Trademark Attorney: Four Trademark Questions for Growing Businesses

 

business trademarkBy Eric Perrott, Esq.

We have a special guest author today. MarketCrest has known Eric and his law firm for years. Actually, Eric was the attorney that secured both of the MarketCrest registered business trademarks.  

He is a business trademark attorney with Gerben Law Firm, PLLC. Eric counsels clients on trademark and copyright law issues and provides business trademark analysis, process and registration services at flat-fees.

 

Enjoy, and take good notes:

Your trademarks are more than just the name of your company or a sleek logo. A trademark represents not only your company’s product or service, but also the quality, the ethos, the mission statement, the customer service, and many other facets of your business that customers will identify with.

Are you an “Apple” person or a “Google” person?

Are you a “North Face” person or a “Lululemon” person?

Brand identity is important and developing a strong brand isn’t easy. Companies of all sizes spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness and to drive new customers to their business.

While marketing and advertising is key for brand development, business owners from local mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies know that to build a strong, long-lasting brand, companies must protect their trademarks.

Below are four questions company owners should be able to answer about their business trademarks.

 

What are some of my business trademarks?

It might sound simple, but one of the hardest aspects of trademark protection is recognizing what a trademark actually is.

A trademark can be almost anything that represents the “good will” of a business. (Think of “good will” as all of those aspects-quality, customer service, style, etc.-mentioned above).

It can be a word or design, but it can also be a slogan (“I’m Lovin’ It”), unique store layout, or unique product packaging. It can even be a sound (the NBC chime), color (Tiffany blue), smell, or movement (like the unique way a Lamborghini’s doors open). The possibilities are endless.

However, every trademark must be “distinctive,” meaning that it must be something that consumers connect with one business, as opposed to a descriptive term or generic term that merely describes the products or services.

Descriptive words can still become trademarks, but a company must show that over time, those descriptive words are cemented in consumer’s minds as representing one company.

For example, American Airlines, National Rent-a-Car, Best Buy – all of these terms are, at their heart, descriptive. However, they are so engrained in consumers minds as trademarks that the companies enjoy trademark protection for those phrases.

 

Is someone else using a trademark similar to yours?

Once you’ve selected or identified a strong trademark that is not merely descriptive, the next step is to analyze whether another company in the industry has been using a similar trademark for longer than you have.

Under U.S. trademark law, trademark infringement occurs when a company uses a trademark that is confusingly similar to a pre-existing trademark for related goods and services. This is not just an analysis of whether someone else is using the exact same business trademark as you.

Trademarks can be confusingly similar is they are similar is sight, sound, meaning or overall commercial impression. Similarly, the goods and services do not need to be identical either, just similar, which is a legal analysis.

For example, hotels and restaurants are almost always considered “similar.” Wine and cheese have been considered similar because they are frequently used in conjunction with each other.

In order to gauge the potential risk of a trademark, a trademark attorney can perform a comprehensive search and analysis, wherein the attorney will look at registered and unregistered trademarks and provide a detailed analysis of the potential risks from a legal perspective.

Without a comprehensive search, it is extremely difficult to know about existing trademarks that could be confusingly similar to your own.

Once you have “cleared” the trademark, or generally accept and understand the risks of using (or expanding the use) of your trademarks in the marketplace, the next step towards protecting your trademark is registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Why should I register my Business trademark?

Trademark owners can register their trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). Trademark registration gives the trademark owner a number of significant advantages over those who do not register their trademarks. A few of those advantages are:

  • A government document stating that you are the owner of the trademark: When you apply for a trademark, a government attorney will review your trademark in the same way that we discussed earlier – the attorney will make sure it meets the standards of trademark protection and make sure no other registered trademarks are confusingly similar.

When a registration is issued, it is an official document from the U.S. government that gives you the legal presumption that you own the trademark. A prior user can attempt to cancel your registration, but until that happens, you are presumed to be the owner.

  • Trademark Registrations as an asset: Investors and other potential partners often look at intellectual property when looking at the health and long-term plans of a company. Trademark registrations are assets that can show you have a long-term plan for your brand. Trademarks can even be used as collateral for loans in some cases.
  • Deterrents to Competitors: A trademark registration acts a deterrent to competitors, who are likely searching the USPTO website (and other third-party aggregator websites) to gauge the risk of using certain trademarks. In fact, a registration acts as notice throughout the U.S. that you are the owner of the mark. No one can then say that they had never heard of you before selecting their mark – the law presumes that businesses will do their due diligence.
  • Online Marketplace Enforcement: An increasing number of online marketplaces are requiring trademark registrations to join special brand management programs.

For example, Amazon’s Brand Registry Program required a registered business trademark in order to join. The U.S. Customs department also requires a trademark registration to register with their counterfeit brand monitoring program.

From start to finish, registration will take at least nine months and sometimes more, as the government reviews the trademark and allows third-parties an opportunity to object to the registration.

However, your protection starts from the date you apply, so it is important to file as soon as possible.

 

How do I keep my trademarks protected?

You developed a strong trademark and registered it with the USPTO. Now what?

Now, you must police the marketplace and the USPTO to ensure that no competitors infringe on your trademark rights. A trademark is only as strong as its impact on consumers, so if someone else is using a similar trademark, then any experience not under your control can permanently damage your trademark.

Brands are often about first impressions. Customers also are human and don’t have perfect recall and often make impulsive decisions on whether to purchase something without thorough research.

If a customer has a bad experience with a brand that is close in sight, sound or meaning to yours, your brand is likely to suffer as well. Unless that client can recognize the differences at a fleeting glance, the negative feelings they have towards that brand are likely to transfer to you, losing you customers.

Whether its an innocent mistake by a competitor or a deliberate attempt to “cash in” on your brand’s recognition and good-will, you must be diligent about the protection of your trademark against infringers.

If not, you could lose the ability to protect your trademark in the future, as the scope of your trademark becomes smaller and smaller, until you barely have any rights left to protect.

 

Why is protecting trademarks Important? 

Trademark protection is important for a long-lasting and memorable brand. Businesses spend large portions of their budget creating brand awareness, but not nearly enough go through the steps to properly analyze and protect their trademarks.

Through effective trademark protection, business can secure help secure and grow their valuable brands.

Gerben Law Firm, PLLC is regularly a top-filer at the United States Patent & Trademark Office and its attorneys have been named “Top Practitioners” in the Washington, D.C. region by the World Trademark Review. Mr. Perrott provides free consultations on trademark and copyright issues and can be reached at eperrott@gerbenlawfirm.com.

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10 Social Media Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners

10 Social Media Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners

The transition from using social media as a hobby to a business platform was a difficult transition for professionals. It was like business owners woke up one day to find out they had another HUGE item on their to-do list.

But we as humans and entrepreneurs adapt. Unfortunately, so do the ways social networks work. If you looked at a list of social media marketing tips for small business from three years ago, you’d laugh out loud!

So how do you stay up to date when it seems next to impossible? We’ve got your guide.

Sit back, turn off your notifications for a few minutes and keep reading below.

1. Find Your Audience

There is a natural law of the universe that says people will always take the path of least resistance. In less scientific terms, that means no one wants to do extra work.

For this reason, we recommend that you go to where your online audience already is and post there, instead of begging people to come over to your platform.

If you’re marketing to young people, use Instagram. Ninety percent of Insta users are under the age of 35.

The same goes for Twitter. The age of the network provides a good guide to its age demographics. Generally, the newer the app, the longer it will take for older populations to catch on.

2. Don’t Overcommit

This is one of the social media marketing tips for small business we wish everyone knew. It’s better to do one thing well than to poorly manage multiple tasks at once.

By things, we mean social networks. Yes, it would be ideal to have a presence on every network your audience uses, but is that attainable? Probably not at first, especially if you are managing social media in-house. 

Concentrate on the network with the highest engagement and expand to others slowly. This will give you time to get into the swing of things and you’ll have more users to carry over to the other site with you.

Be Wary of Snapchat

Unless your demographic is very young (under 25), skip Snapchat. The content only lasts for 24 hours and it’s taboo to re-use Snapchat posts.

Unless you have someone who can commit to creating and posting new content every day, leave snapping to the kids.

3. Hire An Expert

Young adults entering the workforce get a bad rep, but they’re not as bad as the news says (although they have killed the napkin industry… look it up). Sure, they love avocados too much (look that up, too!) but they understand social media. They’re the first generation who grew up with it!social media marketing tips for small business

Since they’re on their networks 24/7, these kids can spot a marketing trend from a mile away. Between reading up on trends and personally living them, you’ll be all set when you outsource your marketing to a team with some fresh and young minds. 

If you have a small budget, you don’t have to find someone through LinkedIn. There may be a tech-savvy young family member who will gladly work for half of what a professional would make.

As far as social media marketing tips for small business go, its a win-win-win to hire a marketing firm that will handle your online presence for you. This allows you to really focus on the bulk of the business. 

4. Front Load

You’ve heard that content is king, right? Well, when it comes to social media marketing tips for small businesses, consistent content is king.

Before you make your page or profile public, be sure you have at least a week’s worth of content to post when needed.

You’ll likely run into a few hiccups in your first week and it’ll be nice to have a queue while you deal with growing pains.

For your first posts, think about how you want your company’s narrative to be introduced. Are you going to start with products or show off the humans behind the wheel? Whatever you do, be sure there is a strategy when posting. 

5. Keep a Queue 

If you’re ever in a place where you’re ahead on posts, that’s great. Now write more! Instead of taking a break, throw those extra posts in a folder in case of emergency (ICE).

That way, if you have something come up or have extreme writer’s block, you can reach into the ICE content file and still have fresh content to post.

Make sure these posts stand the test of time! You don’t want to post a review of the iPhone 6 if we’re using the iPhone 10.

Reviews, opinions, and general education about your business or products are great options. Social media marketing tips for small business that make your life easier? That’s what we’re all about!

6. Post on Time

Remember when we said posting consistent content was one of the key social media marketing tips for small business? That also applies to the time of day too.

When it comes to posts, there are two schools of thought. The first is, post during high volume views and interact with customers. The second is more subtle and simply requires maintaining an online presence. 

Let’s say you run a clothing store. While there may be some scientific data on times people like to shop, you’re more interested in getting your clothes exposure. It would make sense to post when traffic on your page is highest, or to boost your post so a larger audience sees it.

If you owned a restaurant, however, you’d want consumers to think of you at very specific times… like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or right before.

For example, a restaurant pushing a take-out special would do well to post around 4 o’clock.

Targeting consumers right before they have to go home to their families would remind them they could get something quick on the way home.

Try out each method or a mix of both, then stick to what works! 

Use Scheduling Tools

Now that you know what times work best for your consumers (and it can change!) make sure you never miss prime time.

Thankfully, you don’t have to release each post live at the exact time. Social networks and online tools have settings for automated posts and even automated emails. 

Simply upload the post however far in advance you want, then schedule it to release at the right time. Now you can go to dinner without keeping your phone face-up on the table.

7. Be Human

Now that you know the logistics of posting content, let’s talk about creating it.

Far too many businesses under post because they’re scared it won’t be perfect. However, with so many opinions online, no post is perfect for an entire audience or subject. 

When you’re creating posts, do your best and have a distinct brand voice. Don’t be scared to share a meme or two, so long as it’s targeted to your audience.

We’re not saying that you should forego editing altogether, that’d be crazy. Just don’t overdo it and post like a machine would. Install an editing app (like Grammarly) on your browser to catch mistakes, and keep a personable and honest voice.

Even when outsourcing social media posts to a content marketing firm, be sure to either post or relay information that the firm wouldn’t know. They can create engaging content all day long, but they’ll never be able to tell personal stories like your own staff or customers can. 

8. Engage, Engage, Engage

If location is the most important thing in real estate, engagement is the most important thing in social media marketing. Gone are the days where you could expect consumers to buy products just because you showed it to them. There’s too much market saturation for that!

Brands have to create a brand that makes customers feel like friends. Your brand needs to be something individuals can get to know, something more than a list of products or services.

Keep this in mind when you’re creating content for your website and social media. Is anyone going to engage with or learn something from your post? This is key. 

Reward Engagement

In this social media driven world, people get real validation from online attention. Even if you’re just starting out, there’s a thrill in getting attention from an “official” page.

So, when people engage with your content, give them a virtual pat on the back. Like their comment (etc) as fast as you can and do your best to create a personal reply.

They’ll remember your interaction and get a little taste of recognition from a brand, and you’ll be following social media marketing best practices while providing positive affirmations. 

Steal Engagement

Ok . . . Don’t actually steal it, but certainly, take ideas from other similar companies. Keeping your enemies close is a good tactic online too.

Follow your competition on your personal networks and pay attention to what’s working for them.

Are they having a sale you could match? Maybe they’re having a contest and it’s getting lots of attention. Now you know what your population likes without doing intense research!

9. Build Your Own Community

While we do recommend building your own brand and marketing strategy, there are bound to be other businesses in your community that go hand in hand with your own.

Are you a ski rental place that could pair up with a local charter bus in the area? Or a restaurant with a bookstore next door that could market together & encourage people to buy a book and have a literary lunch date?

There is power in numbers and networking, even online!

10. Blog Like Crazy

If blogging isn’t listed as one of the social media marketing tips for small business in a list you’re reading, disregard that source entirely. Blogs are entirely too important as content landing pages and for SEO purposes. They simply must be a part of your content strategy. 

If you’re working with anything other than LinkedIn or Reddit, you’re going to have restrictions on content size. On Facebook, for example, you can’t boost any image that is more than 20% text, which looks like next to nothing.

You need a place where people can go for more information. Think of your social media post as the preview to any branded original content. You need them to see the preview on your networks, then click to read the full content on your blog, ultimately increasing traffic to your website. 

Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Business: Tying Them Together

You can use all of these social media marketing tips for small business, but if you don’t stay true to your brand it’s no use. Before you start a business, let alone create a social media presence, take some time to figure out your brand and voice.

This can be a big task. It’s hard for someone so deep in the business details to see the bigger picture from an outsider’s perspective. That’s where you need professional help.

We can help you create your brand, your social media presence, and even coach you through building a website primed to generate leads. Check out the case studies on our site, then sign up for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and followers to gain.

What are you waiting for? Call MarketCrest today. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management

The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management

Welcome to the world of online reputation management, where one ill-timed tweet or potentially offense comment back to a reviewer can easily cost you your entire business.

In today’s world especially, it can be tough to know the best way to manage your brand’s reputation online. How can you ensure that you defend yourself and your business practices, while also making sure consumers know you value their opinion?

That’s what online reputation management is all about.

Read on to access our ultimate guide to getting it right.

Step One: Find Out What They’re Saying

We get it: it can be incredibly stressful to think about Googling yourself or your business to know what people really think of you.

However, if you don’t face the music, you have no chance of improving — and you’re telling your customers that their opinion doesn’t really matter to you.

The first step of good reputation management is to do a quick search on yourself and your brand.

Read your reviews, make sure you’re aware of any online complaints, and even search your business’s name on social media marketing platforms like Instagram and Twitter. We also suggest setting up a Google Alert for your brand’s name.

This way, anytime someone posts something online related to your company, you know about it as soon as it happens. This allows you to respond to the comment, and control the situation before it gets away from you.

Don’t like what you see?

If unflattering or inappropriate pictures of you or your employees pop up, do what you can about getting them deleted. Also wipe your old Twitter page if needed, and close any college-era social media personal platforms.

Step Two: Control Your Narrative

So, you did a little bit of searching about yourself and your brand.

Unfortunately, you didn’t like what you learned. Before you start panicking that it’s too late, focus on what you can do to salvage the situation.

The first thing?

Build or completely revamp your personal website. This way, when people Google your name, that will be the first thing that comes up about you — and you can present yourself as a professional.

Next, start doing what you can to push those negative reviews, old photos, and social media missteps off the first page of search engine results.

Submit articles to industry journals. Start a blog. Create new social media accounts for both yourself and your business.

Step Three: Respond To The Negative

How you respond to a crisis or a mistake says a lot about your personal character — and your ability to maintain a level head.

Of course, we know that usually, keeping your cool when someone has insulted you or your business is easier said than done.

The number-one rule of responding to negative comments and reviews? Give yourself a few minutes — or hours — to calm down first. Don’t respond or act on defensiveness or raw emotion.

Instead, step away and get control over yourself. Then, really think about what the person was saying. Chances are that, even if they didn’t say it in the best way, they still provided some constructive thought or criticism about your business.

Even better?

Their review gives you the chance to prove to both current and potential customers that you want to listen to feedback and keep your customers satisfied.

Start by thanking the person for their review. Then, assure them that you’re going to follow up on the situation, both with the reviewer and the responsible staff/team member.

Next, ask them what you could do to make their experience better. Finally, offer them either a free or discounted service/product if they’re willing to give you another chance to make it right.

Step Four: Consider A Professional

Let’s face it — whether because of your age, your nationality, or even the amount of time you spend online, you won’t always know what’s appropriate and what’s not.

Further, you may not have the time or even the writing ability to craft an apology in the right way or to correctly respond to a review.

Sometimes, hiring professional marketers or an online reputation management expert is the best course of action.

First of all, they have the time to do the research into what’s being said about you online. Additionally, they have the marketing experience needed to prevent you from making major mistakes in the first place.

And finally, they have the resources to actually address and fix the situation — instead of just ignoring it.

Need More Help With Online Reputation Management?

Remember — managing your reputation online isn’t always about avoiding mistakes. Instead, it’s about knowing the proper way to own up to them.

Looking for a reputation management professional with the skill set you need?

We can make it happen. In addition to managing your brand’s online reputation, we also offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PPC, website design, and several other online digital marketing services to take your brand to the next level.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking about your online reputation management strategy.

Instead, spend some time on our website to learn more about how we can help you avoid making costly mistakes that severely damage — or even outright destroy — your brand’s reputation.

When you’re ready to take control of your narrative, reach out to us to get started with a free marketing quote.

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Dallas Marketing Agency Wins AVA Digital Award for Roofer’s Website Results

Dallas Marketing Agency Wins AVA Digital Award for Roofer’s Website Results - Roofing Marketing

Recently, MarketCrest, LLC struck Gold in the form of an AVA Digital Award in the category of “Business to Consumer Website” for their client Elevated Roofing.

MarketCrest is a full-service SEO and content marketing agency located in the Dallas suburbs of McKinney, Texas. Its staff provides content marketing, SEO services, PPC marketing, website design & development, marketing automation, and consulting & fractional marketing services, to businesses across the nation and internationally.

In the award-winning case study submitted to AVA, MarketCrest outlines its combined effort with longtime agency partner Improve & Grow and Elevated Roofing to transform the roofer’s existing website with three goals in mind:

1. Convert existing website traffic (Free Roof Inspections) at a higher rate
2. Generate new website traffic to the new home page
3. Improve website visitor engagement/experience

In a unique and valuable partnership, MarketCrest and Improve & Grow worked side-by-side to execute an online marketing plan that proved incredibly successful exceeding even the client’s expectations.

• Website traffic improved by over a 100%
• Website form fills (request for a roof inspection) increased by over 300%
• Website conversion rates improved by over 100%

These results are in line with the results seen by other clients of MarketCrest, as the agency’s main objective is to generate website conversions and landing page conversions for their clients.

This is done by attracting online traffic with targeted content and paid advertising, engaging users on the client website, and turning those website visitors into potential customers via call-to-actions, contact us pages, website form-fills, and phone call tracking from first time visitors.

About MarketCrest,

MarketCrest, LLC is an award winning, Digital Marketing Consulting & Services firm specializing in client revenue growth. Simply, we exist to help our clients compete and grow… and we expect to be held accountable for their improved performance.

MarketCrest, LLC
105 S. Tennessee St. Suite 103
McKinney, TX 75069

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10 Reputation Management Tips From Seasoned Veterans

 

10 Reputation Management Tips From An SEO Expert

Ninety-seven percent of consumers in North America read online reviews to learn more about a business.

If you are not taking an active role in how your business is being perceived online then it’s time to start.

Our clients agree that Reputation Management is vital to succeed online today.

In this article, we have compiled helpful tips to help you recognize how professionals manage a company’s online presence. There are a lot of lessons learned!

Let’s get started:

1. Create A Consistent Online Presence

In order to manage your online reputation, you need to BE online. Create accounts for your business that are applicable to your industry. These go beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Though, you should have those too!).

Do some research to find popular sites in your industry. For example, if your business provides home services, consider creating an account on Houzz. Are you a B2B company that’s looking for hot leads? LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups will become your kingdom.

Delve into the digital world and find your niche. Among the websites we’ve listed above, you can also create accounts on Pinterest, Flickr, and Vimeo. Keep in mind that not every industry will thrive on these platforms. Do some research of your own to find out if your business will be a good fit.

2. Make Social Media A Priority

Social media is no longer just for friends and family. Users are turning to social media to follow brands, learn more about a business, and on some occasions, share their grievances with the world.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are replacing email complaints and comments. In fact, during the past two years, research shows customer interactions on Twitter have increased 250 percent.

Reputation management begins with your customers, their online comments, and reviews. Respond to their comments quickly, listen, don’t be defensive and always be professional (take the high road).

Like it or not, social media is an essential part of business today.

Users have a greater voice than every before. Thats good…and sometimes its bad.

3. Don’t Ignore Google Reviews (Or Google My Business)

When it comes to reviews, Google should be a primary area of focus. With more than 3.5 billion searches made per day, you cannot afford to take a blind eye to those reviews.

If you are investing in SEO, you will be easy to find online. Make sure when searchers find you, you like what they see!reputation management

Manage your online reputation on Google by claiming your Google My Business local listing and page. Manage your free listing directly, read and respond to reviews, and control the accuracy and completeness of your address, phone number, contact information, and photos.

We have read that an incredible 56 percent of local businesses have not claimed their listing!

Be part of the 44 percent that are taking a proactive approach to earning and responding to reviews. 

Google reviews may be important but remember that Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare reviews can be equally important. Tackle your reviews on every platform for the best results.

4. Reply to Every Review

You cannot expect to effectively manage your reviews if you don’t reply. Reply to each and every review, the good, bad, and ugly. Avoid defensive language and always be gracious and genuine.

Users seek out reviews to see what others are saying. When users stumble upon a negative review that has not been replied to, they’re only getting half of the story and they may think the business doesn’t care.

Reply promptly and offer a solution when applicable plus a prompt apology. Not only do you have the potential to win back a customer, your genuine response may sway a prospective customer.

Replies should always be conducted in a timely manner. A great rule of thumb is to reply within 24 hours Monday through Friday, and 48 hours Saturday and Sunday.

5. Encourage Customers to Review

Studies show that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust friends.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews whenever your business completes a service.

Don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave reviews. If they’re thrilled with the service you’ve provided they’ll be happy to help. Plus there is a tendency to only leave reviews when we are angry. The best way to counter a negative customer review is with 5-10 great reviews.

A few clever ways to encourage reviews is to:

  • Ask in-person once service has been provided.
  • Include a link to leave a review on your monthly newsletter.
  • Make it easy to leave reviews by adding a “Leave Us a Review” button on your website.

Set internal goals every quarter to keep momentum and ensure that the number of your reviews never go stagnant.

6. Encourage Honest Reviews

Honesty and transparency is often the best policy when it comes to handling reviews. Everyone loves to get and read five-star reviews, but they should be earned, not just given.

Genuine, honest reviews are powerful tools for business. 

Note: If you’re hovering around a 4 or 4.5 rating, don’t worry! 94 percent of customers said they’d use a business with a four-star rating and 68 percent claimed they trusted a business with a mixture of positive and negative reviews.

Don’t panic if you have mixed reviews. The silver lining is that it helps the reviews feel more authentic.

7. Listen and Learn from Your Reviews, Even the Negative Ones

Reviews are windows into the services that your business offers and how you are doing.

Negative online reviews may be the byproduct of a customer having a bad day, but if you’re receiving consistent reviews mentioning a specific service or aspect of your business, listen!

Address any issues, be it customer service concerns or a specific employee complaint. Negative reviews are also an opportunity to build your brand. Genuinely apologize and offer to help make it right when it’s warranted.

Let’s make this clear…what you don’t want to do is argue.

One of the most popular “What Not To Do” examples is the now infamous Amy’s Baking Company.

On an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay met Amy and Salomon “Samy” Bouzaglo, restaurant owners in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not only did they refuse to believe any of their negative reviews–literal dozens of reviews–they actively sought them out and argued each one.

The episode and its subjects were so abrasive and unmanageable, focusing on each negative review as though it were a personal dig, it led to eventually closing their doors permanently.

If there was ever a cautionary small business tale about the importance of reputation management, it’s that one.

8. It’s Never Too Late to Apologize

Every business has bad days, sometimes there are fires that can’t be easily put out. If your business finds itself on the wrong side of a customer engagement own up to it and apologize.

A genuine apology goes a long way online. Some customers may even respond with gratitude and understanding.

It’s not unusual on platforms like Facebook and Google, for users to even edit their review to add a star or two and an extra line. When this happens, celebrate your accomplishment!

9. Don’t Stoop Down to “Trolls”

While there is a protocol for handling negative reviews, many businesses fail to anticipate “trolls”.

A troll is internet slang for someone that consciously tries to stir the pot by posting rude and often inflammatory comments online.

If your business has the misfortune of being plagued with a troll or two, don’t panic. Don’t hesitate to block someone who is obsessively commenting, reviewing, or spreading rumors about your business.

Delete the comments if you can, attempt to assuage the review, but do not fight back with anger or spite. If you reply with a vengeance, you’re only pouring more fuel to the fire.

10. Invest In Reputation Management

These days, managing your company’s online reputation can be a full-time job. 

We guess its fair to say that a major downside to our culture and social media is that there is no real way to avoid problematic issues with being found online. It comes with the territory.

Comments and reviews can come at any hour of the day, any day of the week. An upset or frustrated customer likes to vent and they don’t take weekends or nights off!

In reality, a hardworking small business, might not have the time to respond to each comment, every review, positive or negative. Crafting response after response takes a lot of time and energy.

If you find yourself in this predicament, consider enlisting a trusted member of your team to carry the load, or ask your agency to carry the load. 

Reputation management programs vary from agency to agency and from client to client based on matching capabilities and needs.

Our experience tells us that as you grow, it’s worth a little time and money to be proactive and stay ahead of your reputation online.

Need A Helping Hand

MarketCrest is an in-house digital marketing agency offers SEO, website development, Pay-Per-Click advertising, social media, content marketing and of course reputation management services.

Sign up for an hour of free marketing consultation with our chief consultant. Our award-winning team has helped local businesses and large corporations alike take control of their digital presence.

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How Small Businesses Benefit from Fractional Marketing

How Small Businesses Benefit from Fractional Marketing

Not every business can afford to hire a top-notch marketing exec, or even have enough work to keep them busy for the price. However, pretty much any company on the planet can benefit from getting a dose of expertise from a seasoned CMO.

Whether that’s big picture consulting stuff, or deep dives into a few select problem areas, fractional marketing is a compromise. You get the benefit of having an exec on staff at a lower price. Check out some of the benefits of fractional marketing services, here.

What, Exactly is Fractional Marketing?

A fractional CMO (chief marketing executive) is an outsourced marketing expert you can hire to help you with your marketing efforts. Small and medium-sized businesses may find that they need someone on staff that can hel

Fractional Marketing

p them tackle a specific project and that their needs vary throughout the year.

Working with an expert on a project basis means that smaller budgets can still benefit from working with someone with the skills and experience needed to help you grow your company.

That could take the form of hiring a content expert who helps you implement a strategy, then helps you find quality freelance writers or digital creators that can flesh out your website.

Or, you might need help getting into the nitty-gritty of web analytics and learning how to convert data into actionable to-do items.

Sounds good so far, right? Here is a look at some of the more specific benefits of fractional marketing

Save Major Cash

One of the main reasons you should invest in fractional marketing service is, it’s an affordable way to gain access to top talent in marketing.

Unfortunately, when many companies make budget cuts, they do so at the expense of marketing, despite its boundless potential to drive sales. With a fractional CMO on hand, you’ll be able to pick and choose where those marketing dollars go. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of getting an expert’s advice on how to spend said dollars.

Help Fill in the Blanks Where Marketers are Struggling

If you have a young marketing team without much experience or a single marketer, spread too thin? In both cases, bringing on an outside marketing expert can help ease the burden, and help coach those team members with much to learn.

In this case, you’ll want to bring on the fractional CMO in a consulting capacity. Ask them if they can help you strategize and help your team learn the ins and outs of developing and implementing a marketing plan.

Over time, your team should be able to take over, develop leadership skills, or become SEO experts. Figure out where you are lacking and talk to your consultant about how you can go about fixing it.

Ultimately, you’re bound to see promising results as far as conversions are concerned, and your team will benefit from the real world education they get just by coming in to work.

A Fresh Set of Eyes

A fractional CMO provides a newfound clarity to your workplace. It’s always a smart idea to get a fresh set of eyes on the case, as an outside perspective can help you break old habits that might be hurting your business, or give you some insight into what customers see when they look at your product.

Business owners sometimes assume that they’re explaining everything to consumers in a way that makes sense, but in reality are putting out unfocused or confusing messaging. Working with an outside source can illuminate these areas at a fraction of the price it costs to hire a dedicated marketing person.

A Network of Experts–At Your Fingertips

Hire one full-time person and you probably just have access to their individual pool of knowledge. And no matter how smart and savvy your new staff member, there’s still the issue that one employee can’t be an expert in everything.

With a fractional CMO, you’ll find that this person doesn’t work alone. They probably have a team back at their office that can help them with certain tasks. If they’re a content person, they’ll be able to get you in touch with a data expert.

Revamp An Underperforming Team

If your marketing team is underperforming, you might not have the know-how to diagnose the problem, much less find a solution.

Your outsourced expert will be able to identify problems with staff, as well as weaknesses in the leadership team causing some of the problems.

Help With Digital Analytics

An excellent fractional CMO will know the ins and outs of digital analytics. If you’re not of the data-driven mindset, it can be hard to make the most out of your digital analytics, even if you’re reading all the right reports.

The CMO will be able to help you find the right software solution for your company, as well as turn reports into a to-do list your employees can use. Additionally, the fractional marketing consultant should be able to train the appropriate staff on how to run reports. And–how to use those reports to make informed decisions.

Ready to Get Fractional? Give MarketCrest a Try!

MarketCrest offers a range of marketing services, including fractional marketing. We know your marketing dollars can sometimes be the hardest to part with.

Fractional marketing can help you make the most out of a smaller budget–we’ll help with the big picture stuff, and help you hit your revenue targets through email and content marketing, SEM, and a whole lot more.

Fill out the form here to sign up for a free one-hour consultation. We’re happy to walk you through the process and get you started on the path to success.

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How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate and Improve Your Lead Conversion

Lead Conversion

Do you want to reduce your website’s bounce rate and improve your lead conversion?

If so, you aren’t alone.

Bounce rates measure the number of users leaving your website after viewing only one page.

According to ConversionVoodoo, the average bounce rate in the e-commerce industry is 33.9 percent. Even if you are on par with your competition, you will still lose nearly 3 out of every 10 visitors that land on one of your web pages.

But we can help.

Read on to learn more about how you can lower your bounce rate and produce a higher lead conversion on your website.

Improve Your Written Content

You can improve your lead conversion by improving the quality of your written content.

How?

Enhance the readability of what you write. Consider who your target audience is and what they want to read.

Are your products and services geared toward a more sophisticated consumer? If that’s the case, you can write at a higher level. If your audience is new to the industry, you may want to consider a simpler approach.

Your web content should be easy for visitors to read and understand.

Create a Smooth Browsing Experience

To maximize the value of your website to your business, you must create a smooth browsing experience for visitors.

If you don’t, you risk losing potential clients, often in the blink of an eye.

According to Amazon, a delay of just one second would cost them $1.6 billion of sales revenue each year.

Although Amazon is a reputable leader in e-commerce, this statistic shows the tremendous impact slow load times can have on any business.

You can create a positive user experience for website visitors by spending time on web design and testing the front end. This way, by the time your website reaches the public, it has few glitches.

Users will want to browse other web pages if you make it easy for them to do it. Cut down your load times and watch your bounce rate go down with it.

Add Blog Content to Your Website

Blogs allow you to increase lead conversion while also improving search engine optimization (SEO).

By writing regular blog content, you generate interest in your website while also showing your reader you are an authority in your field.

To do this, spend time researching hot topics and other trends in your industry. What are some emerging areas in your field? Are there any unique issues posed by changes in the technology your clients use each day?

Your blog content should be relevant to your audience and provide them value. If you create well-written blog content that continually interests your readers, you can create a following over time.

Blog content also has a positive impact on your website’s SEO.

According to Axonn Media, a company with blog content has 434 percent more indexed pages–pages included in search engine results–than one that doesn’t.

Open External Links in New Windows

The external links on your website should be set to open in a new window.

If they open in the existing web browser window, your visitor is immediately taken to a new website. In short, they have “bounced” from your site and may not return.

However, when external links are set to open in a new window, you eliminate that risk. Your website remains open in its existing window and you avoid a user having to use the back button to return to your content.

Multiple back button clicks for a user can result in “back button fatigue”, according to UX Movement.

For example, if your user opens an external link that doesn’t open in a new window, they’re taken directly to the external website. Then, they may click one or more links on the external site.

If they decide they want to go back to your website, they may not be able to find it easily. Clicking the back button multiple times is tedious and load times on the external site may be slower than yours.

Mobile Optimization Matters

Your website should operate seamlessly across desktop and mobile platforms. From a user’s standpoint, it matters now more than ever before.

According to StatCounter, mobile web browsing surpassed the desktop for the first time in October 2016 when 51.3 percent of users accessed the internet through a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet.

Mobile web browsing has been trending upward since 2009 when the study began. And with the continued advances in mobile web technology, it’s showing no sign of slowing down in the future.

As a business, focus on ensuring that users have the same experience on your website, whether they access it from their smartphone or laptop computer. Website optimization for mobile has never been more timely.

Wrapping Up: Improve Lead Conversion on Your Website

In today’s digital age, your website can be a potential client’s first (and only) impression of your business.

You need to make the most of this opportunity and send a positive message to that would-be client.

How can you do that?

Have a professional web design and fast load times.

But drawing a visitor to your website is only part of the process.

You need to decrease bounce rates and improve lead conversion to generate more interest in your business. More interest then creates higher revenues.

At MarketCrest, we have an award-winning team built to support your revenue goals. We’ll help your company grow and stand out from the competition. We’ll work with you to identify marketing opportunities and increase revenue.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your business develop a stronger web presence.

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Why Hiring an SEO Agency is the Secret to Growing your Business

SEO agency

Being a business owner requires wearing many hates. Some you can wear well, others you will need to pass on to someone more qualified.

How your business is represented can make or break your brand. Branding is your calling card and is often equated to meeting someone in person and handing him your business card.

The difference is, instead of meeting one person, you are meeting hundreds, thousands or many more. This is why your SEO strategy is best left to an SEO agency.

If you are tired of winging it and want to have your SEO done right, continue reading for reasons why you need to hire a professional.

You’re at the Bottom of SERPs Rankings

SERP stands for search engine result pages. A business with an online presence needs to be concerned about their ranking.

In the digital age, when consumers are in search of a particular service or product, they generally do an online search. The goal is to have your business appear on page one of the search results page.

Unfortunately, many business owners do not understand the importance of having a high ranking.

Studies show that 75% of users limit their search to the first page of the search results. An SEO agency will be able to implement a plan to get your business website to page one on Google and other search engines.

You Did Not Know Your Business Needs a Google My Business Page

If you asked, “What is that?” you need an SEO agency working for you.

An SEO service that is provided to businesses is Knowledge Graph Optimization (KGO).

KGO is how the SEO industry labels Google My Business Page (GMBP). Your business contact information, social media links, images and more, appear in the right side column of Google SERPs, when someone enters your business name.

Your GMBP can also include a Google Map, reviews and more. The process of setting up the feature begins by submitting a request to Google and going through a verification process.

A trained SEO strategist can get this done for you in no time. Now, when someone searches for your business, they will have all of your pertinent information at their fingertips.

Your Business Does Not Have a Google Virtual Tour

A business that provides a service needs a Google Virtual Tour. An SEO agency will be able to get this done and connect it to your GMBP.

A Google Virtual Tour is a 360-degree tour of your business or service? It gives the potential customer a 3D view of what your business offers before they step in the door.

If you have ever visited a hotel website, chances are there was a 360 tour option to explore guest rooms, site amenities and more. Realtors are also taking advantage of this feature.

Outsourcing SEO services can take the legwork out of this and other strategies by connecting you with professional photographers and videographers.

Your video can also be used on your website, social media and at trade shows.

An SEO Agency Can Link Your Social Media Accounts to Your Website

Today, social media is a very important aspect of brand awareness and marketing. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are SEO must-haves.

Social media helps extend your marketing reach. When used correctly it extends the reach of your website content.

Another portion of your SEO strategy will be to post links from your website to your social media pages. This will place content in front of an audience that may not know about your product, services or website.

Optimization

By optimizing your blog pages and more, via social media, you increase traffic to your website when people click on the links. The more your website links are clicked, the higher the website goes in SERPs.

SEO services can direct you to which content will do best on each social media platform. Example, professional images loaded to your website can be used on Instagram and Pinterest to promote your brand.

Links on your website for sales and promotions can be promoted via Facebook and Twitter by purchasing ADs on those platforms.

Create a Link Building Strategy

Agencies offering SEO services should also provide link building strategies to help improve your rankings. They also guide you in how to place links in the content on your websites.

There is more to link building than simply linking to outside sources within your website blog and other content blocks. You will need to understand the rankings and usefulness of the sites being linked to.

Linking also includes incorporating links from your website into new content you are producing.

Although link building is only one of many SEO tactics to improve your SERPs, the use of backlinks has been tested and proven to be an important part of your SEO strategy.

You Need Regularly Scheduled Website SEO Audits

Once you have your website optimized for SEO juice, you will need to have regularly scheduled audits performed. The purpose of SEO audits is to ensure your current strategy is still netting the best results.

Some things your SEO agency will check for in the audit are your current SERPs ranking and ways to improve it.

They will also check to ensure you are not using broken links to other websites. In addition, your page links will be checked for optimization. Also, a test can be run to see what websites may be using your webpage links.

Other tools will include keyword usage and the usefulness of your social media strategy.

Are You Ready to Get the SEO Help You Need?

We have pointed out reasons why your business may need to hire an SEO agency to improve your SERPs ranking. Finding the right service provider is like finding the right accountant.

There are plenty of companies on the market, but which one is right for you.

MarketCrest is a full-service marketing and consulting firm that offers SEO services. If you are ready to take your brand to the next level, click here to schedule your free one-hour consultation today.

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What to Check for When Performing Website Optimization

What to Check for When Performing Website Optimization

Website optimization is a necessity for businesses, organizations and every other entity with a web presence. Proper optimization and maintenance will guarantee your website functions as a meaningful marketing tool. Below, we delve into the basics of website optimization that will keep your website in tip-top shape. A website provides a positive impression that your business needs to make connections with visitors of all types.

Website optimization makes sure your site is current and found online. The presentation and functionality of your website really is an important competitive advantage across all industries.

Website Optimization: Where to Start

Set the stage for your website checks by taking some preliminary steps that will make the entire process that much more efficient. Start by installing Google Analytics and sign up for Google’s Webmaster Tools. Confirm your website, establish a backup service and coordinate daily database backups along with full site backups on a weekly basis. These should be stored on a distinct server. Several high-quality backup services can be found online, just search for them on Google.
Amazon S3, Google Drive and Dropbox are typical for remote servers.

Website Optimization: Regular Website Checks

The website should be checked at least once every week. Each page on the site’s front end should load without errors. Plugins and the Content Management System should be updated. It is not enough to perform daily backups. Take the next step by storing these backups at an off-site location. Go through the pages to find if there are any broken links. If you find spam comments on certain pages during website maintenance, remove them.

Take a close look at all forms to guarantee they are functioning as designed. If there are any 404 errors, resolve them by re-directing or remedying links. If there are any problems with emails transmitted from the web server, note and resolve them as quickly as possible.

In terms of marketing, ally with a content marketing team to help you create weekly blog posts to share with colleagues and followers.

Website Optimization at Extended Frequencies

Conduct Website Maintenance Checks Monthly, Quarterly & YearlyMonthly website optimization can commence with gauging the loading speed. If it is in excess of three seconds, discuss the matter with your web developer to enhance speed. From a marketing perspective, it makes sense to transmit a monthly update to those on your email list.

The monthly check is also the time to review security scans, Google Analytics website statistics and local searches.

Consider what your most and least popular content is and repurpose the best of it. Pinpoint the best source of conversion and specific pages visitors come from and consider optimizing them with frequently searched keywords and phrases. Analyze all of this information in-depth and alter your content as necessary.

The quarterly website maintenance check should be a thorough review. Consider what aspects of the site can be improved. Take a close look at the website content, graphics, photographs and so on. Is everything up-to-date? Consider if it is possible to enhance this content so it is more current. The quarterly website optimization is also the time to review and modify meta titles and meta description tags.

Check the uptime logs to boot. If uptime is below 99.9 percent, meet with the web host to find out how it can be improved. If the web host can’t help bring this figure up, consider the merits of other web hosts. This is also the time to check backup health by restoring the latest backup to a distinct web server.

Review the tasks performed on a regular basis and determine if they can be automated to save time and effort. Validate the site for use on mobile devices, accessibility and CSS/HTML. If you run online advertising campaigns, review and adjust them each quarter to meet goals.

The quarterly check is also an opportunity to perform some testing. Test the automated messages, forms and the website itself. Make sure the site looks good on all different types of computers, laptops and mobile devices. Alter the forms and automated messages in an effort to boost your conversions. It should automatically integrate with the CRM as well as the email marketing system.

Conduct Annual Website Checks

The annual website check is a time to consider improving the website’s user experience design as well as its aesthetic design. Implement changes as necessary to keep visitors stimulated and intrigued by the site’s presentation. Update the website footer copyright date. Renew the website domain name if necessary. Review all of the site’s pages to ensure the content is accurate and still relevant. This is also the time to review the website strategy to ensure it is fully aligned with your idiosyncratic business goals.

 

About MarketCrest, LLC:

MarketCrest, LLC is an award winning, full-service marketing firm focused exclusively on Marketing Consulting & Services that drive revenue growth. Simply, we exist to help our clients compete and grow… and we expect to be held accountable for their improved performance.

MarketCrest, LLC
105 S. Tennessee St. Suite 103
McKinney, TX 75069

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10 Ways a Digital Marketing Company Benefits Your Business

digital marketing companyThe online market is saturated, and online advertising channels are overflowing with competition. This is why hiring a digital marketing company is in your best interest.

Better marketing helps you get more attention and more traffic, convert that traffic into leads and sales, and establish relations to keep people coming back for more of your service and products.

Specifically targeting and enticing your potential customers based on their preferences and readiness to do business with you is an amazingly effective tool for business growth, but hard to do without professional help.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits.

1. Digital Marketing Lets You Tackle the Giants

Marketing is no longer only for the huge corporations with massive marketing funds. In fact, digital marketing helps level the playing field, letting smaller businesses more easily compete against bigger enterprises for their share of traffic.

You can acquire the marketing firepower and ability to make big sales which were until recently only available to big corporations.

You no longer need a call center or local branches and physical stores across the world to target different areas and niches.

2. Digital Marketing Company Cost Efficiency

Cost efficiency is the name of the game when you’re marketing a small business or startup. A digital marketing company provides better results at an affordable cost.

With so many channels and direct traffic driving, your cost-per-lead rate will stay low while sales increase.

3. Higher Conversion Rates

Online marketing success is typically measured by the percentage of incoming traffic that leads to sales, subscriptions, or service leads. Traffic that doesn’t convert to closed deals is worthless and a waste of marketing efforts.

This is why you must prioritize optimizing and streamlining your marketing campaigns to generate more conversions.

Establishing good traffic and communication via Search Engine Optimization, email marketing, and social media advertising for higher conversion rates can be very complicated without hiring a digital marketing company.

4. Increased Revenues

The increased traffic and conversion rate a digital marketing company can provide will grant you plenty of profitable benefits and growth potential, due to higher revenues.

According to this Google study, revenue growth predictions for companies with solid online marketing strategies is 2.8 times that of companies that don’t.

Google confirms this in a study with IPSOS Hong Kong, claiming 2.8 times better revenue growth expectancy for companies using digital marketing strategies to those which do not.

With a stronger profit growth potential from digital marketing, the chances of a smaller enterprise’s business expansion are 3.3 times better. This unlocks more opportunities for hiring and investing.

5. Reach Your Targeted Audience

Unlike traditional advertisement channels, internet marketing lets you target and reach out to specific audiences continually, and handle direct engagement to boost chances of success.

This channel of interaction also lets you know what your customers want, what they like about your business and what they don’t. You can develop a better relationship with your customers and gain their loyalty to your growing enterprise.

6. Digital Marketing is a Vast Platform

Not only is mobile web usage overtaking traditional web usage now that almost everyone has a smartphone, but the “Internet of Things” is also becoming a reality.

The Internet of things is a global network of integrated devices such as tablets, household appliances, gadgets, and much more – all interacting via the Internet. Not only is it high time to adapt to a primarily mobile web, but plan to ensure the future of your business by preparing the integration into this network and its potential to reach people everywhere.

A task like this is best left to a digital marketing company.

7. Solid Marketing Strategies Build Your Reputation

The generation of targeted traffic is the biggest source of digital marketing power because it lets you reach people who are already interested in your product or service and ready to look closer or even close a sale.

Maintaining a good relationship with them by delivering as promised and thus building trust will boost the conversion into regular paying customers who keep coming back for more.

Satisfied customers refer others to your business and increase your brand reputation if you do well you can even go viral and expand your reach at amazing speed.

8. Earning and Maintaining Trust

In today’s marketing world, focus has shifted toward social profiling and personalized interaction between business and customer.

People are more likely to trust information they get from someone they know. Organic testimonials from genuinely satisfied customers spread awareness and a good reputation for your brand.

By building trust with customers, the wider audience will grow to trust you more and draw more attention to your business.

9. Great CTA Design Means Higher Conversion Rates

A good digital marketing company will know the most efficient strategies to entice people and inspire desirable action to do business with you.

A good sales funnel, together with the trust you’ve built, will increase conversion rates.

The website visitor is still in control of conversion to sales or leads, not in any way compelled to initiate a transaction, but smart calls-to-action designed by digital marketing companies will make them more inclined to proceed.

A great call-to-action must deliver and entice visually and psychologically, and be efficient from a software perspective. This is what gets people excited to buy, like, download, or sign up to your business.

The innovative design of buttons and forms provided by a digital marketing company are optimized for this.

10. Let Your Business Continue to Thrive

The market is always growing and transforming, and marketing is required to be able to compete for survival.

If you don’t catch people’s eyes, you don’t get traffic, and your business will fail.

If your traffic doesn’t convert to profit, your business will fail.

If sales don’t convert to referrals and regular customers, your business can’t grow.

What you need is highly targeted traffic and a clever sales funnel that leads them to a purchase. This is what ensures survival for your business.

Do You Want a Digital Marketing Company?

If you’re looking for a digital marketing company to help grow your business, we offer a free consultation.

If you have further questions, contact us here.

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