Category Archives: Karcher Group News

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.

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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.

How to Avoid Social Media Slip-ups

Okay, let’s talk about your social media plan.

If you have one in place, great. If you are still asking yourself what a social media plan is, that’s okay too. You’re in the right place.

Chances are, if your business has a social media presence, you’ve had to deal with some strange comments, unsatisfied customers or even downright nasty reviews. And the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to experience these encounters. Social media mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can avoid them harming your business by following the steps below:Social media symbols

PREVENTION

  • Have a Plan: Always have a plan that outlines what to do in the event of a crisis. Are you suddenly getting bad reviews because of a defective product? Has one of your employees delivered less-than-exceptional customer service? Make sure you have a plan on how to deal with comments, @ mentions, reviews or if your business page goes viral in a bad way.
  • Bring in the Experts: Do you have someone dedicated to watching your accounts? You should. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes monitoring your social media presence, but a trained PR person will be able to react to just about any situation that comes up. You should have someone dedicated to at least several hours a week — maybe more depending on the size of your business and the size of your social media following — to managing posts and interacting with the users on your pages.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

  • Act Quickly: Do not let complaints or issues on social media sit without response. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours – but within a few hours is ideal. In today’s fast-paced world, the people reading your business page and watching your social media accounts are watching around the clock. They expect answers to questions as soon as they ask. Can you keep up? Because you’re expected to. If you let a negative comment or review sit for long enough, it will turn into an even bigger problem. Do what you can to nip it in the bud early and move the conversation offline.
  • Start a (Public) Conversation: Your customers and potential customers will be watching you to see how you react to the issue and they will judge your company’s morals and standards based on your reaction. The good thing about social media is that if you handle these types of issues promptly and professionally, lots of people will see it. The bad thing about social media is, well, if you handle it poorly, lots of people will see it.
  • Don’t Delete: Never delete comments, tweets or reviews. When you delete comments or try to “cover up” what your customers or potential customers are saying, you will start to lose your reputation and the trust that people have placed in you or your products. Instead, use the opportunity to be real with your audience while reacting and responding appropriately.
  • With that Being Said…There are some fires that you shouldn’t even bother putting out. Offensive language and all-out attacks must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are dealing with someone online who you just cannot get through to, ask them to contact your business or organization so that you can handle the matter privately. If someone is attacking others or using foul language or refusing to work with you towards a solution, it’s okay to pull the plug and walk away.

AFTER THE FACT

  • Apologize and Move On: If you truly made a mistake, own up to it. We are no longer dealing with the days of putting out a press release to cover up a mistake. Our social media world does not allow it. Admit you made a mistake, apologize for what you did, and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it and what you will do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Coming clean and moving on will make your brand stronger and your customers will trust you more in the long run.

At the end of the day, your business needs to understand the power of social media and how professionally-run social media pages can make a world of difference. If you have a solid plan on how to handle negative remarks, comments or reviews, your business will benefit greatly from it in case of an emergency.

Spotlight On The City of Green, Ohio

City of Green Responsive Website

The City of Green, Ohio (CoG) identified a need to refresh and redesign their old website (http://www.cityofgreen.org) that was originally designed and hosted by TKG.

Green has changed pretty dramatically since the former site was created. It is now a bustling suburban community with more than 25,000 residents. Some small farms still dot the landscape, amid 530-acres of city-owned parkland, homes and subdivisions, office parks, businesses and recreation facilities.

Their website served the community well, but a lack of updating meant that it couldn’t be viewed on some devices, specifically mobile. More than 80% of traffic to their website were returning visitors on a weekly or monthly basis, so it was important that they have a site that could be viewed on the go.

At the same time, and most importantly, the website needed a review and restructuring of the existing content to improve relevance and improve findability (it’s a word, look it up!).

Valerie Wolford - City of Green

For the pivotal task of reviewing and restructuring existing content, we were introduced to Valerie Wolford, Communications Coordinator, as the lead of the project. We have worked with only a few project leads that can compare to Valerie. Her attention to detail and realistic outlook on seeing a project of this magnitude through to the end were invaluable and a joy to see in action. We know it will probably be awhile until we get the opportunity to work with Valerie again, but until then we will be looking forward to it.

Valerie lifted the heavy weight in the beginning of the project by rounding up a staggering amount of factual data from the current website. She polled and interviewed actual visitors and employees alike in an attempt to uncover the true areas to be improved. Out of this research, we determined three core objectives of this project:

  1. Create a responsive design to quickly engage visitors by focusing content to their demographic and interest(s)
  2. Provide CoG with a higher level of stability and content flexibility using APOXE 7, TKG’s latest content management platform
  3. Assist CoG to improve site structure and usability

In order to facilitate the objectives, TKG employed these administrative sections behind the update of the website’s aesthetic design of 17 unique layouts:

 

  • Page Content
  • Community Events (with community submissions)
  • News Articles
  • Real Estate Listings
  • Citizen Alerts
  • Contact Forms
  • Image & Document Directories

This project has come to completion and, for all parties involved, it was a huge success. The City of Green, Ohio will continue to be a progressive, technology-friendly city by improving its web presence by utilizing tools such as search engine optimization, content reorganization and other continued strategies to focus the navigation, tone and user experience on the website.

TKG would like to again extend a thank you to The City of Green, Ohio for the opportunity to work on the project. Congrats on a great site!

 

Congratulations to Bonita Eberhart, our new Office Manager!

Bonita EberhartBonita comes to TKG after almost 15 years in the interior design industry. In her new role as Office Manager, Bonita will be responsible for establishing and maintaining the efficiency of TKG’s front-of-office operations. She will draw from her broad experience working in administration, sales and interior design to keep the TKG team in check and the office running smoothly.

Join us in congratulating Bonita in the comments!

Dave Brown on His New Role & a New Perspective

Dave_BrownIt’s interesting to have the opportunity to see the inner workings of a small company like TKG from more than one perspective.  When I joined the group almost 2 years ago as an Account Coordinator, then Account Manager, I saw a lot of things – many of them from the perspective of the client.

Recently I took on the role of Director of Client Services.  My new job is to manage our Online Marketing & Web Development teams’ resources to keep hundreds of clients moving in a positive direction. It’s been a role that’s been hard to fill at TKG in the past, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

What a different viewpoint this is! As an Account Manager, all that mattered was delivering what we promised and keeping my clients happy. TKG has always strived to deliver excellent customer service, and I knew what that meant when I was managing client accounts. It meant understanding the client’s goals or requests, reaching out to the team and understanding what it will take to deliver, then asking them to execute upon approval.  Pretty simple right?

The view from the Client Services Director’s seat is quite different.  I now see just how many requests we get on a daily basis, both large and small. They also come from dozens of external and many internal clients.  It’s a real challenge to work with my team to find a way to keep all of these clients happy.

Every client, large or small, feels like they are our only client.  I believe they deserve to feel that way.

I’m now working with a great team of people to find that balance between the right number of clients, and the right communication system to allow us to do just that.  Make every client feel as if they are our only client.

Announcing Two Well-Deserved Promotions at TKG

We’re excited to officially announce the promotions of two TKGers, Patrick Willoughby and David Brown.

After 10+ years of service at TKG and increasing responsibility, Patrick Willoughby has been promoted to Vice President of Operations. In his new role, he oversees day-to-day operations here at TKG, which includes all of us staff, finance issues, as well as managing any building issues (we’ve been known to have one or two).

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David Brown, who joined TKG in 2011 as an account coordinator (and was quickly promoted to account manager) has been promoted to Director of Client Services. He now oversees all web development and marketing staff and ensures projects are delivered on time and within budget parameters. No pressure or anything, Dave!

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Congrats, guys! Well, well deserved!

Our Culture at TKG: Work with People You Like

Or at least we hope so. In May I talked about the importance of client relationships, including our take here at TKG. This month I’m touching on our other “people relationships” here at TKG that matter: our people.

Employees are more likely to enjoy coming to work with people they like and respect.  Quality goes up. Efficiency goes up. Overall enjoyment goes up. Not a bad situation all around, if you ask me. As a business, you create a name for yourself as a place people want to work: “Oh man, that place is so cool, I’d love to work there!” Etc, etc.

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It’s the easy stuff that can get lost that often means the most.  Taking time to have a quick discussion, asking how the weekend was (and mean it), putting on a company grill out or participating in it (these pics are from a May cookout here), getting smaller groups of employees together for lunch, beer after work, etc. These are things we try to make part of our culture here at TKG.

Last month we did a top 5 Characteristics of a Great Client relationship. This month, we have an installment of a great employee relationship:

  1. Communication – don’t keep secrets. Be up front and clear/transparent in your discussions with the team. Even the hard stuff.
  2. Trust – do the employees trust the company? That the company will make good decisions always with the team in mind.
  3. Engagement – Is the company going to the team for input regularly? What challenges are IMG_6041there? Feedback?
  4. Action – if the team is engaged, are they acting on the needs of the clients/business? Reversely, if they company tells the team they are going to do something, the company needs to deliver.
  5. Growth – is the company challenging the employees, encouraging and supporting them to grow?

Who wouldn’t want to work somewhere other people only *wish* they could work? We feel strongly here at TKG that it’s our people who make the difference. We want this to be a place that people want to work and others wish they could. Don’t you want that for your business, too?

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Register Now for Google Analytics: How to Make Sense of Your Stats

If you follow TKG on social media or here on the blog, you know that we just wrapped up our 5th season of Breakfast Bootcamp.

Well, we were supposed to wrap it up, anyway.  It’s still happening!

By special request, we tacked on a bonus session on Google Analytics: How to Make Sense of Your Stats for Thursday, July 25th. That session filled up in three days. Apparently people want to really want to make sense of stats!

So, now we’re doing a BONUS BONUS (double bonus? Bonus-squared?) Google Analytics session on August  8th. This is the same session as the one on July 25th, so please only register for one session!

We fully expect this one to fill up, too, so register soon.

Here’s what our own Google Analytics-certified Leanne Wicks plans to cover:

  • Introduction to Google Analytics
  • Understanding Traffic/Types of Traffic
  • Understanding Which Reports are Key
  • How to properly set up Google Analytics on your site
    • Account Creation
    • How to Use Filters
    • Setting Up Goals
    • Terminology

DETAILS:

Google Analytics: How to Make Sense of Your Stats
Thursday, August 8, 2013
8 AM -9:30 AM
@TKG Offices
5590 Lauby Road Suite 8
North Canton, OH 44720

Head over to TKG.com to register now!

5 Mistakes I’ve Made

Well, that’s not exactly what I’m going to write about, but it’s close. I was recently playing golf with Jon Dulac, and he suggested that I write a post about 10 things I’d do differently if I were starting TKG now. It’s not hard to come up with things I could have done better, but if I covered 10 things it’d be a really long post. So, here are 5 things I would change about how we built this business if I had it to go over again. These aren’t in any particular order, nor are they necessarily the 5 biggest things.

1. Emotional Decision Making
I didn’t realize it until the last few years, but Todd Whetstone came in and helped us see that we made a lot of decisions based on emotional rather than business reasons.  It wasn’t intentional, we didn’t even realize we were doing it. We did however do a lot of things in the business and for people in the business when they “needed help”. Todd helped us understand that focusing on doing what is objectively right for the entire business is ultimately what is right for all of the people inside the business. That doesn’t mean we won’t help a team member out of a jam from time to time, however, it does mean that we must scrub every decision we make against the business goals and make sure we don’t get off track.

2. Debt
I am not a fan of debt. I never have been. Boy did I justify using it to keep things moving forward in tough times. I am an optimist, so I never thought twice about taking a little financial risk here and there to grow the business. In hindsight, I would avoid debt at every opportunity. It is incredibly expensive and can give you the opportunity to overlook other bad business decisions. We are now on a path to being debt free.

3. Recurring Revenue
Our business has always had a few sources of recurring revenue. Web hosting and our web marketing work have both been recurring streams for over 14 years.They have contributed to our sustainability and continues to be a big part of the reason we have been around long enough to watch dozens of competitors come and go. But a true focus with the goal of recurring revenue making up a certain percentage of our total revenue has really smoothed things out for us.

4. Online Marketing Service Expansion
For over 10 years our online marketing services were fairly limited to SEO & other very similar tactics. We felt that by sticking to that one service we were staying true to our principles and not “taking the easy way out” with things like Email and PPC. We now have better perspective. Our client’s usually aren’t too concerned with the tactics we use.  Rather they are concerned that we leverage our experience to wisely invest their resources whether it be in SEO, PPC, social, etc. to grow their business.  That’s what they care about. A couple years ago we started expanding our services to include these other tactics.  We still do a ton of SEO, and leverage the principles we’ve learned over the years, but we don’t limit the tools in our toolbox. Given the chance to start over, I would add these services as quickly as we could professionally execute them.

5. Golf
Yeah this one is a little self serving – I like to play golf.  About 5 years ago I had a friend and a client introduce me to the impact that golf can have on business development.  We’ve all heard that a lot of business is done on the golf course, but how many of us really practice it?  Not many. The fact is that if used the right way, it truly does have a substantial impact.  It’s one of our primary means of new business development. It’s certainly a huge time commitment and a bit of a financial commitment. For our business, both of those have been paid back many times over. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to get to know the people we are doing business with and to really understand the core goals they have in mind.  If I had it to do over again, I’d pick up golf right away rather than selling the hard way for 10 years first.

There are many other things I would likely do differently. That’s the beauty of hindsight, right?  The good news, however is that we’re here, 15 years into this business, being given the opportunity to look back. More importantly, we have the opportunity to look forward and continue to evolve our business into something that kicks ass for our clients and our team.

A Spotlight on Small Business: Joie de Vivre Laser and Medical Spa

In honor of Small Business Week, I chose to spotlight one of our successful local small business clients, Joie de Vivre Laser and Medical Spa. Joie de Vivre Logo

Joie de Vivre (JdV) opened their doors in the summer of 2011 as a laser and medical spa offering a variety of cosmetic treatments such as photo-facials, tattoo removal, dermal fillers, laser hair removal and more.  Located in Canton, Ohio the laser and medical spa filled a void that the area was missing. After a lot of planning and locating of space to create the ideal setting, a grand opening date was set. But before JdV opened for business, a marketing budget and plan was established with us that included a new website, social media consulting, content marketing and natural SEO strategies. Marketing was in the works well before the walls were even painted!

Working the Web Together
Suffice to say that after two years, Joie de Vivre Laser and Medical Spa is a thriving small business. Together, we have partnered to tackle marketing, seeing tremendous growth in Internet leads from forms to phone calls. How did we get there? By working together!

For example, the JdV team handles monthly e-mails and management of Facebook as some of their duties, while TKG takes care of other pieces of vital web marketing that includes strategy, search optimization, website optimization, local optimization, banner ad creation, content marketing, conversion optimization and more. The key is learning to work together as one solid team, creating a way to promote the business while working in unison to handle a larger amount of work. Strategy and planning have really paid off!

JdV Laser and Medical Spa Entrance

Visitors to JDVMedSpa.com can not only learn about their different services from the comfort of their browser, but they can also read details about med spa services, see before and after photos of med spa treatments, look at financing options and more. Testimonials on the website are also made available for prospective clients while referrals from current patients have remained strong.

As a wrap-up to the short story about JdV, new website improvements are about to go live with upgraded navigation and mobile splash – all for better user experience. So take a tour of the JdV website or go visit them, in person.