Tying everything together
In the past year, we focused on growth from purchasing our own building in downtown Valparaiso Indiana, adding to our core team to now have not only graphic designers, content writers, and programmers but to also have an entire department for customer service, sales, social media, photography and videography. Many of these changes happened not because we were looking for them but the culture of our company made it happen.
The changes in the last year have been huge and we are glad we did them. They have allowed us to continue our growth without having to raise prices and add more value at the same time. We now have a framework that takes our web design and software development experience to a new level throughout Northwest Indiana and beyond. Every position in the company has a backup and every client has a primary and secondary person assigned to their account. This not only allows for members of the team to go on vacation but also allows for continued growth without sacrificing anything to existing clients.
What is in store for the upcoming year from us in the coming year? This is a question we constantly hear being asked and one we thought we would let everyone know as what we are doing for ourselves is also what we are doing for our clients.
We have talked about adding video since our inception in 2013. This has been a long-term goal. Starting in 2015 we started purchasing the necessary hardware to produce high-definition video. Half-way through 2016 we brought on our first person that was to be dedicated to video. In the fall an opportunity came out of the blue to add a second person. This fit perfectly with our plans of having two people in every department.
With video, you will see a minimum of one new video each week. These will be all on a core set of topics that will benefit any business in the digital marketing space. The JM2 Digital Talk with "John and Kyle" series will start out initially at the corporate office in Valparaiso Indiana but extended to other places. Sometimes in a part while other times at businesses who may or may not be a JM2 customer. This may seem odd to not be at a JM2 customer but there is reasoning behind it. We have a product called Find Business Directory that is for any business to help their social media and get positive word out about their business. Any business that is in this always free directory (it exists and is supported by paid advertising) can request to be part of the weekly talk and they will get free publicity about their business.
John will also be producing videos throughout the year as he does his travels and blog writing. We have enhanced our blog platform to tie in more closely with YouTube for video sharing. John has plans on not only doing video for his blogs but also as he is out drinking coffee as he is an avid coffee drinker.
We will see a large change in the overall JM2 website where there will be video available on every page. As technology changes the time people have is limited. These videos will be 30 to 60-second videos that cover all the high-level items on each page. Every page will also get a more refined call-to-action as part of this change as well to further increase our lead generation without popups and other items that annoy users.
One cannot talk anymore about video without talking about drone video. We have already scheduled, after the snow melts, drone video for our clients. These are going to take video to even another level in promotion for our clients in the coming year.
In 2014, we started doing event photography for clients. This has always gone over well but something we truly didn't promote. One of the factors our clients love is the pictures we take they own the pictures and can use on future marketing flyers, brochures, post cards, and more. Speaking of photos being able to be used these pictures are used as part of the story telling process to bring in business.
On top of the photos for events we are also pushing for head shots that are constantly able to be done. Having a dedicated building we can leave a room dedicated to photography head shots. Often it is hard to fit a fixed time table when head shots may be available. We are luckily situated between two awesome hair salons Salon Amara and Terry Abner Salon) which allows for not only getting your hair just right but also any makeup you need to truly shine. This was not part of our original intent but has been a great benefit being where we are.
Another aspect of photography is that of 360-degree photography where you can see around an entire room and navigate locations. We have all used items like Google Street View to see the outside of buildings and spaces. Some businesses allow coming indoors as well. Part of our photography will be increasing the reach so that all businesses that have physical buildings can benefit from this 360-degree technology that has been otherwise cost prohibitive.
One of the areas we have seen in the past three years that has been underutilized has been that of our content writers. They are great story tellers and help bring in engaging content that makes people urn for more information. The content that tells a story is more memorable and why we have these talented folks available to bring brand consistency and tell the story of the culture of the company to bring people into the organization.
In the past year, we wrote 104 blog articles showing expertise and helping businesses learn. Going forward we are going to maintain that pace and are looking at other avenues to further increase engagement. Our engagement has been growing every month and we are going to keep on giving quality content to help businesses learn and grow. Creating this content has truly helped us in our marketing efforts and that of our clients. There social media platforms have all grown in the past year which has resulted into everyone having a positive impact on their bottom line.
When it comes to social media many believe they need to pay to get to the top. We believe that is completely wrong. We believe in very targeted "boosts" as beneficial with the majority being an effort of being organic growth. Organic growth will bring your audience into your brand and they will be more engaged, This type of marketing is harder but has higher results in generating brand loyalty. We also believe that this should not be just your social media doing all the work. This needs to be a collaborative effort between your business and the social media manager. A social media manager will help keep you on target and keep a laser focus on your target audience to build engagement organically and increase your business.
We have seen many businesses that want to grow and market their organizations online. They do print, radio, online, and more. There is no true plan of attack that has measurements for success. We are stopping most of our print advertising for more targeted advertising online. We are doing this for multiple reasons with the main reason that in the past, for us, it has not produced the results we've wanted to see. The areas where print has worked we are keeping as if we bring in equal amounts or more than it is worth continuing. Some digital platforms we have cancelled as well as we found that they didn't produce the results promised.
With all of this through of what works for us we also look at it for our clients to see what is working for them. Sometimes changing your approach needs to be done to increase your business. Therefore, having a marketing plan that not only defines success but also failure is critical to the growth of any company.
More than half of all internet searches now happen on mobile devices. We believe in organic search (or free search) is the best way to go. It has the longest long-term benefit for your company. Organic search is also the hardest search but one that will help your business grow in the long run. Over thirty percent of our business is search engine optimization for our clients. It doesn't matter if you are a client that is national or local. Showing on the first page of the search engine result pages or SERPs is critical to being found.
We perform many audits for companies to help define what is and isn't working with their current websites. These SEO Audits outline problem areas but also clearly define ways to improve their site to achieve higher rankings on the search engines.
When one thinks about customers and building trust and confidence you always need to also think security. Search engines love when you have every page with the green padlock and reward you for having it. This SSL, or properly called TLS, certificate encrypts all traffic between your computer and the web server. Browsers are starting to mark sites as insecure if you don’t have them. Anything that says insecure is not good for building trust. Therefore, we utilize industry leading Digicert TLS security certificates for every client and encrypt every page. Any site that has a form has the potential of information being send that is private and confidential.
In 2014, we made the move to Microsoft Azure which has an entire team that monitors and watches for problems 24x7. We got rid of all our physical servers we had to maintain and went this route as it took away the need for having to maintain equipment in the event equipment failed but also the equipment is physically protected where not even we can access the equipment. For some this may be bad (e.g. publicly traded companies that need this) but for us it gives us an added layer of security. We see more servers being added and using even more of the enhanced services that Microsoft Azure offers to us to benefit our clients.
Training & Education
Speaking of learning and growing our Rock the Social training will continue to be focused on educating individuals and businesses in small groups. Videos will be a huge part of this training for those that are not able to attend in person but still want quality content. We are also going to be adding some great industry leaders that have unique perspectives on their topic areas.
Tying everything together
You will notice that a lot of what we will be offering in the coming year is not any new products being introduced. We had the opportunity in the fall to purchase a company and after evaluating thought that it would be a bad decision as it didn't line up with all our core features and would pull us away from our core focus of digital marketing for our clients. In the upcoming year we will continue to tie products, services, and solutions together. We are doubling down on growing our customers and making it so that their businesses all see growth in the coming year and beyond. We may be a business's lowest marketing cost but we also want to make certain we are the best as well.
Video is the only item that is truly "new" (six months old) yet has been in the works for over three years for us. Everything else is a complete fine tuning to help our customers generate more leads that can be converted to opportunities and finally into customers. Web design itself is a commodity that you can get anywhere. You can get free sites and templated sites around every corner. What these businesses offer though is "just a website". Having just a website does not bring in business or money to your bottom dollar. Therefore, your website needs to be more than what it has been in the past.
It has taken us more than three years to have two or more people in every department that truly are best in class. The JM2 family is full of dedicated people that truly care about each of our clients. The passion and dedication that show is truly amazing and everyone is committed to growing every business that we serve.
When you are ready to work with a company that is committed to your growth and one you are dedicated to working collaboratively with we will be waiting to hear from you. The JM2 team can be reached at 219-229-1633, email at sales@BusinessYETI.com, or through our online contact form.