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This Week’s Insight: Don’t Be Lame on LinkedIn

July 8th, 2015

Marketing Therapy

Your Profile Actually Does Matter

The first thing I do when a new business prospect, potential strategic partner or prospective employee crosses my path is check them out on LinkedIn. If their profile is lame, it provides me with good insight. If it’s a prospective client, it shows me that they need some help in this department. If it’s a strategic partner or prospective employee, it shows me that they don’t take their professional presence super seriously. So why should I take them seriously?

Maybe this is harsh, but the reality is that these days LinkedIn is the single most important place to showcase your professional presence. If you put little to no effort into your profile, it’s like showing up to a meeting with bedhead and rumpled clothes. Not a good look!

If you’re not one that likes writing a resume and tooting your own horn, hire a professional to help you. Our agency does an amazing amount of LinkedIn profile updates for our clients. We’ve got it down to a science. At any given time, we’re retooling the profiles for 10-15 people within an organization. Many of the companies we work with are realizing that their public facing staff’s LinkedIn profiles are as important as their corporate website. They are investing in making certain their team presents a professional, polished and consistent presence on LinkedIn. Sometimes we even hold “headshot parties” where we hire a photographer to come in and take headshots for a group of individuals within a company. After all, not only should your profile be buttoned up, so should your personal photo. Please, no photos of ex-girlfriends so obviously cut out! Invest in a decent headshot people!

Remember LinkedIn is your professional face to the world. Make it a good one.

Need help retooling your LinkedIn profile or the profiles of your team? Feel free to reach out to me at kathy@pomagency.com or 410.216.9447 x 106.

This Week’s Insight: Take the Gloves Off

June 12th, 2015

And Poke Some Fun at Your Competition

One of our clients started the year with a mission to “Take the Gloves Off” with their sales and marketing efforts. I’d heard this phrase before but needed to google the actual meaning of it to make sure I really understood what they were looking to do. According to usingenglish.com, when “the gloves are off, people start to argue or fight in a more serious way. ‘The gloves come off’ and ‘take the gloves off’ are also used. It comes from boxing, where fighters normally wear gloves so that they don’t do too much damage to each other.”

Sounds a little brutal, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. There is a way to differentiate yourself from your competition using humor, sarcasm, parody and silliness and still be highly effective.

Take for example the Budweiser “Brewed the Hard Way” 2015 Super Bowl Commercial. This commercial makes fun of the whole industry and culture of craft beer “snobs.”

Or another good example is the Mac vs. PC campaign that ran from 2006-2009. With 66 total ads in this series, Apple’s competitors have spent several years punching back to little avail since Apple is now one of the largest companies in the world.

So what makes your company or offerings distinctly better and different than your competition? Please don’t say customer service. Marketing professionals cringe when we are told this because it’s so cliche. If you have a software product, what specifically does it do better than its competition? Is it more robust? Can it solve more complex problems? Is it easier to use? Is it built by people who really know what they’re doing as opposed to random developers that lack years of insight into your customers’ business problems? These are the type of nuances to bring to light in a creative, compelling and even humorous manner.

Your prospective customers need help understanding why they should buy from you versus your competition. Maybe it’s time for you to take your gloves off and show them in a creative, even entertaining way.

Love this idea but don’t know where to start ? Feel free to reach out to me at kathy@pomagency.com or 410.216.9447 x 106.

This Week’s Insight: Show Your Customers Some Love

May 13th, 2015

If You Appreciate Them, They Will Appreciate You

I watch Mad Men. As a woman, I have to say that the sexism frequently pisses me off. However, there are some things about the way businesses operated in the 60s that I think we miss the mark on in today’s fast-past world. Back then, customer relationships were everything. Customer lunches and dinners were mainstays in doing business. Not so much anymore.

When was the last time you took your top customers out for lunch? If you’re like most companies today, it’s probably been a while…if ever. Most of us are so busy playing the role of air traffic controller to our email and sitting on calls and meetings that we rarely get out of the office to spend quality time with our customers. (And, BTW, meetings and calls don’t count as quality time.)

As we all know, acquiring new customers isn’t easy. First, there’s finding them. Then, pitching them. Then, proposing your services to them. Then, closing the deal (hopefully). Then, making sure you put your best foot forward and do a good job for them. And, then there’s nurturing the relationship in order to get continued business. Many companies fall short when it comes to nurturing their customer relationships. They’re so focused on chasing the next big thing that they forget about the gold mine that they have in their existing customer relationships.

Showing your customers some love is actually pretty easy. It doesn’t require a super involved strategic plan. Simply identify your top tier customers, and even some from your second and third tiers that have good potential. If they’re local, make some lunch dates and spend quality time with them learning about them personally and how their work life is going. If they’re not local, consider visiting them once or twice a year to get dialed into their business and wine and dine them a bit. Or, if visiting them in person isn’t realistic, send them lunch or a gift card to a restaurant with a nice note.

Currently, our agency is embarking on a client birthday program. We’ve identified a program called BirthdayAlarm that we can use to harness all of our clients’ birthdays. Then, we’re going to do an email asking them to add their birthday to our calendar. Once our calendar is set up, we will be sending birthday cards out every year to each of our clients. After all, who doesn’t appreciate it when someone remembers their birthday?!

Appreciate your customers and they will in turn appreciate you. In terms of marketing dollars, customer appreciation provides about the best ROI you can find.

Need some more marketing inspiration? Feel free to reach out to me at kathy@pomagency.com or 410.216.9447 x 106

This Week’s Insight: Mobilegeddon 101

April 30th, 2015

What to Know About Google’s Mobile Friendly Algorithm

Last week, Google launched a new mobile friendly update, aimed at adjusting mobile search results to give preference to mobile ready websites (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit any screen they’re viewed on) over non mobile ready websites. About 60 percent of online traffic now comes from mobile, and Google wants users to have a good experience when they view a website on their mobile phones.

Commonly referred to as “Mobilegeddon,” the update had businesses in a panic prior to its launch on April 21st. Fast forward to today, one week after the update was released, and most SEO experts are saying the results haven’t been as catastrophic as some predicted. That’s not to say a mobile friendly website shouldn’t be in your plans for the next year or two, but most businesses need not panic.

Below, we’ve gathered some useful questions, answers, and resources from around the web to shed some light on the update.

Q: What is this algorithmic update, and who will it impact?
A: This update will impact only people searching Google from their mobile phones, and it will give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results only.

Q: Will it impact desktop searchers? Will my desktop rankings drop?
A: No, it will only impact mobile searchers, and will have no impact on your website rankings for people searching Google from their desktops.

Q: Will it impact tablet searchers?
A: No, this only impacts searches done on mobile phones, not tablets.

Q: What types of businesses will be most affected?
A: Businesses that depend on people finding them through localized search will be most impacted. For instance, if a searcher typed “coffee shops in Annapolis, MD,” or “dry cleaner in Baltimore, MD,” into Google on their phone, the coffee shops and dry cleaners that do not have mobile friendly websites could see a drop in foot traffic as a result of this update.

Q: How do I know if my site is mobile friendly?
A: Enter your website URL into Google’s mobile friendly testing tool to see if your site passes the test.

Q: Can you be partially mobile friendly according to Google?
A: No, a web page is only ‘mobile friendly’ or ‘not mobile friendly.’ It is a yes or no on being mobile friendly or not.

Q: Will brand-related mobile queries be impacted?
A: Not really. If a searcher is looking for a specific company in Google’s mobile results, Google will still likely rank that brand in the first position even if the page is not mobile friendly. Ultimately, relevancy is more important and it outweighs this mobile algorithm. (For instance, if Sam’s Club was not mobile friendly and you searched for [Sam’s Club] on your iPhone tomorrow, it would still rank number one.)

Q: What are the most common mobile SEO mistakes?
A: Google published a document with the top seven mistakes webmasters make when going mobile friendly. These include blocked JavaScript, CSS and images files, content that doesn’t play, and more.

Q: Will Google remove my website from search results on mobile phones if I do not go mobile friendly?
A: No, absolutely not.

Q: Will this impact AdWords ads?
A: No, this is only for organic listings.

Q: If I transition from a non mobile friendly website to a mobile friendly one, how long will it take for Google to recognize this change?
A: Unlike some of Google’s other algorithms, this one will update its picture of the Web in real-time. So when you do introduce a live mobile site, Google will recognize it relatively quickly.

This Week’s Insight: Online Marketing is Like Marriage

April 16th, 2015

If You Aren’t Committed, it’s Not Going To Work

When we meet with prospective clients and talk to them about online marketing and how it can be a highly effective way to turn on the lead generation faucet, their eyes light up. They love the idea of more leads magically pouring in. Who wouldn’t?

Then we explain to them that they need to be prepared to commit to online marketing like a marriage. They must be willing to work at it regularly, even when they don’t see anything happening and don’t feel like meeting with us to figure out new things to try. We tell them that for their online marketing to work well, they can’t just outsource it to us, tune out and expect results. It needs to be a collaborative, creative relationship — just like marriage.

We scare some prospective clients away with this and that’s okay, because not every business is ready to make this commitment. Then, there are the ones that say they are willing to commit. They typically start off strong and check out because they’re too busy. Their flow of leads ultimately turns to a trickle and they scratch their heads wondering what happened.

And then there are the clients that just “get it”. They make the time to work with us to feed their online marketing machine. They are curious, interested, engaged and adventurous about exploring new things in the online realm. They enjoy the challenge and reap the rewards. They are Committed with a Capital C.

If your company is considering exploring the possibilities of online marketing, be prepared to spend about a year getting the machine up and running. This is what it takes to really start seeing the fruits of your efforts. But once you do, it’s a beautiful thing and you’ll want to keep working at it. Just like marriage :)

Want to learn more about how online marketing tactics can help grow your business? Feel free to reach out to me at kathy@pomagency.com or 410.216.9447 x 106

This Week’s Insight: Work Hacks

April 1st, 2015

Shortcuts for Staying on Top of Your Game

As someone who lived in Key West, Florida for three years after college, I have a side of me that really struggles to keep up with the intensity and pace of today’s work world. Some days I yearn to toss my MacBook, iPhone and iPad into the Chesapeake Bay to escape the constant deluge of information overload. But luckily, there’s the other side of me that flourishes in the creative energy of a bustling marketing agency. Good thing, right?

Years ago, one of the designers at our agency told me about http://lifehacker.com. I thought the concept was so cool — a website you can visit to find shortcuts for just about every area of life. If you haven’t seen this site before, definitely check it out. Anyway, this triggered a hacker-like mentality for me that has evolved over the years and helps me stay on top of my game, while maintaining my sanity.

Here are a few of my work hacks that may be useful to you:

Learn While I Burn
At least once a week, I watch an on-demand webinar or two (depending on length) on my iPad while I torch calories on the elliptical trainer. I wear noise canceling headphones so I get fully immersed in what I am watching. Most recently, I learned how to maximize my connections on LinkedIn for business development. I put some strategies into play last week and they resulted in two very worthwhile new business opportunities that I am now working. Calories burned, potential money earned. It’s a win-win!

Morning Contemplation Time
As a woman, I have an involved routine that I must embark on every morning before I successfully launch myself out the door. Quite often, I have some sort of problem or challenge that I must figure out in order to help my staff keep the wheels turning. So while I am in getting ready mode, I pick a topic or two to contemplate and mentally walk through them. This way, once I get to the office, I can address the matter quickly and move onto whatever is next.

Move It While You Talk (or Listen)
Once or twice a week, I work from home. The truth of the matter is that I get more done in a day at home than a week at the office — one of the realities of having your own business. Anyway, I still have my share of conference calls from my home office so I put on my headset and do laps around our family room while on calls. It feels so much better than sitting at my desk. I’m more energized both mentally and physically. If you can’t do laps but have a headset, try doing stretches and squats while on calls. You will be amazed at how much more alive you feel!

What are some of your Work Hacks? I’d love to hear them. Reach out to me at kathy@pomagency.com or 410.216.9447 x 106.

This Week’s Insight: Spring Cleaning

March 18th, 2015

Give Your Website Some Love and It Will Perform Better For You

It’s the time of year to do a little spring cleaning of your website. Here’s a helpful list you can use to get your website in top notch shape for spring.

Tidy Up

Review and update:
– The copyright date in the footer
– The “News” – has it been updated lately, or is it old news?
– Your events calendar or events page – are upcoming events noted?
– Your newsletter archive – is the latest version available?
– Your “About Us” page – have key stats, numbers or staff changed?
– The “Contact Us” page and team bios – are these up-to-date with correct names and contact info?

Tune-Up

Content Management System Updates:
– Update your Content Management System and all plug-ins so your site performs properly

Check and test:
– Forms – e.g., your contact forms, donation form, membership application form, etc.
– Automatic emails – are they working and do they have updated contact info, dates, etc.?
– Social media widgets or links – ensure content is “sharable”
– For broken links – you can use free link checker software to scan and identify broken links and error codes (404) (e.g., Link checker from the World Wide Web Consortium or Broken Link Check)

Content Clean-Up:

Do a quick analytics review, then…

– Determine the pages most visited and check them
– Consider adding links to least visited pages
– Look at pages that have not been updated recently – is content still applicable?

Get Fresh:

– Update your home page billboard with new images and graphics
– Create or update content that is old or missing from your site
– Upload a new video
– Re-purpose existing content (e.g., write an article or blog post about a recent event presentation or white paper)

Take Action:

– Is your call to action clear? E.g., is your “Register Now” or “Sign up Now” button easy to find?
– Is it easy for folks to share? E.g., are social sharing buttons or links (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. ) easy to find & use?

Spruce Up:

If your website is looking tired and neglected, it may need more than a cleaning – it could need a little refresh. But this is something that will take some planning and forethought.

– Get organized: Is key information easy to find? If not, step back and decide if what you need is a re-write or if the problem stems from your navigation.

– Check for clarity: Have an objective person read through your content to proofread (for typos, unnecessary jargon or “sector-speak”) and clean-up or tighten-up your key content.

– Freshen design: Take some time to think about what your website’s design conveys and whether there are some small changes that might make it more welcoming or easier to use (e.g., a different font or fewer typefaces, new background color, additional images, etc.). Just remember – plan website revisions carefully since some small changes might end up having a domino effect and lead to a major overhaul!

Want to know more? Let’s talk. kathy@pomagency.com or 410.216.9447 x 106

This Week’s Insight: Know What Works

March 5th, 2015

Test. Track. Refine.

In today’s marketing world, the technology exists to understand, in no uncertain terms, which tactics are performing and which ones are not. The mantra of professional marketers is now: Test. Track. Refine.

So what does it take to get more sophisticated about measuring and monitoring your marketing program? While there are a lot of tools out there you can pay to use, we find that Google Analytics (which is free) is quite the powerhouse when configured properly. It can provide a multitude of insights to guide your marketing program — above and beyond more basic metrics such as the number of visitors coming to your website and which geographic region they’re coming from.

In order to track the effectiveness of your marketing activities using Google Analytics, you would create unique URLs for each activity and feed these into Google Analytics. Then, when someone comes to your site after they see, for example, an ad in a local magazine that you placed, Google Analytics will tell you that they came to your site from this ad and explored these specific pages of your site. If, over 6 months or so, you start seeing a trend that traffic is being driven to your site from various ads you place or online web directories you have listings in, you can draw the conclusion that it may be wise to invest more time in maximizing your exposure in publications or online web directories that are appropriate for your offerings. (BTW, exposure in web directories is often an overlooked and underutilized marketing tactic.)

This merely scratches the surface on how Google Analytics can be configured to help you know what works in your marketing efforts. In very simple terms, tracking is established for each tactic, regardless of its online or offline nature, and fed into Google Analytics. Then, Google Analytics data provides insight into what is happening at the website in direct relation to the tactic. This insight enables you to try things out and see what happens and then ultimately direct your efforts and dollars to the highest performing tactics.

It’s a Wonder How I Ever Lived Without Wunderlist

February 17th, 2015

A Powerful To-Do List App That Has Changed My World

How do you manage your to-do lists? Are you a paper person who writes your lists on post-its, an organizer, or any old piece of paper that’s around? I used to be strictly a paper person. It was messy and a lot of work … even when I wrote in pencil. I’d spend a good chunk of my morning trying to get order around my to-do list before I could tackle the day. What a big waste of time.

A couple of years ago, we were looking for a tool where we could keep our own to-do lists and also share project to-do lists within our team. We did some scouting around to see what tools were out there and stumbled across Wunderlist. Touted as the “easiest way to get stuff done,” Wunderlist is available for free on pretty much every type of device and platform. I use it to organize project to-do items (both home and business) as well as my everyday to-do list.

Here are a few examples of how I use it. On a daily basis, I enter to-dos in what is called the “Inbox.” They then show up in my grand list of to-dos. I can indicate when I want to address a to-do item by assigning a due date to it. I start each day by clicking on the “Today” list to see what kind of insanity I’ve assigned for myself to do that day. I go through the list and assess what I think is realistic and move the tasks I think aren’t doable to other days. Then, I print out my “Today” list and write my schedule of events on it. I still need a piece of paper to guide my day. Some people can do it all electronically. Not me. But I love being able to store my to-do lists in the cloud and access them from any device or computer I’m signed into.

During the day, I handwrite any new to-dos that come up on my printed list, and cross off the things I’ve accomplished. At the end of the day, I open Wunderlist and check off the things I’ve completed. It makes a nice bell noise each time I check something off which I like a lot. Then, I add on the new stuff I wrote down all day and assign dates to it. Important to note, I only allow myself to have a one-page to-do list every day. If it’s going onto two pages, I adjust things before I print it out. Another thing to note is that I mix my business and personal stuff together in my to-do list so “pick-up dry cleaning” is right in there with “write blog.”

There’s a zillion ways you can use Wunderlist for work and life. My husband and I share a list of projects we need to do around our house. Every quarter or so, we pull up our list and figure out what we need to be doing so we can divide and conquer. It’s great being able to keep this list somewhere that we can easily access anytime and anywhere including my iPhone or iPad when we’re at Home Depot.

If you’re looking for to-do list peace of mind, I highly recommend checking out Wunderlist. I love it and so does everyone at our agency!

This Week’s Insight: Evernote Will Change Your Life

February 5th, 2015

Stop Handwriting Notes and Creating Endless Word Docs

As someone who requires order in my world to perform at my best, I’ve tried a zillion different methods for note taking and strategic/creative writing. First, there were legal pads. Usually yellow, sometimes white. Being a creative person, I preferred writing in Paper Mate® Flair pens in a wide range of colors — blue, red, black, green. This was fine early in my career but it wasn’t so great once I started my own agency. Taking notes using a magic marker in meetings isn’t that impressive.

Next, I moved to pad folios — the leather or pleather folders that contain a slot for business cards, a pocket for various materials and, of course, the handy dandy legal pad. I graduated to Uni-ball® pens — a more refined magic marker. I felt a bit more buttoned up in meetings with my pad folio and even ordered up some nice, real leather ones with our logo on the front that I used for a quite a while.

The thing I hated the most about all of this note taking was the time it took to type up my notes and then delegate the action items out to my team. It was like reliving the meeting all over again which took up a lot of time. Then, what was I supposed to do with all of these sheets of paper that my notes were on? I would put them in client folders, job folders and idea folders and when I needed to find something I’d have to remember which folder I put it in which was yet another time drain.

Fast forward to January 2013. One of my clients told me about Evernote, and being that it was a new year, I was particularly open to trying something new. I downloaded the free app on my laptop, created a notebook for the client I was working on at the moment and created my first note (I did this all on my own with no instruction— it was that easy). I typed away at my next meeting, organized my notes for a few minutes afterward and then emailed the note off to members of my team so they could get busy doing what needed to be done.

I know this doesn’t sound earth-shattering. It could have been a Word doc, right? Sure. But then, you have to organize and file multiple Word docs. (And then remember where you filed them later.) With Evernote, I have electronic notebooks for all my clients, and several areas of my life and business like Financial Planning, Marketing, Recruiting, and even the Pom Blog (which I am writing in my Evernote right now).

When a client has a question about something we talked about in our last meeting or even a meeting many months ago, I can easily go back into their notebook and find my notes and say, “A-ha, yes, I see that in October 2014 you determined that you would be revamping your intranet in Q2 2015.” Evernote lets me be fast on my feet and oh-so on-the-ball!

Think of Evernote as having electronic notebooks for all the necessary aspects of your work (and personal) life, and being able to access and share information with ease. It’s organization and efficiency like never before. And, for a creative person who does better with paper with no lines and magic markers, I’ve been surprisingly able to let my creativity free on Evernote. There’s just something about having order that releases me.

I should also mention that Evernote has a ton of different features and functionality that I’m still exploring. One really useful tool is the ability to record calls and take notes at the same time. This is extremely helpful when people on conference calls have heavy accents and you’re sweating about catching everything you need to do the job. I’m still using the free version of Evernote but you can get more functionality for a low monthly fee.

Check out Evernote! It will sync and run on all of your devices!