How To Preflight in Acrobat [VIDEO]

How to Preflight in Acrobat Title

Have you ever printed something for your company and the print job didn’t come out like you expected it to? Fortunately, there’s a way to check for mistakes and errors before going through the printing process. In this video by Robert Vernon, he explains how to preflight your PDFs using Acrobat. Preflighting is the process of checking if the digital data required to print a job are all present and valid. So, if your colors are lame RGBs, the preflight process will keep them bright, colorful, and CMYK.

Video Transcription:

Robert Vernon here from Digital Arts and I want to show you today how to preflight a file in acrobat. There are some great tools built into acrobat that will give you all kinds of information about your file.

 

I’m going to go ahead and open up a file here. The reason we preflight, of course, is to catch all of the problems that may be associated with a file with a PDF before it goes into production. We want the presses the run smoothly. We want pre-press to not have to call the customers and we want everything to go as smoothly as possible.

 

So, I’ve opened up a PDF here, it’s a one page PDF. You can check the size by putting your cursor in the lower left. This is 8 ½ x 11. Now, to preflight, you’re going to go up here to the advanced tab and all the way at the bottom you’ll see preflight. A lot of people don’t realize it’s there. But, if you select it, you’ll see that there’s a lot going for it.

 

Now, when you pull it up you’re going to see you have choices of all different kinds of profiles. If you’re going to Sheet Fed or Web Press, you’d select these. We do digital printing so I’m going to go ahead and select digital printing here, color, and we’re going to go ahead and analyze the file. Click the analyze tab, and it’s going to go into the file and give me a great report. Well, we see here there’s some transparency issues. I’m going to select overview, and let’s just check color spaces. Well, we see we have RGB and we also can look at the fonts, comic sans ms, and we can look at the images again. A lot of RGB. I can go back to profiles and select analyze and fix.

 

Now, it’s going to ask for a new name and I don’t want to overwrite the original file, so I’m going to go ahead and put DAI in front of it and save. Now it’s going to go ahead and correct those problems and give us a new report after it does so. Right now you can see it’s converting RGB to CMYK, it’s flattening the transparency, and now no problems were found. It also recompressed LZW ZIP, of course, LZW is a problem with a lot of rips. And it’s that easy!

 

Really, go ahead and experiment with it. I think you’ll find that this will really simplify your workflow and allow you to catch a lot of problems early in the workflow that you have in your shop. Any questions, give me a call or email. You can reach me at robert@digitalartsimaging.com or at 908-237-4646. Thanks!

How to Preflight in Acrobat Pinterest

How To Create Your Own Brand Guidelines

Create Your Own Brand Guidelines Title

Creating your own brand can be intimidating if you don’t have the right tips. There are many ways to create your own brand and to present it to the world, but these tips will help you get started.

Cartoon People

Determine your target audience

What type of audience are you trying to reach? This is the first step when building your own brand. You have to grasp what kind of consumers you are advertising and talking to. If you are a realtor, your audience is most likely going to be homebuyers and home sellers. Once you have a full understanding of who your target audience is, you can better know how to create your brand.

Executive Brand Plan

Define a branding mission statement

Before you can build a company that the community and your target audience trusts, you have to show the value that your business provides. Come up with a strong mission statement that will win over many, and create a sense of trust at the same time. It should be short and sweet, yet to the point and informative. This will give your audience confidence in your brand. With this trust, you can set better goals.

People on Devices

Research your competition

There’s a good chance that there are companies out there similar to the one you’re trying to build. Those brands are your competition but can also act as your inspiration. How did they start? What are they doing now? Who do they appeal to? Find out how they operate and instead of mimicking them, go a step further and pull ahead. It’s all about researching your fellow competitors and trying to be a step ahead of them.

 Organized Desk

Create a logo

Logos are one of the most important parts of building a brand. Almost every company has some type of logo, and many remember them. We all know the “golden arches” for McDonald’s, the green mermaid for Starbucks, and the swoosh by Nike. Logos give your brand a personality and set you apart from others. Team up with a graphic designer and build a memorable logo that best represents your brand.

Clip Art Mouth

Find your voice

Your company should have its own voice. It should represent your company’s mission, audience, and industry yet showcases a friendly and helpful personality. If your brand has its own unique voice, it’ll stand out amongst others and attract attention to itself. Having your own voice will encourage audiences to acknowledge and reach out to you.

Business People

Create an online presence

Your brand should not only exist by itself. It should be on your social media, brochures, business cards, and more. The more you get your brand’s name out there, the more likely it is to succeed. Social media goes a long way these days. Create accounts on all the networks that make sense for your company. Post as much useful content as you can whether your posts are ads, advice, or even just a picture. This will keep your audience engaged and in the loop of what your company is doing.

Iconography

Create unique iconography

Iconography makes every website more fun, especially when the icons are unique. Why use the generic icons when you can create your own eye-catching ones? Iconography will make your brand stand out more and create a fun experience for your audience when browsing your website and social media pages. It’s just a little touch of personality that will separate you from your competition.

Hopefully, these tips will help you create a guideline when creating your own brand. It’s good to have a step-by-step guide to help you create the brand you’ve been building towards.

 

Create Your Own Brand Guidelines Pinterest

10 Post-Show Tips for Stress-Free Follow-Ups

The trade show is over, and you have a bunch of new information and leads. Now what? Just like having a plan for before the show and during, you need one for after the show. These post-show tips will guide you through what you should do post trade show.

Organize your data

After a trade show, your team will have a lot of notes from speakers, demonstrations, conversations with other booths and companies, and personal notes. Having so many notes can cause a mess. Make sure you organize your written thoughts well before going through everything. Categorize everything and type them up if that helps. This way, you’ll be able to share your notes with other employees and you can collaboratively learn from the post-show information. This will make your follow-up emails and blog posts much easier to do.

Have a follow-up strategy

Before the trade show, you should have a pre-show strategy, a strategy for the floor during the show, and a post-show strategy. This will make your life much easier so you can just fill in the blanks when it’s time to dive into it. If there will be a bunch of different blogs, assign them accordingly to your writers so they know what they’ll be writing and will prepare for it. A simply laid out follow-up strategy will help you prioritize and organize in the correct ways.

Prompt response to show leads

It is crucial that you get an email out to your new leads from the trade show right away. A prompt, professional, tailored response is a great way to make your company stand out from the competition who may take days to respond. Putting together an email and blasting it to your new leads will show that you care about them joining your family of clients. Make sure you edit pictures, videos, and anything you were going to add into the email as soon as you get back to the office and send it out right away so that you stay top of mind.

Prioritize your leads

So you just got back from a trade show and you have a bunch of leads you want to connect with further. It’s great to send them all that initial follow-up email, but some leads are going to be a bit more important to you than others. Prioritize your leads so that you personally talk to the most important ones first. These leads may be ready to jump in faster than other leads that may just be interested in learning more about your business and services. They are important too, but make sure you reach out to those that are ready to use your business sooner rather than later, first.

Make your call-to-action specific

If you make your call-to-action more specific at the bottom of your email, it’ll be more personal than the typical, “to learn more” or “for more information.” Stay away from the generic buttons and write something that has to do with your company. Lay out exactly what they’ll get when they take that next step. Being clear and concise with your call-to-action will help build trust and increase the chances of starting a lasting relationship.

Follow-up emails

Like responding to your leads quickly, your clients that attended the show and those that didn’t would like to receive a follow-up. Put together an email that explains how the show went, how well your booth did, what kind of prizes or raffles your booth had, and more. This will give the clients that stayed home some information on how you did, as well as remind those that attended who you are. This is a good place to either announce a winner to your raffle or tell them that you didn’t forget and to stay tuned.

Nurture your new connections through social media

Along with email follow-ups, be sure to reach out to your new connections through social media channels. Following other businesses that you’ve met or potential clients on social media will keep them informed about your company and show them that you didn’t forget about them. Most social media channels are fine, but LinkedIn should be your first priority in most cases. Connecting on LinkedIn opens up the possibility for other connections of your contact to see you as a potential source. You follow one and you just might get more in return.

Blog and tweet

After the event, be sure to post articles or blogs to recap the events, speakers, and demonstrations that took place at the show. You’ll want to include what your favorite parts were, what kind of booths there were alongside yours, and just about anything that’ll give the outsiders a taste of what you participated in. Your blog posts about the show may even inspire other businesses that didn’t participate, to go to the next show and have their own booths. Include the takeaways, what your personal experience was like, and what benefits came from the show. You don’t only have to recap the show in a blog, but write some blogs about certain topics you learned about. For example, if you learned about ways to make our Earth and communities cleaner, write about that! Make sure to post these blogs on social media as well! Your followers want to hear about it, and social media platforms are the best places to share your thoughts and experiences.

Have a debriefing meeting with your team

An internal follow-up is just as beneficial as the follow-ups with your leads. Touching base with your team after the event to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and ideas for the next convention will make your next exhibiting experience even better. If something didn’t work, either brainstorm together to see how it can be changed or if it should be removed from future plans. If something worked well, think about how you can update and improve it for next time. Some of your team may have noticed other booths doing something that you didn’t think of. Now is the time to discuss it and see if you can come up with something even better for the next show.

Get creative to stand out

Getting creative to stand out from all the follow-up noise is crucial. You don’t want your emails to sound like all of the others that your leads are receiving. Put together an informative, playful video to include in your email. Think of something that some people might not think about. A generic follow-up email will help but might be ignored by most. If your email is fun, engaging, and different, you’ll lock those leads in quickly.

Hopefully these tips helped you come up with some ways to manage your post-show strategies. There are other things you can do, but these 10 tips are crucial when planning your post-show plans. Follow these and you’ll be good to go!

Don’t forget to incorporate some of our pre-show and on the show floor tips when planning to exhibit at a trade show or convention!

10 Show Floor Tips to Navigate Any Trade Show

You’ve finally made it to the trade show! Now what? Hopefully you planned out what you are going to do and how you’re going to do it. It’s important to have a plan before the show, during, and after. Here are some tips to get you started on preparing to work the show floor.

Introduce yourself to show organizers

Alright, so your booth is all set up with your displays and signage. Now what? Go introduce yourself to the show organizers. It’s nice to meet them and to have them meet you. After all, this is their show and it’s nice to recognize all their hard work. Thank them for allowing your business to have their own booth and promote, and show some appreciation. It’s a nice, friendly, professional thing to do.

Attend panels / workshops / presentations

Don’t just stand at your booth the entire time! Make sure there are team members that are staying at your booth so you can go check out the other programming like the panels, workshops, and presentations. You already know everything there needs to know about your company, so why not go learn about another? You never know, you could learn some things that will help you with your company in the long run.

Promote products

Where is there a better place, besides your building and the internet, to promote your products? There are hundreds of people attending these trade shows whether they are business owners or consumers. So, that means there are hundreds of people that will be seeing your booth. Why not put some of your products out to show what you can do? If you’re a small business owner that sells work shoes, bring one of each shoe to show the consumers. This will allow them to physically hold your product and see the quality, instead of looking at a picture.

 Scope out the competition

It’s okay to get nosey! Take turns walking around to look at the other booths on the show floor. It won’t hurt, and you might even learn something new. You’ll also be able to see how many visitors every booth is getting and how it relates to your own. Is there something you’re missing? What are you doing that they’re not? Take a walk and scope out your competition!

      Use social media

We’re confident that social media is being used by almost everyone at the trade show. What is the best way to grab attention? Social media! Create a hashtag that people can search and use on their posts. For example, our hashtag might be: #DAatABC, or something along those lines. This way, people will be able to see what you have posted and what others have posted about your booth easily. This doesn’t exclude those at home that couldn’t make it to the convention! A hashtag or some type of social media action will allow them to track what is going on and make them feel as if they are there.

      Take pictures and videos

Event coverage is great for your company, as well as your clients at home. Once you get to the convention and you’re all set up, have one of your employees walk around the convention and record a video and take some pictures. Imagine how awesome it would be to edit the video and send it to your clients when you get home. Posting the video and pictures on social media will keep your clients that didn’t go to the show included.

Make your booth approachable

Would you want to approach a booth where the employees are playing on their phones, not paying attention, and or giving you dirty looks? No way. Make sure your booth itself looks fun and friendly, which starts with your employees. Standing near the booth with a smile on your face is a little tactic that will work wonders. Show that you’re happy to be there and that you’re happy to answer any questions, or chat about your business to anyone. The friendlier you look, the more visitors will approach.

 Offer show specials

Most booths will offer specials. For example, they’ll have a raffle to give away something for free, or they’ll have a discount on services if visitors sign up. If you’re doing something like this, make sure you have an employee near it at all times to answer any questions on what it might be. If your booth visitors want to enter your raffle to win something from your business, explain further to those people about what you’re giving away and how it would be helpful to them.

     Food and snacks

Wouldn’t it be convenient if you were thirsty by the time you reached our booth? Offering snacks and drinks will be much appreciated by visitors, and yourselves. Your water bottles and snacks should be in line with your company culture or theme. The water bottles can have your logo on its wrapper instead of “Poland Spring,” and your snacks can be have your logo on a sticker placed on the packages. Not to mention, you might get hungry or thirsty. If you supply snacks for others, you’ll benefit from that as well!

      Assign a booth host

It wouldn’t hurt to assign a host to your booth. Have yourself, or one of your experienced and knowledgeable staff members, present at your booth. This will be the initial person that visitors will talk to and get to know first. Make sure they are very friendly and know everything about the company. Having a host ensures that the booth is always covered by someone to answer questions, chat, help with raffles, and more. Other employees can work on the snacks, the models, and presentations, and wander around the trade show, and anything else that requires extra work. If you have a booth host, you’ll always feel safe leaving it.

Having a plan set in stone before you get to the show will only help you. You’ll know who is supposed to be where, how you want to set up your booth and displays, and be able to pull it off in an organized manner.

Don’t forget to check out our tips for pre-show preparations and post-show follow-up to help you plan a stress-free exhibiting experience.

10 Pre-Show Tips for Trade Show Success

The trade show you’ve been waiting for is finally here. Do you have everything prepared? You don’t want to just pack up and leave for the show without a plan or some kind of strategy. These pre-show tips will help you prepare and organize!

Have your business cards ready

Print is not dead. Business cards are an easy way for people to remember who they talked to and what your business is about. Who knows? It might help you gain a new client! Before going to a trade show or convention, make sure you have an ample amount of cards to give out as you network. Some trade shows have a big bowl to drop your card into and pick someone else’s up. It’s almost like mystery marketing, and you don’t want to miss that!

Eye-catching set up

First impressions are everything. Make sure your display is noticeable and eye-catching. You don’t just want to have a fold-up table with some business cards and a poster. Present your business to showcase your brand in a way that won’t go unnoticed. Sit down pre-show and determine a banner to print, maybe a retractable stand, and even a table drape to proudly and properly display your business. (And don’t forget that Digital Arts can help you with that!) People love colors! Combine two colors that go well together, or, if your logo has specific colors, pull some from that and continue with the theme.

Freebies

Everyone loves a free pen! Freebies are a great way to get people over to your booth and give attendees something to take home a little something from your exhibit. Print your business logo and information on pens, pads, screen cleaners, or anything that will be easy for people to grab. Freebies are a great way to market your business as well. While you’re making people smile with a shiny, new, free pen, you might be gaining a new client.

Raffles

Raffles and contests are always fun at conventions. Plan a raffle pre-show with your team for your booth visitors to participate in when they stop by. For example, put a bowl out and have people drop their business cards into it. Whichever card you draw first will be the winner of the giveaway. If you’re a consulting company, the winner could have a free consultation. Raffles create excitement, drive traffic, and make your business stand out.

Models or examples that demonstrate your business

An example of what your business is all about is something important to showcase at a trade show. Before the show, be prepared to bring some models or displays that will show off what you can do. If you own a printing company, print your logo or some images on the products you offer. If you own a landscaping business, bring large photos of the work your business has done, along with a tiny model of what a yard could look like. People would generally use their imagination if they don’t see an example, but why make them imagine it? Visuals are key.

Bring a team of knowledgeable employees

Before going to the trade show, make sure you have a team of employees that will benefit your booth. Make sure your employees are able to attend and make sure they know what their job is when you get there. Employees with extensive knowledge of your brand are important to have at the trade show to properly represent your brand. They should be prepared to answer any kind of questions that could come up at the show and represent your brand in the best ways from start to finish.

Discuss a plan with employees before the event

After you have gathered a group of employees that will go represent your business with you, make sure you come up with a plan before you get there. A well-organized trade show is a successful trade show. Come up with shifts for each employee so someone is always at the booth ready to answer questions and help visitors. If you are having a demonstration, assign an employee or two to help with that while the others manage the booth or walk around handing out business cards. A strategic plan will keep everything organized and everyone will know what to do when you get there.

Advertise that you’ll be at the convention

Spread the word! Let your clients, fans, friends, and competitors know that you’ll be attending the trade show or convention. Blast everyone with an informative email about the convention, what it’s about, and that you’ll be attending. Advertising might encourage more people to come see your booth and explore the convention. Not only will it encourage more to attend, but also your email blast might cause the recipients to check your website and social media platforms to see what’s new. Also, don’t forget to include a sneak peek picture of what your booth will look like in the email! It’ll be a nice preview and those who are coming to the convention will know how to find you.

Research what other businesses will be there

Do your research. Finding out who will be at the convention with you is good to know. You’ll want to know which competitors will be there, and what other businesses will be your convention floor neighbors. Once you find out who will be there, you’ll be able to research a bit more about them and check out their websites and portfolios. You never know, learning something new about your competitors might make you think of doing something different at the convention.

Have a travel plan

Traveling can be a headache. Creating a travel plan before departing for the convention is a smart idea. Because we don’t have the ability to see the future, traveling can go wrong in many ways. If you decide to take a few company cars, check the maps and traffic apps before you leave. Also, leave a good amount of time earlier just in case traffic develops or an accident happens while you’re en route. If you would rather take public transportation, pay attention to the schedules, and again, leave early. Having this all planned out pre-show will help alleviate unnecessary stress.

Having a strategic, well-organized plan before you set off to your trade show adventure is important. There are other things you can do to get prepared, but hopefully, these tips will help you get started. Show up like you own the place! You’ll have everything organized, and with these pre-show tips, it should be a smooth ride.

Now that your pre-show plans are set, don’t forget to map out what you’re going to do during the show, and post-show! Luckily, we’ve got tips for the entire convention life cycle.

Green Infrastructure Makes The World Go Round

The Earth

When you think of the color green, what comes to mind? Right away we think about plants, the Earth, recycling, money, and anything naturally clean. Green means go and green is good. If you think about it, green is a color you normally don’t associate with anything bad. Because green is important to us, green infrastructure is top on our priority list.

Now, why is green so important to us? Well, we like the idea of keeping the Earth alive and healthy enough for us to live happy and healthy lives. The same goes for the many generations to come. The planet existed before we stepped our caveman feet on its dirt. We owe it to be kind and take care of our gigantic home.

In addition to recycling and not taking hour-long showers, there are other ways to stay green that will help out the Earth, which houses your community. How? Green infrastructure.

At the Atlantic Builders Convention, we had the opportunity to sit in on the Announcing the Developers Green Infrastructure Guide panel. It was moderated by George Vallone and featured Elizabeth Fassman-Beck, PhD, Jeromie Lange, PE, Paul Mankiewicz, PhD, and Rod Ritchie.

So, what is it? A green infrastructure is an approach to managing stormwater that is modeled on natural processes and systems. In other words, why allow the rain to fall into sewers and pipes that’ll just drain away? Why not install a green infrastructure that will allow the rain to filter where it lands for beneficial reuse? This will help restore the natural water cycle, can save money and allow you to install rain gardens, green roofs, pervious pavements, and other types of green infrastructure. Recycling to save the trees is a great way to stay green, but think about how much you can help your community with green infrastructure.

Water Droplets on Leaf

 

On another approach, going green falls under the “sociological imagination” theory. If one person makes a choice to go green, that choice will inspire others, especially when they see the positive difference in the environment, creating a worldwide phenomenon of green! We just want to make sure that whatever we do internally, benefits our rotating home.

In addition, stormwater management fits right into the green infrastructure category. To be clear, stormwater management is a specialized area within the field of environmental engineering. Practitioners have used the term BMP to describe both structural or engineered control devices and systems to treat polluted stormwater.

Rainwater

 

To explain the database further, according to International Stormwater BMP Database, there are 5 levels for BMP monitoring:

  1. Low-Intensity: You would get basic performance summary information for BMPs. The typical users include public officials, casual users, and those seeking quick/fast answers.
  2. Mid-Intensity: You would get detailed statistical analysis for individual BMPs. The typical users include consultants, public works staff, and designers.
  3. Researcher: You’ll be able to download the Master Database to conduct an independent analysis. The typical user is usually just university researchers.
  4. Data Provider: You’ll obtain data entry spreadsheets. The typical users include public agencies, consulting firms, and university researchers.
  5. New to BMP Monitoring: You’ll obtain monitoring guidance. The typical users include public agencies, consulting firms, university researchers, and graduate students.

We’re interested in staying green to help our communities and to keep our planet alive. How about you?

Why We’re Blogging

Blogging is the new black

Blogging isn’t a new concept. What started out as a weblog came to be shortened to a blog. What is it? They can be personal online journals or frequently updated articles for your business. They allow for reader engagement, encourage conversation, and provide useful information within each post. So, why do we blog?
 
Once Upon A Time
 

Blogs tell a brand’s story.

You probably have an “About Me” section on your website. It’s most likely a paragraph long and includes dates and history. Here’s a thought: keep that section short and sweet and create a blog post with more information. The blog post talking about your brand can include a lot more information, pictures, and just about anything you would want to add to it. All of that can be a bit messy on a web page, so putting it all into a blog post will allow others to really get to know you and your brand.
 
City Traffic
 

Blogging drives traffic to your website.

Once your site is optimized for the search engines, there’s not much more you can do there organically. If you have a blog on your site, these can all be updated and published at any time without the stress of re-coding webpages. Every time you publish a blog, it’s one more indexed page on your website. This is just another opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive that traffic right to your website. Posting these blogs on your business’ social media pages will bring in shares, likes, and comments in addition to more traffic.
 
Eventually, that traffic will turn into leads. The blogging marketing technique will create a cycle. You’ll blog more, those blogs will be shared and seen by more people, those people will share extending your brand’s reach, who will be waiting for more blogs.
 
Increasing Chart
 

Blogging creates long-term results.

Your blogs and search engines eventually become best friends. So you just published a new blog post today? Great! Let’s say by the end of the day you get 100 page views and 15 leads. Tomorrow you get an additional 50 views and 10 more leads because it was found on social media via sharing and liking. Eventually, your post’s popularity will calm down and you’ll stop receiving so many views and leads. Does this mean your blog is dead and it’s time to move on? No. It just means it’s time to post again to keep the views, leads, and traffic up. The Internet is full of cycles.
 

 

Blogs provide timely information.

Sure, you can send out a tweet letting your clients know that something is new, but you’re only allowed 140 characters. Post a blog! Let your clients and customers know about any changes or new information. Did your business just receive a raving review from a client? Create a blog post that is relevant to that and don’t be afraid to brag a bit. Once you’ve posted this blog, then you can tweet out the link. Let everyone know about the good news! A blog about a promotion within your company is relevant for your clients as well. Keep your customers, readers, and clients involved as much as possible.
 

 

Blogs fuel SEO.

Your blogs participate in getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines. It’s all about your message. Your content should be original and relevant to your audience so it is found easier during web searches. Also, while writing your blogs, be aware that keywords are still relevant. Even a few specific keywords throughout your post will help your search engine optimization tremendously, and that will boost your rankings and traffic.
 Microphone
 

Blogging gives your company a voice.

We all know it can be tough to get a feel for a business’ voice by just looking at their website. Sure, their social media pages help a little bit, but blogging is the best way to “get to know” a business. Because blogs are a lot like articles, the author’s personality shines through the sentences and makes it seem more conversational than rehearsed. Did you crack a smile while reading? Can you relate to the writing style? Do you feel as if you know the company a little more after reading just one blog? Blogging is essentially a personal touch to the business and it is always important to get your voice out there and heard.
 
Guy Blogging
 

Blogging is free PR.

Ah, free PR. That’s nice to hear. Public relations are important for every business, artist, public figure, and organization. Yes, you could pay someone to write a press release for you and manage your professional maintenance, or you can type up some blogs. Your business’ Vice President is now President? Write up a blog about the individual, where he or she went to school, his or her background, and his or her journey to the new role of President. A blog is more personal and conversational than a press release and can contain a lot more information about the individual. If that’s something that you would rather do, blog it up!
 
Smartphone
 

Blogs are a 24/7 communication platform.

Once you’ve published your blog post, it is now live and available for everyone to see. Normally, you will have a comments section at the bottom for anyone to share their thoughts. One person might comment and that may inspire someone else to reply back to that comment. You’ve officially created a communication platform. If someone doesn’t like or agree with your post, you can hear them out and figure out how to fix it. Just one comment can spark a new idea in your head, and that can turn into another post. Communication platforms are great for many reasons, especially when it drives attention to your post and company.
 
These are reasons why we blog and we think you should be doing the same. Blogging is new, popular, and helpful and will help you out more than you think. Plus, it’s addicting. After one blog post, you’ll develop more and more ideas and have enough content for your brand’s lifetime.

Why Having a Website Isn’t Enough

These days, you need more

Your website is essentially the star of the play. However, the show generally won’t go on if the ensemble and supporting roles aren’t there to help.
 
It’s great that you have a website, but when was the last time it was updated? Do you have social media accounts that are linked to it? How has the traffic been on your site? These are all questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to your website.
 
Maybe in the 90’s it was okay to just have a website, but today, it’s pretty much irrelevant without a real online presence. “What’s the difference between having a website and being an online presence?” you may ask. A true online presence has a website that is constantly updated, is linked to social media pages, and is available 24/7. Let’s dive deeper into this:
 
Update Graphic
 
Update your website. That doesn’t necessarily mean changing the font and color scheme every couple of months. It means add a blog and publish a new post once a month. Keep this going until your followers and customers are aware of when a new blog post will be published so they know when to visit your page for new content. It’s also a good idea, depending on your business, to have a portfolio-type section of your page to show potential new customers who you have helped. Update these as you tackle more and more clients.
 
Social Networking
 
Social media pages are crucial these days. It’s expected to see the Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks’ buttons somewhere on a website. Having social media pages that link to your website makes the online presence more personal and provides extra information. A Facebook page can provide reviews, comments from clients, pictures, and more. It is also a great platform to publically communicate with your clients.
 
Searching The Web
 
Finally, your website and social media pages should be active 24/7. An online presence doesn’t work a 9am-5pm job; it is available at all hours and every day. Because of this, updating is very important. You don’t want a potential client to visit your website or any of your social media pages and see that it hasn’t been updated in a few months. This just makes it look like you’re either not a business anymore or you have other priorities.
 
With that said, your competitors also have websites, correct? Look at theirs and compare it to yours. They probably look a bit similar but neither one really stands out. You have to remember that a website is more than a virtual brochure; it’s a tool. Your website should act as a tool for your clients as well as yourself. Two tools that can be used within your website that will benefit you include Google Analytics and a Google My Business profile.
 
Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Having this tracking coding on your website will allow you to see how many people are viewing your website, what they click on the most, how long they stay on your page, and where they leave your site. All of that information will help you figure out how to make your website better and more appealing to all audiences.
 
Google My Business is a free and simple tool for businesses, brands, artists, and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. You’re able to verify and edit your business information and give your customers that little push to find you easier and get a better glimpse into who you are.
 
Responsive Web Design
 
Aside from your website being a tool for clients and customers, there are other new trends that will make your website and business that much better than your competitors’ websites. For example, make sure your website is formatted so that it is a new and pleasing experience for PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. Most people today will look up websites on their mobile devices or tablets. If your site is formatted to fit all devices, it’ll make your clients happy knowing that they can access it from anywhere.
 
Another fun and new marketing tool is an app. Most businesses these days have their own apps for smartphones and tablets. Once you’ve gone through the process of creating one, promote it on your website and social media pages. Most of the time, if a client sees that you have an app, they’ll leave your website and download it. Apps seem to be an easy, accessible way to visit your business. You can have the same amount of information or more and it all fits in your clients’ pockets. Depending on the business, you can include coupons, special deals, and a virtual membership. For example, if you own your own consulting company, you can have app-owners-only discounts off their first consultations. Apps are a great way to get your name out there and market to the world.
 
Filming Videos
What about videos? Start a YouTube channel for your business. Record a video either talking about your business and what you have done so far each month or make them educational and talk about each part of your business. Videos are fun and a more personal approach to marketing to your clients. Some people don’t want to read paragraphs. If they see a video, they’ll most likely watch that and subscribe to your channel.
 
Lastly, plan an email marketing strategy. This allows clients and website visitors to sign up for your business’ email updates. You can make it so your website can’t be accessed without signing up for the emails, or display the sign up section so it is noticeable for those who are interested. Email newsletters will fill your clients’ in on news you wish to share with them, exciting events, or even just a simple constant contact for holidays and birthdays. It’s nice to show appreciation to your clients and make sure they know that you’re always thinking about them.
 
Again, you don’t just want to have a website that doesn’t include social media links, email access, and any other new marketing technique. It’s important to have an online presence and continue to update your virtual business world. With all that we can do these days, a website just isn’t enough.

Marketing Trends of 2017

The marketing world is constantly changing. Our society’s attention span is used to frequent changes, so when a song “gets old,” so might a marketing strategy. Keeping up with the new trends will only improve your business and make you more relevant to the times. These are some marketing trends that are booming so far in 2017:
 
Interactive Content
 

1. Interactive content

Most people will end up getting bored reading and scrolling through paragraphs of information just to get to what they want to know. Sometimes all of that information works, but throwing in some interactive content to mix it up a bit should pull more traffic to your site.For example, if you’re a realtor and you have your own website and social media page, create a quiz titled, “What Home You Should Live In?” Your visitors will be able to take part in this quiz and may find out what home would best fit them. If nothing else, at least they had some fun. That’s the keyword: fun. Adding surveys, quizzes, and polls are entertaining and will attract more customers, clients, and visitors to your page.
 
Livestreaming
 

2. Live streaming

There’s no way you could’ve missed a live broadcast on Facebook nowadays. This is a newer tactic that has been becoming more and more popular with businesses and personal users alike. Some people will go live at a concert to show their friends and followers the fun time they’re having, and some businesses will use it to start conversations, showcase new products, or provide demonstrations to increase awareness.For example, People Magazine might go live for an exclusive interview with Johnny Depp. This is a great marketing technique, especially if you add in at the end that the article from the interview will include a list of his favorite foods and drinks. Fans will head to the store when the issue comes out and buy that magazine just to see what the live video was talking about. Any business can get creative with live streaming, and today, it’s a good idea to start brainstorming those ideas.
 
Chat Balloons
 

3. Chatbots

Yes, Chatbots have been around for a while, but they’ve just gotten much better than those tacky 90’s pop-ups. Whether you have a business that allows representatives to work at all hours and actually talk to people, or you have a robot that is so good, you’d never know it wasn’t human.One of the most impressive Chatbot platform tools is Chattypeople. This is the best platform for creating a Chatbot linked to your business’ Facebook page. You can create a Facebook message both quickly and easily without any coding or stress. The cool part about this tool is that you can program simple customer service questions and answers or you can integrate it with Shopify to monetize your Facebook fan pages. There are so many ways to make Chatbots relevant and useful. By the end of the year, everyone will be using them.
 
Girl Blogging
 

4. Blogs

Blogs are a big deal. You’re reading a blog right now! This is a great marketing technique that every business should utilize. Blogs can be updated and published whenever and wherever you want. You can set a specific date each month so that your customers and clients know when the new one will be published. This will attract followers and those people will share your blog and that will create even more followers. It’s a great way to drive traffic and communicate with your customers or clients on a more personal level. Blogs will also help set your business’ tone and voice. It’s hard to allow people to get to know you just by the content on your website.
 
Video
 

5. Videos

Using videos to market has the same intention as live videos, but they’re shot and edited in advance of going public. Videos are a great way to break up the excessive information on your website. If there is a section that could easily be explained with visuals rather than sentences, make a video. This will entertain your visitors and add variety to your information.For example, let’s say you own a stained glass company. Instead of explaining step-by-step how the process works, why not shoot a video to show how it’s done? It’ll give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at what you actually do. If your viewers enjoyed it, they’ll share it with others, and that’ll give you more viewers and customers.
 
Business Woman
 

6. Short-lived content

What is one of the most popular social media platforms right now? Snapchat. Why? Yes, the filters are fun but it has a lot to do with the short-lived content. There’s a thrill in only being able to see something from 10-seconds to 24-hours. Not to mention, the newer generations today are all about new, new, new. They get bored fast. Snapchat is the new-age way to go for your business. If you have your own company that makes crazy designs on socks, post a Snapchat telling people to screenshot your last snap to get 10% off their first order.There are a lot of other fun things to do on Snapchat and any other social media platforms that are known for their short-lived action. Take advantage, the world is just getting younger.
 
Mobile Phone Pop Up Castle
 

7. Mobile-first strategy

Updating your website and social media pages frequently is important, but you have to make sure the platforms you use work on mobile devices as well. Most people look up information, places to eat, and websites on their phones. Make sure tackle your mobile tasks first to stay responsive. Many people that visit websites that are not yet formatted for a mobile device, will leave the site and find one that better fits their rectangular touch screen.  One of the major keys to marketing is making your business easily accessible to your clients, customers, and visitors. If you have an online platform that is easy to find and use, you’re golden.
 
These trends have either just started or are just getting the attention they deserve. Either way, keeping up with the marketing trends is just as important as keeping up with your website and social media platforms. You don’t want to date your company. You want to show the world that your business keeps up with the times and will always update to benefit your clients, customers, and visitors.

10 Tips for Small Business Marketing

Free t-shirts go a long way

So you have a small business and aren’t sure how to market it? Thankfully these tips will guide you to find the best places for your business to start. Having a small business is a bit different than owning, let’s say, Apple. Apple has the resources and the workers to hire an in-house marketing team at their company to market it in any way they wish. You, on the other hand, have a smaller business. But you still need to get your name out there. There are plenty of simple, low-cost ways to market your small business and once you’ve made a big name for yourself, you could eventually have the resources that Apple has.

 
Post a Blog
 

1. Publish content

Content is key. Publishing content on your website or on your social media profiles is an easy way to attract potential customers and clients. If you don’t have the money to permanently hire someone to write the content for you, either find a business like us or write it yourself! It can be a bit much if you decide to blog and write content for your site and Facebook all by yourself, but there are ways. A simple Facebook status talking about any kind of news your company has is useful. Use your social media platforms to announce any kind of events your company will be at, and even post some pictures of your employees working. Don’t stop publishing content. It shows that your business isn’t giving up and that you’re well aware of your customers and clients.
 

Video Camera
 

2. Create videos

Creating videos is easy and so cheap it can be free. If you have a decent camera, set it up and create the video that you wish for your clients to see. The camera on phones have come a long way and there are plenty of creators who get away with creating videos with their footage. If don’t have a good camera that will display a clear picture, find a company that does. Do your research and find a place that will do it within your budget. These videos can be anything from instructional to a little behind-the-scenes action or just an introduction about yourself and your company. Videos are a nice way to break up the boatloads of information that are found within written content.

 
Sale Tags
 

3. Get Ad Promo Credits

Advertising here on the Internet can be expensive. Fortunately, ad promo credits exist. There are always discounts and coupons floating around for paid Facebook ads or Google ads. Some websites offer advertising discount codes as part of their membership offerings as well. There are cheap ways to get your name out there digitally.
 
Social Network Tree
 

4. Be a social networker

Post a status, send a tweet, and re-gram a photo. Becoming a great social networker goes hand in hand with being a small business owner. It’s almost as if it’s free advertising and marketing. Did your company just hit a new milestone? Tweet about it. Was there a big promotion? Type up a status and add a picture or two. These social media tactics will be seen by all of your followers and more. Social media marketing is a cycle of networking, marketing, and communication every day.
 

Graphics
 

5. DIY infographics

You see infographics everywhere. They’re digital eye-candy. People love to share them and look at them. Hire a designer to make you your own infographics that match your website and relate to your business. If you own a bathing suit store, use suns, flowers, shells, and warm, summer colors. This will brighten your page up and allow your visitors to have a little more fun browsing your website.
 

LinkedIn
 

6. Hang out on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great hangout spot for small businesses. You can connect with people that relate to your business, other businesses, and even loyal clients. There are plenty of articles you can read to grab some advice and you can upload some of your own content to show the LinkedIn users what you and your business is all about. LinkedIn can be thought of as a virtual Starbucks without the coffee unless you have your own already. Log on, chat, learn, and stay a while.
 

Excited Children
 

7. Online contests

Everyone loves winning. Everyone loves a free t-shirt. Those are just facts. Host a contest on social media. Instruct your followers to retweet a tweet you sent out and you’ll pick people to win a free t-shirt with your brand’s name on it. These usually work well, especially because it’s a free product. It can’t hurt and it will get your brand’s name out there with the retweets alone. It’s considered free advertising, especially when the winners wear the t-shirt to the gym. And who doesn’t love a little free PR?
 
Connecting Puzzle Pieces
 

8. Industry partnership

Partner up! Partnering up for an event or even just for a small period of time will help boost your traffic. Team up with a business related to your industry (but not a competitor). Teaming up with another business just doubles your views, traffic, and potential customers. You might even be introduced to a new target audience you hadn’t even thought of. If you want to jump-start your success, find a company to team up with.
 
Blank Business Card
 

9. Print ads

Yes, most advertisements are online now, but that doesn’t mean print is dead. Get some business cards made and maybe even some brochures. There is a plethora of companies and buildings that allow business cards to be put on display. Bring a stack to a bunch of businesses and let the beauty of the shiny cards do their jobs. They will attract a good amount of people per day. Brochures are always nice too, seeing as they’re bigger versions of the business card. Include some eye-catching pictures, just enough information to inspire the reader to visit your website or social media profiles, and some of those unique infographics. You’ll have to re-stock in a couple of weeks.
 
Winner Medal
 

10. Freebies at events

Again, freebies go a long way. Keep your eye open for conventions that your business would fit into, or even street fairs near you. Attend these events with a little booth filled with business cards, brochures, free pens, pins, and frisbees. Everyone loves a frisbee. It would be fun to have a box of those t-shirts and a wheel to let visitors spin to see if they can score one of your sweet t-shirts. Attend as many events as you can and give items away. This will keep your name out there, especially if you see someone wearing the shirt later on that day.
 
These tips should get your small business rolling. There are other ways you can get your name out, but these are a good start. It’s all about being involved and in tune with what is happening and trending.