SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Mobile App Graphics
PDF Conversion from other formats
Website Redesign & Overhaul
It’s already 2019 and you have made a huge new years’ resolution. You want to become your own boss because you are tired of being pushed around by him or her every single day, so you seek flexibility in life. Being your own boss has so many perks: you get to set your own schedule, keep all of the money (that is, if you are the only owner and do not have employees) and you do not have a boss who will force you to work on weekends and holidays. But before you even open your doors, you need to create awareness of your business’ existence; the customers are not going to come to you on their own (especially if they do not even know you exist). Creativity Design Group wants to make sure you have these essential marketing tools set up and ready to go! Let’s go over the tools that are absolutely essential to any business, big or small, established or startup.
If you are thinking about starting a business, you will need to be able to identify it somehow. If you are thinking about creating your business name and just want to print it as plain words on your business cards and other materials, it will not look very professional. There are many logo designer programs out there to assist you, but keep in mind that someone could use these same programs to design a logo that looks similar to yours. When it comes to creating a logo for your company, you must have something that is unique only to your brand. In addition to a logo design, you will need to decide which colors you want to brand your business with. For example, Home Depot uses orange and white while Coca-Cola uses red and white in all of their marketing materials (print materials, websites, commercials, etc.); it is recommended to use colors that tie in with the image your company is trying to project in public. Additionally, you should establish typography for your branding as well; when choosing fonts to brand your business with, you should choose fonts that tie in with the image you want to project. When starting a business, do not make the mistake many small business owners make which is forgetting to develop a system of branding. Without a branding system in place, do not expect your business to stand out and look unique among a crowd of competitors. Additionally, a branding system will help ensure that all of your marketing materials remain consistent in their appearance; a lack of consistency will make your business look unprofessional and also create confusion among the public. Please check out our previous blog post on small business branding for further reading.
If you plan on starting a business without a website, then you are basically saying that you do not want potential customers to find you. A professional website includes a home page with the most important information presented “above the fold” or at the top of the page, preferably in a nice graphical banner. Following the banner, other important information that you want your visitors to read should be presented such as services, pricing and testimonials for example; your visitors should not have to dig endlessly through your website to find the information they are seeking. Additional pages that you should use include an About page describing your company, its mission statement and history as well as a Services page describing what your company has to offer in detail. Lastly, make sure to include a Contact page with a form that will allow visitors to send you a quick message; this form should be adjacent to your company’s contact information and a map (also consider setting up a live chat system as well). But to truly keep your visitors interested and engaged, you should include a variety of dynamic content such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. You can take all of this to the next level by making them exclusive to subscribers on your email list; this email list is full of possible business leads that you can follow up with to see if they are interested in your services. Your website should be unique (don’t make the common mistake most new business owners make by using free website builders like Wix or Weebly), secured with SSL and is mobile responsive. We have published a two-part blog post earlier this year on Business Website Essentials that describes in detail how your business’ site should be designed, check out the first part here.
How can your website be found by anyone if it has not been optimized for search engines? Whether your starting a website for your business or for some other purpose, you should NEVER forget about SEO! A website that has good SEO will be found easier versus one that does not; the most disastrous thing you can do to your website is neglect SEO altogether. If you already have your website designed, it is not too late to optimize it for search engines. There are several ranking factors to you need to consider, some more important than others.
View this post on Instagram
Welcome to the battlefield, soldier. Is your #website ready to face the digital battleground known as the internet? #contentmarketing #contentmarketingtips #digitalmarketing #digitalmarketingtips #marketing #marketingtips #seo #seotips #searchengineoptimization #searchenginemarketing #business #smallbusiness #smallbusinessmarketing #businessgrowth #webdesign #wordpress #websitedesign
To start, two major ranking factors determined by Google include how fast your website loads as well as how responsive it is to mobile devices. More recently, the use of an SSL certificate is now a major ranking factor; Google only wants to serve secure websites to people performing searches. In fact if you do not have an SSL certificate on your site, Google Chrome now displays this error to sites that do not have one (even if the site is not actually dangerous):
This can be extremely disastrous for your business, and if you are just starting you will want to make sure this problem is avoided altogether. Check with your hosting provider about getting an SSL certificate for your site, some even provide them for free. Other SEO ranking factors you need to consider include writing appropriate headings, implementing ALT tags on your site’s images and writing quality content. Google also considers backlinks (links on other sites back to yours) as a major ranking factor, as they consider you an authoritative resource if other websites are referring their visitors to your site. If all of this seems like a foreign language to you, we recommend that you read Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO for more information.
Remember, this is 2019! The use of smartphones and technology is everywhere now, so if you are not considering any type of digital marketing to sell your new business then don’t expect to be found easily. As a startup, your number one goal is to start creating awareness; this can be quite a challenge if you do not have any referrals from past contacts in addition to having several established competitors in your area. Consider the tip we gave you earlier: starting an email list where you can give your subscribers exclusive free content. You can start a free email list using Mailchimp, where you can design nice looking emails (don’t forget to set up your company email and signature line! NEVER use @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc. Your web hosting company can help you with this) with company news, offers, blog posts, etc. See the infographic below for ideas:
View this post on Instagram
Ready for war, soldier! Try one of these methods to help your site rank. #contentmarketing #contentmarketingtips #digitalmarketing #digitalmarketingtips #marketing #marketingtips #businesses #businessgrowth #smallbusinessmarketing #smallbusiness #seo #seotips #searchenginemarketing #searchmarketing #searchengineoptimization #searchengine #blogging #wordpress #webdesign #websitedesign #infographic #podcast #whitepaper #webinar #casestudy
We recommend that you try all of these methods, but one that you should really try out is webinars. Webinars are simply digital seminars where you speak about a topic, following along a professionally designed presentation; your audience is watching your presentation from their computer or phone. Now, you don’t need to buy expensive software or even show your face on camera when conducting a webinar. You can use software such as TeamViewer or Google Hangouts (all FREE!) where people can watch your presentations on Windows, Mac, Android or iOS. When conducting such presentations, be sure that you have a professionally designed PowerPoint or Keynote template; in order to keep your audience interested, the presentation itself must be visually appealing (we will be happy to assist you with this) and engaging (encourage your audience to ask questions). You can conduct your webinars using your smartphone, but if you plan to conduct one using a computer then you will need a decent microphone (usually very inexpensive).
If you are truly serious about letting people know that you have started a legitimate company, do not neglect the use of social media! Forgetting to create pages for your business on all of the major social networks is just as bad as not having a website. Social media is a place where you can share information about your company, post photos of projects, take reviews and even offer specials to your followers. More importantly, it gives you an additional channel of communication to your customers and your audience; for example, you can use Facebook’s Messenger app (Android or iOS) as a live chat system. If someone sends you a message through your company’s Facebook page, then you will be able to answer it from your phone on the app (eliminating the need to have someone at a computer 24/7). Additionally, you could also achieve this same goal using Skype or WhatsApp for Business (nothing says you are not allowed to use all three of them at once. In fact we recommend it!).
View this post on Instagram
Are you aware of how many monthly active users these major social networks had in 2018? #contentmarketing #digitalmarketing #marketing #marketingstrategies #marketingstrategy #contentmarketingstrategy #contentmarketingstrategies #digitalmarketingstrategy #digitalmarketingstrategies #business #smallbusiness #entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #socialmedia #socialmediamarketing #facebook #twitter #pinterest #instagram #whatsapp #youtube #snapchat #linkedin #googleplus
Take a look at the infographic above (designed by CDG with information from Dustn.tv). Having a presence on social media increases your business’ exposure to billions of people, which could possibly become customers. You may be wandering which social networks you should use? We recommend creating pages on all relevant social networks, as this will only increase your business’ visibility in the social networking world. Not everyone uses all of the same social networks, so creating pages on as many where relevant ensures that people who do not use one network find you on another. If you need assistance in learning more about how to use social media for your business, please check out our blog post from earlier this year titled “What Your Business Should Be Doing on Social Media.”
Once you have your office space setup, do not make the mistake of using your personal cell phone for business calls. Many business owners make this mistake because while it is cost effective, it is not the most professional option. It is important to answer all of your business calls in a professional manner (“Thank you for calling [company name]. How may I help you?”) and it may be habitual to answer your personal cell phone without doing so. If you have a separate office line, you will have to make it a habit to answer it professionally every time a call comes in. Avoid making your separate line a mobile line; it is better to use an IP-based desk phone that has features such as hold music, virtual receptionist and a high quality speakerphone. If you use Vonage’s business service, you have access to the Vonage Business Cloud app which will forward all calls on your office line to your cell phone; when the calls reach your cell phone via the app, you would then answer calls, make calls and send texts using your office number. Additionally, you can use your PC or Mac computer to do the same with the desktop version of the app. It is a great way to take business calls when you are not at the office; remember, communication with your existing customers and possible new customers will be the difference between making and losing money. After getting a phone number for your business, make sure you list your business on all free directories such as Google Maps and yp.com; you can perform the free business listing scan from Yext to help you with this. But don’t buy the Yext subscription if you want to save money; instead, perform the free scan and go down the list of directories it says are your company is not listed on. It is a time consuming process, but this will help create backlinks to your website (remember this is an SEO ranking factor!) and help increase your business’ exposure.
Google My Business is one directory you must ensure that your new business is listed on. Listing with Google ensures that your business shows up in search results and on Google Maps; a Google My Business listing also allows people to leave reviews for your business. Additionally, having your business listed with Google increases your position on search results; you could even show up under those popular “near me” searches. For example, if you are starting an auto repair shop then your business would expect to show up if someone searches “auto repair near me”. If you have not done so, go to the Google My Business website and click on the green “Manage Now” to get started (it’s FREE). Keep in mind that there is a verification process that involves verifying a code mailed to your business address on a post card, so don’t expect to be considered authentic in Google’s eyes until you input the code (more on this here).
You may be thinking that credit card processing is outside of your budget, as you feel it will cost thousands of dollars just to get started. WRONG! If you are serious about starting a business, make sure you are able to accept credit cards easily or you could lose a lot of business. If you cannot afford a fancy cash register with a credit card machine, there are several affordable options for you to choose from. You can easily accept credit cards from your phone using PayPal or Square, and both of them have their own special card readers that plug right into your phone’s headphone jack. It is important to note that both PayPal and Square have service fees charged on each transaction you make; you may need to charge a processing fee if your customers opt to pay you using these services. You can check out processing fees for both Square and PayPal with these fee calculators (click here for the Square calculator and click here for the PayPal calculator). If you plan on selling products or taking payments through your website, you will need PayPal to transfer the payments to your business’ bank account. However, you can avoid the use of credit cards altogether with Zelle. Zelle is an app-based service that links your bank account to an email or phone number; if a customer chooses to pay you with Zelle, all they will need is that email or phone number to send you money. It does not require the use of credit cards and is supported by several of the major banks; in fact, certain banks such as Chase and Frost Bank both have Zelle built into their online banking apps (chances are that your bank supports it as well, click here to check). These options make payment a lot easier and will save you several trips to the bank. But most importantly, they will help you avoid accepting checks which you should NEVER do. You should NEVER accept checks from anyone especially strangers, as they could be fraudulent and cost your company several thousands of dollars and time. You may even have to take legal action against the person who wrote the fake check (remember, lawyers cost a lot of money, too!). With these digital solutions, why would you even consider using checks to begin with?
In a world where everything is based on technology and paper is rarely used, you are probably thinking that you do not need any print materials for your business. After all, nobody buys newspapers or paperback books anymore, right? WRONG! Print materials are a great way to help you get your business’ name around. In fact, your other most important marketing tool (next to a website) is on paper, and that is your business card! Because many people store business cards in their wallets (or even digitally with apps) your contact information remains where someone can easily get it. A business card must be uniquely designed (no Microsoft Word or Vistaprint templates!) and present your contact information in a professional, eye-pleasing manner (we have written a blog post earlier this year on business card essentials, please go and check it out). We also recommend having postcards, flyers and brochures that you can place on your storefront’s desk or alternatively for you to keep on your person to give away. These print materials allow you to do things that a simple business card cannot do, such as advertise specials and coupons or share detailed explanations of your services (such as how you would on a website. We can help you come up with ideas if you need help). Consider placing all of your handouts in a professionally-designed presentation folder with your business’ logo on it. If you operate a business that has several repeat customers such as a restaurant or retail store, you can consider creating a loyalty card that requires the customer to have it stamped every time they spend a certain amount of money. Take a look at the example below:
This is the loyalty card we designed for Stone Cold Meats. As part of their marketing strategy for 2019, they wanted to be able to reward repeat customers by encouraging them to come back and spend certain amounts of money. For every $50 a customer spends, Stone Cold Meats will stamp their card using a custom-made rubber stamp of their logo (using hole punch or designs that are easy to replicate will make fraud too easy). Five stamps would result in the customer receiving a $5.00 discount off of any purchase and then 10 stamps entitles the card owner a free rib-eye steak. One of the best way to reward your customers is to encourage them to give you repeat business and then giving them something back in return (remember, this must be cost effective too. Don’t let your giveaways generate large losses later).
You can also help your name stand out at the office even more with a professionally-designed retractable banner or floor sign. Because these banners are very large, it is best to design them with eye-catching colors while mentioning the most important aspects of your company (pricing, services, contact info, etc.). You can place one next to your office door if you feel that foot traffic is adequate enough and want to be seen better; also if your office is on a street with a lot of traffic (or your office is obstructed by its surroundings) consider having a feather flag or sandwich board sign to help direct people to your office. These are great (and cheaper) alternatives to billboards, and when designed correctly can help increase your business.
What if you could put your business name and contact information on something that people use everyday? That would be a great way to not only give your business some publicity, but it could also help its name and contact information stick to someone’s memory. This is where promotional products step in! Print your logo, name and phone number/email on a coffee mug, water bottle, t-shirt or backpack and then give these items away to your friends and clients; anyone who uses these items every day will remember your business anytime they use them. If you print your business’ name and information on a backpack or t-shirt, anyone who wears these items instantly become a human billboard for your company. You should choose the promotional products that both fit into your budget and work most effectively; you can choose from a variety of products ranging from USB flash drives to golf towels. If you are interested in choosing the right promotional products and buying them from the best vendors, our affiliate company Promote Your Messages! can help you out starting with a free consultation.
View this post on Instagram
Embroidered Carmotive logo on the comfortable drifit polo. #carmotive #mechanic #repairs #brakes #tires #oilchange #inspection #tuneup #engine #graphicdesign #design #art #webdesign #teeshirt #polo #screenprint #embroidery #socialmedia #marketing Check them out for your car needs on 14560 Beechnut St @ Hwy 6 S 💯💯
As a business owner, you should have some sort of dress code in place (that both you and your employees, if any, should follow). The dress code should depend on the type of workplace environment. If you run a business in an executive office suite, then you should consider a business casual dress code. If you run a more relaxed environment such as a store in a mall or a small cafe, then regular t-shirts would work the best. Any shirt can be customized to have your logo sewn or printed onto it; you can customize these shirts even more by removing the manufacturers’ label and replacing it with one bearing your company’s logo on it. But do not make the mistake of simply allowing your employees to wear anything they want; if you do not have any employees, you should still wear a shirt that bears your company’s logo on it to look more legitimate. You should wear a shirt with your branding on it when you are at your office, going to a job site or representing your company at an event or meeting.
We want to help you get your business started on the right foot here at CDG. It is a brand new year, and many of you are seeking to do something fresh and exciting; starting a business does not have to be scary. In fact, you are most likely reading this post because you are serious about getting started. If you were clueless about what you needed to get done first, then this post should serve as a guide to help you. Taking care of your marketing needs should be addressed prior to opening your doors; imagine promoting your business by word of mouth, but do not have any business cards to hand to people. At CDG, we want to help startups and small business owners take care of these needs; it is not our job to just design or create your marketing pieces, but also to ensure that they exceed your standards and generate the success you seek. Check out the clients that we assisted during their journey starting up in 2018; we would love to do the same for you!
© 2019 Creativity Design Group. All Rights Reserved.