brand new brochure.
8. Does the ad provide valuable information that would be found useful in your industry? Consider Offering reprints as free educational material to other companies in your industry.
9. If the ad is particularly striking, visually engaging, or otherwise nice to look at,  offer reprints suitable for framing.

Print ads offer incredible visual impact. That is where their power lay. Pay for a good ad, but make sure to get every dime out of it.

Print ads offer incredible visual impact and that is where their power lay. Our society is incredibly image driven and print advertising works off of that. It is worth it for small businesses to pay for a good ad, so long as we make sure that we use the ad to its fullest.

It is all about out of the box and creative thinking. The key is to find the means to place that printed ad, into the customers hands and in front of the consumers eyes. Remember that advertising and marketing is all about displaying the value in your products and services. Convince the customers that what you sell is worth more to them than their money and use print advertising to do it!


Transition Marketing Services in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.




We love small business…truly…madly…deeply.

We Love Small Business!

Some say it, we show it. Actions speak louder than words after all. Small Business is full of challenges, and not a lot of us have much in the budget (or a budget at all!). We get it! It is a challenge, one that is more easily overcome when we work together. Therefore we are giving one very lucky small business, something extra special, check it!

Rock The Small Biz Promotion:

Are you a Small Business owner or representative? Do you live in the Okanagan Valley in sunny British Columbia? Do you like wicked-awesome-free-stuff? Transition Marketing Services is offering the chance for one Okanagan, BC Small Business to win a free CUSTOMIZED website courtesy of our design team. The free website comes with free registration and one year’s free hosting courtesy of Raptor Integration. Get that? So that is a free CUSTOMIZED website at your disposal for a year. Interested? Here are the details:

Contest Rules:


Any small business owner (or representative acting on behalf of the business within an ocial capacity), whose business is located in Salmon Arm, Enderby, Armstrong, Vernon or any surrounding community within 100 km radius.


Entries will be accepted beginning July 12, 2012 and will run until August 30, 2012.

  1. “Like” Transition Marketing on Facebook (
  2. Message our admin with the following info: Contact name. Business name. Telephone number. Email address. Business address.
  3. Your business will then be entered. Contest ends Monday, August 30. A name will be drawn August 31. Winner will be notified directly by Transition Marketing.

Prize Details:

Prize worth is estimated at $1200.00 CDN. A custom website, consisting of a maximum of ve pages, will be built by Transition Marketing. Note that any specific logo, artwork, or images (such as product photos) must be provided to Transition Marketing upon request for website completion. Domain registration and one years hosting will be provided by RAPTOR INTEGRATION (annual renewal aftera one year period will be the responsibility of the winner).

Legal Disclaimers:

Transition Marketing Legal Disclaimer: Any and all information provided to Transition Marketing for the purpose of this contest is condential. No information passed directly to the Transition Marketing Page admin, will be disclosed, sold, or provided to any parties whatsoever. Entrants must demonstrate ownership (or representation) of actual business to be considered. Transition Marketing holds the right to refuse contest entry, communications, prizes and associated materials, at their judgement to any business involved (or perceived to be involved) in any illegal or questionable activities. Website will be built to the best of the customers specications. Website will be considered completed upon customer approval or upon completion of 16 billable hours of design time.

Facebook Legal Disclaimer:

By entering this contest, via direct message to the Transition Marketing Services Page admin, the entrant releases Facebook, from any and all legal implications. Entrant acknowledges that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Entrant understands that any and all information being provided is specically to Transition Marketing for contest puposes. It is not and not will not be disclosed to or by Facebook. Entrant absolves Facebook of any legal repercussions whatsoever.

Visit Us Directly Right Here To Enter.


Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists

6 Small Business SEO Tips

Small Businesses can still market big.

Small Business / Big Online Marketing.

97 % of consumers polled recently stated that they begin sourcing products and services through online means, a number that is increasing with the on surge of mobile tech.

Regardless of what business one may be in, a website is a necessity.

Creating a website is a careful balance of style and function. It needs to be visually stimulating and it needs to be easy to find.

The term SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the science and engineering that goes into ensuring a website appears at the top of specific search results. SEO is all about making a website the first one a consumer sees and it can take small business online efforts from zero to hero.

Here are some simple SEO techniques any small business can do today to boost its Ssearch Engine rankings:

Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips:

1. Develop The Website To Be Search Engine Friendly.

Almost every website platform is going to do this anyways. However if when a site is customized, several key areas should be examined. Consider your site map, the HTML or code readability and your Folder structure.

These technical aspects reside more or less in the background of every website. Many website designers  are highly focused on creating an aesthetically pleasing site. The aesthetics and image are very important, however a website that is not engineered properly will seldom be seen.

The engineered background of a website is what matters to Search Engines, it is what dictates the websites ranking in search results. Better search results mean a larger audience and more traffic.

Put another way. A good website succeeds in two areas:

  1. Human Audience: It’s layout and content is visually appealing, and it navigates easily – customers can find their way around without any trouble.
  2. Search Bot Audience: It’s internal coding and structure is virtually appealing, Search Engines can find it easily and quickly ascertain what it pertains to, thus affecting its ranking.

Technical engineering does not mean sacrificing appealing design, it simply needs to be considered an equal partner. When it comes to a websites technical engineering one is best to forget about “style” and concentrate on text based descriptions, content. The more clues a website provides to the search bots, the better.

Enter key words that pertain to your business & industry.

2. Determine What Key Words You Want Associated With You Website For Search Results.

This is most easily determined but quickly writing down the first half dozen ways you personally would search for your site. It is best to ask the same thing from those around you, then cross reference and determine which are the most common ways from all of the results.

A few of the results will likely be the same, those are the ones to be key in on. Once that is done, run each of the search terms and isolate where your site stands in the results. The idea is to be in the top 10 results. This may be harder to achieve, depending on the number of related sites in your industry, and how common your business name is.

Generally speaking if you site does not appear within the first two or three pages, then your site should be examined. Not many consumers have the patience to click through that many pages.

While running the test searches, examine which sites are appearing higher in the results. Are the in the same industry? Are they local or global? Small or large? Do they offer direct competition to your business?

When choosing your search terms, remember that other sites will be fighting for top ranking as well. Keep this competition in mind. You may find it useful to break the trest results of search terms into three categories and then target as such:

  1. Strong Search Term | Low Ranking | Minimum Competition: Your results show your site low ranked, but the search term is highly relevant to your site, and there is not much in the way of relevant competition. Start here. Prioritize them and you will begin to see results quickly.
  2. Strong Search Term | Low Ranking | High Competition: Your appearance in the results is low, the search terms is highly relevant, yet the competition is as well. The high competition should be an indicator that this as a strong opportunity. However your competition is likely entrenched here and it could get expensive trying to punt them.
  3. Strong Search Term | High Ranking: Hurrah! Your site appears high in the results, the search term is relevant and you have clearly risen above any competition. Monitor these terms and ensure you stay on top.

Choosing relevant search terms, and prioritizing your targets should have resulted in at least three strong key words to concentrate on.

Make sure your website is Search Bot friendly. Image source:

3. Your Homepage Is To Contain A Textual Description That Includes 2 – 3 Of Your Top Key Words.

And so we begin melding the artistic and the technical. The content should stimulate the viewer, yet make easy climbing for the Search-Bot-Web-Crawlers.

Simply put: “If you want people searching for your key words to find you, then place the key words all over your site”

Think of your key words as little rock holds for the spidery Search Bots to grab hold of in their search. The more holds your site has, the more grip those little Search Bots will get on your site (that is a good thing).

Keep in mind that you do not want to cover your site in redundant textual info for the sake of the Search Bots as you then lose your Human Audience. It needs to be a careful blend of both worlds.

As you change and adjust your sites engineering and content, monitor the changes in your ranking.

4. Include A Page Or Blog Spot Dedicated To The Top Key Words.

This is a good idea for two reasons:

  1. If provides a natural text space to use your key words (again keep in mind not to overdo it, it needs to be readable).
  2. It provides an opportunity to show expertise and relevance in relation to your key words, and therefore your industry.

Rule of thumb write as if you had five minutes to explain to a friend or family member what it is you do.

5. Ask Colleagues, Industry Partners, Friends & Family To Post Content About You.

Search Engines view external links to a website as an endorsement of sorts. Like references on a Resume.

Asking external sources to post about your business AND include one of your key words within a direct link to your site, is known as a “Link Exchange”. While a useful SEO tool, many look at this as questionable when done in large quantities, or when exchanged with irrelevant sites or content (Ex. A Dental practice Link Exchanging with a Bulldozer rental site).

Mass Quantity Link Exchange Examined:

  • Some businesses and web developers will trade Link Exchange rights with other sites regardless of their content. For instance may ask to allow them to place a link on their site in exchange for the same privilege – even if the sites have nothing in common.
  • Others developers may go as far as to purchase the rights to share the links on other sites, or even set up a website directly aimed at nothing more than mass Link Exchanging.

There are a few schools of thought on this as an SEO strategy. Many Search Engines, like Google, do not like this type of thing – considering these types of Mass Link Exchange as misleading in relation to relevant content. These Search Engines are beginning to adapt their algorithms to give this sort of link sharing a pass.

Side Note: Google – the Search Engine with highest consumer use – has made it clear that they are geared towards search results based on relevant content, not SEO “cheats” like link exchanging to irrelevant outside sources. As such creating wide spread relevant content attached to your name is becoming important while mass link exchanging may be on the brink of extinction.

Make sure any link exchange you take part in, is relevant and provides relevant content to the reader. No misleading! That is a massive SEO party foul!

Mass Link Exchanging is frowned upon, however done legitimately, Link Exchanging is a great above-board practice for genuine websites with original content.

6. Back Link Your Website To Your  Social Media.

Relevant Content is the key to true SEO. Image source:

I for one avoid Link Exchanging anyways. I prefer to develop my own content and utilize Social Media platforms for independent link sharing.

It is similar in nature and concept, to Link Exchange, in that it is positioning your link, attached to keywords, elsewhere on the web – yet different in that it is not on external source, but still on your own.

The Bonus here is that it is also CONTENT related, so it scores on two SEO levels and works within many Search Engine preferences for relevant content (it keeps the Google bots happy).

By developing a Social Media platform and link sharing your site, you are creating a larger “web presence” and more reason for Search Bots to find you and rank you.

The Search Engines will essentially crawl the content and trace it back to you. The more relevant content you have for them to crawl, the larger your presence and the higher your rank.


Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds.

We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists

13 Small Business Marketing & Sales Tips

Small Business is full of challenges, yet there are many tools and strategies available for success. Below we outline 13 tips to help the small businessman move from surviving to thriving.

13 Small Business Marketing & Sales Tips

Developing a business plan is a must for any small business.

1. Develop A Business Plan. This is absolutely key and not as difficult as you may think. A business plan can (and should) consist of a budget outline, current customer base, current marketing/advertising efforts, current strengths and weaknesses, target markets, areas of high potential and the methods/mediums available to reach targets and high potential areas.

Or more simply put. It should be made up of reasonable goals for your company, the ways available for achieving these goals, the resources available and then a final plan, and a scheduled outline for moving forward.

2. Make It A Long Term One. Every small business is constrained by the almighty budget.

Take some time to determine the areas of easiest and greatest potential gain. Isolate the best prospects for your business then determine how best to access them. Set your goals, make them achievable then proceed.

The key to achieving market goals is to remain consistent in your marketing. Find a plan that works with your resources, budget and availability then stick to it. If you are not certain how best to go about this, many tips and articles (such as the one you are reading) exist.

Or you can contact specialists who can sit down with you and hammer out the right – individualized – strategy for your specific business. You would be surprise how cost effective this can be.

3. Separating Sales & Profits. There are two types of money for the small businessman. Cash & Profits.

  • When you make a sale you make Cash.
  • When you make a sale at more than your overall cost, you make a Profit.

Typically speaking many small businesses have a primary focus on making sales and bringing in cash – a necessary and intelligent step if you wish to survive and maintain a roof over your head.

To move forward as a business however, cash must begin becoming profits. Profits allow businesses to not just exist but to grow. The small business man must analyze where the greatest profit potential lies and develop a plan of attack. These plans can take many forms, and are a necessity for success.

Business sourcing is increasingly shifting to online searches. Is your business visible online?

4. Free Online Listings. Working under the assumption that you already have a website (necessary!) Get yourself listed with Search Engines and get found.

It is said that 97% of consumers search for businesses online. I know that I do. With the advent of mobile technology, online searching has surged. If you are a small business online, increasing your presence is a must. If you are a small business not online – get online!

As Small Businesses we cannot afford to lose even one customer. Creating and then increasing an online presence ensures YOUR business is what turns up when customers are searching.

For things like Search Engine registration no technical expertise is needed. Here are a few good starting points:

  1. Google Business Listings
  2. Google Places
  3. Bing business portal
  4. Foursquare
  5. Yahoo Local
  6. Yelp Claim Your Business

5. Cold Calling Is Not Dead. So unless you are, hit the road. Make the sales calls, contact the prospects and be regimented in doing so. Again, set goals for yourself – three cold calls a day, eight in a week, whatever it is, stick to it.

Build a list of targets – who they are, what they do and why they should be interested in you. Treat it like a job interview, research your prospect and be ready to answer questions. Have at least three reasons they should look to you.

Start with high potential clients first then work your way down. Yes it may seem scary, however it gets easier with time – remember YOU have value for your customers and you know it, therefore YOUR goal is nothing more than to demonstrate that. Don’t focus on selling (it is cheesy) explain and relate – you will see higher success.

6. Keep Following Up. Do not be irritating – but keep your business in clear view of your customers. Remind consumers you are there. Do not barrage them, keep in mind however, that even if they want to purchase from you – they may not necessarily remember you. Stay visible. Follow up.

Survival: All of your marketing exposure, engagement, goodwill and efforts need to lead to one thing – making the sale. Remember that you want more than just the one sale – you want the customer for life.

7. Close The Deal. None of these tips matter if the deal doesn’t go through. Marketing in itself is a means to gain the sale. Yes it creates brand awareness and increases business to consumer visibility, however if it does not result in a sale your business won’t last long.

You need your customers to make the purchase. There are good and bad ways of going about this. Engaging them, building relations, and creating brand trust are all a part of this.

Provide your customers with a strong “call to action” in your Marketing. Provide incentives to solidify the deal sooner. Give them a reason to sign the dotted line.

Don’t be abrasive, but personally and directly ask to take the order and finalize the sale.

8. The Rule Of “Return & Refer”. The rule is simple: If you satisfy a customer, they will return to you and refer you to others. Gaining these two favours is a top priority for any business. Satisfy your customer, then look to them for the repeat business.

Never assume they will remember you years later, so make an impression at the start. Go the extra mile and win their loyalty.

9. Market To Prior Customers (Repeat Business). A solid part of any small business marketing strategy is targeting current and former customers. The first preliminary sale should be considered not the end, but the beginning of your business transaction with a consumer.

Good first impression notwithstanding, not all customers will remember a business name so “market to remind”. Repeat sales typically take less effort and resources to secure compared to going out and winning new accounts – this factors into turning cash into profits. A good portion of a businesses profits will come from these repeat customers.

Make sure your business is still visible to your customers from three years ago.

Image source:

10. Get A Contact Management System. Every small business needs an organized system for managing business contacts. With mobile and cloud technology it is becoming increasingly easy to setup an online system, accessible from just about anywhere.

You will never need to be without your little black book again. Consider a few of these options:

  1. MS Outlook Integrated System
  3. Prophet (By Avidian)

11. Shop Local, Shop Small. If every one of your customers suddenly began making their purchases at the big box stores or online, how would you feel?

That is how the small businesses in your community feel as well.

  • Support your local small business community and they will support you.
  • Build relations with other businesses and make your purchases locally whenever possible.
  • Avoid making the purchases online. Yes there are some deals that cannot be turned away, however small businesses cannot survive if all they are, are showrooms for online retail.

You reap what you sow. Want the community to support you business? Then support them first.

12. Use Social Media. First off Social Media is not going to directly make you profits. Social Media is, in itself, not the means to make the sale.

It is however:

  1. A primary means of increasing online presence.
  2. A direct TWO WAY line of communication with customers.
  3. A monitoring feed for following trends, communications and competitors.

Social Media is a free resource, but as with any Marketing avenue, should be approached with a plan.

  1. Who will post on behalf of your business?
  2. What will they post?
  3. How often will they post?
  4. Who are they targetting?
  5. Why are they targetting them?
  6. How are they to handle direct feedback and/or criticism?

It may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t that scary. Simply sit down and answer each of those questions in turn until the strategy is in place. We also recommend checking out a few of our previous posts on Social Media Marketing:

13. Create An Annual Newsletter Utilizing Cloud Services. We have mentioned newsletters before, however they bare repeating. They are a prime tool for budget friendly Marketing.

No a newsletter does not need to be boring. It is simply put “news”. Broadcast sales info, new products, customer stories… the options are endless – as are the sites that can facilitate this.

  1. Mail Chimp
  2. Constant Contact
  3. Vertical Response
  4. Emma

Now-a-days, by utilizing a cloud service you have access to built-in analytics – that is information on “opens” and “click-throughs” etc. Which is highly useful for monitoring your efforts and the results.

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds.

We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists

How To Add A Pinterest Pin To Your Email!

Pinterest Is The Latest Big Deal. Including “Pinning” Access In Your Email Is Easy.

The big news in the Social Media World… NAY! in the World in general – Is PINTEREST (cue angelic music, let the cherubs fall down).

Pinterest, if you did not know, is a user friendly, fun, interactive platform for sharing web content through images that you “pin” to your online pin board.

When you “PIN” a web page, it provides you with the option to choose which image from that specific page you would like to pin on your board as a representation of the content overall.

As with so many other similar Social Bookmarking sites (Stumbleupon, Delicious) you can add a “PIN IT” app to your internet browser. This allows you, at any given time, to pin the content of the page you are on, to your board. It offers a seamless means for sharing your favorite content with anyone following you. Fellow “Pinners” can also search content on the Pinterest site thus finding other “Pinners” with similar interests.

It is a gorgeous interface, fun to use, easy to work with and effectively spreads websites of upstanding character and content. Pinterest is a great tool for finding sites that are relevant to you, without navigating through all the cluttered debris that lurks in the corners of the internet.

BUT! Did you know that you can also create effective “PIN” Badges within your email to allow recipients to pin directly from the message? Here is quick walk through on how to insert a Pin Badge into your email.

Sinking That Pin Into Your Email.

Add a Pinterest option to your email to allow recipients to book mark your content.

1. The first thing to want to do is insert the Pin badge (icon, symbol etc.) into your email. I like to use an easily identifiable icon or symbol, this helps my recipients know what they are doing. This icon will be what you attach your hyperlink url to.

2. Second you want to select the url you intend the Pin to lead to. For example (and to keep it simple) I will use the website of a very talented indie musician I know, Brandon Dorsey:

3. Third you want to select the url of the specific image that you would like to represent your pin (this is what will provides the image part of the pin on your board). The image must be hosted on the page of the url you are pinning. In this case I have chosen one of the few images available on his site. (website developers in the future may want to take Pinterest parameters into consideration).

4. From here you need to determine the description of the pin, keep it clear and simple. In this case I have chosen simply:

“Drive By Dreamer Music”.

5. Now you need to “patch” your url with the appropriate coding.

Take the website url:

Add in the term “&media=” to the end, then add the url for the image to that. So: PLUS &media= PLUS

When you are done your url should look like this:

Now in the term “&description=” to the end of the url and then the chosen descriptive phrase. So: PLUS &description= PLUS Drive By Dreamer Music

Your url should now look like this: By Dreamer Music

Now you simply add the following Pinterest parameters to the beginning of your final url: “

Your final hyper link should look like this: By Dreamer Music

Now hyperlink it to your chosen icon or symbol and away you go.


If the image does not show up, verify the image url – you can right click on the image and select “copy image url” to make it easy.  Always double check the entire url to see if a “/” mark or other character is out of place.

Pinterest does not have good compatibility with Facebook at this time, so attempting to Pin from Facebook may not work.

Pinterest Growth Statistics Are Impressive (Their growth is beginning to level off now). Image Source:

Remember that it may take a few tries to perfect the process, but it is very worth it, just look at Pinterests latest growth stats.

They have begun to level off since this infographic, but as an avid user myself, I don’t foresee any immediate drop off. The stats as they are, are pretty hard to ignore.

Besides, it is a quick process, once learned, and it offers widespread sharing of your web content.

As my friends in the UK say, Brilliant!

Well, have fun and Pin with care!

 Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.

Finding A Good Social Media Specialist


How Qualified Is Your Social Media Specialist?

We have mentioned before that the rapid increase in the use of Social Media as a marketing tool has resulted in more and more companies contracting “Social Media Specialists”. This title infers someone who possesses a specialized skill set perfect for utilizing the tools found in Social Media. That does not always mean that this is what you are getting.

Two trends have emerged for companies looking to hire someone in the know for their blog, Twitter or Facebook profiles. The first trend we see are companies hiring a self-proclaimed specialist who can set you up with a Facebook profile, but knows nothing about consistent branding. This can be easily avoided with just a few simple questions.

  1. 1. Ask them about their strategy, if it consists of little more than a profile setup this may set off alarms. A proper Social Media specialist should have questions about your target market, your competitors, your products and service, the image that is to be cultivated and the responsibilities for the required regular maintenance and updates of your profile.
  2. Ask them about their experience, who have they worked with before? Is that business in line with yours or similar in any aspects? How you market an industrial plastics company can vary a great deal from how you market a “Ma and Pa” eatery.
  3. Ask them about their plan, how do they intend to pull in “likes” on Facebook or followers on “Twitter”? Who do they intend to target? Are those targets a value to your business? Why?
  4. What is their plan for the roll out of the strategy? Have they got a reasonable schedule for posts and updates?
  5. Do they understand Branding and the foundation behind it? Social Media is a voice directly to your end customer, a consistent and clear business image is a must. The can be no disconnect between your social media and other marketing avenues.
  6. What do they intend to do with your Social Media audience once they have them? Getting a target audience is only half of the immediate goal, you then need to know what it is you plan on saying to them.

The second trend seems to be an increase in contracting IT related professionals to operate Social Media profiles. Social Media profiles are relatively simply to setup and maintain – the primary confusion is typically when trying to connect more than one profile together and still maintain consistency. Beyond that the techie part can be easily learned (until we begin dealing with SEO and deeper market research, but that is a topic for another day).

The concern is that professionals with IT background are not always the best suited for dictating the online image of your business or communicating with your customer base.

Social Media breaks with certain traditional elements in Marketing, in that it is about engagement directly with the consumers. It actually requires skills in both, Sales and Customer Service, and Marketing and Public Relations.

Don’t get me wrong IT folks are great, but my experience with many various techs has been that they can be a little socially awkward at times, and often lack the necessary skills for cultivating a good brand image. The thing to keep in mind is that Social Media is not so much about tech, it is about image and communication.

Social Media Requires Engagement, Creativity & People Skills

Social Media is a conduit allowing you and your customer to begin a two way dialogue. The most effective strategies utilize this two way “portal” to communicate back and forth with customers, which generates two way information, promotes brand identity and customer loyalty and results in valuable feedback from the consumer.

The emphasis here is the strong need for communication with customers, without this you are simply selling people another billboard. Social Media provides the chance for you to woo your customers but using it as a tool to simply barrage them is an abuse that they will not tolerate… and unlike the actual highway billboard signage, Social Media makes it very easy for them to ignore you – permanently.

If you are looking at implementing a Social Media strategy, it is in your best interest to do a little homework in advance and hire appropriately. A quick consultation will help you understand some of the tools and dynamics, but profiting from Social Media requires long term thinking and planning. There are a professionals out there equipped to help your business, even if you are on a tight budget. It is worth your while to ask the questions and do the research. Many resources exist to help educate and update on what is out there. Blogs like this one for instance, offer free advice and information.

Make no mistake, Social Media can pay dividends, you just need to understand the tools and the dynamics.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.

Tips: Building A Better Website

Building a website? Consider these quick tips:

When developing your website remember the immortal words of Ron Burgundy: "Stay classy".

So you have decided to get a website. Congratulations! It is a big, bold, brave and entirely rational step for your business. Whether you intend to do it yourself (don’t) or hire someone there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Stay Classy San Diego!

I ripped that line off of Anchorman for a reason (thank you Will Ferrell). Your website needs to have class. It should not look like the Myspace page of a 14 year old girl or the Microsoft Live page of a 60 year old shut-in with a cat addiction.

Good Kern, clear lines, clear image resolution, proper font and type and proper margins are non-negotiable. Your website is the digital storefront for your business. Unless I am looking to purchase a cat I will not want to see kitties as your webpage wallpaper (and even then I still don’t).

The same goes for your banner, logo and colour scheme. It should all keep with your branding image. Don’t choose Chartreuse Green for your business cards and then Fuscia for your webpage. Don’t use one logo for your cards and something entirely different for your webpage. Be consistent with your brand.

Get a critique, see what people think and work off their feedback. Check out other sites that appeal to you and see what they did. Learn, emulate and improve. Your webpage will be associated with you and your brand, how people perceive you is key – keep that in mind when making all design and content related decisions.

2. Image Theft Makes Me Cry.

Building a website? Great idea! Before you start take a look around. Find out what others are doing and appeals to you. Like any construction - you should know what you want it to look like ahead of time.

There are so many sites that offer free photos that there is no excuse for posting a watermarked photo on your site. It is unappealing and what is worse, it is not very professional.

Use the free images that are available or purchase the image for 99 cents. Source a photographer or Graphic designer – you can even shoot your own shots. This can be more work in the short term, but pay off in the long run. Images with watermarks are tacky and show a lack of initiative (IE laziness), what is more watermarks are the telltale sign of copyrighted material and using copyrighted material without permission is theft.

Most customers do not want to do business with a thief. Yes bold words, but it is the truth.

3. Blasted GIF!

Those flashing, moving, repetitive advertisements on the sidebar hurt my brain. They can also hurt your image – when I see those, alarms go off in my head. Unless you are in the advertising business the legitimacy of your business is at stake. Those banner ads may be a big risk and can be distracting from your website. Many potential customers will turn back as soon as they come into contact with them. They are the digital equivalent to the used car salesman in the checkered jacket screaming  “have I got a deal for you!”

Aesthetically they are unappealing and what is more, they can actually be so abrasive to the eyes that viewers will leave with headaches and tears. Not an association you want with your business.

4. Don’t Have Music On Your Website.

This one is simple, don’t have audio automatically play on your website. If I am online and want sound, I know where to get it and would like to control what it is, besides chances are your musical taste and mine is going to differ. Another thing to consider is this:

The single largest day for online sales (Cyber Monday) is the Monday following American Thanksgiving. On this day many of us are happily working at our desks right? Sort of, many Cyber Monday sales are the result of online shopping – while at work. Now imagine this: you just need to put your order in for that cute Abercrombie top, it will only take a few quick minutes – WAIT WHAT IS THIS MUSIC, WHY IS IT SO LOUD! All of a sudden you are centre stage in the office with a curious boss and some smirking co-workers.

Better safe than sorry, leave the music off of your site.

5. Unsolicited Video.

Don’t worry if I want to view your video I will. Having video on your website isn’t a bad thing, but I do not need, nor want it to load up and play as soon as I enter the main page. For one I do not want it interrupting the audio likely already have going, second we have that whole “audio issue” from Tip 4.

Not only that it bogs the load times and makes navigation a chore. I would rather not waste my precious 12 seconds waiting to click on the “product information” tab. This brings me to the next tip.

6. Yo’ Site Is So Bad… Lewis & Clarke Couldn’t Find Their Way Around It!

Your website needs to be navigation friendly. Make sure it flows properly.

Lewis & Clarke, you know discoverers of the North West Passage and inventors of the taco? Fine… whatever, the point is that navigation is absolutely crucial to your site. I want to be able to find what I am looking for right away. Customers need to be able to logically determine where they need to go to contact you, purchase your products or simply find out more.

Your website should be user-friendly. When you are setting up your webpage you should have a proper flowchart  that defines what pages lead to where, how they flow back and what links they host. It is not that complicated,  but it is essential  to ensure that your website is viewer friendly.

7. Advertisements

If you are going to advertise on your website, make them different from those blasted gifs we mentioned. Don’t clutter your page with ad’s and analytics. It is highly unprofessional for your main business website to play host to ads for Viagra, Insurance or Burke Hedges latest best seller (just kidding Burke).

Your webpage presentation is a significant part of your brand image. It is going to be directly associated with you, your products and your services. This relates back to all of the above tips. You need to be focused and considerate of how you are being portrayed. The more clutter you have the worse. Keep your webpage directed at explaining your company to your viewers. Keeping it simple also helps with the Navigation we discussed in #6

8. Oh You Use Twitter? …and Facebook? And Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Delicious, Digg, Pinterest etc. etc.

That’s cool. However don’t overdo it. Sites that plague their viewers with social media buttons at every turn are trying too hard. Position the buttons in a practical location that is easy to find, if and when I feel the need to share your page, I will find them. Again clutter is the enemy of good website design.

Websites are integral to business. Regardless of your industry a website is a must. It needs to be designed, updated and maintained with care and consistency to you brands message. What will your website tell your visitors? How will it convey this message? What will it look like?

A good designer can help you through the process, they can help you understand the impact of your decisions and will work with you to establish a website that is functional, clean and appealing to your potential customers.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.