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Entrepreneurial Resources for All Stages of Business

Whether you’re a budding startup, a growing business or a seasoned entrepreneur, access to resources to help expand your venture is essential to your success. Fortunately, there is a wealth of opportunity at your fingertips if you just know where to look. Here are a few of Fetch’s favorites for just about any stage of business.

Business Development

Business owners often bemoan the many taxes and regulations imposed by the government, but there are plenty of resources offered to help small- and locally-owned startups get off the ground and on the road to success. Illinois Small Business Development Centers can be found across the city and beyond, offering one-on-one business advice, including financial planning, tech training and marketing plan development. You’ll also find a variety of services and workshops offered through SBDC partners like Women’s Business Development Center or the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Partnerships for Growth

Ongoing networking is crucial to maintaining the success of your business. Joining your local chamber of commerce is a great way to connect with other business owners, but you’ll need to dig a little deeper to expand your network. Groups like Business Leadership Council or Business Network Chicago (BNC) are excellent groups that create valuable connections with other like-minded entrepreneurs. The Small Business Advocacy Council Illinois even provides shared office space opportunities.

Investing in Your Brand

Even the very best business concepts can be hampered by a substandard website or poor online reviews. If online marketing isn’t one of your strengths, there are experts who want to help. Chicago’s 1871 is a tech center that teaches design and technology skills, as well as hosts regular networking and support events. If you’re still not comfortable building and managing a killer website, remember to build the cost of outside assistance into your marketing budget. It’s more than worth it.

Click here to listen to more advice for business owners from Fetch’s own Lina Khalil.

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Your Website Has a Shelf Life

Businesses spend enormous amounts of time and money to create their website, ensuring they leave a positive and lasting impression on their audience. However, many don’t realize their efforts should continue long after clicking “publish”. Think of your website as a living, breathing plant — it continually needs water and sun if you want it to grow your brand.

No matter how busy you are, keeping your website fresh and relevant should be at the top of your to-do list. Here are a few reasons why you should consistently update your website.

Always on the Go

Having your website mobile-friendly is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. In 2014, the number of people who used their smartphone to go online surpassed the number who used a desktop, and that number has been increasing ever since, according to a report by comScore. Be sure to schedule time each month to check your site’s usability across all devices: desktop, tablet and mobile.

The Bells and Whistles

Thanks to a variety of online tools, web layout has taken a completely new approach. Developers are switching from the static and cluttered multi-page design to a sleek, single-scroll page. Not only that, there has been an upward trend in interactions between customers and brands. Many business websites have implemented live chat and app integration to enhance the user’s experience.

Refreshing Content for SEO

As we have mentioned before, SEO is key to getting more visits to your website. However, if you neglect to update your site with new content, search engines will start ignoring it. Google, specifically, loves websites that update routinely. What happens is the “Googlebot” searches for websites that have new or recently updated content and adds that content to the Google index. New content means you rank higher in search engine results.

The online landscape is always changing, so it’s important to prepare for new trends on the horizon and regularly updating your website. In fact, we recently updated FetchIMC.com to get with the times. Check it out and let us know what you think!

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How to Set a Marketing Budget

Marketing is an absolute necessity for every business, and so are the inevitable associated costs. Whether you’re a brand new business or an established institution, you’ll need to figure out how much you can set aside for your marketing budget so you can get the word out about your brand.

Define Your Needs

Seeing your business on a billboard over the Kennedy Expressway during rush hour would give any small business owner a warm, fuzzy feeling…but if you’re a boutique pet store in Frankfort, you probably aren’t going to see much of a return on your investment. You can’t be everywhere all the time, so start small with a few channels. For example, a Chicago consulting firm may want to engage a social media marketing company to launch a targeted LinkedIn advertising campaign.

Start with an Estimate

If you go into the process of hiring a marketing manager or agency without doing research ahead of time, you’ll probably experience some major sticker shock. Before you even begin the conversation, have some preliminary figures in mind. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate seven to eight percent of their revenues to marketing. However, this can vary greatly depending on the growth stage of your company — a retail startup can expect to spend up to 20 percent.

Measure, Reevaluate, Repeat

Your consumers are constantly changing, and your marketing plan should be flexible enough to catch their attention. The key is to have a system for measuring how your marketing dollars are affecting your business’s bottom line. Is your ecommerce site seeing more traffic? Did you get more service inquiries after a particular e-blast? Keep track of these important metrics and use them in determining where your budget should go.

To learn about more specific marketing tactics, check out our blogs about PPC and PR.

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3 Things You Should Know About PPC

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is one of those tricky tech abbreviations that most overworked business owners just don’t have time to master. While you could throw a bunch of money at a company that claims to be able to move your site to the front page of Google (spoiler alert: they’re lying), it’s important that you learn what this vital tool is and what it does for your business.

Here are three things you should know about PPC:

1. The Meaning of PPC
PPC is an internet marketing strategy that directs traffic to a website through clickable ads. For example, when you search for something using Google, you’ll see several results at the very top of the first page or along the side — sometimes they’re highlighted or have the word “Ad” next to it. When a user clicks on one of those ads, it directs them to the advertiser’s website. The advertiser then pays the platform a small fee every single time one of their ads is clicked.

2. Pay-Per-Click vs Search Engine Marketing
You may see PPC interchanged with another acronym, SEM which stands for search engine marketing. The difference between these two strategies is the location and the way the advertiser is billed.

Facebook, for example, provides pay-per-click opportunities. However, these ads are more straightforward; provide ad copy, an image, a URL and a budget. Facebook will run your PPC campaign for however long you want with the money you want to spend.

SEM only uses search engines’ custom platforms, such as Google AdWords and Microsoft Bing Ads. Here, advertisers actually bid on the keywords that are relevant to their target market. The more common the word, the more it costs and the more likely you are to have your ad seen and clicked.

3. Keywords are the Key
A killer list of well-planned keywords is essential for your PPC campaign. What is your target audience searching for that could potentially lead them to your website? There are many tools to help you get started – we love the Google Adwords Keyword Planner – and you should always see what your competition is doing and how it’s helping their business. Really get into the mind of your consumer and the online journey they’ll take that will lead to your brand.

PPC is a viable resource for any business looking to increase visits to its website or to reach a desired targeted market. To learn more about PPC, feel free to contact us!

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PR: What is it and why do you need it?

The days of spending your entire marketing budget on flashy ad campaigns passed by long ago. Today’s consumer wants to know who you are, and what you’re about. According to Forbes, 62 percent of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal consumer. That’s huge!

Public relations (or PR) is about creating proactive and strategic ways to interact with and be perceived positively by a brand’s audience. Whether you’re an international Fortune 500 company launching a new product or a local nonprofit trying to raise funds, the public has to like you if you want them to give you their money.

Guy Kawasaki said it best: “Advertising is when you say how great you are. PR is when other people say how great you are.” Fantastic quote, but kind of vague…that’s because the practice of public relations constantly evolves to keep up with today’s consumer.

People want to hear a good story — whether it’s on the local news show, in their social media feed or directly to their email. The trick is to figure out how to tell your story, and where/when/how to tell it. Yes, we’re biased, and we think PR is awesome. But, in all actuality, PR is an extremely powerful tool that can have a profound impact on your company and your bottom line.

What more information specific to you and your brand? Hit us up!

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Let the Sun’s Rays Illuminate Your Brand

Summer is nearly here and while you’re surely getting ready to hit the beach, remember that warm weather also gives us the opportunity to improve our content marketing — specifically, our visual content.

Visual content on your social media channels is crucial for any brand. In fact, studies show that colorful images increase a viewer’s attention by 80%, making it more likely they’ll read your content. Here are a few reasons why warmer weather is the perfect time to take photos.

Here Comes the Sun

The only lighting equipment you will need to take a great photo is the sun. The best part: It’s free! Since the sunshine lasts longer in the summer, you’ll have ample time to take more photos. Take note that the time of day affects the lighting of the object you are shooting. Check out the handy graph below.

Cambridge in Colour

Around Town

Everything flourishes during summer: trees, flowers, people. Plus, there are so many festivals and events during the warm weather months that there’s a great photo-op right around every corner. If you plan to attend a local event, snap a picture and geotag it to gain more visibility on social media. Bonus points for use of hashtagging.

Small but Mighty

These days, you don’t need a big, fancy DSLR camera to take professional-looking photos; your smartphone probably has its own high-quality lens. A camera phones also gives you the opportunity to take an instant photo of anything that catches your eye and upload it directly to your social channels.

#NoFilter

Summer brings us plenty of gorgeous photo-opts, but there’s no harm in a little retouching. If you want your photos to look super professional on social media, forgo the filters and edit the photos yourself. Yes, this takes more time, but you will end up with a better looking final product. First, download a couple photo-editing apps like VSCOFacetune or Camera+. Next, play around with the brightness, contrast and saturation. If you still think your photo needs a filter, pick one that complements the photo. It is important that all your photos look consistent (this especially applies to Instagram). Do not use a different filter for each photo, because that will just make your feed look messy and erratic. Find one or two filters that you like and stick with that.

Having aesthetically-pleasing content is essential for companies to communicate on social media. If you want to discuss more on how to improve your brand’s visual brand, feel free to contact us.

 

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New at Fetch

Welcome to the new Fetch site! We had fun putting this together and we hope you enjoyed looking through it. While a lot has changed over the years, one thing has remained the same: we still make it happen. That being said, check out how we have improved upon our established services and created totally new offerings.

What’s New:

  • We are showing off a bit: Our new and improved reporting, analytical approach and data-drive strategy has been yielding great results for our clients. While we have always garnered quality press and generated amazing content, we now have the numbers to reinforce that it is working.
  • Easier on the eyes: Have you seen our latest visuals and infographics? Visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (according to Hubspot). The same great content you have become accustomed to is now paired with high-performing visuals that further drive engagement.
  • Keying in on content: Content marketing is the new SEO. We have known this all along! We are incorporating key-words and search terms into our amazing content to generate editorial that our client’s customers are looking for.
  • Mad ads: What do we do with all of the great content, data and analytics? We utilize pay-per-click and traditional social media ads to broadcast high performing content to exponentially increase results.

In PR there is no standing still, you are either getting better or falling behind. Stay up to date with the latest trends, advice and news from Fetch by signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page.

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SEO & Content Marketing, Happily Ever After

SEO, where do we begin?

For years the term “SEO” (search engine optimization) has intimidated, motivated and confused business owners in their eternal quest to rank higher in a Google search. They don’t know what it is, but they know they need it! But to truly increase traffic to your site, it’s important to understand that today’s SEO tactics must work hand-in-hand with content marketing.

Search Ranking Algorithms….huh???

Five years ago, stuffing your website with keywords in the hopes that Google would equate that with topic authority was a genuine strategy that WORKED! Once Google caught on, though, they put systems in place to improve the quality of user’s search, discounting bogus linking and massive amounts of unreadable content.

So, rather than peppering your site and blog entries with keywords, creating valuable content and categorizing and tagging said content has become an important step in SEO. Then it becomes a simple exercise in indexing and categorizing your blog so that users AND search engines can find you.

Pro Tip: Most website and blog platforms will have a user-friendly backend widget that will help you make the most out of tags. Click here to read WordPress’ guide.

Content is King

Bill Gates wrote an article in 1996, entitled “Content is King,” predicting that content will become the key to successful internet marketing. There’s plenty of debate over what that exactly means – possibly all of the clicks on ads housing fresh content – but content in general is understood to be created for the consumer rather than the search engine. You’ll visit a site because you WANT TO, not because Google told you to.

As you begin planning your content, continue to keep your audience in mind. What do they like to read? What images grab their attention? What keeps them coming back? Brainstorm what you want to say and then decided when and how you want to say it.

Pro Tip: No content marketing plan is complete without a killer calendar. Hubspot offers a free template to get you started.   

You Can’t Have One Without the Other

The online marketing sweetspot is when your website has a high search engine ranking AND consumers return to your site to read the fantastic information you offer. Keep tabs on your social channels and web traffic to find out if your content is resonating and how you can change it accordingly. Google Analytics hosts a ton of tools to help you keep up on your successes so you can continue to increase traffic to your site.

Ergo, you need SEO and content marketing to create a winning site.

Pro Tip: Keep your content topics timely and your keywords fresh by regularly checking Google Trends. You’ll also find related keywords and regional interest.

And since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy for different businesses or even industries, it’s important to consult with an expert to develop your plan. If you’d like to discuss next steps in building your brand’s online presence,  give us a shout.