Monday, 29 June 2015

Using Social Media As It Should Be

There are few businesses who use social media as it should be used. To engage your audience. To create posts that encourage ‘conversation’. There are many different ways that you can do that, which will vary depending on the business that you are in.

Recently a local hotel in Ballarat (my local-let’s call it-Freight) asked on their Facebook page what mothers would like to see in a child friendly lunch venue. Over 200 comments later they had suggestions ranging from needs of babies, toddlers and children, what mothers want, toys to play with, food to eat on the menu. Lots of suggestions for them to consider.

You are right to think that this line of questioning is not new. I too have seen many businesses ask their following what they would like to see in improvements. In many cases the owners already know what they are doing, what they are seeking is more engagement and publicity, helping to build the excitement. They do not really care about what you think – they believe that this is a clever way for them to start the promotion of their new product or service.

So what the clever management at Freight did next was to thank people, announce the winner of the voucher and tell all the mothers to ‘watch this space’.

Within weeks Freight launched their lunchtime canteen (eat in or takeaway) with a simple, yet
affordable menu. They matched a café style menu with a kids menu that has healthy options (fruit skewers and sandwiches). And they put in a very simple play space for kids with a toy kitchen, blocks and a blackboard for imaginary play.

All of this was developed by simply asking a question on Facebook – and with proper follow through they have created a welcoming space for mums and families.

Facebook will always change the way that businesses can use it – often these changes are based on users feedback. There is more reliance on paid advertising to gain reach and this will expand into all social media in the coming months. Social media should be used to create conversation and as a lead to your website – simple. The Visionary Marketing Lounge has just been updated to include a proven way that you can achieve this.

If you would like to check out Freight visit their website here

Monday, 15 June 2015

Social Video - what you need to know

It has been said that images and video on social media gain higher engagement through more likes and sharing. The incredible rise in popularity of platforms like Pinterest and Instagran which are purely image based only proves this.

What are your options?

YouTube has been around forever -you create videos and you upload it. People visit You Tube to find things, it is part of the Google family, it has high usage in terms of searches and uploads. It has had no competition....

Then Twitter launched Vine, an app that allows you to record and share short play videos -like video tweets. Check it out here

Then Pinterest allowed gifs (moving images) shortly followed by video - linking to You Tube.

Facebook has recently added auto play in their news feed (where the video is playing without you pressing play) and featured video on business pages.

Enter Twitter again and the introduction of Meerkat and Periscope - both apps enabling users to create and then upload to Twitter videos straight from their phone. The difference between the two is that Periscope is live streams.

Technology is enabling us to connect with each other and customers in brand new ways every day - your smart phone and an app are allowing you to create and share what could have cost you hundreds of dollars, for next to nothing.

How will you use these channels to promote your business?

Monday, 1 June 2015

Pinterest surpasses Instagram beating Google

Let’s celebrate, Pinterest is still alive, infact it is more than alive – this platform is fast rising to become one of the giants of the social media world.

It had been a while since I had heard anything about Pinterest. It is no secret that this is my all time most favourite social media, and so the silence had started to concern me. What if people had forgotten about Pinterest, what if it started to slip out of minds and digital strategies.

But alas, it is alive, infact experts are touting 2016 to be the year of Pinterest. All my dreams have come true! Pinterest continues to have the fastest adoption rate of any social media, recently surpassing Instagram (Global Web Index). While it is still attracting typically women in their mid-30’s, the sign up rates for men is increasing. Infact if it continues the rate of growth it is having within 5 years users will rival those on Facebook and will quickly leave others behind. There are today 47.1 million users on this platform.

From a digital marketing perspective Pinterest is only 2nd to Facebook in regards to click throughs to websites from the platform. Other platforms are showing decreasing traffic to websites. Pinterest users are highly motivated to buy. If you sell online and you are not on Pinterest then change it, today.

There are some experts saying that Pinterest is going to rival Google as a go-to-place to find information, products and services (Social Media Examiner). Forreseters Nate Elliott contends Pinterest will one day drive more sales than Facebook or twitter, and by 2016 its ad offerings could trump those of other social networks.

And how is this so? It all comes down to data, specifically Nate Elliott explains it as ‘intent’ vs ‘affinity’ data. Look it up if you want to know more. Essentially the likes of Facebook collects affinity data – looking at people or products you mention, what you like, who you follow and creates your ‘newsfeed’ including ads around this. Pinterest like Google collects ‘intent’ data – through search terms you use and pins you pin they can collect more specific information about you and what you are looking to buy, your newsfeeds and ads can then be targeted based on what you are looking to purchase at that time.

So what does this mean to you? I would suggest that if any of the following resonates with you and your business then you need to take a closer look at Pinterest
  • ·         Sell anything online
  • ·         Blogger
  • ·         Have many images of your work, locations etc
  • ·         Have an app
  • ·         Recipes
  • ·         In the movie/film industry
  • ·         Ideas / Imaginatikn / Creative space
  • ·         Events/weddings/parties
  • ·         Travel/tourism industry

If you said yes to any of the above then look into Pinterest more.

Would you like more on Pinterest:

Monday, 25 May 2015

So You Want To Be 1st Page On Google?

“...We get phone calls out of the blue all the time at Visionary Group from people who can put us “... on first page of Google” - after asking them if they have actually had a look at our business (Digital Marketing Strategy), I politely say “No Thanks” and end the conversation before I get peeved off enough to give them a mouthful…”

The Issue:
Focussing on pagerank alone is not a wholistic approach to marketing your business within the digital landscape, search engines (particularly Google) have worked hard to refine their algorithms to take into account relevance of content within web pages.

Not only that, quality content delivered via a variety of channels (thus directing traffic to other content on your site) provides a broader online reach of your content.

Become a Subject Matter Expert:
From a business owner’s or manager's point of view, there is a real need to position your business or individual as a subject matter expert… “erggg… just another thing I need to do in just 24 hours a day” I hear your say!

Not only does this have an online benefit but also will be an advantage to boosting your personal profile or your company’s profile; think of it as an aspect of personal development.

Not Ranking but Integrated Digital Marketing:
Working on an immediate rankings of a select number of keywords is not beneficial in the long term… considering that any of the 500+ changes to search engine algorithms can wipe away all that work in a minute.

An effective digital marketing strategy consists of multiple channel outlook and consistent quality content, drawing in genuine interest toward your website, whereby your optimised conversion process produces effective return on digital marketing investment.

Visionary Group has been developing Digital Marketing Strategies since 2004, we suggest that all businesses need to be invest in the following areas as a start:
1. Organic Search (SEO): Optimise your site so search engines understand
2. Paid Search (SEM): Invest in promoting your business online
3. Google Places (Google Maps): Let people know where you are (free)
4. Social Media: Engage in existing and potential customers
5. Email Marketing: Regularly communicate with Subscribers as VIP’s

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Who Will Do Your Next Task?

It seems I have been involved in a number of discussions lately about outsourcing services overseas. My stand is that our business will never outsource services overseas that can be done here in Australia, by Australians. However in an open minded kind of way I have been trying to understand why businesses would.

I was told by a company who was promoting at a recent expo I attended that the reason I should use an overseas outsourcing business is because ‘economies in these countries are poor and that the Government doesn’t support unemployed people like here in Australia.’ Great that is warm and fuzzy, nothing about quality of service, knowledge or experience. So I take work I could be giving to an Aussie small business and send it overseas, I save both on my bottom line and I prop up an emerging economy – awesome. But do I really get a quality service or will I have to redo it or be unhappy with the outcome, but think ‘it is good enough I will put up with it, I saved an economy’. And what about that Australian Small Business I took work away from?

I have asked business owners who have, or do outsource why? They always say it is cheaper. I ask if they are happy? Mostly the answer is no. Those who are happy have given very specific instructions on what they want done, those who don’t understand the technical part of the service they are seeking, flounder. Then they turn to an Australian based company to fix it – the project has cost them double what they could have paid in the first place.

So when you do have a task you need completed, what are your options?
1.      Outsource overseas
2.      Use a third party company who outsources overseas
3.      Use an Australian based small business
4.      Employ someone
By the way that order is not random, that is the order from cheapest to most expensive.

I think I have discussed point 1 enough. I don’t understand why you would do this, if you have a differing opinion then please share.

Point 2. This is a company who disguises where there work is being done, many do not disclose that they have the work (your work) completed offshore, this is sneaky. Again I refer to above comments – if you can use an Aussie business to do the work then why send it overseas?

Point 3. OK declaring that this is the direction everyone who needs a task completed and can’t because they lack time or skills should take. The Australian micro and small business market is worth more to our economy than the stock market – that is a lot in my book. That is worth nurturing and financing to keep our economy strong.

These businesses could be solo operators, or employ up to 5 people, you are probably one of them. Are you thinking who you will give your next task to, bet you know a consultant (or 5), bet you know a VA (or 
5). These small businesses rely on other business giving them a task to do. They rely on that to pay their bills, feed a family, dine in a cafe, go to the pub, pay for swimming lessons, dance class, karate, pay wages or outsource their task to someone else. See how it flows on, continues to support our local and national economy? Think about where your income comes from and where it goes?

Moving on to point 4. This is also a good option, and I am not saying don’t employ people, but depending on the task, there could be a better option. Remember to consider the on-costs – sick leave, annual leave, public holidays, lunch breaks, equipment, training, down-time (how many staff members actually ‘work’ the hours you pay them?) Just my thoughts on employing staff.

So next time you have a task to do, consider all the options available to you.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Google Algorithm April 21 Update Confirms Importance of SOcial, LOcal & MObile (SOLOMO)

Google indicated last year that extra emphasis was going to be given to mobile responsive websites. Furthermore, the early adopters of integrated mobile ready sites with quality local search capabilities are going to be the standout winners with the next Google update slated April 21.

Mobile Responsive Websites Not An Option Anymore:

The latest round of Google updates will continue to focus on the increasingly high reliance on mobile devices for product research during the decision making consumers make for products and services. The natural extension of this process is to create a positive purchasing experience for mobile devices and Google is pushing Digital businesses to lift their game.

As search from mobiles and purchases continues to increase, the updated search engine algorithm will reflect the shift towards mobile friendly websites and online stores, directly responding to consumer centric search.

Users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices" Google Webmaster Blog

Google's focus on mobile isn't new - last year the global search giant put the main eCommerce players on notice, stamping their authority yet further as the pivotal force within the Digital economy. This time, the focus on smaller players to update their websites and to adopt Mobile Responsive practices:
  • Flash based sites marked down - not supported on many mobile devices (thanks Adobe!)
  • Sufficiently readable text for mobile devices with need to zoom on screen
  • Resizes and relocates content so user does not have to zoom or scroll horizontally, such as used in Gantry style templates
  • Links that are easy to use on devices, preferably graphic based but more importantly with white space surrounds

Social, Local, Mobile (SOLOMO) now ‘front and center’ of Googles search parameters... we've been monitoring and discussing this movement for the past 18 months… no surprise to us!

While a continued shift to mobile is even more important, the following website best practices are also required to keep up with your competition:

  • Keyword research - Precise keywords and long-tail keywords ever more important
    • don't focus on generalised, industry related keywords - brute force approach penalty
    • spend time crafting keywords through quality research tools, create effective funnels for conversion, don't focus on just 'the sale'
  • Performance of websites:
    • Higher performing sites will be given better rankings by Google
    • Considerations for Page Load speed, bounce rates and time on site
    • Indication for quality user engagement
  • Content above the fold:
    • Focus on immediacy of relevant content open page loading
    • While Bing indexes first 100k - Google does whole pages but also indications of emphasis for first 100k
  • High Quality Content a Priority
    • What web users want AND where it can be found
    • Humanising the web, focus back on the consumer

Have you received a Google notification email recently about Mobile friendly sites? 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Why You Absolutely Still Need A Business Website!

Over the years, every now and then when attending networking events, we hear a familiar remark - ‘I don’t need a website’... we respond by saying ‘Good luck with that!’

The role of the website is still as important than it was a decade ago, some may see that social media or apps can replace the humble website, but there is overwhelming evidence that (in the foreseeable future) websites will remain as the ‘central hub’ for all digital marketing and exchange, with all other channels and communications feeding into it.

Owned Media:

Firstly, your website is yours… commonly identified as Owned Media; you have the ability to quickly control and change content and respond to opportunities in the marketplace with your own publishing platform. Websites can operate all day and night, servicing clients from all over the globe and are very cheap to run considering this global reach (try that with a ‘bricks and mortar’ only business!). Your business website can deliver a positive user experience and build trust in your brand and business culture.

Other ‘Owned Media’ include other digital assets that you have created for your business, such as Blogs, Technical Papers (White Papers), eBooks - but they too are an adjunct of your website… again the central digital focal point for your business. We will write more about Owned, Earned and Paid Media in another Blog soon, but in the meantime you might want to read this article from Forbes here.

Free/Cheap Sites:
Another thing we hear a lot is how business owners have developed their website for free or very much on the cheap.. is great for those businesses who are starting out on a shoestring but a well developed website with a consistent content management strategy will accelerate a new brand tremendously.

At the end of the day free or cheap websites have their place, but invariably tend to end up costing more than they are worth and sometimes can damage your brand and reputation in the process as well. A lot of low end sites are developed using a service with limited number of templates, as such business owners will notice similar looking sites; this is part of observation selective bias phenomenon, but also because due to the limited template selections.

Every now and then we hear of some seriously frightening horror stories of business owners having their domains or hosting held to ransom as they try to relocate their digital assets to new providers, or free/cheap website providers refusing to close down a web page created for the business, which creates confusion in the marketplace.

Doing marketing on your site can be problematic under these arrangements, especially SEO in particular, as you business site are grouped under a generic domain so any attempt to optimise will benefit website supplier

Centralised Marketing:
An independent business website is essential for Integrated marketing and is the central point for all marketing channels, driving traffic to specific landing pages, offers  products and other owned media such as fact sheets, white papers etc. This whole process is your marketing funnel, thereby drawing traffic from a variety of sources; the end result when working as effective as possible will be increased sales, customers and retained clientele.

Building Trust with Domain Emails:
Another important element of owned media is the humble email account, there has been numerous situations at networking events where we’ve been given a business card and the email address is a Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail email address. Granted it’s a small thing, but all the small things are picked up when prospective clients are deciding to do business with you…. email is still important today.

Optimising Your Funnel - Your Digital Presence:
While this is not strictly regarding business websites, we believe it’s often an overlooked aspect of drawing traffic to business websites. As the Internet has matured there are sites out there that have redundant business information, such as contact details, logos and product/services. A simple search for your business on third party sites such as business directories can give you an interesting sample. Monitoring and updating redundant details can be difficult and laborious but essential… but more about that in a future Blog!

'An operator of a truly sustainable business will recognise the value of securing and maximising the effectiveness of their digital space.'

Monday, 2 March 2015

What Do I Want From Networking?

I have recently started to extend my networks and attended a few new events, just to see what they are like. I have found meeting new people to be refreshing, and guess what even some doors have been opened for opportunities - I like that!

Sometimes you just need to step out of your comfort zone and also the safety of the groups that you currently network with and look for new connections. That is what networking should be about.
The new events I attended were a mix of stand around with a glass of wine, and a speed networking event - guess which one was of more value to building my network, yep the speed networking one! In a room of 70 people I spoke to about 35 people, collected there business cards and gave them mine. I followed up with most of them and made 4 great connections - 2 which could lead to immediate work, 1 which will lead to more networking and speaking opportunities and 1 which is just a great contact to have! The stand around and have coffee one I exchanged cards with about 5 people, followed up with all, increased my social network and well maybe one day there will be an opportunity - or I will see them at the next event and start to build trust with them?

So what do I want from networking? I want to be able to meet enough people to ensure that my time has not been wasted. I want to be able to re-connect with those who I think there might be opportunity of working together. I want to see value in the number of qualified and warm leads I can leave the room with.

If a networking event has done those 3 simple things, then for me it is of value. These for me are the highest priority events to attend, This is why I will always put speed networking at the top of my priority list for events to attend and be part of.

Come along to Speednet Ballarat's next event - follow this link to their website for more information

Monday, 23 February 2015

Three M's to a competitive website

Your website is just as important as your shop front or office - as such it should be maintained, managed and marketed in the same way. The three m's of a competitive website:

Maintained: This includes keeping content up-to-date, links working, uptime and speed of your website, security (against hackers and viruses) to name a few. Your host should be able to provide some of these services.

Managed: It is very easy for a website to get either out of control through too many people accessing and updating it or at the other end of spectrum for it to become redundant because it hasn't been updated.

We recommend regular updates and also if you have multiple people as content editors or web masters, to ensure that website guidelines document is adopted.

Marketed: As with anything else that you produce for your business, your website should be appealing to your ideal client, it should tell your story and inform about your products and/or services. Colours, fonts and images should be consistent with your style guide.

Once you have a well designed and functional website then you need to tell people about it. There are many ways to tell people about your site, at this point many people get focused on purely gaining high google rankings (that is appearing on the 1st page). While this is important it is not the only way of getting people onto your website - this is where your digital strategy comes into play.

If you are looking for a new website, take the guesswork out of it by completing our website requirements form and receiving a detailed report to help with development (or redevelopment)
If you would like a free report on your digtal footprint then request it here.

Monday, 16 February 2015

My website is a waste of time, I don't need it

Your website is an extension of your business, it should provide information to existing and potential clients/customers, it should give people opportunities to learn more about your offerings and to connect with you. There is not a business type that I can think of that should not have a website - it is like asking should I have a business name, ABN and accounting software. It is a reflection of how professional and serious you are about building a successful business.

The world wide web has become a very confusing place to be part of - and it is possible to sink lot's of money in without seeing any return. You need to understand how it works, or partner with someone who understands. It is not a fad and it is not going away - it is growing - and if your business is to survive you need a website.

You have a Facebook page - that is enough right? Here is the thing - you do not own your Facebook page, the content or the likers. You have no control over Facebook changing (improving?) the rules. You can have 2000 likers but only getting an engagement of 30. It is the same with all of the social media platforms - they are important - but your website gives you 100% control - all the time. Or it should.

If you have a website and not sure who owns your domain name, where it is hosted or at minimum how to do content updates - then ask questions and learn. Websites can be a mere page with basic information - or they can be gigantic with complete e-commerce systems built into  them - the size depends on your businesses needs.

Website developers have been creating websites since forever - many of them have used code to create and update sites - these guys (and gals) understand about widgets, components, modules and code - so some things are best left to the pros. With great CMS available today there is no reason you can't learn how to do content updates yourself - for many it is not much harder than using word.

Your website presence does not need to be huge, it does need to work for your business however, check out your competitors and what they are doing and review your site regularly. Ensure you have google analytics on your site so you can track visits to your site - how else are you going to determine what works and what doesn't?

Before you say you do not need a website, look at what your competitors are doing and have a think about how a website could help you 'do' your business. It should be working with you. A website will at the end of the day build trust with the people that you meet - if they don't do business with you, they may just refer someone to you who will.

Let Visionary help you with a Digital Review for your business (FREE) - follow this link

Friday, 13 February 2015

Why you can't reach your customer.

Personalisation – that is the way of the future. Just like your favourite shop knows your name, your partners and kids names, the things you like and how you want to purchase – as will your favourite websites, search engines and social media.

It doesn’t matter what buzz words marketers use – consumers (you) are increasingly able to be selective about the messaging that you see – where, when and what.

Paid advertising on television, radio and print are increasingly providing a lower return on investment. Interestingly outdoor advertising (bill boards, buses etc) are providing better return on investments over longer periods of times.

Businesses are turning more and more to the online world to offer them the opportunities to promote their products and services.

Directory listings, adwords and adsense have been options for a while – however research is indicating that return on investment for banner advertising is decreasing.

There is debates happening in regards to the effectiveness of e-mail marketing, with open rates decreasing. Gmail and Outlook recently rolled out changes to how e-mails are organised with tabs now filtering messages away from first screen views. SMS marketing has been trialled by some companies but has never really taken off – maybe it will.

Consumers have the opportunities of ‘opting out’, ‘removing’, ‘unsubscribing’, and ‘filtering’ messages and advertisers – providing marketers with additional barriers to having potential customers see their advertising.
As consumers discover personalisation, companies also discover new ways to sell advertising, and push messages to people (gmail users will see the paid advertising popping up). Social media are refining the way that there ads are seen and how business can target customers – LinkedIn and Twitter have joined the paid advertising field along with Facebook and Pinterest are trialing paid pins.

As technology expands the ways for companies to tell their story as does it allow for the consumer to customise the type of messaging you see and how you receive it.

Like it or not there is so much ‘data’ about you in cyber-space (google Big Data and see what comes up) it is this information that is giving business the opportunity to target you as an individual.

The days of mass-advertising and paying for ‘brand awareness’ is gone – if you understand your target market you can reach them in a targeted and cost effective way by tapping into the digital world.

Visionary is hosting a Marketing 101 workshop in Ballarat - to register follow this link or visit our 2015 workshop program information here.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Good Headshots Will Sell More

Having a great looking head shot will assist you with branding for both your business and also yourself.

Having a bad head shot will not envoke trust in potential clients/customers. Bad includes: 
Out of date pictures (I once met someone after connecting with them on Social Media and was left feeling disappointed). 
Poor quality (let's face it 'selfies' are great for friends and family...but....). 
Cropped photos (you know the one where you are out with your mates and someone snaps a pic and shares on FB - you download and crop)

You get the idea. 

A good photo is: 
Where you are wearing enough make-up to highlight your features, take away the shine and stand out on camera. 
Good quality camera and a photographer who knows how to use both the camera and lights, and also edit the pictures. 
Natural poses that reflect your business brand and your personality. Do your research and be prepared.

The main purpose of using a photo of you and your team in promotion is that people (your customers/clients) want to do business with a person. Not a brand. Corporation. A person they can identify with, speak to and most importantly impart their hard earned dollars with (that is the bit you want). Having head shot photos of you and your team will create connection with your business.

Investing in good quality head shots, and also regularly updating them, is money well spent. Once you have the pictures you can use them on social media (let's face it between personal accounts-with an average person having 5.4* and also business accounts-there is plenty of scope on social media alone). Then there is your blog, website, profiles on directories, business cards, brochures and other printed collateral, media releases and bio sheets. Really any item that you are trying to envoke trust and build relationships with potential and new customers. 

A library of professional head shots can be used over and over again - updated once or twice a year. Visionary's professional head shot day, held in Ballarat is our service to help business have better marketing! For more information on these days follow this link

* Source Global Web Index

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Facebook Ads: Maturing product worth a look... potential threat to Google AdWords for business?

At Visionary, we've run numerous advertising campaigns for our clients and also for ourselves, we've seen the potential in the early stages and the increasing positive impact Facebook delivers to business.

Things are ramping up quickly at Facebook in terms of how refined their service performs - currently we have a campaign running for a client, which is almost identical to an earlier campaign that ran in mid 2014; we saw a 10% increase in target audience (more FB users in area) and also reached the same number of impressions as the previous campaign in half the time!

Granted, we have to apply the consideration that there are a great number of variables that need to be taken into account; differences in messaging and topic is paramount, also there is possibly less competing campaigns during early new-year where typically overall Internet traffic is lower.

We still believe that recent changes and refinements at Facebook are starting to deliver a mature Pay-Per-Click offering that could rival Google AdWords - it's certainly worth considering, but only after identifying if your target market operates on Facebook. Certainly if your business predominately sells to the public consumer (ie. B2C) then there is every chance that a well developed and funded campaign could produce great results.

Our friends at Social Media Examiner have just published a great 15 point guide to better Facebook advertising, we suggest taking a look here; as always the team at Visionary Group are available to discuss Facebook advertising but also how to we can help you 'Create and Market Your Online Business' - Contact us today for a Free 30 minute introductory consult and proposal!