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Limitless – A Business Mastery Seminar

Business Mastery Seminar

Limitless – Business Mastery Seminar

Date: Thursday, February 23rd
Time: 12 PM
Where: Tech Ranch Austin, 8920 Business Park Dr, Suite 250
Austin, TX 78759
Why: To push your business beyond the productive and online limits you face.

At Alter Endeavors, we believe that it is essential that business owners receive continuing education.  Lifelong learners are better equipped to handle new challenges and can apply diverse solutions to new dilemmas. That’s why we’re excited to announce our partnership with Chris Gay of Focal Point Business Coaching to host “Limitless”the first installment of our Business Mastery Seminar Series. Oftentimes, business owners encounter limits both mentally, professionally, as well as systematically with their website. Limitless will discuss ways to increase productivity both in the workplace and with your business’ online efforts.

4 Ways to Grow Your Revenue

Chris Gay is a Focal Point Business Coach who brings years of real life experience to his clients. Chris was the owner/operator of several Roto Rooters in the Austin area before pursuing his passion for education and coaching. In his presentation, “Four Ways to Grow Your Revenue”, Chris will focus on how increasing your productivity one-tenth of 1% every day can have a massive impact on your bottom line. In addition, Chris will provide actionable steps to grow revenue and bottom line for your business.

Is Your Website Working for You

Our very own Nick Alter, Principal over here at Alter Endeavors, will be presenting on the topic “Is Your Website Working for You?” A website is no longer an online brochure. Nick will discuss how the sum of your online efforts begins with your website—or online hub. Furthermore, all of your digital marketing efforts should work in tandem to drive more conversions through your site, ultimately leading to more revenue. Is your website an impediment towards furthering conversions online? How does your site stack up? Is your website working for you?

Limitless

Limitless, hosted at Tech Ranch Austin, will provide actionable steps for business owners to make an immediate impact on their business.  The two presentations will be followed by a 20 minute interactive Q&A portion for business owners to talk real experiences and receive valuable feedback. Take your business to new heights in 2017 and push beyond your limits by attending “Limitless”, the first installment of our Business Mastery Seminar Series.

What Alter Endeavors is Thankful For

what_we_are_thankful_for

This week we want to pause and share with you what we are most thankful for this year!

“I’m thankful that for the first time in years, all of my family will be in the same city during the holidays.” – Aubrey

“I am thankful for our incredibly talented team over here at Alter Endeavors as well as all of the amazing folks who help support our business. I love the people I work with (especially my business partner, since I married her)! No two days are alike over here at Alter Endeavors. What we do is challenging, sometimes it even nears impossible, but everyone at Alter Endeavors tackles each day with all of its crazy problems with passion, grace and patience. So, thank you Jamie, Christopher, Aubrey, Teylor, Rachel, Erik, Christie, Alex, all the Steves/Stephens/Davids (seriously parents, name your kids something else), Rusty, Maorong, Rob, Tom, Alan, Lulu and everyone else who makes what we do over here at Alter Endeavors possible! From the bottom of my heart, thank you, all of you. And thank you God for blessing us every day.” – Nick

“This one was a little difficult because 2016 was a somewhat rough year for me, but I have this: I’m thankful for my own strength—for my sense of humor that brings levity to my most difficult moments and for my own two feet that keep me going. I’m thankful that I am strong enough to make my own dreams come true.” – Rachel

“I am especially thankful to work for a company that allows and supports my passion for travel. I recognized how blessed I am during my time in Iceland when the majority of people I talked to could not believe that I was ‘allowed’ to work from so far away. I was repeatedly told to ‘not let that job go’. I simply responded that I recognize how special this is, especially since I thoroughly enjoy the work itself and not just the secondary perks. Thank you for trusting me to make my clients a priority no matter where I am in the world!” – Teylor

“I hope I am thankful everyday, not just today.  But, I am thankful for health, my home, my husband (and dog-Lulu).  I am also thankful for purpose—work provides me with a special ambition to do the best for my clients. Alter Endeavors has also given me the gift of surrounding myself with people whom I deeply care about and want to see succeed both professionally and in their own passions.  Most of all, I am grateful for a Savior that came to Earth as both fully man and fully God and died on a cross as a substitute for all of us so that we may have peace and eternal life in Him.” – Jamie

“I am thankful for my friends and family and the joy they bring to my life. I am thankful that it’s finally gotten cooler in Texas—the cool weather is reinvigorating after the crush of summer’s heat and brings a fresh perspective. I am thankful for the Alter Endeavors team and our clients, with whom we’re working to make their dreams and goals come to fruition.” – Christopher

Happy Thanksgiving from Alter Endeavors!

Vine’s Shutdown – Social Media Changes and Their Effect on Business

social media changes - the vine shutdown

Social media changes are inevitable. Vine, the popular video short-form video streaming service, announced last week that it would soon be shutting down for good. The app’s millions of users, many of whom use Vine to promote themselves or their brand, are now either left scratching their heads trying to figure out how much the loss of this platform will harm their business, or shrugging and moving on to one of the many other social media sites they use. The loss of Vine serves as a grim reminder of the reality of the internet—at any time, a popular website with a strong user base can shut down, for any reason. Diversifying the types of social media sites where you promote your business is important for this reason, but ultimately, the one online platform that matters the most for your business is the one you create for yourself.

All Roads Lead to Rome

Having a presence on social media is crucial to the success of your brand. Promoting yourself or your business on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allows for boosted interactivity and generates interest. When using social media, avoid making it the cornerstone of your enterprise. Instead, use it as a tool to drive traffic to your own website, space which you have full control over. By doing this you will minimize the negative effect of turbulent social media changes.

Even Giants Fall

Vine’s shutdown serves as a reminder of the mortality of the web and its indifference to the individual user. Companies that run social media websites are, after all, companies, and can be acquired, altered, or even shut down at any time for a variety of reasons beyond your control. Inherently, social media’s aim is to improve communication and interaction among its users, but the site itself isn’t responsible for meeting your personal needs. Understanding this when working with social media will allow for balance and stability when it comes to creating an online presence for your brand.

Own Your Space

Think of social media as a series of rented spaces and auditoriums from which you promote your original content. These places allow you to reach potential customers with important information, but can only be molded to your needs so much; you can build a set to put on a stage, but you can’t tear the space down and rebuild it. For the best, most customizable online experience, a personally-managed website is the best option. Own a space that can be organized, changed and molded at any time to suit your personal needs making it immune to social media changes.

Social media can, and should, be an important aspect of your brand’s online presence. However, these platforms should be used as roads to your castle, not pieces of the foundation that if removed would bring down the whole structure. An owned space like a website, with a presentation and content you control, should be the focus of your brand.  Social media platforms can be used to promote your website, having these elements work in conjunction with one another will ensure a healthy online presence for your brand.

Local Social Media for Brick and Mortar Businesses

local social media for businesses

When devising a local social media strategy, the benefits of customizing the approach specifically for a business and its customers is invaluable. Sure, there are general guidelines that apply to almost every industry, but the blog I wrote about Social Media for Service Based Companies is not the same advice I would give for brick & mortar establishments. If you’re a small business owner with a set locationhere is the best way to market your business on social media.

One of the main differences between local social media for service based companies and brick and mortar establishments is the end goal. For service based companies, we are constantly driving traffic to the company website, specifically the contact page. There is stress put on educating the public about the need for the service in question and demonstrating that the company is an expert in its field. For brick & mortar establishments, the goal is to drive traffic to the location! Convincing people to stop by a restaurant or clothing store means appealing to a want that can be fulfilled immediately. Hungry? Stop here for lunch. Need a new outfit? We’ll outfit you! The recommended platforms don’t change, but the way they are used most certainly does.

Facebook is an opportunity to interact and showcase a businesses’ involvement in the community. It is also a way to highlight the brands a store carries or if applicable, the local farms a restaurant sources ingredients from. Facebook also allows event pages to be created in order to generate buzz for any upcoming special events or merchandise sales. Facebook should be updated consistently and with a variety of information that is relevant to the customer base.

Twitter has proven to be an excellent way to manage customer service. A brand’s Twitter feed can include much of the same information that is on its Facebook newsfeed, but posted multiple times a day. Interact with audiences that you are hoping to attract by retweeting or mentioning them in your own tweets. Make sure to reply to any comments, complaints or suggestions in a professional and friendly manner. Keep in mind that there are brands that have built a following by the way that they respond to customer comments on social media, whether it is diligently (JetBlue) or with humor (Skyscanner Jen).

We love Instagram for brick & mortar establishments. This is an opportunity for restaurants to flaunt appetizing photos to the foodie community and for clothing stores to capture the attention of fashion influencers. With this platform, it pays to research popular hashtags and to have an ongoing rapport with repeat customers and ignite discussion with active Instagram users. We suggest that the filter used for images stays consistent and that the wording of the captions matches the messaging on all other platforms. This is a good time to define whether your brand is for or against the use of emojis!

One of the most impactful and easiest steps for local social media you can take is to double check that all of the pertinent information about your store (address and phone number) is easily found across all social platforms. For restaurants, this means linking to your menu and providing numerous photos. For product-based stores, it’s important that sales are publicized and that store hours are made apparent. At Alter Endeavors, we make a point to occasionally view our social media profiles as visitors, where we check links and think like a potential customer.

We live in a day and age where the question, “How did you hear about us?” is as commonly answered via “Facebook” as “ word of mouth.” Just today, I visited a coffee shop after seeing pictures of their decor and Nutella waffle on my explore page on Instagram! You don’t need photographer quality photos or fresh daily content, just start by making sure your ‘About’ section is complete!

Why a Website Maintenance Company? The Imperfect Nature of the Internet

website maintenance company

Thoughts about the value of a website maintenance company were raised when Christopher Jennings, our Chief Operating Officer at Alter Endeavors, and I had a fascinating conversation awhile back. At the end of the day, we are not creating a product that is permanent. We’re building a product that will eventually break, need updates, and need maintenance— not dissimilar to an automobile. Websites can stand the test of time, but the intention should never be to build one website for “eternity”. Why you ask?

Because that’s not how the internet works.

The internet is an ever-changing depiction of digital communication. How your website “speaks” to potential clients is your most important call to action. What are they there to do on your site? Your calls to action should clearly communicate the goals of your site the user. For example, ten years ago, it required a complicated CRM system to implement a reservation system on a website. Now? There’s a WordPress plug in for it. If you can envision something, there’s likely a WordPress plug in or application that can be used (SHAMELESS PLUG: or our super talented dev team can make it happen).

And the future of the web? It’s only evolving at a quicker rate. Five years ago, being mobile friendly was not our top priority at Alter Endeavors. Then “Mobilegeddon” happened. Google updated it’s mobile search algorithm to prioritize mobile friendly sites. As a result, we had to pivot our development focus to make sure that mobile friendly and CSS responsive were key elements of all of our sites.

And that’s the nature of the internet.

It’s a reactionary industry by default, where ideas are morphed, sculpted, evolved by the collective digital “consciousness”. As an agency, you run an inherent risk by trying to get ahead of the curve. A website maintenance company has an obligation to its clients to know the right answers. It has to be as flexible as the web.

But what does this actually mean?

Websites have now become a series of templates, plug ins, and themes all working in cohesion. Like a machine, your website needs constant attention to make sure it’s running correctly. Most companies don’t have the time to manage their websites, so they just let them sit. This is a reckless business practice. Your website is your online hub. If it goes down, you run the risk of lost dollars in your pocket.

Here’s an example: I spoke with a business owner whose contact form was down. He had no clue how long the form wasn’t working or how many potential clients were unable to contact him. I mean this as hyperbole, but he could’ve missed out on the deal of a lifetime. This goes back to what Christopher and I discussed. No matter how well we build the site, it will require maintenance, support, and TLC.

We’ve all seen the Direct TV commercials. Don’t be the “cable” business owner who misses out on the deal of a lifetime because your site went down or a plug in broke. Contact us today about our various maintenance and support packages at Alter Endeavors. We build incredibly sturdy and stable sites, but eventually even our sites will need maintenance and work. There is no one better to do it than a good website maintenance company.

And that’s the nature of the internet.

Social Media for Service-Based Companies

service-based-companies deserve a different social media strategy

Do service-based companies need a different social media strategy from others? At Alter Endeavors, we do not apply a one-size fits all approach to social media marketing. A brand’s social media strategy should be as unique as its selling points. A brand’s online presence should convey to its audience who they are, what they do and why they should be the customer’s first choice. While the aforementioned applies to every brand, there are some special rules for service-based companies.

Each social media platform serves a purpose. It may not be listed outright in the app’s description or homepage, but users have collectively defined what platform to turn to for which reason. Service-based companies may choose to have a presence on Pinterest, but it should not be used in the same fashion that a clothing brand would choose to use it. Users look to Pinterest as a source for inspiration, whether it’s to put together the perfect fall outfit or how to remodel their home on a budget. A service based company has to play along and showcase its best project photos in order for a Pinterest user to say “I want to hire that company to make my vision a reality.” It’s a tougher challenge than simply providing a link to purchase a clothing item, but it’s worth it. If one avid Pinterest user with clout re-pins a project photo… there is a chance for a domino effect. A percentage of Pinterest users who see the project photo will convert to sales.

Service-based companies are tasked to think outside of the box because photo opportunities are harder to come by compared to brand’s who have shelves of product to showcase.  At Alter Endeavors, our Instagram feed is a collection of screenshots of the website design projects we have completed. A potential client scrolling through our pictures will notice the sleek design of our sites, as well as the wide array of industries we have worked in.

It is not necessary to have a presence on every emerging social media platform, but it is key to think through where your potential customers are and how you can serve them. Brands must incentivize social media users to connect and interact with them by offering either information and/or entertainment. For customers a brand has served in the past, this may mean sharing information on upkeep or why they should stay in contact for the future. In order to convert social media users to customers, a brand must highlight why to choose them over their competitors. 

Instead of writing off social media as a marketing approach reserved for product-based companies, find a way to communicate to your customers why they should keep an eye on your feed. Use social media as a way to establish your brand as an expert in the field, connect with the community you belong to and establish a level of customer service that is second to none.

Business to Consumer Marketing Through Social Media

business to consumer marketing

In order to move forward with a client in regards to social media management, we first have to define who the client is as a brand. The second step is to define who the client is trying to reach. Is business to consumer marketing effective via social media? Alter Endeavors works with several B2C (business to consumer) companies; B2C meaning that that business wants to appeal to consumers, rather than other businesses.

Once we establish the brand’s target audience, we ask questions like, “Are their potential customers on-line?” and “What age group are we trying to reach?” The answers to these questions lead to a profile, which tells us not only who our audience consists of, but research confirms their purchasing habits and preferences.

The social media platforms that align closest with the above are our first priority. While it is important that every B2C company has a presence on Facebook and Twitter in this day and age, we are very selective about what other platforms we are active on. In our opinion, it is better to be missing from a platform than to do it half way. It is better for a customer to see “not found” on Instagram rather than see a single photo posted over 52 weeks ago.

Merely being active on platforms where your customers are isn’t enough. For companies that offer consumers products and services, they need to establish why a user should interact with the brand outside of the point of purchase or period of service. There needs to be a consistent posting schedule of relevant information, whether it has to do directly with the product or service, general industry news or events happening in the community. We recognize that establishing the motivation for a post is just as important as what you actually post. B2C companies are problem solvers and their social media channels should do the same, by addressing frequently asked questions and bringing new information to the audience’s attention.

What are the best social media platforms for business to consumer marketing? Here are some of the better ones with examples of the best ways to utilize them:

Facebook – An up-to-date Facebook page is a must, as it not only acts as another business listing, but gives customers a place to read information about your brand and leave feedback. Facebook allows a brand to showcase its personality and interact with the community it aims to serve. We recommend including links and pictures in your posts to avoid being lost in a user’s newsfeed.

Twitter – This platform requires consistent interaction in order to stay relevant. You can more or less use the same content as you would post on Facebook, as well as share industry information with your followers by simply re-tweeting. Twitter is a high-speed platform, so content can be posted multiple times a day to reach different users. It is a platform to show your support to brands you work or share a community with.

Pinterest/Houzz – Pinterest is most often used for inspiration, whether it’s fitness related or a place to store recipes. Houzz is also used for inspiration, but specifically for residential home design and decor. These are excellent channels to display photos of projects completed, giving the user an idea of what your company is capable of. Unlike Twitter, content has a longer shelf life on these platforms and doesn’t need to be updated daily to be worthwhile.

Instagram – Instagram is a photo-based platform and requires extensive access to pictures. It is a popular platform for clothing brands, health products and restaurants. There are numerous Austin Instagram accounts dedicated to food, so we make sure that our brick & mortar clients with great food are present and accounted for on Instagram! Brands that offer products are able to source photos from buyers and announce new releases or sales, while service providers should work to keep Instagram updated with project photos.

Video (Snapchat/Facebook Live/Youtube) – Behind the scenes video can be a useful marketing tool, but only if the action caught on camera is worth watching. For both service & product based companies, perhaps a demonstrative how-to would be helpful to your audience. How often you are able to capture interesting content would dictate which platform to pursue, as Snapchat needs to be updated daily, and Facebook Live and Youtube can be updated more sporadically and referred back to in the future.

Before creating brand profiles on every possible social media channel, decide which platforms will be most effective for business to consumer marketing with your company. Being selective will not only help you spend your time & money effectively, but it will also help attract your ideal customer or client. Simply put: be where your target audience is.

Pokemon Go Popularity: A Marketing Tool?

pokemon go popularity

Pokemon Go Popularity is Real

Pokemon Go popularity is astounding. They’re everywhere – people wandering in crowds around parks, malls, and cities, phones out, playing the augmented reality application, Pokemon GO. Around 4 million people per day play the popular mobile game, using their phone’s GPS to find cute little creatures called Pokemon. The game rewards real-world exploration, encouraging players to visit real-world locations that double as in-game checkpoints to collect items and battle other players. With so many people playing (myself included), it’s no wonder everyone from local businesses to multi-national corporations are trying to cash in on the cultural phenomenon. Using these techniques, it’s easy to turn Pokemon into profit by driving players into your stores and creating new opportunities for customer engagement.

“So you wanna be a master of Pokemon (Go)?”

It’s fairly easy for businesses to cash in on the Pokemon Go popularity. In-app purchases or a little playful advertising are already helping businesses become Pokemon Marketing Masters.

Lure Pokemon – And Customers!

Many businesses near a PokeStop, an in-game location where players receive necessary items, have seen increased foot traffic in and around their stores. Stores near one of these PokeStops can purchase Lures – modules attached to these checkpoints that draw rare Pokemon – for about $1 per hour. The effect of Lures can be seen and utilized by other Pokemon GO players, a strategy that is already benefitting some restaurants by luring in customers, along with Pikachus.

Playing Along

If your business doesn’t have a PokeStop in sight, worry not – there are plenty of ways to get in on the Pokemon popularity. Acknowledging the popularity of the game through promotions based on in-game achievements or rewarding players that use the app in their stores.

@Brands: Where’s the nearest Charmander?

Social-savvy brands interacting with players have already received positive feedback from consumers. With roughly 1.6 million mentions per day on Twitter, it’s easy to understand why many stores and organizations like the New York Police Department are finding ways to incorporate Pokemon GO into their social media content.

Promoted Locations

Coinciding with the release of the game in Japan, McDonald’s turned their 2,300 Japanese locations into Gyms, places where players go to battle Pokemon. Soon, other businesses will be able to buy sponsored in-game locations as well. According to a recent survey of players, the most-frequented establishments are retail stores that cater to millennials and casual-dining restaurants, so these businesses may want to take note.

Is Pokemon GO a fad?

It’s hard to tell for now how successful the game will be down the road, but it seems promising; Pokemon GO combines a well-loved nostalgic brand with a new technology, integrating nostalgia with innovation. New features will be added soon, such as the ability to trade Pokemon with other players and adding more Pokemon to the game. And as the app continues to launch worldwide, the amount of downloads continues to grow. Looks like for the foreseeable future, Pokemon GO isn’t going to Pokemon GO away.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

  • Rachel Lynn Clark, Project Coordinator

What Our Moms Think Our Jobs Are

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Mother’s Day was last week, but after reading this blog by Food52, we were inspired to ask our own moms about their perceptions of our jobs. First of all, our jobs are somewhat nebulous and hard to define as we are a small agency where everyone wears many hats.  Unsure of what exactly to expect, we found their answers sweet, insightful and considerably accurate. Perhaps we should start putting these descriptions under our job titles…

Nick Alter, Principal of Alter Endeavors: When asked to describe Nick’s job in a few sentences, his mom replied:

“He is today’s version of what we used to call public relations. He’s got the hi-tech knowledge and savvy of what it takes to create, develop and promote a client’s brand along with the traditional and down right old-fashioned values of ‘doing business’. He markets with the utmost integrity. He cares. He is in his client’s corner.”

Aww, a really sweet description that encompasses Nick’s values as well as duties.

Christopher Jennings, Director of Web Operations: Christopher’s mom is currently visiting so she has had a front row experience observing his job over the past few days.  Her description:

“Which part of your job? Geeze. I would call you the … I see you as the all around, every side gate keeper. You are the communication hub between all the parties who build the sites. You are the initial contact building that relationship, the voice and hub of the company.”

This might be an even better description than “Director of Web Operations”.

Jamie Alter, Digital Marketing Director: When Jamie asked her mom over text how she would describe her job, this was her mom’s response:

“Hi honey at lunch with the girls but …. what if you build your description off designer social media coordinator. Does that make sense?”

Even though her mom was out to lunch, “literally”, her description sort of encompasses several aspects of Jamie’s position.  Good job Mom.

Aubrey Berkowitz, VP of Business Development: Aubrey’s mom took the time to write this about her son’s job:

“As a whole? I would say that at Alter Endeavors, your job is to take transitional marketing and business practices and reapply them in innovative ways online to help clients’ businesses grow. Your job? To identify new clients as well as support existing clients in business development strategies.”

Fancy! Definitely taking notes from this one.

Thanks to our moms for sharing their unique perspectives with us! 

SEO Secrets (Shhhh)

woods

SEO is not the mystery it once was. Sure, Google seeks to constantly change the game. (They do so to confound those who use the strategies for evil, not good.) There are, however, some consistent simple methods for increasing your website’s SEO.

Wait. What is SEO? Ah. Glad you asked. SEO (pronounced es-ee-oh) stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” SEO is set of practices to increase your site’s presence in searches.

A Few Prime Keys to SEO

Mobile Compatibility. Wow. This is huge. HUGE. Google changed the way they evaluate sites in April. If your site is not optimized for mobile—and if you don’t know what that even means—stop what you are doing and contact us right now. Three months have passed since this important change. If you’re falling short of Google’s standards, when your potential customers search for you on their phones, you’re not showing up where you could be. During commuting times, weekends, and evenings, more than half of first-time site interactions now happen on mobile, and this number keeps climbing. Are you getting it? Dropping the ball here isn’t only no bueno, it’s a critical fail.

Your Address. Hmm. Seems like a no-brainer, right? The first step to people finding your services is the search engines knowing where you are located. Also, insure that everywhere your address is on the web, it is precisely the same. “2304 West Avenue” is different from “2304 W Avenue” and “2304 West Ave.” Seems incidental to us, but it’s crucial to the little robots who scan the web. (Robots are literal.)

Updated Content. Blogs. Primary page updates. Search engines are happy when they see things change. (By the way. Blog posts don’t have to be long, in fact, most readers like short and informative articles.)

Vibrant Social Media. Maybe you’re rocking it on your Facebook page. Your Twitter account is constantly lit up with offers and things for your target market. Instagram is flush with photos of your daily or weekly specials.  If these are not associated with your site by links, or even better, a feed on your site, you’re missing a paddle to the SEO boat.

Google Presence. Google loves company and wants you on their network. First, be sure Google has your information. Sign up for Google Business. Also, do you have industry specific content for which you can shoot small videos? (I recently assembled a BBQ grill and watched a fellow on Youtube put it together first.) Again, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Case in point, this Youtube star who opens Disney toys.

SEO: Your Website’s Bestie

So much of the search engines’ friendship with your site is determined by your content. Here’s a question: How does your site hold up against those items above? While it can seem overwhelming, there are solutions that can be put in place. From a site update for mobile compatibility, to redesign on a platform where you can enter new content, or having someone else write posts and manage your social media—all doable. We can help.

To chat about making search engine optimization your pal, talk to us today.