July 24th, 2014 by: Chris Marentis

Whether it’s a blog post, website homepage, or social media post, it’s clear that photos and videos play a major role in marketing. Several studies show that web users pay more attention—and remember what they see—when visual content is paired with text. According to Zabisco, 40 percent of people respond better to visual content than they do to text alone, and your business can’t afford to miss 40 percent of your audience.

SuccessFollow a Few Basic Guidelines

Even though most local marketing experts agree that it’s best to use images in all forms of marketing, it’s also equally important to make sure that you are using the right images and using them effectively. Make sure that the images you use are relevant to the content you’re providing. If users get the impression that you used stock images that don’t relate to or enhance the text, they may be more likely to ignore your content altogether.

Instead, use a captivating image that reinforces the message you’re trying to communicate. Also, make sure that you’re using high-quality images that aren’t copyright protected. You may have to purchase images from a reputable source such as Getty Images or, but the cost of these images is usually minimal when you consider the impact that a thoughtful image will produce.

Here are a couple of examples of brands that have used images effectively:

Nike Turns Up Visual Impact with Instagram Campaign

Nike has a strong visual brand identity across a variety of media, especially on social networking sites. Most important, the brand unites all of its visual imagery across several social networks. For instance, it uses Instagram hashtags to alert Twitter followers about a new photo.

Recently, Nike celebrated its 2-year- anniversary with Instagram by holding a photo contest for followers. The company showcased the top 10 photos from Instagram followers, a move that increased user engagement while reinforcing its visual brand identity.

Sephora Keeps Users Engaged with Mobile App

Cosmetics brand Sephora took visual engagement to the next level by incorporating images in its mobile “Beauty Board” app. People who use the app can upload photos of themselves wearing their favorite Sephora cosmetics. That way, shoppers can log in to the app to see for themselves how the products look on other people. After the app was launched, sales increased significantly, and more than 30 percent of the jump in Black Friday sales could be traced to mobile users.

The Possibilities Are Endless

There are endless examples of brands that have used images effectively in their marketing. For small business owners, the challenge is to apply these ideas to your own business. Tap into your creativity to find ways to incorporate more visuals in your blog posts, local social media marketing, and more. 

Be another
July 23rd, 2014 by: Chris Marentis

A well-crafted marketing plan involves several vehicles for your messaging, such as print ads, social media marketing, email messages, and landing pages, that all must come to together seamlessly to form a cohesive brand identity for your business.

Why Consistency Is Important


Whether prospective buyers see your messages at your local store, online, through a print ad, or a combination of the three, the messages should be consistent. This consistency enables your potential customers to recognize and trust your brand, giving them a good reason to choose your business when they are ready to purchase. Also, a standardized communication style tells your customers that your business is organized, professional, and most important, trustworthy.

Unfortunately, small businesses run into problems with brand consistency when they rely on several different agencies to help them with individual pieces of their marketing plan. Because small businesses are so busy with the day-to-day operations of their companies, many small business owners turn to local marketing experts for help with website design, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising, local social media marketing, and more.

While these outside agencies provide value to the businesses they serve, it’s important that small businesses work with a single marketing company that can meet all of their marketing needs. Working with several companies can lead your business to present a host of fragmented marketing messages that don’t consistently reinforce your brand.

When it comes to advertising, the style, tone, and wording matter; even slight variations can confuse customers. If each piece of your marketing puzzle is produced by a separate company, unsurprisingly, it becomes disjointed and inconsistent, and you’ll spend time and energy trying to tie all of the pieces together. 

Find a Singular Voice

Whether you’re working on your own or with an outside marketing company, it’s important to establish your company’s voice. Decide whether your style will be formal or informal, or if you’re communicating to younger or older customers; consumers in each age bracket use drastically different terminology.

After you’ve found your singular voice, make sure you’re implementing it across all of your marketing mediums. If you’re using an outside marketing company for all of your pieces, they can help you to identify and correct any inconsistencies in your company’s communication style.

Keep Your Visuals Consistent Too

The most effective marketing campaigns typically highlight one or two images that remain consistent across all channels. Even though your company will probably choose a different image for each campaign, you can create consistency by choosing images of a similar style for each of your campaigns. Try using images from the same photographer or from the same catalogue of images.

Because most businesses are actively involved in a variety of channels, brand consistency is more important than ever before. It’s the surest way to build loyalty with your customers, who tend to choose the businesses that they can recognize easily thanks to cohesive branding.

July 22nd, 2014 by: Alexandra Reichenbach

Businesses that tap into the wealth of Google tools—which now include Google+, Google AdWords, Google Offers, Google Maps, etc.—are sometimes overwhelmed by all of the data that’s made available. Each Google tool comes with its own set of data and management system, all of which take time to review, manage, and analyze on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your business, managing Google may even seem like a full-time job.


Thankfully, Google has recently introduced a dashboard that combines data from all of these tools and makes it available to business users through an easy-to-view dashboard.

Businesses that start a new Google+ account will have immediate access to the new dashboard, but it may take some time for the dashboard to roll out to all current business users.

Make Updates in a Snap

Any time your business needs to make an update—for example, if your main phone number changes—it’s important to change the information online as quickly as possible. But as any marketer or brand manager knows, this process can take some time. With the new Google+ dashboard, however, you can quickly update the information on your Google+ page as well as on your Google Maps and your search listing.

From the dashboard, business users also receive Google+ notifications and post new content, saving you even more time.

View Key Stats from the Dashboard

Instead of having to jump from one set of statistics and performance data to another, the Google+ dashboard puts them all in one place. This makes it easy for local marketing experts to compare results across all of the Google products. If you notice that your Google+ page is performing well but your Google Maps page isn’t, it may be time for you to take a closer look at your Google Maps content.

Integration with all Google Tools

Best of all, since Google built this new dashboard itself, it allows for perfect integration with the other Google tools. Facebook, in contrast, allows outside entities to create their own similar dashboards. Unfortunately, the dashboard is not integrated with Blogger, Google’s popular tool for blogging.

Overall, this move is great for small business owners who manage more than one Google product.  With all new tools, it will take businesses some time to adjust to the new setup, but this change is sure to save you time in the long run.

Besides saving time, the new Google+ dashboard provides businesses with a high-level snapshot of how their local internet marketing is performing. By keeping up with business needs, Google is continuously increasing its overall value to its business customers.

July 17th, 2014 by: Alexandra Reichenbach

Although Facebook and Twitter receive a significant amount of media attention, local marketing experts agree that LinkedIn can be just as powerful for businesses that want to advertise online. Because LinkedIn has maintained a reputation for professionalism, users are often more receptive to the messages they receive on the social media platform.

With 150 million users, LinkedIn advertising can boost sales for business-to-business marketers—but only if you make wise marketing decisions.

iStock_000016830555_MediumCreate Your LinkedIn Ad

Fortunately for small businesses, LinkedIn’s ad creation platform is one of the easiest to use, and you can get started for a minimum of $10 a day. Nevertheless, it’s still important for you to take your time as you go through the process of creating your ad and selecting your target audience.

LinkedIn walks you through the process of providing a web URL for your ad (either an external link or your company’s LinkedIn page), a headline, your ad copy, and an ad image. Keep in mind that because LinkedIn limits ad images to 50 x 50 pixels, you’ll need to rely on the strength of your ad copy, rather than the image, to grab your audience’s attention. Still, the image must complement your ad copy.

The ad copy itself has to be shorter than 75 characters, which means that it’s critical for business owners to deliver a clear call to action. 

Choose Your Audience

After the process of creating your ad is complete, you’ll have to decide which LinkedIn members will see your ad. LinkedIn enables you to target your ad audience by geography, the company they work for, their job title, a group they belong to, their gender, or by age.

Especially for businesses that are just getting started with LinkedIn advertising, it may be best to target people who belong to trade associations that relate to your business. Chances are, they’re already interested in your industry because they were engaged enough to join the group.

Targeting by job title, on the other hand, may not be the best choice. As most people in the business world know, it can be difficult to track down the person responsible for purchasing office supplies, for instance. Depending on the company, that person could be the Executive Assistant to the President, the Office Manager, the Procurement Officer, or a host of other titles.

Test and Monitor Your Ads

When it comes to advertising on LinkedIn, the standard rules of local internet marketing apply. It always pays to test ads before you run them and monitor their performance. Once you get started, you can easily make adjustments to your ad content and targeting.