Undercover Boss And The Value Of A Fresh Perspective

undercover boss

Photo credit: CBS Studios

A recent episode of Undercover Boss followed the CEO of a large retail apparel chain as he worked with his employees across several locations.  At the beginning of the show the CEO described an aggressive plan for growth that would double the number of locations in about a year.  By the time he had completed his undercover journey his focus had shifted significantly.  He became intent on addressing issues he discovered ranging from simple policy changes to major investments in technology. A fresh perspective can change everything. And a web presence audit can provide that same fresh perspective for you.

The case for a web presence audit

An audit brings important insight to what you may or may not be leveraging to help improve your return on investment.  We talk a lot in this blog about the rapid changes in social media, search engine functionality and overall internet evolution.  An audit helps you sharpen and focus your time, money and efforts more effectively.  Most often the findings in an audit result in improved website performance and conversion through enhanced SEO.  An audit also identifies current successful practices that you should continue.

The competitive advantage

The CEO in the TV show discovered that his customers’ overall experience was pretty poor. Prior to going undercover he had no idea.  His undercover audit revealed some critical issues and provided the opportunity to improve the situation.  An audit will give you that same fresh perspective and the chance to make important changes.  Taking the time to understand how your internet presence compares to your competitors uncovers big areas of opportunity. A new design, better user experiences and better search engine optimization helps to attract and convert more prospects. And if your competition is staying current then you are probably behind.  If they aren’t staying current then it’s your opportunity to pull ahead.

The more comprehensive the better

The TV show followed the CEO as he worked in a variety of roles across multiple locations. An audit is fully comprehensive in the same way.  From understanding your objectives and ideal prospects, current branding, audience, web architecture, SEO and content to social media and measurement practices the audit covers the full spectrum of your web presence. These details give you the basis to build strategies and select tools to satisfy your target audience and use your online presence to meet your objectives. The point: sharpen and focus your time, money and efforts.

We don’t think CBS will be approaching us anytime soon to pitch a new show around our web presence audit.  But if you are a business owner you definitely need to go ‘undercover’ and get a fresh perspective.

 

 

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Posted in 5 Step Process, Custom Web Development, Websites | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Seven Questions To Ask Yourself Before Posting That Blog

BloggingBlogging for business topped the charts as the number one area of increased activity for marketers in 2014. According to a study conducted by the Social Media Examiner blogging has incrementally increased from number four in 2012 to number three in 2013 and now to the top spot for increased activity. One point of distinction to note is that B2B marketers are more likely to increase blogging activity compared to B2C marketers.  But blogging for the sake of blogging is a waste of time and can potentially cause more harm than good for your business.  Ask yourself these seven questions before you click  ‘publish’.

  1. Am I posting just to get this done?  If your article lacks a pulse because you just whipped it together think twice before putting it out for public consumption.  It can reflect poorly on your otherwise awesome business making it appear lackluster and unprofessional.
  2. Is it edited, fact-checked, spell checked and grammatically correct? Again, a poorly written article will reflect poorly on your business.  As we get further away from formal writing (and more into emails & texts) our writing skills can suffer.
  3. Is it original?  Original content is critical in two ways: search engines really love fresh content and search engines really don’t love plagiarism.
  4. Is the article insightful, relevant, thought provoking, or educational? Similar thinking as item #1. Your article should keep a reader interested or provoke a response.
  5. Is it too promotional, sales oriented or cluttered with calls-to-action? In your excitement to talk about your product or service be careful not to oversell.  That’s one sure way to chase away readers, followers, and fans.
  6. If you came across this article would you bookmark or share it?  If it’s truly not very interesting or valuable to you, then we’ll let you guess how it will land on your readers.
  7. Does it fit my overall marketing strategy? Blog articles should work together to tell the story of your business. Keep your articles focused, sharp and organized like chapters in a book.  They should also work cohesively with your overall marketing strategy and efforts.

Content marketing and social media marketing are exploding.  Blogging is an effective way to increase traffic to your website, generate leads and broaden your brand’s presence.  And yes, the whole process has gotten a bit more complex.  It’s why we do what we do at Evolve Systems.  We love to create and execute marketing plans for business.

So if you’ve come to the realization that you don’t love marketing, blogging or simply don’t have the time, give us a call.

 

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Posted in (1) Strategy, Blogs, Content Marketing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Social Media Trends You Simply Can’t Ignore

social media marketingSocial media marketing is continuing to see explosive growth for both B2B and B2C businesses.  Companies large and small in nearly every industry are taking advantage of social media to promote their brands and their products and services.  The folks at the Social Media Examiner did a pretty comprehensive study to gain some insight and the results are powerful.  We’ve summarized our top takeaways from this 70-page report.  As you will see, the argument for social media marketing is pretty strong.  And getting stronger.

What is most important

The study gathered information from 2800 marketing types across a variety of industries, company sizes and business models.  The marketers’ response indicated that they place a very high value on social media: A significant 92% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business, up from 86% in 2013. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogging, Google+ and Pinterest were the top seven platforms used by marketers, with Facebook as the leading platform.

It’s about time

Some of the most eye-opening responses were centered around time spent on social media efforts. 84%+ of participants found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing. By spending as little as 6 hours per week, 66%+ of marketers saw lead generation benefits.  And at least 57% of businesses with 10 or fewer employees agreed social media reduced marketing expenses.  If you are one of those business owners who still doesn’t see value in social media marketing, it might be time to take another look.

It’s about value

The overwhelming consensus was that original written content is most important for successful social media marketing. 58% of marketers stated that original written content is the single most important form of content, followed by original visual assets (19%).  So it makes sense that blogging holds the top spot for future plans with 68% of marketers planning to increase their use of blogging in 2015.  Original content provides a value to fans and followers that builds trust and a loyal fan base.

Companies reported enjoying benefits like increased sales and lead generation, reduced marketing costs, improved traffic and market insight and expanded business relationships.  Wow, what business wouldn’t want to take advantage of even one of those benefits?

So whether you are just starting your social media efforts or ready to take your current program to the next level we can help.  Don’t miss this opportunity to grow your business in 2015.

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Posted in Online Marketing, Social Media | Tagged | Leave a comment

It Takes A Community: Giving Back

The holiday season is a time when heartwarming human interest stories abound. Businesses and individuals make donations at the end of their fiscal year for both charitable and tax based reasons.  Here at Evolve we not only donate 5% of corporate profits to various organizations but we work at giving back throughout the year.  We may be considered a small business but we are mighty in our dedication to our community.

Because it’s part of our plan

Each year in January we create our quarterly giving plan.  In the weeks prior we encourage our entire team to make suggestions for charities to support.  An employee may have a personal connection to a certain charity or a passion for a particular cause.  We like to help organizations that really mean something to us.  As part of our fourth quarter plan we sent a couple of team members to the Little Sisters of the Poor assisted living facility to help with decorating for the holiday season. After the work was done our team stayed to enjoy lunch with residents.

Because it’s part of our policy

We believe in making it easy for our team to give back.  Once each quarter we close our doors so our employees can volunteer as a company for various charities. In October we sent a team to Second Harvest Heartland to help pack donated food for distribution to local shelters.  We also encourage our employees to donate 8 hours of their own time each month to any organization they choose. Over the last five years Evolve has donated over 3,500 hours to charity organizations throughout Minnesota.

Because we’re part of our community

As the saying goes around the office we like to do ‘random acts of kindness’.  Our CEO Marnie Ochs Raleigh explains our philosophy:

It’s our way to say thank you for what we have.  If our community isn’t strong than our business isn’t going to be strong.  This community takes care of Evolve as a business, so we have an obligation to take care of this community in return.

Minnesota Business Magazine holds their annual Community Impact awards each spring and in 2013 we were honored to be named a finalist in the Best in Class Small Company category.  Small but mighty all year round.  More than once a year and more than dollars we at Evolve Systems are part of our community and believe that we are part of what makes our community stronger.

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What’s The Story For 2015? A Story Bank

StorytellingWhat should be on the horizon for your business and online presence for 2015? In a word, storytelling.  The business that masters the art of storytelling will rule the universe.  Or at least the online universe that brings new visitors to your website and your doorstep. So far, we have looked at how storytelling works in business and offered some ideas to get you started.  The next step is to create a story bank. It’s arguably the most important step in this process. Take a few minutes to read this article and let us know if you agree.

What is a story bank?

Simply put a story bank is an easily accessible repository for your business stories.  Think of it as a place where you can organize and warehouse stories until you need them.  The story bank stores each article by specific category and tag for easy searching and locating. The bank also serves as a sort of corporate memory and archive of the knowledge gleaned from day-to-day business practices and observations.

How do you start a story bank?

As we mentioned every business shares common components like employees, customers, sales challenges, product or service development, vendors and suppliers just to name a few. Look at every aspect of your business and then create categories based on each component or area. For example, you might create a category titled ‘Above And Beyond’ for stories about good deeds or extra effort made. The articles might then be tagged to cross reference a connection to employees, customer service or a specific product.

Tap into your team

Enlist your team to brainstorm ideas, create categories and contribute to and manage the story bank itself.   Make it as simple as asking the members of your sales team to submit stories about how your products or services have made a difference.  Be specific when you ask for stories.  If you leave your question too broad like “Anything good happen this month?”  the answer will often be ‘not really’. Plan to collect stories on a regular schedule such as once per week or month.

We all know that the right tools make any job easier. Think of a story bank as a multi-use tool for your business.  Collecting stories allows you to easily keep track of your company history, progress, and growth and can become part of your annual strategy.  Collecting stories through your team helps you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your business.  And the bottom line is that storytelling is a powerful way to connect with your customers and prospects.

Don’t let this power tool go unused.  Call us today: we can help you master storytelling for your business.

 

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