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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We hear your struggle, feel your pain, and we are making a solution for you so that your unique story can be heard. Everyone has a story and many haven't been able to be heard. Not because they don't have a good story or because it's not worth hearing. For many it's because to get a story heard you either have to know someone or you have to 'pay to play'. Those that know JM2 know we think that is not right and we're making a game changing announcement about how stories are told.
We often get complacent in life where we get into that comfortable state and stop pushing ourselves. There isn't anything wrong with that but I see part of being human is always challenging yourself and pushing beyond what my limits are today. This doesn't mean that I am setting myself up for failure or pushing myself beyond my capabilities. I look for opportunities that I know if I devote the energy that I will succeed. I am going to go over two different short stories that I can say one I have personally conquered and the other I am currently working on conquering. How each of them has made me a better and well-rounded member of society and I feel prouder of my existence as a person.
I saw an old friend today who helped make JM2 Webdesigners & Marketing the growing agent of change in Northwest Indiana. While up at the local coffee shop writing blogs, working on social media accounts, making new websites live, adding new features, and adding some green padlock (SSL) security to the new websites I saw was Eric Zosso of Zoseco Co-working and seeing him made me think of where our company has come from the idea stage in the fall of 2012 when the idea of starting a business was still a pipe dream. Each and every Sunday is a day of reflection on where we've come, what happened in the past week, and what we have coming in the upcoming week. It's a time to look at three ways small business can start out.
Consistency is the foundation for success in all aspects of life. The constantly repeating, almost instantaneous execution of a perfect golf swing or a piano master performing a near-perfect rendition of Chopin's piano concerto comes from years of repeated practice until perfection.
Some people are stat crazy when given the option. The numbers, charts, and comparisons can give a wealth of information for people to analyze and formulate their next move with.
If you own a business page on Facebook, you may have heard about being Facebook verified. What appears to be a simple check mark next to your business's name, the purpose it serves means so much more.
You might have noticed some changes with your business's Facebook page recently, specifically with the cover photo. Facebook business pages will now have a series of wording that goes across the front of the image or video (more on that later) that serves as a brief description of what your business is about.
As a company, we strive to be paper free yet when you walk into our office you will see a lot of it around. We know that a business without paper would be a business that doesn't exist even one that strives and lives to be as much paper free as possible. We pride ourselves on protecting the environment through every step we do. Every piece of paper is re-used, recycled, and is typically gotten in a recycled state. Many of us have tablets that have pens for note taking but that is not always the most convenient option when you have a flash of an idea pop into your head. What can a simple piece of paper do for your business that a more efficient computer can't? Let's find out.
Who should read this? SNF administrators and marketing staff who believe the pre-need site visit will deliver more commitments and is an important part of the patient acquisition process with high focus on short-term Medicare A patients.
Saturday, I sat under the eaves of a friend’s garage roof and watched it rain. His daughter was running across the freshly mowed lawn in the rain. Once she got too much grass on her legs and feet she would leap into her turquoise and white inflatable pool. My friend’s dad, Eddie, sat to my right wearing his paint marked work boots. Eddie is an interior and exterior painter with over 30 years of experience.
For smaller businesses, having passion is one of the key components of selling your business to others. For many, the passion for the small business, the drive to their dream to the next level and find success in the business world is part of the appeal for so many to support local and support small to mid-range.
Five years ago, a dream was planted to change the world in the digital marketing space. This covers not only social media but websites and any electronic media of the modern business. We also decided to do this in Northwest Indiana rather than Silicon Valley or another major tech sector area of the country. The reason was simple and that is there was an untapped pool of truly awesome people that had desires to do good in the community and the world. Many who have been held back but knew they had the potential to do good in the world. Experts exist everywhere around the world and not in these tech sector centric locations. Our city of Valparaiso Indiana has proven and helped us grow with its entrepreneur spirit.
You have either started or have had your small business running in towns like Valparaiso, Chesterton, Merrillville, Hobart, Portage, or (insert your small town here). You compete with great customer service, quality products, and that local small town flare. But how are you able to compete against big corporations that seem to have endless marketing budgets at their disposal? Today we are going to dig into some of the 'tricks of the SEO trade' that we have used time-and-time again to help small businesses grow. Are you ready and willing to get more business and grow? If so, continue to read on and learn some of our proven techniques on growing your small business.
When it comes to working with clients, the last answer they want to hear are the three words of doom: 'I don't know', a phrase so adverse to client relations that mentioning them often is equated to losing their trust and reliance.
The more we talk with clients the more that they want results. To get results though you need to have outstanding communication. Communication comes in many ways and varies for each one of your customers. Businesses know they want a website to communicate their message and they need to be on social media to continue that reach and engage prospects and customers alike. Both platforms are working for you 24x7, should work together as a collaborative digital marketing tool for your business. To achieve this you need to have an effective communications strategy.
What exactly is SEO and how does it affect my business? Let's break things down and start from the top! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and we already know what a search engine is, right? Google, Yahoo, Bing, and many other websites serve as search engines, where a visitor types a phrase or word into a search box and a list of results pops up instantly. These sites look through every page of every website on the world wide web and matches results to the phrase or words searched. Optimization means making the best and most effective use of this resource, or in our case, designing your website so that search engines list it near or at the top of their search results list.
With great growth, a company needs to take a step back and look at everything it does to further provide value. We are focused not just on the local small and medium sized businesses but those across the entire country and around the world. We continually look at the paper purchased, the way our solutions work for our clients, and to the services that are offered. Each item has an impact to the bottom line of the company and if done incorrectly can truly cost the company and ultimately our customers. Keeping our budget tuned, living within our modest means, and checked constantly we can keep prices down while continually providing more value and grow each month. In just four years we've moved from a home office in Michigan City Indiana to a 2,000+ square foot office in downtown Valparaiso Indiana. We encourage everyone to read through this article on what makes JM2 Webdesigners unique and capable of meeting your businesses growing needs.
Five years ago, in 2012, a dream, even a fantasy if you will, was started. With a year of challenging work in the city of Michigan City Indiana a business plan was developed, modified, tweaked, vetted, and tweaked some more. Change was wanted, and needed, in the web design and marketing space. Having worked for several years at a printing company that did marketing I saw a lot of great old school things that still worked well today but could be enhanced with software and an eye on the future. After a year of work, saving money, the dream started to become a reality. This is the story of the four-year journey that JM2 Webdesigners & Marketing has made.
The phrase that we hear over and over of 'the best things in life are free' has seemingly lost it's impact and meaning through decades of ad nauseam use and the almost obligatory use on every marketing and business avenue known to humankind. Free has become free with an asterisk, making it all but free and losing any impact of the original's implications.
We previously talked about how text marketing is an effective tool when it comes to marketing your business and how business owners have a form of promotion that comes with a high open and utilization rate. It's this unexpected versatility and reach that turns text marketing into an effective machine. Now that we know just how useful it is, the two questions that remain are who can use it and how can they use it?
The best marketing plans whether written for digital or in the real-world can go bad. Those that maintain social media accounts always dread and even fear when news gets out and goes viral that is negative (we never complain when it is a positive interactions). What if that information goes beyond online and into the real-world? We are going to cover many of the high-level items that need to happen when something bad happens. It could be solely online, offline (print, television, radio, or even verbal), or a combination of the two. We are going to cover some of the higher level the dos and don'ts that you need to be cognizant of when dealing with these types of problems.
Business owners are the ones who truly understand the time-tested concepts of time and money. Businesses cannot afford any wasted time, as this misused time leads to a loss of revenue, something that all businesses, no matter their size, will suffer from.
For anyone involved in business or sales, you have most likely heard the term 'The Sales Funnel'. While the name may seem self-explanatory, there is a considerable amount of thought and planning that goes into a successful sales funnel. While each business's sales funnel will vary with the nuances of their business, there is a fundamental structure that all sales funnels follow. What are these fundamentals? I'm so glad you asked.
For many people and businesses, 2017 is a year to start fresh and work on new possibilities and functions designed to help your company grow. At JM2. we're also excited to start 2017 on the right foot as we are always looking at new ways to bring more to our clients and work on new ways to help them and their business grow. For me, 2017 presents an opportunity to engage with our clients even more as we help them achieve their goals for the year. As someone who's job is to speak with clients both old and new, this direction is something that fills me with endless possibilities of what we can do together. Out of all the things we are doing in 2017, here is what I'm most excited about.
When a business doesn't have a strategic plan, what tends to happen is what we call the 'copy' syndrome. This is where you look at one, or more, businesses and emulate aspects of their business. This often leads to changing directions midstream without focus and forethought. You essentially become a follower rather than a leader in your field. Rarely do these followers ever get out of that rut and become leaders in their field. When JM2 brings clients into our Valparaiso office we talk with them; it's our way. We don't ask directed questions to learn about them. Those questions all come out in regular conversation and we start to learn about their culture, who they are, their values, and more. This valuable information allows us to better serve them without having to 'interrogate' them.
A standing desk is just what it sounds like you 'stand at it'. But there are many forms to a standing desk. There are kinds that are statically up, those that require a crank or other manual method, and those that through the push of a button will go from a sitting position to a standing position. When we went on the search for a standing desk we wanted something that would meet the demand rigors of a small startup while being able to last the test of time as we grew to be a larger organization.
We state we're a mobile company but when events force you to work mobile you start to realize the true nature of being a mobile workforce is. Our office is in downtown Valparaiso Indiana which means we have some amazing opportunities. We are close to great restaurants, local shops, and of course are the first back on when we lose power. Well, that last statement we've learned is not always the case. We have lost power a few times and five or six hours later and the power is still off at times. This doesn't affect us though as we have built our system from the ground up for handling these types of situations.