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Sage Marketing Group Fort Collins

Storytelling Compels You To Take Action

From where I’m standing, marketing and storytelling are pretty interchangeable. The power of the written word often transcends the conscious mind and dives into the subconscious. It tantalizes the very essence of what we truly know or must come to understand.

Woah Bro, are you Jedi Mind Tricking me right now?

Um, yes. It’s my job.

Not really. Well, it is my job, but ultimately, it’s also the nature of storytelling. Selecting the right combination of words and weaving them together to enrich the mind and delight the imagination is the schmear to my bagel. On the days I’m not Paleo, of course.

The Godfather of Storytelling Robert McKee, in my humble opinion said it best: “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

Stories, however, stem from ideas. The kind that require imagination. Biases aside, we’re an imaginative bunch at Sage, with ideas bouncing off just about every wall and corrugated sheet of metal lining our walls.

Say what? Yep, corrugated metal and graffiti to boot. We’re creative. Nuff said.

So here’s an idea: Our April Sageanthropy is underway and we’d love for you to be a part of it. Help us help kiddos in Larimer County enrich their imaginations and weave stories of their own.

We’ve partnered with United Way, EPIC Colorado, and AmeriCorps to collect children’s books for kiddos 0 – 8 years in Northern Colorado. Join us on April 24 at 3:30 PM at our offices in Old Town for beers and small bites in appreciation of your support. And, if you can’t make it, please feel free to drop off books at any time!

Sage Marketing Group | United Way

6 Tips to Staying at the Forefront of Your Customers’ Minds

Let’s play a game, shall we? Tap your index finger to your forehead as fast as you can and try to name seven cereals. Did you think of Cheerios? Or maybe the red box and white rabbit of Trix? Or perhaps you heard the voice of the Lucky Charms leprechaun?

Sure, this may be a silly game we played with our friends as kids, but when you come to think of it, the cereals you can come up with under this kind of pressure do a fantastic job of developing a strong brand presence. From the little details like box design to a quip the mascot says in a commercial, these companies make sure you’ll remember them.

Obviously you know the importance of developing a strong brand, but do you know how to stay on the minds of your existing and potential new customers? Can you keep your audience engaged without losing interest or over-sharing?

Here are 6 easy ways to stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds:

1. Be Easy to Find

This one is simple: if your customer can’t find you, they can’t see the work you’re doing. The majority of customers will research a business online before making the initial contact. Make sure you’re visible by:

(1) optimizing your website with targeted keywords – the more relevant keywords on your site, the more likely it is that search engines will show you to consumers
(2) owning your external pages – Yelp, Google+, and other review sites are already out there, so use them to attract reviews and comments
(3) posting quality content on your website – good content produces relevant keywords, which produce more visibility in searches.

2. Be Informative

No one wants to read dull, crappy content. Make sure your message is clear, engaging, and concise. Give the readers what they want – information! What goods or services do you provide and why are you the best at it? What makes building a business relationship with you unique and rewarding? When customers can see the depth behind the brand, they’ll see an expert they can trust and with which they can build an emotional connection.

3. Be Social

Maintaining a social media presence shows that you enjoy interacting with your customers and making them feel involved in the business. Posting fresh content, interacting with comments and reviews, and asking for feedback show that you care about your audience, and who doesn’t love to feel loved? Use your social media accounts as a way to nurture your customer relationships. If you come off real and approachable, then that’s how your brand is seen.

4. Be Relevant & Timely

Whether you’re pushing your information out as an e-blast, a blog post, or a link on social media, you need to be sure your customers will care about what you have to say. If it’s related to something happening in the world, it needs to go out before the hype has died down and people have forgotten. If it’s a follow-up to a previous post of yours, you want to make sure readers know the two are connected. Diverse content is great, but you don’t want it to be so diverse that your customers think you’re all over the board and stop following

5. Be Consistent

With all of the chaos that is the digital world in front of customers’ faces all day, every day, you want to be the one they rely on. Your customers will quickly lose interest if you have a great, engaging, content-rich week, only to be followed by two weeks of nothing but cricket sounds. Post regularly. Comment regularly. Interact regularly. You get the idea.

6. Be Present

Never underestimate the power of good, old-fashioned just being there. Get out in the community and volunteer or meet with your local networking groups. Make sure your customers know where your office is located. The more people see you and interact with you, the more easily you’ll come to mind when they’re looking for what you offer.

Brand awareness and customer relationships are important for every business. You want to remain at the forefront of your customer’s minds so that when their friends violently tap on their forehead… I mean, when their friends ask “where can I find that?” or “who did that?”…….you’ll be the first business they recommend.

Sage Marketing Group

Going From Zero to Hero: Top 8 Key Performance Indicators

Man, the digital landscape is tough. Right? It’s frozen over, solid. You’ve been drilling away with the dinky ice pick, but it looks like you’re going to have to pony up more dough and invest in that mega, full throttle, expensive doodad to do the trick.

Listen, we hear you loud and clear and we’re not going to beat around the bush. Making a significant, measurable impact on the web can be tough and often times expensive, but don’t fall too far down the rabbit hole and be fooled into believing your pretty penny is the sole factor in determining your company’s reach and engagement with your market.

Now you’re asking, reach and engagement? As in, social media? No way, Alice. From a high level these key performance indicators (KPIs) can translate to just about any platform starting with user experience on your website to content development and paid advertising to social media. Let’s chip away some of those frigid layers. Here are our Top 8 KPIs to help keep our clients on track:

Top 8 KPIs | Sage Marketing Group

CLICK TO ENLARGE

#Yawn. That’s a whole lot of acronyms.

Tell you what, sleep on it. KPIs inform your business strategy and operational goals. When you’re employing data-driven marketing for your business, and you watch that 3% measurably impact the 97%, you’ll sleep better.

So here’s the deal. Time’s ticking and before long, you could be facing the Jabberwocky of “What the Hell Am I Spending My Money On?” Let’s avoid that and chat. No ice. No Jabberwocky. Our office. Your office. On the phone. Through the looking glass. Give us a shout.

Understanding Google Panda

You may have read about a recent update to the Google Panda algorithm and wondered what that was all about and should you be concerned. Panda is an automated program designed to weed out websites with low quality content in Google search results. It “looks” for spammy or irrelevant sites in the search results to make way for better sites, and the update was made to help the algorithm operate even better.

At Sage, we look at many websites on a daily basis, frequently at the request of business owners interested in a new site. Although we frequently see sites that could use a refresh or an update, we rarely see one at the small, local business level that would meet Google’s definition of spammy or irrelevant.

If you’re not sure about how Panda might interpret your site, here is a list of questions similar to some of those that the Google algorithms “ask” that you can use to help determine the quality of your content:

• Is the page free from spelling, styling, and other errors?
• Does the page have a reasonable number of ads (not too many)?
• Do you feel you can trust the content?
• Does the page seem to have original content?
• Would you consider the site an authority?
• Would you trust the site with your credit card number?
• Is this the kind of page you would consider bookmarking or sharing with a friend?
• Do you think the content could be in print?
• Do you feel the page was written by experts?
• Do you feel the page contains interesting information?

To get a feel for how Google might be looking at your site, take a random sampling of some pages and ask your friends or colleagues to review them based on the questions. Have them rank the pages from 1 to 10 for each question. If you have any low scoring pages, you might want to take a look to see what you can do to make them better.

Your site won’t get a boost from scoring well in the eyes of the Panda, but your site could be penalized for scoring poorly. If you want any help or other opinions on your site from the web experts at Sage, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

The Basics of Online Advertising

As more readers turn away from print publications to the Internet, online advertising has become an effective way to reach potential customers. If you’re not familiar with what online advertising entails, here is a general overview of the different kinds of placements. Continue Reading →

How to Manage Bad Reviews

We often get calls from desperate business owners wanting to know how to get rid of the bad Google/Yelp/Trip Advisor/UrbanSpoon/etc. reviews that have popped up and are lowering their overall rating.

We have two answers:

1)     You can’t.

2)     You shouldn’t.

Let me explain.Continue Reading →

Who’s Visiting Your Website? What Google Analytics Can Tell You

There are many analytics programs available that provide information about your site. We like to use Google Analytics for a number of different reasons. One of the best – it’s free. It is a powerful analytical tool and anyone can use it.

If you have Analytics installed on your website but haven’t really gotten into what it can do, the following may help. (And if you need to install it, visit www.google.com/analytics to get signed up. It requires placing a small amount of code on your site.)Continue Reading →

Google SEO Update “Pigeon”: What You Need to Know

The last week of July, Google released the largest update to its search algorithm in two years. While Google didn’t provide a name for the update, SEO news site Search Engine Land dubbed it Pigeon.

Unlike previous updates designed to combat high ranking, poor content-quality sites (Panda) and bad, spammy website links (Penguin), the goal of Pigeon is to improve local search results. The name came from the Pigeon’s ability to find its way home.Continue Reading →

The Benefits of Retargeting

Every website should have a purpose, whether it’s to inform, entertain, or sell products or services. The visitors of your website let you know if you’re successful by filling out a request for more information, subscribing to your content, or making a purchase.

Unfortunately, most people come and go from websites without taking one of these actions – research shows the number may be as high as 96%. The good news is those visitors may not be gone from your site forever. You can entice them to come back using a retargeting campaign.Continue Reading →

Search Engine Results Ranking 101

According to an article by Search Engine Land, a French court ordered a blogger to pay a fine and change the title of a restaurant review because the owner believed the poor review was hurting his business. The interesting thing is that it wasn’t the content of the review that was at issue (it was pretty consistent with other online reviews of the restaurant), it was that the review ranked “too prominently” in Google search engine results. Normally, a website ranking higher in the search engine results is a good thing, especially if it’s ranking higher than competing websites. High rankings are generally a sign of a healthy, well optimized website.Continue Reading →

Four Tips for Writing Good Website Content

When you’re in the planning stages for a new website, it’s easy to think about what pages you might want and what you might want the design to look like. But don’t forget about the content. If you decide to write your own website content (or asked a friend or spouse to help out) and you’ve never written content for a website before, here are four tips to help you out:Continue Reading →

5 Reasons to Use Landing Pages

A landing page is a customized page on your website designed to provide potential customers with more information and encourage them to take action (buy a product, fill out a form, etc.). Whether you’re advertising in print or online, landing pages serve to tell more of the story beyond which an ad can communicate. Continue Reading →

B-to-B Isn’t Dead, It’s Still B-to-Bob

The website of a highly regarded B-to-B agency states that B-to-B is dead. Because everyone is so independently connected using this and that mobile device, the agency believes marketing messages now need to be directed to the individual. I thought this was a pretty bold statement to make. Our esteemed leader, Doug, said the agency is wrong.Continue Reading →

Why You Need SEO for Your Website

When you launch a new website, ideally it will be optimized for search engines – written using keywords that take advantage of how the search engines operate to help ensure your site is found by those who could benefit from it. But search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t a one-time deal – to get the most out of your site, it’s an effort you should undertake regularly.Continue Reading →

Social Media: Do you have to attend every party?

I saw an article today telling me that Pinterest is now the fastest growing social network. Shortly afterward, I received an email offering me 26 ways I can use Pinterest to market my business. Wait – I thought Pinterest was a place where you could collect photos of ideas to enhance your wedding or home décor, or cute pictures of cats. (There seem to be A LOT of cat pictures on Pinterest.)Continue Reading →

Are We Too Social?

If you are a follower of the social media world, you may have heard about the release of Google+ several weeks ago, which is Google’s latest attempt to break onto the social media scene (and gain some search traction in the social world, since Facebook is keeping its indexing of personal information mostly to itself).

Through an invitation-only premier, Google+ attracted 10 million users worldwide in its first two weeks, which is a pretty decent showing. However, it has awhile to catch up to Facebook’s current 750 million.Continue Reading →

Taking the Mystery out of Search Engine Optimization

As long as there have been Internet search engines, there have been people promising they can make your website come up on the top of the list of search results. While there are no sure-fire ways to get you to number one every time, there are some search engine optimization, or SEO, techniques that will help improve your site’s chances of being found by those searching for the type of product or service your company offers.

But first, how do search engines rank websites and what do they look for?Continue Reading →

Creating the Most Interesting Brand in the World

We talk a lot about building brands. To those of us in the marketing world, that tactic makes perfect sense. But telling clients that they need to build their brand is probably a lot like my mechanic telling me that my car needs a new head gasket. I think it’s a big deal and is very important, but I don’t actually know why.

As I was watching TV over the weekend, an ad from one of my favorite campaigns graced the screen and I realized it would make a great demonstration of how branding makes an impact on how you feel about a product.Continue Reading →

Negative Brand Sentiment

So, what do you do when you are seeing/reading negative brand experiences online about your brand?  This has been tremendously important in the medical community lately with bad doc reviews.  But, it is going to be equally as important for company or brand reviews.  I came across this story that I think does a great job of setting you up for success.  Of course, you’ll need to work your own approach into the solution, but it’s a solid start. http://mashable.com/2011/02/21/negative-brand-sentiment/

Effective Social Media

Have you ever wondered just how many times you should send an email to your customers/audience?  Do you want to know why people are opting out of your social media campaigns?  This great study on effectiveness of social media and email marketing is a great read.   You will find out the top reasons people unsubscribe for email, Facebook and Twitter…. In short, content is king (information that helps them, not you, e.g., marketing speak and also make sure the content is fresh) and don’t swamp them in too many emails.

What the Starbuck?!?!

Did anyone catch what just came out of the world of Starbucks?  If you didn’t, you can catch it here.  In short, Starbucks is dropping its name from its logo!  Wow, I guess they think a lot of themselves?   Rarely, I’ll repeat, RARELY, is a company’s brand strong enough to pull off something like this.  There are a few universal brands that come to mind that have become their mark and their name is secondary.  Two from the top of my head are Nike and McDonald’s. They have spent billions over the years to pound this into our heads.  Starbucks, who just started advertising a few years ago, thinks their brand has achieved Nike-like status, I guess.  I think I need to drive to Seattle and remind those folks that: A) they haven’t invested near enough time with the world to be instantly recognizable; B) while their loyal fans may know the brand without their name, what about the MILLIONS who have no idea who they are; and C) REALLY?

Starbucks claims the reason they are doing this is they want to extend their company into product lines they don’t currently offer and it will be better suited for expansion.  REALLY?  If a new brand is so important to introduce a new line of products that you don’t want the primary brand associated with it then CREATE A NEW BRAND…. if you are confused as to how, then go talk to Procter Gamble who does it with 1000s of product brands everyday while still having a strong parent brand.   Your brand is your most important face of your company.  Your logo is a big part of your brand.  Think hard about it.

Effective Marketing

Leave it to Disney to master another marketing rollout.  The classic Tron movie from the early 1980s is getting a follow-on story line and going to hit theaters mid-December 2010.  But, the folks at Disney have been busy marketing it for weeks already in hopes of netting their third $1 billion film of the year (Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland).

Applying Disney-like marketing to your company is not as difficult as it sounds.  Take a look at what they are doing.  Essentially they are using resources they have on hand (theme parks, media outlets, partners) to do a staged rollout over 10 weeks.  They carefully diagram what they want to happen each week and build off previous weeks.  You may not have the Disney budget, but you can certainly have the Disney timing and thinking and apply it to your company.

What’s Hot: 2011 and Beyond

The Digital Hot List came out about two weeks ago and provides some insight on what’s going to be the hot websites in 2011 and beyond.  Pretty fun read.  As you can imagine, social media sites dominate.  One of interest, take a look at #6 on the list, Zynga.  They are the makers of the wildly popular game, FarmVille.  Thinking about them (and the industry of game-based internet learning) I get mixed emotions.   Zynga is doing a great job of connecting people and growing their business.  But, at the same time I cannot help but wonder what the impact on society will be 10, 15, 25 years down the road.  Will we be so virtually connected that playing games face-to-face won’t exist anymore?  Where will society’s social acumen and ability to communicate end up?  I have my take.  Whatever it is, it will be interesting getting there.

Green Marketing or Green Washing?

I came across this article today on green marketing.  It wasn’t quite as interesting a read as I thought when I first read the title.  However, I still find it relevant to what we talk about most on this blog — your brand.  It seems many more companies are using “green marketing” speak to capture the almighty green dollar (no pun intended). However, it doesn’t seem their green claims are as strong as their green purse strings.

My thought was this… yes, consumers can get caught up in the excitement of something and buy on impulse.  But, then the consumer becomes smart.  If the product really wasn’t as green as it claimed to be, they figure it out.  They know the brand is failing to deliver on its promise.Continue Reading →

Brand Desperation or Good Idea?

Recently, Budweiser announced they are going to give away free samples of Bud to try and spark sales… as well as enhance the image of Bud.  The last two years have seen a 9% decline in sales each year — ouch.  That’s even more difficult to swallow when alcohol sales overall have been up in these depressed economic times.  Take a look at the story.  Let us know your thoughts.  Is Budweiser being desperate or are they making a smart move?

How Entrepreneurs Think

I came across this article and found it extremely fascinating, both in our world of marketing as well as life in general.  http://www.inc.com/magazine/20100901/serial-entrepreneurs-share-their-words-of-wisdom.html.

Of particular interest to our company is the second statement about building the ad before building the product.  I find that an especially novel way of thinking.  If you could build the perfect ad with all the right features and benefits as well as all the right calls to action, headline, etc… then you’d most likely have the perfect product.

In so many cases in the ad agency world we are brought a finished product and then asked to develop a campaign around the final product.  But, if we all had the ability to take some time upfront and create the “ad,” then maybe the product (solution) would actually meet the expectations the ads are creating.

Viral Marketing Winners

Viral marketing certainly is one of the latest buzzwords that you hear lately.  Well, in fact, that’s actually not true.  Viral has been around for a while now.  So, maybe it has passed buzzword stage and is not part of our everyday vernacular?   Regardless, we came across this link and thought at the bare minimum you may enjoy it for all its creativity… http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39029397/ns/business-media_biz/Continue Reading →

Rebranding: Our Own Ad Agency

This is a little lengthy, but a great, informal story on what it takes to rebrand a company — our company.

Sage Marketing Group is undergoing some construction, so to speak.  Our brand is evolving.  We have been working the past couple months on the process of rebranding Sage Marketing Group and it occurred to us that our followers might find this an interesting process to watch unfold.  It is not often you get to look “behind the green curtain” and see the inner workings of something like a rebranding campaign.  Believing there is value in watching this process from beginning to end, we are going to use part of our Monday Musings to communicate this process and we certainly believe you will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour.Continue Reading →

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