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!
Content creation is a huge part of our business, and a huge part of staying at the forefront of the Social Media Business world is paying attention to new and exciting trends to use in our work!
There is a lot of creativity that we use in our work every day. A lot of the images, logos, and designs that we use for our clients are created in house and we are very proud of that. But we also love learning and following new trends when it comes to graphic design - and we wanted to share some of the biggest Graphic Design trends that you will be seeing this year if you haven't noticed them already! Because who doesn't love a little inspiration?
We know that you need to stay on top of the latest graphic design trends no matter what medium you use or don't use. There is nothing wrong with a little extra knowledge! Keep your work fresh and competitive. Don't hang onto the idea that "this is how it's always been done." That is SO dangerous! You want your designs and work to stand out and be able to offer the same if not more to your clients than any competition out there.
2. Powerful Serifs
The rise of the serif font is at its height in 2019! I'm sure you've noticed the trend of illustrations getting lighter and the fonts getting bolder and much stronger. This year has gifted us with new, bold, ad beautiful serif fonts and they will just continue to grow and become more gorgeous. Custom type is becoming the rage for any company that wants to stand out and be noticed by their dream clients and put them ahead of the competition. The gift of these beautiful new serifs are perfect for the job, and if you're designing for a company that wants to brand or rebrand itself these new fonts will also come in handy! Check out some of these beautiful examples:
3. Lighter Illustrations
Out with the bold, dramatic, and very thick lines of illustration and in with the light and delicate! With the trend of the use of foil (hello rose gold!) embossing and other delicate materials, this feminine and innocent style is the perfect accessory. You will see this trend in packing designs and a lot of gifting and other artisan trade that involves intricate designs. These designs will often be paired with textured paper backgrounds.
2019 has been deemed a year of contradictions when it comes to new trends. But when hasn't design been filled with contradictions? This list is very small when it comes to all of the new trends out there - but I can guarantee that these trends are exciting and will lead to a lot of exciting and beautiful growth. Keep your eyes open as you scroll through your phones and as you are looking for inspiration. It's waiting for you to find it!
Still not using Social Media to your advantage to help your company grow? Here are a few tips on how you can take your businesses Social Media platforms to the next level right away!
Happy August, everyone! How did we already get to the back to school season already? This month we want to kick off our blog by talking about Social Media and the benefits it has for your Small Business. Of course, social media and its creation and importance to business and our clients' business is one of our main forms of bread and butter. But, we also love to share how wonderful and important it can be for you and the growth of your company. Even though our culture has been taken over by our smartphones and smart devices, it is still a new and exciting form of media advertisement. We get so excited talking about it and sharing how important it can be for your business, and we want you to get just as excited as we are about its amazing potential!
In this fast-paced world, running a business of any size requires you have to have a social media presence to stay relevant and in competition with your competitors. You also need it to stay in the presence of your clients and dream clients. But for small businesses, in particular, it has become a necessity to have a social media fingerprint to be known by your dream clients and to share what your services are. No matter what product or service you offer - there is a place for you and your company in the online social advertising world. Remember, the word "social" is involved - it can be fun, interactive, and engaging if you let it. You will have an audience and you will have the opportunity to grow your following and clientele. You can grow your business and grow the reach of how many people know about you and your company. You might have to invest a little time and money to grow a successful online brand, but it will be worth every single penny you spend. The applications and fields that this incredible platform of advertisement lives on are free. All you'll be paying for or working on yourself is the creation of crisp, clean, and creative content that represents you, your company, and your product.
This is one of the many things that Creative Consulting offers our clients - the creation of content and sharing it with your clients in a fast and reliable way. We know that if this world of advertisement is new to you, it can become very overwhelming. But don't stress! This blog is going to focus on some easy tips to use for your small businesses social media and some easy ways on how to execute these tips!
Social Media platforms are there to give you an audience that is ready and willing to connect with you and what you're selling. Remember, it does NOT have to be a scary or expensive experience. With these tips, you can create a powerful advertising machine for your company to reach new markets, dream clients, build sales, and bring attention to you and your company. The number of tips and information you can learn that is out there is endless. But here are a few ideas to get you started or refresh what you've been doing already!
It's easy to let social media get put on the back burner and leave very little time and money for it when you own your own business and you wear so many hats. Remember, social media doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. It just needs to be something that you schedule into your workflow and work week just like any other work meeting or event would be. Aim to always work smarter, not harder.
2. Use Your Content More Than Once
You will get new clients and new eyes to your social media platforms every day. They will have been caught by a post or advertisement that you used and will want to learn more about who and what you are. Content such as blogs you've written, articles that have been written about you, successful ads, and successful pictures and videos that you've posted are very important. They have the potential of becoming reusable posts that will draw in a new audience by introducing them to what you do and will remind your current audience why they love your brand so much. By recycling content you can also receive a better return on the investment you spent having these pieces of content created. You can also create a new response by seeing how well they do on different platforms and new channels. If there is a hidden gem buried way back in an old post that is still important and relevant to what you're doing, there is nothing wrong with using it again! It was good content then, and it is still good content now.
3. Batch Ahead of Time
What is batching? It is creating content and scheduling your posts ahead of time for when business and your schedule gets crazy and busy. Go ahead and do yourself the tremendous favor of getting in the habit of batching your content. This time-saving tip helps you never let your social media posts get left behind and keeps your posting consistent. It also helps your presence to your clients and future clients stay strong and active. A stale and inactive social media account is ignored, avoided, and dropped off of Google searches faster than you can say "social media" - so don't let that happen to you! Pick a day every week to plan out what your posts will be for the upcoming week. Are you running a sale? Celebrating anything? Have an exciting announcement to make? Plan out each day's posts based on your companies needs and schedule. Write the content, pick out the perfect image or website you want to use for each post, and schedule them ahead of time. You can do this manually on Facebook or use several programs created just for this purpose. By the time your batch session is done, a whole weeks worth of social media content is ready to go and you don't have to worry about it until your next planning day, if an exciting 'in the moment' post arises, or when you need to spend time commenting back or reaching out to your clients. And, if your week gets crazy, you can take comfort in the fact that this task has already been check off your to-do list!
See? Social Media can be exciting and easy to do once you put your mind to it. Keep on learning and exploring this important media marketing tool. Make it unique, worthwhile, and as exciting as your brand. Don't look at this advertising tool as a burden but greet it as an exciting opportunity to add to your workflow. It has the potential to take your company above and beyond your current goals and aspirations and help you dream big. So pick up a pen and your smart device and get to work! You have an exciting adventure ahead of you!
Summertime is the best time to enjoy your favorite local restaurants, shops, and historical landmarks. Anyone who has ever spent time in Summerville knows that this quaint little town has so many wonderful things to love and enjoy all year round!
Hello Summerville! How has your July been? Can you believe that August is almost here? I'm sure this has been a hot and humid summer for you as much as it has been for us. But hopefully, you have been enjoying the wonderful gems and treasures our little city offers! Not only does Summerville boast some of the best businesses and local restaurants around, but it also has a wonderful history with tons of local historical buildings and landmarks to visit. The local art scene is also so vibrant and alive with wonderful theater, music, and visual art painted all around town. We are so proud to be apart of the Summerville community and have been from the moment we opened our doors. We couldn't be more lucky to have been welcomed and included into this wonderful city. In return, we would like to feature some of our favorite businesses and treasures you can find in Summerville.
If you follow our Instagram and Facebook pages I'm sure you've seen the wonderful little spotlights we've been featuring these last couple of weeks. Keep following - we aren't done yet!! And if you're not already following us on social media, what are you waiting for?!
If there is one thing Summerville does better than anyone - it's sweet tea. We are proud to be the birthplace of sweet tea, and if you drive around it’s hard to miss the love we hold for it! Did you know that Summerville is home to a Guinness World Records? On June 10th, 2016, Summerville unveiled the largest cup of sweet tea the world had ever seen! This year local artist Kevin Morrissey painted a beautiful mural to match on the back of Summerville Chamber of Commerce If you haven't yet, go check it out! If you have checked it out - what did you think? Doesn’t it just make your tea a little sweeter than before?
For more information check out this wonderful video about our love for Sweet Tea! https://www.visitsummerville.com/birthplace-of-sweet-tea
The art around Summerville is a huge part of its incredible charm. It grows and ebbs - and every year more of it graces our little town. Have you seen the newest additions to our city's canvas? On July 11th, our friends down at Coastal Coffee Roasters revealed their latest mural! Painted by Kevin Morrissey, Caleb Quire, and several other great artists. We are also huge fans of the lightbulb and bee painted by April Aldritch! Joining the summer of beautiful murals is artist Robert Venne created the mural behind the Summerville Theatre paying homage to the 1980's classic Little Shop of Horrors. We love seeing this creative art revival becoming a big part of our beautiful town! Which design is your favorite so far?
Around here at Creative Consulting we not only love the art and artistic scene that Coastal Coffee Roaster's support - we also run on their coffee. Make sure you stop in and get a cup for yourself, visit their incredible website, and follow them on social media!
One of our favorite local historical places to visit is right around the corner from our offices on 3rd Street. That is the incredible Henry Timrod Library. The library was founded by young women in 1897 and still serves the public to this day! It is also the legacy of the Summerville Chautauqua Reading Circle. It is one of two membership libraries in South Carolina and is home to over 12,000 books. Its mission is to provide the community with a variety of print, audio, and video materials while preserving the historical building that houses its amazing collection. The library offers special programs, activities, and social gatherings for the community. It honors local authors and has a book every fall has a Book Fair! Who doesn't love a book fair like the ones we all loved and dreamed of during elementary school? Don't forget, the Library LOVES visitors, so stop on in and say hello and enjoy all the wonders it as to offer.
You can find out more information and follow the Henry Timrod Library on Facebook and Instagram and visit their website at www.thetimrodlibrary.org
What is your favorite part about Summerville and all it has to offer? The incredible community, the wonderful sights, taste treats, amazing community service, friendly attitude, and the beautiful surprises you find around every corner truly make Summerville what it is today! We tip our hats to you, Summerville. Thank you for all that you are!
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
Digital Marketing is more important for businesses, both small and large, than it ever has been before. Why? Because things are quickly shifting to the internet. So much so that 90% of people searching for items do not know what they want before they begin. What does this mean for your business?
Firstly, it means that you are going to want to begin focusing on digital marketing for you and your business. This includes multiple factors that when used together, create amazing marketing.
The biggest aspect of digital marketing that you will want to consider is the use of SEO or search engine optimization of your website. This is what drives people to your website and gets your information out there to those who are searching on Google.
Content marketing is also important, and once your SEO is being used properly, the next aspect of your business consumers will be faced with is the content on your website. This is why keeping up to date and informative information is so important. Over half of marketers claim that blog writing is their top marketing priority for their business, some seeing three times more traffic to their website having posted blogs regularly.
Social Media is the next important aspect of marketing your business. Having a presence online where people can view you and the information you are creating is beneficial to both parties. It shows your audience that you are relevant and responsible at keeping up to date information.
While these are some of the amazing aspects of digital marketing, there are more in-depth opportunities your business could be utilizing. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact our team at Creative Consulting!
Brand consistency is beneficial to your business in more ways that one. Not only does consistency help your audience recognize your content, but it also shows them the amount of thought that you put into the work.
Having "a look" for your business is never a bad thing, in fact, it is an aspect often desired. But how is brand consistency achieved, and how do you sustain it? Don't worry, we will have the answers to your questions!
Consistency encompasses two aspects of marketing, one is how effectively you keep up with your content, and the other is in reference to the look of your business.
Keeping up with content is more important than you may think. These days, consumers are looking for active brands and businesses on social media platforms. If your business is not posting regularly, this has the potential to lose clients before you even know about them!
The "look" of your business is similar to setting the tone for your audience. What do you want to say to your audience? What do you want your audience to feel? These questions and more are considered when creating brand consistency through advertisements and graphics.
These consistencies in branding provide your audience with the feeling that you are a dependable source and therefore pushes them to use your services or purchase your products.
If you are struggling with brand consistency, or are looking to change it up, Creative Consulting is here to assist you! Our marketing team will provide you will quality content to push your brand forward! Contact us today!
There have been numerous marketing strategies throughout the years, but what are the original tactics that stand the test of time for businesses? Well, we wanted to know, so we put our thinking caps on and researched to find the beginning of marketing strategies.
Marketing first began in the sixteenth century, where it was solely regarding selling goods in person. A bit later, in 1897, an emphasis on advertising and sales tactics emerged.
As years went on and history began taking up residence in the way goods and services were sold, advertised, and purchased, people turned aggressive.During the Great Depression, aggressive selling became the norm for pushing product and created what we call solicitations.
The 1950s gave birth to the idea of marketing orientation. Today this form of marketing is referenced as knowing one's audience. The focus shifted from what the seller wanted, to what their audience wanted. This gave way to marketing efforts taking consumer considerations into account for services and products.
The 1950s began the concept of consumer relations, but it was not until the 1990s that relationship marketing began ruling businesses and business plans.
These historical ways of marketing have stood the test of time and are still being used today in modern marketing agencies! If this blog interested you, please check out more content!
Whether your business is just beginning or you want to spice up your marketing strategies, we have six wonderful strategies to implement at the beginning of a new marketing plan!
Keep on Marketing!
Even if your business is just beginning or you are making a chance to the approach, do not pause your marketing! In today's age, people are moving quickly through content and advertisements, and that content could have been yours!
Know Your Company!
The best way to do well at marketing your business is to know your business through and through. Each company has a goal to obtain, and you will use that goal to drive the marketing tone and pace.
Know The Customer!
When marketing to individuals, they are now looking for specific and personalized information. This makes it difficult for many businesses to create content that appeals to their customers on a daily basis. Your customers have the ability to make or break your business by using word of mouth, so appealing to them is your best marketing strategy.
Know Your Competition!
There is nothing wrong with observing your competition to see how they handle their product or customers. Especially if you are thinking of creating and starting a new business, you want to ensure the area you are creating in needs another business like yours.
It is always important for a business to create goals, long-term and short-term. Long-term goals are often seen as milestones for businesses, and the small-goals are stepping stones. Each is important in furthering your business and getting it off the ground.
Obtain Those Goals!
Sometimes businesses will make goals, but lack in their desire to obtain them. Ensure your business reaches the goals they have set for themselves.
The Creative Consulting team wishes you well in the beginning stages of your marketing, and are here to assist you in gaining more knowledge in marketing!