By Chris Searles
The MessengersJun 20, 2019
How to Work with a Marketing or Advertising Agency
Working with outside agencies like PR firms, advertising agencies, and marketing agencies can cause a lot of problems for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Should you hire an outside agency at all? If so, do you need an advertising agency, a marketing company, or a PR firm? Do you need to hire more than one? All three?
Mostly that starts with understanding what each of those agencies can and will do for you, and what they won't. All these topics and more covered in this episode of The Messengers podcast (https://messengers.blog)!
Cost vs Value
Price comparison shopping has become so prevalent that it's starting to have negative consequences for business owners and consumers who only look at price without evaluating the value provided by both low- and higher-cost options.
How cheap or expensive an item is doesn't have anything to do with the size of the price tag; it's all about how much value you get for what you spend. This episode is a deep dive on evaluating your options beyond just the price tag.
Digital Printing vs Offset Printing
Digital printing is a relative newcomer in the world of printed media and we often face a lot of questions with regard to when we choose to use one process over the other. On this episode of The Messengers podcast (https://messengers.blog), Chris Searles (www.christophersearles.com) and Rob Seifert of Searles Graphics (www.searlesgraphics.com) discuss the differences between digital printing and offset printing, the pros and cons of each print process, and when you might choose to use one instead of the other.
Cyber Security Basics
Many business and individuals are guilty of failing to follow the most basic of cyber security steps to protect their own information, and the personal information of their employees and customers.
Far too often we see the lack of simple procedures result in data breaches, stolen credit cards, identity theft, financial issues, and massive headaches for everyone involved.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles (www.christophersearles.com) and Rob Seifert discuss the most basic of security procedures and policies that all businesses should follow.
Even if you don't own a business, there is a ton of information in this episode on how individual people can keep their personal information safe from attackers.
Visit https://messengers.blog for full episode notes and more from The Messengers!
How to Set a Marketing Budget
One of the hardest things for entrepreneurs and small business owners to wrap their heads around when it comes to marketing and advertising their business is how much they should be spending on those activities. In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss the issue of budgeting your marketing and advertising activities, with specific detail about how much you should actually be spending and the proper way to account for those expenses.
Visit https://messengers.blog for full show notes, including links to all of the resources mentioned in this episode!
Many entrepreneurs and businesses spend far too much time, effort, and money on logo design.
While your logo holds some importance, it’s not the make-or-break endeavor that many make it out to be.
Whether it’s spending too much on logo design, or agonizing over details that won’t matter at all to your business, mistakes happen in the logo design process all the time.
On the other hand, there are a number of important elements when it comes to choosing a logo designer that need to be considered, but don’t need to cost a fortune.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss some of the common logo design pitfalls they see entrepreneurs and marketers fall into, as well as the misconceptions many hold when it comes to understanding what a logo is actually supposed to do.
They provide important information you should be sure to discuss with your logo designer to make sure your logo will work across all mediums, and get into everything from digital vs. print color-palettes to whether or not your logo should be updated and at what frequency.
Visit https://messengers.blog to find links to your favorite podcast or streaming service, or click here to subscribe to The Messengers on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_q1Z9BVf0HnSIcGUXs_jqA).
How to Use Google Analytics
Deploying your website is just step one in the long process of maximizing that shiny new domain name you just purchased. All of the effort getting things just right is wasted if you’re not measuring the performance of your website, and then making changes based on the results you see.
Modern analytics tools– the most common and accessible being Google Analytics– make measuring your website’s effectiveness simple.
Unfortunately, even for many who see the value in analyzing their analytics data, they’re often left overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that’s presented to them
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert provide an overview on the features of Google Analytics to help demystify the platform. They provide examples of how they use Google Analytics to improve the performance of their websites, and share some of the concerns and mistakes they see clients make using the platform for their own business.
They discuss everything from finding out how people are getting to your website, using Google Analytics to identify which pages of your website are serving user’s needs and which ones aren’t, how to use Google Analytics to see what parts of your website are the most engaging and, most importantly, how to use Google Analytics to drive sales.
Visit https://messengers.blog to find links to your favorite podcast or streaming service and to get the latest from The Messengers!
How to Use Direct Mail to Supercharge Your Marketing
To some, direct mail sounds like an outdated marketing method. But with the oversaturation we’re seeing in digital marketing mediums, it’s as (or more) effective than ever. In fact, for many marketers, it’s the single best direct response marketing medium they have.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert of Searles Graphics discuss the benefits that direct mail marketing can bring to a business and how they’ve managed to use direct mail to make a difference for their own clients.
They discuss the various ways you can get a mailing piece to your target audience, how to build or acquire your mailing list, and how to deal with post office regulations (we know it can be hard). They also touch on the actual design of your direct mail marketing, and how to maximize the effectiveness of your direct mail piece through creative and intelligent design.
Redesigning Your Website the Right Way
Keeping your website up-to-date can be one of the most difficult tasks for a small business. Very few small businesses and entrepreneurs are able to dedicate personnel to this task, which means it usually falls by the wayside until it gets so bad it can no longer be ignored. At that point, it comes time to make a decision on whether you’re looking at an update or a complete, ground-up rebuild.
It would be nice if there was a rule we could follow, such as “if it has been X years since you did Y, you need to start from scratch.” Unfortunately the real answer isn’t so straightforward.
We discuss some of the technical aspects behind rebuilding a website for a business, how to identify when a website needs a full redesign, how to use the data that your current website provides to optimize rather than rebuild, and most importantly, what you should be doing to turn views and clicks into revenue for your company.
Everything You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be one of the hardest aspects of digital marketing. But with the majority of people picking from the first page of Google’s search results when they need a service or product, organic search optimization is a critical part of any comprehensive marketing strategy.
And with paid search engine advertising being more prominent than ever, navigating the Google landscape can be more confusing than ever.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss what SEO is really all about, debunk some of the myths that seem to permeate small businesses about search engine optimization, and provide best practices that they implement for their own clients.
They discuss balancing search advertising and organic search results, what you can do to boost your own rankings, understanding what your potential customers are actually searching for and how to beat the competition. They also explain how a consistent content stream, relevant to your searchers’ interests is the most important way to set yourself apart from everybody else.
Don't forget to visit https://messengers.blog for the latest from The Messengers!
Using Data to Inform Design Decisions
No matter the particular marketing piece, the goal is to drive the user/reader/listener/viewer to take an action.
Your design might be a masterpiece, but it's unlikely to drive revenue to your business if your only goal is for it to look nice. Driving action is about designing for results, not aesthetics alone.
Real marketing is designed based off real data. When designing an interactive piece like a website, using heat maps or tracking click-through rates can help determine what parts of the design are actually working, even if you’re not personally thrilled with the way they look.
Design is subjective, data isn’t.
They discuss why it’s difficult to separate yourself from your design biases and understand why data is such an important factor in the layout of websites and other marketing materials. They also identify some common data-gathering techniques you can use for your own marketing materials to identify what’s working and resonating with your users, and what elements are missing the mark.
Facebook Advertising 101
Facebook advertising can be incredibly valuable ... but it can also be daunting or, even worse, a complete waste of money if not done properly.
We often see money being thrown at the platform without measuring any meaningful metrics. Other times it's someone that's excited they can spend $5 to boost a post only to realize they heavily underestimated what they need to spend to get the results they really want.
Marketing on Facebook is a mix of determining and managing realistic budgets, targeting the right people, and creating content those people actually want to see and engage with.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss the common issues that they’ve seen many first time Facebook marketers have to work through and how to optimize your Facebook ads to deliver real results.
Promotional Items that Actually Work!
Promotional items can be largely hit-or-miss.
On one hand, your t-shirts, pens, and notepads could do a great job at keeping your company name in your customers’ minds, hitting the most important marketing element there is: Frequency.
But on the other hand, you might just end up wasting your money on stuff that nobody actually wants. You could end up spending thousands just to have these items go right into the garbage.
While giving a free t-shirt with your logo on it to every customer might seem like cheap and easy advertising, it doesn’t mean anything if that customer never wears it.
They discuss what giveaways they’ve seen work and what they’ve seen that’s just fallen flat. They also break down how cost factors in, and give advice on why cutting corners and why cutting corners and going cheap is just a waste of money.
Don't forget to visit messengers.blog for more!
It Doesn't Pay to Be an A$$h*&^%
"The most underrated skill in business is being nice." - Mark Cuban
We've seen firsthand how true that is. Cultivating positive working relationships with your customers, vendors and employees seems to be an underdeveloped skill for a lot of people these days. Whether it's because we're always too busy to take the time or too disengaged with the people directly in front of us or on the other end of the phone or screen, far too many people forget that it simply pays to be nice to your fellow human beings.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert talk about their experience building these relationships in their own business and explain how accepting short-term losses in the name of doing the right thing by people can lead to long-term success.
They discuss why people you work with are more inclined to help you out when you create and maintain a relationship based on mutual respect and empathy. They also talk about how being demanding or just plain rude can negatively affect you and your business over the long term.
Does Your Business Need a Mobile App?
In an increasingly-mobile world, a custom mobile app for your business might seem like a surefire way to drive revenue and make what you offer more convenient for your customers.
Unfortunately, most people underestimate the time and costs that actually go into designing, building, and maintaining an app. It’s not just the upfront costs either; an app needs to be designed for both iOS and Android devices, and rigorously maintained to support hundreds of devices and remain compatible with the newest software updates.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert (Searles Graphics) discuss their experience working with companies looking for app design, some of the misconceptions that a lot of people have about the costs involved in software development, and the process for evaluating whether your business actually needs a custom mobile app at all.
Should You Invest In Content Marketing?
Modern marketing is all about effective storytelling.
Fortunately, the tools to tell those stories have never been more accessible.
The problem is, the inexpensive nature of many of those tools leads many to believe content marketing is cheap and easy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Content marketing can be an invaluable tool, but doing it right requires dedication, perseverance, and patience.
Without investing in quality content and active and consistent promotion (and sticking with it through the rough beginning stages), putting something like a blog on your website can be more of a hindrance than a help.
In this episode of the Messengers Podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss their experiences with content marketing and share some of the misconceptions about content and promotion they regularly encounter with clients and prospects.
The duo explains why these tools can be invaluable if used properly, but can occasionally do more harm than good and why many people underestimate the amount of time that’s needed for both creating and also promoting their original content.
You Can't Out-Walmart Walmart
Many small businesses often feel like their biggest threat is competition, especially from large corporations.
While competition certainly plays a role in the success or failure of any business, very few businesses fail because of competition alone.
On the other hand, one of the biggest threats all businesses face is time. Most businesses fail because they fail to innovate, change with the times, and keep up with advancements in technology and consumer demands.
A lack of foresight into the developments that can make your business obsolete is a greater threat than any competitor could ever be.
In this episode, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert share their thoughts on why too many entrepreneurs find themselves in the wrong business, fighting the wrong fights to stay alive rather than working to innovate.
Darrah Brustein: Designing Your Life
The Messengers are back, this time with special guest Messenger, Darrah Brustein.
Darrah is the founder of Network Under 40, an Atlanta Georgia based business meant to help young professionals with networking and relationship building as they enter the workforce.
She’s also a founding partner at Equitable Payments and a contributor at Forbes and Entrepreneur.com.
In this episode, Chris and Rob speak with Darrah about the paths they took to get where they are, entrepreneurship, and how to reevaluate your career by first deciding what you want your life to look like, and then designing what you do based on what you want to get out of your life.
In this episode, The Messengers discuss:
- The state of college education in the United States
- Deciding what you love and designing your career to help support the life you want
- The difficulties and challenges of forming your own career path
My Biggest Failure (So Far) ... and What I Learned
It’s inevitable that every entrepreneur, business owner, and professional is going to experience failure.
What distinguishes successful entrepreneurs is the way they handle failure when it happens. They learn from it, analyze where they went wrong, and make sure to never make those same mistakes again.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles shares his biggest professional failure (to date) and does a post-mortem with Rob Seifert (Searles Graphics) to look at where they went wrong and how it should have been handled in hindsight.
By delving into what they should have done differently, The Messengers hope to help others avoid the same mistakes in their own businesses.
Balancing Creativity and Clarity in Your Marketing & Advertising
The perfect advertising campaign is a well-balanced mix of creativity and clarity. The idea is to make the message memorable while not losing the clarity of the product or service you're selling in the process.
Often, marketers or businesses lean too far to one side of that formula. This means that their advertising is either too uninteresting or too crowded to actually grab someone's attention, or too complex for anyone to easily understand the message.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert (Searles Graphics) discuss some of the obstacles they’ve faced crafting advertising campaigns for themselves and their clients.
The hosts go over their own struggles balancing memorable advertising with a clear message and discuss some world-class examples of great ad design coming from companies like Geico and Absolut Vodka.
Should You Hire a Professional Photographer?
In today’s digital landscape, photo and video are the two main driving forces behind modern marketing campaigns. No matter how good the copy is, supplemental photos and video will always play a huge role.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs believe they can cut costs by doing their own photography, either by investing in a nice DSLR camera or just using the HD cameras that come equipped on high-end smartphones.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss specific situations where a DIY approach works and others where hiring a professional is the right move.
They go into detail about the differences between a professional job and an amateur job to help you decide if hiring a professional makes sense for the marketing piece you're working on.
It's Not About You! Always Put the User First
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when working on marketing is worrying too much about what they like and not enough about what their customers or prospects will respond to.
When creating a marketing strategy, it’s imperative to put yourself in the head of the client, and realize that your wants and needs are a distant second to the wants and needs of the people you're trying to reach.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss the ways that companies often fail by crafting a marketing strategy based more around what they want instead of what the customer needs.
Text Marketing Delivers Big Results
Boasting open rates that approach 100% and action rates nearly 20x higher than email, text message (SMS) marketing is a much more efficient way to communicate with highly-engaged customers and prospects.
Strict opt-in controls coupled with simple and effective opt-out mechanisms are currently keeping the medium from being watered down the way email has become.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert of Searles Graphics discuss the success they’ve seen implementing text message marketing for their own clients. They go over what makes this service so much more successful than a traditional email list, some of the initial skepticism their clients had, and how the service ended up exceeding their expectations.
Customer Service is an Investment, Not an Expense
We’ve noticed a trend that a lot of businesses believe customer service is an easy place to save on costs.
Customer service is one of the primary areas in your business that needs to be invested in, not an opportunity to cut costs to the bone.
On this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert of Searles Graphics discuss the things companies do that make or break customer service, with real world examples of customer service is done right … and wrong.
The upfront costs to expand customer service resources will always be outmatched by the value of customer satisfaction, referrals, and return visits.
Should You Outsource Your Social Media?
Many small businesses make the mistake of either looking at the wrong metrics when analyzing their social media platforms or outsourcing their social media altogether with the expectation that they can just be hands-off and having any presence on social media is better than none at all.
On this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert of Searles Graphics discuss the ways that you construct your own social media strategy by setting meaningful goals and then determining who is best equipped to handle the content and management of your social media platforms with those goals in mind.
Marketing is Meaningless if You’re Not Measuring Your Results
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert address the issue of measuring whether you’re getting a return out of the investment you’re making in the marketing efforts for your business or non-profit.
Deciding what your marketing will look like and where you'll place it is only half the battle. Without a detailed plan for measuring the results of your efforts, it’s impossible to make the appropriate adjustments necessary for long-term success.
This episode discusses specific details about the difference between brand marketing and direct marketing (including why they should be measured differently), and provides recommendations on how to measure your own efforts.
New Marketer's Guide to Buying Print
The print buying process can be confusing for new business owners or new marketers. Chris and Rob spent some time on the latest episode of The Messengers podcast talking through some of the more common questions clients have when they don’t have a lot of experience in buying printing to help ensure you end up with a piece that works for you.
The Power of Saying No - Turning Down Work
The most successful companies aren’t the ones that take any business that walks through the door, but ones that know their ideal customer and have the courage to say no to customers that aren’t right for them.
In this episode of The Messengers podcast, Chris Searles and Rob Seifert discuss understanding your market and the power of saying no.
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Identifying Under-served Markets
New co-host Rob Seifert joins Chris Searles for the first time to discuss Valentine's Day promotions and ways to identify under-served and under-represented markets throughout the year.
Social Media ROI
John and Chris discuss how to track the return on your social media investment; what big brands and businesses are doing well and where they're falling short, and what small businesses and marketers can do to make sure they're investing their money wisely.
Holiday Marketing Tips
On this episode, The Messengers (Chris Searles & John Finnerty) discuss specific tips you can use to up your marketing and advertising game this holiday season, along with some helpful advice on what to do once the holidays are over.
Introduction to the Messengers & Marketing Buzzwords
In this episode, Chris and John introduce themselves and their backgrounds, what sparked their interest in producing a podcast together, and touch on a number of topics including entrepreneurship, marketing buzzwords and what "digital marketing" really means, Chris' first beer, and John growing up in a mirror-filled wonderland.