Your Website Looks Marvelous! (But is that really good enough?)

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By Debbie Albert, Albert Communications

If you’re like me, a fan of Billy Crystal, you’re probably familiar with his exaggerated impression of the Argentine-born film star Fernando Lamas, famously spoofed with his line, “It is better to look good than to feel good,” which Lamas shared on “The Tonight Show” many years ago. While that may be true for people, it’s not the case when it comes to websites. Today, a good-looking website simply isn’t enough, and can actually be a detriment if it isn’t “working” for you. Now may be the time for that website redesign you’ve been putting off.

If you’re from the generation which existed before websites, you’ll know they’ve evolved significantly over the years.

Today’s site need to be mobile-optimized, many should have an SSL certificate and be GDPR compliant. Terms and conditions should show up on the footer. Having a physical address is important. Clean lines are safer. Less is more, but sometimes more is more. No more hiding search terms in white on a white background. And Google is god. Period.

Got it? Good, because that’s just the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

A few years ago, a professional services firm asked us to “fix up” their website. Before the meeting, we reviewed the site and were pretty sure it had been developed years earlier when websites were new to the scene. In a word, it was awful. We soon discovered it had only recently been launched, having retained a firm that pretty much ripped them off. It was a disaster.

There was no intuitive navigation, no content offers, no pop-ups. Photos of the staff had all been taken at different times with different backgrounds. There were no matching stock images on the site. To find what you needed – as a client or a prospect – was just about impossible. And it was completely unattractive to boot!

These were not stupid people, but they didn’t know what to ask – or what their website development firm should have been asking them. They had no relationship with the firm, no trust, no references, and certainly no idea where they should have even begun.

We had to redo the site from scratch, not what either of us originally wanted or anticipated, but the site had been built on an antiquated platform and most of the site could be categorized in a blog titled “What not to do with a website.

Before we began our work, we listened, asked a lot of questions, and gave the firm time to think about what they really wanted – and needed. We always start with a deep dive on the intended audience, but it was crucial to know a lot more about the firm, its practices, how it wanted to be perceived, how frequently they planned to add content, and much more. The discovery phase can and should take as long as needed to craft a plan and site map that can solve the needs of the client.

If you haven’t given much consideration to your firm’s website over the past few years, now may be the time. We often encourage people to use their down time on the beach, in the mountains, or on a plane to really give thought to what their company is, the story it tells, and mostly, how it’s different from its competitors.

Look at your site and ask yourself a few questions.

1.     Is our website working for us?

2.     Is it driving customers to us, keeping them on the site, capturing their email address, and positioning us as experts in our industry?

3.     Does our site show what differentiates us from our competitors?

4.     Are we offering content – free content – that will keep people on the site longer and possibly encourage them to reach out?

5.     Do we use a back-end tool to capture email addresses so that we can follow up with potential clients and customers?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, it may be time to consider updating your website. Google it. There are a million ideas out there on how to do it, when to do it, and what the site should have in a redesign.

But before you take that leap and make the investment, we invite you to answer the questions on this worksheet (questions we’d be asking you first). It will give you and your leadership team time to think about what you want in a new site – and what you don’t. Not everyone or every business needs to blog. Not every firm needs to have a back-end tool like HubSpot of Marketo. Not every business needs a custom-designed site. But every business does need a website that works for them.

When the time is right, we invite you to talk it through with us as a start. Even if we’re not the right firm for you, before you invest, talk to people you trust.

With apologies to Fernando Lamas, what you don’t want to hear is just “You look marvelous.” You want to hear your phone ringing.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

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Aligning Sales & Marketing

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By Jamie Allebach, Allebach Communications

Marketing vs. Sales—an age-old rivalry. “Sales are down because ‘marketing’ isn’t supporting our brand with the consumer.” “The new product launch failed because ‘sales’ didn’t do their job!”

How many times have we heard both sides of the story?

Can’t we all just get along? After all, we do have the same end-game in mind—to grow the brand!

Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario with food and beverage brands; sales and marketing, each working in their own silo.

There is a better way, but it takes work and commitment from upper management, and a “can-do” attitude from both the marketing and sales teams.

Here are some thoughts on building unity between the teams and making the process more successful for the overall brand.

Better Communication Improving communication is always a great first step. Schedule regular meetings with marketing and sales to keep the lines of communication open, the ideas flowing, and to address challenges. Quarterly power-sessions are also great for team-building and for long and short-term planning.

Collaboration is Key When there’s a campaign, new product launch, or any significant marketing initiative, bring the sales and marketing teams together at the same table, as early in the process as possible. Early collaboration will pay great dividends to both teams and it will incubate a higher chance for success on all levels. With this approach, everyone is vested in the process and final outcome.

Coordinating Sales Promotions with Marketing Programs There’s nothing worse than a lack of communication when it comes to your marketing programs and when your brand is on-deal. It’s kind of like giving your product away. Every brand has a marketing calendar, and every sales team has a promotional calendar. Here’s a novel idea…why not bring them together?

There’s a lot of software options that can bring this together efficiently or simply have a master calendar.

Shared Goals Every major marketing initiative should have shared metrics and KPIs between marketing and sales. Agree on what success looks like, long before the consumer launch, and this will not only eliminate most of the finger-pointing afterwards, but it will have common goals for each team to rally around.

Data Sharing A huge part of success is being on the same page when it comes to reading data. Everyone in sales and marketing receives the data, but how many are sitting down, together, and coming to a clear understanding of what success looks like? What are our goals in our core market? What are the best opportunity markets for us to go after? Data is only worthwhile if it can be turned into valuable, actionable insights.

Short Recap Sizzle Video One of the things that I’ve seen go a long way in team-building between sales and marketing is producing a short sizzle video that recaps a campaign, product launch or other marketing initiative. I’ve seen these types of videos shared, with enthusiasm, within organizations, with retail partners, board members, and other stakeholders. This is also a great communications tool to tout your success, company-wide and with business partners and stakeholders.

Too often, we quickly move on to the next thing without communicating to the team and company the outcome of the marketing program.

We’re all in this together—sales, marketing, and the overall brand team. Working together will make your brand more successful. Let’s work at aligning your marketing and sales teams.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

Is Social Media Working for You?

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By Erin Jay, Flynn Media 

This guest blog is from my good friend and networking expert Biba Pedron, also known as the Connection Queen. I was a member of Biba’s networking group Biba4Network when I lived in New York City. She is an amazing businesswoman. In this blog, Biba offers savvy social media advice for those of you who are trying to figure out how to best use this new medium. Thanks Biba!

Many of my clients, both French and American, wonder how I can write on multiple blogs plus Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites everyday in both languages. It must look like I spend all day, everyday managing my social media because I hear some clients tell me “Biba, I am not like you, I don’t have time to spend hours everyday on social media!”

In reality, I don’t spend hours a day, it just looks like it because I have a system. In fact, I only spend 15 minutes a day, both languages included. Then I need just a couple of hours a month to write articles for each blog.

As solo-entrepreneurs, it is very important to maintain a presence and give people the feeling that they see you everywhere. Your job is to appear as an expert in your field to gain more and more credibility. You can have the best product or program in the world, but if nobody can find you, you also have the best secret in the world as a result no one will buy from you.

How to create a system to use social media effectively without wasting your time?

1. Determine your niche and target market. I say it all the time, but before you start anything in your business you need to determine your niche and target market, so then you will be able to know how to communicate effectively. You can’t sell to just anybody. It is very important that you know your target market very well, to know their challenges, their pains, their obstacles, to be able to become their problems solver and to be seen as an expert.

2. Constantly communicate with your audience, your contacts and your clientsThrough Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, but also by publishing articles on your website, your blog and article directories (most of them are free, so no excuses). One of the secrets is to know how to recycle your work. You should be able to work once and use the information to generate money multiple times.

Example – One simple article can be posted as an article but can also become a podcast, a base to do a video, or become a free report. And multiple articles can become an ebook or a course. Each time you write an article, try to see all the possibilities you can use it. What are the various media that will attract your audience? Some people prefer to read, others to listen, others to watch a video (millions of people watch videos on YouTube every day, so make sure to integrate this in your business).

Make the habit of spending at least 15 minutes a day on social media to post new information. Make sure to deliver valuable content, don’t sell each time. Use the 80/20 rules, inform 80% of the time and promote a product or service 20% of the time. Use quotes, retweet other people’s valuable information, post resources, inform about your events or teleclasses each time you add a new post on your blog. Show people how you can help them to solve their problems.

3. Combine networking and social media – When you meet people at an event, the next day connect with them on social media. Invite them to join you on Facebook, Linkedin and twitter, to be able to communicate with them on a regular basis. So even if you don’t see each other for a while, you will be still informed on each others businesses. Also invite them to sign up for your newsletter. Always make sure to drag your contacts from social media to your own list. You never know what will happened to your account or page, if for some reason your Facebook account is deleted or blocked for example, you will be still able to communicate with your own list.

When you get the chance to schedule a live meeting with somebody that you met on social media don’t hesitate. I work mainly via internet and social media on my various businesses but there is always a special extra when I can meet people face-to-face, it brings a little plus to the relationship. This is not only for the people in your city but if you travel try to connect with your contacts, or if they travel take time to meet them. Go “from Facebook to face-to-face”.

Always make sure to develop a relationship with your contacts for them to get to know you, like you, trust you and know that you will be there to help them and will be their problem solver. When you build a strong relationship, they will know that you are the expert in your field and when the right time comes, they will contact you and nobody else. It is always more effective to attract people to you because you are known as an expert instead of chasing them and begging them to buy your products or services. Then you can be assured that you will have loyal customers for life and raving fans who will send you like minded referrals.

Want More Tips To Get More Clients, Make More Money & Get More Time For Yourself ? Download my 3 Free gifts:
-A series of 6 videos “Marketing Made Easy”
-A 60mn audio “Networking Made Easy”
-My ebook “15 Ways to Instantly Skyrocket Your Networking Results”

At http://www.theconnectionqueen.com

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

#PPRAMemberMonday

 

 

 

 

 

Nicole Cashman is the President and CEO for Cashman and Associates. She has been a PPRA member for 20 years.

Twitter @CashmanAssoc

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/cashman-&-associates-public-relations-&-special-events/

Facebook @cashmanandassociates

A Philadelphia native, Nicole Cashman began her career at Drexel University where she earned a B.S in Design and Merchandising with a minor in Marketing, along with completing a Co-Op internship with the flagship Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Her success in retail continued with her role as Public Relations Director for Bloomingdale’s in New York City, where she managed communication and event initiatives for the New York metro region and Boston. She was then recruited as Director of Public Relations & Special Events for 28 Strawbridge’s stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Nicole blazed the industry trail for lifestyle public relations and special events agencies in the region with the opening of Cashman & Associates in 2001. Her attention to detail, zest for hospitality and innate ability to market brands to influential consumers and deliver benchmark worthy campaigns, paved a new path for women entrepreneurs in the field.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

NC: James Beard Foundation, Tropicana, Live Nation, Starr Restaurants, Brandywine Real Estate Investment Trust, AKA

PPRA: What is the favorite part about your job?

NC: My favorite part of my job is mentoring and teaching the younger members of my staff. I also love being the de facto creative director involved in graphic design and branding projects.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

NC: My latest and greatest accomplishment is landing a Fortune 50 company that I have been trying to work with for the past 20 years.

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

NC: Advice I would give to my fellow entrepreneurs is to make sure your business is ran professionally. Seek advice from other professionals outside of what you do, hire a good attorney, accountant etc.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

NC: The Devil Wears Prada

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

NC: My favorite spot in the city is a cozy table with my husband in the bar’s lounge at Barclay Prime.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

NC: Wiz and American cheese with light fried onions.

PPRA: What was your favorite childhood book and why?

NC: My favorite childhood book is the The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein because it is a tale of ultimate sacrifice and generosity. The Giving Tree is a story and a lesson that I want to pass along to my son.

Getting Ahead with Influencer Engagement

By Paige Knapp, Devine + Partners

Can we level with you for a second? Sometimes, standing out on social media seems impossible among all of the digital noise.

We’re up against a lot these days. New and constantly changing algorithms that purposefully limit the reach of brand pages as a response to fake news. Lower visibility, over-saturated feeds, and increasingly-skeptical audiences. Millennials are heading out, and the illusive Gen Z is moving in. Twitter was “supposed” to disappear years ago, and instead Vine has already died and been reborn….kind of. Is your head spinning yet? Same.

We’ve been harping on this for some time – you may remember our podcast episode dedicated to this topic – but we feel confident that there is an answer to all many of these pain points.  They’re called influencers and we call our practice – influencer engagement.

Instead of throwing hundreds of posts at the digital wall and seeing what sticks, influencers offer a route to cut through the clutter and directly reach the audience you want to engage. And, while you’re at it, you get the endorsement of a voice that these users trust. It’s like word-of-mouth, except on the internet, and probably a lot more visual, with a few emojis sprinkled in.

Engaging influencers can feel complicated and confusing at first. How do you identify them? Are these relationships earned, or paid? How much messaging input is too much before content feels forced, and not organic?

Woof. Overwhelming? Sure. But influencer engagement is the new frontier, and a bit like the wild wild west. Some of these questions will never have concrete answers but instead of waiting, just jump in. Start slowly and build a larger program over time. Influencer engagement can be simple and low-barrier. Trust us, it is worth your time to dig in. Recently, team D+P engaged a key set of influencers for our  client, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. We invited them to the venue for dinner and a show, no strings attached. Here’s what we gained, and what you stand to gain, too.

  1. New and expanded relationships. Our target list included three categories: members of the media, bloggers across our local region, and strictly social media influencers. For those we know and have worked with before, this was a new kind of touchpoint to build on past interactions. For others, reaching out to invite them to our event was a great way to kick off a new relationship. For everyone, it was a time to network with one another and enjoy an evening under the stars together. Win, win, win.
  2. Shareable content. In this case, we simply wanted to expose the group to the Mann and a great night out. No sharing or posting required. Even so, the group spontaneously created and shared plenty of fabulous, well-messaged content throughout the night. We were able to monitor, share and save the posts. This is fabulous fodder for the client’s own social media to share now and down the road, and shows that the influencers’ audiences were hearing all about the event, but through the unique lens of someone they know and trust.

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3. Getting in early to a new audience. The downward trajectory of traditional media is clear which is why D+P is creating new strategies to reach audiences. The rise of social media creates a demand for instant information. Finding and cultivating valuable, like-minded influencers, outside of just having your own brand platforms, is going to be key as the media landscape continues to shift. Instead of playing catch up, you’ll be leading the pack.

There is real return on investment – both immediate and long-term – when engaging with influencers. Now is the time to get on board. If you are ready to engage social media influencers, shoot us an email at resteasy@devinepartners.com.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.