Monday, April 23, 2018

Cobweb-site Woes? How To Create A Relevant Online Presence

Now-a-days, it’s a widely accepted fact that every business or organization, large or small, should have a website regardless of their engagements. At the very least, customers, prospective employees, vendors, and perhaps even investors need to be able to quickly and easily learn about your business, philosophy, and offerings. It's just part of the cost of doing business.

However, it's NOT enough to just be present. You've gotta be unique AND on-targeted.

“In a crowded market, having a website that simply serves as a brochure is no longer competitive.” — 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report

Some sobering stats:
  • 94% of a website user’s first impressions are design-related.*
  • 75% of users admit to assessing a company’s trustworthiness based on their website. Almost half of these visitors say website design is the #1 criterion for discerning the credibility of a company.*
  • 59% of consumers globally would rather engage with content that’s meaningful AND beautifully designed.*
  • 85% of B2B consumers search the web before making purchasing decisions.*

Successful websites consist of the following:

  • Professionally designed visual appeal
  • Branded content and prospective
  • Targeted approaches that resonate with prospects and convey expertise
  • Promotes positive user engagement, interactivity, and experience
  • Design balance of color, text, and images
  • Professional videos
  • A user-friendly, navigational funnel
  • A studied hierarchy of information both within the site and on individual pages
  • A thoughtful and easy-to-use search function for prospects
  • Easy-to-use and find contact forms and information
  • Regularly updated information. Creates and uses an editorial content schedule.
  • Invests in an easy-to-use CMS (content management system)
  • Provides resourceful and helpful content that answers client questions efficiently and effectively
  • Uses a blog to demonstrate expertise and to increase visibility
  • Includes company’s business ethics, standards, and goals
  • Includes a powerful "Call to action"
  • Makes the site responsive (mobile ready and optimized)
  • Integrates social media
  • Makes the site ADA compliant. (For the visual- and hearing-impaired)
  • Makes the site W3C compliant ( World Wide Web Consortium ), the standard bearer for websites with correct and clean markup.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • SEO Compliant and optimized: Allowing future clients to find them.
  • Tests regularly to ensure pages are operating at their maximum level of functionality

In the end, if you don't fight for something'll never look like the champion you really are.

Call us today for a complete website evaluation and plan. Contact:

* Sources:

Trade Shows: 7 Tips to Increase Traffic

Gone are the trade-show-yesteryears of folding tables and chairs, blue draperies, and stale marketing least we hope so.

As a tactic of a larger branding strategy, today's trade shows offer more substantive, real-time, qualitative information AND purpose with profit. Smart exhibitors are listening to and solving customer needs, not manning a run-of-the-mill-flea-market-offering.

Challenging? You bet. (According to
  • 63% of marketers say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads.
  • 30% of salespeople say prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales process.
  • 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting more difficult.
  • 63% of prospects are somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about a company before a sales rep makes the first contact.
In light of these stats, how can a your business' trade show presence overcome these issues? The first step in qualifying a prospect is mostly done for you given the fact that he/she is already on premise. It's the perfect opportunity to engage, initiate, and evaluate the buying process and your prospect. It's a natural environment where one-on-one human conversations with immediate responses can take place. These comfortable conversations will provide the forum for education and potential relationship building.

To prepare for these interactions, make sure your trade show marketing strategy is in place beforehand in order to run your victory lap afterwards.

7 tips that will help get you in shape:
  1. Review your existing brand targets, strategies, and objectives.
    • Who?: Demographics
    • What? #1 - Pick the best trade shows to attend. Ones that connect with your demographic.
    • What? #2 - Develop your 60-second elevator speech for your company's products/services.
    • When? Decide on the best time/season of need to reach your target.
    • Where? Chose the right demographic density; the location of your booth in retrospect to foot traffic; travel distance from your company (for logistics); and distance from trade show hubbub.
    • Why? The reason you are exhibiting and the goals you hope to accomplish.
    • How? Your product/service differs from your competitors and best meets your prospects need.
  2. Consider what your content focus for each specific trade show will be. 
    • Are you featuring a new products and/or service?
    • Will you offer give-aways and/or tie-in events for promotion?
    • Are you building your company's brand along with individual products/services?
  3. Ensure that all your exhibit touch points echo your company's brand objectives with some added dynamics to draw interest. You have about six seconds to capture the attention of a prospect, so bland won't cut it. Create a multi-sensory experience that will stick in your prospects gut long after they encounter your exhibit. How are your visuals? Can they hold your product or engage kinetically somehow? What's your message? Can they taste or smell something connected with your product or service?
  4. Support sales with trade show specific marketing materials. Extend the sales dialog by getting the right materials into the right hands.
  5. Tie-in PR. Capitalize on your presence with speaking engagements, special demonstrations, press releases, and news conferences. Ask event organizers for the media list and use it! If you have a new product, grab a reporter at the event and tell them about it.
  6. Socialize on social media. Encourage attendees to engage on your company's social media outlets. Post frequently and take photos of interactions.
  7. Scope out the competition. Use this opportunity to meet and research your competitors. Gather intel...because you know they'll being returning the favor.
Need trade show expertise? Contact

Dinosaurs Rule! Email vs. Social Media Campaigns

Compared to social media, email communication is a dinosaur...or is it? It's an older form of communication, for sure, but statistics show that it still reigns as the most effective form of electronic dialog. In fact, email campaigns have the highest ROI of any marketing channel available.

Consider these facts:
  • A click-through email campaign is 6x more likely to succeed than a click-through tweet.*
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.*
  • Email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social.*
  • Including a call to action button instead of a text link can increase conversion rates by as much as 28%.*
  • A message is 5x more likely to be seen in email than via Facebook.*
  • 4.24% of website visitors from email marketing buy something as compared to 2.49% of visitors from search engines and 0.59% from social media.*
  • Sending four emails in a month instead of one significantly increases the number of consumers opening more than one email.*
Surprised? Given that email is a more personal form of communication, maybe not. So, how can you harness this personal connection to build your brand?

8 keys to an effective email campaign:
  1. Target audience: Who are you sending this email to and why? Use an existing contact lists (or buy one) and build on these through embedded "share" buttons and links to online subscribe forms. If appropriate, use incentives such as free shipping or first-time buyer discounts to encourage people to join your list.
  2. Type of campaign: What's the purpose of your campaign? Are you generating new leads for your sales team? More RSVPs for your event? More donations for your cause? Are you providing industry news? Is this a newsletter? A special offer? An announcement? An invitation?
  3. Content: What information do you need to convey? This will primarily be dictated by the "Type of campaign," but in any case, compelling and meaningful content will help to captured your audience. Be sure the content is relevant to your target. Statistics show that campaigns sent to segmented lists with specific and relevant information can increase revenue/response by 760%!
  4. Brand design: Is the email campaign in keeping with your company's brand and goals? Align your campaign and it will reinforce your customer's consistent experience with your brand.
  5. Layout: Email campaigns are generally deliver in HTML format and are no wider than 600px. Keep in mind, you have about 5 seconds to capture your reader, so design the layout to stand out. Also, research shows that 41% of email opens are on mobile devices, so make sure your campaigns are optimized across all devices.
  6. Scheduling: Is this a weekly, monthly, quarterly or one-time campaign? Develop a content schedule to ensure timeliness and expectancy.
  7. Sending and tracking metrics: Do you have open rates, click throughs, and other key metrics in place to review for improvement? These measurements provide invaluable information for future campaigns.
  8. Blog and other connections: Have you linked to your blog and social media? Be sure to include a "share" call-to-action button to encourage referrals.
Need help with your email campaign? Contact:

* Sources:

Brand GPS: 9 Turns to Keep You from Going South

A company's advertising/marketing/branding plan provides vision and strategy for the tactical implementation of its brand. This is the launch pad, fuel, and navigation system for your firm's success. It provides the perfect road map for not only the brand's direction, but also the grounding on which its advertising and marketing strategies are developed.

9 steps to targeted directional marketing
  1. The organization's inspiration: What was the need that inspired its inception? The answer will be your unique mission.
  2. The firm's story: Who are the founders and why did they start the organization? How long has it been around and how has it evolved? What are its future plans?
  3. Review the touch: Review your touch points with your prospect and customer. This includes all printed material, your online presence, electronic and traditional communication, and advertisements and P/R. Find the unification of a singular message. If there isn't one, create it.
  4. Survey the landscape: Survey both your internal and external contacts. Ask their opinions about quality, quantity, responsiveness, understanding of the organization's mission and purpose, availability, engagement, etc. Use mostly multiple choice questions for better metrics, but offer comment sections and open ended questions to gain greater insight.
  5. Review the target: Your firm's appeal. This includes age, gender, economic status, special interests, and personality profiles. Consider the future as well. To whom do you want to appeal? What are the growth potentials of your current market compared to other markets?
  6. Spending trends: What's your industry doing? What kind of publications are available that offer a future look into the growth/loss possibilities for your industry? Are there technological advances or government regulations you need to consider?
  7. Online Analytics: Run diagnostics on your online presence. This includes social media engagements, website, online advertisements, back links, and technical mark up of your website's coding.
  8. Identify SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats): Time consuming, but worth it. Strengths and Weaknesses are those issues that pertain to your internal operations. Opportunities and Threats are those items that pertain to external conditions outside of your organization's control. It's important to entertain "what if?" scenarios.
  9. Competitive Analysis: Who are your competitors and what kind of outreach do they have? Ask many of the same questions listed above of your competitors and then compare/contrast to see how you fare.
After you've moved through these steps, share your findings with key players for in-put and buy in. Congrats! You've just completed your communication plan for a shared corporate vision

Public Transit Branding Guide: 6 Stops to Success

"If you can sell transit, you can sell anything."
– A Hornsby Brand Design client.

Transit agencies, like all organizations, have their own brand. Unfortunately for many, that brand perception is not very good. To be blunt, it's horrible! Creating appeal for riding public transit is--quite frankly--an uphill battle (pun intended). However, the opportunity is bright. With the onset of nightmare traffic, increasing commuter expenses, and sweat-of-the-brow stress, public transportation is gaining momentum and popularity, especially in large urban areas.

So how can transit agencies better "toot their own horn", increase their ridership, and most of all, piggyback on to this new momentum? Glad you asked.

6 brand strategy stops:
  1. Identify your riders. As you may already know, understanding your demographic and leveraging that knowledge to create an effective marketing campaign is paramount. In general, there are three types of transit riders:
  • Those who rely completely on transit. These riders are the main core of transit passengers and may include workers, students, low-income families, older adults, and persons with disabilities. They typically are limited in the mode of transportation they use.
  • Those who need transit temporarily. These riders may include tourists; people who normally drive, but have a preventative injury or a suspended license or their car is "in the shop."
  • Those who choose to ride transit. These choice riders are usually environmentally- or economically-conscious commuters, or people who just find transit more convenient than dealing with the hassles of traffic and automobile maintenance and expenses.
  1. Introduce riders to a new way of thinking about public transit. Promote the strength of community building through transit. Encourage buy-in and civic responsibility through positive campaigns. Put your best foot forward with cleanliness, courtesy, timeliness, and responsiveness. Have each employee with public contact trained in conscientious engagement, and be sure to reflect this in all touch points.
  2. Highlight stories from people who come from different walks of life. The human connection...people love and identify with great stories, so connect with a diverse public by communicating a wide variety of transit tales that personify the agency, its employees, and its riders.
  3. Use relevant copy and visuals. Many government agencies are guilty of government-speak and acronyms wrapped in dry, boring government visuals. Step away from the government mindset and embrace the elements that bolster relevant, positive messages.
         Know that a marketing professional understands the true essence of your brand. He/she will incorporate your brand's values and unique selling propositions, all essential to defining your creative identity. Whether you’re developing a brochure, a website, or a full brand identity, this strategic process executed properly will ensure that all visuals tell the right story for the brand. It is no exaggeration to state that neglecting this key ingredient will lead to a disconnect with the consumer.
  4. Promote cutting-edge technology. Constantly champion the latest services and technological features that will appeal to new riders such as onboard wifi, bike racks, online ticket purchases, transit apps, trip planners, SMS alerts, etc.
  5. Head It off at the pass: Communicate transit projects, road/bridge construction, weather conditions, quickly and concisely. Have a "PR damage control" plan in place with all key personnel on board before something happens in order to ensure a smooth and professional communications plan. Shining a light on your transit agency's proactive problem solving skills will go a long way to alleviating rider stress and it will build trust to boot.
Hornsby Brand Design has extensive experience in public transit branding and marketing. Let us help. Contact: See our portfolio here of award-winning work.

Things that Make You Say Hmm...

This body of water has...wait for it...large amounts of WATER!"
"Dihydrogen monoxide" =  two (di) hydrogens to one (mono) oxygen = H2O
It's exactly what the fish ordered.

Industry humor at its best...

This place is noted for its historical accuracy.

Top down management: "Honesty is the best policy."

This pharmacy must be located in Colorado.

There was a budget shortfall. Use your imagination.