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Design

what do your colors say about your brand

What Do Colors Say About Your Brand?

By | Design, logo design, Services

When you are starting a new business, you have to go over many hurdles. Of course, everyone goes about this process slightly differently. It all starts with that first big idea. Then, typically you create a business plan, think about your business name, who your clients or customers will be, how you will charge for your services, etc. Does all of that sound familiar? If so, you are already off to a good start. But…

Have you selected your brand colors yet?

Often when new businesses are preparing to launch their brand, they first think of whatever their logo will be. In fact, that is something that we help new clients with all of the time. But, have you thought about what kind of colors will be included in your logo? How will those colors carry through the rest of your branding material, like stationery, business cards, or even your website design?

If you have not considered your brand colors as part of your overall brand development, it is time to pump the brakes and give your brand color some consideration. Why? Because the psychology behind the way that people interpret colors is a genuine thing and people will be your clients and customers.

In an article on Psychology Today, they note that a study titled Impact of Color on Marketing, “researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
 ”

MacHouse_branding-pkg

Most marketers will tell you that color has an impact on your brand but there tends to be some smoke and mirrors when it comes to how choosing any one particular brand color will make people feel about your brand. There is not any concrete research there. Most people also associate colors with certain memories or experiences. Since this is the case, it would be pretty hard for us to make a case that clients looking to evoke happiness in a brand should all choose yellow as their brand color because yellow makes people happy. The reality is that there are lots of people that do not like the color yellow for one reason or another. Clowns are also known to make people happy, but I think we can all agree that we know plenty of people who will run in the other direction if they see a clown walking down the street.

Color is still incredibly important when choosing your branding though. The same article in Psychology Today notes that “when it comes to picking the “right” color, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself.
”

Martas_businesscards

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when selecting your brand colors is how do those colors make YOU feel? When you think about your brand, what colors come to mind? Avoid picking brand colors based strictly on personal preference (i.e. my favorite color is orange, so orange should dominate my brand colors). Instead, choose colors that make sense for the products and services your brand is offering and what colors come to mind when you think about you are bringing to the marketplace.

Need help? Our designers and brand specialists happen to be pretty darn good at this kind of thing. Give us a call or request a proposal today.

 

3 Tips To Help You Get The Web Design You Want

3 Tips To Help You Get The Web Design You Want

By | Design, Design Blog, Services, Web Design

Are you ready for a new web design? Before you begin work with your chosen web design agency, there are a few things to keep in mind that will set you up for success during the design process. Getting a new website should be fun and signal an exciting fresh start for your business, but if you fall into some all-to-common pitfalls, the design process can begin to drag on and become confusing. Avoid a frustrating design experience with the following useful tips.

Three Tips For Achieving Web Design Success

1. Be clear about what you are looking for in a design.

Web designers are typically quite good at interpreting design concepts, but don’t assume that they can read your mind. Just like any relationship, communication is key. When entering into a new relationship with your web design agency, be sure to offer them plenty of information about your business. Some examples could include: what you are hoping to achieve with your new website (i.e., customer conversion, newsletter signups, brand awareness, etc.), what kind of timeline you are looking for and any other little details that you feel might be important for the agency to know about your brand.

The right agency will try to pair you with a designer who is most likely to be a good fit for your project from the beginning, but it is still important to remember that everyone has different tastes. Don’t give your designer “free reign” unless you clearly understand their aesthetic. Design is conceptual, and you may be displeased with what they dream up for you. Bottom line…don’t be shy about telling them what you are looking for in a website!

2. Present your designer with examples of what you like.

Have you seen another website or graphic design that inspires you? Don’t be afraid to come to the table with links to other sites that you think are well done. You should never copy another website, but showing some examples of what you find inspiring will help your designer come up with new ideas based on your interests. Different terminology and descriptives can be misunderstood, so having visual examples will help guide the process in the right direction from the start.

3. Be patient.

Rome was not built overnight, and your website design will not be either. The design process can often take multiple rounds before you reach perfection. If the first round of design mock-ups you receive is not exactly what you were hoping for, do not get discouraged. Simply talk through what exactly is not working for you with the designer. Again, use clear communication and present examples when necessary. They will listen to your feedback, and you will likely be more pleased with the next round.

Are you looking for a new web design agency? 90 Degree offers best in class design and we work with a variety of platforms including WordPress websites, eCommerce solutions such as custom Shopify, and fully custom-coded website development solutions.

Request a website development proposal today!

The Five Elemental Stages of Logo Design

By | Design, logo design

Artists and clients engage in a two-way street when designing potential logos for brands, companies, and other organizations. As designers, there is a need to understand our customers and to know more than just the basic details about them. In turn, if you’re a client, we designers would appreciate it if you’re familiar with our style, and if you do know enough to help you decide if your vision for your logo design is better realized with the artistry that we have as designers.

For the curious, here’s what the process of collaboration is like between a designer and client working to come up with a fantastic and fitting logo or design, so to speak. If it is your first time to call on an artist for his or her take on your logo vision, then know that it takes a lot of communication on top of skill and talent to come up with a design that delivers. Designers may not necessarily agree on this process, as there is really no single approach to it, but here is an outline of what, more or less, happens in the course of designing a logo.

First off, we should all understand that any process of creating art is not something we can just replicate anytime anywhere. There are no guidelines, no standards, methods, or rulebooks for us to follow on the road to a successful collaboration. In any case, art remains an art even when we also involve it in business transactions. Every partnership and design experience are unique for both client and designer, even if we can pick up certain similarities. However, to come up with an output that will please our customers, which inevitably makes us happy as well, will depend on the following basic steps, which we based on the parallels and general practices we have observed from the number of design services we have provided in the past.

The Design Brief

stages of logo design 1

In any transaction, the primary step is for designers to come up with questions and instructions that will outline what our client aims to accomplish at the end of a project. So to begin any planning, proper and clear communication between both parties must ensue. As designers, we must be able to ask the right questions to get the right information we need from our clients. In turn, we’d prefer our customers to be knowledgeable enough to clearly explain what their intended logo design if for, what their business and its identity is all about, what their target market is, and what kind of image or personality do they want people to link to their brand. The answers to these questions are the kind of necessary information we’d want to bring about from our clients. The information will also help us know where to draw inspiration from and to guide us on how to go about with the design.

After arriving at a design brief, we can now decide whether we would proceed with the project or not. Clients may also take the time here to weigh things over and see if they’re on the same vantage point as the designers when it comes to the vision for the logo. If both client and designer agree to take on the project, then the next critical step is to research.

Taking it Further with Research

stages of logo design 2

Now that we have our project brief at hand, and after an explicit agreement on proceeding with the next step of the design process, a bit of research will help our design. This part of the process is when we get to learn more about our client’s business, the industry they are a part of, and the goals and objectives they have as an organization or even as individuals. Designers would do well to learn even just a few details about our client’s business history and information on competitors in the industry. The material we get from this research will all serve as a guide to our logo design.

This guide will help us avoid incorporating into our design elements that are contrary to the image, characteristics, and values of our client’s business. The research step will also help us come up with a perfect logo that makes our client, their brand, or their product, stand out from all the other competitors in the market. This is a crucial move in the marketing industry, especially when it is, as others would say, already saturated. We may also conduct additional research on the techniques or style that a particular design will require as not all logos would look great in a certain way and not all would need a formal or corporate vibe as some designs are better off with a chill or relaxed personality. But then again, this is not a required step since there are designers who would rather follow their methods and aesthetics rather than incorporate other artists’ styles.

Think and Design

stages of logo design 2

This next fundamental step takes up most of the design process. It is now time for us designers to use the information we gathered prior this step. We might use the design brief together with the research information, or we might set them aside for a while as we look around for inspiration from perhaps something as ordinary as a stone or as amazing as an iris reflecting the universe.

This, however, is not necessarily the time for us to hide away and seclude ourselves in our workspace. This is also a time for us to keep communication with our clients open so we can update them with our design. It is going to be beneficial for both designer and client when we communicate with each other to check on the design, and if it’s going according to how our client envisioned. This will also keep us from finishing work that doesn’t deliver our client’s specifications. After the actual design part, we move to the next step, which is getting feedback.

Fuel the Logo Design with Feedback

stages of logo design 4

Constructive criticisms are crucial in any process, particularly those with results that depend on customer preferences. If the earlier steps were closely followed, then there isn’t really any expected issue with our concept. If we still have to change something, then it should at least be a minor issue and both parties may expect the project to end soon. But if designers did not receive any feedback, and clients are not that happy at all upon submission of work, then more challenges are expected. This is why constant communication and feedback are needed to avoid frustrations and unnecessary difficulties. It’s also good to remember that there is no standard length of time for a designer and client to agree on the final output.

A Logo is born

stages of logo design 5

After much negotiation, planning, and designing during the previous stages, both designer and clients will now have reached a point where just a final approval is needed. The last step is checking the brief for the customer to see if the expected deliverables are there. During this stage, the customers and designers will decide on how to end a contract, if any, and to resolve the technicalities in putting on record the completion of the project. It is during this part when the both parties’ working relationship is done. The whole project experience now becomes a valuable factor in determining if clients and designers will continue to engage in future projects.

epic-logo-design-sketch

An epic logo design story that I simply HAVE to share

By | Design, logo design | No Comments

I’m a logo designer; so designing logos is kind of my thing. I’ve been doing it for a REALLY long time now. I’ve probably designed at least 300 logos over the course of my life. Some were bad. Most, I think… we’re pretty good. If you too happen to be a graphic designer, you will probably agree that, of all the graphic design projects, one can take on, a logo is undoubtedly the toughest. Nonetheless, I would say that roughly 90 percent of the logo design projects we take on here at 90DD go pretty smoothly, resulting in the client being thrilled with the final product, and moreover, eager to do more business with us. However, every once in a “blue moon,” I have an experience that makes me run home, shoving my laptop screen in my husband’s face, and with extreme desperation in my voice, ask him: “Do I secretly just suck at this? Has everyone just been lying to me? Am I being punked?” I recently had one of those experiences. And I absolutely CAN’T NOT share this story. It’s too incredible to keep to myself.

A man, we will call him, Rusty, came to us, requesting a logo design for his cloud-based hosting consulting business, which we will call, “Company X.” Here were some descriptors he used in his Creative Brief: clean, modern, cutting edge. He also said he wanted “something that would look good on an employee ID badge.” He provided an example of logo which he really liked a lot: the fairly well-known Matias Security logo (of course, who wouldn’t love that logo, right?) For those who aren’t familiar with it, I’ve included a sample below:

Armed with what I felt was pretty good insight into what would be the right look in a logo for his business, I went to work creating three design concepts which I, and the rest of my design team, thought were pretty good (unless of course, they’re all lying to me – they’re in on it too!!). Below are the three preliminary designs I presented to him.

The next day Rusty returns an email to tell me that none of the designs really appealed to him. He said he was looking for something more imaginative and less expected – why, everyone that’s in a related industry uses clouds and nodes and power buttons in their logo. While I happen to disagree that “EVERYONE” is applicable here, I thought to myself, “Why yes; perhaps some do. It’s because those imagery elements make visual sense to the audience or end user and communicate clearly and quickly what the business does. And that, is what a good logo SHOULD do!”

Nonetheless, I’m a pleaser. I wanted him to be happy with the final product. So I told him that since he had purchased our lowest tier package, and since my vision for what would be best for his business wasn’t in line with his, the next step would be to provide me with some samples of logo designs that he did like. I would then do one final design concept based what he felt was the right “look” for Company X. He agreed and said he would get back to me.

A few weeks went by before finally hearing again from Rusty. Here’s what he said:

“Hi Julie,

Finally we have a touchdown. I have attached the photo that I would like rendered via Illustrator for Company X.

Sorry for the delay.”

Excited at the prospect of both seeing his vision for the logo and for being able to complete the project to his satisfaction, I eagerly downloaded and opened the file attached.  To my dismay, the photo that he sent me was a rough pencil sketch of woman’s face.  Mind you, this will be logo for an IT Solutions and Support Company.  So naturally, I assumed he had sent me the wrong image by mistake.  Surely he could not want this for his company logo.  It has absolutely no relevance to this field whatsoever.

So I replied back to Rusty asking him to please resend the logo idea, naturally assuming that he had attached this file by mistake.

He replied, “That is the correct image.”

I can only assume that Rusty decided that if he couldn’t get a completed vector logo for his business for the package he purchased, he would at least try to get a vectorized version of this pencil sketch.  We politely let him know that this was outside the scope of a logo design and thus, not covered within the confines of the package he purchased.  We never heard from Rusty again.

Now that we have grown to be a pretty busy design firm, we are definitely encountering a really wide gamut of experiences and an equally wide range of tastes and personalities.  Most of the time, when we have an experience such as this, we just quietly enjoy the quirkiness of it amongst ourselves, always sending out gratitude to Universe for having made our day just a little more interesting.  However, in this particular case, I felt I had to share.  If you’ve had a really beyond the pale, quirky design project experience, won’t you please share it in the comments section of this page?  Thanks for reading!

moving wordpress website

Moving a WordPress Website

By | Design | No Comments
 How to painlessly move WordPress from a  Subfolder to Root Folder or From One URL to Another

WordPress is probably, hands-down, the easiest Content Management System available today for building your website.  However, one of the trickier aspects of managing a WordPress website comes to light, should you ever need to move it from one folder to another or from a subfolder on your web hosting server to the main root folder.

One common scenario where this might come up would be if you wanted to build your new WordPress website in a subfolder while keeping your current website live in the main root public/html folder.

Example 1:  www.yourdomain.com/wordpress/ to www.yourdomain.com

Another scenario would be if you’re changing your website domain URL entirely from one domain to another.  Whereas, we demo many of websites on our dedicated development server.   However, when we need to move the site to go live, the domain will need to be that of the new website.

Example 2:   http://90ddev.com/name_of_website to  http://name_of_website.com.

Before I start giving you the blow-by-blow process, the absolute fastest, easiest and hands-down, BEST way to move your website website is to use BackUp Buddy.  However, this is a paid plugin, albeit very much worth the money!

With other website building environments, it’s an entirely acceptable – and relatively easy – solution to use your .htaccess file to simply redirect your website’s domain to the subfolder and hide the subfolder in the URL path. Due to the way it generates it’s URL structures, WordPress does not like redirects.  So save yourself the grief and do not attempt this with a WordPress website.

It’s easy and logical enough to assume, if you’re a WordPress newbie, that it will work just fine to move the site files from the subfolder right into public_html folder and things will work just fine.  If you’ve already tried this, you probably found your website broken and were unable to access the WordPress admin.  This is because you have not changed the “Site” and “Home” URL’s.  This can be done in the WordPress admin just BEFORE you make the move – and I say just before because it will break your site until you move it to the main folder.  However, I save this for a later step in the process because I know I’m going to be searching and replacing all my URL paths anyway, so these will get changed in the process.

This relatively fool-proof, step-by-step process works well for both scenarios with minimal headaches and no additional plugins needed.

IMPORTANT:  If you’re not moving the site from one host or server to another, and simply need to move the files from one folder to the main root folder, please see skip to step 2.a.

Step 1:  Archive Your Website Files

The best way to do this is via cPanel or whatever website hosting panel your web host offers (they all have some sort of management portal).  Once logged in the your hosting panel, locate the File Manager, which will open a window from which you can browse to find the directory in which the site files you will be moving currently resides.  Click on the folder and look for a link (usually located around to the top of the window) that says something like, “Compress” or “Archive.”  Name your archive something like your_site.zip.  This will package and compress all the files so they’re easier and faster to download.

Step 2:  Download Your Website Files & Upload them to the New Location

Once you have a .zip archive of your site files, you’ll need to download the zip file to your computer and keep it in safe place for a backup.  Then you’ll want to head over to the new server location and upload the zip archive of your site files into the public_html directory.

Step 2.a – If you are simply moving the site from one directory to another on the same server, then you only need to select all the site files and move them to the public_html or root folder.  You can do this in the file browser of your hosting cPanel or via FTP.  Most FTP clients have some sort of “MOVE” or “MOVE TO PARENT DIRECTORY” option that will make this very easy.

Step 3 – Download a copy of your mySQL database

The second component other than the site files that you need to move is the website database. Once again, you should only need to do this step if you are moving the site from one server to another. To grab a copy of your database, once again start from the cPanel dashboard of your website host.  Look for a link or icon that says, “PhpMyAdmin.”  Click that link to open PhpMyAdmin.  PhpMyAdmin is a handy WYSIWYG tool for administering your MySQL database.  It only looks intimidating.  Don’t worry; you’re just going to do about three clicks here and then get out.  First, turn your eye to the left hand side of the window just under the PhpMyAdmin logo.  Click on the title of your database.  You may to expand the plus signs if you have multiple databases in your hosting account.  You’ll need to make sure you’re clicking on the correct database (Totally ignore the links that say “Information Schema” – those are immaterial to your mission).   Once you’ve clicked on your WordPress website’s database, turn your to the right of the page and look for a tab entitled, “EXPORT” and click it.  This will open the Export window.  Depending on what version of PhpMyAdmin your host is using, you may be given the option to check a box that says “Save as file.”  If you see this, check it.  If not, simply click “GO.”  This will start a download of the .sql file.  Make note of where that file went when it downloaded, because you’ll need it in just a few minutes. Store a copy of this file somewhere safe for backup purposes.

Step 4 – Download a copy of Search and Replace Database

One the handiest tools out there, this simple, free script has made my life so much easier, and God bless the person who wrote it, it’s FREE.  So you’re just going to download this, unzip it and copy it over to the folder in which your current WordPress website resides.  Because WordPress makes gratuitous use of absolute URL paths, you are going to need to search ALL the old URLs and replace them with new paths.  Otherwise, you’re going to have a whole lot of broken links and image paths once you’ve moved your website files.  When the Search and Replace Database folder has finished uploading, navigate to that folder in your browser window:

Example:  www.yourmainsite.com/wordpress/Search-Replace-DB-master

If you’ve uploaded the folder and entered in the URL correctly you will see a red and white interface that has two fields at the very top of the page for searching for one string (or URL in this case) and replacing it with another.  You will want to be very accurate with what you type in here. Your inputs here will look something like this:

Search for:  http://www.yourwebsite.com/wordpress/   Replace With:  http://www.yourwebsite.com/

Now repeat this step but leave out the trailing “/”:

Search for:  http://www.yourwebsite.com/wordpress   Replace With:  http://www.yourwebsite.com

Step 5 – Repeat Step 3 – Download a copy of your mySQL database

Just repeat step 3 again to download the new copy of your database.

If you’re simply moving your site from a subdirectory, you’re almost done!  You should be able to access your new site admin at the new URL:  http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin

Login to the admin and go to Settings>Permalinks and just re-save your permalinks.  This will initiate WordPress to rewrite all the permalinks with the new information.  If you’re moving from one server to another proceed on to step 6.

Step 6 – Repeat Step 3 – Download a copy of your mySQL database

Just repeat step 3 again to download the new copy of your database.

Step 7 – Create a new database on new server*

From the hosting panel or cPanel, login and navigate to a link which is called something like mySQL databases.  Click it and then click “Create a New Database.”  Choose a name for the database.  You’ll then need to create a user and password for the new database, so go back and click, “Create new user”.  Choose a user name and password.  IMPORTANT STEP – You’ll then need to ADD that user you just created to the database.  You’ll see a couple of drop-down menus in the database admin page which allows you to choose a database (your new one) and then choose a user to assign to that database.  Choose the user you just created and click “ADD.”  The next screen will give you a page with lots of checkboxes for assigning privileges to the new user.  Make sure you click “All Privileges”.

*Your process for doing this may vary slightly depending on what hosting panel you are using.  These instructions were written based on cPanel.

Step 8 – Import your database

Once again, go back to the cPanel and launch phpMyadmin for your newly created and currently empty database.  Click on that empty database on the left and then click “Import” tab over to the right.  Use the “browse” button to browse your computer to locate the most recent .sql file you downloaded (the one you downloaded after you made the find and replace changes).  Import that file.  When it finishes, you should be done with phpMyadmin.

Step 9 – Update your wp-config.php file

Either via the File Manager browser or via FTP locate and open the wp-config.php file in the root of your WordPress site.  Update that file with your new database information, making sure to use the correct database, username and password as well as the correct hosting server path (usually localhost).

Step 10 – Re-save your permalinks

Just as described in step 5, you should now login to the WordPress admin and go to Settings>Permalinks and just re-save your permalinks.

Step 11 – Delete the Search and Replace Folder

Be sure to delete that Search and Replace Database folder from your site files.  You don’t want to leave that out on the interweb for anyone to access your database!

That’s it!  You’re done.

Synergy Spa Case Study

Raleigh Web Design Case Studies

By | Design | No Comments

Case Study 1:  Synergy Spa and Aesthetics
For Dave and Anna Churchill of Synergy Spa and Aesthetics, the thought of facing a website re-design amidst an ambitious expansion project was anything but relaxing. With the addition of a whole new line of med aesthetics services, they knew they needed to step up their online presence as well as their overall branding to a level that was more inline with their progressively growing business. A completely custom website design solution that adhered to a very specific look and feel that went beautifully with their clean, modern design aesthetic was just the ticket. Now one year after their website design is complete, their business is going strong as are complements on their new website.

Stuart Auto Paint and Dent Case StudyCase Study 2: Stuart Auto Paint
Wayne had tried building his new business website in the notoriously clunky and complicated online Website Builder system. After discovering the many ways it did not live up to all the advertisements promised and seeing that his website was still difficult to find on search engines even with their “search engine optimization” add-on package, he decided to turn to professionals. A very user-friendly template-based solution served him well in staying within budget and giving him a web presence that appears much more costly that it actually was. Just one month later, Wayne’s business is the top search return for several of his target keywords, easily eclipses all his competition in design and function and produces a steady stream of web-based leads.

Carolina Players Tour Case StudyCase Study 3:  Carolina Players Tour
After receiving a quote of over $15,000 and $120 per month to build and maintain the website for the newly established mini-pro tour, the Carolina Players Tour thought it wise to shop around. We were able to deliver all the essentials they needed to launch their first tour year online at a fraction of that initial quote. Some of the features included in their final website deliverables were online management and reporting of players’ scores and earnings and online tournament registration for players.

Need help with your business website or interested in learning more about our web design services? Contact the web designers at 90 Degree Design in Raleigh, NC at 919-521-4887 or request a quote.

How Much Does SEO Cost

How Much Does SEO Cost?

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How Much Does SEO Cost

The second question we most often hear after, “How much will my website cost?” is usually, “How much does SEO Cost?”  Naturally, our clients want a great looking website and they want to occupy a coveted 1 – 3 ranking position in the search engine ranking positions (or “SERPs”) for their desired keyword or keyword phrase.

Of course, the websites that occupy those 1 – 3 positions don’t want give up that spot!  After all, they probably paid a significant sum of money to get there organically, and if they didn’t, they almost certainly invested a great amount of time and effort to achieve that position.  So, with the recent changes that Google has put in place to to ensure that organic rankings remain just that – organic and not manipulated – how does one approach the now very different business of search engine optimization? And more to the point:  How much does it cost? Well, there is no simple answer to this question.  This is because the whole point of organic rankings is to produce results for the user that were not purchased by the highest bidder, but are the truest, most accurate and most relevant results for the users key term.  As citizens of the search world, don’t we deserve that?

SEO today is a very different animal than it was a few years ago.  Until a few years back, it was possible to achieve great results by manipulating search engine algorithms and basically tricking them into thinking that your website is way more popular and full of great content than it actually is.  The methods for doing this have changed over the years, and I won’t get into this too much because that’s an article for another day.

In today’s post Penguin and Panda search world, Google now expects the sites they present as the top sites to be truly deserving of that position; to have the most, GOOD (and I stress good), relevant AND interesting content.

So How Much Does SEO Cost, Really?

Where am I going with all this, because after all you wanted to know how much SEO costs, not why rankings can no longer be “bought” so-to-speak.  Well, unlike the token animals that heralded in the big changes, the answer to this question is not black and white.  When pricing out SEO, the questions to ask are: How much work will be needed on the website itself to make it’s content rich and interesting with the optimum keyword density?  How many hours will need to be spent promoting the website naturally through other reputable online sources (high page-ranking sites)?  Will it require a lot of content building (writing good articles or ebooks, building infographics, videos, etc. on-site or off-site)?  These are just a few factors that add up to how much time it will take to build up your Internet presence into being the one that deserves that coveted spot.  Even if you don’t know what an infographic is or how to make a great viral video for the web, it still sounds like it might be a lot of work to get to be number one, doesn’t it?

So, with all of these things said, I’ll give you the ballpark numbers, as I know them. For a locally targeted organic search campaign to be successful, you will need to budget around $400 – $600 per month for at least 6 months.  Most nationally targeted campaigns should most likely fall within the range of $600 – $1,000 per month, depending heavily on the target key terms and the how competitive they may or may not be.  Why 6 months?  Any less time and you are not truly giving your key terms a chance to find their place within in the SERPs.

Why does SEO cost so much?

As I’ve tried to lay out here in this article, SEO is a lot of work; plain and simple.  The good news is there are many useful books, ebooks and other resources out there that have wonderful information about how to do it yourself.  Also, content management systems like WordPress have excellent plugins that make it easy implement your on-site optimization.  Additionally, there are sites like moz.com that are full of incredibly helpful, rich tools for doing SEO yourself.  It’s relatively easy to learn how to use such free resources like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for tracking your site’s traffic and search behaviors, etc.  If you’re willing to put the time and effort you can save yourself this expense and be pretty successful with your do-it-yourself SEO campaign.  It’s just a question of what your time is worth to you and how hard you want to work.

Be Positive! How a Good Attitude Can Affect Your Marketing

By | Design | No Comments

happier than a bird with a french frye

Have you ever noticed that, when it comes to business, successful people usually have some very common characteristics?  They’re usually cheerful, pleasant and have that tireless, “Always look on the bright side” mindset.  Well the similar characteristics can make all the difference when it comes to your business marketing.

Here are a five positively charged elements you can infuse into your business communications to inspire consumers to want to engage with you.

Humor
Laughter is a powerful tool!  A good chuckle releases endorphins and creates a positive response in the consumer’s mind surrounding the thought of your product or service.

Sincerity
A decade or so ago, the trend in marketing copywriting was to do what I describe as “dazzling the reader” with complicated, verbose literature that is filled with big, “impressive” words and fancy techno lingo.  Trust me!  These days, this is exact right way to completely wall your business off from the consumer.  Today’s consumer wants genuine, succinct communication.  In other words, “cut the crap.”   When conceptualizing your marketing communications, try to reach deep and show your business’s human side!

Great Design
If you don’t think great design makes a difference on way or the other, just look at Apple!  It’s human nature to want to look at things are both functional, but visually pleasing.  Whether they realize it or not, consumers respond positively to branding the presents a look that satisfies their innate desire for beauty, balance and visual organization.

Be Evocative
Ever noticed how the very best, most memorable ads go beyond selling a service and really sort of, “touch your heart?”  If you can access the viewer’s emotional response system, you have opened the door for your message to be received – AND remembered.

Be Positive
It’s been proven time and again that the law of attraction is very real.  If you’ve carefully crafted all your advertising efforts and they’re all in place, then the next step is fully expect your phones to begin ringing (or whatever occurrence means prosperity to you).

Be Kind Operate with Integrity
Another business edict that’s “SO YESTERDAY” is operating under the “It’s all fair in love, war and business,” mentality.  We learned this in kindergarten and it’s still true as adults in the business world:  Be nice, kind and fair and treat people – all people – the way you would like to be treated.  It’s simple; and it WILL help you grow your business!

How to Avoid a PR Nightmare When Using Social for Customer Service

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Even though major social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, were once only used by businesses for internet marketing, the lines between their roles as business tools continue to blur and both platforms are now being used for customer service. This week Applebee’s has been a hot topic in social media news due to their overnight social media meltdown over a multi-chapter saga between a pastor, a waitress, and the restaurant. The result was a huge response from angry customers who took to Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustrations over the poorly handled situation.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid bad situation when using social media for customer service.

Add social media guidelines to employee handbooks and go over them with your whole team. Having a social media response plan in writing for your team to reference will be helpful when a negative or overly dramatic posting situation arises. Remind your team members who have access to your social media accounts that they should refer to the guidelines often. Begin responding to comments by thanking the customer for the opportunity to fix the problem and let them know that you are there to help. Do not make the mistake of taking comments personally and responding defensively at the risk of starting an argument in a very public space. Finally, if possible, show them proof that the issue has been fixed.

Respond quickly, but keep it to normal business hours. When customers take the time to post a comment or question, they expect a same-day response. Some companies attempt to respond within an hour, but a 12 hour window is acceptable. A timely response shows that you value your customer’s time and input. That being said, posting replies to individual comments during the wee hours of the early morning makes your replies look desperate and reflects poorly on your team.

Take the conversation out of the public eye. Even though the communication channels between companies and customers that have been opened due to social media can be very helpful, they are not always the best. Don’t hesitate to use a private Facebook message or Twitter direct message, to preserve their privacy) and then contact them directly through email or a phone call. This will not only make a positive impression on your customer by showing them that you are willing to designate time to personally assist them, but it will also keep their fury away from the public area, where a fire could potentially grow.

Here is what we hope you take from all of this: social media can be your best communication tool or your worst enemy. Prepare your team to handle social media challenges, respond to comments quickly, and know when it is time to continue the conversation offline. If you keep these tips in mind, your customer service team shouldn’t break a sweat when dealing with negative comments or complaints on Facebook or Twitter.

Looking for help with your social media marketing campaign? Check out our our social media page for more information about the services that we offer and connect with us via Facebook or Twitter.

Why doesn't my website show up when I search for my keywords on Google?

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“Why doesn’t my website show up when I search for my keywords on Google?”

This is a common question that we get from every one of our current and potential SEO clients. Clients who have had websites up and running for a few months, quickly start to wonder why theirs isn’t visible on the first, second or even third page of their favorite search engine’s results. Most clients cannot understand why this happens and they immediately turn to us for answers.

Achieving a “good ranking” is not just strictly reserved for the very first listing, but generally considered as showing up on the first page or in the top 20 listed results. The research shows that the first two pages (not just the first result) get the clicks. Being realistic and remembering that your website is competing against millions of other sites may be the first step to overcoming search engine stress. Here are a few reasons why your website might not be achieving search engine glory.

1. You’re Not Connecting
Making connections and getting links to your website is very important to Google’s master search algorithm (aka the top secret mathematical equation that Google uses). This is how it goes – Google’s web savvy search engine spiders travel all around the internet in search of unindexed websites. Once they find yours they will then start to count how many other websites link directly to your website. These are called inbound links or backlinks. The higher that number is, the happier the spiders are and consequently your website will rank higher in the search results.

Don’t be fooled, building a list of inbound links isn’t easy. Search engines are specifically looking for relevant links, which means links that are fed into link farms and spammy link directories are not going to help you here. This means that you need to have a well built website with content that your clients and community will want to share. Take the time to connect with your target community, related business, and industry leaders. If they link to your website via their content articles, company blogs, or social media platforms, your rankings will go up. Here is an example where baker-turned-blogger Deb Perelamn created original content for a post on A Bullseye View, the Target blog, which included a buckling to her website, which no doubt spiked her rankings. There are many, many ways to achieve strategy, but that is for another post.

2. Keywords are Missing from Your Content
If you begin with a well constructed, flash-free, optimized website that has copy with your keywords built in, then you are already miles ahead of the pack from the start. If your keywords are unrelated to the text that appears on all of the pages of your website, then the Google spiders will get confused and run in the opposite direction. In contrast, if you spend time creating a list of specific keywords and then integrate those keywords into your copy in a meaningful way, then you have a solid form of SEO gold. Clients who are glued to their keywords, but don’t see why those words should appear in their body copy are almost guaranteed to rank in last place.

3. It Takes Time
Remember that the Internet is HUGE. It is reasonable to expect search engines take a few weeks or even months to index brand new or updated websites. Watching the pot of water will not make it boil faster. Be patient and focus your attention where it will be most useful to growing your business.

By keeping these three points in mind, being patient and staying up-to-date with the latest SEO research, hopefully you will see your website on the first page of Google search results soon.

Need quality SEO services? We would be happy to help! Check out our SEO services page to learn more.