Get to know the hilarious, hard-working, and creative individuals that make up the Creative Consulting family one blog at a time.
Welcome back to another team member spotlight, Summerville! We hope you've been doing well, and are slowly getting settled into the school year. Even though this school year does look different for many of our friends and family members, there are still a lot of things happening that make this time of year special. Pumpkin and apple-flavored goodies are showing up in all of our favorite Summerville businesses, the smell of fresh school supplies greets us where ever we go, and the chill of 80 degrees is a wonderful reminder that fall is right around the corner!
This week we will be featuring our second Creative Consulting team member, Stephen Slappey. I've had the pleasure of working with Stephen for over a year now, and I am thrilled to share his interview with you. As a creative being who has lead a very different career path than many of my 9-5 friends, coming into a business like Creative Consulting was an interesting transition for me. As an independent contractor, musical theater actor and singer (spoiler for my spotlight!), and writer, I haven't had the greatest luck when it comes to a normal 9-5 schedule or experience. I have waited tables, catered, and paid my dues in retail. Working with a company that does work on a 9-5 schedule was a big change for me, and even though I still work on my own schedule, it's taught me quite a bit.
A lot of this education is thanks to Stephen. I've not met someone so passionate about learning more about the people he's talking to, even if he will only have one conversation with that individual. I've not met someone so inspired to learn more about his industry and to apply it right away. I have personally watched him single handily turn a meeting from a difficult situation into an atmosphere of joy in a matter of minutes. He always puts others first and is dedicated to the growth of his company and to his friends, family, and co-workers. Also, his excitement over learning new things, the latest update in his favorite videogames, and life, in general, is refreshing. He can be a goofball and strictly professional in one sentence, and I still don't know how he does it.
He was also very kind to take the time to sit down with me and answer these questions so that you can get to know the other half of the Creative Consulting founding team and owners. Meg and he make an amazing team. Working for them has been the easiest thing I've ever done. It's rewarding, it continues to teach me, and pushes me in all the right ways. I'm proud to be a part of their team, and I'm thrilled for you to learn more about Stephen!
How long have you been working at CC:
Around six years.
How did you hear about the positions:
I invented it.
What do you do for CC:
Marketing, planning, management, customer relations, pricing, and sales.
What is your favorite part about working for CC:
The ability to help set people on the right path.
What have you learned since you worked at CC:
Too many things to count.
What is your favorite part of your workday at CC:
Teaching our clients.
Favorite memory at CC so far:
When I was able to help one of our long-standing clients avoid a $10,000 scam.
Favorite Summerville Small Business (besides CC):
What is your education background:
Marketing, Graphic Design, and Computer Science.
What are your hobbies:
Board games and games in general, reading, learning, spending time with people, deep conversations.
What is your favorite book, color, song, movie:
Book: Marvels Civil War
Song: Too many to count
Movie: Marvel Avengers
CC is just the beginning. There is so much coming for everyone to see.
Favorite Restaurant in Charleston/Summerville:
One specific one doesn't come to mind. Anywhere I can make a memory with the people I'm with.
Favorite things to do in Charleston/Summerville:
Be with the people I love
Make sure you are following Creative Consulting on all of our social media platforms. Stephen has recently started a new vlog series discussing everything you want to know about business, social media, and more. If there is something more you want to know, reach out and tell him! His love for learning more about the industry is equally matched with his love of teaching. So make sure to give Stephen a shout out on his new videos and to watch all of them. I guarantee that you'll learn at least three new things every time you watch! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and be well. Take a moment to enjoy the things that make fall in the Lowcountry special. Things might be tough, but you and your coffee are strong enough to take on anything!
Small businesses, be warned! Two of the most important tools in your online marketing toolbox sound very similar but they are two VERY DIFFERENT tools. It's time to break down their differences and pick the right choice for you and your company.
Happy New Year Everyone! We hope you had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones, and you're just as excited as we are to jump into 2020! One of the biggest things we were focusing on before the holidays set in was the challenges, changes, and inconsistencies of online marketing across many social media platforms. If you spend as much time as we do studying and working with advertising on places like Facebook and Instagram, you are very familiar with the fact that it changes constantly. It's hard to keep up with each change and how it affects your advertisements daily. These advertisement tools can determine your business growth and popularity online, so if you don't understand the changes in trends or are unfamiliar with the tools available to you, you could be in serious trouble. One of the biggest things we have been digging into is Geofencing and Geotargeting. This behind the scenes marketing tool can make or break an advertisement campaign without even trying. The names look so familiar, they much basically be the same thing right? Wrong! Although they are connected, you need to understand their main differences. When you understand the differences, you will be able to choose which option is best for your company. The best choice will help you gain more customers, followers, and supporters. First off, let's get down to the definitions.
GEOFENCING: Geofencing is when you draw an actual virtual fence with a predetermined chosen radius. This is used to target and connect specific people in a certain area to your advertisement. It is known to be more accurate than geotargeting. It uses GPS to make sure the audience you have targeted is being tracked and followed based on the coordinates of where they are in that exact moment they're online. When this chosen group of people is online, geofencing collects data and studies how long this chosen group of customers stays within the virtual fence and if and when they come back. This tool helps improve the engagement of local customers for your company and it can help attract customers away from your competition. The disadvantage of geofencing is that it can only target audiences based on physical location. Hand-picking demographics and certain groups of people based on anything besides location have nothing to do with who sees your geofencing advertisement.
Who is the best for? If you are interested in advertising to populations of all interests and ages in your local area, then it is a perfect tool for your company.
GEOTARGETING: This tool is very similar to Geofencing at its base. It does draw the same invisible fence, BUT demographics are included in its makeup. You create your virtual fence, and then you pick who exactly (based on age, interest, gender, etc.) will see your ad. One of the main disadvantages is that you have to open up your advertisement geographic to a much larger area. You are being very specific about the type of people you want to see this add within a particular area So, to get as much of a result as you would with geofencing, the location needs to be larger to attract the same number of people in a geofencing situation.
Who is this best for? If you are interested in advertising to a very specific group of people inside a certain demographic or niche, then this is a perfect option for your company.
Spend time studying both options. I have just given you the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to using these tools, and there is a lot to dig into when choosing which to use. Understand how each could affect your company for the better or worse. Spend time understanding the consumers you have and those you're trying to attract. This might be the perfect opportunity to step back and define your company and who you want to serve. If you have the time and the means, experiment with both and see which outcome is best. But make sure to decide on one in the end, stick with it, and plan your advertising campaign accordingly. The work put into this decision could lead to a more dedicated consumer base and a fast conversion rate. All of us social media people love to see those numbers jump high and jump quick!
Here is to an exciting 2020, we can't wait to build a better business world with you one day at a time!
We know it might seem a little early to already be prepping for the holidays, but it's always best to get a head start on planning. From prepping your decorations to your ad campaign, take the time to make this year the best year yet!
Hello everyone! We hope you had a wonderful September, and that you are so excited for October and the fall season to take over. For everyone in the small business world, stepping closer into fall also means starting to prepare for all of your holiday sales, offers, decorations, ads, images, and products. It's A LOT to plan for. Believe me we can relate. We have already started to plan for our fourth quarter, which also happens to be the busiest part of the year. If there is one thing we can recommend right away, it's to start early. That is a huge headache saved, believe me! No matter the size of your small business, you deserve a strong plan and marketing agenda for the holidays. Smart planning for the holidays isn't just for the big box stores or giant corporations. If you employ 1 or 1000, it's time to get started.
We are so excited to share these few tips of the trade with you. Each of these tips can be used for any holiday, but with everything from Halloween to the New Year approaching, we will be focusing on those holidays and each in between. These tips span everything from social media to your digital footprint on Google. You won't want to miss out on these!
Like we mentioned - there is A LOT to think about when it comes to successfully running a business during the holiday season. But we hope these tips help ease some of your stress and kick off the best quarter of the year for you and your small business! We will see you next time!
Those annoying popups of the early 2000s are back and better than any of us ever imagined. The next time you're using a website for your job or you're doing some online shopping, take advantage of those online chat boxes. You might be surprised that more often than not, you'll be talking to an actual person!
Happy September friends! We are happy to see it inching closer to what might be cool fall weather here in the Lowcountry. But we're also excited for the future fall decorations and any excuse to drink more coffee. With all these new exciting flavors, who doesn't love a cup of hot goodness with a splash of pumpkin? As we are ushered into a new month, it means a new blog! For this blog, we will be talking about the benefit of online chat boxes and how they could help businesses and its users.
Now, we do remember those annoying chat boxes from our early days of the internet. They were able to maybe answer two questions before directing you to a FAQ site that led to more confusion and frustration than when you started interacting with the chatbox to begin with. But today, the chat box is back and better than ever before. And this time, there are actual people behind the keyboard to help with your questions and concerns faster and more efficiently than ever before.
In this age of social media, people expect answers and information right away. If it's not received in this timely manner, you could likely lose a customer. On average it takes almost ten hours for businesses to respond to social media comments and 12 hours to emails. For today's standards, that's just too long. Live chat boxes let you have in the moment conversations with your customers while they're visiting your website. The rate of 10-12 hours is cut down to an astounding 1-2 minute response! How amazing is that? But live chat boxes go above than just response time, there are so many incredible assets these little boxes can do for you.
You have the choice of hiring a company to operate these chat boxes for you, or you can do it within your company. It just depends on how much you'd like to invest in this service.
The great news is that even if you don't have an actual person behind the chatbox, there are now intelligent bots that can be installed into the systems when you're away. You can program them to help with basic questions in such a way that will keep your customers interested and informed, and lure them back to talk with a human once you're back to answer their questions. These bots aren't the annoying and unhelpful bots that were originally created, thankfully. They are now offering quick, insightful, and engaging info while your customers wait.
There is a ton of chatbox software out there, you just need to decide what version is right for your company. Some are free and almost all of them offer a quick and easy setup and they are easy to customize. Some examples to look into are Intercom, Drift, Influx, Autopilot, Olark, LivePerson, and SnapEngage.
It's been interesting watching this technology make its comeback, and we are very intrigued to see where it will go. With smarter AI growing and the opportunity to connect faster with one another than ever before, this could transform the way businesses are run and how efficiently money is made. Follow this trend with us and let us know how you feel. If you've experienced a chatbox recently with these attributes, share your experience below!
Have a great week, friends! We will see you next time!
SSL Certificates. The need to have them has been in debate for some time now - and it looks like Google is going to make the final decision for us all. But what does that mean for the future of your websites and will you be paying for this protection?
Happy July everyone! It's been an exciting month so far for Creative Consulting and we are so excited for the rest of this year to follow suit! There has been an important topic on the back of our minds though - with SEO being our bread and butter, there is one particular topic that has grabbed our attention. The need of an SSL Certificate and what that means for the future of web design, the future of websites SEO, and if you have to pay for this protection or not.
For those of you new to an SSL certificate, or a Secure Socket Layer Certificate, is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to the server. It serves as an electronic passport that establishes online credentials when doing business or just surfing on the web. It creates a secure connection from a web server to a browser. If a hacker ever gets their hands on information or a website that is protected by an SSL, all they will see is a cryptographic code that cannot be broken. Even with the aid of a computer. It ensures total safety while browsing the web, as long as the pages your visiting have an SSL! When it is applied to your server correctly the application protocol, the HTTP, will change to HTTPs. The "S" stands for secure. Sometimes, depending on which SSL Certificate and web browser you're using, a small padlock will also appear in the browser bar and it might even turn green when visiting a website that has an SSL Certificate installed too. SSL Certificates have typically been used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and login information, and protection on social media websites. But thanks to Google, it looks like it might become mainstream for everyone to have an SSL certificate.
Why do you need an SSL for your website? It keeps all data secure between servers, it increases your Google Rankings, it builds and enhances your customer's trust, and it improves conversion rates. Automatically if your website sells products or services and deals with credit card transactions there is no question that you should have one. If your website is not available over HTTPs you may see a loss in traffic, loss in user trust and your SEO ratings will start to go down. But even if you don't sell something on your website - it is something that you should highly consider. Once you've established an SSL for your website, all traffic to the webpage will be secure. But what does that mean for the future of SEO and your interaction with Google? We all know that drives so much importance in the traffic to your webpage, and Google has been an incredible tool for that. With Google Chrome being the most popular web browser in the world, it's no surprise that they're making the call for the need of SSL Certificates. But let's go back to the beginning.
In 2014 Google created a new algorithm update that automatically favored HTTPs over HTTP. So already, those websites that were going unprotected were getting fewer views. This continued into 2018 when they announced that if you were not an HTTPS website a "NOT SECURE" message would appear either in your browser bar or when you came to a page that wasn't protected. By October of that year, the warning went from being grey to red - they were getting serious. This year Google has made a push on how they will treat websites with and without SSL. The new default that you should expect in Google includes encryption and a secure connection that is required. It is no longer just a feature for online banking and shopping sites. When it comes to SEO ranking if two websites sell similar products or are similar in topic - if one has HTTPs and the other does not, the website with HTTPs will automatically receive a higher SEO rating. It is not a default in ranking just yet, but with the direction Google has been going in, it could become a default in SEO rating in no time.
Good news though! Most Webshots today provide SSL by default. There are also plenty of Certificate Authority companies that you can get them for free, like Lets Encrypt. It makes it easy and simple for most web users - and those making their websites. But there are still some roadblocks. Some of our favorite platforms to build our websites in are Wordpress, Weebly, Madesimply, and Wix!
Some offer SSL certificate protection, but they have two different sets of rules. Wix offers SSL for free as part of their platform, all you have to do is make sure that the SSL option is turned on when you first publish your website. If you already have a Wix website created - all you have to do is activate it!
Weebly and MadeSimply are a little different. You can automatically add an SSL certificate to your websites, but the only SSL certificate that works for the domains attached to these websites are the ones that come from their company. You cannot get a free SSL from Lets Encrypt and then add it to your Website that are run by Weebly or MadeSimply. It has to come directly from Weebly and MadeSimply. But, the SSL protection only comes with the paid website options, not the free options. Even if you decide to go with the free options, the free SSL won't work for their websites and will still have the "not secure" warning when anyone visits your pages. So, if you already have a page made on Weebly or MadeSimply - you will have to upgrade to a paid account for this protection. It is frustrating to pay for something else for your webpage. But it will protect your SEO ranking on Google - and your clients. So those few extra dollars a year just might be worth it. The other options might be more costly in the end. You could be facing a loss of clients, business, attacks from hackers, and more.
If you are using a website builder that doesn't give you free SSL security but does allow you to purchase an SSL Certificate, they can range between $5-$15 a year on the cheaper end - and can become more expensive depending on what kind of protection you're looking for. And don't forget - there are plenty of free options too.
So it looks like SSL certificates are here to stay - the transition might be a little frustrating for you and your business, believe me we can relate. But at the end of the day, the protection is worth it.
By: Maddie Casto