Website design

Why you should conduct a marketing communications audit.

We often start with an audit when we begin working with a new client. During the research phase we are learning about the client, their marketplace, and their competitors. Then we delve into their existing marketing and communications including the organization’s branding, printed materials and web presence.

Depending on the client’s needs we may focus more on one area or another, but the goal is to provide an overview of the current situation and a list of specific recommendations for how we can help improve their marketing. The audit itself is not necessarily a huge expense, but it is a huge investment, because it gives the client immediate feedback on what is working and areas that can be improved.

For a website, we would recommend starting with four primary areas:

  • SITE ARCHITECTURE: whether the website utilizes best practices for site architecture including the development of a coherent site map, site hierarchy, logical navigation, and descriptive page names
  • COMPETITION: Review top 10 (or 20 or 30) keywords and conduct a search reviewing the client’s top 3 competitors’ sites and see where the client comes up in SERP (search Engine Results Page)
  • SEO and Local SEO: whether the website utilizes best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) utilizing xml maps, setting up Google Analytics, and creating effective titles, descriptions and alt tags. Depending on the business/industry, local SEO can have a huge potential upside. Especially for any locally-based (or regional) small business or retail establishment, you want to ensure that your site ranks high in your local market. After a quick review we can provide an assessment of what sites you have or have not claimed and can make recommendations for improvement.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA: Depending on the industry/market we review the site’s current social media presence and make recommendations on where they could enhance their branding and engagement

For communications and printed materials, we would start with a review of a company’s logo, all printed materials, branding and messaging. We would focus on how well an organization has established their brand identity, how consistently they manage their brand across their business(es), and provide a specific list of ways to improve the overall marketing communications of the organization.

So if you know that you “need to do something” but are not sure where to start, consider an audit. Once you have the results, your next steps will be more clear and you will know how to use your marketing dollars more wisely.

What fall projects are on your list?

Fall leaves turning colorThe last few days were very hot and felt more like summer, though clearly we are entering mid-September! Today is sunny, gorgeous and a little crisper, which is my favorite kind of day. As much as I love summer, barbeques, swimming and the beach, fall is my favorite time of year. Once we get past the “back to school” hurdle, it’s time for apple picking, bike rides, long walks, watching the leaves change, and time to “get back to work.”

Now is a great time to take an inventory of your marketing, if you haven’t done so already. So what do I mean by that? Here is a short list of items that every business should have:

  1. LOGO. Do you have a logo? Did you start on a fledgling budget and never really think your business would take off? Or is your logo so old, that you feel it is outdated? Maybe it’s time to think about a new design?
  2.  STATIONERY. It used to be that everyone ordered printed stationery, envelopes and labels. Now with the Internet and email, most people think it’s not necessary, but it’s still a good idea to have professional looking letterhead. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to look the part. For proposals, cover letters, bills and so many other reasons, stationery is a must.
  3. BROCHURE or other MARKETING MATERIALS. So many people think that a website replaces your marketing materials. I would disagree. It’s still important to have something to leave behind after meeting with a potential client, to give someone as a promotional piece, or as a “take-one” on the counter in your retail space. It is so reasonable to print with low volume digital printing. And you can easily create custom pieces digitally that have more punch.
  4. EMAIL MARKETING. Many small businesses still send mass emails via their standard email application. This is old school. We highly recommend using an email-marketing tool like Mailchimp or Constant Contact for emails with a professional look and feel. Not only that, you will CAN-SPAM compliant (ensuring that your recipients have opted-in) and also get valuable data on open rates, click-throughs and forwards.
  5. WEBSITE. It goes without saying that having a professionally designed website is critical. It is often the first place people look for information about you. Your site should be clear and easy to navigate, with solid content and be graphically pleasing. While you can certainly purchase a standard template, we often recommend custom-designed sites using WordPress, so that your site is uniquely yours.
  6. SOCIAL MEDIA. Social media is no longer an option for your business. Are you staying up to date on the latest trends? Do you have a business Facebook page, a blog, Pinterest or Twitter account? Maybe you’re on Linkedin but not really using it? While it’s not realistic to jump in and do all of these at once, now is a good time to set some goals for what you think you can achieve and go for it.

Take stock in where you are today and where you want to be three months, six months or a year from now. We are happy to help you strategize and achieve your goals, so feel free to give us a call to discuss your marketing needs.