Articles by Susan Young

New Website Project Checklist

Friday, January 25th, 2013

This year, my marketing firm has initiated many new website development projects for our Indianapolis area clients. Although each client and website is different, I’ve found that having some basic items in place in advance of the project will ensure a shorter timeline and smoother transition to the final website.

Having all of your ducks in a row prior to starting your website project will help to ensure a smoother process

Whether you need a website revision or new website, here is my client checklist for a seamless website project:

1.Determine why you are building the website: What it is that ‘s not working about your current website? How many leads do you need to acquire or convert on your new site?

2.Who is your main audience for the website? Without knowing details about your targeted audience, your web designer cannot adequately represent their needs online. Clearly define your primary and secondary audience(s), with demographic and psychographic details for your web team.

3.How do you want to portray your brand? Should the designer build off of your existing logo and color scheme, or come up with something different entirely? What is the personality of your brand or the voice that you want to portray on your website and in the website’s content?

4.Should the website be based off of existing materials? If you have a current website, brochure, advertisement or other marketing materials, should this information be used in developing the website content or design? Which information is still accurate and which information should the web team exclude?

5.Who will be involved in the decision-making process regarding your website? Will one person be the main project point-person for the website project, or will you involve several team members? The web design firm needs to know upfront in order to include these individuals in the communication process. Also, you’ll need at least one person from your company that can make themselves available for phone calls or emails to answer questions and to be interviewed for the content-writing process.

6.What are your current search engine marketing goals? Does your site currently rank well for chosen keywords in your industry? What keyword phrases are important for your company’s website? A good web developer will conduct thorough SEO research in advance of the development process, and include this service as part of the web development project.

7.Do you plan to utilize blogging or social media? Whether or not you have a team of social media marketers, your web development company can help you set up prominent Web link from your new website to your corporate blog and social media pages. If you’re not currently blogging or using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest or other sites, your web firm can set these up for you.

8.Do you have any product or team photos? Websites need photos to enhance the content and design. If you’ve previously invested in stock photography, company headshots, or have pictures of your building, products, or other usable photos, share these with your web designer for use on your site. If not, many web designers can coordinate photo shoots, if needed.

9.What is your (realistic) timeline? If you need your site completed in two months, or you are six-months from securing the funding to open your business, let the web design firm know in advance, so they can adjust their schedule to meet the needs of your company’s timeline, as well as their own client deadlines. Remember that web design firms are often working on multiple website projects at once, so giving them an idea of your expectations can help drive the project and assure that there aren’t any surprises along the way.

With a little advanced preparation and good communication — before and throughout the website development project — the process of developing your new website will prove less stressful and more successful.

Susan Young, President
AimFire Marketing
(317) 858-7669 office/fax
(317) 414-3623 cell
syoung@aimfiremarketing.com
http://www.aimfiremarketing.com

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29 Ways to Integrate and Reuse Your Marketing Content

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Reuse your content to save!

Sometimes, coming up with new content for your website, blog post or other marketing can be downright exhausting. As an outsourced marketing copywriter for my Indianapolis clients, I’m always trying to find ways to re-purpose existing content and marketing tactics in order to save my clients time and resources. So I put together 29 ways that you might reuse your existing marketing materials:

1.Turn an effective print ad campaign into a landing page or email blast.
2.Shorten your whitepaper into a blog post.
3.Turn a page of web content into a sales letter or brochure.
4.Use your blog posts for email marketing content.
5.Re-write customer testimonials into a longer case study or add them to your website.
6.Use social media to share your (old or new) blog posts and drive people to your website.
7.Recruit subscribers to your eNewsletter through your social media pages.
8.Recruit social media followers through your in-store display, sales letter or email.
9.Post your press release on your website or blog.
10.Send your blog post, whitepaper or case study to a publication for earned media coverage (PR).
11.Print out relevant blog posts or media coverage and send them to a prospect with a sales letter.
12.Gather your press releases, press coverage and blog posts into a media kit to post on your website or to send to reporters and editors. Use at trade shows as handouts for prospects and media.
13.Have your customer read their case study or testimonial in a video format to post on YouTube and your website.
14.Perform a customer survey and send any relevant results to your industry trade journal or to the local media.
15.Send a blog post or educational article to a local or trade media editor for inclusion as a column.
16.Print out a copy of your latest print ad campaign and use it as a flyer or handout at a trade show, golf outing or other event sponsorship.
17.Send flyers or offer letters with your billing statements to customers to remind them of additional products or services.
18.Re-run your radio advertising or customer testimonials as your on-hold message on your company’s office telephone line.
19.Post your television advertising on a company YouTube account and on your website.
20.Use social media to promote an upcoming trade show, open house, sponsorship or other event.
21.Package leftover promotional products and materials from trade shows or events and include them in prospect mailings or gift packages for clients and vendors.
22.Create a blog post about your company’s events over the past year, and document with photos and videos.
23.Write a blog post about your company’s most popular blogs or social media posts of the year.
24.License your blog content for others to use and promote on their websites or blogs (with permission and a link back to your site, of course).
25.Post a sales presentation PowerPoint slide on SlideShare and include on your social media pages.
26.Share a relevant blog post to a local or industry LinkedIn Group page.
27.Create a whitepaper or eBook out of blog content, surveys or old eNewsletter content. Offer it for downloading on your website in exchange for signing up for your newsletter or requesting information.
28.Convert a blog post into an audio or video file for your website.
29.Tape-record your speaking engagements and offer them (for sale or download) via your website.

These are just a few ideas for re-purposing content — off the top of my head. How many more could you add to this list?

Susan Young, President
AimFire Marketing
(317) 858-7669 office/fax
(317) 414-3623 cell
syoung@aimfiremarketing.com
http://www.aimfiremarketing.com

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Is your website in need of a renovation?

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Lately, my husband & I have been watching a lot of home improvement shows on HGTV and DIY Network, such as Kitchen Crashers and I Hate my Bath. We recently spent a four-day weekend updating our Brownsburg home with new interior and exterior lighting, doorknobs, fixtures, tile backsplashes and more. After the process was complete, we couldn’t help but marvel in all of our new updates. With just a few changes, and removing the old, outdated things, it looked and felt like we had a new house.

This reminded me of how it is with many company websites. When you visit your own website (if you have one), perhaps you have thought some of the following things:

■ Wow, this website design really looks nice.
■ My website looks like it’s been updated recently.
■ I’d be proud for someone to take a tour of my website.
■ This website really reflects my company’s personality.
■ My website is clean and uncluttered.
■ If someone visited my website, they could easily find what they were seeking.
■ Based on this website, I think someone would want to buy my product or service.

Were you thinking many of these statements about your own website? If not, it may be time for a website revision.

Sometimes even a small change to a website can make a big difference and impact on your visitor’s experience. For example:

■ Web Design: If your design doesn’t reflect your new logo/brand or simply hasn’t been changed in a while, it may be time to change out your design template. The good news is that many websites today actually cost less than they did five or 10 years ago.
■ Website Functionality: If your website was built using an outdated platform, and you’re not able to make many changes to your site without involving an expensive developer’s time, it’s worth your while to switch to a more user-friendly platform such as WordPress. Sites built using WordPress or another similar CMS (content management system) make updating content much easier, so you’ll spend less on updates over time.
■ Web Content: Adding a blog feature to your existing website allows you to update your site with fresh content, making your website more informative and search-engine friendly, meaning your web visitors will be more likely to find you, stay longer on your site, and become customers.
■ Social Media: It’s easier than ever to add social media share buttons throughout your site, as well as links to your corporate social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube and more. Why not engage your web visitors in more than one place on the Web? You can also encourage them to share your content and comment on your site’s blog posts too.

Perhaps your website is in need of a major tear out and re-haul, but you are afraid to take the leap and make a change. The process might be easier than you think. Although it probably won’t take a long weekend (most of my clients’ website projects are completed within six to eight weeks), I promise you that the results will be worthwhile. Then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy looking at your newly renovated website.

Susan Young, President
AimFire Marketing
(317) 858-7669 office/fax
(317) 414-3623 cell
syoung@aimfiremarketing.com
http://www.aimfiremarketing.com

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Keys to Success When Working with a Marketing Firm

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Working together with your marketing firm makes the process go smoother

Since starting my Indianapolis area marketing firm in 2005, I have worked with a variety of clients, from solo entrepreneurs to other agencies and creative firms, as well as small businesses with a full staff and sales team. But no matter the size of the client, the success of the company’s marketing program is usually not dependent on their marketing budget or how flashy their ads look.

If you are working with a marketing firm, or looking to hire a marketing consultant to outsource or assist with marketing your business, there are a few things that you need to know in order to make the relationship a successful one.

Unfortunately, some of the clients who fail to take these considerations to heart end up struggling in their businesses and they are not able to see the full potential of their marketing strategy and execution.

1.Trust: Find a marketing firm or consultant that you can trust to get the job done, and then let them do their job. For many business owners, especially of smaller firms, this is a hard concept to grasp. You are an expert at what you do. Marketers are experts in their fields, too. If you are not willing to trust their opinion or go with their recommendations for every marketing decision, it will not end up being a good relationship. Marketing firms need to know that their clients value their opinions and instincts when it comes to marketing their business. If you are constantly second-guessing them or micro-managing their every move, you will end up wasting time and not getting much accomplished.

2.Communication: The best clients for me are the ones who are the most responsive. Sure, we are all busy people and have a lot on our plates. We juggle our work, personal lives and family priorities. But we, as agencies, work hard to turn around that web content or blog post that you so desperately needed last week. Be considerate and take five minutes to read through it and respond, so that you don’t leave us hanging. Let us know what’s going on in your business by having a regular conference call, or sending us periodic emails throughout the day. This will help us to do our jobs better. And the more we know about your business, the better we can market your business.

3.Inspiration: As an outsourced resource for your business, a marketing firm cannot be “in the trenches” with your sales team or in all of your team meetings. It’s just not practical. But you can help out your marketing or ad agency tremendously by providing some ideas that were generated from the meeting that relate to your marketing strategy. Perhaps you read an article that would be great to post on social media, or to expand into a blog post. Let your social media marketing firm know this, or create an ongoing list of ideas to send them. This helps inspire them to do their best job promoting your company and makes the marketing messages more authentic, too.

4.Respect: Respect your ad agency or freelance marketing person, and you will be respected. This could range from paying your agency invoices on time to not calling, emailing them or even texting them with a last-minute request for a web update at 3 a.m. Marketers are people too. They have bills to pay, kids to shuttle to soccer practice, and –(gasp) — other clients to serve. If you show them the same respect and consideration that they show you, the client-agency partnership will thrive.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your marketing firm and set expectations and guidelines at the onset of a new vendor-client relationship. And definitely revisit the situation if you sense a strain or lack of communication. But don’t forget the above guidelines to maximize your investment in your outsourced marketing resource. Your marketing firm wants you to succeed, and make your life easier. They just need a little help from you.

Susan Young, President
AimFire Marketing
(317) 858-7669 office/fax
(317) 414-3623 cell
syoung@aimfiremarketing.com
http://www.aimfiremarketing.com

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