Thursday, February 13, 2014

The top 3 social media platforms for small businesses in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Social media marketing can be a difficult thing for small businesses in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  Everyone is talking about it, but it can be hard to see through the hype and understand which options really are right for your small business.  After careful thought, these are what we here at Terrapin see as the top choices for small businesses in the area to consider.  

LinkedIn for small businesses in RI and MALinkedIn

Many consider LinkedIn to be Facebook for business people, and it's a good analogy.  You can expect to find business people here networking, trading ideas and learning about all facets of business.  We use LinkedIn here at Terrapin for a few different reasons...

1. Research new potentials, vendors and employees

LinkedIn provides insight into the skills, work experience and specialties of new people who may interface with your business.  Prepare for the initial contact with common interests by looking these people up in advance.

2.  Gain prominence as an expert in your industry

LinkedIn allows you to write recommendations and endorse connections for certain skills.  Input from other professionals like this can add a lot of credibility to your name and open up new opportunities from people researching you or your company.

3.  Learn new skills and follow trends

LinkedIn Groups allow you to meet other business professionals who share your interests, passions and goals.  Bounce ideas off of these people to get a new perspective on a challenge or opportunity, and arm yourself with more business building skills.

Google+ for small businesses in RI and MA


Google's social network doesn't get the same respect as Facebook or Twitter, but it's not something your should ignore for a couple of reasons...

1. Rise up in the Google search rankings

Evidence suggests that posts on Google+ get priority treatment in Google search.  With so many companies competing for search engine visibility, it makes sense to take advantage of everything that you can to raise your natural rankings and be seen.  

2. Uncover new ways to market your business

We've found Google+ to be a great source of information on the latest trends in marketing, namely content marketing, social media and, surprise!, search engine optimization.  It seems as though the thought leaders in marketing have all adopted Google+ and are happy to share ideas with other users there.  

3.  A playground for Google lovers

A fringe benefit for Google diehards is that Google+ is chock full of news surrounding all of the Google products and technology. First look at the latest Android powered phones and tablets? Check.  New developments in Google Glass? Check.  Great new apps in the Google Play store? It’s all here for Google lovers.

YouTube for small businesses in RI and MA


If videos aren't a part of your marketing strategy, you might consider making them one in the near future.  YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, allowing millions of users to bring information to life in video format.  We’d suggest these topics for compelling videos:
  • Product demonstrations and reviews
  • Guided tours of your facility
  • Introductions to key team members at your company
  • Video testimonials from satisfied customers
It's also important to note that YouTube is incredibly popular with the younger generation of internet users.  In a recent poll, 68% of users aged 14-34 reported that they frequently visit YouTube for its video content.  So if you’re trying to reach these younger users, or think this market will become an important base for your clientele in the near future, you need to consider YouTube today.

In Conclusion

We know that these 3 choices may not be the most popular selections for small businesses in RI and MA.  You may already be in engaged in Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, which is OK.  Obviously tour business needs to evaluate each of the options based on your particular industry or niche and an understanding of where your customers can currently be found.  

But with some focused effort, we feel these 3 social media tools will allow your company to participate in the social media revolution in a way that creates real growth in your organization in the form of networking, education, sales and marketing.  

Not sure where to start? Contact Terrapin Art & Design to learn more about our Social Media Mentoring and Consulting services. This could be just what your business needs to jumpstart a successful social media marketing campaign.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seeing Your Business Through Your Customer’s Eyes

When you’re engaged in running and building your business, sometimes you get caught up in the details of day to day operation.  If you're like most small business owners there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.  This can lead to missing out on the bigger picture – your customers. 

When potential customers search for your products and services, visit your website, and connect on social media, they do not see the intricate details of your marketing efforts. Instead, they see what is at face value – your content, your social media presence, your competition, etc. In order to ensure that your business covers all bases and provides the customer with what they want to see, it is helpful to look at your business through their eyes. 

When was the last time you…

You probably jump on the internet on a daily basis, but how often do you visit your website as your customers see it? When it comes to the customer, the most important aspect of a website is current content. Keeping your content current and regularly updated shows the customer that your company is still active and that you are experienced in your industry. First, you should ensure that the products and services you offer on your site fall in line with the current direction of your company. An obvious mismatch could make your customers more likely to choose one of your competitors. 

Second, you should regularly update any content on your site that is dated, such as news, blog posts, and articles. Having old content may cause potential customers to place less trust in your brand or even assume that you have gone out of business. Finally, you should ensure that the employees featured on your website are still a part of your business. One key aspect of creating a connection to potential customers is by giving a face to your business. Your website should always stay updated with employee changes in the same way that you would update new products or your blog.

Googling your company is a simple and fast way to see what your customers see when they seek out your business. You can easily determine how high you are ranking in search results, what other places on the web your company appears, and whether potential customers are seeing negative or positive results. First, you should ensure that your website and all social media profiles are ranking at the top of a search for your business. Customers should be able to easily locate any and all online presence that represents your business.

Next, you should continue scrolling through the search results to see where else your company appears. Do any other organizations or directory sites list your company? If so, you should ensure that information about your company is correct and updated on these sites. Finally, look further to see if any search results provide negative discussions of your company, such as bad reviews, lawsuits, or product recalls. This can both inform the next steps in your internet marketing campaign and keep you in the know about how your business is viewed by customers. 

Googling your industry and competition is also an excellent way to see how you match up in terms of internet presence. The best way to test this from the customer’s perspective is to type in keywords or phrases that potential customers use to find your products or services. Using keywords that customers search for in your industry will show you exactly what they see.

First, check out what competitors show up in your search results. Because these are the other companies that your customers are seeing, it is imperative that you match up to their online presence. You should also determine if they are local, national, or international players; figuring out the scope of your competition will enable you to tweak your own marketing campaign accordingly. 

Next, see what products or services your competitors are offering, and examine how well your own products and services match up. If your competition is providing an in-demand service or brand new product that your business is not, it may be time to change and update the products and services of your own company. Finally, you should also determine whether or not your SEO campaign is missing out on any keywords that potential customers are using. Your website should be optimized for these keywords to ensure that when customers search for products and services in your industry, they find your company first.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Importance of Print Design in Marketing

The Importance of Print Design in Marketing

While some may deem print design as outdated in comparison to web design, Terrapin Art & Design views print design as even more exciting. Print design offers many marketing opportunities that web design cannot compete with. Despite the fact that most customers will turn to a company’s website first, no website can replicate the effect of holding an actual object printed with information about a company’s products and services. Print design is often overlooked because it uses materials that blend in with our daily lives, but contrary to popular belief, print design cannot be replaced by web design. 

Print Design vs. Web Design

Print Design vs. Web Design 
Because print design and web design both involve computer generated text and images, they must be the same, right? Wrong. Print design refers to the creation of many elements of our daily lives that may even go unnoticed, such as magazine ads, posters, album covers, and t-shirts. Print design usually involves a few basic components: images, text, layout, symbols, and logos. A good graphic designer will use these elements to create a simple message that informs but does not overwhelm the reader. 

Why Do You Need Print Design?

Why Do You Need Print Design? 
  • Reaching Your Target Audience: Yes, a good website is the best way to reach most target audiences. However, utilizing print design along with your website will allow you to reach a broader audience. In addition, many elements of print design are important parts of attracting new clients, such as brochures and print advertisements.
  • Branding Goes Beyond a Logo: Every company needs a logo, but successful branding goes beyond a simple logo. Both your logo and your website’s fonts, colors, and general layout should coordinate with your printed materials. Presenting a united brand shows customers that your business is professional, and also creates name recognition. 
  • Layout is Crucial: We cannot stress the importance of good layout enough. If customers do not understand your layout, the entire message that you are trying to send could be lost. A good graphic designer has the knowledge and experience to structure a layout that will reach customers and bring in business.

Why You Shouldn’t Just DIY

Why You Shouldn’t Just DIY 
Many business believe that they can simply take a “do-it-yourself” approach to print design. After all, how difficult could it be to type up information about your company and format it nicely? There are many reasons why having an experienced graphic designer on your team is an invaluable resource. 
  • Experience: The most important benefit of hiring a graphic designer is that they have experience. Not only does a graphic designer possess technical skills, but he or she also has industry-based knowledge about what works, and what does not work.
  • Details: With print design, it all comes down to details. Successful graphic design will allow your company’s information to stand out while still blending in. Sound confusing? Consider the marketing strategies of successful brands. They engage their potential customers without overpowering them, which is a strategy that visually pleases their audience and attracts new clients.
  •  Logo: While branding is more than just a good logo, a logo is very important to begin any successful marketing campaign. Graphic designers are trained to create logos that will lead to brand recognition. This logo should appear on all materials: website, business cards, brochures, advertisements, etc. Your logo will unite any materials connected to your company and send the message that your business is professional and reputable.

Choosing Terrapin Art & Design

Choosing Terrapin Art & Design 
Terrapin Art & Design has much to offer potential clients when it comes to both web design and print design. Not only will we create a logo for your business, but we also offer services to coordinate your website and print materials. We can assist with a number of print material campaigns, such as direct mail, display ads, sell sheets, sales presentation kits, newsletters, brochures, flyers, billboards, signs, and vehicle graphics. Our team can bring your business to life with a consistent design for your marketing campaign.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Preparing for Employee Photo Day

At Terrapin we've always said that people like doing business with other people.  A website and marketing materials provide the perfect opportunity to introduce the team that makes your business unique.  Whether you hire a professional photographer or decide to use a point-and-shoot camera, taking some time to plan an employee photo day will give you a better shot at getting great photographs.

1.  Decide Who Needs to be Photographed -  Typically the management team will be photographed individually.  But don't stop there.  Think of how you can group other employees together - sales team, administrative staff, etc and get photos of them too.  If you have a large number of employees a team photo easily communicates the size of your organization.  Create a list of all the photos (and whose in them) so that you, your staff and your photographer can stay organized.

Decide Who Needs to be Photographed

2.  Select a Variety of Locations - The interior and exterior of your facility can provide unique backdrops for your photographs.  Take a few minutes to look around and see what might work.  A solid colored wall, someone's work area, the main entrance to the building all make great candidates.

Solid Color Background
Select a Variety of Locations - Solid Color Backgrounds

Inside Your Location
Select a Variety of Locations - Indoors

Take Advantage of the Beauty of Nature
Select a Variety of Locations - Ourdoors 

3.  Set a Dress Code - Whether uniforms, logo'd shirts or just company colors, a dress code will add consistency to the photos.

Set a Dress Code 

4.  Prepare Your Team - Make sure employees are aware of the dress code, time of photographs and anything else that may be expected of them.  Provide as much advance notice as possible and then remind them a few days prior.  This way they can look their best.

Prepare Your Team 

5.  Make it a Fun Event - Some people love being in front of the camera.  Others... not so much.  Come up with ideas to help lighten the mood.  Food, music, laughter.  If you're employees are having a good time it will show through in the photographs.

Make it a Fun Event

Some time spent planning will save time and stress for everyone come photo day.  Happy planning!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

3 Steps to Keep Your Company History Current

During our years in business we've met with a lot of companies around RI and Southeastern MA.  Some have been around for decades, others over a century.  We commonly see old framed photos around their offices and it's always interesting to us to get a glimpse into the past and see how it was done "back in the day".

As we start a new project we're excited to have all this great photography to work with... and then it happens.  It turns out that many of these companies have not done a good job of documenting the past 10 or more years of their history.  There is little to no photography for us to work from.

Digital photography has come a long way in the past decade.  A point and shoot camera, even the camera on your mobile device can capture an impressive photo.  You just have to be on the lookout for things to photograph:

1. Things that are New
  • Employees or key personnel
  • Products and services
  • Equipment, vehicles, capabilities
  • New location or facility remodel

2. Events that are Timely
  • Recently completed project
  • Company outings / celebrations
  • Special sales or celebrity appearances
  • Employee training sessions
  • Exhibit at a tradeshow

3. Achievements that are Recognized
  • Awards & certifications
  • Employee recognition
  • Speaking engagements

If you get yourself in the habit of taking photos on a regular basis, you'll soon have a treasure trove of recent happenings that you can use to market your business online, in print, or through social media.  And you will give someone 50 years down the road more interesting photos of the past to learn from.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Choosing Between Commercial and Stock Photography

To effectively market your small business, you need eye-catching photography front and center. Two excellent options can load your marketing strategy with images that pop; high quality stock or commercial photography.

Commercial or Stock; You Win Either Way
Both commercial and stock photography convey a tone of professionalism and pique customer interest. A powerful stock image on your brochure cover or a homepage slideshow of commercial photography engages readers and visitors.

Commercial and stock both draw attention to your marketing collateral, but they have their differences. It comes down to your small business’ wants, needs and budget.

Controlling Your Company Image
A key advantage of commercial photography is control. You determine what the camera lens captures:
  • You control your company’s unique image and portrayal
  • You control exactly how your brand is built going forward
Commercial photography is more expensive, but you own the photos free and clear. If the money isn’t there or you want to invest elsewhere, stock photography is the ideal alternative.

Your Company Image is in-Stock
Carefully chosen, compelling stock images can give you the same results as commercial photography. Among many factors to consider in the stock selection process is relevance. Choose stock photos that tie in to your company, product or service.

Services like iStock boast a catalog of millions of photos by category. You don’t need to be an expert photographer. Simply browse the libraries and ask yourself; “Do I want this image representing my company?” Trust your judgment, instinct and keep an eye out for:
  • Out-of-date or general poor quality photos
  • Photos featuring “overposed” or stiff-looking people
  • Similar photos being used by your competition
Stock photos come with a lower cost, but there is a price spectrum. Spend on the higher end of this scale. These photos are less likely to have been purchased by competitors, making them more exclusive.

Mix and Match Commercial and Stock
Stock-only or commercial-only strategies might not work for you. Not a problem; simply combine the two.

Lead your direct mail with a customized commercial photo, then fill out the piece with corresponding stock images. This stock/commercial team-up gives you budget flexibility and a commanding company message.

Choose YOUR Best Option
Your photography is on the front line of your company’s sales efforts. You know your business and industry. You know what works and what turns potentials away. Whether you hire a commercial photographer, utilize the boundless supply of polished stock photos or unite the two, just apply your expertise to the process for a strategy that sells.