Category Archives: About TKG

Who owns your content and why does it matter?

This shouldn’t even be a question right? Assuming your website or app is your own, it’s all certainly your content, right?

Not so fast.

Some platforms and approaches to websites or apps can rob you of the return you deserve for creating good content. Here are two very common examples.

First, we’ll look at rental websites. I can’t tell you how many companies have come to TKG over the years needing a new website with an urgent need to abandon their old one on a hard timeline. Often the reason for this dilemma is what I call “rental websites.” In other words companies that offer you a very low cost website for a minimal monthly cost. The problem with these solutions more often than not? The fine print. The provider is usually leasing you the platform and design, many times they even have rights to your actual content. They may sound fantastic: “fully hosted solution” … “turnkey websites” … “low-cost, do-it-yourself website.” They sound simple enough, but when it comes time to upgrade or move on, companies often find their hands tied when they realize they didn’t own their own website. That makes carrying your strategy forward much more difficult and expensive, especially if you’ve already gotten some traction.

Next, let’s look at subdomains. A subdomain is often used in inexpensive sites and some “apps.” If your site does not live at your domain, that can be a real problem. Let’s pretend you have a mobile site at a domain other than your own. It might look like “yourcompanyname.nameoftheappprovider.com.” From a search engine’s perspective, all of the content there belongs with the root domain it is associated with, which in this case would be “nameoftheappprovider.com.” So while you may legally own your content, the search engines don’t see it that way – and for good reason. This means that all the while that you think you are building, promoting, advertising and linking to all the great content in your app or website, you’re really just promoting content that isn’t ultimately associated with your brand. How much sense does that make? Some of these software providers may even attempt to tell you that Google and search are no longer relevant. If anyone tells you this, or you read it in their content, do yourself a favor and excuse them from your office and return to Google to continue your search for a digital partner.

I know no one wants to think about all of the geeky stuff that makes your online presence successful for your business. But it couldn’t be more important to get it right so you aren’t throwing your money away.

Feel free to contact me – or anyone on my team – if you have any questions about how it all works. We’re happy to talk geek, and can translate it to real English pretty well, too.

Digital Trends to Watch Out for in 2016

Digital Marketing WordsOnline marketing is a constantly changing industry, and with each new evolution comes a host of new challenges and opportunities. That’s why, at the end of each year, we take time to reflect on the year behind us, and think about where our industry is heading.

So as 2015 comes to a close, we’re putting together our list of digital trends that we predict will have the biggest impact in the upcoming year. Read on for an exclusive look into the digital trends projected to shake up 2016:

1. Increasing Need for Marketing Automation

Let’s be honest, most visitors won’t make a purchase the first time they visit your site. That’s because it takes time and repeat exposure to form the kinds of relationships that lead to conversions.

In order to facilitate meaningful relationships in 2016, it will become essential to filter content and tailor your messaging to meet your audience’s needs. Personalized follow-up content goes a long way in establishing relevant touchpoints with your audience, and could make a serious impact on your conversion rates.

2. Immersive, Interactive Content will be King

In 2016, interactive content will become necessary for a successful digital presence. No longer is text-based content enough to tell your story. Without immersive, visual storytelling, your content will simply not be as effective in 2016.

Here’s a particularly compelling example from BuzzStream: In 2013, the most popular pieces of content from both BuzzFeed and the New York Times had something in common. And it was not that they were well-researched, journalistic pieces. They were quizzes. And this trend is not going away. As we move into the New Year, effective content will need to actively engage your audience. Passive content simply won’t cut it.

3. Data Will Help Guide Digital Efforts

Consumer behavior has become increasingly complex in recent history, a trend that we expect to continue into 2016. More sophisticated data analysis will be necessary in the New Year in order to understand this complex consumer behavior and guide digital marketing efforts going forward.

If you’re not thinking about customer relationship management, usability or cross-channel marketing, you’re likely doing your audience and your business a disservice. By understanding the ways in which your users interact with your brand in the digital space, you are much more likely to be successful in your digital marketing efforts.

4. Mobile Marketing is No Longer Optional

The use of mobile marketing will continue to be one of key digital trends in 2016. In order for your website and supporting marketing materials to be effective, they must lend themselves to an easy, streamlined mobile experience.

Trust us; geo-targeting, social advertising and responsive design are not just passing fads. As marketers learn more about the ways users interact with their mobile devices, they will continue to push the envelope of mobile marketing – and it’s important that your business doesn’t fall behind.

From responsive design to social and content marketing, TKG has the skills and resources to help you prepare your online presence for the New Year. Contact a member of our team to discuss your digital needs for the upcoming year.

Have other predictions for 2016’s biggest digital trends? Share them in the comments!

Interactive Content is the New Content

What is interactive content? It’s content that engages your users beyond clickable links and calls to action. The 21st century website user demands content that he or she can digest, use and interact with. He or she is selective about which websites he or she engages with, and which websites ultimately get his or her business. While having those important written components on your website are absolutely crucial to pick up Google’s feelers, in order to add that extra “oomph” to your website, you should add some interactive content.

Let’s look at five ways you can add interactive content to your site:

  1. Photos/videos: They may seem so simple, but a good photo gallery of your projects (before, during and after completion) can go a long way. Add calls to action or invite users to submit their own photos of the work you’ve completed for them and you’ll have even more photos to add to your gallery.Videos also play a crucial role in developing interactive content. Use videos to introduce your company to website users, hold a contest (see below), demonstrate case studies, show your business in action or to empower your audience to take action.
  2. Social media: Your company should be have some sort of social media presence. Period. Whether you’re active among all social channels or just dipping your toes into LinkedIn or Google+, make sure you take the time to nurture your accounts and community management. Don’t take the power of social media for granted. On a smaller scale, social media allows you to easily handle issues with customers on a public forum. But you can also use social media to create interactive content. Invite your users to share their experiences with your brand. Ask users for recipes using your product or to submit photos/videos of them interacting with your product. If you’re a service-based industry, ask them to who their favorite person to work with in your office is. No matter what industry, there’s always a way to create interactive content for your users.
  3. Contests: Who doesn’t love to win something free? If your users see you giving away a gift card or product on your site or through social media, they will flock to your contests. This method has been very successful with some of our clients, especially those who give away branded or consumable products. Hold a contest online or through your social media channels asking users to “like” or “comment” or “retweet” your posts and just watch your engagement and brand trust grow.
  4. Challenges: Similar to contests, challenges pose another way to engage your users and to get them involved in your product. One of our clients, Clearwater Systems Ohio, a water softener company, recently held a “Drink More Water Challenge” that was met with great success. Users even took the challenge in a completely unplanned direction by boasting how much water they drank each day—something that wasn’t even written into the contest!
  5. Quizzes: If you’re appealing to the younger generation, a quiz is a perfect way to build brand trust and to interact with users. You can write your quiz to lead users to answers to questions like “Which product am I?” or you can write quizzes that are relevant to your industry, such as the quizzes we wrote for one of our jewelry clients.

Interactive content empowers your users through social media channels or through your website and helps them understand and interact with your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “fun” brand like food or candy or an industrial brand, you can absolutely benefit from interactive content.

The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry

blackberry_logo-brokenWe all remember the “CrackBerry” craze during the early 2000’s. Everywhere you went you saw both business professionals and everyday people typing away on a small device, the BlackBerry. The company had all of America in the palm of their hand, so what happened that we don’t all have Blackberries in the palm of ours? The fall of BlackBerry is still a wonder to most people. How can a company with almost 50% of the smartphone market in 2010 fall all the way to a measly 5% in just a matter of 5 years?

Blackberry was formed in 1984. Originally named Research In Motion (RIM), they worked in the market of wireless point-of–sale equipment as well as modems and pagers. RIM was the first to make the transition from pager to handheld computer and eventually to the smartphone we came to love.

In 1998 the first “BlackBerry” was launched. The name Blackberry came from the appearance of patented keyboard design which was easy for typing with thumbs. This first BlackBerry caught the attention of not only consumers but other companies such as IBM and BellSouth (which eventually became AT&T).

The craze continued to build as they launched devices slowly resembling more and more the Blackberry that commonly comes to mind when thinking of the company. With the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, BlackBerry made their first mistake that lead to their fall. Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin viewed the iPhone as a toy and not as a serious competitor, saying that consumers don’t want to type on glass when they can type on real keys. They felt as though they had secured a loyal fan base of both business professionals and everyday consumers.

BlackBerry peaked in 2010 with an estimated worth of $77 Billion and a 50% share of the smartphone market. In this year they launched their first touchscreen phone as well as their most popular phone, BlackBerry Bold.

In 2011 Apple launched the original iPad which tested the potential of the tablet market. Trying to get a piece of that market, BlackBerry made their second mistake. By assigning more engineers to work on developing a tablet of their own, the development of phones slowed. Unfortunately, their tablet, the PlayBook, was launched and instantly flopped. This started the never ending game of catch up which ultimately caused their downfall.

In addition, BlackBerry delayed the launch of their new operating system, BlackBerry 10. Originally planned to be released in 2011, it was pushed back to 2012 which didn’t actually launch until 2013. Although BlackBerry had more experience over their iOS and Android competitors in the smartphone market, with this delay they had lost their lead. By this point, Android devices were into their fourth major generation and Apple iOS was on its sixth generation of operating system.

It is currently unknown what BlackBerry plans to do. It is rumored that they are on the search for a buyer, which raises more questions. Who would buy a company that has fallen so far behind? Will the company be sold as parts or as a whole? What will the buyer plan to do with the company? All these are likely to be answered soon.

As for now, we can sit back and learn from the rise and fall of Blackberry. There are clearly more than a few things that lead to their demise but we’ll focus on a few of the big mistakes and see how they can apply to any business.

  • They ignored the competition Keeping an eye on your competitors is very important. When you don’t pay attention to what they are doing you lose track of the direction the industry is heading.
  • They didn’t focus on their bread and butter – Every business specializes in some area. In the case of BlackBerry it was their smartphones. By taking away resources from their specialty and trying to focus on another aspect (the tablet market) they fell behind and lost what made them a successful business in the first place.
  • They didn’t stay up to date – The biggest and most obvious mistake BlackBerry made was not staying up to date. They felt that they had a large and loyal fan base and didn’t have to worry about having the newest, flashiest technology and products. Meanwhile, their competitors were making large advancements. By the time BlackBerry realized this it was too late to catch up and they had lost many of their “loyal” customers. A business can never assume that they have loyal customers. By constantly striving for improvements the chance of losing client base is greatly reduced.

In all honesty, it’s sad to see a company lead an industry and rise to the top only to be taken down by a series of poor decisions. But there are lessons to learn from the misfortune of BlackBerry. Keeping an eye on the competition, focusing on what makes your business special and keeping up to date with the industry we’ve all learned to be crucial.

Is it time to update your site? Contact us with any questions and we will be happy to help you.

What I’ve Learned at TKG

I have been interning here at TKG for a little over two months. Sometimes it feels like time has flown. With just a few short weeks left I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time here and what I’ve learned.

what ive learned_edited

With this internship brought many firsts. My first internship, I couldn’t have asked for a better company to intern with. As anyone would be, I was a little nervous to start the job. From day one each and every employee was kind and helpful. It also brought my first look into the industry. We learn all about business in school, but learning isn’t doing. The Karcher Group set a good program for a first time intern to lead me into the world of marketing and web design. Being that all my previous jobs were outdoor labor intensive jobs (such as grounds crew on a golf course) this is my first office job. For those who have worked both types of jobs you know how different they are. There was a period of adjustments and a learning curve.

Since being here I have worked on various projects ranging from social media libraries for clients to assisting in the development of a new site. With these I learned programs to complete the project including content management systems and Google Analytics and have become Google Analytic certified. With each project I find it becomes easier to know exactly what we want the end result to be and how to get there. I’ve also been able to see which parts on the industry I love and which parts maybe not so much.

They say that happy employees are hardworking employees. At The Karcher Group I’ve been able to see how true that really is. There seems to be something going on almost every day. With employees riding scooters through the office, playing foosball, darts, and pool it’s clearly a fun work environment. At a glance it may look like it is all fun and games but employees here play hard and work harder. In fact, each month an employee is elected by fellow employees and awarded the brain award for outstanding work and get to spin for various prizes from gift cards to extra vacation days. This is just one of the ways they show appreciation for the hard work put in by their employees.

As a first time intern I really had no idea what to expect. Going based off the stereotypical intern I thought I would be getting coffee and doing all the stuff around the office no one else wanted to. Within the first week I knew it was anything but a typical internship. I was already being taught programs and tools on the first day and was given projects shortly after. Although I only have a few short weeks left I have really enjoyed my time at TKG and am excited to see what I can learn in my remaining time.

Good Customer Service is Good Communication

customer serviceEmails that never get answered … phone calls that take forever to get returned … meetings that continually get cancelled at the last minute … projects that get derailed with no explanation. What happened to great customer service?

At TKG, we pride ourselves on excellent customer service. We truly believe that our customer service sets us apart from the competition. It hits at the core of who we are as a business – and we take it pretty seriously.

When you strip it down to bare bones, what is customer service? I think it all comes down to really good communication skills. And I don’t mean talking either.

These are just a few things I think are important in good communication:

  • Listen more than you talk
  • Be concise
  • A little friendliness goes a long way
  • Empathy keeps you humble

Customers have needs. Those needs can be as simple as a question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” or as complicated as setting an entire marketing strategy. The one common thread that keeps both of these scenarios on track is communication.

Communication is all about setting expectations and then doing something really crazy like following through and doing what you promised. Crazy, I know! But if you nurture that tiny little component in any relationship, you will be a very popular person. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

Something else that affects great customer service is that disappointment can creep into reality (never at TKG though!) and affect your relationships. Disappointment can come in the form of something like a delayed schedule. But if you go the extra mile for your customer and get ahead of the curve to let them know about that delay, most people will understand.

I’m in the business of taking care of customer needs. Some of my most valuable lessons have been learned when I’m playing the part of the customer in my personal life. I know what it feels like to get good customer service. It makes me feel good.

Have you experienced great customer service? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

Image Credit

Advertising Agencies Are Not Web Experts

There seems to be some confusion out there in our industry. Oh, the pain.

Is it any wonder that businesses looking for a new website are sometimes confused or frustrated by the process? And rightfully so, after what I’ve been hearing about what some advertising agencies are doing to their clients.

Agencies Are Struggling to Adapt

It is no secret that the advertising world has changed. Back in the day when print was king, advertising agencies ruled with fantastic design, creative ideas and expertise in branding through use of different print channels. But times have changed; and now, the traditional agencies are trying to reinvent themselves by claiming to be experts in web development and web marketing. How do I know this? I often deal with the aftermath of the havoc that some have brought upon their unsuspecting victims (er, clients).

Agencies aren’t usually adequately staffed to build and support websites. If they need to build a site for a client, they typically rely on resources outside of their agency for website programming, coding of pages and maybe even design. What tends to happen with this lack of a team approach, though a beautiful-looking website may come out of it, is that it can quickly become disjointed with no web marketing strategy to support it. There’s no real plan with substance, you know?

And if there needs to be complicated programming, will the advertising agency that is great at print, billboards and bus wraps be able to find the skillset to deliver the technical know-how? It’s a coin toss.

TKG has a unique approach to the web that allows our clients to stand out in the digital space with a beautiful, functional and well-strategized website – and we’ll be here to support it long after launch.

tkg difference

More Questions: Traffic and Hosting?

How will search traffic be impacted when your new website replaces the old site? Will your traditional advertising agency know how to preserve search engine rankings (e.g. web traffic) so that your business does not suffer the consequences? And who will host the site? Some third party company, no doubt.
If your business or organization has a website, that means you are looking for traffic, and most importantly, leads/sales from it. If that is not the key motive behind every decision in creating a new site, it’s a safe bet your site may look good but do nothing for your business.

Account Manager Offer: Can We Help You?

Often we are solicited to help companies with web marketing and web development after they have had their website built and launched by an advertising agency. We can improve your website to best speak to its audience, present the most important information, grow traffic and boost leads/sales.

Do you have a beautiful website that isn’t producing results? We can fix it! Give me a call and tell me about what isn’t working on your current site.

The Truth!

The saying goes something like “sometimes the truth hurts”. Our main goal here at TKG is to help our clients. Help them grow their sales. Help them look better online. Help them say things in a better way.

So our clients look to us as the expert, which fortunately for them, we are!  Looking for guidance online they don’t have currently or that they have been following for so long, its no longer working.

It’s our opportunity and often challenge then with our clients to be brutally honest (often first asking for permission) to give them the truth. Often trampling all over the website their son built for them or that favorite past employee or even better, the ad agency they have been with (and best friends) for 135 years.Truth in Business

We are charged to do the research and digging to help our clients succeed online, not just tell them what they want to hear. This often starts though with a review of what they are currently doing wrong. Not often a favorite conversation.

This leads to another saying “the truth shall set you free!” If you are a business looking for web marketing services, be prepared for the truth – as any vendor worth anything should be willing to give you. The truth in what works. The truth in what does not, and possibly, the truth in mistakes you have made in the past that have cost you business.

Don’t be afraid of the truth, embrace it. After all, it is what you are paying your online partner for and they should be providing if they truly are going to impact your business and goals.

If you still are feeling a bit unsure, check this out – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FnO3igOkOk.

Share with me in the comments, can you handle the truth?

photo credit

 

My First Days as a Web Marketing Specialist at TKG!

I joined The Karcher Group as a Web Marketing Specialist on September 1st and as I look back over the last 3 months, in ways the time has felt like it has flown by and yet it feels like I have been here for years.Aaron Lehman

When I interviewed here at The Karcher Group I was very skeptical if they were who they said they were. I was told in the interview that working at TKG is an absolute blast and that TKG is a huge family that is very tight nit. They also told me that they value their employees and their families. They claimed that one of their values were to respect their employees time with their families. Needless to say, I left the interview thinking “I have to get this job. This is the career that I have been looking for. However, at some point on my drive home I felt the pessimistic side of my personality come out. I remember thinking, I have been told these things before. I have been told I would have fun. I have been told by employers that they value my family.

optimist-pessimism-realismI was offered the position and when I came on board I was very nervous. A lot of that nervousness was because I expected it to not be fun. Some would call me a pessimist, I would argue a realist.

The first couple weeks were pretty rough trying to get to know everyone while learning a new position, but after awhile I began to really connect with some of my fellow TKG-ers. After some pool tournaments and a few company outings, I realized I had in fact found the place I was meant to be at.

Those early games of pool opened up the flood gates. It loosened up my corporate understanding of what working hard was. It forced me to UN-tuck my dress shirt and relax a little bit. As I was gaining perspective on the phrase “WORK HARD, PLAY HARD” I started and continue to gain perspective on the group at TKG. This group is tight nit. They are a team. They are a team that gets results, a team that cares about each other. This truly is a family. They are in it together. I am very excited about to be a part of this group and I look forward to working with these people for years to come.