Websites That Showcase Brand and Style

PMIHA business owner recently asked to see some examples of websites we’ve worked on so that they could get a feel for our ‘style’. It’s a great question and most companies that create sites for clients do have a distinct style.

At Out-Smarts though, it’s not about us it’s all about capturing our clients’ style (or brand!). We work hard during our discovery process to truly understand our client’s style and goals and to make sure that this shines through in the sites we build.

PMIH2Here’s an example from a site we launched recently. The client is Port Moody Integrated Health, a clinic that provides Naturopathy, Chiropractic and Massage Therapy services.

When we started working together they had a vision of a site that is uncluttered and easy for people to navigate on any device, one that contained exactly the information that their clients required and, most importantly, conveyed tranquility and natural balance (this is how people feel when they leave the clinic). The site also had to have a west coast feel.

Responsive Health Website - Out-SmartsWe created a scrolling parallax site that is responsive to major devices. The background image on the main page is the rainforest of BC. Clients can easily click on the navigation to book and appointment, find forms or locate their clinic. It’s also integrated to their online booking app so that clients can easily schedule their appointments online.

Whether it’s websites, social media or search for us it’s not about our style, it’s about finding our client’s style and we work hard to make surer we do that.

 

 

 

 

The Key Points I Learned At The Art Of Marketing Today

Art of Marketing Vancouver RecapThis year’s line up at the Art of Marketing wasn’t as ‘star studded’ as previous years and I debated whether to go or not. I’m glad I did. The quality of the presentations was even better than before.  In marketing we’re getting back to basics. We’re not obsessed solely by social media anymore and that’s great because now we can focus on what makes people tick and how this applies to all aspects of marketing.

The underlying thread in every presentation was psychology, how people think, what they do and how great marketers manipulate, ahem, influence.

Here are some of the key points I learned from the speakers.

Dr. Robert Cialdini – Influence: The Ultimate Power Tool

Robert’s presentation was all about tactics we can use to develop strong and meaningful business relationships. His key takeaway came in the form of a handy dandy laminated card outlining how to ethically influence people:

  • Remember to reciprocate – be the first to give service, information or concessions.
  • Emaphisize scarcity, unique features and exclusive information.
  • Know and show your authority – but remember to empahisize your weaknesses first.
  • Start small and build – consistently.
  • Make friends to influence people – what do you have in common? Being genuine is important.
  • People proof, people power – gain consensus and unleash people power  by sharing others successes and tesimonials.

Nir Eyal – Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

There are 4 key aspects to getting people hooked on your products:

  1. The Trigger – the thing that sparks your interest (can be internal or external). These triggers tend to be habit forming because when we see them we feel a certain way.
  2. The Action – companies leverage motivation and ability to get people to take action.
  3. The Reward – there has to be something in it for the intended audience.
  4. The Investment – how do you get them hooked so that they come back for more.

Martin Lindstrom – Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

According to Martin, if you want to persaude people to buy you first need to get clear on what the emotional end goal is then you need to uncover the things that matter most to the people you want to buy from you. Unfortunately we’re drowning in big data but have no real information – or we are missing the small things that really matter. Martin notices unusual correlations in behaviour that impact decisions and by small I mean the things that most people miss or take for granted. For example, did you know that your credit rating can be assessed by the way you type? He pulls from his experience to tell stories such as telling why people in Saudi wrap things in plastic (fear) and why people are more likely to buy when you appeal to their inner age (which is usualy somewhere in the 20s) rather than their actual age.

He ended with this quote from Benjamin Franklin – ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

Jackie Huba – Loyalty Lessons from Lady Gaga

Businesses and marketers can learn a lot from Lady Gaga. The pop phenomenon knows her fan’s inside out. She’s taken the time to truly understand her 1 percenters – those fans that are passionate to the point of obsession (she’s even given them a name – “Little Monsters”) and she focuses on making them feel special. She’s also someone who does things her way, supports and publicises the causes she believes in and is true and authentic to herself.  As a result she is hugely succesful and has a loyal following of fans who would follow her to the ends of the earth.  If businesses spent more time getting to know their 1% clients and catering to them instead of constantly pursuing new clients they would be much more effective.

Chip Heath – Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Chip’s presentation was all about the decisions people make and how they make them. There are 4 points  that impact the likelihood that your decision will be the right one:

  1. Consider all the options – don’t just get stuck on one and go for it. Take time to think about all possible options. If you do then you are more likely to choose the right one and even if you don’t you will be more likely to adapt and change along the way and you will be faster at getting it done!
  2. Reality test your assumptions.
  3. Distance yourself from the decision – consider what the impact of your decision will be in 10 mintues, in 10 months and in 10 years.
  4. Prepare to be wrong – think about what can go wrong and put contingenies in place before it’s too late.

The Art of Marketing  found a new home this year in the Convention Centre East in Vancouver. Floor level seating didn’t enhance the experience the way plush theatre seating at the old location (Chan Centre) did, and the lack of wifi for an event costing several hundred bucks was archaic but this did nothing to diminish the impact of the speakers.

First impressions count online – big time!

Just like in the real world the first glimpse you have of something online can instantly impact your perception and determine whether you’re META Titles in searchinterested in sticking around (and doing business) or not. You have literally seconds, not only to make a good impression but also to resonate with your target audience.

Businesses often  burn through big budgets designing beautiful websites that look and feel just right for their intended audience – don’t get me wrong, that is hugely important  – but they often completely neglect doing the things that need to be done to help their intended audience find the website and compell them to click through for a visit. This is what search engine optimization (SEO) is all about.

If people are looking for products or services, the number one place they look is online and that usually involves a quick google, to see what results come up or to find a company they have been referred to. If the first thing they see in the search doesn’t impress them then they quickly move on (and by quick I mean milliseconds).

SEARCH RESULTS MATTER

Take a look at this – does it make you want to visit the site?

Bad META Desr

The first line in blue is fine, that is the META title and it tells you who they are, what they do and where. The text below the URL is the META description and, I don’t know about you but it makes me want to run a mile and that’s pity because this is probably a great company. My first impression might be a misconception but not in a million ears would I click through to this site. It simply doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies that they would be the right people to manage my investments. Next please!

YOU SITE NEEDS STRONG META TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS

If you want the right people to visit your site, it is important to develop strong META titles and descriptions for each page on your site – not just the first page! If you develop a strong keyword strategy using words that your audience might use to google you then add those words to your META titles, Descriptions and to the content on your site then there’s a chance that your site might come up in the search results but if the actual META titles and descriptions they see are gobbledigook or don’t have impact then your audience will move right along to the next result.

The best time to develop your META isn’t after your site launches but during the development phase. If you are in the process of creating a new website for your business or if you’ve read this article and realized that your META sucks then give us a call, maybe we can help fix that for you.

Think it’s a good idea to build your own website? Here’s why you should think again.

You wouldn’t consider building your own car would you? The answer, unless you are a hardcore grease monkey and car fanatic, is of course you wouldn’t, it would be crazy to even attempt it without mechanical 2knowledge.

So why would you think it’s a good idea to build your own website? I’ll tell you why. As small business owners, we love the Do It Yourself approach. We’re operating on shoe string budget so the more we can do ourselves the better. I’ve been there too. When I started out in 2002, I did all of my own everything. I remember night after night tracking down pennies and trying to balance the books but eventually I realized that it’s better to hire a professional, someone who knows what they are doing (and now I have a bookkeeper and accountant just for safe measure). The same goes for websites. You have to ask how much is your time worth?

Regardless of what hosts like GoDaddy and DIY tools like Wix might manipulate you into thinking, building websites isn’t as simple as they make out. Yes, you can create your site and it might seem simple to drag and drop elements to make it look pretty but what do you know about navigation, taxonomy, URLs and calls to action and, even more importantly, what happens when things go wrong? And they inevitably will.

In my job, I’m often brought in after the site has been built, to work on getting the right traffic to the site. Time and time again I see WordPress sites that are badly set up, either because of the DIY approach or because it seemed like a great idea to hire someone from Fiverr to build the site and now they’ve gone AWOL. The trouble with scrimping or DIYing a website is that, beyond the look and feel, you have no idea whether the back-end code is good or whether you’ve been left with vulnerabilities that could make your site a magnet for hackers.

I often work on (and have to fix) WordPress sites with all kinds of plugins that are out of date or superfluous or that have ancient versions of WordPress. Did you know you should update plugins regularly and delete those not in use because they leave your site vulnerable? No, you probably don’t because you didn’t even know to ask. Not your fault!

Your website is likely the first impression a prospective customer or client might have of you or your business. So do yourself a favour, spend the money and do it right. Work with professionals who are well established and will be around in the long-term to help you should anything go wrong and who can show you how to properly maintain your site. It will save you a lot of grief in the long term, and your brand will be much better for it!

Our website packages start at an affordable $1,500, and you’ll discover that we care about your site even more than you do. Ask our customers, they’ll vouch for this!

Learn more about are services and contact our team.

What I’ve Learned From Writing 600 Blog Posts

This is it, Out-Smarts 600th blog post. I started this blog back in 2006 on the old Outsmarts Sales and Marketing website with the goal of using the medium to:Typing 600th post

  1. to establish expertise (having just made the shift to focus solely on social media and online marketing) and;
  2. to share my knowledge of the Internet and with other entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It has been almost 8 years and quite the rollercoaster ride. A lot has changed for blog technology, social media as well as the way we do business in general. The first Out-Smarts blog post was titled Why Companies Should Blog and most of the content that first blog post is still appropriate today though. I’ve learnt a lot along the way; my blogging style has evolved, and I’ve discovered that a blog has many uses, not just branding and sharing.

Here are a few of the takeaways from my 600 blog posts.

1. Blogging is a labour of love – when I started out I regularly blogged several times a week and would recommend that clients do the same. These days I blog less and believe that quality trumps quantity. If you have time to write only one blog post a month, make it count.

2. The more you blog, the more visitors your site will get. This seems like a juxtaposition to point 1 above, and it is. Yes, if you blog more often you will get more traffic but, and this is a big BUT, you have to ask: is it the traffic you want? Are you attracting your target audience? Back when we blogged more frequently here, we got more visitors to the site but the traffic was less targeted, so our conversion rates on the website were lower, and bounce rate was higher. It wasn’t helping us reach our strategic goals.

3. Content should be unique and interesting (or some say outrageous) and it should add value to your audience. There is so much noise out there that it is hard to get attention, but you have to balance your brand and authenticity with the need to get noticed. Sex and sensationalism sell but what does it say about you or your firm – it might be great for Gawker but is it right for you?

10 Tips for Creating Authentic Blog Headlines that Drive Clicks

4. Finding blog inspiration can be a challenge. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and write for them not for you. Ask yourself what you know that you can share that will be useful or stimulating for them. Find inspiration in your day to day activities. Read an interesting article that you found inspirational? Blog about it. Someone asked you an excellent question. Share the answer with your followers.

5. Make it easy for people to share your content and make your content attractive so that people will want to share it. Social media makes it easy for your readers to share your content. Make it even easier for them by adding widgets to your site so that people can quickly click to share where ever they wish to do so.

6. We live in a content marketing world. Today’s marketing mantra seems to be ‘the more you give away for free, the more you get back’. But that isn’t always the case. For small business generating free content has to be a balance, don’t make the mistake of spending so much time creating and giving away content that you don’t have time for revenue generating activities.

Inspired Blogging – 10 Tips To Get The Blog Juice Flowing

7. You don’t have to have a blog to take advantage of blogging. Blogs are a great way to learn and be inspired too. By reading the right blogs it can go a long way to helping you stay abreast of developments in your industry or location.

8. Your blog can be used as a central repository of information so that when people ask you a question you can easily point them in the right direction if you have the answer. It is also a useful tool to engage online with people that you meet in real life. For example, I teach regular education sessions at Small Business BC and will often mention specific blog posts that go into more detail about the topic I am discussing. This enables students to connect easily with the blog during or after the event.

9. Don’t just share once, share often. Share your blog posts often and across your different social platforms at various times in order to reach more people.

To this day, people who are thinking about doing business with Out-Smarts will check out our blog.  I believe we’ve done a great job in establishing our expertise here and as for sharing our knowledge, the blog has been a great vehicle to allow us to do so. 600 blog posts seem like a lot but looking back it was truly a time well invested. Here’s to 600 more!

Read more of our blog posts about blogging.

Learn about Social Media and On-line Marketing Tactics at Small Business BC

Join Mhairi at Small Business BC to learn about the basics of social media for Small Business.

Seminar Date

Friday, February 18, 2015 – 1:00pm to 3:30pm

Social Media and On-line Marketing Tactics

Just because you know what social media is, does not mean that you necessarily understand how to use it to grow and develop your business. This workshop focuses on understanding social media, what is it and how it’s connecting people.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how/if social media should be an important part of your marketing strategy.
  • Understand what opportunities are available for you to leverage social media for business growth and prospecting.

This seminar is hosted at Small Business BC in Vancouver and delivered to other locations via live webinar. All webinar participants will also receive access to a recording for seven days after the live session.

Buy Now, choose your preferred location:

 

 

 

Wishing You A New Year to be Thankful For

I don’t know about you but the first day back after the Winter holidays is always challenging. You’ve woken up earlier than you have in a fortnight, you’re bleary eyed but you have a list of goals for 2015 to hand and you’re damned if you’re going to let a little fight with the alarm clock get you off to a bad start.

Goals

Out-Smarts Goals 2015Goals, written down, in hand (because if you right them down you are more likely to follow through), you land at your desk. You’ve had the good sense to tidy up your space over the holidays and everything is spic and span but where is the rechargeable battery for your mouse….

And maybe you should just have another cup of coffee.

Getting down to business.

Getting down to the business of avoiding procrastination is probably easier at this time of year than after any other break because we are motivated by the new start but it can also be hard, with all these fresh new ideas knocking around in your head, to actually get down to the business of getting things done.

My advice on getting down to business is to take a tip from Santa, make a list of things you will do today to help you achieve your 2015 goals, you don’t have to worry about the checking it twice (sorry that’s so last month). Prioritise that list in order of importance and then just get your head down and get started. The key to getting this right though is to focus and that means avoiding distraction. Don’t get sidetracked by a cute cat videos or a discussion on Facebook about accents (this happened to me just yesterday). Work on each list item till you are done and before you know it the first work day of the New Year is over and you’ve achieved everything you’ve set out to do for the first day of the year at least.  And may this set the precidence for the New Year.

Incidentally, what are your goals for 2015? Do you even make any? Only 10% of resolutions are carried through to the end of the year they were concieved in so I can see why you might not bother. What do you do to kick start your year? Any tips or tricks you would like to share?

A New Year to Be Thankful For

Wishing you a year to be thankful for in 2015 regardless of your goals and and how you go about achieving them. Unless of course your goal is to set up or implement your online strategy, in that case give us a shout, we would love to help.

 

Do You Have Any Blankets Or Warm Items to Donate?

Help Us Spread the Warmth

All this cold weather has me thinking how thankful I am to have a roof over my head and warm clothes to wear and especially of those less fortunate who don’t have these luxuries. So when Marc Smith put out the call for participants in his annual Thirty Days of Kindness project I jumped at the chance to take part.

On November the 28th we will be collecting warm items in and around Vancouver: gently used or new blankets, hats, gloves and coats. If you have any of these items that you no longer use or have grown out of or if you would like to donate a new item please let me know.

Marc and I will be collecting these items to donate to Blanket BC a local charity that has assisted more than 50 other charitable organizations, shelters and Churches that open their space to the homeless and families in need of help.

Donate

Please contact info@out-smarts.com to arrange for pick up on the 28th. Thank you for helping us spread the warmth!

 

 

Easy Things You Can Do To Make Your Site Rank Higher

Design and development aren’t the only things you need to factor when launching your small business website. It is very important in the design and development phase to consider optimizing your site so that it is more likely to be found by your target audience when they search on Google.

Here are some simple SEO pointers I shared with a client recently to help his WordPress website rank higher – I thought you might be interested in too:

1. Each page on your website including your blog posts should have a META Title Description and one keyword in the META – you can use as many keywords as you like in the content just don’t use them overly repetitively.

In order for you to rank more highly for that keyword in Google search your keyword should be contained:

  • The in the URL of the page
  • In the headings on the page
  •  In the content of the page (less than 6%) rather than repeating the keyword too often you can use other secondary keywords.
  • In the META Title – Should be less than 60 characters in the format: [Company Name | Short Description of page]. The description should  include keyword you have identified as the one most likely to get you the most targeted traffic.
  • The META Description which should be less than 160 characters and should tell people what you do and who for with a call to action i.e. find out more / sign up now.

2. Use the All in One SEO Plugin to add the META Titles and Descriptions to our WordPress site – you add them by going to each page separately and scrolling to the bottom where it allows you to enter your META ‘Title”, ‘Description’ and keyword. All in One SEO has a red, amber, green light system that helps you to visually determine whether your SEO ducks line up.

3. Brainstorm, research keywords and use your knowledge of the industry to come up with words that people would use to find you. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Use Google to try out different terms and see what the results are. Come up with a list of a few words for each page. Check in on Google Webmaster and Analytics to see what words people are using to search and find you and include those on the list too. Use Google Analytics Keyword Tools to research keyword volume and competition based on PPC data and Trends to track trends over time. You are aiming to have a main keyword (which will be used in each area outlined in 1 above) as well as secondary relevant keywords that you can incorporate into your content on the pages of your site.

Need help with SEO? It’s what we do. Call 604 909 3532 to see if we might be a good fit.

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New Website Launch – A1 Windows

A1 Window’s old website looked fine but it was difficult and costly to update: the interface was cludgy and it often took a while to get changes made because they had to go back to the developer each time they wanted anything done.

A1  needed a website that they could easily manage, add content to in house and that generated leads. After going through an in depth proposal process they decided to work with Out-Smarts. We built them a brand new, easy to update WordPress site complete with calls to action and lead flow integration.

They can now add pages, post content and upload new product images and information in house easily and quickly. Not only that but the new site allows them to promote their latest specials front and centre.

 

A1 Website