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It is an app that has been the center of global speculation, brought comfort to so many people, helped many find a place to be creative, helped many find a support system they've never had, and it has now taken the world by storm. Its newest venture? It's helping small businesses sell more products and help many go viral! Today, we are going to be talking about the future of TikTok and business!
Hello readers and welcome to the Creative Consulting blog! Some of you might be very new to our blog and our company due to the topic and content of this blog. For those who are regular readers, we do urge you to suspend any disbelief at the moment and give this blog a chance, you might be very surprised at what you might learn! Today we are going to be taking a step in a new direction for Creative Consulting and talking about one of the biggest app phenomenons, TikTok. Before you leave the page please know this app has evolved, almost overnight, from an app for dancing tweens to users of all ages (Yes, all ages! We've personally seen some amazing videos created by individuals in their late 70's and 80's!), on all topics from cute animals, to incredible how-to's, recipes, artists, performers, and teachers. Musicals have been produced because of these creatives, important information has gone viral in a matter of hours, and it has given its users a sense of community when it was needed most.
Thanks to the pandemic we were all at home, many unable to see their families or friends for months, some still unable to do so. Many creatives lost their platforms to perform, share their art, or tell their stories. TikTok changed all of that. Many downloaded the app for the very first time once quarantine went into effect for entertainment, but they found a place to connect, share what they know, and not feel so alone. While the app has spent its fair share in the hot seat thanks to the previous administration, it looks like it is here to say. Not only is it here to stay, but to help all kinds of businesses become relevant in this new day and age and help their sales improve. How? This is what we are going to be talking about today! What's the buzz? It's a short-form video platform by the name of TikTok, where users can upload 60-second videos of their creation. As of last August, the app had been downloaded over two billion times and has quickly become a staple for internet culture for almost every age group. While it has become a global phenomenon, its rise to glory in the US has been a much different story, receiving a lot of fire in 2020.
The app is owned by ByteDance, a huge Chinese tech company. What was brought into question by the US government and the previous administration was how much information the Chinese company was receiving about the US and its citizens through TikTok, and if this leak of data could be a threat to its protection. It also questioned how much access the Chinese government had to TikTok's user data and if ByteDance was doing an appropriate job of moderating its content. To help with this, TikTok brought in a little Disney Magic and hired Kevin Mayer, an American who was Disney steaming executive. However, due to the political environment and atmosphere that the last administration was pulling TikTok into, Mayer quickly resigned. The last administration demanded that it sell to an American company or it would be banned in the US. While it has now outlasted three deadlines of being sold, the first in September of 2020, the second in November of 2020, and a third that just passed on February 18th, the mega-corporation reports that it is continuing to work out the details. During the first few weeks of the current administration, it hasn't been touched on a lot yet. The future of the app is still very much up in the air. Despite everything and the potential ban the app could be facing, ByteDance doubled its profit to $35 billion last year, according to Bloomberg.com
Before it became such a phenomenon with so much drama attached to it in the US, TikTok had its very own Cinderella story. The app first began as Musical.ly which launched in Shanghai in 2014 and had a strong following in the US. ByteDance followed in 2016 with a very similar app in China called Douyin. The app became so popular that ByteDance knew they could go somewhere with it. They rebranded Douyin to TikTok, bought Musical.ly in 2018, and TikTok was officially born. The question still lingers, how could an app designed for fun and entertainment help your business? Is this really becoming a reality?
According to HootSuite, TikTok had 800 million active users as of October 2019 and was predicted to continue with strong growth spurts. HootSuite went on to report that the app on average is opened 8 times a day by its users. With that many eyes on an app, why wouldn't you want to use that to your advantage? Just like any other social media platform, it can be an excellent source of free marketing, that if stuck to properly can help increase your sales. You don't have to make ridiculous videos or anything out of your comfort zone, you just need to make a 60-second video full of interesting marketing that is on-brand for your company. Many companies, Forbes says, are ignoring the app thinking it's just a fad or just for children. With that being said, we might have to remind you that Facebook and Instagram were also considered fads once, and look at them now! They're almost imperative to a company's success! Quite honestly, we might be standing at the doorway of a very important and untapped market. This is an opportunity to introduce your company to a younger generation, one who could introduce your products to their parents or want them for themselves. TikTok could also see the trend that Instagram and Facebook did, that as time went on more and more adults joined. Don't forget that this is a global app, and it could widen your market beyond what you could imagine. Your products could go global!
We've talked about this before in our previous blogs, but tools like Instagram and Facebook videos, Instagram TV, reels, and going live have become such a popular tool for getting your customer's attention and introducing yourselves to them in a fun and personable way. According to wyzowl.com the amount of time consumers spend watching videos online has gone up 52% from 2018 and is going to keep growing. TikTok is another platform to help you show off these videos you're already making for Facebook and Instagram, you don't even need to make different content, you can be consistent across all of your platforms. This can help you reach many different audiences with just one video across multiple platforms.
TikTok is a powerful tool to use for generating brand awareness and to help with your engagement. The videos you are creating cost nothing to make, but thanks to its algorithms you can see results almost right away when you do post. However, you can't just slap a video together to magically get the results you want and need. Just like Instagram and Facebook, you'll need to create something attention-grabbing, fun, to the point, uses all aspects of the app (Adding music and text), and you need to pay attention to what's trending to find this success. You can also take advantage of TikTok's ad platform on top of making your own videos to help spread awareness. This awareness can increase traffic to your website, other social media pages, and even drive up sales, especially if you can create a buzz on the app with other users talking about your products. This idea is very similar to the partnerships and influencer phenomenon that Instagram has been seeing over the years. Instead of a picture or story, TikTok gets its users talking about products, literally! It's very important to remember that you need to create content that's not just commercials or forcing sales down your audience's throat. You need to connect and communicate with your audience and have fun with them, just as you do with every platform of social media. TikTok has, as of last year, officially launched TikTok for Business with the specific goal of helping businesses grow and expand on its platform!
TikTok's goal with this new step is to "empower small and mid-sized businesses to tap into the power of TikTok for Business to grow their brand" according to the app. They are very aware of the power their app has generated and the marketing options available, and want small businesses to take part in that! TikTok wants its users to reach new audiences, optimize all the hard work users put into their marketing campaigns, and they have designed an easy platform for anyone to be able to enjoy this! While Facebook and Instagram have consistently grown in power for helping small businesses, many small business owners might agree that both platforms with their constant upgrades and changes make it hard and frustrating for its users to continue being successful on their platforms. We also might go as far as to say that TikTok wants to give small businesses the opportunity to use their platform along with all the tools they need to be successful, all while supporting them in every way they can. You will still need to spend money on their ads, they are still a business, but using ads on TikTok could offer more views and clicks than their social media peers due to the sheer volume of users. While the future of TikTok is still up in the air for the US, if it does stick around, it might change the face of marketing, just like Facebook and Instagram once did!
What do you think about TikTok? Have you started using it for your small business or are you still just scrolling through looking for cute animals and recipes? We do encourage you to do your own research about the app and do a little experimenting yourself. While it might not be for everyone, there is something for everyone on the app! We are very excited to see where the app will take the world of marketing and what might happen next. Keep your eyes peeled, we have a feeling this isn't the last you'll hear about TikTok! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
To learn more and do your own research, follow the link below!
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While the dawning of direct message and text messages has overshadowed that of the emailing world, there are still so many untapped opportunities available for business owners to take advantage of when it comes to emails! Today, we are going to be talking about the importance of email marketing and how to utilize it!
Welcome to the Creative Consulting blog, reader! A special hello and shout out to our Summerville friends, local businesses, and customers. We are so glad you found your way here today, and we hope you're doing safe and well! Today we are going to be talking about emails and the power of email marketing. We know you might be rolling your eyes because you have hundreds of unread emails just sitting in your inbox that you're dreading going through. Plus, isn't email an old and outdated tool? Well, no matter what you've read, email and email marketing is still around and it still has so much to offer.
Just like any good tool, there is a reason why email marketing has lasted so long. Well-designed marketing tools grow and develop over time due to their needs and demands. Emails and the power of email marketing are no different. According to one of our favorite marketing tools, Hubspot, the first marketing email was sent in 1978, so the idea and the use of email marketing inst a new one. That one email lead to $13 million in sales revenue and launched this incredible marketing tool that millions use every day. Forbes goes on to say that email marketing is still delivering the highest ROI of any marketing platform, it is earning companies $42 for every $1 spent. Hubspot reports that 73% of millennials prefer to stay in contact with businesses through email and 99% of consumers check their email every day! With powerful numbers like that, it looks like email marketing is doing more than just hanging on, it's leading the charge. The big question now is not only if you're using it but if you're using it correctly. That is what we will be talking about today, along with giving a few tips on how to utilize this powerful tool!
Over the last year, we having all been glued to our electronics, companies have been forced to do a pandemic pivot. Many companies have turned to emails to keep communicating with their customers about new deals, opportunities, and changes, and many consumers have turned around and gone haywire with unsubscribing and getting annoyed with the number of emails in their inbox. While we understand this reaction, that doesn't change the importance of email marketing, it is still relevant and it is still working. Regardless of these sometimes harsh reactions don't give up on email marketing. Instead, maybe it's just time to look at your email marketing in a brand new way than you have before!
Using email as a marketing tool lives in its own very strange limbo and these professional emails live in a category all their own. They aren't personal emails from a friend or family member, and they are not spam. Even today, giving out one's email is still given with hesitation, thanks to the amount of cyber-crime and influx of emails you can get every time you give it out. You need to respect those who do sign up and trust you with their information. When you go out to create an email blast for your list of recipients, it's not just for a sale. You need to focus on building a relationship with this audience and continue to nurture it as time goes on.
The email you are creating and sending needs to be about your customer, don't make it directly about making a sale, about the company, or about you. Subconsciously your audience will enjoy the email and will look forward to the next email you send out! While it would be amazing to have a one on one relationship with every single customer, that's just not possible. Email can help you create that feeling along with saving you time, You can also nurture your relationships with your customers, stay in touch with them, provide them with important information, give them something to learn, give them something to apply to their life right now, or give them something to look forward to (i.e. a sale or a new product!).
Using Email As A Tool
Now that we know that the power of email marketing isn't dead, how do we go about using it as an effective tool?
The great thing about email marketing is that so much of the work you need to do is very similar to what your team already does for the rest of your social media platforms and marketing plans. While you continue to build up and perfect your social media marketing strategy, your email marketing can continue to grow stronger. Keep using this tool and keep working with it until it works for you! Are you at a loss with social media marketing and the future of email marketing? We can help with that! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
Looking to learn more about email marketing? Check out this free download from Hubspot.com! Use this template to strategically organize your email marketing. Available for Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.
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Dealing with spam comments on any platform of your online presence is sadly a very common thing that almost everyone deals with. In part three of this blog, we are going to be talking about how to deal with spam comments on your social media pages!
Hello readers and hello to our fellow Summerville businesses, residents, and friends! Welcome back to the Creative Consulting blog! We hope business is going well for you, and that you're working towards reaching your end of the year goals one day at a time! If you're not quite there yet, ask yourself what might be going on or getting in the way. One of the most overlooked things that can turn your business around is your social media presence. First of all, do you have any? Is your website skillfully designed and easy to navigate? Do you regularly post to your social media pages, do you respond to comments, emails, and direct messages promptly? Do you actually work on your SEO and Google ranking? If you answered no to any of those questions it might be time to reach out to us at Creative Consulting to help give your website a little TLC and truly give you the power that social media can provide. It's what we do, and what we are passionate about. We are also constantly dedicated to learning more about the social media industry to be up to date as much as possible to help our clients stay above and beyond their competitors!
In part one of this blog series, we began talking about the impact spammers and hackers have on your social media and internet presence and focused on how to deal with them in blog comments. Today, we are going to be discussing how to deal with spam comments and potential hackers on your social media platforms. While so many think that spammer comments and posts on your social media can just be ignored and buried by other comments, it is not a situation to be ignored or a time to hope that they won't be seen. These comments, posts, and the presence of spam comments can be very dangerous and damaging to your company and your brand. Remember, social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for your company; it can help build it up or spammers can help tear it down in an instant. They come in the form of fake accounts, spamming comments filled with hashtags, links, and one too many emojis, and direct messages that are not welcome. It takes time to deal with all of this, but it is well worth it to avoid any malicious intent or harm to your accounts or your actual trusted followers.
Taking responsibility against these spammers and bots is a responsibility that comes with having your business online. These are just a few of the tips available to you to help combat these issues. If you've come to the end of the road with these tactics, there are many others out there. Remember too, having an active social media account and monitoring your pages can help cut down on these malicious and annoying attacks. Active accounts can help you remain creditable and keep you in contact with your customers and target audience. While it might seem tedious, please believe us when we say that these actions are worth it. If you're having these issues or if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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Continuing with our current blog series, we are going to be discussing how to deal with spam and phishing in your inbox. Today's focus will be on how to spot these hazardous emails, how you can fight back, and how to protect yourself from any and all dangers lurking in your email!
Hello readers! Hello Summerville! Welcome to the Creative Consulting blog, coming to you from the heart of Summerville, SC just a little drive up from Charleston, SC! We hope that wherever you are that this blog finds you healthy and well! While we are still battling with the effects of a global pandemic, there is another difficult fight that many companies have to deal with daily; fighting spam and phishing comments, messages, and emails across their entire digital fingerprint. The scams and those behind them are becoming harder to recognize as spam, and they are becoming more intelligent and malicious every day. As we've been discussing through this blog series, it's something that everyone deals with, something that you can't give up fighting on, and something that sometimes is very hard not to fall into.
As we hinted in the first blog of this series, spam emails are starting to look more legitimate every day, becoming more tailored to their target audiences, and hard to recognize as spam. These emails can cause fear, frustration, lead to a virus destroying your personal or work computer, or expose sensitive information from your personal or professional life. We've seen it in the news multiple times as cybercrime has grown; a giant corporation will get hacked and millions will have their personal information exposed or personal information gets into the wrong hands. However, even more frightening is the fact that these scams can happen to anyone and any size company. These spammers and hackers don't discriminate, they just keep on working. How can you recognize spam emails and how can you protect yourself against them? That is what we will be discussing today!
How Do You Recognize Spam Emails?
Why put such a big focus on spam in email form? Why disguise them as big bank chains, Netflix, or Amazon? Email is a very cheap and costless platform that allows spammers and hackers to reach high volumes of individuals very quickly. Why the popular chains? It's the fact that almost everyone is connected to at least one if not all of these popular resources, making the scams look incredibly believable. According to westtek.com, more than 95% of emails sent throughout the world are more than likely spam. According to the Cisco Talos Intelligence Group, it has been found that 84% of world wide email traffic is unsolicited and malicious. With statistics like that, how can you fight against something so powerful? How can you recognize what is spam and what is not?
How Do You Protect Yourself From Spam Emails?
How Do You Report phishing or scamming?
Checking your email and text messages should never bring you worry or stress about spamming or phishing, but sadly it happens every day. We hope this guide helps you to combat this daily issue, that it helps give you peace of mind, and that it helps to keep you and your company safe! If you have any more questions or comments, please never hesitate to reach out to us! If there is a topic you would like to see as a future blog, don't hesitate to reach out and share that with us as well! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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Spammers, fishers, scams, viruses, and their threats have become a dangerous daily reality for businesses of all sizes. To help keep you safe and sane we wanted to talk about the realities of these situations, how to recognize them, and how to deal with them.
Hello, Summerville, and hello to you, reader! Welcome back to Creative Consulting's blog. We hope we find you happy and well. Are you feeling stumped or stuck with where your company is going or with your overall business goals? We might be able to help with that! We specialize in branding and online exposure marketing through social media and SEO, we build websites, create content, and run all of your social media pages, and much more. Help the world know who you are and what your business is through the explosive power of social media. You can't afford to put it off any longer!
We have a very soft spot for social media, and we are very aware of the highs and lows that come along with it. It is an incredible business tool that is always growing and expanding. It helps you stay in touch with your customers, helps be aware of your target audience, helps you stay ahead of your competitors, and helps you share and show off what makes your company unique. However, with the good comes the bad. The internet is such a vast expanse that allows anyone the freedom to get behind their keyboards and share how they feel, oftentimes without a second thought to who or what company they could be damaged. Often time these attacks come without doing any proper research, too. The internet is so free and open, it also allows for some very scary, dangerous, and disastrous cybercrime to exist alongside us all.
Cybercrime doesn't just attack multi-billion-dollar businesses, it targets small mom and pop sized businesses too, and it can appear in many different forms across multiple different platforms. Emails have become a very powerful tool for hackers, and they have become more eloquent in their attacks. Sometimes it is very easy to spot a spam email with its awful design and terrible grammar and spelling mistakes. However, they are becoming more advanced, look more professional, and claiming to know more personal information than they ever have before. They're becoming more aggressive, nasty, and frightening as time goes on. A trend we've started to see is spammers and scammers showing up in your direct messages on Instagram and Facebook, in comments on your social media, commenting on your blogs, and even emailing you regarding the copyright of images and graphics being used on your social media platforms. Since this trend is becoming popular as time goes on, we wanted to explore and discuss the topic with our readers.
First off, if you've been through an issue with a scammer or spammer, please don't be embarrassed, it happens! As we mentioned above, these scams and attacks are becoming harder to distinguish as being fake or not. No one is immune to these attacks, they can appear in anyone's inboxes and in response to the content you choose to use on your social media platforms. Even Creative Consulting isn't immune to it! Below you will find two examples of spam that we've received, and these aren't the only ones we've received either. We get emails like this more often than you might think.
The first image on the left is of an email we received regarding an image on our website claiming that it didn't belong to us, but that it belonged to and was the work of the sender of the email. However, the graphics in question were designed by us in house, so it was something we were able to laugh off and knew was fake. However, pay attention to the tone of the email, if this was received by someone who didn't design their website or have a trusted source that did, it could be very scary. Also, note the links that have been embedded into the email offering proof that the images in question are the author's, and they have also included a link for "legal documents". The author invites and then demands the reader to click on them in a very believable manner. Both of these links are probably some kind of scam, virus, or a tool that could open up your computer and allow a scammer to have access to whatever they wish. As the message continues, the threat becomes even more heated, saying the images that are hers need to be removed, cursing is used, and more threats are delivered. While we knew this was a harmless threat for us, it's still uncomfortable to read, and could be very scary to someone else.
The second image on the right is a much different example. This comment, and many that we have received like it, have been sent in for approval to comment on a client's blog. Many social media management companies and blog writers will turn on the option that requires the approval of comments before they're seen by the rest of the world. While we have the power to stop a lot of spam messages, sometimes we don't. These messages range from very tame and kind messages to threats, similar to what you saw in the first image. While this comment might seem kind, we've received the exact same comment from multiple different "people", who are most likely bots. Also, note the circled name on the image noting where the email is coming from. Obviously, that is not an appropriate or real IP address of someone you want to be attached to your website or blog. Having spam comments like this, even ones that seem harmless can damage your reputation, your Google Standing, and credibility. So, how do you deal with this?
Also, not staying on top of these comments, no matter how many you're dealing with, shows a lack of moderation and care for your website and blog, according to Forbes.com. Who wants to believe or follow the audience of a blog or website where it looks like no one takes care of it? Also, the readers you've had might lose faith in your credibility. What happens if you've been a long time follower and reader and because you put faith into this blogger, you don't question the authenticity of a link in a comment. Then, to your horror, you click on it and you have a virus and your personal information begins to leak out. You would quickly lose faith in returning to that website or blog again, right?
Next, you can use certain settings to help moderate your spammers. One option is to moderate comments from first-time users, according to NeilPatel.com. This will place these authors in moderation if they change their names, email addresses, or use an email link. If your blog platform allows it, turn off trackbacks, or you can install some plugins that have been built and designed to control spam. You can also shift the conversation to social media. Invite any questionable commenters to email you or continue the discussion on your social media platforms. This will show your fellow readers that you're handling the situation, and if you get no response, it's another way to justify deleting these questionable comments. If you use WordPress, make sure the settings to minimize and control spam are on. You also can turn off the comments on your blogs. However, according to Forbes.com, this can be a big disservice to your blog and company. If you decide to turn comments off on your blog, you could be missing a huge marketing opportunity.
Don't be discouraged by spam or the time you might have to dedicate to managing it. It is a battle you can win and we hope these tools and suggestions help you feel prepared. Please check back for part two of this new blog series discussing spam on social media posts and found in your direct messages! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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In this follow up blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion on ADA compliance on your website and what you need to know right now.
Hello Summerville, and welcome back to the blog! There is just nothing like a new year in Summerville. The whole town seems to be buzzing with new exciting energy working towards this new year's goals, new projects, and resolutions. It's a wonderful energy, and we can all feel it in the office. It has helped each of us stay focused, get to work, and inspired us to keep up with our own goals and resolutions. Thank you, Summerville! Let's make the best out of 2021 together, and let's be kind to one another. Who knows what this year or any year might hold for all of us!
One of the very first blogs we've shared this year was all about being ADA compliant, what that means, the challenges small businesses are facing right now because of it, the fact that many issues are caused due to lack of official guidance, and how the officials are going about correcting websites to ADA complaint before a bully shows up to do it first. Today, we are going to be following up with part two of that blog with even more helpful and important information to make sure your business is safe and ready to handle the changes ADA online compliance might bring this year.
What are the best ways to make your website ADA compliant?
Remember, you can do many of these changes yourself if you want to. Do not, we repeat, do NOT let anyone bully you into believing that they are the only ones who can make your current website or build a website for you that is ADA compliant and that you must spend an obscene amount of money to do so. You can work with us at Creative Consulting to achieve an ADA-compliant website or any top-notch design company that won't force or bully you, and our rates will be reasonable. Remember, outside of following these loosely based guidelines that have started to appear about being ADA compliant online, being ADA compliant can help position your business for long-lasting success and help to expand your customer base. While rules and guidelines are still not black and white, the WCAG (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and other groups are paving the way. Until then, here is a list of suggestions and tips on how to make your website ADA compliant right now.
Well, readers, it looks like the topic of ways on how best to make your website ADA compliant needed its very own blog! Don't worry, we still have a lot more to talk about, and will continue to do so in our next few blogs. This topic is becoming more important every day, and we want to make sure you are prepared and informed. We appreciate you coming on this ride with us about ADA compliance. We hope that with each of these blogs, you are taking the correct steps to ensure that your website fits these guidelines. Please take this topic very seriously. While there are no official guidelines set in stone by law right now, that most certainly doesn't mean that it couldn't change soon. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to get ahead on this topic, so once it is set in stone, you either will already be compliant with the law or you will just need to make a few adjustments! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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et to know the hilarious, hard-working, and creative individuals that make up the Creative Consulting family one blog at a time.
Hello readers, and welcome back to the blog! From all of us at Creative Consulting, we want to wish you a very happy new year! We hope that this year is one for growth, learning, positive changes, and exciting things for you and yours. While starting a new year can be overwhelming, we hope that you look at it with hope and walk towards it with an open heart and open mind. Also, don't forget all the goals, resolutions, and aspirations you have for 2021 were made to accomplish throughout the year. Don't try and tackle them all in January, believe me! By the time the 31st rolls around, you'll already be stressed, exhausted, and ready to abandon your goals. Part of making plans, aspirations, and goals is creating a strategy and a plan on how and when to accomplish them. Make sure to stick to that plan as much as you plan on sticking to achieving your goals. Do this with both your personal and professional goals, and you'll be heading towards a wonderful new year. We are here to help you accomplish all of your business goals for 2021, too! Looking to rebrand? Build a website? Have a logo designed? Create a social media play? Add blogs to your SEO? We are here to help you with all of this and more!
What better way to start a new year than introducing a brand new member of our team? While we ushered out 2020, we ushered in a brand new member of our team who arrived right on time and has been a perfect addition to our team. Summerville and beyond, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the one and only Madi Kirkwood! From one Maddie to another, it is my personal honor to write about and introduce you to her. From her very first day at the office, we could all tell this Summerville native was going to fit right into our crazy and creative team. Madi is still settling in, but she has put the first finishing touches on her office, has dove headfirst into her position and learning more about it, and is already coming up with incredible ideas to help move the company forward.
I do have to share my appreciation and admiration for my fellow Madi. A few weeks ago, a bunch of us were working at the conference table chatting and sharing ideas. Madi was working with me on these interview questions and having a hard time answering all of them. Talking about yourself is difficult, and letting someone (practically a stranger still at this point) write about you and share it all with the wide-open web is difficult and brave. I appreciate all of my fellow teammates for being such good sports and letting me share a peek into their lives. Madi and I share the love of Bullet Journaling and I admire her organization, her creativity, humor, and the dedication and hard work she has already given and shown in just the few short weeks she has been with the creative team. To jump right from graduation into a full-time job can be difficult, but to someone who has gone to school full time, worked, and had an internship all at the same time, this new time of transition for Madi will be a piece of cake. It is a joy to have her on the team, and I look forward to all the incredible things she is going to be doing for the company and all of our clients!
Name: Madi Kirkwood
How long have you been working at CC: Almost one month!
How did you hear about the positions: My professor from CSU sent me this way last month whenever the SEO Specialist position opened up, and I applied right away!
What do you do for CC: I am the Search Engine Optimization Specialist
What is your favorite part about working for CC: I love the team & how close everyone is here. A good team and communication are the backbone to any striving business, so I am extremely excited to continue to grow closer to everyone here!
What have you learned since you worked at CC: A better question is, what haven't I learned? I am continuously growing and learning more about how I can sharpen my skills and gain more knowledge every day!
What is your favorite part of your workday at CC: My favorite part of my workday is accomplishing a goal that I set prior to that day. It is incredibly encouraging to be able to succeed in the things I set for myself.
Favorite memory at CC so far: Any time I'm laughing with our team! I have loved being able to connect with my coworkers and learn about our shared humor!
Favorite Summerville Small Business (besides CC): Guerin's Pharmacy has held a place in my heart since I was in middle school. Memories of getting ice cream in the summertime or a cold glass of bottled Coca-Cola bring back amazing nostalgia.
What is your educational background: I graduated from Charleston Southern University in 2020 with my Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design & a minor in Business Administration in Marketing. I try to continue my education as much as possible because of my ever-changing field. I specialize in not only SEO, but I am also a branding and advertising designer!
What are your hobbies: I enjoy being crafty & doing digital illustration in my free time. I also like to play Indie style video games, going out in Charleston with my friends (socially distanced & masked up, of course!), and actively practicing self-care!
What is your favorite color: My most used color palette is a combination of shades of reds, blues, and yellows. I would say those are my favorite colors!
Interesting Facts about you: I am allergic to pineapple!
Favorite Food: Anything that has to do with potatoes, they're the most versatile food & I am a sucker for some good mashed potatoes!
Favorite Restaurant in Charleston/Summerville: Honestly, nothing beats my grandma's cooking, but if I had to choose, Eva's on Main is a wonderful place to go for a homemade meal!
Favorite things to do in Charleston/Summerville: Going to the beach and going axe throwing are some of my favorite things to do!
I don't know about you, but after I interviewed Madi and read through this, I had the strangest urge to go axe throwing and grabbing my favorite potato dish! I know I say this after every introduction, but I love how much more I learn about each of them when I get to write about them! I also enjoy how I can see each of my teammate's personalities shine through in how they answer. These blogs always make me smile, so I hope you are too! Cheers to January, Summerville! I look forward to another exciting year of bringing you the best Creative Consulting can give! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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In this two-part blog, we will be discussing something pretty delicate in our world right now. It is one of our personal goals to strive to not only help our clients and fellow small business owners grow their businesses, but we also strive to educate others and tell the truth about what's happening in the world of business right now. Today, we are going to be discussing a very important hot topic, being ADA compliant!
Hello, Summerville, and hello 2021! How many times have you written the date wrong so far this year? I've done it an embarrassingly amount of times! Anyway, welcome back to the blog writer's desk, and while we are just a few weeks into the new year, it is still such an exciting time to own a business. While so many people hate the beginning of a new year as much as they hate Mondays, when we look at a new year we see the beginnings of something very special and exciting. We have the opportunity to grow and become the company we want to be, and to help our clients do the same. That, to us, is incredibly exciting and one of the many reasons why starting fresh in a new year is what we live for!
One of the ways we try to help all of our clients and fellow small business owners grow is to inspire them to look at every new year as a new opportunity. It's the perfect time to go after their goals and a perfect time to plan how to reach them. We also try to take the time in the first few months to continue educating our clients on what is happening now in our industry, and how that might impact their business on a day to day basis, and what to be cautious of. Currently, one of the hottest trends in the marketing world and the website design world is offering clients to help them become ADA compliant. It's a sad reality that many marketing companies will use scare tactics to force small companies into a website contract with them, claiming that they aren't ADA compliant which could land them in a huge lawsuit. This is such an unnecessary and cruel thing to do to small businesses, who are already struggling to make ends meet in the first place. We want to state that by law, there are actually no guidelines that state exactly what or how your website must be set up to be ADA compliant. At least there isn't anything yet. If you are being bothered or badgered by a company telling you otherwise, please brush them off or speak with us. They're being bullies, and we don't like bullies here at Creative Consulting. In this two-part blog, we are going to be talking about what ADA Compliance is, how your company needs to be approaching this term and its current guidelines, and why the threat of being in danger isn't anything close to what many companies will say that you are in. Yes, you need to be compliant, but there is wiggle room, which is what we will be talking about today.
Let's take a step back though before we get in over our heads or things get confusing. The ADA is the American With Disabilities Act that requires physical locations to provide fair access and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Some of the most common examples of this are restaurants and public buildings must provide wheelchair accessibility and they must provide menus and other reading materials in Braille for customers who are visually impaired. Today, in our very media-heavy and driven world, ADA compliance has now spread out to the digital world and our digital devices. ADA compliance is now requiring all websites to provide accessibility for all on their webpages. This can include web content that can be used by those who are blind, for those who are deaf, help for those who must navigate by using their voices, and providing screen readers to help read and describe all content on the webpage for those who might not be able to see it. So yes, by law you must be ADA compliant and provide these options. Your website must also not prohibit the use of these tools that we've mentioned above that would prevent an individual with a disability to access your webpage as needed. However, here is the kicker! There are no clear ADA regulations that spell out how every website must be laid out and designed to provide accessibility to everyone with a disability. There is so much grey area, and so much unknown, which people are taking advantage of and trying to decide what it means for them, not for the digital world across the board. All it states by legal documentation is that all businesses that fall under Tier 1 or Tier 3 must provide internet content that gives at least "reasonable accessibility" to individuals with disabilities according to Business News Daily, but that is all that they say and no guidelines or examples have truly been supplied.
What businesses fall under these different tiers? That's when it begins to get a little tricky. Tier 1 Businesses are those that have at least 15 full-time employees and are open for business at least 20 weeks out of the year, and they somehow engage in an industry that adds to and affects commerce. However, if you have 14 or fewer employees (for example you are a self-employed company of one) and you work less than those 20 weeks a year, you don't have to comply as being Title 1. According to Findlaw.com any tax-exempt private membership clubs also do not count as being Tier 1 businesses. Businesses that are owned by a Native American Tribe are also exempt from being Title 1. However, Tier 3 gets a little more tricky because more businesses fall under its umbrella. Tier 3 businesses are businesses that are considered and live in the category of being public accommodations. Examples of this included and are not limited to:
ADA was passed in 1990, making sure that all public access locations had to provide accommodations for everyone, including those with disabilities. 20 years later in 2010, the Department of Justice passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design which mandated that all electronic information and devices had to be accessible to those with disabilities. However, because the law states that you only have to be ADA compliant if you fall under Tier 1 and Tier 3, it is still best to discuss with a lawyer what you should do for their website to not run into any issues. While there is no reason to prevent someone with disabilities from enjoying your website and content, for those who don't fall under those tiers, you shouldn't be badgered into building a website with a company you don't want to work with because they are saying your not ADA compliant, and the only way to avoid a lawsuit is to work with them. Remember, there are no clear rules about being ADA compliant, however, again, you need to be respectful of the ADA complaint ideals. What we are trying to explain here is that you can make these additions and adjustments yourself to your website. You can even make your website more accessible for those who use different tools to access and enjoy it, and to make sure they aren't turned away from it.
Many companies today, since it is such a grey area topic with no real definition, will take advantage of the fact that this world has no clear-cut definition and will attack smaller companies that don't fit in any tier. They will bully and scare them into buying a website from them, and in our books that is a bad business tool. In the second half of this blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion about being ADA compliant, its current battle, and how to keep your company compliant while not being bullied by others to conform to their incorrect definition of being ADA compliant. This is a touchy topic and one that we need to talk about more. If you feel that you might be going against ADA compliance or in some trouble because of not following what ADA guidelines there are, please contact us and we will work through it together! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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In one of our very last blogs for 2020, we are wrapping up this blog series about the best things you can do for your business now to make the new 2021 the best year yet!
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writer's desk! The year is slowly picking itself up and putting itself away, and boy was it one for the books. We are happy to see it go, and we are happy and excited to see what this new year will be bringing us. As all of us at Creative Consulting have been gathering for our last in-person meetings of 2020, it's been interesting to sit back and see what this year has taught us. First and foremost it has taught us how resilient our town is. Nothing can stop Summerville! In fact, through all of the challenges we have been through as a community, it has been incredible to see just how much we have supported one another and continued to grow together and for one another. We have seen compassion, hope, and the dedication each of you have to your families, community, and your passions.
We have also experienced so much support and an outpouring of love from all of you supporting small businesses of all kinds right here in town. You decided to shop small, give big, and give back to your community. You took more time to be proud of the movers, makers, and shakers right here in town, Thanks to that you now own beautiful pieces of artwork and homemade products made by your incredibly talented neighbors, and you have tried some of the best new dishes and desserts made from your neighbors that you might not have known about unless the pandemic had happened, a tough silver lining, but one just the same. We have also seen resilience in our industry that we are so thankful for. We are honored to support and care for your businesses, and to help build and support them to help reach all of your goals and more. It has been an honor working with each of you, and we look forward to ringing in 2021 with you and stepping into new beginnings.
In part one of this blog, we spent time talking about all of the financial things you can do right now to help save on your 2020 taxes. While many of those decisions, purchases, and money moves might seem like a little bit of strain on your business accounts at the end of a very difficult year, we promise that they are still good decisions. While you might feel every penny this time of year, you will appreciate the time you dedicated to following the list in our previous blog and spending a little more money now. Come April 15th, your tax expenses will not be as challenging to cover, painful, or a surprise. In this blog, we are focusing more on the business aspects of closing out a year. What can you be focusing on and working on now that can help you create the best business plan for 2021? How can you make your goals become realities? How can you uplift and support your team? Let's talk about it!
Year-End Count Down
Before we all wrap up our work for the new year and settle into our holiday parties with our coworkers, there is still so much left to do. This is our busiest time of the year, so we understand that sometimes things can get lost in the shuffle. Don't let that happen this year! Use this end of the year checklist to wrap up 2020 and get your head in the game for 2021! We know the pandemic has been devastating to so many of you, and many companies are still trying to recover from its reverberations. Keep strong, keep going, you've got this!
From all of us at Creative Consulting, thank you for an incredible year! We deeply appreciate your support and friendship and couldn't do what we do without all of you and the incredible town of Summerville. We are so appreciative to our clients who have been with us for years, our new 2020 clients, and all of our future clients. We wish you all a very exciting and wonderful 2021!
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The end of the year will be here in no time, and with only a few weeks left to spare, end of the year spending could help your upcoming tax season be much less painful!
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writer's desk! While we are all ensconced with holiday cheer and joy, we know many of our readers and fellow small business owners are figuring out the best steps, plans, and decisions to make their companies bigger and better in 2021. We know many of our small business peers are trying to wrap up this crazy year as best as they can, planning for what they can, and figuring out and planning for the best ways to save money on their upcoming 2020 taxes. Oh yes, we are going there already. As much as you might hate it now, we promise you'll love us for it later! With so many small businesses being passed up on small business loans and other opportunities this year to help them through what the pandemic left behind, pinching pennies and saving what you can might be the difference between getting your head far above water and doggy paddling.
Like we said, we're going there. Tax season is going to be here much faster than we realize. We'll celebrate New Year's day, blink, and all of a sudden April 15th will be here! It will seem even closer for those who paid their taxes on the extended day of July 15th. Instead of having a whole year to prepare for 2020 taxes, it suddenly became 8 months to prepare. Four months makes a big difference when you're a business owner, you know that and we know that. So give yourself an early Christmas gift and jump on board for being prepared now.
Don't worry, you're not alone. We are already wrapping up our year, deep in planning mode for 2021, gearing up to be as prepared as possible, and ready to jump-start on whatever 2021 might bring us. So, as an early gift from us to you, we wanted to help you get organized with some tips, suggestions, and even a checklist for how to make 2021 your best year yet. In this two-part blog, we are going to be covering it all! This first part will be dedicated to how to save some nickles and dimes now to make tax season less painful, and part two will be an end of the year checklist to help wave goodbye to 2020 in the strongest way possible.
Buy It Now, Save Later!
Our passion is to help companies grow to their full potential and beyond, creating a powerful brand, voice, and social fingerprint. We offer website design services, graphic design services, social media management, search engine optimization services, and much more. Each of these services is beneficial for companies who wish to grow and expand, and to rise above their competitors. Each of these services is also what we are very passionate about. We continue to grow, study, and learn about the latest trends to continue to offer the best of each service. Have you or your company been considering a new website, a new logo, a new rebrand, someone to manage your social media services? Now might be the perfect time to sign on with us! Purchasing a new website or a logo design this year can be used as a business expense to help lower your 2020 taxes for next year! Up your game against your competition and begin bettering your business, all while saving money for your growing business now!
While we are talking about saving your company money, here are some other things you and your small business could be doing right now (after signing on with us for a website or logo project, that is) that can save you some serious tax headaches come April 15th. Please remember to save all of your paperwork and receipts, and make sure everything is documented and dated properly. This will save any confusion if anyone tries to challenge you when you make these financial decisions, and they will make your tax advisor and preparer very thankful for your organizational skills!
As a little sneak peek at what our next blog is going to be like and some things to start thinking about now, here are a few things you can start doing to revamp your business and save money going into 2021.
There is still so much to share, so make sure you join us next time for part two of this blog. While it's so easy to let go this time of year and you just want to sit back and enjoy, please don't forget that there is still so much left to do! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about your end of the year business plan, please don't hesitate to reach out and chat with us! We are here to help make this year and every year the best year yet. We are right with all of you who are burning your 2020 business candle at both ends, believe us, but we know the work and dedication is worth it! We are dedicated to helping our company grow to help yours become the best it possibly can! Until next time Summerville, make sure to shop small and support our community. Make sure to contact us if you are looking to design a new website or a new logo, and never forget to stay extra caffeinated this holiday season!