Branding Elements You Shouldn’t Ignore

Branding Elements You Shouldn’t Ignore

Take a minute and think about the brands that just come to mind.  Some that I always go back to are Target, Nike, Starbucks and Patagonia.  They are brands that are easily recognizable and when seeing their marketing you know who it is instantly.

I also think back to the days when my kids weren’t reading yet.  But we’d be driving around and they’d be pointing out the restaurants we were driving by.  They couldn’t read but yet they could recognize brands like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc.  This is all about branding!

So my question to you is, have you thought about your branding elements recently? Well – fear not, we’ll walk you through the different elements to consider in your branding, and how to execute them.

Logo

I’m sure if you have an existing business, then you have an existing logo.  Have you thought about the different ways you use your logo?

  • Website
  • Business cards/letterhead
  • Social media images
  • Merchandise
  • Favicon – the image that shows up on the tabs in your web browser

Have you thought about the different variations of your logo that you might need for all these uses?

For example, we have a horizontal and vertical version of our logo as well as just the H & E.

Formalize Colors

 Do you have colors that you use consistently on your marketing materials?  This is a great way for people to recognize your materials across different outlets.

If you don’t have colors, there are some great tools you can use to pull colors from your logo!

You know we love Canva for design work, but did you know they have a color generator as well?

All you have to do is upload your logo and they’ll automatically give you colors from your image.  Amazing right!

Then, if you have a Canva account, you can take those colors and save them in your profile so you have them easily accessible for your marketing needs.  Your website platform should also have a place you can save these for easy access.

Use the Same Fonts

Most brands have two different kinds of fonts.  One that is used for print and one that’s used digitally.  Why?  Well, you want to make sure the fonts you use online are easily readable by your customers and also the search engine robots.

So, your logo may have been designed and be a font that’s custom for you, and that’s great.  If you’re just starting out – having a font that works in both places can be easier, but not necessary.

The best place to start researching fonts is through Google Fonts. This gives you a ton of different options for your brand.

You’ll want to pick around two different fonts.  One that is for header usage and one that’s a body font.  We use Satisfy or Roboto for header fonts, and Source Sans Pro for our body font.

Once you’ve settled on fonts, then save them to your website for easy access, as well as Canva for your graphic work.

Define your Language

How you speak to your customers is important.  And this all starts with your ideal customer and your industry.

If you are in a regulated industry (healthcare, legal, finance, etc) then you definitely will have guidelines for what you can and cannot say.  Please make sure you are aware of the legalize you need to be aware of.

If you’re not in one of those industries, then think about how you want to talk to your customers.

I prefer to be conversational in my language and talk directly to you.  

Your language should be consistent across all channels.  This includes email marketing, social media, blog posts, podcasts, video, etc.

Build out your Graphics

Now that you have fonts, colors and language lined out, create core graphics for your media.

Check out our blog post on batching content – it includes ideas for broadcast strategies.

I have graphic templates in Canva for:

  • presentations
  • motivation monday quotes
  • fact Friday social posts
  • workbooks
  • Instagram stories

Then, all I have to do is go in and copy the graphic and reuse it over and over again.  

Conclusion

Branding can seem overwhelming when you think about it.  But by taking a little bit of time to pull it all together, you’ll really set yourself up to create consistency in your company, make it easier to get work done.

I would love to see your branding elements!  Share them with us on Facebook so we can see what you’ve created!

Monthly Website Checklist

Monthly Website Checklist

Your website is done and beautiful and you feel so good to have it up and running.  But are you aware of what you should be doing monthly to maintain it and drive traffic and engagement?

We have a simple website maintenance checklist that you can use to make sure that your website stays up and running and keeps customers coming back for more!  This article is definitely for WordPress users as that’s what we use and build for our clients.  If you want to know more about why we love WordPress be sure to check out our blog post about it.

And make sure you download the checklist to remind you every month what to do.

#1 Update your Plugins and WordPress Software

At least once a month, you should be checking in on the plugins you have on your website.  Things change rapidly and WordPress and other third-party plugins are making updates all the time.  Having the most up to date plugins will keep your website running smoothly.

It is important that the plugins you use are trusted and updated regularly for the security and functionality of your website.  The image below shows where to look to see the information you should be looking at.

# 2 Review your Analytics

You want to make sure your website is doing what it needs to do to support your business.  Monthly, make sure you review your Google Analytics dashboard.

If you have the Monster Insights plugin, then you can access your analytics right from your website dashboard.

What do you want to look for?  Well, take a look at your business goals and see if you analytics align.  Some things to look for:

  • What location are your visitors coming from?  If you have a local business then make sure they are coming from the right area.  If you’re national or international, still take a look and see if the traffic is in line with your paying customers.
  • What pages are they landing on? Are you pushing a particular product or service, do you want to see if your recent blog post is getting traffic?  This area will show you what pages are most popular.
  • Spikes in your traffic. You’re probably marketing in several different places.  So pay attention to spikes in your web traffic.  Does it coincide with a really popular social post or blog post?  Did you have a guest blog on someone else’s site and they are sending traffic your way?
  • Where are the referrals coming from?  Referrals are other websites that are sending traffic to your website.  Knowing what websites are sending traffic your way can help you build more relationships and also get ideas about other audiences you might want to target with advertising.

#3 Create Content Regularly

Now I get this more than anything else, do I really need a blog?  And do they really need to be 600 – 1,000 words?  Do people really care?  And I should post weekly?

YES!!!!!

If you’re thinking you don’t have time to create content on a regular basis, check out our blog post on 4 Simple Steps to Batch Content.

Creating regular content does several things.

For your customers, it gives you a reason to start a conversation and bring them back to your website to learn more about your products and services.  It also builds you as an expert in your field.  Finally, regular content helps you build out and fill your social media postings and gives you the stuff to share to your email list.

For search engines, it shows your website is active and lets them know more about what your website is about.  Now, I want you to produce the content you feel most comfortable with, but blogging is really king when it comes to building your web presence for search engines.

#4 Review Your Calls to Action and Events

It’s always good to review your events page for your website.  Do you have your upcoming events listed?  Have you removed outdated information?  I bet you’re keeping track of them on your social channels, but maybe not on your website.  Make sure this is being reviewed.

Same goes for your call to action.  I love using Divi bar on my website for email sign-ups, event promotion or just to get people to know what I want them to know FIRST!  But that means I have to keep them updated on what’s happening NOW.   Be relevant in your call-to-action and ensure that it’s in line with where you are in your business.

Do you need to be advertising a holiday special?  Is there a new product launching and you have a discount available?  Make sure that people know what action they should be taking and that it’s timely for what’s happening in your business now.

#5 Check for Broken Links

Broken links are when you click on a link and get a 404 message that the page doesn’t exist.  Fixing broken links is important for the customer experience, but also for your search engine rankings.

There are several free tools that you can use to see if you have broken links.  We like Broken Link Checker.  Running this report monthly is a great habit to get into.  It’s not just linked inside your website, but as other websites change their links, you want to make sure your external links are still valid.

Conclusion

And there it is, 4 simple steps to batching content to ensure the quality and consistency you need, without taking too much time!

I can’t wait to hear about how you batch your content and what your broadcast strategy looks like!

Share this article to your favorite social media outlet, and let everyone know what your batching looks like!

Conclusion

By maintaining your website regularly, instead of just ignoring your website, you’ll ensure that it stays clean, bug-free and continues to grow in the eyes of Google.  Make sure you download the free checklist and keep it on your desk, or in your planner, so you can visit it monthly.

How a Membership Program can Scale your Business

How a Membership Program can Scale your Business

Generating an opportunity for your business to create recurring income can be a great way to help grow your business.  Think about it, what if you knew you had your customers coming back every month and paying for your services.  There are so many membership opportunities for your business – it’s all about thinking outside the box and providing an experience your customers can’t live without!  It can also be a great way to incorporate your social media strategy and engagement in your business or dive traffic regularly to your physical location.

Let’s run through some examples.

Subscription Boxes

There are subscription boxes for EVERYTHING.  From makeup to meal prep to books business leaders should read.  Who doesn’t love to get a fun box in the mail once a week, month or even a quarter with great products they should try.  It’s better than only getting credit card offers and bills, right!?

The great thing about these is it generates income for you regularly but also gives your business an opportunity to upsell.  Here’s an example of how it could work in your marketing plan.  We’ll use skincare products as a generic example.

Step 1: Send out the boxes quarterly to all your customers with 5-7 samples of skincare products your business sells
Step 2: Over the course of the quarter, go Live on Facebook or do a series of Instagram stories showing how to demo the product and best ways to use them.
Step 3: Write blog posts detailing how to use them, or get the videos you created transcribed and post on your blog.
Step 4: Send out emails with links to your website where they can find the blogs.  Be sure to ask for reviews on the product in the emails.
Step 5: Run limited time offers for them to purchase the full-size versions of the product.

So as you can see, by creating the subscription box, you’ve also generated the featured product and stories that you need for your blog, social media and email communications with your customers!

This is also a great way to work with brands you carry in your store to build a relationship and leverage each other’s social channels.  Ipsy makeup bags do a great job of this.  Check out there website and social channels to see how they leverage all their products and upsell clients.

Build a Loyalty Program

Some examples of this you might take a look at the Barne’s and Noble subscription or Amazon prime.  You pay an annual fee to get discounts on products (or free shipping) in the future.

Think about what opportunities you have in your business to provide value to your customers.  Maybe it’s double points if you already have a point system.  It could be 10% off the product of your choice each month or a discount on every purchase.

Spas are successful with these.  They offer a monthly fee to their clients and with that, they get one service each month.  Additional features include a discount on a featured product that month or a limited number of extra services.  Some even include the opportunity to give a discount to a friend – bringing more people in the door.

VIP Program 

Once you have a program that is running well it might be time to increase your packages and add a VIP level for your best customers.  The sky is the limit here and you are only limited by your own creativity.  Insert the personality of your business and create an amazing experience for your VIPs.

Let’s go back to the makeup example.  Maybe VIPs get an extra product in their boxes.  Maybe monthly there is a product that is available only to them at a discount. It could be separate emails to them with videos straight from the founder of the product or special Q&A sessions.  Whatever would be enticing to your audience.

With the spa example – you might offer a free upgrade to a service each month.  Or a special event quarterly at your location where they can sample additional products.

Create a Membership Site with Behind the Scenes Goodies

Customers feel special when they have access to things that people don’t have.  Creating a special part of your website that only members can access creates a level of exclusivity.  It could also be a private Facebook group that you only get access to once you become a member. It is also a great way to educate your customers and create a loyal following.

Some examples include:

  • Behind the scenes information from the owner.
  • First access to new product.
  • Opportunity to give feedback or see items before they are completed.
  • More training on how to utilize the products/services.
  • Exclusive access to events.

At AH & E Marketing Solutions we have two membership programs that are educationally focused.  The Simple Group Coaching programs offer weekly training and a community for business owners wanting to learn more about Social Media or Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  While we provide free training, through our blog, email and Facebook live training, we go more in-depth and provide individualized solutions to those that are our members.

Conclusion

Creating memberships can be a great way to build loyalty with your customers, provide value and generate recurring income for your business.  It’s really a win for all parties involved.  These programs can be as unique as your business personality is.  Don’t be afraid to let it shine!

Why Does Your Website Need Ongoing Care

Why Does Your Website Need Ongoing Care

You just got your website completed and it’s looking wonderful.  You’re thinking, “Now my website will just run itself.”  That’s not entirely true.  Or maybe you’re thinking, “Why are they charging so much for hosting and domains, I can do it at [insert company] for much less money.”  While that’s true, standard hosting does not provide the same level of service and updating as website maintenance and care plans can provide.  So what are care plans?

In this post, we’re going to go through why you should have a care plan to help take care of your website.

 

Websites Don’t Run Themselves

Your website is a big, if not the main, selling tool for your business.  Monthly maintenance is imperative to ensure your website stays up to date, secure and doesn’t experience any downtime.  If you have visitors coming to your site and links don’t work or load time takes to long then you will lose them.

Beyond that, your business won’t stay the same forever.  As your business grows, so will the needs of your website.  You might need to add additional products, maybe eCommerce is now a necessity for you, photography might need to be updated, and on and on.  

 

The Benefits of Care and Maintenance

Your website performance, downtime, uptime, and load time are dependent on the software and plugins you use.  WordPress updates its software all the time, as well as plugins.  If you are doing simple hosting and not doing backups then these updates, or lack of updates, could negatively affect your website.

These issues are not only important for to create a great user experience, they are also important for SEO as they are ranking factors Google considers.  Staying on top of maintenance, along with monitoring analytics and generating new content are all important elements of your website growth.

Maintenance and care plans can also keep your website growing with the best practices and changes that Google and other search engines make.  

 

How we Help

H & E Marketing Solutions provides several solutions to business operating their websites on WordPress.  At the core of these products is off-site backups of your site.  This is extremely important as it allows us to get your website up and running quickly should anything happen.  We cannot control when WordPress makes updates, or how that affects the way your website functions.  What we do is minimize any effects that might have, and keep your website safe.

We manage the plugins that are on your site to ensure they are up to date.  If we built your website, we are also selective about the plugins used to ensure the safety of your site.  Plugins are updated monthly to minimize the impact on your website.

Security is extremely important so we are also monitoring the security of your site.  We have systems in place to avoid your site being hacked.

 

Why Can’t I Just Do it Myself?

Yes it is simple to just hit the “update” button on WordPress so why do you need someone to help you with it? 

Well, it’s more than just updating your plugins.  Do you know what to do if all of the sudden something isn’t playing nice and your website goes down?  Would you know what to do to get your website back up and running?  How much would that cost you if your website was down for a period of time, or worse, you lost all your content because it wasn’t backed up?

But our care plans are more than just that!  

 

It is More Expensive to Fix than Maintain

Yes, care plans are an additional monthly cost, and hopefully, you won’t need to utilize them to fix a broken site.  However, if you do not have monthly maintenance and something does go down, it is much more expensive to fix what broke.

Or, you may spend a lot of time and energy trying to fix it yourself.  Your time is valuable and much better spent working on your business than trying to fix your website.

Think about it this way, you wouldn’t wait until your car breaks down before you spend any money on it right?  Regular maintenance is key to its longevity, safety and performance.

 

Call in a Professional

H & E Marketing Solutions has experience in working with WordPress sites, hosting and domain registration.  We are up to date on the latest changes to Google and WordPress and bring that knowledge to your site to make sure it is the most competitive.

You are a business owner dealing with all sorts of things in your daily life.  Why add maintaining your website to that list? By securing an experienced web professional to update and maintain your site properly you are actually saving potential lost sales and visitors.

Learn more about our Website Care plans and contact us if you want to know more about how we can help your specific site.

Why We Use WordPress

Why We Use WordPress

New survey data from Netcraft shows that WordPress is now being used on nearly 30% of all websites out there. Can you believe that!  At H & E Marketing Solutions we build all our websites on WordPress.  When meeting with potential clients or when teaching classes we often get asked, “Why?”  Many people find the platform to be difficult to use or clunky – and it can be.  We want to share our top 8 reasons why we like WordPress and why we use it for all our clients.

Now before we move into why we over to why we love WordPress, we should clarify.  There are two different versions of WordPress, WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  With WordPress.org you own the website and the handle the hosting yourself.  With WordPress.com they manage the hosting for you and you have less flexibility with your customization.  We use WodPress.org for our clients and websites.

 

1. WordPress has longevity

So many companies come and go.  There are new tech companies started every day and many won’t be successful in the long term.  WordPress has been around since 2003 and has been downloaded more than 55 million times!  It is also an open source software, which means that anyone can update the source code and work on the software.  WordPress isn’t held by any one company so its chances of sticking around are much greater.  This also allows companies to create plugins and customize the site in new ways all the time.

 

2. It’s Free

To download WordPress basic themes on your website is free.  WordPress comes out with a new standard theme each year that you can utilize on your website.  If you need something more specific or sophisticated there are hundreds of thousands of themes that you can pay for to give you more options.  We personally love the Divi theme from Elegant Themes, and it is what we have used on this website.

 

3. Fully Customizable

According to the WordPress website, there are more than 45,000 plugins available to customize your website.  Now before you get overwhelmed, there are some standard plugins that you’ll use.  We’ll be writing a blog post on that shortly!  You can do anything you need to do with your website with plugins and it doesn’t require any coding.

Here is a great example!  The Waldorf School of Bend needed to have more menu items accessible to their visitors.  However, we didn’t want to make the main menu bar to messy with lots of drop downs.  The hamburger menu sits on the top right corner of the website and allows them to keep the most important things on this additional menu bar. The options are endless. You can create login pages for information only a few people should see, embed video easily, change your fonts and colors, and so much more!

4. Google Friendly

There are easy plugins you can use to allow Google to crawl your site nicely and manage your SEO, and they’re FREE!  Yoast is our favorite and one we use regularly.  It helps you manage your SEO keywords on each page and even gives you tips on what you can do to improve that page.  It also gives you easy access to your sitemap that you can upload to Google Search Console to ensure that you are getting the best results.  WordPress is also search engine friendly as a platform.

 

5. It is great for eCommerce

With so many integrations you can create a beautiful WordPress site that supports your eCommerce store.  If you sell digital downloads, memberships or physical products there are great options.  We use WooCommerce to power our website but other great options are Shopify and MemberPress depending on your offering.  With your shopping cart, you can also link to several different merchant service accounts to keep you processing the same if you have brick and mortar also.

 

6. It’s great for Membership Sites

If your product is selling memberships and providing digital information to them then this is a great option for you as well.  You can create areas where members need to log in in order to see certain pages and content.  Combining it with WooCommerce subscriptions allows you to take recurring payments to keep your business humming.  With your eCommerce and Membership sites, you can also link to your email client and collect emails for your automated email campaigns.

 

7. Themes are Responsive

No more worrying about if your website is mobile friendly.  The standard themes on WordPress are responsive, meaning designed to change size based on the device you are on.  Most premium themes you purchase these days are also responsive.  Divi gives us the option to toggle between tablet and phone versions on desktop to make sure the design elements we are using translate well on all devices.  It also lets us make some elements disabled and not show on mobile if they aren’t user-friendly on that device.

 

8. Easy to Use

Now its worth mentioning that setting up your website from scratch if you’re not a designer or tech-savvy isn’t completely easy on any platform.  However, with some basic skills, you can create a beautiful website with the standard themes that come with your WordPress site.  At H & E Marketing Solutions we provide training to all our clients on how to update their websites and where all their elements live.  Be sure to ask your developer to do the same for you if you’re using one.

 

In Conclusion

We love the functionality, ease of use and ability to customize WordPress and have built sites for several different types of business.  If you have any questions about if WordPress could work for you please let us know!  We’d love to answer them for you.  Get to desining and showcasing your amazing business.

Ready to Get to Work?

We would be happy to get you a quote for your project.  Whether you are starting from scratch or  just needing a refresh, we can help.  

Content is King

Content is King

You have heard the buzz word, “content.” Everyone says you need to have it, but what does that mean?

Content comes in a variety of forms; blog posts, video, social media graphics, infographics and more. Depending on the nature of your business and the goals you have different methods should be utilized.

So how do you go about figuring out what content is king for your brand? We will break it down for you by type of content.

1. Blog posts

Like this post here, blog posts are an excellent way to share information about your business. You can utilize them to talk more in-depth about products or services you provide, show the personality of the people involved in your business, share awards and media coverage that your business has received, educate people on topics that relate to your business, and so much more.

Blog posts are great at driving traffic to your website and directing your customer through your site to where you want them to go. By writing blog posts that are relevant to your consumer, you create new exciting reasons for them to keep coming back to your site to see what’s new. By sharing them on your social media – you are also creating content that can be utilized across several channels.

2. Video

There are so many ways to utilize video. Creating catalog videos for your website that showcase your product is an excellent way to give people a demo of your product. You might find this particularly useful if you have an eCommerce business.

Videos are being used more and more for social media engagement. Facebook Live has become an excellent way to interact with your customers and give them an inside look at what you do. It gives you an opportunity to talk live and answer questions immediately that your potential buyers might have.

You don’t have to be a master at video to be successful here. There are several tools out there that can turn your smartphone into a video camera. We like the iographer to assist with steading your hand. It can also hold attachments for a microphone or additional lens. Video editing software, like iMovie, can help with minor edits or adding intro and outro screens. The key is making sure you have a great image in the background and some great lighting.

3. Infographics

Infographics are an incredible visual experience that can quickly educate your client. Maybe you want to share the steps it takes to get a mortgage. Alternatively, perhaps its different yoga poses to alleviate back pain.

Infographics pair well alongside a blog post and can be very useful with Pinterest and Instagram accounts.

It is important to identify with all of these what the call to action(CTA) is. Do you want them to look for more information on your website? Is it a promotion in the store that you want them to see? Are you trying to sell a particular product in your store? Be sure to create the customer experience throughtout all the content you creat that is true to your brand.

Always remember, quality over quantity.

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