Websites and Branding

apple computer desk laptop

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your company’s online presence is a necessity for success. An understanding of online marketing is key to boosting your business. It all starts with your website.

 

A great website is created with an understanding that:

  • It needs to be functional and easy to use. If you can barely navigate your way through your website, chances are your customers can’t at all.
  • All content needs to be relevant and valuable to your customers. Don’t let your website become too dated or lacking fresh content. Keep up with it and reap the rewards.
  • Communication with your customers is key. Show them your portfolios or post customer success stories. Potential customers want to know they are signing up for a company that’s reliable and professional to their current customers.

 

Your company’s website also needs to be created with the idea of uniqueness in mind. Stand out and be bold. Ask yourself: What do your customers want to see when they see your website? How will they use and navigate through your site?

 

Make sure you maintain consistent branding throughout your online presence as well. If you don’t fully know what defines your brand, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What makes your company valuable to customers?
  • What is your company’s philosophy?
  • What sets you apart?
  • What kind of customers do you want to have?
  • How can you use your website to showcase your company’s abilities?

 

In order to effectively communicate to your customers, build up your website around your brand.

 

There is no one thing to have on a website to make it successful. Make your online presence unique and creative. Always convey your company’s abilities in the best light possible and remember it’s not just who your company is – but how your uniqueness can serve your customers the best.


LJF Marketing is a full-service marketing communications company that is fully equipped to help you create and enhance your company image. Since 1989, we have been developing innovative marketing strategies, graphics, web development and advertising campaigns to help companies like yours grow to exceed expectations.

 

Allow LJF Marketing to conceptualize IDEAS for your website. It’s our business to grow your business and we love what we do!

 

Visit http://www.ljfmarketing.com/web.htm to see examples of our satisfied client’s websites and more.

Putting “Public” Back in Public Relations

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When your public relations plan is considered, it’s important to recognize different facets of public relations – public speaking, press releases, social media and crisis management, to name a few. However, it is even more crucial to define your “public” before your company tries to relate to them. With your public in mind, your public relations strategy will yield greater results, because they will find the information you provide useful.

To have a complete profile of your public, you simply need to understand the following questions about your target market:

  • Who?:
    Who do you need to be targeting? Decide which demographics your ideal client falls within; if you already have your ideal clients, define their similarities, so you can gain more like them. Below is a list of several qualities to consider (don’t limit yourselves to only these, though):
    –  Age
    –  Gender
    –  Education level
    –  Field/business practice
    –  Cultural/ethnic background
  • What?:
    What are they interested in? What is their story? Given that you now have an idea of what type of business they own and what their background is, brainstorm what items of news likely appeal to them. If I target potential male clients with some form of post-graduate education that own B2B-focused businesses, the following news pieces would likely get their attention:
    –  A LinkedIn post for a business-related skill that can better them
    –  An article in their trade publication about what problem is solved by my company’s new product
    –  A presentation at a Chamber of Commerce on your personal insight into issues that affect the local market
  • When?:
    When do they read the media you are considering (if they read it at all)? Take our client from the previous example – do you think that client would be on Pinterest? Do you also think they will be likely to read something that is posted at midnight, or attend an event later in the evening? Probably not, so tailor when you send the info accordingly.
  • Where?:
    Where are they concentrated in? Suburbia? The big city? If you want to target the well-educated businessman, they could be concentrated in both geographic areas, which means you will need to tailor your message to specific issues affecting them.
  • Why?:
    Why do the do what they do/why are they motivated? Your messages need to tap into these factors. If you’re not apparently trying to help them fulfill their goals more effectively, the value in your PR efforts will be missed. Some  very common motivators are:
    –  Making more money
    –  Helping other people achieve success

Take the time to figure out who your public is and what makes them tick. Pick your media and your messages accordingly to leverage your public relations potential. Contact us if you would like some guidance through the process, or just need someone to implement the message.

You can get in touch through whichever means is best for you – like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn.

In House Vs. Agency Marketing – Which one is for you?

flat lay photography of macbook pro beside paper

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So your business has grown (or you’re just now starting!) and you’re in decision mode: In-House marketing or partnering with an agency/firm?

There are many positive factors to both. In-house marketing involves people who work directly for and exclusively with your company. It may consist of one person, or even a team that your company hires. As for an agency, they have specific expert employees who each usually specialize in different areas – public relations, digital marketing, graphic design, etc.

Both have qualities that can be very beneficial to your business. Here are some criteria that will help you choose which one might work the best for you.

Let’s look at their skillsets.

In-house marketing employees are paid to work for your business only. They understand your brand through and through due to direct training and are handpicked by your company. However, it’s difficult to find an in-house marketing person who is adept at all aspects of marketing.

Agency-wise, first you research and ask for referrals. They then need to be introduced to your business and brand and make sure they are the correct fit. For agencies, there are usually a good amount of multi-skilled employees who have worked in their respective fields, allowing for more diverse skillsets.

If only one marketing aspect needs to be managed, consider an in-house marketing team for your business. But for a company who plans on expanding or growing, marketing in only one aspect is rare so an agency might be a better fit.

Next, let’s look at the two from a creative perspective.

Some consider creativity to be in-house marketing’s downfall. There tends to be less creativity in a team that solely works for you and your brand. However in-house marketers do have a great understanding of how to combat your direct competitors.

As for an agency, they work with multiple clients that could be in very diverse areas. There is a lot of change and diversity creativity-wise that they have to produce. This exposure to different ideas can help generate creative ideas for your business.

Both can be useful for your business. If you find that your in-house team is in a rut, choose an agency. If you feel that you are confident in your in-house team, keep them on the project.

Then, let’s look at cost.

In-house marketing consists of marketing management that you hire. For example, consider the cost of salary when hiring one manager, or multiple marketing specialists full time. The cost of each campaign will depend entirely on your marketing needs. Crunch your numbers before making a decision.

It may seem less expensive to hire a single, on-hand employee for your marketing strategy, but expect a long hiring process, training, and guaranteeing that a person fits properly over a set period of time. Aside from salary, you will be budgeting for office space, benefits, computers, and programs they may need as well as training for those programs.

A marketing agency has a pre-set, and negotiable price in place when it comes to your campaigns. An agency pays for its own software, tools, tech, and training, which cuts any extra costs on your end. It may seem like more up front, but it might be less expensive for your business in the long run.

So which to choose?

Break down your goals and your needs to help you figure out whether to go with in-house marketing or a marketing agency.

If you’re still unsure about which path to take or just have questions about marketing agencies in general, ask us here at LJF Marketing! We have been serving our community for 30 years and are professionals when it comes to PR, Marketing, Advertising, Design, and more.

LJF Marketing is a full-service marketing communications company that is fully equipped since 1989 to help you create and enhance your company image. Through innovative marketing strategies, graphics, web development and advertising campaigns, your company can grow to exceed your ambitions.

 

Allow LJF Marketing to conceptualize IDEAS for your campaign. It’s our business to grow your business and we love what we do!

 

Essentials For A Well Stocked Sales Kit

Whether your ideal clients are large or small, consumers or businesses, a lasting impression is required to seal the deal. While you may think a Word doc printed on the company copier is a great tool for your sales team to use – think again. An equipped salesperson needs the added credibility of a professional looking company; quite frankly, a Word document won’t give them an edge.

 

Let’s look at it from another angle. How likely would you be to hire a candidate who didn’t wear a pressed suit or outfit to an interview, and then handed you a wrinkled resume to review? Of course, it’s highly unlikely they’d get the job.

 

A well-stocked sales kit is your company’s interview attire. It allows your salesperson to put their best foot forward.

 

Here’s what you need to button up your sales team before you even send them out.

 

Business Card – This is most essential component. It’s your salesperson’s best asset. Get business cards before you do anything else. Make sure to include all forms of contact – including all social media information.

Pocket Folder – Busy people often lose things. Make it easy for your clients to find all the information they need to know about you with a pocket folder.

Brochure – Repeat after me: I will not use Microsoft Word to create my brochure. A graphic designer will create a custom and unique brochure with room for a bio, list of products/services offered, contact info and anything else that’s important to you. Have it professionally printed. You’ll likely get more results if you take time to present your customers an informative and visually appealing representation of your company.

Case Studies – These go in your pocket folder, with your brochure. They are the evidence behind everything the salesperson is saying and are a useful reference during a meeting if there are specific questions. A client list may also be included.

Product Sell Sheets – Perfect to shed more light on your specific product offerings, inserts can be, well, inserted based on which products your client might be interested in. That is, they make it easy to give them the necessary information, but give you the flexibility to choose which products to spend time discussing. This way, there’s less of an overwhelming amount of information and more discussion.

Your Story – Connecting to your client is key to effective communication. Include the history behind your business, where the idea came from, or interesting details that make your story personal, relatable, and honest. This will help with helping your client feel more connected to you and your company.

 


 

LJF Marketing has in-house design capabilities and printing options, so please contact us if you’re interested in tailoring any of the above sales collateral to your company’s unique vision.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Meeting with LJF Marketing

LJF Marketing wants to get to know you and your company, and as an experienced full-service marketing company, understanding your company’s objective and branding from your perspective is key to success!

Before meeting with us one-on-one, review these questions and answer them to help you convey your thoughts to us so that we can help you as efficiently as possible.

  1. Why are you interested in advertising/marketing? Is it to:
    1. Generate sales
    2. Introduce new products/services
    3. Outreach to existing customers
    4. Learning/teaching
    5. Increase awareness of your company/product
  2. What is your message? What message do you want to communicate in the first 3 seconds a visitor sees your website/ad/brand?
  3. What will attract an audience to your company/products?
    1. Public relations in news/publicity
    2. Place-based promotion – events, displays, sponsor booths, other live presentations
    3. Giveaway item/offer that will draw attention to your company/brand/products
    4. Brand recognition of product/service
    5. Design and graphics
  4. What is the brand image you wish to project?
    1. Examples – Conservative, Leading Edge, Contemporary, High-tech, Progressive, High-style, Established Values, etc.
  5. Will you need one time only marketing or use it long term? If so, what intervals?
  6. What are your competitive advantages?
  7. What kind of venues for placement? Where specifically for each?
    1. Online?
    2. Newspaper?
    3. Magazine?
    4. TV/Radio?
    5. Outdoor?
    6. Email/Blog/Newsletter?
    7. Press release?
    8. Direct Mail?
    9. Social media

Answering these questions will help us to help your business grow and prosper!

We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you.

 

 

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922.

Brand Makeover

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You can Google or ask Siri anything these days.  Siri, how can I make my green eyes stand out?  What is the latest way to improve my golf swing? How can I enhance my company brand?

Often, many of those thoughts go on in the minds of business people. We worry about our own image as we get older, or how can we stay competitive on the links but most importantly, how can we continue to grow our businesses?

Our goal at LJF Marketing is to help small to medium size businesses make over their image or brand in order to achieve their goals. Most business goals include:  increasing profits, carving out a niche in market share, or retaining customer loyalty.

But what happens with a downturn, or a competitor seizes a bigger portion of the market place, or your customers are leaving because of past bad publicity?  In these cases, it could be time for a Brand Makeover.

Blog Author Bethany Howell, of Insight 180, discusses the benefits of creating a brand makeover or renovation:

  • Preserves the brand’s existing integrity
  • Infuses new energy
  • Ensures the company image keeps current in a changing marketplace
  • Expands a company’s reach to new customers

LJF Marketing recently created a brand makeover for TIEC, an industry standards (#API Spec 1 and 2) project management and training firm that needed to update their brand.  LJF designed a new website, freshened their color pallet for their graphic elements and designed new sales collateral to jump start their goal to capture new market share in a downturn oil and gas economy.

An article by Emma Johnson, Brand Makeover: 3 Lessons in Reinvention from Entrepreneur Magazine delves into how even big brands sometimes need to either get back to their original identity or forge ahead into a new and improved one.  She recommends 3 focused make overs to broadening appeal, differentiate the brand or create damage control.

Marketing agencies can build brand components, a system of keeping brand identity and guidelines, staff training and presentation; a campaign introduction including advertising, literature or sales collateral reinvention, and new product branding and introduction, annual reports, event support and more.

Do you need a brand makeover?  Have your customers become confused as to what you do or offer?  Have you lost out on price points to competitors?  When you explain your company, do heads shake up and down in understanding?  If any of the answers to these questions leave a doubt, even a nugget of a doubt, it might be time for you to seek help from a marketing and branding professional.

Keep checking in for the next article in our LJF Marketing Eye2Eye series.

We like seeing you!

Eye2Eye_logo

LJF Marketing Eye2Eye Online

Online is essential in today’s business climate. According to Adweek, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/208527

As we end 2015, we look back to remember our marketing projects. For LJF Marketing, we developed or redeveloped several new websites for our clients. Here’s our updated LJF Web Gallery for 2015.

http://ljfmarketing.com/web.htm#

For businesses beginning their journeys into selling their products or services, a website is a “must have”, almost like an extension of their business card and brochure. Potential customers look for a website so they can justify a purchase from that business.

Businesses who have been open for many years often find themselves in a retooling position needing to revise their look, add current content and offer tools online to ramp up customer service.

When designing or programming a website, consider these four topics:

Design

LJF Marketing is especially excited about website design. We always want our customer’s brands to stand out in the market place and be unique. Quertime.com tells us to make sure our brands are relevant. If your competitors have updated their website, you should look at yours and compare. Is your site still relevant to your potential and current customers?

http://www.quertime.com/article/8-website-design-trends-to-follow-in-2015-2016/

Function

A good design is important for customers to visually connect with your brand but the function of your site is vital if you are building a path that leads to a sale. Hubspot shares these statistics that emphasize why download time, navigation ease and other functions are important.

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/compelling-stats-website-design-optimization-list

Content

Content is King! As you go to marketing seminars, you are continuing to hear a lot about content. Not only the content that is included on your home page to get someone to delve into other pages but the content you can provide to get your prospective customer to view you as an expert.

@MichelleMannafy wrote an article in Inc that reminds us that “content marketing is the way businesses get noticed.”

http://www.inc.com/michelle-manafy/3-reasons-you-should-be-in-the-content-business.html

 

SEO

If your customers don’t know to visit your website, all the informative content, creative design, and amazing functionality won’t make a difference in your marketing efforts. Wordstream gives us “25 Ways to Increase Traffic” including:

  • Advertising
  • Become Social
  • Blogging
  • Post Content on LinkedIn
  • Don’t Neglect Email Marketing

Subscribe to our newsletter that will delve more into Marketing Eye2Eye Online in January including an enlightening article on Email Marketing.

For now, thanks for reading our blogs and “Happy Holidays” from all of us LJF Marketing

LJF Marketing “Meeting Eye2Eye”

Trends in marketing have been shifting to “Content” driven tactics encouraging our potential target market to contact us by clicking on landing pages, completing forms and downloading eBooks.

All of us have morphed from Direct Mail to becoming e-newsletter savvy, optimizing our websites for searchable traffic and then realizing “what ever happened to just meeting face to face or eye2eye?”

As people in charge of marketing for our companies, we realize we have to employ cross marketing channels with the same consistent brand messaging but we need to include how we tell our message eye2eye.

Networking, providing “Lunch n’ Learns” to community groups such as Chambers of Commerce, hosting events or participating in trade shows, ‘putting social back into social media’ and lastly, becoming involved in our communities where we live; these are the tactics that still need a huge presence in our marketing strategies to build our companies.

We have come across these links to get you thinking about Meeting Eye2Eye:

Lunch N’ Learns:

AmsterdamPrinting.com shared an article Small Business Marketing Magic, How to Engage Prospects through Lunch & Learn Series. We all have general expertise we can share by creating our own series to invite potential prospects or by getting on the chamber of commerce speaking lists; anywhere we can share our knowledge to get a conversation started.

http://www.amsterdamprinting.com/blog/2012/05/21/small-business-marketing-magic-engage-prospects-through-lunch-n-learn-series/

Networking:

Entrepeneur.com contributing writer Deborah Mitchell gives tips for networking that may be very beneficial in building your lead base – know your audience, prepare to meet and greet, skip the drinks and stay focused and follow up but be patient.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242199

Client Visits:

Dave Roos on HowStuffWorks.com gives these tips for meeting clients – plan and prepare, set an agenda, make a professional impression, take notes and send a meeting summary asking for the next step.

http://money.howstuffworks.com/5-tips-for-meeting-new-clients.htm#page=5

Event Marketing:

Olsy Sorokina of Hootsuite says, “social media is an intrinsic way of how people respond to events,” and delivers tips on how to utilize Facebook and Twitter to promote your event.

http://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-for-events/

Community Involvement:

Getting involved with your community is a key factor in staying relevant. Here’s why it’s important, according to guess columnist Lindsay Lavine on Entrepeuner.com

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226974

We invite you to sit down with us eye2eye to start a conversation about marketing your business. LJF Marketing values the relationships we have maintained over our 25 year history, a lot of them started over a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone.

LJF Marketing Intern Guest Blog

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Katie Gallagher’s “LJF Marketing Intern Experience”

Most people associate learning with the classroom, most likely, because you haven’t taken an internship at LJF Marketing. I am learning just as much, if not more, than those Marketing classes I’m required to take. When I got the opportunity to take an internship at LJF Marketing it was a no-brainer for me. Given the chance to experience what I would like to spend my career doing just for the summer was perfect.

I had no idea what to expect coming into my first day at the office. Within the first hour I was sitting in my first meeting talking about clients I had never heard of. They were throwing around names and codes I that had no meaning for me. After an overwhelming meeting I was completely fine with filing and organizing the files for a few hours. You could say my very first day I was “a deer in the headlights.” I heard the president explain to me that she had taken her first “selfie” and you could say I was nothing but proud.

Within my first week I was given more than I had expected. I was writing and releasing press reports, cutting articles from newspapers, compiling publicity reports, and writing excerpts to be posted on social media sites. I thought I had it all down until the Marketing Director came in with these codes and a time sheet and told me to record it. I let it sit there for a day to see if I could figure it out, but I sure didn’t, and even when it was time to turn the time sheets in I had a few things I had messed up. Another thing I kind of had to teach myself was how to use one of those big copiers. When I got handed a folder and told to make copies, I didn’t ask questions I just had to figure it out and boy did that take a while. She probably thought I was taking my lunch break by the time I got it all back to her.

I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given during this internship. I have been able to learn about a new software they are potentially using, sit in and help create power points for new clients, attend a video shoot and have one of my press reports show up in the local newspaper. Sure, I’ll learn some things in marketing classes but there are some things they just can’t teach me in a classroom. I have learned the art of watching for details after I messed up a Facebook post once or twice, writing a to-do list is very important when you have a few things going on. Organization is a huge one. When you have to keep up with newspaper clippings and copies of them for each press report for seven different clients it all becomes a little, clustered.

Overall, from my very confusing first week to one month in I can’t explain to people how much I have learned. The amount of work that goes into to each Press Report, each Facebook posting I would have never known. I finally know how to work my daily time sheet, I could explain the process of prepping publicity reports, how to monitor after they have been released and so many more things. Being an intern is the absolute best thing I could have ever done for myself because thanks to LJF Marketing and my awesome mentors I know this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.

#marketing #marketinginternship #socialmedia #publicity #ljfmarketing

Eye Online – The Internal Eye

No one tells me anything . . . I didn’t know that . . . If you have heard these phrases or even said them yourself, it’s time to keep an eye on how you are communicating internally. A fresh viewpoint will boost employee morale and tie in corporate goals to connect people across a company.

Brand Your HR Department. Human Resource Specialists often find themselves wary of how to brand their department so communications are not overlooked or undervalued. Internal public relations effects how employees relate to each other, as well as how they project themselves to the public, investors, management or potential customers. These communications need to be reinforced on a consistent basis.

Are your employees all relaying the same key messages? Do they know and understand the overall corporate message? The HR department functions of recruiting, retention and onboarding rely heavily on communication, but basic communication goals are often overlooked by a small HR staff, whose focus is mostly on employee benefits, etc.

HR departments may also work with a safety manager. LJF Marketing helped an oil related company brand their safety program. This was a perfect way for HR to communicate safety goals and tips to employees throughout the company. The brand enabled employees to be on the look out for this specific type of communication so they could remain compliant with the program guidelines but more importantly, safe in a potentially dangerous situation.

Why would a company want to outsource Internal Public Relations? The main reason is to concentrate on core competencies. Public Relations professionals can become an expert on the pulse of the organization, usually better than an in house department simply because insiders are too close to the situation. An outside perspective always helps for a fresh view.

A company could consider hiring a firm like LJF Marketing for policy manuals, safety programs, internal newsletters or other internal communications creating a professional look and a consistent message.

Also don’t forget promotional products to market effectively internally. Bringing the entire company together: sales, production, customer relations, management and human resources can eliminate issues of non-communication and turns “I didn’t know we had this new product” into “Our new product is bundled with a new program that will enable small businesses to increase sales and eliminate downtime.” Everyone should be a sales person for your company.

Outsourcing your internal public relations is all about consistency.

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922.