New Year! New Branding?

The beginning of another year brings a great opportunity to reflect on your business. What did you do well in 2011, and what should you change for the coming year? Does your marketing need an adjustment? If so, why?


Changing your branding

Change, just for the sake of change, is not always a good idea when it comes to branding. Many business owners get bored of their logo, slogan, or branding. They may think it’s old, has already been seen, so they should revamp the designs to appear up to date. For every new client, this is the first time they’ve seen your branding. If the branding was done correctly, they are just learning what you do, how you do it, and why they should choose you. So it’s still working! Just because you think the message is old, doesn’t mean it’s not doing it’s job. Consistency is the base of a good business brand. If you’re constantly changing your look and message, then you have no brand at all.

When it should change

On the flip side, if your branding isn’t teaching people what you do, how you do it, and why they should choose you, then it is time to make a change. Go back to the basics and find out how to communicate with your audience what your business does, and how you do it better than your competitors. Consulting a professional about your brand is always the best approach in this situation. A credible designer will agree to look at what you currently have, and give you their evaluation of what’s working, and what needs help.

The next step

Whether you decide that you have the right branding to sail you through the New Year, or you think your brand is drowning, take some time to evaluate your business. Read over the questions on our Branding Homework and decide for yourself if your business is ready for the next year. If you feel you need some help to make 2012 your best year ever, give us a call! We’d be happy to talk to you and give you a creative new direction for your business.


Bootstrap Marketing, Part 2

These days, every business’ budget is shrinking and we have to start getting more creative with how we are marketing ourselves. This series will cover marketing techniques geared towards small – mid sized business, that won’t drain your wallet. Whether you are on a tight budget or not, these are tips that every business could apply to their marketing effort!


6. Use the back of business cards:

Every time someone is handed a business card, they always take a quick glance to see if there is anything on the back side. Reward this by adding additional branding elements, your website and tagline, or even a short list of services that you offer. Another idea is to create a coupon or referral program, and list it on the backside. It’s cheap and will attract clients.

7. Set up a referral program:

The most cost-effective method of reaching new customers is from referrals of satisfied customers. If your suppliers and clients are happy to give you referrals, why not formally thank them for it. There’s nothing better than getting a cash voucher as a thank you for referring a new client. Depending on your line of work and cost of services, determine an amount that will rightly award these raving fans.

8. Promote other products and services:

What else could your customers buy from you? Once they have bought from you once, they are in a relationship with you, and are much more likely to buy something from you again. Before you send your client on their way, ask if there is “anything else” you can help them with. You will be amazed how often that opens the door to them wondering about another product, or allowing you to suggest other services that would benefit them.

9. Do what others can’t or won’t:

Research your competitors and pick up on things you think customers demand, but no one else is delivering. They will probably be harder to execute, but should be worthwhile (and it’s because they’re hard to do, that no one else does them). Talk to customers to find out what they really want. Do more than is expected of you. Clients will notice, and will talk with others about it.

10. Sponsor an event:

Most times, sponsoring events is very inexpensive and also great for publicity. Do some research of what events your target audience may be attending, and see if they are looking for sponsors. You normally get your logo and business mentioned in all of the events promotional material. Plan to attend the event and interact with the guests before and after the event.

This article is part of our “Bootstrap Marketing” series…

We hope you are enjoying the series. Check back soon for additional tips!

Bootstrap Marketing, Part 1

These days, every business’ budget is shrinking and we have to start getting more creative with how we are marketing ourselves. This series will cover marketing techniques geared towards small – mid sized business, that won’t drain your wallet. Whether you are on a tight budget or not, these are tips that every business could apply to their marketing effort!


1. Have amazing customer service:

Nothing attracts customers more than positive word of mouth from other customers. Customer service is your biggest weapon against the competition, especially those run by big corporations. Make it a central part of your business. Find out what qualities are most important to your target audience, and create a promise to be that quality (quick, friendly, helpful), every time they contact you.

2. Create “Top 10 reasons to choose YOU”

Here is a chance to stand out. Instead of leaving business cards or other promotional material at a business or in someone’s email box, create a list of the top 10 reasons why the prospect should choose your company. Make them 100% true, humorous and memorable.

3. Have fresh content on your website:

Adding new and up-to-date content will encourage people to return to the website to read more about you, and will increase your ranking with Google. You don’t need lots of specialist knowledge about search engine marketing for this. Just keep adding new pages with fresh content. Make a commitment to add one new page a week and you will be surprised by how much extra traffic you get after a few months. A great way to have this content be organized is to have your blog be installed within your website.

4. Don’t be afraid to Blog:

Many people think that they can’t or don’t have anything to blog about. That’s not true! Any business can write and share stories of what they do, how they do it, and tips for their clients. It’s a great way to get relevant content onto your site. A good blog can help to brand you and your business as experts in the field. Make a goal to write a post at least once a month. Much of the most popular blogging technology, such as Blogger or WordPress is free.

5. Do Guest Blogging:

Figure out the top bloggers in your related industry and/or area. Reach out to these people, pitch them on some article ideas you’d like to write, and (hopefully) write these articles for them. If you write a thoughtful piece, then these bloggers will be happy to publish your work as well as attribute to you/your business. Bloggers are always looking for fresh content. Create connections with several bloggers, and allow them to write articles for you to share on your blog. [If you’re interested in exchanging articles… drop me a line!]

This article is the beginning of a new “Bootstrap Marketing” series…

So be sure to check back soon!

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Ranking

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Google Ranking

Website Design Monroe WIDo you want to rank #1 on Google, Yahoo! and other search engine sites? Unfortunately, you’ll need more than just good luck to do so. Most website developers will include a very basic system in your website for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But there are many other productive things you can do to your website to increase your ranking. Some of these things require a graphic designer, or someone who has knowledge of HTML code, but there are many things you can do on your own! Here are, what I believe to be, the top 5 ways you can increase your website’s ranking with little to no help from a professional:

1. Choose your Keywords:

What a user enters into the Google search box is considered a keyword or keyword phrase. Developing keywords for your website is the MOST important step in increasing your ranking with Google. Here is a simplified way to choose your keywords:

Define your website: What is your website about? Insurance? Business services? Handmade candles? Once you’ve pinpointed your main topic, it’s time to research your additional keywords.

Choose keywords based off your topic: A great tool to find keywords is the Google Keyword Tool. ( This tool gives you an estimate of monthly keyword search volume across the Google network of sites. You can research a potential keyword to decide if there is enough demand for that phrase. If no one uses that keyword while searching, then it’s not a keyword you’ll want to use. Keywords are prime real estate on your website, but it’s important to know that the more keywords you add, the less impact each one of them has individually. I recommend developing only 10-12 keyword phrases for a website. Once you have chosen your keywords, it’s time to update them on your site.

Hint: There is an easy way to see what your competitors are using for keywords on their websites. While visiting their sites, go up to “View” on your browser, and select “Source”. The keywords will be in the first few lines of code like this:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Chamber, Industry, Commerce, Business, Monroe, Wisconsin, WI, Economic Development, South Central”>

2. Showcase Your Keywords:

Now that you have chosen your website’s keywords, make sure you use them. Not only will your website use them in the HTML code (above), but you will also want to use them in your website’s content, and anywhere on the internet where your company and website URL are listed. For example, the Monroe Chamber might incorporate their keywords (above) in their website’s content by adding: “The Monroe Chamber of Commerce works with local businesses in south central Wisconsin to grow their business, while increasing the region’s economic development.” Search engines LOVE keyword repetition, so try to incorporate them whenever possible – while still keeping the content compelling to the visitor. I know it’s a lot to think about, but no one said increasing your Google ranking was easy! Relax, if done correctly, you will only have to do this once.

3. Start a Blog:

Building your own blog is easy and provides a significant boost to your SEO efforts over time. What better way to showcase your expertise on your business than writing articles on a blog? When potential clients visit your blog, from a link on your website (hint, hint), they will find you very knowledgeable on your subject matter, building trust in you and your company. One thing you’ll find about starting your own blog is that blogging is both simple and fun!

Select a Blog Provider: There are several companies that offer free blogs. I recommend either or because they are the two largest, and the easiest to use. Once your blog is up and running, place a link from your website’s homepage to your blog. Linking the websites together is what will increase your website’s ranking over time.

4. Link Sharing:

Link sharing is a very important key to improving your ranking, yet not many people take the time to do so. So here is an opportunity to get a leg up on the competition! When I mention “link sharing” I am referring to placing another company’s website URL link on your website (usually under a “Links” page), while that company does the same with your URL on their website. Before asking any site for link sharing, you’ll want to develop a links page on your own website. After you’ve created a page to place links on, it’s time to find some link partners. Contact local businesses and other helpful businesses in your field who you would want your clients to know about.

5. Add Your Website to Directories:

If you’re going to own and operate a website, you should take the time to submit your website to well established website directories. There are plenty of sites out there that list other websites and website details. Doing this will create many links back to your website, that will in turn increase your website’s ranking. Some directories may charge you for your listing, but I recommend submitting to these free directories:




Have Patience.

Website Design Madison WIThis is probably the hardest step in the process. We all want instant results, but increasing your Google ranking isn’t something that is completed overnight. It could take weeks, or months, to see the full benefit from these steps. Also, these 5 steps are just a few among many things you can do to increase your ranking. Most of the other steps will need to be implemented by a professional. But these 5 easy steps will make a huge difference in your SEO just by themselves. Enjoy!