Web Design, Graphic Design & Marketing Blog – Theresa Sheridan Designs http://www.theresasheridan.com Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:37:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Using Google Alerts to Monitor Content in your Niche http://www.theresasheridan.com/using-google-alerts-to-monitor-content-in-your-niche/ http://www.theresasheridan.com/using-google-alerts-to-monitor-content-in-your-niche/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:37:18 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/blog/?p=464 Coming up with new content week after week is always a challenge. Whether it's blog post ideas, or social media content, how does one consistently think of new things to write about and share?]]> http://www.theresasheridan.com/using-google-alerts-to-monitor-content-in-your-niche/feed/ 8 Marketing Your Brand Online: Websites – The Branding Pen Article #7.1.1 http://www.theresasheridan.com/marketing-your-brand-online-websites-the-branding-pen-article-7-1-1/ Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:50:54 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9349 It’s a no secret these days, that marketing your brand online will play a gigantic role in the success of your business. It seems that everyone turns to the internet to find what they’re looking for, even if they don’t know they’re looking for it. While some may still use the good old fashioned Yellow Pages, even in the more rural areas that our particular  market tends to hang out in, they’re still armed with smart phones and are actively looking there for the information they need. If you’re not available to them, they’ll find someone else who is, it’s really that simple. So, exactly WHERE online do you need to be? The answer is simple. EVERYWHERE. There are seven key areas you want to consider in your online marketing: Websites Blog posts Social media Email Marketing Press releases Videos Advertising For the next seven modules, we’ll look in more depth at each of these; how they work, how you can make them work for you, and I’ll provide you with specific tips and guidelines on how you can get started in each of these areas, if you haven’t yet already. You’ll find that some fit into your business and some might not, but it’s important to consider each of them, so you’ll have a good understanding of how they work. Once your understand them more effectively, you’ll be able to decide which of these are best for your business and your brand. Using Your Website for Maximum Benefit I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that a website is the #1 marketing tool you have at your disposal. What? You don’t have a website?!?!? In today’s world, trying to do business without a website is like trying to start a fire without matches. It can be done, but you are making things much, much harder on yourself than it needs to be, and it will take you 10 times longer to get where you want to be (not an actual statistic, just me making a point). Having a website, and more importantly, an effective website, will go a long way towards helping you achieve your business goals. Some people perceive a business without a website as less than professional, and they’re not taken as seriously as others with a credible web presence. In business, perception is everything, so give careful consideration to how you are perceived in your niche. Are you perceived as a professional who understands business and what it takes to succeed, or are you perceived as a novice who cuts corners to keep costs down? If the latter is true, what else are you cutting corners on that may cause your prospective customer to not have the confidence in you that they should? If the first initial impression that people have of you (and your website IS that first impression in many cases) is that you have your act together, you know what you’re talking about, and you’re doing things right, they won’t really know that maybe you’re struggling a little bit, just like they are. All they will see is your well thought out, well planned, well designed website, giving them exactly the information they want, and you will give them the confidence in you that you ARE a professional and that you can solve their problem for them. But, a website just isn’t in the budget. I understand that getting a business off the ground is a challenge, especially where finances are concerned. But, would you skimp on other tools that you use in your business? For example, let’s say you’re a horse trainer. You probably don’t give much thought to dropping $2500 on another saddle, which of course is nice to have, and you want to be comfortable and you want it to fit the horse so he’s comfortable, too. Or maybe your arena is getting too hard packed and it’s time for another load of sand. After all, you need these things to do your job, right? Of course you do, however these things won’t get you too far, if you don’t have customers bringing you horses to train. Alright already, I know I need a website. How do I get one? There are many ways you can get started with a website. The most obvious is to hire a professional to build it for you. There’s much more to websites than just pictures and words on the screen, so a professional can advise you on the best layout of your content so that you can compel visitors to take the next step and contact you, as well as on best practices for search engine optimization that your site will be crawled and indexed by search engines so you will be found in organic searches. Just because I put a scalpel in your hand, doesn’t make you a surgeon. ‘Nuff said. Another way to get a website fairly quickly is by using any of the website builder programs out there, such as Wix, or GoDaddy’s Website Tonight. They offer monthly pay as you go solutions, that might make it more affordable for you, but you still need to have an idea of what you’re doing, to get the most out of these programs. Trying to build a website…even the free ones…without any knowledge of HTML or CSS code can be tricky, and you might not get the result your after. Another option is a self-hosted WordPress site. You’ll need to know a bit more coding for this option, but you are much less limited as far as the aesthetic goes because there are literally tens of thousands of theme options. Sometimes, having a website that is not well planned out — the information can’t easily be found by the user, the pages take forever to load and it’s aesthetically not very pleasing — can actually be worse than not having a website. Have you ever looked at sale horses online and thought that the photos of that horse were SO unflattering,]]> Marketing Your Brand – The Branding Pen Article #7 http://www.theresasheridan.com/marketing-your-brand-the-branding-pen-article-7/ Wed, 17 Aug 2016 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9317 Now that you are well on your way to establishing your brand, it’s time to think about how you will market it. Just the thought can be overwhelming, so we’re going to break it down into pieces, so you can tackle one piece of it at a time. The definition of marketing, according to the American Marketing Association, is: Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Clear as mud, right? In a nutshell, marketing is everything from old fashioned print advertisements to more modern social media posting. It’s what you say when you’re trying to explain to people what you have to offer and why they should buy it. And, it’s how you say it that really matters. And of course, you’ve done all this already in our previous modules. You understand your customer, you’ve defined your product and you’re ready to let the world in on your incredible secret. Creating a Marketing Plan….sort of I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of marketing plans. At least not the traditional 20 page long ones. I think it’s a good idea to have an idea of where you’re headed of course, and putting this on paper will help you stay on track and achieve your goals. You have already started outlining your plan simply by defining your target market and your product and creating your USP. Now it’s time to elaborate on how and where you will reach them to get your message out there. Of course in our world, as I’ve learned through personal experience with ranchers, plans can change very quickly and you better be able to roll with it, or you’re left behind with just one foot in the stirrup and your butt not yet in the saddle. Be flexible with your marketing plan and remember nothing is written in stone. Be open to trying new things, but ultimately you know your audience best so if something doesn’t feel right for them, skip it. You can always come back and try it at a later date, to see if maybe you missed something. As you’re writing your plan, think about your pricing strategy, as well as where you will market your business. Is your goal to be the cheapest, or provide the most value for the price? If your price is too low, does that diminish the value of your brand? What type of collateral will you need to get your message out? Business cards are usually a given, but if you do a lot of trade shows, perhaps you need brochures to go along with them? A website is also considered part of your collateral. Perhaps a promotional video you can hand out on a business card size mini CD? Do you have a referral program you can promote? Asking existing customers for referrals is a proven way to grow your customer base, but make sure there’s something in it for them. Once you have clients, how will you retain them? What extra value will you provide for your existing customers to encourage brand loyalty? What is your marketing budget? Most of us don’t have a actual budget to work with, I know, but you will have to invest something into your marketing. Even if it’s just for business cards. Your website costs should also be worked into your budget. Consider your Return on Investment (ROI) when figuring out what your budget will be. If a website is our number 1 marketing tool in our arsenal (which it is), it warrants a bigger piece of the budget pie, than say business cards would. You stand to gain much more bang for your marketing buck with a website than almost any other marketing effort, so be sure to plan accordingly and work this into your plan, along with the other costs you see as important. As you can see, there are many things to consider, so often times writing these things down can help you stay on track and not lose sight of what your original plan was. As I said before, nothing is written in stone and you can adjust your plan as you go, to fit your brand as it is fine tuned and perfected. Your marketing plan doesn’t have to be dozens of pages, it can be a simple one page document that provides you an outline of what your plan is. You can download a Sample One Page Marketing Plan by clicking the button below. Once you have a plan in place, you will have a better idea of where you’re headed and you can map out the steps to get there. In future modules we will be discussing both online and offline marketing and going in depth about the various options available to you and how to make the most of them. In the meantime, work on your marketing plan so that you have a clear direction in your mind about the progress you want to make. As with everything, Ride for the Brand, and keep your message in mind!]]> The Top 3 Reasons Why Not Having a Mobile-Friendly Website is Hurting Your Business http://www.theresasheridan.com/the-top-3-reasons-why-not-having-a-mobile-friendly-website-is-hurting-your-business/ Wed, 10 Aug 2016 17:02:16 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9314 I see a LOT of websites in any given day. And it always surprises me when I see one that is NOT mobile friendly yet. I decided to do a quick video for you and tell you my top 3 reasons why not having a mobile-friendly website could be really hurting your marketing efforts and more importantly your bottom line.]]> Establish Your Brand: Brand Positioning with Articles – The Branding Pen Article 6.4.3 http://www.theresasheridan.com/establish-your-brand-brand-positioning-with-articles-the-branding-pen-article-6-4-3/ Mon, 25 Jul 2016 17:22:35 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9233 Articles are another great way to position your brand outside of your own social media and blogging efforts. Articles can be shared and distributed in numerous way, both on- and offline, and can tap into a completely different audience.]]> Establish Your Brand: Brand Positioning with Blogging – The Branding Pen Article 6.4.2 http://www.theresasheridan.com/establish-your-brand-brand-positioning-with-blogging/ Wed, 13 Jul 2016 15:50:21 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9161 Blogging is an excellent way to help you position your brand and establish yourself as an expert in your field. People are information hungry and most will turn to the internet these days looking for the answers they need before going anywhere else, so...]]> 50 Creative Blog Post Ideas to Inspire You http://www.theresasheridan.com/50-creative-blog-post-ideas-to-inspire-you/ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 15:59:56 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9165 Coming up with ideas for blog posts week after week can be challenging to say the least. I’ve been struggling with it for years myself, so I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve come up with so you might have an easier time of it.]]> The Hottest Places to List Your Business, Website or Blog for Free http://www.theresasheridan.com/the-hottest-places-to-list-your-business-website-or-blog-for-free/ Tue, 05 Jul 2016 15:00:02 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9071 Yes, quality backlinks are still important for your website's SEO! Having said that, Google is much more particular now about where those backlinks are coming from. Links from other reputable sites in your industry, partners and vendors, along with links from well known business directories carry a lot of authority, so...]]> 10 Things to Ponder Before Creating a New Website http://www.theresasheridan.com/10-things-to-ponder-before-creating-a-new-website/ Thu, 30 Jun 2016 16:01:25 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=9025 If you're thinking about building a website for your new business or organization, or if you're finally getting around to redesigning your existing website, there is much to consider. Websites are not just pretty pictures and some words. Much goes into the planning, the behind-the-scenes coding, the layout and the overall hierarchy that can make...]]> Establish Your Brand: Brand Positioning with Social Media Content – The Branding Pen Article 6.4.1 http://www.theresasheridan.com/establish-your-brand-brand-positioning-with-social-media/ Wed, 01 Jun 2016 00:55:39 +0000 http://www.theresasheridan.com/?p=8090 There is no denying that we are a digital world now, and that won't be changing any time soon. We have ways to grow our business that we’ve never had before and the possibilities are endless. Before the internet, you were limited to selling your products to local customers...]]>