Author Archives: Jamie Alter

Micro PR AKA Neighborhood PR

micro PR

The Benefits of Joining a Facebook Group for Local Businesses and Brands

If you own a brick and mortar business or a brand with a product/service for a specific area, then this article is directed at you!

Most every community has local Facebook groups. The purpose of different groups might be for buying/selling various items, a forum for neighbors, uniting locals with a common interest, etc. Bigger cities will have more groups and diversity, but local Facebook groups aren’t hard to find.

Facebook groups are valuable on a number of fronts. Facebook groups can be used to help fill an opening/staff your business, keep you informed of community happenings, help you keep tabs on potential competitors, advertise and more. Facebook groups are also often where your target demographic could be. People that move to a new community are desperate to find recommendations for new doctors, babysitters, repair services, you-name-it. The people that physically live in a community are going to find a way to exchange information, ideas and gather online. Community and local Facebook are a great starting point for taking the pulse of your potential clients.

Read the Rules

Before you go into a Facebook group with advertising guns blazing, read the rules. Most successful groups have some sort of rules so that the group isn’t just an endless series of MLM (multilevel marketing) posts. Guidelines help make Facebook groups enjoyable for members. A potential rule might be that individuals can only post about their businesses on a certain day of the week or groups might ask members to post hiring ads in a certain thread. Some groups have different themes for different days of the week. 

Observe

The best first step to take when entering any group is to observe. Just because you can’t post about your business, doesn’t mean you won’t get value from the group. You could even belong to some groups solely for the purpose of observing. Observing provides you with the opportunity to view the thought processes, questions, wants and desires of your target audience or local community.  You are gaining first-hand reconnaissance on how to market your brand.  You can see where your brand stands amongst competitors, what others think of your brand and what your potential client’s value and are searching for. Some groups may be more valuable than others, but take the time to listen before posting anything so that you can stay in tune with the community.

Recruit Other Voices

The owner of a business isn’t the sole arbiter of information about that brand. Recruit help in the form of trustworthy employees or loyal clients to help you advertise your brand. You may be able to ask some happy customers that you are friendly with to leave you a good review or to recommend you to their neighbors within community groups. Sometimes the most powerful voice isn’t yours! Don’t shy away from using an outsider to help convey a message about your brand, granted that your source is both positive and trustworthy.

Help Others

Be helpful! Your primary objective may be promoting your business, but if you can help others along the way, it won’t hurt your reputation. Perhaps you can donate product or service to a local worthy cause or simply recommend a business that you have used and found helpful in the past.

Staying Behind the Curtain

You will have to decide whether you want to be a public persona for your business or whether you want to lie low and observe. If you don’t have a lot of time to continually monitor your online presence within a Facebook group, it may be best to simply open your ears. Facebook groups can be a great tool for getting the word out about your brand, but they are equally great for social listening.

Facebook groups aren’t a new community invention, they are just an example of community taking place online. If you want to learn more about how micro PR could benefit your brand, contact us here.

6 Ways Becoming a Mom Changed the Way I Market

A major life experience changed my perspective. Big whoop. It seems obvious and I am certainly not the first or last person to have my perspective changed by becoming a parent, but becoming a mom has undoubtedly changed me (and the way I market).

Time Management

When you become a parent, your time is no longer your own. Instead, a tiny human is the priority on your daily schedule. This causes you to focus and prioritize how you spend any “free” time. Nap time is precious, sleep and food are the first parent priorities, but I now spend my precious 36 minutes on something really meaningful, instead of wasting my time. This laser-like focus means that it is easier to discern what is vital and what is a time waster. I am spending less time working overall, but more consequential undertakings are completed. Being forced to identify what is important for me on a personal level means that I have done away with alcohol, cable/Netflix/Hulu, my gym membership, and any other pre-baby indulgences like “free” time.  My personal pampering now includes social media, library books and home workouts or jogging with a stroller. In the same way, I am able to focus on what is really important: a content calendar and original blogs for our internal Alter Endeavors marketing. I also keep an eye out for unique ideas, perspectives and opportunities for us and our clients. I don’t have as much time, but the work I do is more impactful.

Media Consumption

Before I became a mom, like many people in the work world, I spent the majority of my day on a computer. This meant that I viewed all media and the world from my 13-inch MacBook screen. The online spaces where I spent most of my time included Google, Gmail, Facebook and Reddit. After my tiny tot entered the scene, balancing a MacBook and a baby in my lap wasn’t as easy. Plus, I’m no longer stationary for very long. I began primarily viewing the world and consuming content from my phone.  Instagram and Instagram Stories overtook Facebook as my primary social media platform of choice. I now have more insight into how others use different social platforms. Previously, I was aware that websites and media could look different when viewed on a phone or a tablet versus a computer, but I now see the degree to which the user experience is impacted when creating and consuming content from a phone. It seemed as though a whole other world was opened to me. I now have a greater perspective on the pathway a potential client may take when interacting with a brand or arriving at a website from their phone. 

Creation Over Consumption

Pre-baby, I posted infrequently, but now that I have something (a baby) that many people are interested in and want to see more of, my content creation for social media has skyrocketed. Granted, not everyone finds the goo-goo-gaga set adorable, but many friends and family encourage more posting. This causes me to become more creative and try new strategies for my “personal brand,” which then enables me to feel more confident about suggesting new strategies or different approaches for the Alter Endeavors brand or clients. My social media presence has become a guinea pig, if you will, for professional enrichment and development. As a new parent, who is humbled daily by all that I don’t know, I am now less timid about sharing or trying something new.

Confidence

This sort of goes along with not having time, but I find myself much more confident in my actions and forthright simply because I don’t have the time to be reserved. When I go to the grocery store and I am trying to get back home before the baby wakes from his nap, I now have no problem striding up to an employee and asking for help reaching that carton of milk that is stuck all the way back in the corner. Before, when emailing with my team or close contacts, I might agonize over an email — the wording, all the details, the tone, etc. Now I am trying to get something down in a short nap time, so I have learned to say what I need and just hit send. Obviously, when corresponding with a new client or during a more formal exchange, it is important to proofread, edit and sound professional, but as far as quick correspondence, suggesting new ideas or communicating a thought that might help someone, I go for it instead of agonizing over it.

Mom-Focused Brands

If you have never had a kid or it has been years since you had a child, you only need to take a peek at a baby registry to realize that young parents speak an entirely different language filled with jargon like Dock-a-Tot, Bumbo, Comotomo, Uppababy, Wubanub and more. All of these brands are fighting for space and name recognition among the stroller set.  Being immersed in this new world and how these brands market their products/services and interact with their community, provides me with an interesting perspective on marketing for moms. These mom-focused brands now fill my Instagram feed as I am both a potential consumer and a marketer doing research. I am sometimes inspired by different strategies or examples and can encourage my team to apply a similar approach for different clients in diverse industries.

The Mom Connection

There are approximately eleventy billion (give or take) groups for moms, but being a part of some of our local Facebook groups that are specifically for moms is invaluable. Recently moved moms, newly pregnant moms, all kinds of moms are looking for recommendations from OBGYNs, to service technicians, to places to eat, to the best brands of car seats… I now have a front row seat to the inside conversation between the largest and most powerful buying force of most families. Not only do I want to know the best car seat to buy for my own child, but I am able to recommend clients and see where competitors rank and learn what people really think. This is an invaluable research tool when it comes to creating content for our local clients because I am learning about the needs, values and priorities of a targeted audience.

Is that a baby I hear?  Got to go, nap time is over, but if you would like a new perspective for marketing your brand, I or one of my colleagues would love to help!

Social Media Trends vs. Best Practices

December and January bring blogs and articles that list outgoing fads, compile top trends of the previous year and outline new trends to try in 2018. This focus on new, fresh and of-the-moment ideas is not out of a place in an industry like digital marketing, where a dynamic landscape is de rigueur. Even Alter Endeavors is not immune from this focus, we recently published blogs on 4 Holiday Marketing Tips to Try and Your 2018 Social Media Resolution.  However, fads and trends will not help brands maintain and establish a sustainable online presence.  A superior social media strategy will combine experimental exercises with best practices.  How can you tell the difference between a fad and an experimental exercise?  What social media trends are worth trying and which should you leave behind? Ask these questions before trying any new trends.

Is it cheating?

If it seems too be good to be true, it probably is.  If the new trend feels like you are gaming the system, this is probably not a best practice.  You can buy followers for almost any platform, but will 15,000 new followers that aren’t relevant to your brand help you sell more products?  There are many services and bots that will allow you to quickly follow and unfollow other accounts or even post to Instagram from a desktop, but both of these practices could get your account shut down.  If you are ever unsure, consulting blogs, resources and guides published by the main platforms themselves like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a great resource.  This is not to say that platforms won’t implement new changes, for instance, Twitter doubled their character count from 140 to 280.  Instagram users may remember that originally the platform only allowed users to post square photos.  Subscribe to industry newsletters and follow platforms to stay current with new changes.

Who else is participating?

Before implementing a new strategy, take a look around and observe which other brands are participating.  It’s true that innovators and industry disrupters are often early adopters and what sets them apart is not following the crowd.  However, observing whether trustworthy brands are taking part, could help you decide if the new strategy is right for your brand.  Step one is having a good sense of your brand identity and how your brand is positioned within your own industry.  Following respected thought leaders whether they are within your industry or outside it can help determine whether any of these social media trends are worthwhile.

Will it help you achieve your goals?

Not every goal needs to be focused on long-term sustainability, but will this new strategy help you achieve a short or long-term goal?  If the trend is just something new to try and is not tied to any goal in particular, then implementing the new strategy may not be worth the effort.  This question doesn’t aid you in evaluating the value of new practice unless you have first taken the time to identify and set goals.

Asking these questions can help you evaluate whether these social media trends are worth trying, save you time and help you create a sustainable online presence built on best practices.  If you want to learn more about best practices, you can sign up to receive our emails and our free Social Media Best Practices White Paper!

4 Holiday Marketing Tips to Try This Season

holiday marketing

Holiday marketing may seem more relevant for some brands like e-commerce companies or businesses with a tangible product, but everyone from B2B (business-to-business) to service-based companies can participate in holiday marketing.  These 4 tips will help you get started with planning your holiday marketing strategy.

Put a Holiday Spin on Top-Performing Content

Don’t know where to start? Mine previous data for an idea of what works and what doesn’t. The holiday season occurs at the end of the year, so you have almost an entire year’s worth of data to analyze to find top-performing content and review what strategies work the best.  Google Analytics can be used to find the most visited pages on your website or your most read blog.  Use this information to put a holiday-spin on the information housed on those pages. You can also find top-performing content on your social channels by researching what posts on Facebook or Instagram received the most likes or engagement.  Take that newfound data and then strategize how you can recreate something similar for the holidays!

Publicize Your Holiday Traditions

Participating in holiday-themed marketing may be easier than you think. What are you already doing that is holiday-related? Does your office have a holiday party?  Is there a friendly gingerbread house-decorating competition?  Does your company attend or sponsor a community event like a tree lighting or a canned food drive?  Identify what you are already doing and then don’t forget to take pictures during the event, invite others to join you for the event and tag other community partners!

‘Tis the Season to be Service Minded

How can you help solve a potential client’s problem or make their life easier during the holiday hustle?  Frame your holiday marketing within the context of solving a client’s problem.  Product-based companies may have the right gift, but a service-based company could help free up time and energy for clients to spend more time with family or cross other important things off their to-do lists.  Is there some tax advantage or another benefit for the customer if they purchase your product or service before the new year?  For instance, there are tax benefits to purchasing a new website before the end of the year  You know the ins and outs of your brand, but many potential clients may be encountering your brand for the first time, so don’t shy away from foundational messaging that can help the consumer.

Read Holiday Marketing Guides from Relevant Social Platforms

Pay attention to the platforms that move the needle the most for you. The one constant of the social media landscape is change.  Many social platforms like Facebook and Pinterest publish holiday marketing guides to help businesses craft their own holiday marketing strategies. These guides can be invaluable when it comes to inspiration for new ideas or provide guidance for structuring things like your ad budget.  For example, Facebook put out this Holiday Marketing Guide. In this guide, Facebook shared the results of a survey, “an average of 62% of surveyed people report doing most of their holiday shopping in December. Among these people, 1 in 4 make their purchases between December 11–20.”  This means that you may want to dedicate the lion’s share of your Facebook ad budget to marketing efforts between December 11th and 20th!  You know the platforms that are most valuable for your business, so don’t ignore great advice made available to you.  

Need help with your holiday marketing strategy or want to get a head start on your 2018 marketing strategy?  We would love to answer any questions you may have and start a conversation with you, contact us here.

The Fine Line Between Social Sharing and Bragging

The Fine Line Between Social Sharing and Bragging

Recently, Hurricane Harvey attacked Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast traveling thousands of miles and devastating communities with over 50 inches of rain and winds of over 130 miles per hour. Tens of thousands of people were displaced by Hurricane Harvey and it is estimated that damages could cost up to 180 billion!

Countless individuals and businesses rushed to offer aid in the form of physical help, financial and material donations, fundraisers, benefits and more, including several of our own clients. Throughout helping to broadcast and coordinate these relief efforts, we have encountered two schools of thought when it comes to social media and charitable involvement. Everyone wants to help, but not everyone wants their philanthropic efforts disseminated to the world. Some generous donors and do-gooders would prefer to remain anonymous, while others are okay with sharing about their donations. But, when is sharing about your brand’s charitable involvement considered bragging? And when is social sharing a means for inspiring, organizing and spurring others to action?

First and foremost, one should remember that social media is a tool. Like any other tool or resource, social media can be used for good or evil. Money is a resource that can be hoarded for greed or given to help others. Cars are a tool that when driven recklessly can kill, or when used responsibly can help deliver resources to those in need.  Similarly, social media is also a tool that can be used for bullying, bragging, tearing others down or it can be implemented to organize people and grow businesses. How the tool is used is up to the individual.

There are several pros and cons to broadcasting charitable efforts or keeping quiet about them, and the line between bragging and social sharing can get blurry at times.

Let’s start with a few of the negative aspects:

Bragging

What’s the point of your philanthropic efforts if you are just going to boast about them?  The point of doing something for someone else is not that you receive credit or brownie points for your work or donation, but that the organization that needs help, receives that help. Brands or businesses that prefer to give anonymously want to keep the focus on others and not on themselves. Posting about your charitable involvement could easily cross that bragging line, so businesses need to be careful how they portray and post about their donation.

Self-serving

Really, it all comes down to the motivation behind your charitable involvement. Are you giving or participating to serve others or to serve yourself? Giving can certainly help sales, but perhaps that should be a byproduct of your motivation and not the main cause for it. By keeping quiet about your businesses’ philanthropic efforts you avoid the whole mess of appearing to be giving for your own gain.  Before sharing about your donation or benefit, consider the source of your desire to give.  If the desire to help is genuine, then you are headed in the right direction.

There are several pros to sharing your philanthropic efforts with others too:

Inspire

By taking the onus to step forward and do some good, you can inspire others to do the same. Monkey see, monkey do isn’t always a good thing, but when it comes to charitable involvement, it is! If everyone else is helping out, social sharing can encourage other individuals and businesses to do what they can to participate too. Inspiring and spurring others to take action is definitely one of the more positive aspects of social sharing.

Publicity

By sharing your benevolent efforts with others online, you are helping to bring awareness to charitable causes and the need you are helping to fill.  Others may not realize that a specific non-profit exists or that there is a need going unfulfilled. You can bring good publicity to other organizations and your own business through the profess of social sharing.

Community Involvement

When you offer opportunities for others to help contribute to your charitable involvement, you are strengthening the community and providing others with the chance to partner with you to do some good for others. A strong community can help meet the needs of more people and a connected community can rally together to help a greater number of people. You can encourage your audience to buy your product or service, but you can also encourage them to join with you in a specific benefit or fundraiser for a worthy cause.

What it all comes down to is your motivation behind giving and how you broadcast that message. From the language, you use to the organizations that you choose to partner with and the causes that you elect to support, sharing your charitable efforts with others has the potential to inspire, spur others to action, bring awareness and strengthen the community.  Finding the right balance between social sharing and bragging can be tricky. If you need help navigating the field of social sharing and charitable involvement, we would love to help you get started!

How to Build an Online Presence for Your Business

online presence

Building an online presence can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. Hopefully, this article will serve as a guide on how to get started online and tell you what we, at Alter Endeavors, think is necessary for every business to have online.

Pick your Platforms

Let’s start with the fact that in a world where there are literally endless social platforms on the Internet, you absolutely have to set limits. Which means you don’t have to be on every social platform. At AE, we suggest starting with a 1-3 approach. Meaning, at a minimum, choose between one and three social media platforms, and concentrate on doing those well. But how do you choose which platforms are right for you? First and foremost, your choice is based on WHO you are trying to reach. Who are your essential, must-have customers? Are they even on this platform? If your people are there, you HAVE to be there. Once you decide, you may need a basic guide on how to start a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Houzz account.

Focus on your Core Values

A major part of establishing a company is promoting your core values and your mission statement. When setting up your platforms, the “about section” should have a strong description that is unique to your brand. Consumer loyalty increases drastically when their values align with a brand they use, and this can be a key aspect of who your loyal customers are. Once again, consistency in your about section/bio is important across all platforms to enforce your brand’s image. So, when choosing your mission statement, be sure to take the time to develop it so that it exemplifies what is unique about your brand and what makes you stand out from your competitors.

High-quality Images

When starting to build your online presence, it is paramount to collect high-quality images and logos for your company. An example of high-quality photos that you may want to use on your accounts is pictures of the interior and exterior of your brick and mortar locations to use in your marketing efforts. Not only do you need easy access to these photos, they should be consistent across all of your platforms. Your brand must be the same in all of your marketing, or your customers won’t recognize it easily. Once you have high-quality photos of your logos, you can use them as your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to help people recognize your online accounts as legitimate. By keeping your logos consistent across all of your platforms it will increase your brand recognition. After collecting all of your high-quality photos and logos to create your online presence, it’s smart to save them all together somewhere so that you have a source for content later as well.

 Sizing for Photos

When creating your online presence, make sure that your platforms are uniform and appealing to the consumer. Incorrect sizing can easily mess up the look of your photos. Whether it is your cover photo on Facebook or an Instagram photo, it is important that you use the appropriate size and dimensions, or your page could look unprofessional. For an easy guide on what dimensions you need to use on certain platforms, click here.

Add Updated Contact Info

If a customer wants to contact you and can’t find the correct information, it could quickly lead to bad PR. To avoid potential bad publicity, it is necessary to add a link to your website, as well as your correct phone number and address to your online accounts so that customers can reach you. By adding your contact information, you are able to openly communicate with your customers and hopefully strengthen the connection between your company and its customers.

Establish your Business

A good way to establish your business online is by claiming your business on Yelp as well as setting up a Google My Business account. While there are many benefits to claiming your business, the biggest one for growing your online presence is that it improves your search engine optimization (SEO). Your company will show up when searched for and potentially when someone searches by your location. By setting up an account for Google My Business, you verify your business information, help customers find you, as well as continue to tell the story of your business.

Ask for Reviews

Last but definitely not least, growing a positive image for your brand online is necessary. While people may find your product interesting and want to try it, many consumers go to your website, Yelp or other review pages to find out what others think of you. This is why it is important to reach out to loyal customers and ask them to leave a review. This extra bit of work may end up being what makes a person decide to support you or not. In a constantly changing online world, people expect to know if they can trust a company prior to buying from them. By asking your loyal customers for reviews, it ensures that your business is receiving positive and sincere reviews that can help your brand.

Start with these tips and you’ll have a solid online foundation for your business. Hopefully, this article was helpful in leading you to create your online presence. If you need more help building and maintaining an online presence for your small business, we would love if you considered Alter Endeavors!

Three Benefits of a Diverse Portfolio

diverse portfolio

Many agencies will specialize in one particular industry or type of client. If you peruse our portfolio, you will see that our clients range from local businesses and brands to doctors, financial firms, authors, speakers, thought leaders, lawyers, resorts, apartment complexes, commercial real estate and more.  The benefit of specializing in a particular industry or vertical means that an agency will become highly proficient at representing a specific type of client or industry online.  Alter Endeavors has taken a different approach.  Website design, development, and online marketing are all extremely dynamic.  Instead of positioning ourselves as experts, we prefer to be known as life-long learners.  There is no way to master something that is constantly changing, alternatively, we place our focus on research and ethically following best practices for sustainable growth that can adapt with variable platforms and burgeoning client needs.  Our diverse portfolio enables us to experiment and apply effective strategies across various fields.  Specializing may be easier, but we are more concerned with what is best, not what is easiest.

Three ways our diverse portfolio benefits us and our clients:

Relationship-Based

The clients of agencies that specialize all have something in common—they are involved in the same industry or vertical.  Our clients all have something in common too—they all have a relationship with Alter Endeavors.  The best way to get new clients is to keep the ones you have and grow through their word-of-mouth recommendations to others.  We don’t want to build your website and disappear, we want to build a relationship with you and retain you as an ongoing client. Building trust online is a strategy we use for our clients and ourselves. You can’t fabricate integrity, but you can build trust online by implementing a well-rounded digital marketing strategy and continuing to meet the needs of a growing brand.

Best Practices

It may be easy to spot all the differences between our diverse clients, one is a moving company another is an expert on introverts.  The real strategy is isolating what successful brands in various industries have in common. We are able to identify best practices that transcend specific verticals and help our clients thrive.  Clear calls to action on a web page and a design that directs visitors to take the desired action are one strategy that can be applied to almost any client.

Compare and Adapt

A huge element of an online presence involves experimentation. Everything from a social media strategy to Facebook ads requires patience and a willingness to try something new.  When we work with clients from diverse industries, our experimentation powers are magnified because we are able to compare what is working in one field and apply it to another.  As life-long learners, we are prepared to be surprised by what we can learn from the success of our smaller clients and adapt that for our larger clients and vice versa.  A diverse portfolio provides us with the opportunity to compare and adapt.

The next thing we want to learn: how we can help your unique brand grow!

So, You’ve Been Burned By Your Digital Marketing Agency…

burned by your digital marketing agency

A number of our clients come to us with burn scars—battle wounds from working with a digital marketing agency who either could not or would not live up to what they promised to deliver.  Sometimes an agency is overwhelmed, does not understand the client’s brand, needs, or the agency is simply dishonest. Regardless, at the end of the day, your brand may be suffering from serious burn scars.

Having a negative experience with a digital marketing agency can carry some advantages. Ultimately, the experience makes you wiser and more knowledgeable about what to do and what to avoid when you start shopping around for a new agency.  That being said, how can you make sure you are signing a contract with an ethical and competent agency; one that will deliver a product built on best practices while understanding your brand and helping it grow the right way? The answer? You need to do some homework before signing on the dotted line. Dig deeper to discern the true nature of an agency before contracting with them.  Here are a few things to consider before choosing a digital marketing agency.

Ask Others

Asking others about reputable agencies can go both waysask for recommendations and references. Query colleagues, business partners or other brand owners in your industry about which web agencies they used.  You will probably get recommendations for companies you should contact and some companies you shouldn’t. Once you contact a digital marketing agency, don’t be afraid to ask for references of recognizable (i.e. easy to find online and well-established) brands they represent. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without doing some background work, why would you trust your website or online presence to just anyone?

Is The Price Too Good To Be True?

If you have a few proposals from different agencies in front of you (which you should), and pricing between them is radically different, you need to seriously be asking WHY. 

Typically, pricing variations within a digital marketing agency are based on four things: team, technology, process and expertise. Someone that comes in really cheap may be relying on some kind of automation service and/or outsourced contractors to produce and disseminate content and/or build platforms. This may be totally fine in certain cases with certain companies, but diligently assess the quality and customization of their work for other clients.

Outsourcing, if very well managed, can be totally great; however, experience has taught us over here at Alter Endeavors to keep all of our services US-based simply due to communication and timelines. It makes us a little more expensive, but we are also able to control the outcome of services rendered much more closely, quickly and efficiently. This may change for Alter Endeavors if we ever come across an outsourcing resource that we feel meets our needs.

Technology can also mean automation. Some automation, especially when it comes to analytics and goal tracking is great. For example, we created Catch Engine to help automate some aspects of lead generation or review acquisitions, but not everything. If any agency says they can have you simply fill out a survey and then put you into their system for insta-automated-magic success, run away as fast as you can. Things need to adapt and change constantly, and artificial intelligence isn’t far enough along (yet) to replace the human element in this process.

Speaking of process, ask about it. Cheap pricing can possibly mean an agency is new or inexperienced or dishonest enough to simply ignore the need for a process to discover and help achieve brand goals online and off within a promised time frame.

Lack of experience or expertise may also be a reason for cheap pricing. The agency may be hungry and is willing to work for peanuts in order to build experience and their portfolio. It may be that an agency, although inexperienced, could be able to quickly adapt and grow into an effective marketing machine for your brand, just be careful that their inexperience does not cost you time, money or reputation.

On the flip side, seriously question higher-priced agencies. Just because they are the most expensive does not mean they are the best either. Ask the same questions above and vet them further with the following techniques as well.

Have More Than One Conversation

Just like if you were buying a car or a house, don’t be pressured into doing something you are not ready to commit to.  For many small to medium-sized businesses, the budget required to create a website or maintain a social presence is not insignificant.  Before entrusting any agency with your funds, interview them more than once.  You want to make sure that the digital agency is a good fit for your brand.  Be honest with the agency about your needs and timeline and a reasonable agency will do their best to give you a good idea of what they can accomplish and how they can meet your needs. Good agencies will tell you upfront when they are not a good fit for your brand, but will then suggest someone they think might be—something we do over here at Alter Endeavors more often than folks expect. 

Ask About the Team

If you have met with a representative of a digital marketing agency in person, more than likely, your first point of contact will be someone working in sales.  As the conversation progresses further, don’t be afraid to ask to speak directly with someone you will be working with.  The process of building a website is very intimate—you will be entrusting this agency with passwords, your email and more.  Ask to be put in touch with your potential point of contact.  A good relationship with your point of contact is necessary, especially if you might be signing up for an ongoing social engagement. You will be corresponding with your account manager on a monthly basis or more.

Know Your Goals

Sometimes a less than satisfactory website or failed social campaign isn’t the result of an incompetent agency, but a premature or undeveloped business idea.  In order for an agency to execute a solid product, you need to enter knowing your goals and your business. A deadline, eager business owner or half-baked plan can lead to a hastily put together website or social media presence that doesn’t truly represent the brand or achieve the desired goals. Put the time and thought into developing your business, sales funnel and calls to action first.  If you don’t have all the details ironed out, it’s not a deal breaker.  You may need to build extra time into your website building or social media planning process so that your agency can assist with your overall branding strategy.

No agency is perfect, including Alter Endeavors, but great agencies know this. Great agencies have systems in place to deal with infrequent mess-ups and failures. They are also constantly proving that their successes far outweigh the occasional, inconsequential blunder. There is definitely a difference between an agency who can help your brand thrive online and an agency who cannot —maybe even hurt it. Want to start a conversation with Alter Endeavors about your online presence?  You can ask us ALL the questions (we don’t mind).  Our goal is to build a powerful and sustainable online presence that will help you grow your brand!

How to Build Trust Online – The Trust Relationship

build trust online

Internet users are exposed to thousands of online ads daily, but how can your businesses stand out from the rest?  Trust.

Cultivating business relationships requires that you build trust online. Someone must have confidence in you or your brand before handing over money to purchase a product or service, contacting you for more information or progressing your businesses relationship to the next level.  Consumers are already highly attuned to looking for markers of trust in the real world.  The restaurant parking lot is packed—the food must be good.  This store is well maintained and the restrooms are clean—management must care about the customer’s experience.  The clothes in this boutique feel well-made—these products are high-quality.  How can you translate this physical experience into a digital one?

Your online presence is more than just a website, Facebook page or Yelp reviews.  You don’t need to become caught in the false idea that you must be on every social platform, but must understand that a complete digital marketing strategy and web presence encompass multiple pieces.  These tips can help you evaluate your current web presence and digital marketing strategy or create a digital marketing strategy and develop an online presence if you are just getting started.

Truth

You can’t have trust without truth.  There is no way to manufacture trust or “fake it till you make it” when it comes to building online confidence in your brand.  Today’s consumers can easily tell the difference between the genuine and the phony.  No marketing team, agency or expert can help you build trust online and establish your online empire if you don’t already have a legitimate business.  Before embarking online, conduct an honest gut check of what you already have in place.

Out of Date or Up to Date?

Are tumbleweeds rolling through your social profiles that haven’t been updated since 2014?  Is your website over 5 years old or not optimized for mobile?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are out of date!  Why should it matter whether you are out of date or up to date?  If you are going to put the effort into doing something, why would you leave it half-done?  An up-to-date online presence demonstrates that you care.  I want to patronize a business that extends effort, is consistent and cares about all aspects (even the small details) because that means the business values me and will take care of me as a customer.  An updated website is like having a clean floor in your brick and mortar establishment.  Active social accounts are like having an employee greeting patrons as they walk in.

How Do I Contact You?

How easy is it for a potential customer to get in touch with you?  Online users shouldn’t have to search on your website to find a phone number or physical address (if your business has one).  Creating clear CTAs or Calls to Action helps guide your potential customer down an intentional path that you have created for them. The path or funnel makes it easy for them to understand your business, purchase a product or service or take the desired next step.  Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram also make it easy for customers to get in touch with you.  Do you have someone monitoring your social channels, ready to respond to mentions, tags or inquiries?  Building trust means that a customer doesn’t have to scour the web for an email address to complain if there is a problem or find out more before pressing “Add to Cart”. When you are accessible online, it is easier for your audience to ask questions, connect with you and do business with your brand.

Be Upfront

While you can’t manufacture trust, you can build faith in your business through transparency and value.  Blogs, social content and web pages that preemptively answer questions, give helpful tips or provide free, valuable content help forge relationships online.  People understand that you are trying to sell something, but you can make their life easier while also building brand affinity.  Educating your client, offering a solution and alleviating concerns all before a purchase is even made, demonstrates to your audience that you understand their point of view.  The more time a client spends on your website, the more likely they are to make a purchase from you.  Display customer video testimonials on your website or encourage happy clients to leave a review after taking a Catch Engine survey.  What happens if your client is not satisfied with your product or service?  Do you have a guarantee or return policy?  If you do, make it easy for your client to know what will happen in a worse case scenario.  You can also follow up with clients who had a negative experience and stymy negative reviews with a Catch Engine survey. Transparency around your process and policies will empower customers to easily make a purchase decision, confident in the fact that they can trust your brand to make things right.  An active social presence where you respond to positive customer reviews, mishaps and shoutouts further expose your commitment to serving all customers.

You can’t fabricate integrity, but you can build trust online by implementing a well-rounded digital marketing strategy.  Let’s have a conversation about your online presence!

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!