4 Major Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

So you’re a new business, and we bet it’s been pretty tough gaining traction in your target market, right?

Especially if you’re facing competition from established brands in your area. You know, ones that have been around for a couple of years! Thankfully, all this can change with one simple approach.

Yep, that’s right.

Doesn’t matter whether you’re a law firm in San Diego, a restaurant in Miami, or a jewelry store in New York.

Having a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will certainly level the playing field for you.

Going It the SEO Way

See, the beauty of local SEO is that it’s changed the realm of marketing and advertising as we know it.

No longer do you have to pay for expensive ads in your local listings just to get the word out that your business is up and running.

Or maybe hope to get your first client, who just so happens to be the chairperson of the neighborhood watch; and pray to God they put in a good word for you in the next members’ meeting!

Phew! Thank the heavens you don’t have to worry about all that!

All because of the internet of things. Specifically, the ingenuity of online advertising.

As the backbone of online marketing, SEO is THE MOST vital component when it comes to determining your site ranking on search engines like Google and Bing.

As a matter of fact, check this out….

According to Google Search statistics, Google records a whopping 40,000 searches every second, which then translates to 3.5 billion searches a day, and a mammoth 1.2 trillion annual searches worldwide!

So imagine what a first page, or even a second page ranking can do for your business…

You’ll be vacationing on that secluded Greek Isle, listening to Sade’s Sweetest Taboo in no time!

Sounds nice. But let’s snap back to reality for now….

A first page ranking might feel elusive at first. But with the right research, patience, and dedication, you might find yourself seeing a growth in organic traffic in time.

Keeping this in mind, here are 4 major SEO tips for local businesses that, when used correctly, will gradually increase your SEO ranking as well as online presence!

Optimizing your listings on Google

Hmm, optimizing your listings, does this sound remotely familiar? We bet it does because it’s one of the most vital factors for every website representing a business.

One thing you’ve got to understand is that Google automatically ranks your website the second it goes live, so that anyone searching for you will find you effortlessly.

And when they do, optimizing your listings- which is the process of including important information in your web pages regarding your business- is what will make it easier for them to locate you.

In fact, your website must have the following info to optimize your listings on Google:

  • The NAME of your business

  • The DESCRIPTION of your business. This could be content such as the mission, the vision, the goals, and objectives of your business.

  • The HOURS OF OPERATION. Are you a day, night, or 24/7 business? This can let a potential client know the right time to contact you.

  • The LOCATION. Where is your business located? Is it in Syracuse, Washington, or Miami? As Khabib Nurmagomedov would say, “Send me Location.”

  • The UPDATES. Have you made any major updates lately? Perhaps moved your main office, gotten a new executive hire, or even added some new products and services to your arsenal?

  • The REVIEWS. Honest reviews let your potential clients know that you’re an honest and trustworthy business.

  • The MENU. We can’t reiterate how important this is. Nearly every major business has a menu showcasing the different parts of its website that appears on a search. Everything from Products, Services, Contact Us, Blog, and so forth make for easier navigation.

Hold on, but what if I’m a local business planning to go national?

Well, if you’re local business planning to sprout your wings and soar the National way, then not only do you have to first optimize your local listings, but also invest a lot of time (and money) in OFFPAGE OPTIMZATION.

Hmm, but Good Monster, what is offpage optimization?

Well, let’s break it down for you. Offpage optimization refers to all the tactics applied by your business outside of its website to create multiple high- quality backlinks that will inevitably improve the position of its website’s search ranking.

Everything from backlinks, to anchor text, to domain popularity are facets of offpage optimization.

Many a national business prefer to hire a local SEO company to undertake their offpage optimization strategies.

If you’re a national/local e-commerce business, then Social Media Campaigns are the way to go

Ahh, e-commerce; the powerhouse that drives all online businesses. Unless of course you’re in the Blogosphere, which plays by its own set of rules and regulations.

For you to thrive in the world of e-commerce, you’ve got to have a strong social media presence. We’re talking the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and just about every other famous social media platform out there.

But how do you get such a massive following?

By having a series of great social media campaigns that ‘hook and sink’ as many social media users as possible.

There are many ways in which you can get started with your social media campaign.

However, most national e-commerce companies prefer to hire the services of professional social media strategists to handle all matters pertaining to social media on their behalf.

Last but not least, for both local and national businesses, hello keywords!

No matter the size of your business, keyword optimization is one of the major components of your SEO strategy.

That’s because factors such as keyword value and keyword density are some of the elements that Google bots use to determine the significance of your web page.

Are your keywords worthy enough to merit a first page ranking for a particular query?

Over the years, keywords have evolved dramatically. So much so that strategies such as keyword stuffing are pretty much dead right now, unless you want to get penalized by Google.

So we did a bit of researching and figured out some nifty ways to increase your keyword value for your website. PSST! Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret!

  • Placing a keyword in the description of your picture- The pictures that you have on your website are more than just objects of aesthetic value.

As a matter of did you know that Google actually shows the pictures of your website as part of your ranking?

So next time you have a caption or background picture text, make it a habit to include at least one keyword in there!

  • Keywords as part of your tags- Whether it’s your title tags, or your web page tags, include at least one or two keywords as part of them to improve your keywords value.

  • And of course, the proverbial keywords in the text- Yes, as part of the Google business spectrum, it’s a given that you’ll have to include some researched keywords in sections of your text. Remember, the higher the value and positioning of your keywords, the better your chances of ranking.

And voila folks! All good things must come to an end. But we do hope that you’ve internalized all we’ve mentioned in terms of building your brand in the realms of SEO.

Do you have any questions about SEO strategies and directives? Feel free to send us a comment or email here at Good Monster!

How To Take Risks When Starting A Business

Risks are part and parcel of daily life.

From the moment those prominent rays of sunlight usher themselves into your home and dictate a new morning, to the moment you lay your head on the pillow after a long industrious day; you’re always taking a risk.

In fact, nature has engineered us to be risk takers. Heck, even your marriage proposal was a risk. Because the flip side of the coin is…

They could have always said no

As adept as humans are at risk taking, we’ve become coy about it, especially if one is aspires to be an entrepreneur.

But why is this the case?

Laxity; modernity has instilled in us a fear of the unknown. No longer are we the valiant conquerors that once traversed foreign lands and explored the wilderness.

Not that we’re complaining or anything; because who’d rather be hunting a wild-boar instead of digging their teeth into a juicy burger delivered right at the door?

Exactly.

That being said, what kind of risks should you consider taking before starting your own business and how do you handle them? Here are a couple that you might need to face along the way.


Saying goodbye to that steady paycheck

Before you stamp the word ‘entrepreneur’ on your LinkedIn bio, you might have to say goodbye to your current employment position.

And this sucks.

Because most entrepreneurs rarely have a solid financial backup in case things go south. So once you venture into the realm of business, it’s safe to say that you’re on your own.

Plus there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a steady personal income once you kick start the business.

Bracing for tough times ahead?

Then it’s probably a good idea to be a bit more stringent with your spendingespecially for the first couple of months (or even years) of building your business.

Which then brings us to…


Saving an extra penny for the growth of the startup

Become a successful small business owner

Every Saturday evening, you always had a candlelit dinner at the Chateau le-something with the mister or missus.

And the tab always came to a whopping $400 per meal, right?

But ever since you aspired to leave the confines of your 9 to 5 to become a small business owner, the money has gotten tighter.

In fact, you’ve even had to dip into your savings just to finance some of the projects that run your business.

Especially if your crowd funding didn’t go so well. Or the recent grants/loans you took to start the business are currently overwhelming your financial structure.

All in all, prepare to cut out some of the luxury in your life to uplift the enterprise.


Sacrificing personal time to meet the company’s objectives

It takes time to build an empire. But if you’re passionate about it, you might find yourself working100 hours a week just to perfect your company’s business model and meet the stipulated deadlines you set.

This might mean missing out on some family time and sleepfor the benefit of improving your business acumen.


Acknowledging that you can’t do it alone

Even the savviest of entrepreneurs know that they can’t build a successful enterprise without the collective effort of their business partners, friends, and investors.

Everything from financial to emotional support is vital in keeping an entrepreneur focused.

So if you’re riding solo, perhaps it’s time to consider bringing in a sidekick to help you realize your vision and brand!

All in all, every successful entrepreneur understands that business and risk taking go hand in hand. And in the famous words of Roman Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca:

“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult”

How to start a partnership with a digital marketing team that gets results

best digital marketing firm in syracuse ny

Are you frustrated with your current marketing team and looking for a new social media or digital marketing team that actually gets you results?? 

Well, here at Good Monster we have some experience on delivering measurable ROI based on the results you  want.  After years of managing social and digital media marketing accounts, we have learned a thing or two about running successful digital campaigns. In this blog, we’ll be highlighting some cool pointers you can use to strike a partnership with an awesome digital marketing dream gang!

But First: Why market on Social Media or Digital Media Platforms?

Of late, having a great social media standing has become extremely lucrative for any business. In fact, it might even be necessary! With practically every working person having an online persona, the rewards of advertising on social and digital media are endless. That being said, how does one go about putting together a rockstar digital marketing team? 

Assess your business

So where does one begin? By assessing their business first. By taking a long hard look at the man in the mirror. In this sense, we’re talking about reviewing your resources as well as your current budget.

  • Budget- You’ve got to have a solid budget plan in place. Else, how will you entice the finest social media managers out there to take up your cause and be part of the team? Your budget also influences the tools that you’re going to use. The higher the budget, the more advance the tools in place, and thus, the more resourceful the ‘gang’ will be.

  • Resources- Still on tools, if you’re building a social media team from scratch, then it’s best you go big. For starters, do you know some of the best marketing automation software out there? If not, it would be great to do a little research in your free time to familiarize with some of them. Having such resources in place can do miracles! Especially when it comes to improving the team’s productivity and output.

Align your digital marketing campaign in relation to your company’s objectives

Goal-setting has proven time and again to bring forth positive results, no matter the application. That being said, when you are on the verge of striking a partnership, make sure the team knows what you’re pitching. Do they have a solid understanding of your business?

If so, then it’s a given they will spearhead your digital campaign the best way they know how. And in regard to your market niche. There’s no point of hiring a team only to have a plethora of issues down the line because your objectives weren’t met.

So how do you measure your team’s digital media success?

  • Have clear-set weekly, monthly, or even yearly goals that your team has to make

  • Secondly, it’s important that you have a metrics system put in place to measure the success of these goals. For example, if you’re trying to keep track of your engagement, what are the things you’ll be measuring? Is it clicks? No of retweets? No of comments? Then you’ve got to have a structure that works.

In a nutshell, it’s every businesses dream to find the perfect social media team. And like two peas in a pod, you can successfully collaborate with them to take your social media standings to even greater higher heights!

Ready to start a digital marketing partnership that delivers real results ?

Contact us today for a free consultation!

What Instagram Story Advertising Means for Consumer Brands

It’s no secret that Instagram has all but monopolized the attention of the young adult community. From its onset, Instagram’s “window-shopping” nature has been attractive to a culture that values instant gratification, luring Millennials and the younger Centennial generations. It’s a platform where people can get a quick snapshot and immediately decide what they love and what they don’t about a brand just by looking at a few pictures or videos.

Since being acquired by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, Instagram now has the backing and incredible advertising capabilities of one of the largest companies in the world, and without a doubt  the largest marketing company, in the world.

All of this has made Instagram an extremely powerful platform for brands everywhere.

Instagram’s latest addition, Instagram Stories, has now taken all the best features of its closest competitor, Snapchat, and made improvements on virtually all of them. It allows people to see real-time and live content from people and brands all over the world. In an instant, consumers can see behind the scenes at a concert, to a new product release for a brand.

And now they offer in-story ads.

So picture this to set the tone: Instagram is now owned and run by the largest marketing company in the world, Facebook. Since the feature launched, Instagram Stories immediately became a rival to Snapchat in the real-time content space. Now, on top of that, brands everywhere can target their specific customers and show them ads right in stream with the content that they love and check every day inside of Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories advertising offers local and national businesses incredible opportunities, but there is likely a limited shelf life.

So, here’s everything you need to know to figure out if it’s right for your business.

The details: what should the creative look like?

  • The creative for these ads should be a video. Consumers are used to seeing videos in their stories and when their viewing is interrupted by an ad, they are very likely to get a little tap happy. Video has proven time and time again to gain viewers attention better than photos, so don’t mess with that and do what you know works. The specs for these ads should be 1080 width x 1920 height has the Aspect Ratio of 9:16

What is the duration of the ads?

  • These ads cannot be any longer than 15 seconds

What are the text requirements?

  • Facebook’s 20% rule applies to Instagram story ads as well, meaning that no more than 20% of the screen can be covered by text. This could make it a little difficult to get your message out there being that there is no feed to post your text, that being said, choose your words wisely.

What budget options do you have?

  • The budget limits for Instagram stories is the same as those on Facebook. For smaller timeframes and demos, you can get away with a smaller budget. However, keep in mind that these ads can only be optimized for reach, so you will be charged per 1,000 people reached.

What is the value for a local business like a restaurant or boutique?

  • As previously stated, these ads are only able to be optimized for reach. You should know that Facebook suggests to optimize any ad you run for reach if your intention is to generate foot traffic. You also can get away with a smaller budget since your demos will likely only be the members of certain geographic areas.

What is the value of a national brand like a food, beauty or home product?

  • Instagram Story ads are great for brands in general because, for a moment, it is the only thing on the screen. If you can capture the consumer’s attention in the first few seconds of the ad, then you have your audience’s attention and you aren’t competing with other brands for it, which is often the case when your ad appears in someone’s feed.

Feel free to reach out if you have any additional thoughts or questions about Instagram story ads and how they could benefit your business!

 

We Really Need to Get Over Our Instagram Follower Obsession

We Really Need to Get Over Our Instagram Follower Obsession

Good Monster gets approached every week from brands that want to increase their number of followers on Instagram. Many are willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for the chance to get tens of thousands of Instagram followers with little regard to what the impact of an increased following on Instagram actually does for their brands.

To many of them, breaking a certain threshold is a rite of passage for their brands. It signifies popularity, and so getting those followers IS the end goal.

However, this way of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth.

Having 200,000 followers on Instagram doesn’t drive actual business results on its own.

Many brands correlate “followers” with results on social media. While revenue is the obvious end goal for the majority of brands, marketing teams often get caught up in the detour of what they think will happen if they get more followers.

It’s crazy. Revenue could be up and business is great; but if they don’t have a magical number of Instagram followers, it’s the end of the world.

It’s totally a vanity thing. It’s about competition and proving to the masses that “people like us.” Marketing executives, who aren’t familiar with social media, get caught up in the hype and are worried that if people come to their brands’ Instagram pages and see that they only have 5,000 followers, they won’t take them seriously.

This is simply not true, unless the people visiting are other marketing executives.

I’m fully aware that marketing executives need to prove their worth. Increasing revenue is harder, more complicated and takes more time, but increasing followers is an easier, more transparent route to take to be able to say, “look, we are growing.”

I get it, it’s about getting results; but spending money on gaining followers should not be a priority for any brand.

We’ve had countless brands come to us that had paid tens of thousands of dollars to gain Instagram followers, but when they got them, they were perplexed as to why revenue was down.

Well, for those of you in that boat, here is an explanation to the paradox:

Let’s say, you are trying to gain market share against a competitor. They currently have 5,000 really engaged Instagram followers. Each post is deep and gets 50 comments and 500 likes. You only have 1,500 and have decent engagement–maybe 10-20 comments and 200 likes.

You want to beat them. So, you hire an agency to increase your followers. They set you up with a software program that automatically follows and unfollows relevant people to try to get them to follow you back. They also get you involved in several multi-brand giveaways to trade and share followers with other brands.

After three months and thousands of dollars, you’re up to 15,000 followers. However, you can’t figure out why your engagement isn’t any better than it was when you had 1,500 followers.

The moral of the story: you can’t buy followers and expect them to love you. It just doesn’t work that way.

5,000 engaged followers will beat 200,000 unengaged followers any day of the week.

This goes for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, email subscribers, website visitors, and virtually every other platform that can accumulate a community.

On the flip side, if a brand’s following grows organically, there’s a much better chance that this audience is engaged enough to eventually make a purchase. But the race to grow followers has caused many brands to try to take the quick and easy route to growing a community. This often mean some version of “buying” their followers.

Buying followers can be done in a variety of different ways: it could be in the form of literally buying followers from a click-farm, or it could mean doing a multi brand giveaway in which you are paying in the form of product giveaways to gain exposure. The latter is extremely common with Instagram’s popularity, and it’s definitely something for brands to think through before agreeing to participate.

Consumers are becoming so desensitized to brands’ “sales pitches” that even if they enter these giveaways or opt-in to these lists–without a story to back up the engagement–they will be gone quicker than a mouse click, or more appropriately, a fingertip click.

The ultimate takeaway is that you should look at followers like people in the room–if they aren’t paying attention to you, they won’t be impacted by you. 1,000 people who aren’t paying attention to you won’t bring you very much value. However, 200 people who hang on your every word are invaluable.

 

 

When it comes to Instagram followers, it’s quality, not quantity that counts.

What is Amazon doing to Your website’s conversion rate?

You might think that with all of the headlines and ads for ecommerce, online marketplaces would be dwarfing brick and mortar stores exponentially, however, that’s not the case… yet.  

The reality is that ecommerce is still in its infancy. According to the first quarterly 2017 Census Report, E Commerce still only contributes to about 8.5% of total retail sales in the United States, which means that about 91.5% of sales still occur when people physically walk through the doors of a store.

That being said, those numbers are shifting balances very quickly. Online retail is becoming more and more accepted by consumers and, therefore, retailers are shifting gears toward optimizing their presences online.

People are flocking to, and even preferring to purchase from online retailers like Amazon.com and jet.com. Big retailers like Walmart and Target are pushing people to order online as well. The shift to online shopping is clearly evident at scale. Grocery shopping is easier than ever for people in metropolitan areas like New York City and Chicago as well as for those in rural areas and food deserts. Consumers can shop online through websites like Thrivemarket.com and more regional grocery stores, like Wegmans, are offering the option to order online and pick up when it’s convenient for the consumer.

The same transition that is occurring in grocery stores is having a similar impact on the matter at hand, consumer goods. As technology improves, consumers value their time more than ever. Any task that requires people to carve out just a few extra minutes is considered a waste of time. As a result, our buying habits are evolving to become more accepting of platforms and companies that can help us save time and be more efficient, like Uber and Airbnb.

This transition is causing online buying to increase at a rapid rate. However, a word of advice for brands and their websites, don’t expect to see online conversion rates soar through the roof. There is another variable to consider.

If you look up what the standard, or average conversion rate is for a CPG company, you’ll likely see that this value will range between 1% and 3%. This means that anywhere from 1% to 3% of the people that visit your website will end up making a purchase at that time.

E commerce conversion rates are beginning to dwindle despite the obvious shift to online shopping. This might come as a surprise to you as notice that your online sales and revenue continue to go up, up, and up. What could possibly explain this paradox?

Amazon prime.

Amazon, as well as a growing number of other online retailers, are making it easier than ever to buy products online. With trends like one click buying and subscription options, people can get things quicker and often cheaper than through brand websites themselves. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping, and other retailers reward their customers for signing up for subscriptions with alternative options, promotions and discounts.

The takeaway: Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with buying the majority of their products online. This level of comfort leads people to click around until they find the easiest or cheapest option before they buy.

Notice the order I went in: “the easiest” THEN “the cheapest”.

As previously stated, opportunity cost of time is not a term used just for business anymore. Consumers value their time more than ever, and are willing to pay extra dollars in order to save time. Just look at Uber or Lyft, look at Airbnb or social selling app, Letgo. We don’t just want fast, we want now.

My point is, if conversation rates on your website are going down, but your sales are going up, don’t freak; Amazon is bigger than you.

But, and this is a big “but”: if conversion rates are going down, and you are not set up somewhere like Amazon, then you better start freaking out.

The ROI of a Facebook Ad

If you are looking for a specific number, Facebook ads have an average ROI of 400%, at least they do with our clients; but that number is a complete situational statistic and if you are thinking about basing your marketing off of this, then for Pete’s sake, please read on:

There’s no better feeling in business than when you have leverage.It could be leverage on a system that makes things move smoothly. It could be leverage against your competition that gives you a seemingly unfair advantage. It could even be leverage on your customers that allows you to improve their lives in ways that are better and easier than ever.

Leverage is what catapults companies forward with great momentum.

In marketing, certain platforms give a brand more leverage than others, but this fluctuates frequently as new platforms pop up and others make changes.

A platform that you all know very well that has been consistently creating amazing leverage for brands over the past 10 years is Facebook. Its engaged community is larger than any other current platform, including television and radio. And while the sheer numbers of people that use the platform regularly worldwide are staggering [2 billion], the real value is in the reach of its advertising platform.

10 years ago, businesses were marketing based on more traditional metrics like gender and income profile. Today, Facebook allows brands to target people based on what their favorite foods are and if they eat out a lot, or if they have a pet bird and just moved into town. It’s insanely specific. Any business owner or marketer can post a photo with his or her phone on Facebook and make sure that the exact people that they want to see it, do.

This is amazing leverage.

But just because the targeting is awesome, and you post something on Facebook, doesn’t mean that it will bring you results. Remember, every business has access to this platform, so your unfair advantage isn’t so unfair without one key ingredient: creativity.

A few years ago, the early adopters of Facebook ads did have an unfair advantage because their competitors probably had not jumped on board yet. But now businesses all over the world are running Facebook ads to their potential customers. The ones that are generating huge amounts of revenue are not the ones simply posting a picture of their service or product in a Facebook ad. The ones that are crushing it are the ones that are exploring the depths of their creativity and testing various forms of it against multiple audiences to see what people respond to the best. The ones that are crushing it are investing in video storytelling and utilizing the amazing segmentation to funnel various demographics of consumers and leads back to their websites or through the doors of retail locations.

The performance of your Facebook ads can be in the gutter if your ads are boring and lack creativity to connect with your prospects and potential customers. On the flip side, it could be skyrocketing if you know your customer, are willing to test various creative, and look at the data deeply enough to make decisions on how to improve.

So, back to the question at hand: what is the ROI of a Facebook ad?

The answer isn’t as cookie-cutter as you would like because of the creativity variable; but that’s not the only reason. There is also a little factor known as the “comeback principle”. This is the theory (backed by data collected over the past few years) that people see an ad on Facebook or other platforms, then they go to the search engines and other platforms to research the brands in the ad. They want to read reviews, look at the competitors and shop lower prices. People are very comfortable shopping on the internet, in fact it’s ingrained in the younger population’s blood – they grew up like this.

Once they research the product or service and what other options are out there, they either come back to make a purchase, or they do not. That’s not to say that they never do. We’ve seen purchases made by people who initially came through a Facebook ad visit a website 100+ times before they make a single purchase; but we’ve also seen people comeback once and make a purchase.

The takeaway is that no one has any idea what is going on in an individual consumer’s life that will make him or her purchase right now, or in 6 months. Sure, we can get an idea from historical data, but we never truly know.

For this reason, the ROI of a Facebook ad will be relatively low if you are looking at immediate sales, but extremely high if you are looking at overall revenue growth.  

Here’s an example to paint a picture and round out this article:

We ran a Facebook ad campaign that promoted a new product for one of our clients. We spent about a thousand dollars in ad spend over a month, and got about $2,000 in immediate sales from those ads. If you looked at this you would probably say that’s not very good; but when you look at the overall sales for that product across all platforms during that month and the month after, we knocked it out of the park. Website revenue of $9,000 looks a lot better, right?

Now of course, there were other factors at work here. We also had email opt-ins for people to get the product at a discounted price, we ran a couple of email campaigns for the product, and we also ran Facebook retargeting (still Facebook ads) to keep people engaged and reminded. All of this helped to increase the ROI of the ads.

The takeaway here is that while Facebook is a powerful platform, it won’t do squat for your business if you don’t have the creativity and understanding of the data off of which to base your decisions.

It’s like owning a Ferrari but not knowing how to drive. It’s going to be really expensive and not very enjoyable when you crash it into a tree.

 

What did you spend on marketing last month?

If you could spend half the money on twice the results would you do it? If you’re in the business of growing your business, then the answer is yes.

Then why are small and midsize businesses still spending $2k-$20k or more a month on billboards, TV and local radio when people’s attention isn’t there? Seriously, what’s the last TV commercial you remember, did you buy something because of it? How about the last radio commercial you remember? Billboard?

Unless it was your ad, my guess is you either don’t remember one, or you’re like me and millions of other Americans: you haven’t seen or heard a commercial in the last 2 years because you don’t watch live TV or listen to live radio unless it’s a sporting event.

Flat out, if you are trying to sell to 13-45 year olds on these platforms in the tradional why, they simply aren’t there.

I don’t need data to show you that. You already know that. If you’re being real with yourself, you know that.

Do you know the one place that people are paying attention? Their phones. Young, old, suburban, inner city, women and my 71 year old dad are all spending their down time on their phones. In between commercials they are on their phones. In the car, their phones are connected to Bluetooth and they are listening to podcasts or streaming music.

I’m not saying that traditional media doesn’t work at all. I’m just saying it’s like paying $100,000 for a Honda Fit instead of paying $30,000 for a Ferrari.

Seriously, in 2017 that’s what it’s like.

I’m not kidding! At Good Monster we regularly run ad campaigns on Facebook that literally get lawyers cases, drive retail sales for landscaping companies, help trucking companies get employees. How do we know? Because we can track the data. It’s black and white right there on the paper.

Do you know why they came to us in the first place? Because I asked them how much they were spending on marketing and how much ROI they were generating. Guess what their answer was?

Think about it.

What is someone going to do with a billboard as they are driving by? They certainly aren’t going to “Turn at the next exit”. We all have shit to do.

Nobody watches TV anymore. We’re all watching Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Video. If we are watching live TV– unless it’s the Super Bowl– we are on our phones during commercials.

You might be able to give me an argument with radio, that people are listing only to the radio while driving with no other audio distractions (unless you have kids). The problem is that many of us are not listening to local radio, we are listening to podcasts, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora or Sirius. If you’re hell bent on radio I would encourage you to look there versus local radio, but even a spot on Pandora is expensive, and nobody who is listening will care. They just get pissed off when their music is interrupted by an ad.

So if you read this far, then you probably aren’t in the TV, radio or billboard ad space. By now you would have probably gone back to Linkedin or wherever you found this to start cursing me out. Or if you are, you know I’m right and you might be here because you are looking to switch industries, in which case you should probably go here. If you are in charge of marketing and care about your organization’s cash, then I implore you to go to the place that has the most attention and the lowest cost: Facebook.

HOW TO BUILD A BRAND IN 2017

Every year, new trends emerge that brand marketing executives should pay attention to. The problem is, not many CMO’s, VP’s or Directors of Marketing have the time to read past the headlines and see if they have value. That’s why we have put together this list of questions that brand teams should be asking themselves as we approach 2017.

As the end of 2016 approaches, were seeing that there’s too much focus on content frequency and not enough focus on content strategy. Everyone has bought into the idea that “content is king,” but they don’t realize that content itself won’t mean a damn thing to your audience without having some impact in their daily lives.

A brand can’t expect to grow its’ revenue by simply posting high quality pictures of their products all the time. While this is beneficial for the photography pros out there looking to earn some side income, it’s not a valuable expense for brands without a side of strategy. A quick scan of any social media platform will populate thousands of products following the same exact strategy: hire a photographer to take high quality photos of the product, perhaps in various environments, and cross your fingers that everyone clicks the like button.

This hasn’t worked in 2016, and please don’t think it will in 2017. Frankly, nobody gives a shit. There is already too much content on the Internet and in our everyday lives, we simply don’t have time to stop and smell the roses anymore. A sad tale, but true.

Now, I know there are brands that use design, photography and art to attract their customers – photographers, travel companies, architects, interior design firms – but I’m speaking to the other 99% of brands who are aiming to use content to grow their revenue. For the majority of these brands, relying ONLY on high quality images to the get the attention of a buying customer isn’t going to cut it.  

“So if we shouldn’t be posting nice images of our product all the time, what should we be doing?”

For most brands out there heading into 2017, you have to do a gut check and really look at the actions you’re taking across the Internet. If they are not producing the results you want, ask yourself these five questions and you might just have a revelation:

1: Does every single piece of content you put out have a very specific goal?

Does it make somebody want to buy your product? Does it make them want to share the post? Is it asking them specifically for a comment, or an action? If the answer is not, and you don’t have a reason, then you’re wasting time, energy and resources.

You need to have alignment, purpose and an underlying strategy with all of your content if you want any kind of return on your efforts. If you have someone on your team posting random things happening at your company, for the sake of getting something on Facebook, you’re wasting their (or your company’s) time.

In 2017, make sure every single piece of content has purpose.

2: Does your brand tell a collective story?

Does every single video, image, graphic and piece of content you distribute tell a story people understand? This includes the design of your website, product packaging and TV commercials. If people can’t remember who you are and what you stand for when they see or hear your name, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Right now – whether you are a large company or a small biz – you have an unbelievable opportunity to bring people closer to “buying in” to your products by telling them a story about your brand. Every single place a consumer sees your brand, they are reading a story about you. Are you a bar with sticky floors, stale light beer and a sign with one letter that has been blinking for 6 months? This story doesn’t sound like it will be fun. Are you a bar that has peanut shells all over the floor, big screens with sports playing and a craft beer lineup that goes on for days? This story sounds like a lot of fun.  

Now, if you can distribute content that tells a story about just how fun bar #2 really is, you can win a lot of first time customers. By filming short video clips of fans cheering for the hometown team, or photos taken by friends at your bar, or running Facebook ads that promoting daily specials, your story is being woven.  Post an interview with your owner talking about why she founded the bar, craft your own beer with a unique label that people  will want as a keepsake of memories they had at the bar – maybe they can write on it. There are endless opportunities to tell a great story.

As we get closer to the new year, conduct an audit across every consumer touch point to make sure that you’re maximizing the impact of your story. Seriously, look everywhere.

3: Are you really talking with your community, or at them?

Many marketers and agencies claim that their content “speaks” to their community, but there’s no real conversation going on. More brands really need to get in the habit of talking WITH their consumers rather than AT them. Consumers are smart, and they’re getting even smarter. They know when corporations just want to sell them shit. Use this fact to your advantage. Be more proactive on your social channels to start conversations with them. This includes your customer service departments. Don’t just wait for people to submit a review or tweet a complaint, go out there and be the most engaging, talkative brand in the room.

In 2017 don’t wait to be the subject of a conversation, be proactive and be the one to start the conversation.

4: Does your customer’s happiness come up in your board meetings?

Sure, we’re an ad agency, but part of what we do is help companies realize that their customers are the best marketers they can have on their team. Doing everything possible to make their day special, is usually top of mind for us. It’s the stuff that great marketing campaigns are made of.

Whether it’s including free stuff in your customer orders, promoting a contest that is great for your audience, or including free singing phone calls with every 5th purchase – if you think of the customer first, things will start to become really great for you.

One of the all-time best examples of this is Zappos, which notoriously treats their customers like gold. They’ve done it all – sending free products, refunds to customers that didn’t get what they ordered, to setting the world record for the longest customer service phone call at 10 hours, 43 minutes.

Going above and beyond your customer’s expectations in all points of communications is going to be a great differentiator in 2017.

5: Are you paying attention to where people are paying attention?

If you’re selling products and services to 13 to 40-year-olds, your marketing team should have been experts at Snapchat within the first week of 2016 (and maybe even before that). You should’ve been pumping out Instagram stories the first day it was released. Do you know what musical.ly is?

People’s attention is moving from platform to platform, and you need to be there, period. This doesn’t mean that your message has to change. It simply means, by welcoming a new platform to your marketing strategy, you have the opportunity to reach another hundred, thousand or maybe even million people. Trust, it’s worth it in the long run.

If there is one thing that is tried and true, it’s that marketers jump on new opportunities for attention like flies on poo. Speed is one of the major keys to success in marketing, and if you wait until a platform is mature, you will have a much, MUCH harder time making an impact – plus it will be more expensive.  

In 2017, be willing to experiment with new opportunities to have an impact on your customers. Don’t judge it’s potential for success based on past results, judge it based on your own results through the initial experiments.

To sum it up

The goals of just about every company can be summarized pretty quickly: to acquire customers efficiently, grow their lifetime value and convert them into loyal advocates who influence new customers. In 2017 and beyond, create content with a purpose and connect with customers on a personal, 1:1 level to grow your revenue.

Intern Blog: Things I’ve Learned at Good Monster That Will Help Grow My Blog

 

Everyone has those things on their “to do” list that sit there for what seems like forever. You plan on doing them, because you actually want to do them. However, you never take the plunge and get it done. It might be something small like cleaning out your closet. Or it could be something much bigger like traveling to Europe. One of the things that sat on my ‘to do’ list for a while was starting a baking blog. My sister and I have always loved to bake. Free time in our household always results in something sugary and covered in frosting being created. It also results in that sugar and frosting ending up all over the kitchen, and also somehow the dog (Sorry Sophie). We wanted to take this shared hobby of baking, mixed with my love for photography, to the internet with a blog. For months and months we pondered the idea of starting one. We knew we wanted to, we just didn’t know how to go about it. After a lot of research we finally started our blog five months ago in March. The blog is called The Cupcake Chronicles and can be found at www.thecupcakechronicles.com.

The Cupcake Chronicles

It definitely wasn’t an easy process. Starting a website when you have no knowledge of how any of it works can be quite a daunting task. There were hours spent teaching ourselves how to do certain things in the areas of web design, wordpress, plugins and post creation. Five months in and we are still learning new things.

Blogging is a very competitive area. Especially food blogging. There are thousands of websites dedicated to doing exactly what we are now doing. Therefore, it is difficult to get noticed. Growth at the very beginning was slow. This is normal for a new blog. You aren’t going to get attention immediately because no one knows you exist. So, we started spending more time on social media. We set up an Instagram page @cupcakechronicles and still growth on there was slow. We utilized hashtags with every post to ensure people would see us. That led to a few likes and follows, however, it was still a slow process. Soon after, we created a Facebook page for our blog to reach a different audience. On our Facebook page we post links to our blog whenever we add new content. As of today we only have about 100 likes on our page and they are mostly friends we invited from our personal Facebook pages to like the new page.

The actual daily views on our blog have increased slightly over the past five months. On average, we get about 40 views a day. That is not a lot, however, it is much more than we started out with. One thing that has helped has been Foodgawker. Foodgawker is a website that allows users to submit photos with a link to a blog post. If the photos are accepted, they will appear on the site for visitors to see.

Foodgawker

After about two months of having picture after picture rejected, we improved our photography and started getting accepted on a regular basis. This has really helped bring people to our website. Getting one image posted on Foodgawker could bring an average of 200 people to our site in one day.

Things I’ve Learned at Good Monster

One thing I’ve learned at Good Monster in my time here is the importance of social media. Almost everyone is on social media. If you want content to reach an audience, post it on a social media platform. With that being said, there are certain types of media that do well on certain platforms. For example, Facebook is great for sharing videos. Chances are, if you go on your Facebook feed right now you will see video after video being shared. That is because media has shifted away from text and over to more visual means.

As far as social media goes, our blog is present on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook with varying degrees of success on each one.

Pinterest

Whenever we post new content, we share it on Pinterest. There are so many people on Pinterest looking for new ideas. Therefore, Pinterest is critical if you want to get your stuff out there. If you are lucky, someone with thousands of followers will repin one of your links, leading to your pin to be seen by thousands of people. However, that has not happened for us yet. Sometimes our recipes get repinned 20-30 times. Other times, we do not get any repins.

Facebook

Facebook is the platform we are struggling with the most. It has been very difficult to get new followers other than the friends and family we already have. One thing Good Monster has taught me is that you can pay to promote your page on Facebook. This is one thing that we are thinking about doing in the future. Once you gather a decent following, it will be easier to get other followers. Since Facebook is gearing more towards video, that could be one of the reasons our page links do not do that well. Therefore, we are considering adding a video element to our Facebook page. Recipe style videos could potentially do much better.

Instagram

Instagram is the platform where we are having the most success. On average we see a gain of 1,000 new followers a month. One reason for these growing numbers is reaching out to others. Outreach is a very important aspect of growing your business or social media. Most likely, people do not know you exist and they probably won’t find you on there own. Therefore, you need to put yourself out there and let them know who you are. On Instagram we do this by liking and commenting on other people’s images. Oftentimes users will then click on our feed to see who we are. If they like what they see, they will follow us. This has been a very successful practice for us. In addition Instagram has been the most interactive platform. We get likes and comments on a daily basis from our followers. We also receive frequent messages from followers leaving us very supportive and encouraging words. One problem with Instagram is that most Instagram followers just like the visuals of our Instagram feed. They do not click over to our actual blog. This has been a struggle for us.

Moving Forward

There are many things I have learned at Good Monster that I will be taking with me to help grow my blog. Since the outreach has been the most successful method, we will continue to do that on as many platforms as we can. Communicating with your audience is key. It shows your followers that you are there and that you care about them. It helps us build up a trust between us and them. Sometimes we share baking tips with them and other times they actually share new tips with us! The most changes will likely occur on Facebook. One thing we are planning on implementing is more video marketing. People are more likely to stop and watch a short video on a recipe, rather than clicking a link that will take them to another page where they will have to read through a page of text. Maybe using videos will work, and maybe it won’t. However, we won’t know unless we try. Furthermore, we plan to start promoting our page whenever we can. Although some may not want to spend money on Facebook, I believe it is important to spend even a few dollars to help your page reach a new audience.