Is What’s Under The Hood Of Your Website Harming Your Business?

Posted on May 1, 2015 | 0 comments

If you built your website more than five years ago, and have ignored doing web maintenance or periodic website fixes ever since, chances are your website is outdated and looks a little stale. Rather than open the Pandora’s box that is re-doing your website, over the past five years you’ve managed to make it work through sheer will and determination. You’ve been lucky thus far, however, there are risks in sticking with an outdated website platform for too long. In fact, if you aren’t careful, your website might be an update away from crashing and burning. Here are a few of the common challenges that can result from outdated websites: Information overload – Wedging too much information into a site that wasn’t built to support today’s technology is just tempting fate. One more plug-in might be the very thing that wrecks your site. Unclear messaging – If you stopped thinking strategically about your site content ages ago, and continued adding every new service or offer to your site without deleting or auditing your previous offers, the resulting effect is surely a hodge-podge of information that confuses and frustrates your visitors. Lower search engine rankings – If your site was designed before 2013, odds are you didn’t bother making it mobile-friendly. More than 60 percent of all web traffic now happens on mobile devices. If your site wasn’t designed to be mobile responsive, you’ll begin to pay the price with search engines  Negative brand impression – Be honest: Are you more than a little bit embarrassed because your website looks like it was built in 1999? Remember how proud and excited you were when you launched it? When is the last time you felt confident in your website? If your visitors feel repelled rather than interested in your services when they land on your site, it’s time to get serious about website maintenance. But, before you dive in and start making random updates, we recommend you make a simple plan. Write down a wish list of the top three to five changes that would make you proud to share your site with the world again. Then, reach out and partner with a web developer. Make sure your developer works well with writers and designers, or has a strong understanding of how editorial and design principles impact your website. Clients who enlist our help to manage their weekly content updates, back-end system upgrades, and monthly traffic reports have a strong understanding of what is and isn’t working for visitors to their sites. We help them routinely analyze obstacles and make the repairs before problems snowball into an overwhelming (and costly) repair bill. Websites are a bit like your car: If you don’t change the oil regularly, your engine is eventually going to blow. And the fix won’t be cheap when it does. Chances are your site doesn’t suffer from every website affliction known to man. Most websites just need a few simple tweaks to bring them up to speed and position them to grow your business. The secret is finding the right developer with a customer-focused approach and a mind for marketing. A thorough website refresh not only makes a better brand impression and boosts your confidence as a business owner, it will attract more visitors and engage the ones who click through, comment, share, and buy.     Your website is a key element in your branding strategy; it plays a vital role in building community, wealth, and joy in your business. To find out more about how to use branding to make your business stand out in your niche,...

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Value Positioning: Feel Better. Work Less. Sell More!

Posted on Apr 23, 2015 | 0 comments

Can we be real for a minute? Sometimes marketing feels like an exercise in futility, doesn’t it? You hire the best employees, craft the perfect solution or create the best product out there, then you lob it over the fence to your peeps only to watch it die a slow, painful, unnoticed death as people fail to trip over themselves in a frenzy to buy from you. You email them. You send them postcards. You blast it all over social media. You email them again. But the sales just fail to manifest and no one seems to be paying any attention. You start to doubt yourself: “Did I do something wrong? Am I over-pricing? Is this product a big waste of everyone’s time? Should I even be promoting this stuff?” You start to hate your customers: “What is wrong with these people? Why don’t they just get with it already?” It’s enough to make you cash in your chips and call it a day. The frustration you feel is real. But, the good news is that there’s an easy fix. The best way to sidestep marketing burn out is to ensure every conversation positions the value you deliver. People want easy solutions. They want instant results. They want to feel or look one hundred times better. They want a glamorous transformation made easy. They don’t want 6.4 fluid ounces of organic shampoo — what they want is shiny, shimmering hair that’s the envy of everyone. The impetus is on YOU to infuse your marketing with value-based propositions. Make it easy for your readers to see WHY they should open your emails, visit your web site, or stop by your store. Here are some solid tactics to help focus on value first: Avoid concentrating ONLY on the details/logistics of your offer. Instead, engage your readers first by showing them you understand how they feel. Spend less time talking about yourself and more time talking about the RESULTS they will get when they work with you. Share social proof and success stories that illustrate WHY your clients really love your services or offerings. Solid value positioning helps your best-fit clients see your brand as a place that understands their challenges and knows how to fix them. Prospective clients know they can get products and services anywhere. But, the rare find is a company that listens to their needs and delivers the results they are looking for. Value positioning ensures your marketing gets noticed. And more importantly – it becomes the effective means of selling your products and services, and changing the lives of the people you love to serve. Did you enjoy this post? If you’d like to get more valuable content like this delivered straight to your inbox, simply subscribe to our email newsletter. Click here to join our tribe. Share...

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Branding Craves Consistency

Posted on Apr 9, 2015 | 0 comments

  How many times has your logo been misprinted? Maybe it was too close to another company’s logo when you sponsored an event. Or maybe some nut-job designer made an executive decision to convert your colors or type your name out in a font they thought looked “close enough.” Maybe even your own in-house team was really feeling the purple end of the color spectrum for your headlines one day. The point is – brand creep happens. And it happens in the blink of an eye. Major corporations spend thousands of dollars developing brand-usage guides that spell out nearly every imaginable design element and application of their brands. They understand the value of a consistent brand impression and are willing to pay a premium to ensure they stay on brand. Brand-usage guides normalize your brand’s look, tone, voice, and messaging. They help you communicate your standards consistently to anyone who touches your brand, including creative vendors, contractors, and in-house employees. When you forego brand standards and build your brand project by project, you run the risk of going “off-script.” This piece-meal approach creates the potential for confusing your customers and undermining your credibility.  A brand-usage guide can be as comprehensive or concise as you need it to be. Some of our corporate clients have guides that include hundreds of pages of detailed rules and best practices. If you want an idea of how detailed brand-usage guides can get, click here. But rest assured; most of our clients get by confidently with a ten to twelve page guide that serves them just fine. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a branding expert to create a brand-usage guide for your business. In fact, it can be an easy, DIY project that you can start today. All you need is a simple document to capture your brand’s basic standards. What should your brand standards include? Fonts – We recommend no more than two to three fonts you use consistently online and in print. Logo – Ideally, use ONE version of your logo, with clear standards for placement (i.e., in the upper left or lower right, with a specific amount of “safe space” around it). Colors – Choose a primary color palette that is always used, and a secondary color palette, which is used sparingly to augment or complement the primary palette. Image standards – Do your images include people or no people; what types of lighting do you prefer? Do you use illustrations? Tone, voice, and language – Is your tone casual, assertive, or professional? Do you use slang or is your language more formal? Establishing consistent branding guidelines not only strengthens your brand’s presence, it ensures a seamless experience for your customers. When customers feel safe, secure, and confident in your messaging, they are more likely to become loyal members of your tribe.     Ready to lay a reliable brand foundation for your business so you can make more money, work with best-fit clients and build the business of your dreams? Then check out Lab Monkey Brand Academy. Registration closes April 26. The class is limited to 20 participants. Click the button below to learn more! Share...

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The Maddening Truth Behind the Creative Process

Posted on Apr 2, 2015 | 0 comments

Mad Men’s final season kicks off Sunday, April 5th. We’re counting down the days with mixed emotions in our office—excited that it’s back, but sad that it’s coming to a close. You might think a team of people who spend their days dreaming up creative solutions for their clients might not want to watch a TV show that’s essentially based on the very work they do day in and day out. You couldn’t be more wrong. We are obsessed with Mad Men (and maybe a little obsessed with our work, too). While the 1960s styling and unpredictable personal drama make the show infinitely watchable, we’re the nerds who sit up a little taller when the creative team at Sterling Cooper & Partners gathers to brainstorm the night before a big pitch. When Peggy and the boys burn the midnight oil in search of that creative spark, we can’t help but resonate with the glorious agony of being a creative professional! I’ll let you in on a little industry secret—creative people love playing the martyr role! We moan and groan about waiting for inspiration to strike. We act as if what we do is so completely unique that it can’t possibly be constrained to the fluorescent lights and tiny cubicles of the cruel corporate machine! In a past job—I’m not too proud to admit—I got into a heated argument with a writer who owed copy to our client at noon, but was sitting in the window at 10 a.m. watching her spirit animal and waiting on her muse to strike. Her spirit animal was a buzzard by the way, which conveniently urges you to take your time and make decisions slowly. I’m pretty sure we missed that deadline. While creativity certainly requires a fair share of free association and daydreaming, it also benefits strongly from a balanced approach that leverages a little logic. There is undoubtedly a degree of magic that makes what we do exciting and elusive. But we often fail to embrace the more practical aspects of the creative process that actually give our magic a strong foothold in the hearts and minds of our peeps. Yes, we tattoo ourselves with sharpies in meetings. We take “creativity walks” in the middle of the afternoon. We play with toys at our desk. But we also set goals. We write creative briefs exploring our audiences’ deepest desires. We field test our designs and see how they stack up in the real world. We survey target markets. This quote from Don Draper sums up the creative process pretty well, ” … just think about it. Deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will jump up in your face.” Creative people LIKE being shrouded in mystery. But make no mistake about it—the best ideas come from thinking “deeply” as Don Draper says. It’s that deep thinking—setting goals, writing creative briefs, and field-testing—that gives your creative daydreams a real hook in the hearts and minds of your best-fit clients.   Want to explore how you can pair your inner muse with logic and strategy to transform your brand? Then check out Lab Monkey Brand Academy. Registration closes April 26th. Class is limited to 20 participants. Click the button below to learn more! Share...

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Know Your Logos. Protect Your Brand Integrity.

Posted on Mar 26, 2015 | 0 comments

Speaking a vendor’s language is vital for business owners who want to avoid endless email exchanges and costly mistakes. This is especially true when your graphic designer asks you for different logo file-types for a project. If you are unfamiliar with their jargon, it will be difficult to get your project up and running without a lot of wasted time. Stepping up to become the leader of your own brand means that you take time to master some of the language of branding. One of the most important things we help our clients understand is how different logo file-types can impact the appearance of their logos. We want our clients to be able to share their logos with any vendor to confidently produce high-quality brand impressions. We can’t police every purchase you make, or be there to ensure your print vendors are paying attention to the quality of their work. Not every vendor will take the time to do things right. And when they don’t, you get stuck with blurry logos, costly reprints, and prickly conversations with your vendors. Protecting your brand integrity is a responsibility every business owner should take seriously. That’s why you must arm yourself with knowledge. Understanding niche-specific terminology empowers you to expect and demand consistent, quality results with any vendor you work with. When we work with our branding clients, we give them a little cheat sheet to help them understand the language of logos so they can produce quality brand impressions with confidence and ease. Here’s a quick overview of the five logo file-types every client should understand: Vector EPS – This should be how all logos are first created. You do not want logos created in Photoshop (.psd) or other photo editing applications. Vector EPS files are the indomitable defenders of quality! Without the proper software, you will not be able to open them. DO NOT let that trip you up. We know it feels weird to send a file that you can’t open but good printers and designers will be willing to open your vector files on your behalf and produce any of the following file types so that you can review and confirm that the file you supplied is the file you’d like to use. Vector files (as they are often called) have “clear backgrounds.” You can print a vector file at any size without losing resolution. Whether you’re printing on the side of a bus or a business card, vector artwork will always print crisply. JPG – This is a low-resolution file and should be used on-screen only. 
JPGs work great for web sites, slide presentations, and emails. They are flat files that cannot be easily altered or scaled without sacrificing quality. They typically have “white backgrounds” and appear to be placed within a white box if you place them on any background other than white. GIF – This is another low-resolution file that should be used on-screen only. Unlike its JPG counterpart, it has a “clear background” and is ideal for situations where gradients or other backgrounds need to appear behind the logo. PNG – PNGs further extend the valuable qualities of GIFs by including more image data to help complex files maintain their image quality without maxing out their file size. What that means for you is if you’re posting a logo with complex color gradients or shadow effects to your web site, a PNG will load quickly and still render all the intricate subtleties of your super sexy logo. TIFF – TIFFs are high-resolution, PC-friendly files that are ideal for any in-house printing needs, as their...

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Project Plans Help You Avoid “Brand Overwhelm”

Posted on Mar 19, 2015 | 0 comments

The amount of time and money it takes to launch a brand can be intimidating, especially for small business owners who already have a hand in so many aspects of building their businesses. Your brand’s presence is woven into every facet of your business, making it difficult to know where to draw the line when it comes to spending money on getting your brand out there. The endless list of branding to-do’s (logo, business card, web site, social media pages, conference materials, etc.) can seem insurmountable if you don’t have an endless supply of cash. It’s enough to make many businesses pull back and avoid building any real brand presence entirely. I call that getting stuck in “brand overwhelm.” But “brand overwhelm” is completely avoidable. It’s just a symptom of not having a project plan in place to guide you. When we create a project plan to help our clients boost their brand presence, we ask the following four questions: What opportunities/events/goals are on the horizon for your business in the next 3 months, 6 months, or year? What SPECIFIC brand expenses can we plan for in response to those opportunities/events/goals? Can we price out each expense in advance? How can we best align these three areas so we can pick and choose which ones to invest in and when? These questions help our clients develop a deeper understanding of how specific branding expenses begin to make a positive impact on the realization of concrete business goals. Working from a project plan like this helps you avoid costly spending mistakes that stem from reacting to the opportunity in front of you, instead of building your vision systematically in alignment with the RIGHT opportunities for your business. A simple project plan like this will help you eliminate the guesswork of branding, spend with confidence and clarity about your desired results, and leave you with the time and energy you need to focus on all the other aspects of building your business.   In our upcoming webinar The 5 Pillars of Transformational Branding, we will share more insights on creating powerful project plans, as well as other branding secrets. Plan to join us March 27, when will explore storytelling, tribe building, place making, as well as the other essential elements you need to build a brand.   Share...

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