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Small Business Marketing | What Halloween Can Teach Us About Marketing

Jason Thalman | Marketing Guru - LLT Group

Halloween is and will always be my favorite holiday of the year.  I have always thoroughly enjoyed getting dressed up and going door to door to collect my late October bounty.  Halloween parties whether they were classroom based as a child or more adult related parties with shots and fun games are something I look forward to all year.  It is fun to see the imagination and creativity of those that go the extra yard to create a costume that lives in the memory for years.  As a father, it has become even more fun because I get to enjoy it with my daughters and get to see the joy and excitement they get out of Halloween.

It may sound strange but Halloween can teach us a lot about small business marketing.  I know that it may sound like a stretch but I’m going to make some comparisons that will ultimately make sense about improving the overall marketing of your business.  Pay a little extra attention to your Halloween activities and you will see exactly what I am talking about.

As a kid, after a few years of hitting up the same neighborhood you knew which houses gave the best candy and which houses gave you the much dreaded apple or even worse…pennies.  You remember these houses because they gave the best candy, very similar to which business gives the best service or product.  Your customers will remember this, and like kids will tell their friends which houses to hit up, your satisfied customers will tell their friends about your business.  Give the best service or product and you will be remembered.  Word of mouth can be one of your most effective marketing tools.

Driving through the neighborhood you’ll notice that certain houses go all out on decorating their abodes in full Halloween fashion.  Some even go to the extreme of incorporating animated props, statues, lighting, head stones, hay bales and scary sounds or music.  Others simply leave the light off signaling not to even bother or put a minimal effort into leaving a bowl of candy with the “take one” sign.  The houses that go all out will ultimately create more “buzz” making kids “want” to visit these houses.  This can be compared to your brand and how effectively you incorporate your brand into everything you do.  Is your signage visible and stand out, are your vehicles lettered and branded to your business, do your employees wear company colors or uniforms, and does your website design or social media efforts reflect who you are as a business?  The more effective your brand, the more people will want to do business with you because you put forth the effort.  The more you put into your marketing, the more you will get out of it.

What about those houses that seem to dreadfully dole out candy as if it were an inconvenience?  To them, it appears that handing out candy on Halloween is just an insurance policy on not being tee-peed or worse, egged.  The houses that really stand out are the ones that greet you at the door, in costume, interact with the kids and parents, try and guess what you are, or say “Awwwww” when seeing a small child in an adorable costume.  These people put forth the effort to make the trick-or-treating experience a memorable one.  Businesses that show the most interest in their customers and go to great lengths with their customer service will always come out ahead.  As a business you want to ensure that your customers are receiving the best possible experience when conducting business with you.  It’s amazing what a simple “thank you” can do for your business.

Have fun this Halloween and remember to not trick but treat your customers the way they deserve to be treated, put forth the effort to market your business and your business will experience spooky good results.

Business Networking | Sometimes Meeting Just One Person Makes All The Difference…Or In This Case Two!

Jason Thalman | Marketing Guru - LLT Group

As a marketing professional, it is important from time to time to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and do some good ol’ fashion face to face networking.  In a time where everyone will tell you that social media is king, I’ll tell you that it’s far more valuable to get out there and network socially.  Join a chamber of commerce, a leads group, volunteer in a charitable business organization or attend a network night and get your name and face out in front of those who can help you grow your business.  The more events you attend, the more your business stays top of mind.  However, more importantly, it’s about creating opportunities to meet and connect with individuals who just might have a profound effect on the way you do business…let me explain.

With our company, we belong to multiple chambers of commerce.  I get out to as many events as possible and do my best to participate in ribbon cuttings, leads groups, networking nights and any other events that will allow me to create opportunities for myself and LLT Group.  I have had multiple opportunities to meet some truly amazing people in the last year who have not only helped me increase my network but have influenced me to be more accountable for my actions and be more effective in my craft.

The first is someone who I consider a friend and mentor, Jennifer Jones Sinnott.  Jen and I met in a leads group through the Yorkville Chamber of Commerce over a year ago and from one simple question about some construction near my neighborhood, we realized that we lived in the same neighborhood.  Since then, I have gotten to know her and her husband Don and they have become like family and it’s starting to seem as if I see them more than I do my own kids.  Today, I am in two different networking groups thanks to Jen and in another with her husband Don.  Just from knowing the two of them, my network has increased ten fold.  Jennifer and Don work with Brian Feltes & Associates and if you are looking for an independent insurance agency who has your best interests in mind, give them a call.  As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

The second is someone I have only known a short time but her personality, take-no-prisoners attitude and kindhearted nature has made me take a serious look at how I network with people and the importance of surrounding yourself with like minded business people.  I met Nicole Tudisco from Wheatland Realty about two and a half months ago at an Oswego Chamber New Business Showcase & New Member Drive event.  I had met Nicole a few times before but I guess I hadn’t made enough of an impression for her to remember me (just teasing Nicole).  We only talked for a few minutes before she insisted that I join a networking group that she had founded called “The Motivated Connection.”  She invited me to attend their meeting the following week and explained to me that this was a group of “Rock Stars.”  I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant but after attending the first meeting…I got a real sense of what she was talking about.

The thing about leads groups is that each group only allows one business from a particular category to be a part of the group.  I personally had to wait some time for a couple of groups to have open spots for marketing or website design before I could join because they are not always easy to get into.  Nicole being a Realtor, she found that most groups had already had a Realtor in them but that didn’t discourage her.  Like the “Rock Star” that she is, she started her own.  This is where The Motivated Connection was born.

After attending the first meeting I could tell that she had attracted a group of business owners that had one thing in common, a dedication and passion for their business.  I knew that I had to be a part of this group, not just because I knew that it would help me grow my network but because it would help me grow as a person.  The Motivated Connection is one of the most dynamic group of people I have ever been associated with.  The group has driven me to strive to be better at what I do, in the way I carry myself, the way I network and the way I look at my role in the business community.  Her influence and the way she carries herself had caused me to improve myself both personally and professionally.

At the beginning of each MC meeting she greets us all with the following saying, “Sometimes the path you are on isn’t as important as the direction you are heading… As a member of the Motivated Connection we make it our commitment to ourselves and our peers to always be our best, invest the effort, be accountable and thus reap the successes not only for ourselves but for our MC peers.”  I get chills every time I hear it because it has caused me to do just that…be my best.

Invest your time in networking and growing your business because you never know who just may have a profound effect on the way you do so.

View Jason Thalman's profile on LinkedIn

 

Website Design | Why you should reconsider allowing your “friend” to design your business’s website.

Website Design

Jason Thalman | Marketing Guru - LLT Group

It happens time and time again.  You meet with a client, spend time learning about their business, research their industry, understand their marketplace, analyze their competition, develop a well thought out marketing strategy through use of professionally designed website and at the end you get, “well, I have a friend and they’re going to do my website.”

Nothing makes marketers and website designers cringe more than hearing that statement.

Why?  At the end of the day, the business owner’s not doing himself or his business any good by choosing this path.  I have encountered many business owners throughout the years who have followed the same path only to regret the choice of having a friend or neighbor or nephew or neighbor’s kid or even their own kid design their website.  Here are some of the issues that I have experienced with business owners who make this decision.

1)      Usually the person they choose to do the website “tinkers” with web design and is not educated or trained by a professional institution or school that specializes in web design.

2)      Their full time job or career is not in the field of web design or marketing.

3)      Getting updates or changes made to the website are not done in a timely manner.

4)      They receive a website that is not designed with best practices in mind.

5)      The site is not SEO friendly which hurts search engine rankings as well as overall website performance.

6)      Aspects of the site will be designed with elements which may not be not compatible with mobile devices, be formatted to perform equally in multiple browsers or devices.

The list of complaints and issues I have received from clients on this topic could go on forever.  The most common reason some business owners choose to go with an alternative source for their web design is because of budget.  I hear this quite frequently, but what I have also found is that business owners spend thousands of dollars on redoing their website once or twice before they get to a point where they realize that they should have hired a professional website design company in the first place.  Second, by not having a website designed professionally can also hurt the bottom line due to not keeping products or services updated in a timely manner, design being out dated or old, not easy to use and most of all not SEO friendly.  Business owners need to look at a website for their business as an investment rather than an expense.  If you invest in something you should expect a return on your investment, correct?  With a professionally designed website you should receive measured results that equate into dollars coming into your business.  Having your website designed professionally in the first place can not only save you money in the long run but the website will perform better, generate more leads and ultimately bring in more revenue.

What you do in regards to your website design can have a long lasting effect on your business, choose wisely.

8 Seconds…Does Your Website Have What It Takes?

The statistics vary but it is widely know that you have 8 seconds to keep a visitor on your website.  Fifty percent of all website viewers will leave your website within 8 seconds due to lack of information, no contact information, or no clear message about what you do or sadly enough, a poorly designed website.  However, these are all issues that can be corrected with a few easy solutions.

When I am consulting with a client, I convey to them that they need three things on their website home page, Who are You, What Do You Do and Why Should Someone Choose To Do Business With You?  Seems pretty easy right?  Well, as strange as it sounds, most website design companies don’t follow this simple rule.

Think about how you view a website or what you look for?  What makes you stay on a website?  The same rules apply to your website.  Potential clients are on your site for one reason and one reason only, they have a need.  People views websites like they do reading the page of a book, they start at the top left corner and read left to right, top to bottom.  The upper portion of your website is referred to as the Header.  This is where you need to identify the three questions; your business name, what you do and your marketing message.  You need to make it easy for your potential clients to obtain this information and in addition, provide them with a way to contact you.  Too often website design companies burry the phone number at the bottom of their page or implement it the body in an all too often hard to read, small font.  Your phone number should also be easy to see so that your client don’t have to fumble around your site to call you.

For example, let’s say we are dealing with a company called Jim Johnson & Company.  The name itself does not signify what the company does so let’s say we start with a typical website header that you see that is all too common.

Now let’s look at a well constructed, clear and concise header.  We identify the company, Jim Johnson & Company but we also add their marketing message as well as what the company does.  We also include a call to action through the use of a “call today” statement.

This type of header construction is one way to keep viewers on your page longer.  This is just a portion of what you should ensure you have on your website.  In addition, the integration of photo slideshow as well as ensuring that you have bullet points that clearly define your areas of expertise in the body portion can make a big difference in the long run.

Not all website designs are created equal.  It is vital to understand the psychology behind why some websites are more effective than others and what works to convert visitors into clients.

Call LLT Group today for a more effective & efficient website at 630-504-0720

google-plus-360

Google shares tips on using Google+ for brands.

At SXSW Google took over a couple streets near the downtown Austin Convention Center to create the Google Village, which was designed to provide an interactive “glimpse of Google’s view of the future.” Among the many demos, discussions and musical performances taking place in the Village was a Google+ ‘bootcamp’ where product managers touted the rapid rise of Google+, showed off its full range of features and took questions from an eager audience.