Is your website stale? Perform a timely website audit.

Catamount-Marketing-Website-AuditMany website owners take the Ron Popeil approach with “set it and forget it” and while that may work for roasting chickens, it is a terrible web strategy. If it has been awhile since you reviewed your own website, summertime is an ideal time to do it. Here are 8 things to look for when you are doing a website audit.

  1. Check out your title tags. The title of your website is a critical factor when it comes to the major search engines understanding what your website is all about. A good title should be less than 55 characters and should contain a keyword (or two) that you want your website to be found for in a search.  The title tag appears in the tab of your browser and in the search engine results page. Check out the titles on your website pages.  If they are all the same and non-descriptive it is time to update them with more relevant and search friendly titles.
  2. Update content. Things can change rapidly in business. What was true about your company and its offerings when you launched your website may not be relevant today. Be on the lookout for:
    • Making sure all of your products and services are represented on your site.
    • Employee profiles are current.
    • News stories and press releases are up-to-date.
  3. Add video content. Processing over 3 billion searches per month, YouTube is now the 2nd largest search engine. Video content is becoming more and more important for your business. Share your process, products, promotions and people with short video clips that can be uploaded to YouTube and embedded on your site.
  4. Contact Information. Your contact information (address, phone and email) should be located and easy to find on every page of your site.
  5. Refresh graphics. Do a quick once over on your site. Do your graphics look crisp and clear? Do they load quickly and are sized properly for use on the web? If not, it is time to edit the graphics and re-upload them.
  6. Social media accounts. Can people easily find links to your Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts? Adding a clickable logo to your page makes this easy for all users to find and use.
  7. Cross links. Linking from one page of your website to another is an easy way for users to find and access information on your site. If in your opening paragraph on your homepage, you talk about one of your products, be sure to link the product name on the homepage to the product page. Creating these links can also be good for Search Engine Optimization. Add these links from one page to another where it makes sense and seems logical for the user.
  8. Optimized for mobile. This is no longer an option or a nice to have feature. Having a mobile optimized site is an absolute must for businesses. With over 50% of searches being done on mobile devices, if your site isn’t optimized for those uses you are very likely losing out on a lot of potential business. Check out what your website looks like on a mobile device. If it is not optimized for a smaller viewport, it is time to call your webmaster and get a mobile site pronto.

These are just a few critical items that you can review your website for to make sure your site is an asset and not a liability. If you need help with any of the items above, let us know. We are happy to help.

Now is the time to grow or start your blog

Catamount-Marketing-Blogging-IdeasArticles and statistics touting the benefits of blogging are ubiquitous. You know you probably should be blogging, but how and what you should write about plague even the most seasoned marketers. If you aren’t sure blogging is right for you, let’s start with a few statistics.

  • Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes.
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result.
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013

Like many things, getting started blogging can be the hardest part. Use the following 11 suggestions to keep your blog going on a regular basis.

What should I write about?

Blogging is an informal platform. It can and should be written in a very similar tone to how you would speak to someone in a casual conversation. Here are 10 topics that can help you jumpstart your blog.

  1. Showcase a customer experience, anecdote or problem you have solved. Is there a time that you have come to the rescue for a client? Something you did that went above and beyond the call of duty? Share it on your blog. Write out the situation, the solution and what successes came from it and share it with the readers on your blog.
  2. Answer, in great detail, some of the most frequently asked questions about your company, products and services. Do you feel like you are always answering the same questions over and over again? Create a post for each one of your most frequently asked questions. In the post, explain industry jargon, why you do what you do, how you differ from the competition in this regard, what caused the policy to be this way, etc. If you don’t know what your most FAQ are, you can try answering the question “What do people need to know in order to do business with you?”
  3. Publish news and press releases on your own blog. Did someone in your company get a promotion? Earn an award? Accomplish something great (even non-business related)? Blog about it. A blog post showing appreciation for a stellar employee can do a lot for company morale, internal production and external promotion.
  4. Write about your experience with other industries. Did you just eat lunch at an amazing restaurant with superb service? Talking about the importance of service, delivery, brand messaging, etc. no matter what industry can be a great blog post. On this flip side, if you just had a terrible experience, that can also be a great blog post. Talk about what you would have done differently, how the situation could have been rectified and what you do to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen in your place of business.
  5. Create a list. The internet loves a good list. Again, this can be about things in your industry or things adjacent to it. Do you have a list of the top 10 books that helped you succeed in business? Write about it. Top things you have learned from networking, from running, from ______ (insert your hobby here) can be a great, easy to read blog post.
  6. Talk about travel experiences. Have you had a once in a lifetime experience in a far off (or not so far off) place? Write about that too. How did it change you, what did you learn, what would you do differently? How did you manage the time away from work? In this 24/7, instant gratification world it can be very refreshing to see a business owner actually taking a step back and enjoying the life they are working so hard to maintain.
  7. Host a contest/giveaway/poll. People like to get free stuff! We worked with a client recently who ran an interactive contest with the grand prize being a week aboard their fishing vessel in Alaska. The contest was all about “why I deserve a week vacation”. People had to write a blog post on the topic and then share it on various social media sites to be entered in the contest. What it did was create a community of people who all wrote about how fun it would be to get away for a week aboard a fishing vessel. The client was able to use these contest entries as “guest” blog posts and gathered a lot of insight into why people want to take a fishing vacation. The content he gathered from this contest has been invaluable to his marketing efforts.
  8. Respond to news around you or your industry. Think about major events that are coming up in your area and how you could tie in your business to that event. Check with the local chamber of commerce and tourism board to see what events are happening that you could write about on your blog. On a broader scale, look at the world news and see what might be happening that you have experience and an opinion on that you would like to share with your audience. Maybe you have a unique spin on the Women’s US team winning the recent World Cup. Or maybe you just want to share your excitement about the win! Either way, currents are a great place to look for blog topics.
  9. Industry myths that need to be debunked. I’m sure every plumber has heard a bad joke about one of the many plumber stereotypes. If your company breaks the mold and is far from the stereotype, share that with people? Debunk myths that have lived for far too long about your industry.
  10. Talk about your future plans; both personal and professional. People tend to do business with people they like and trust. Posting your personal and/or professional goals and plans can seem like a vulnerable and private exercise, however, it will do two things for you. First, it may show a common bond that you are your customer never knew you had. Perhaps you both intend to run a marathon or bike across the state. Having something in common will increase your likability. Second, it can help hold you accountable to your goals. Statistics show that people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them than those who don’t. Putting your goals in a blog post will help create a roadway to success.
  11. Show off a talent. In your daily 9 – 5 you may be the consummate professional but after 5 you rock the stage in a jazz band! Let people know about your talents. Now, I don’t mean to say that you should start doing shameless promotion that distracts from your everyday business, however, a blog post that shares your passion for music (or whatever your passion is) can again build trust and show the human side to your corporate personality.

Hopefully some, or all, of the topics above have started the wheels spinning on what you could put on your own blog.  If you do decide to start blogging, consider some of these best practices as well.

  1. Post in great detail. Aim for 1500 – 2000 words per post. If your content is relevant to your audience, easy to read, and meets a need, people will take the time to read a long post. Too few words and thin content can work against you if the reader feels their time was wasted.
  2. Source from your staff. Your blog can have multiple voices and tones to it. If you have a staff member that has something to talk about, give them the platform to do so.
  3. Try to use the words “you” and “I” in your posts as you would in everyday conversation.
  4. Make it easy to read. Bold items of importance, use bulleted/numbered lists and line breaks where necessary.
  5. Remember, what goes online stays online. Of course you can always delete a post, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a copy of it lurking around somewhere.
  6. Be consistent.  Blogs that are posted to daily receive more traffic and conversions than blogs that are posted to monthly. Set a schedule and be consistent in your posts.
  7. Share, share, share! Now that you have a consistent blog, it’s time to get people to your site! Social media is a great way to start getting people to your site. Share your posts on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn just to name a few. Ask friends to share your new blog as well. Then participate and comment on other forums and blogs that are relevant to yours. Be sure to include your blog URL in your signature on any posts you make to other sites and forums.

We’d love to hear about your blogging success. What has worked well for you and what hasn’t? Contact us today to let us know!

What website analytics reports should I be looking at?

Web-analytics-catamountmarketing.comWe talk to a lot of clients and prospects about what is working for their business and what is not. When it comes to their online presence, we can fairly objectively evaluate their success level by looking at a few key reports on Google Analytics. If you aren’t currently using an analytics program to evaluate your own website, we would strongly suggest you add some as soon as possible. Google Analytics is free and provides a comprehensive overview of who is looking at your site, how they found your site, what they did once they were on your site and more. While Google isn’t the only game in town, it is one of the largest.

You can sign up for a Google Analytics account by going to and following the on-screen prompts. You will need to install the tracking code on your website which may require the help of your developer depending on how your site is set up. Once you have the account set up and the tracking code in place, you’ll begin seeing all kinds of data on your account dashboard. Google provides plenty of powerful out of the box reports and below you’ll find the ones that we most frequently look at when evaluating a websites performance.

  1. Acquisition Overview – Once you are logged in to your Analytics account, click on Acquisition from the left hand side, and then click on “Overview” from the menu that appears below Acquisition.  This report will show you how many people visited your website and where they came from during a specific time frame.  You can continue drilling down from this report. If your number one source of traffic was “organic search” you can click on that heading to see what terms were searched for to find your site. The data found on this report can give you a really good idea where traffic is being generated from.  If your organic search traffic is low, for example, it might be a good idea to ramp up the SEO on your pages.
  2. Top Landing Pages – This report (found under Behavior > Site Content > Landing Page) tells you what page people entered your site on. From an optimization stand point, this give you a tremendous opportunity to make sure the top entry pages are also the ones that are optimized with your best offers, headlines and conversion techniques. From this report, be sure to check out the bounce rate. This tells you the percentage of single page visits; meaning that this person only looked at the landing page without going anywhere else. If the bounce rate is quite high (over 50%), it may be time to rework the landing page to make sure it is inviting and tells the user what you want him/her to do on the site.
  3. Social Reports – If you use social media to promote your business, you can track its effectiveness in terms of website traffic using analytics. To access the social reports, click on Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals.  This report will show you how much traffic your social work is generating. Clicking on the name of the social network (Facebook for example) will drill down to another report that shows you what pages the visitor actually landed on.
  4. Mobile Report – Wondering if your website is getting any traffic from a mobile search? Check the report under Audience > Mobile > Overview to see what percentage of traffic is coming from desktop, mobile or tablets.  If you don’t yet have a mobile optimized website, the data reported here may convince you that it is finally time to take the leap.

One of the most important reports is not listed here and that’s because most websites we encounter don’t have this set up correctly. Google Analytics has a very important feature called Goals and Conversions. In Analytics, you can set up a goal. The goal can be a purchase from your online store, a successful form submission, or simply a visit to your contact us page. This is the true measure of how well your website is actually performing for your business. If your conversions are low, then it is time to rethink your landing page, your offer, your website layout or your product offering.

Setting up a goal isn’t terribly difficult, however, it does require some serious thought that not many business owners have put in to their sites. In order to set up a goal, you must have already considered what traffic flow you want your visitor to take. You must set up calls to action and offers on your site. You must have an offer that entices the user to complete your goal.  This a conversation that should be had internally first, then with your web developer or marketing partner to make sure they understand what your goal is and can implement it correctly.

Ideas to build customer Loyalty – Your Business’ Most Valuable Asset

Catamount-Marketing-Customer-LoyaltyThe reasons that anyone decides to venture down the path of business ownership vary. But for most, there’s one inarguable reason: the chance to live out your dream. Though you may think you are your company’s most important asset, nothing you do could happen without your customers. Your customers are, and always will be, the most important asset your business will ever have. With our experience in printing for small businesses, we’ve fulfilled some pretty creative customer retention pieces for our customers.

Some of our favorites include:

1.   The Disloyalty Program – A marketing program originally created by 6 independent coffee shops in the DC area has caught on in other regions too. The “disloyalty card” encourages patrons to break their daily routine and branch out to try other locally owned coffee businesses.

The participating shops give the Disloyalty Cards to their customers upon purchase of a drink. When customers visit the other five locally-owned coffee shops for a drink and they collect a signature on the card (one from every shop), they receive a complimentary coffee from any of the participating shops.

This unconventional marketing idea has proven to be a great way to network with other business owners, tap into new customers and bring some fun into their businesses.

2.    Company Branded Thank You Cards – The hand written thank you card is one of the oldest and smartest forms of marketing out there. Thank you cards:

  • Break through the digital clutter.  A thank you card is a pleasant physical interruption to our increasingly  digital lives.
  • Show you care. The recipient appreciates that you spent the time to write it. They know you had other things to do, so this shows that they were at the top of your priority list.
  • Strengthens the relationship. Marketing is “getting people to know, like and trust you.” Thank you cards help make this happen in a big way.
  • Does not require a computer. Many people have lost the art of hand written communication. A hand written note forces you not to rely on auto-correct or spell check; it forces you to think and feel.


As the late American author and poet, Maya Angelou so eloquently put it: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A hand written thank you card definitely puts a check in the warm and fuzzy column; so send Thank You cards and send them often. You never know what kind of an impact it could have on the recipient’s day.

3.    Status Programs – We’ve all seen reward programs that are based on points or number of dollars spent each year. Airline mileage programs are a great example. The more you fly, the more perks you get with that particular airline. Small businesses can engage in this kind of program as well. Creating a program that rewards your best customers and continues to encourage them to make it to the next level creates buzz and exclusivity.  When a customer does jump to a higher level because of a purchase, be sure to acknowledge it! A special printed card, letter, sticker or magnet can go a long way in making your customer feel like they are in the inner circle and are highly appreciated.

Having a customer-loyalty program could help you increase repeat customers, which, in turn could boost your business’s revenue. According to a 2014 Manta study (achieving big customer loyalty in a small business world), a repeat customer spends 67 percent more on a given purchase than a new customer does. And they should be rewarded for this action, as retaining customers is less costly than acquiring new ones. By providing loyalty programs for current customers, small-business owners are not only saying thank you but are also motivating them to continue to be their brand ambassadors. Loyal customers will spread the word about a business to their professional, personal and social networks, helping small-business owners increase their customer base even more.

Do you offer a customer loyalty program? We’d love to hear new ideas! Tell us about it below.

Website Structure Types Overview

Catamount-Marketing-choosing-a-website-structureThere are 5 basic types of website design structures: Fixed Width, Adaptive, Responsive, Parallax, and Mobile. In a world rapidly moving toward being able to access any information on any device, a discussion of each follows.

Fixed Width – traditional web design where the website is created as a fixed width and is designed to start at the edge of a user’s browser or float to the middle of the browser window, assuming the browser window is larger than the fixed width of the website. Most fixed width sites are designed to view properly on monitors that have a screen resolution of 1024 pixel width or larger. This would include most desktop, laptop, and tablet computers. For most mobile devices, these sites display as a smaller image of the site and can be difficult to read and interact with.

Adaptive – Fixed Width sites with mobile optimized pages, typically are called Adaptive design. These sites provide a separate mobile user experience than that of tablet, laptop, and desktop users. Many people believe that an Adaptive site provides the best of both worlds. Due to limitations on mobile bandwidth and various data plans, Adaptive sites serve different content to the mobile user in a greatly reduced design format reducing the load time of the pages and providing just the information that a typical mobile user is looking for. Since a mobile searcher is more likely to take immediate action mobile page design and function is critical to the success of the Adaptive mobile experience. A good Adaptive website application will create your mobile page content directly from your desktop content, but will allow the site administrator to modify the mobile content separately from the desktop pages if and when it makes sense to do so. Most Adaptive designs start with the desktop design and adapt the content to fit the smaller screens.

Responsive – A responsive site is designed to optimize the viewer experience across any device. It responds to the screen size of the device and arranges content based on the device screen size. In order to function properly the website is created in a grid format with rules on how to manage the division layout on various screen sizes. Typically these sites are designed optimally for a specific screen size (i.e. 960, 1200, 1280 pixel width and then divided into a 12 or 16 equally sized grid layout with padding of 10 pixels on the left and right of each grid section), at 100% and then the content is increased or decreased as a percentage based on device. The smallest device size may be displayed at 50% of the original size and arranged based on sizes of the content blocks to be displayed beneath or eliminated altogether. Larger display sizes can be increased as a percentage of the total to better fit the larger screen size. Responsive designs typically start with a design for the mobile device and scale up the design for the desktop displays. To truly optimize the site for a small screen images should be created in various sizes and be loaded based on the device. Responsive designs can be complex and time consuming to do properly and for this reason, many Responsive Designs simply scale the existing desktop site to a smaller screen, thereby increasing the bandwidth usage for mobile users and increasing page load times.

Parallax – parallax site design uses techniques in which the background of the website moves at a different speed than the rest of the page for an impressive visual effect. Many times parallax sites consist of a single page. An example of a simple parallax site can be viewed here. Parallax sites typically are fixed width. Making parallax responsive can be difficult to impossible depending on the design. Typically the sites have a slower load time, but are very fast moving down the page which can be done by scrolling down. The upside to a parallax designed site include a “Wow” effect with site depth and animation, keeping visitors on a page for longer periods of time, and directing visitors to calls to action. The downside is that SEO can take a hit due to single page meta data, H1 tag relevance, no internal linking and single URL. The slow load times can be frustrating for visitors who may leave before the page fully loads. Parallax sites are best used to tell a story and lead a visitor to take an action.

Mobile Site – these are typically mobile only platforms for creating a mobile version of your website. The actual mobile version is served from a separate location/application than your standard site. When a mobile user comes to your site, there is code on the site that redirects the user to the mobile version of your site. This solution requires maintaining 2 versions of your website: your mobile application and your desktop application.

Mobile sites are frequently confused with Mobile Apps or mobile applications. Apps are small programs that are downloaded to your mobile device and reside on your mobile device. A Mobile website is accessed via your mobile browser.

A mobile site can be a stand-alone site created specifically for mobile devices. These can also be viewed on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer but typically display in a small screen format on all devices.

Which site design type is right for your company depends on your audience, the message you are trying to communicate and what actions you wish to have visitors take. One thing is clear, however: if your site is more than 3 years old and does not take into consideration the large and growing population of mobile users you are missing a lot of potential business.

Trade Show Basics for Small Business

Catamount Marketing tradeshowThe very words “Trade Show” make some small business owners shudder. Attending a trade show or business expo can take a lot of time and money. Quite frequently, those are two things a small business owner just doesn’t have a lot of. With some careful planning, however, a trade show can not only be fun but profitable as well.

These 10 tips may be basic but the best tips usually are; and even for seasoned trade show pro’s, brushing up on the basics is never a bad thing. Tiger Woods, arguably the best putter in golf, got that way by stroking tens of thousands of back to basics practice putts each year.

  1. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the show. Do you expect to sell products, launch a new product or promotion, or possibly meet suppliers? You can set more than one goal but be clear and focused on what your participation will involve. Most B2B trade show participants don’t expect to take orders on the spot; but rather look for is hot leads. At each trade show attempt to identify 3 – 5 hot leads. Do this by gathering business cards from participants. If you’re able to engage them in a conversation, even better; but know that like in a retail store, many show attendees are skittish about being approached and will consider themselves just looking. The best way to engage a stranger is to ask them a question about themselves. When you approach people showing interest in them, the walls start to come down. Make this a goal as well and you’ll be in the game before you know it.
  2. Find out everything you can about your space in advance. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to a show only to find that your booth is too big or too small to fit the space. Finding out the location of your booth in advance prevents you from lugging around boxes and products in search of the right spot. Finding out everything that is included (table, table cloth, electricity, etc.) in advance is a big time and headache saver.
  3. Have everything you need, like extension cords, tape, push pins, etc. with you when you arrive to set up your booth. It prevents last minute searching for items needed to set up your booth which, if you’re in a strange town can quickly turn into a nightmare. If doing trade shows becomes a fairly regular occurrence, keep a box that contains a hammer, thumb tacks, pens, rubber bands, notepads, band aids, extension cords, replacement light bulbs, tape, breath mints, and anything else that you’ll potentially need, ,and keep this box intact and ready to go for each trade show outing. Another option is to create a checklist of these items to review before leaving for the show. Attending a show can be stressful enough without having to scramble for a push pin at the very last minute!
  4. Make sure your display is appropriate for the group you are targeting. Who is your target market with your trade show display? What kind of questions will they have about your products and services? With a trade show, it is entirely possible that you will be mid-conversation with an attendee when another attendee comes to peruse your booth. Make sure your booth offers promotional signage (if you are giving something away), answers your most frequently asked questions and provides an attendee with something to do or look at while you are otherwise engaged.
  5. Advertise in advance of the show. Let the public know that you are participating in a particular trade show. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers and be sure and give them your booth number. Advertise your attendance to the trade show on your website as well. A couple of email blasts leading up to the show to your invitees or target audience can be very effective. Personalizing your message with a “Hi Mary” by inserting a [FIRST NAME] merge field as part of the salutation is exponentially beneficial for attracting attention and a higher ROI.
  6. Stand out! Don’t just be another booth and vendor at the show – find something different and unique and use that to draw visitors to your booth. Arrange your booth strategically so that everything can be seen quickly by visitors. Put larger items in the rear and shorter items up front. A table runner on top of the table cloth is an effective way of making your table stand out. Be creative with your booth, include pictures if possible and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.
  7. Should you give something away? Most people who attend trade shows are expecting some giveaways and food is always popular. Make sure you package your food in a way that allows you to have your company information on it. Gift Certificates for some of your services are another great Trade Show giveaway – there’s nothing better than getting a deal on your services. And when they redeem their certificate, they will learn how great your services are and come back for more. Offer a drawing for a prize that complements your business and appeals to everyone. Have visitors and guests sign a guestbook, fill out a form or drop their business card in a bowl. You can then use this information later to make a follow up contact.
  8. Arrive early enough to the trade show and make sure everything is set up correctly and that everything works. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes – you’re going to be on your feet for most of the day!
  9. During the show, never turn your back to the crowd and don’t sit down unless you’re having a conversation with a guest and you both are sitting. Stand in front of your booth, if possible, saying “Hi” to those that turn and look toward your or your booth. Have your elevator speech ready. More importantly, be ready to listen to what your guests have to say, you may learn a lot about them and be able to fill a need that they have.
  10. A portfolio or display of your work should be on hand for visitors to see. A digital photo frame is an excellent way of showing your work or placing a Power Point® presentation on a laptop – your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw their attention. Offering a brochure with your best work for them to take with them will serve as a reminder once the show is over.

These 10 basic steps to Trade Show exhibiting will make your booth stand out, draw visitors in, and save you time, money and stress.

Conversation question… with more and more information and communications being digital, do you think the age of the trade show is dying or still alive and well? Why do you think?

5 Steps to Growing Sales ebook

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Download this FREE eBook to learn about a very simple sales process that works and attracts clients that are a good fit for you and your business.



Marketing based on “who you want to be”

who-you-want-to-be-CatamountMarketingZoom zoom… the Holidays are back and it’s the end of another year. This finds me reflecting on the goals I set, new goals ahead, and how many people, discoveries, and things I have to be grateful for. There’s no shortage of each, but I’m devoting this final article of the year to one introspection theme, if you’ll allow me, before diving into the Holiday eggnog (with maybe a little rum).

Looking back on 2014, my personal mission was to try to discern reality from illusion in both my personal and business life activities. Heady stuff, if not a bit “out there”, but when I boil virtually every thought, word, or action down to I can/should do this or I can/should do that, the answer usually lies with reminding myself of who I am and then deciding who I want to be in relation to that.

So what does this have to do with marketing? Back on July 23rd, in my weekly email message to my client and prospect list, I invited readers to go to Fascination Innovation to partake in an online personality assessment to receive back a report describing how the world sees “you”. About 45 readers did so and in return, each received a fairly comprehensive, if not fascinating, report with definable insights into themselves.

So what’s the significance of taking seemingly another personality profile examination? All of creation begins from a place of knowing – having a fundamental knowledge of a pursuit, even if that’s only knowing what we don’t know – before we can begin to create. From having a clearer understanding and acceptance of who we are, we’re then able to form ideas about who we want to be.

So what’s the marketing connection? Because our job, as marketers, is to create the finest and most trusted brand we can, given that the root basis of marketing is getting someone with a need to know, like, and trust you. Our success is assured when we apply the best parts of who we are to create who we want us and our business to be. It’s from this perspective where we can begin to discern illusion from reality, and think, speak, and act accordingly. At times, this is easier said than done; but with practice and repetition, over time the mind begins to frame ideas, opportunities, and decisions within this context and clarity and confidence begin to replace confusion and hesitation. As reality begins to sink in, the brand solidifies.

Neale Donald Walsh, author of Conversations with God, states so eloquently…

“The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek therefore, not to find out Who You Are, but seek to determine Who You Want to Be.”

Thank you for reading my messages this year and I hope some part of them have been helpful to you and your business.

I wish you yours a very Happy Holiday and a prosperous and creative year ahead.


Using print to further your marketing efforts

print and online marketing convergenceThere is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way small business owners market their business. Digital marketing, like e-newsletters, search engine optimization, social media, and search engine marketing, can be powerful forms of advertising.  Even more powerful, however, is digital marketing with a collaborative print marketing effort.

Here are a few ways print and digital working together can generate leads.

Tip #1: Postcards rule. One of the most powerful marketing strategies today is to promote your website via direct-mail postcards. Postcards serve many purposes. Whether you want to invite people to an upcoming webinar/class or showcase a few of your bestselling products, using a postcard to direct traffic to your website is a great idea. Motivate response with an exclusive offer or personalized URL which will allow you to track your response rate, conversion rate, and ultimate return on investment.

Tip #2: Use in store signage to increase newsletter subscriptions. Whether you run a restaurant, a school, a retail shop or a B2B service-based company, chances are good that you’ll have a client visiting you at your office at some point.  Use in store promotional posters, counter signs, table tents, hang tags, window clings or other signage to encourage customers to visit  your website and sign up for your email newsletter. Include a QR code that links to a mobile optimized page on your site with a short subscription form for a great customer experience. Entice customers to subscribe with an instant money saving coupon that can be emailed directly to them and shown to staff as proof of subscription for redemption.

Tip #3: Use print to connect you socially.  The digital world is cluttered. Every 60 seconds 700,000 Google searches are performed, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 168 million emails are sent. Making sure that your fan base sees your posts can be a challenge unless you find other ways to promote your social media accounts. Help people find your social media accounts by including your most used and valuable account on your business cards. If you print a newsletter or brochure, include some of your positive Google, Yelp or Facebook reviews and encourage readers to view your full profile online.

Tip #4: A personalized letter. For a more personal touch and for situations which warrant a more professional approach, there’s still nothing like sending a personal letter; especially when both parties are acquainted with each other on some level. People do business with people and success in sales is about developing relationships. A well-crafted and sincere letter can accomplish this. To be sure, the content and tone should be tailored to your audience and written so as to provide value and not waste the readers’ time. Doing so can open doors, increase acceptance of phone calls, and make your next touch a little warmer.

As with all print, the fundamental keys to success are:

  1. The list: mail to the right audience
  2. The content: with or without a valuable offer, the content must be appropriate for your right audience. Everyone’s time is valuable so give them a reason to read past the salutation.
  3. The creative: whatever you mail, make it eye-appealing and captivating in relation to the right content for your right audience.
  4. Test, and then test some more: we may “think” we know what our audience wants, but often times we don’t know what we don’t know. Testing, like using an A/B split as part of your direct mail campaign, is an excellent way to put your print and mail budget to work for you; providing valuable data that help shape your ongoing marketing direction and budget.

Finding the right marketing mix is less about your business and more about your customers. Thinking about who they are, how they purchase and what influences them will help you determine how to reach customers with a mix of print and digital advertising.

Have you come across a cool marketing campaign played out online and in print? Share all! Let us know about it in the comments section below.

Small business perseverance takes flight!

Plane Profiles CorsairWho doesn’t love a good success story? The kind where some part of human spirit, energy, persistence, and skill all gel to make a happy ending; or more aptly, a happy situation – because the experience is never ending.

Our small and thinly populated state of Vermont is laced with such success stories; some of which evolved into  with some pretty famous brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Phish, Burton Snowboards, VBT (VT Bicycle Tours), Magic Hat, Bag Balm, and Chris Bohjalian, to name a few. In the wings are dozens of other lesser-known brands who are no less creative, innovative, or relevant, just not on the big stage… yet.

One such success story has been unfolding for the past 3 months or so, but in reality, has been building for years. Out of Stowe, Vermont is rising star and local artist whose passions, pursuit, persistence, and skills are now on the runway and cleared for take-off. Tod Gunter and his sole-proprietor Plane Profiles Company is landing his first order of technically detailed and historically accurate prints of select U.S. warplanes at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. These aeronautic enthusiast prints will be for sale in the museum’s gift store and also at Washington’s Dulles International Airport. My own company, Paw Print & Mail, is proud and pleased to be the company printing of these magnificent pieces of technical art. You can read more about Tod’s story in an article and interview with him at Seven Days.

As a fellow entrepreneur myself, these stories serve to both inspire and remind me about the purity of patience, persistence, and the truism that slow and steady wins the race. It’s about becoming really good at something and then honing it further to a place of value for others to enjoy and benefit from. Stories like this abound of course, but they have even more meaning when one is witness to or part of the experience. In an age when more and more of everything is available at our fingertips from our computers, phones, and tablets, we’ve gotten used to having and achieving most everything “now”.

But the reality is that anyone who’s good at something got that way through many hours, months, and years of doing the small things over and over again while working through the trial and errors that build upon themselves to take form into something that works. Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. The Beatles did it, Bill Gates did it, Tiger Woods did it, and now Tod Gunter has done it. Great work is great work no matter what the level of fame.

Now the real work begins. Creators generally love what they do so the many hours devoted to develop their craft, skill, or talent is often not work at all, but a process of discovery and practice. For many, the more challenging work is getting found and defining a relative value in a crowded marketplace. Slow and steady wins this race too. The older I get, the wiser I’ve become if for no other reason than to appreciate the patience, persistence, and evolution that goes into success.

Way to go Tod!

3 SEO Tips that Aren’t Rocket Science (but work!)

Catamount-Marketing-SEO-not-rocket-scienceWinning SEO is not rocket science in its most fundamental and effective form. There are a few basic things even the most non-technical people can do to their website to help the search engines understand what the site is all about. By making the following changes to the text on your site, you can improve the search engine ranking for your selected keywords.

Before you do any page optimization, brainstorm a list of every word or phrase you can think of that someone may use to search for what you sell. This is a great group exercise. Try asking others who are not intimate with your offerings to provide suggestions on what they may type to find what you offer.  Once you have a good list of keywords, narrow the list down to 2 or 3 that you really want to be found for.  We’ll focus on how to optimize your home page for just those top 2 or 3 keywords, however, the steps that we will go through below can be repeated with other keywords on additional pages of your site.

1.    Set your page title.  Many websites come with a built in content management system that gives you the ability to enter in some search engine optimization (SEO) settings. In the title section (location shown below), you should type in the major terms or phrases that you want the page to show up for in a search. Ideally, each page on your website will have a unique title that targets a specific keyword.  Your title should have 8 – 10 words and should be written with the end-user in mind. Your title should not:

  1. Contain more than 2 keywords plus the business name. Any more than this is known as “keyword stuffing;” where you try to stuff as many keywords into the title as possible. Too many words in the title dilutes the value of any one of the words.
  2. Be the URL for the website
  3. Be generic. “About us” or “Page 6” is not a great title for your site.
  4. The title appears in two places that are visible to the user. The first place is at the very top of your site in your browsers tabs.  In the example below, the title of the active tab is “Appliances, Decorative Plumbing…”


The second place the title is shown, is in the search engine results page. When we did a Google search for “Burlington Appliances,” the following site came up on the search engine results page and the area circled in red is the title for the site.


Creating and implementing a well written title that includes your primary keywords is a great first step to increase your search engine rankings.

2.    Optimize your text. If, for example, you wanted your website to be found when someone searched for “appliances in Vermont,” then you would want to make sure that the text “appliances in Vermont” actually appeared on the homepage. Try working your keywords into your existing content. If you have little to no content on the page, consider adding a keyword rich paragraph that explains what you do, who you do it for and why you do it better than the competition.  Google and the other major search engines read and index text. If your website is 100% graphic based, adding text to the site will aid in increasing your search engine results.

3.    Optimize your links. Each website we build has a goal in mind. Whether it is increasing sales, decreasing support calls, or something as simple as downloading an e-book, your site should tell the user what you want them to do. Often, we see sites that do this by saying “click here” and the text “click here” is a link to the action they want the user to take. Rather than having the text “click here” be the link, create an action oriented statement like “Download our e-book today” or “Order widgets online now”. By making the links action items, you are helping the search engines understand what will happen with the user clicks on that link and will help them index the page appropriately.

The second way you can optimize your links is by linking the text on your page to other pages on your site. If you have a paragraph on the home page that lists the products and services that you offer, each one of the items in that list should link to a page that describes the product or service in more detail.  This will help you cross link between pages and create keyword rich pages that will be beneficial to both your end user and the search engines.

Making these 3 relatively easy modifications to your site can pay large dividends in your online visibility.  Try making the changes to your homepage first, then continue on to the other pages on your site. If you have any questions, contact us for a quick website review of your modifications.