A Change for the Future of Digital Marketing
Yes, a name change. Let's start there. I (we) have grown in the last nine years and learned a lot. We started knowing nothing about running a business but a ton about marketing and technology. I now fully understand the basics of business and still learn daily. With the change noted below, nothing for your business changes. Your still price locked into the plan you are on.
10 reasons having a website is Important for Your Business
Imagine a low-cost showroom giving every customer and potential customer 24x7 access that educates and provides a consistent message generating revenue for you. That is what a well-designed business website will do for you.
Stop being Nickel-and-Dimed to Death!
I got upset today when someone stated that our prices are 'too low' and why they went elsewhere. The thoughts that rang through my head were that you don't know our company or the cost of doing business -- every business structures their prices based on the cost of business plus the profits they want to achieve. Some are higher while some are lower. Let's dig into why our costs are the way they are.
Get your FREE custom-built website today!
We know that sometimes dishing up thousands for a new website is not an option, especially when you are starting your business. You want your business to be found and you want it to be custom made to promote your business. What you don’t want is to pay for a website that will put you out of business. You want your website to generate business and help you grow without nickel and diming you around every corner.
Business Owner Role Transition
Our company is going through the biggest change of any growing business. I know there are many ways of phrasing it but I am calling it the “Business Owner Role Transition” and to me, it is the pivotal point for any small business owner that is growing. Many will feel caught in a trap right before or during this part. Many will sell their business when the end reward is just in front of them. They aren’t quitters but quit anyway as they don’t feel they can do it and they really can with that extra needed “push”. Many will not talk to others in the same spot and lock themselves into silos rather than reaching out and talking with those people – not friends, other businesses that you may consider competitors. I also see it as the hardest point in my 30 years of working.
Lifelong Positive Motivation
For those that don’t hustle seven days a week, I truly commend you. I wish my life was like that but my mind is not wired no matter how much I try. For the longest time I tried but all it did was put me into a depression working the Monday to Friday life. I hated Monday’s and was living for Friday’s. This didn’t make for a positive work/life balance nor did it make me happy. I thought it did but looking back I was truly miserable.
Improvements in Customer Service
Organizations know they need someone in a role that communicates with clients, they know it will improve customer satisfaction, but never want to invest (e.g. it eats into their profits) in such a role. Often an organization will allocate a small part of a person’s (or multiple employees) time to it. This causes a system that actually can be even more inefficient. This is why as an organization we added Lorissa to our team with just one job duty of communicating with our clients. This dedicated position will make certain customer communication happens. We even have set parameters that we will add another person in this position when we reach certain thresholds so that we don’t run into a situation where our coordinator is overworked and create failure in communication. Our project coordinator position, which we call the Time Keeper, has the sole responsibility to communicate with the customer, put in tasks for the team, double-check the tasks that the team did, and get back with the client that the changes are done. This role has no other functions and how it will stay.
In all of our lives we have transformations that are key to our personal existence, keys to the success of our company's growth (for business owners), and the success of the customer's that we assist. This week for JM2 of Valparaiso Indiana was truly no exception. We have changed our web design and marketing from being what I would classify as a commodity that any individual could due to a strategic marketing machine. That is a very bold statement and one I think you will agree. In this article you will see how we transformed our brand, our customer service, and our internal processes to become something no other web design company in Northwest Indiana has ever done.
Always listen to your customer
Listening whether you are in a small prosperous town like Valparaiso Indiana or a big city like Chicago Illinois listening is the most important trait any company BIG or small can do to be successful in their endeavors. Often a company will think that it’s their way or the highway. They might state publicly it’s all about the customer but the actions dictate and say otherwise. If you’ve been reading our blog and several hundred of you are you now that JM2, my company, is run by humans. Yes, we are inferior beings in that we make mistakes. What makes JM2 different though is our agile philosophy on life where we are quick to adapt and change based on both positive and negative feedback we receive from current and past customers.
What is a “Time Keeper”
We have heard our customers and what they need through both positive and negative feedback. Negative feedback often is some of the best feedback and organization can hear. It’s not because we want that feedback but because the person believes either in (1) driving traffic away from us as they feel scorned or (2) they deeply believe, like us, in local small business and helping them improve. Not every business will choose the improve process and be themselves scorn. We believe no matter the reason for someone giving positive or negative feedback opens an area for not only self-improvement but company improvement. This is why we have opted to create an entirely new position now rather than waiting months, even years, down the road. We pride ourselves in our customer service and what we’ve learned is that a dedicated person between the customer and the team is necessary for success.
Scared Stiff; saved by co-working
The day I decided to start my own business scared the crap out of me. I was going from a beyond comfortable guaranteed income to one where it was a complete unknown. Since I was twelve years old I had worked. Starting out as a paperboy for the Chesterton Tribune was my first step into being a freelancer as I might have delivered newspapers but was responsible for collecting money and delivering the product. I wanted the money for candy, fancy shoes, and anything else a teenager would want. I know that in the past five years if I would have stayed working for “the man” I would be close to having made half million dollars in that short period of time. So why in the world would anyone give up luxury for something less? Actually, I didn’t!
Why do we care?
Today I want to talk about our bottom pillar of our company and that is about environmental impact. When it comes to our environment there are three approaches a company can take. They can either do something, not do something or do it partially. This is one of the easiest yet hardest things any of us could ever do as a society. Yet it is also one of the hardest as well. This is where many fall into that third area or if it’s convenient they will do it and if it takes one extra amount of energy they slip into the someone else will do it phase. Let’s take a look at the challenge of being friendly to the environment.
Our lives today run at a blazing and rapid pace. As a society, we have put ourselves here with technologies like text, email, and phone. We are now more used to the instant gratification lifestyle. That doesn't mean we should be in a rush. In fact, by slowing down I actually will get more done than I would if I rushed. It took me twenty years to come to this realization. I've had many bosses over time explain this to me. Many times, I listened just to appease and shut them up as I thought I knew better than what their experience was trying to teach me. It is only in the past four months that I have truly started slowing down and 'enjoying life' the way it should be. It's truly hard and I am going to cover the core areas I am focusing on and how it's helping me get more done in the same amount of time.
A different approach to hiring
We've been asked many times over the past month how we do what we do. Our prices are unreal, our tactics are not normal yet produce continuous results, and our work/life balance is only like the most successful and profitable businesses. I thought it would be good to start telling people how we do what we do being we are always asked the question every month. I feel that it will also help other businesses. We will start with the most basic of processes which are hiring of the right people to do the job.
Value of honesty in business
Honesty is often taken for granted until someone is caught in a lie. Trust is initially given when you don't know someone. This trust is given freely but can be quickly removed when you find that someone has been less than truthful. Some will have honesty as part of their core values but not their first core value. So why do we put it as the first value when others don't? This is a separator that allows us to be different, unique, and to stand out from the rest. Being from a small town of Chesterton Indiana I was brought up on a 'Leave it to Beaver' type of lifestyle where a handshake is worth more than any document written by a lawyer to seal a deal. All services should be priced fairly and not rip someone off, and that communication should be polite, honest, fair, and yet firm when communicating.
How to Meeting
In the land of business there is always a need to have meetings. Many consider meetings a complete waste of time but when handled correctly can push a business to the next level of success. The key is when you have a meeting to have a plan, make it effective, and not waste people's time so that they can continue to be effective. Over the years I have been in more meetings than I care to count. Many have been good but more often than not they were a waste of everyone's time as not everything was properly prepared beforehand. After each meeting whether I held it or someone else did I took some personal notes and thought I would share as many of the items have been shared but I have never run across a blog post that covered all in a single post that was short, sweet, concise, and didn't waste my time. So, let's take a look at the list
Focus on your core
We have won the second-best Information Technology company within Northwest Indiana multiple times. One might think being second place isn't something to talk about but for us it's a very unique item. Yes, we didn't win and we are thankful for it. It's not our core business. In fact, it's not our business at all. That's right we do not do Information Technology at all. It isn't because we aren't capable of doing it and our owner has over fifteen years of being an Information Technology administrator. So, we are extremely thankful that we have been voted second best as that shows we are truly rocking our client's websites, security, and infrastructure for them. Beyond our web servers, database servers, and mail servers we don't do Information Technology.
Get your story told FOR FREE!
Yesterday we talked at the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce AM Valpo event. We announced two items and couldn't fully get out the third within our 30-seconds we were allocated. That's okay as that is one of the great benefit of being able to write articles. Starting in 2018 we are giving away as part of our own marketing a free story about your growing business. Not only will this be for businesses in and around Valparaiso Indiana where we are located but anywhere within the United States. Below is the announcement of what is coming in 2018.
Importance of a company brand
You hear it all the time about companies, marketing, and the company 'brand'. But WHAT IS a company brand and why is it important to the success (or failure) of your business? Branding has many meanings and definitions. A brand has been known as your company name, a slogan your company uses, a logo, the products you sell, the services you offer, a symbol you use to define your company, or a combination of these items. A 'brand' has evolved over time to be these terms and more. A company brand is more than these mere objects.
Stop following and start leading
I was going to write an article about a client I met with last night but instead went through my list of old articles I had written back in 2014 and never published. Not that I couldn't write anything better today but this was just as good and rang so well when I read it that I think it speaks perfectly to the situation of many people following instead of being the leader they want to be. All too often we see small businesses following, focusing on the wrong items, and not working on their core strengths.
The power of communication
With the company growing I have spent a lot of my time focused on improving business processes, fixing areas that can be improved based on our teams input, and stepping away from what I would call 'normal blog writing' to a more focused on our overall business and marketing processes. This shift is letting our expertise shine even more and allows our search engine optimization team, social media experts, graphic designers, and software developers focus on the free advice I had done for the past three years.
Small business has heart
Normally my blogs are written from 4-6am to be sent out later in the day but being it is a relaxing day I did reading and research during that time instead. Last night I was out at 10pm to see what was up in the community. I drove through Chesterton Indiana and then Valparaiso Indiana. I had a secret agenda to see if small business really believes in the support of their community. What I saw truly shows the heart of what small business is and how much they depend on the local community to help them grow.
Put marketing on its head to create buzz
Part of any good marketing plan is to create a positive buzz in the industry that you are. When people talk about your marketing after days or months have past you know you've created something substantial. An agile company needs to quickly adapt to change. Our own marketing efforts need to change as when you target big publicly traded companies that seems to have endless supplies of cash you need to be creative in everything you do. Recently we have been adding clients from these large publicly traded companies and learning a lot from these clients. Each new client we bring on we always ask what made you switch and choose us over X, Y, and Z. We always ask what is their definition of success and failure as everyone has a different opinion on each. This knowledge helps us in giving recommendations for other companies that we have aligned with to further help drive traffic and increase their business.
Become the leader you were meant to be
When you take control of your destiny you risk not only success but failure. It's that fear of failure that deters many of us to not push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. We all have in ourselves to be better than what we are today. Tomorrow we have the option to be better than we were the day before. It is this constant option of freewill that we have to improve ourselves.