Digital Marketing for the New Year

New Year’s is my favorite season. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning and excitement for the future fills the air in the business. Here’s a simple way to get started on your New Year’s marketing plan:

First, identify your marketing goal. Most business owners want to bring in more money by bringing in more customers. But make sure that’s really what you need. You must have the time and resources for new customers. You may just need to raise your prices or find ways to cut costs or time.


Second, identify your target market. This is vital to know where to find your customers and know how to encourage them to buy. Utilize their likes and dislikes, motivations, lifestyle, interests, values, attitudes and beliefs.


Last but not least, know your marketing budget. This should be 10% of your gross income. For example if you business makes $150,000 per year, you should budget about $1000 per month for marketing. We can make that go a LONG way. Not only that we can reach your specific goals and track results confirming it’s worth the investment.

The answers to these questions will allow us to create the perfect marketing plan for you. Some of the marketing options may include a new website or updates to website, new photography or video commercials, social media posting, marketing materials, event planning, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay-per-click) with Facebook Ads or Google Ads, email marketing, etc.

Begin the holiday planning!

It’s 4th quarter which means …. the holidays are right around the corner! Now is the time to start planning! Is your company …

  • Selling products online?

  • Want to sell gift cards?

  • Need employee or client holiday gifts?

We can help! We design and build a wide variety of e-commerce websites. We can sell products directly online and give them a boost using Google or Facebook Ads. We can manage your e-commerce store or train you how to manage it on your own. We can even setup your store to sell and redeem gift cards! If you are looking for holiday gifts, we can also design and print custom apparel, drinkware, bags and offer some great ideas from some of our incredible clients!

Top 10 Reasons to Avoid Angie’s List

Our company manages Google Ad campaigns for many different types of companies, but one of the most popular professions we help is the construction, builder and remodeler industries. These types of business rely on lead generation in some way, shape or form to get the business it needs to thrive. In the past 5-10 years, companies like Angie’s List, Home Advisor and Houzz have played a big part in selling leads to this industry. However, many of the business owners that gets bound into these contracts rarely come out with any success stories. We know our Google Ads work, but how do they compare to these lead generation sites? After taking a closer look, the answer became clear. Here is our list of Top 10 Reasons to avoid these services. 

1. Cost per lead is usually higher with a lead generation site. 

When running comparisons of costs with Google Ads and Angie’s List, we found that the Angie’s List leads were always higher than the cost of our leads. This was quite shocking because when we generate a lead for a client, that client is the only one that is getting that lead, they are the only one that will be bidding on it from that click. Which leads us into to the next reason on our list.

2. Same lead is also sent to your competitors. 

Why pay MORE for a lead that your competitors are also getting that you have to bid against. So not only are you losing money on the leads, you are also have less chance of winning the lead. 

3. Renting, not buying.

When you build your profile on a lead generation site, you are essentially remodeling and investing in a “rental property” instead of your own site. All the money that you are putting into getting leads could be invested in your own space online so that it (your website) can grow. Creating more leads, more visitors and spending more money on your website adds value into your site, allowing it to grow organically, ranking higher in search engines. So when you are paying for a 3rd party service, you helping the other site grow, not your own.

4. Pump up reviews where it counts.

All positive reviews are great, however; depending on where those reviews are can hold some real value. A review on Google is MUCH more valuable than a review on Angie’s List. Why? Because Angie’s List reviews are only seen by those who search within Angie’s List. Google Reviews are seen then ENTIRE search engine in Google, furthermore it adds credibility to your website, potentially ranking you higher in Google and also ranking you higher in Google My Business.

5. You don’t own the leads.

With lead generation techniques like signing on with Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor (and even Google Home Services ads) you don’t own the leads generated

6. No control. 

When you invest in Angie’s List, you do not have control of those leads.When you are using Google Ads, we can control the entire lead funnel from start to finish, increasing the chance to convert those leads to sales.

7. Binding contract. 

When using Angie’s List, you are forced into a long-term binding contract, even if it doesn’t deliver – with Google Ads, especially with us – it’s a month-to-month basis. 

8. Customization is needed.

Do you offer more than one product or service? No problem! Don’t pay a bundle for each product and/or service you offer. In Google Ads, you can customize your marketing in more ways that you’d ever imagine!

9. Getting ghosted is scary.

If you ask me, working local and having face-to-face conversations are best, especially if investing into the business. Online marketing can be confusing, make sure you are working with someone you can reach and you can trust.

10. Lowest Customer Satisfaction

If those weren’t enough to convince you to stay clear of Angie’s List, maybe the negative reviews will. It’s been calculated that customers that use Angie’s List has 99% negative experience rating. Yikes!

Stop Discounting Your Services

If you or someone you know is struggling with not making enough sales for their businesses – and they continue to offer discounts, discounts and more discounts … I would love to talk them! Discounting services is an injustice to any company that offers good, quality work. It hits your sales team and reputation right in the gut, generating lack of confidence, bad precedent and overall lower perceived value and even worse than that – discounting your products or services costs money.

That’s money that could of been in YOUR pocket so you aren’t struggling. Furthermore it’s money that you could be INVESTING to make more sales for your business. It cuts your services short and cutting your business short of having the finances to succeed.

Instead, use that money that you loose in your discount to put towards a pay-per-click campaign. For example, one of our clients that has an e-commerce store, was selling a product for about $93 retail. He had a popular discount running on the website constantly, that discounted that item down to about $65. This gives my client, the business $27 LOSS with each purchase. Yikes. So when we started working with him on pay-per-click, we learned that the cost of each sale was going to be a little under $20. So with that knowledge of the conversion rate (-$20 cost + $93 sale = $73 gross profit) we could multiple the conversion rate, this removes the risk. So now instead of selling 100 items x $65 = $6,500 … we put $5,000 of ad spend in each month / $20 = 250 x $93 = $23,250, a difference of $16,750 per month! (mic drop)

Custom Built Digital Marketing Plans

Most digital marketing companies that target small business owners throw every client into a “cookie cutter” ad campaign. It makes sense internally, it’s a nice smooth process they can emulate easily so that they are able to scale quickly. However, it usually doesn’t take long before the small business owner client to realize, they’re not getting a whole lotta BANG for their BUCK. The truth is, every small business client is different. There is different target markets, ad campaigns, social media platforms, keywords, sales funnels, conversion rates and more. That’s why it’s critical that your marketing campaign is specifically marketed towards YOU. Our digital marketing agency can design the perfect MARKETING PLAN for your company so that you can see results as soon as we begin. We take your investment in marketing seriously, creating your custom marketing plan and answering your questions along the way. We also take the time to review data WITH you on a regular basis, so you can watch the progress on the way! Contact us to schedule your free consultation!

Share-a-Sale / WP Engine Affiliate SCAM

I thrive on being positive, however this last week I was seriously disappointed with two companies that I had so much respect for – until now. I feel like those in the same position should be aware that some affiliate companies can be a scam and should stay away. As professional digital marketer, trying to make some extra cash on the side by way of online affiliate programs is not a stretch. I’ve recently been able to throw my skills into an affiliate program for a company that I use everyday, our WordPress hosting company, WP Engine. As a hosting provider, they are the best I’ve ever worked with – their security, backups, intuitive technology and their intelligent and extremely accessible tech team make choosing this company for our hosting a no brainer. Another company I’ve been anxiously waiting to work with is Share-a-Sale, a very well known, reputable affiliate company locally owned in Chicago. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that WP Engine actually listed as a merchant to sell for inside Share-a-Sale … perfect! I love that I would be able to market for a company I already know! Furthermore, they come with a healthy payout of $200 per sale. Awesome! This is an affiliate merchant I can really get behind. So after a few late nights, I had created a successful Google PPC click campaign and within one week I so excited to see I successfully gained WP Engine 6 new clients, earning a commission of $1200 in one week. I was so excited! After the week ended, and Monday came around I logged in my account to see my final payout for the week of work – but then felt my whole body deflated when I saw the screen. WP Engine had taken the sales but declined and voided all the commission payments before they could be paid out. I was shocked and so disappointed by these two companies that I always had high respects for, just completely dumbfounded. Lesson learned. I love the idea of an affiliate program, but when they don’t follow through, it’s no longer a win-win and also against all my morals to be a scam and cheat. Next time … well there will not be a next time with any other affiliate program again. But it did strike an idea. I’ve always wanted to be able to have no-risk solution to digital marketing, affiliate programs are supposed to be kind of that way, however what if I could offer a program where clients only pay us when we get a customer? Pay for sale? How would that work? I’m open to any thoughts and suggestions, let me know!

Next Year’s Marketing

Have you planned next year’s marketing? What did you do last year for marketing? Did it work?

Starting and running a business can be stressful – even more so when sales aren’t where they should be. It can be downright scary. However, there is good news! When you have a marketing plan in place, it can eliminate that stress. The sooner you start, the better. If you’re anything like me, I like to start fresh at the beginning of the new year. So now is the time to get that plan in place. There are unlimited opportunities – including social media, email, optimization, pay-per-click, press releases and more! Our marketing packages start at $1000/mo and can include ALL of that. After a free consultation, we can come up with the perfectly crafted marketing package that fits your needs – and your budget. Contact me today for a free consult to learn more.

– Christy

Online Marketing Strategy for Small Business

The internet is the highway. Your website is the car. SEO and Online Marketing is the fuel. Without fuel, your website will be sitting along the side of the highway, looking pretty, but going nowhere.


It hasn’t been long that online marketing and content creation has been taken seriously. Within the past couple of years, corporations and small businesses began to see the value in content creation and invested accordingly. This trend continues to grow, and it certainly isn’t a phase. Millions of new blog posts will be created throughout this year and next, all with the intention of boosting their online marketing strategy for small business.

Lately the focus is driving more toward local goals. From Google rankings to Facebook, the internet is driving more local traffic to viewers. The internet is an incredibly valuable tool to get a business’s content into the hands of potential customers. Online marketing is often the fastest, and often the most affordable, way to attract potential customers from very specific target markets. But with increasing competition, online content creation isn’t enough to drive sales. A truly custom online marketing strategy designed for your specific business is crucial in today’s market.

Online marketing is a hot new expertise for a reason. There is an incredible amount of value that the right SEO and Online Marketing Professional will bring to your table. But if you’re looking to get ahead of your competitors and boost sales on your own, here are a few tips to stay focused on with your efforts.


Content marketing is the meat of your online strategy. Quality, useful and tempting online content isn’t a perk or a trend, it is a necessity. The content you create should be clear, concise, at expert level for your industry, and offer the solution to the problems of your target market.

The initial content you create will go directly onto the pages within your website. It can be highlighted with strategic keywords to help catch the attention of search engines, but still written for your human viewers. In other words, don’t try to trick the search engines by simply overloading your online content with keywords. Google and Bing will know what you’re up to and kick you off of their internet playground for not playing fair. So write for your audience, but keep Google and Bing in mind… as if you were leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for them to find you.

Start blogging. If you aren’t a blogger, hire one. Get guest bloggers who write within your industry. Target the blogs that will engage your potential customers. Then take you content to your audience. Get and stay active on forums and online discussions where you can talk directly with your customers and network with others related to your business.

Be sure to share chunks of your content marketing efforts on your social media avenues. Brag about your blog on Facebook. Tweet about your latest coupon. Pin images of your products on Pinterest. Email educational tips and tricks to your subscribers. Get creative on new ways to share everything you know about your industry utilizing your content marketing.


Stop for a moment to think of the first person who comes to your mind as an influential person within your industry. Can you think of one? Can you think of two? Can you think of ten? Every industry has a certain number of people who command respect and have incredible potential to influence buckets of followers. They often tend to be experts within the industry, therefore their opinion is valued, trusted, and relied upon as reference.

Steve Jobs had an obvious influence on technology. Pop Stars, like Beyonce or Taylor Swift, have the potential to sway waves of fashion trends in the blink of an eye. Famed athletes can endorse any product, from athletic gear to cereal, with outstanding promotional success.

Okay, so you might not get Taylor Swift to endorse your product. But there are ways to get people that are within YOUR industry to take notice. It starts by engaging them on their platforms. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to their email lists. Comment, share, retweet… stay consistent until you get on their radar. People like to work with other people they recognize or have heard of. After a bit of engagement effort, it will seem a lot more natural when you invite them to talk directly or take a look at the complementary product you want to send them.

The larger their influence, the harder it is to network and build relationships. But they are truly valuable to stay steadfast in your goals. In the meantime, continue to work the same angles with similar people that might be on a less popular level, but still beneficial. Reach out to bloggers- They love samples. Invite them to try yours and write a few reviews. Offer discounts or even kickbacks for any sales that generate from their blog posts. Whatever you do…network, network, network.



Yep, it’s time to talk about your rep. Online reputation management, to be exact. Yes, your reputation matters by referral and word of mouth, of course. So stay on your best behavior, offer quality service and products, and encourage your happy customers to brag all they want about you. Word of mouth is a tried and trusted method of increasing business, so keep those efforts up.

But we’re talking specifically about your ONLINE REPUTATION. You’ve got great content and a schnazzy looking website, which is a great start. But when a potential customer takes the next step into digging around, the very next thing they’re looking for are your reviews.

Generating positive reviews about your company, your products, and your service is VERY IMPORTANT to an online marketing strategy for small business. This is especially true for those looking for local customers.

You’re probably aware that disgruntled customers are more likely to take the time to get online and leave a few very detailed tales of a poor experience they receive with a company. So even if most of your customers are simply tickled pink with your service, it only takes a couple of complaints to tarnish your reputation. In order to counteract negative reviews, you want to take an offensive position and stack the deck with positive ones. Your rep is at stake and has the potential to bring in, or scare away, future customers. So the next time your customers are beaming after working with you, ask them to show their appreciation with a review- On your site, on Google, on Yelp, on Facebook… whichever online format is easiest for them, and/or most commonly linked to your site.

You can also consider Reputation Loop as a tool to maximize positive reviews, and minimize the negative.



If you’re not building your email list, you are consistently losing pieces to your puzzle. It is so important to stay engaged with your customers on a regular basis, even when they aren’t currently working with you. Find the balance between being a disappearing act, and being that annoying fly that just won’t go away. Somewhere in the middle is the perfect formula to remind them that you’re there when they need you.

Stay in touch with your customers with exciting updates to your company or product. Send them reminders for maintenance items that relate to your industry. Share your latest discounts, coupons, and upcoming events. You can even create pop-ups that offer free give-aways to entice them. Anything that lets them know you still appreciate their business and keeps you on their mind.



We love Facebook.

Downtown-Design-Online-Marketing-FacebookFacebook is more than a social monster that keeps people’s faces glued to their smartphones. Facebook is a very economical method of reaching specific target markets, and usually with fast results. It is, in fact, one of the most economical and targeted paid advertising mode available.

Did you know Facebook not only allows you to target your audience by age, gender and location, but also based on their purchase habits, interests and even the pages they like?

Facebook is a great way to test out multiple ad strategies with small budgets, until you find the ad formula that yields the results you’re looking for. For instance, try two or three ads, spending $20-$30 each. Make small adjustments to the text you use, the specials you offer, and the pics you choose. Eventually, you’ll start to see a pattern and decipher what is catching the eye of your target market. Once the results are in, format a new ad campaign based on that strategy and invest with a larger budget, gradually increasing as you start seeing the return on investment.


The significance of the online marketing strategy for small business is incredible, and is only increasing. If you want additional business TOMORROW, it’s important you start taking advantage of online marketing, advertising, and promotional avenues TODAY. It takes dedication and commitment to give your online marketing strategy time to yield results. And it is important to set check points along the way so you can reevaluate your strategy based on short term feedback, helping narrow the path of success for the next online marketing steps. But stay the course and with enough attention on the data that comes your way from these efforts, your online marketing can offer amazing promise for your business!

Which tip do you think you’ll try first? Which ones have you tried so far? Ask us questions and offer feedback!

Small Business Marketing Mistakes: A Quick Read

Common Small Business Marketing Mistakes that are easy to avoid

Marketing is a job of it’s own for a reason.  Here are a few mistakes to skip:

Marketing your small business can seem daunting, and for good reason.  It is a full-time job of it’s own.  It can be tough to know how to get your message out to your target market, regardless of your level of expertise.  So, to get you started, here are a few simple mistakes to avoid.

Online Marketing: You don’t know what you’re doing, but do it anyway.

No, no, no.  We’re proud that you’re willing to give the unknown a shot.  But online marketing is a very important key tool for small businesses of today.  Going online and filling your social media profiles with self-bragging and links, hoping you’ll get clicks and likes, will not help you.  In fact, it can hurt you.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, you need to learn.  Or hire someone who does know what they are doing.  It will be worth either your time or money to make sure you’re doing it right, BEFORE your efforts work against you.

Marketing Shmarketing.

Business is going well and so who needs marketing?  I didn’t do it before and things are going great, so why fix what isn’t broken?  Well, Marketing isn’t for the “Now” it’s for the “Future”.  Marketing is an investment into tomorrow, next month,  next year, and beyond.  Marketing now is for the purpose of getting and keeping your brand out there and in front of your customers.  Marketing is effort made today to keep your brand in the spotlight permanently.  You may have great business today, but if it suddenly slows down and now you need sales TODAY, well, it’s too late to get marketing to work to get you sales TODAY.  Market today for the sales tomorrow.  Make sense?

Social Media Frenzy!

You’re not sure what all the hype is about, but you know it’s trending so you gotta be on it!  If there is any new social media site, you have decided you must be on it.  The problem is… your target market isn’t.  So now with every status update and post, you’re simply wasting your time.  And time is money!  Social media is important.  But on this topic, it’s important to go with quality, not quantity.  Choose the social media sites that are relevant to benefit your industry.  Your metal roofing company isn’t likely to be found as a tip on Pinterest, but could benefit from an ad on Facebook.  Your posts on LinkedIn aren’t going to help your local bakery, but are certain to bring in business from Four Square or even Twitter.

What are your measurements?

What good are your marketing efforts if you aren’t aware of what is working and what isn’t?  There aren’t really any excuses here: Social media sites and even your website designer will have analytics built in to get reports from.  You can easily see what’s been working and what failed miserably.  And all of the positive and negative results will help you build even better campaigns in the future.

All those eggs and you only bought one basket.

Facebook is your favorite!  So all of your time and ad money has gone strictly to this format.  You’ve decided to ignore your other platforms of press releases, additional social media sites, search engine advertisements or even old school printed mailers.  Oh boy…  Hey, we’re glad that your Facebook ads generated a lead or three.  But what happens when you’ve already reached a majority of your target audience?  It’s important to diversify your marketing efforts rather than focus and flood one avenue with your brand.  That way, if one avenue happens to dissolve (how’s MySpace working these days?), you’re already working other options.

It’s important to have a marketing strategy, even if it’s a simple one.  If you’re unsure of how it works, either invest the money into someone who does or invest the time into learning to do it for yourself.  An uneducated marketer is a dangerous one.  But just a few efforts in the right direction, combined with avoiding these simple mistakes, can make for some pretty great results.