Business analysis (including marketing strategy)

But how do I pay for it?

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Ads, Blog, Branding, Brochures, Business analysis (including marketing strategy), Business Cards, Catalogs, Conference Marketing Materials, Corporate Identity, Corporate Stationary, Custom Illustration, Fliers, For Slider, General Business, Information Architecture, LAMP Server Maintenance, Logos, Marketing, Presentation Folders, Product Literature, SEO, Social Media, Usability, Web Design | Comments Off on But how do I pay for it?

But how do I pay for it?

Given what you may have already read elsewhere on the web about web design and development, one thing you might be asking yourself is “how do I pay for it?” Though my rates are pretty reasonable given the industry average of $50/hr (you can read more about what web designers charge here), I do realize that many people wanting a web site don’t necessarily have a large budget to do everything they’d like. I’ve worked with a number of clients whose budgets have ranged from a few hundred dollars for a basic online presence, to those with upwards of $1,000. One thing a client needs to understand when doing such work while remaining within their budgetary constraints is that they can establish the basics then always expand when they can budget more for additional functionality or other addons. This works well for those with minimal funding, and I often find them returning for more when they’re ready to do so. They stay happy—which keeps me happy—and I remain gainfully employed. I also do fairly large web sites of course, complete with all the functionality a client might need as well as anything else dictated by their specific requirements (e.g., custom page layouts, additional graphic design, custom logos for use in their web sites, etc.) for those who have the budget to have such work done. You can browse a selected range of my web work via my web site portfolio, which includes work I’ve done where costs ranged anywhere from $400 for a smaller, complete web site, to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a few years, where such work included ongoing site maintenance  and a number of regular revamps (e.g., converting sites that I did a few years back to those based on today’s responsive design frameworks). How much you spend and can have done for that amount is really up to you and your budget. What you can expect regarding what you get for your money is explained fairly well here. Providing value for my clients As a freelance professional, the most important thing for me in the work that I do is to provide value for my clients, regardless of their working budget. It’s my belief that everything I do for a client should be of high quality within the scope of a project, simply because I both support the notion that the customer is always right (something I picked up working for a number of larger corporations), and thoroughly believe in customer satisfaction. That said, I also believe maintaining such relationships often involves an educational process to some degree (depending on the client, but especially true in the case of web site development and design) and that effective communication is paramount to the successful completion of a project and that ensuing satisfaction. Clients of mine appreciate this philosophy, which you can read about here. …everything I do for a client should be of high quality within the scope of a project, simply because I both support the notion that the customer is always right, and thoroughly believe in customer satisfaction. So, how do I pay for it? Whether you’re looking for custom graphic work like web banners, including all manner of ad layouts, printed brochures, trade show banners or other printed material or you’d like to know more about re-branding your professional identity (e.g., logo development), or you’re thinking about a web site for your large or small business (eCommerce or other); whether you’re an individual or larger group of people who manage(s) a small or larger business or an educational or non-profit organization of any size, please don’t hesitate...

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A little bit about SEO & Marketing…

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Blog, Branding, Business analysis (including marketing strategy), Conversions, Corporate Identity, For Slider, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Search Engine Rankings, SEO, Social Media, Usability, Web Design | Comments Off on A little bit about SEO & Marketing…

A little bit about SEO & Marketing…

Most people who approach me with SEO related questions usually want to know why their web site isn’t showing up on the first page of search returns when others search for the sort of services they provide (and what can be done about it). The easy answer of course is that their site and its content haven’t been optimized to do so yet. While that’s true in many cases, the real answer is somewhat more complicated than that. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it’s commonly known, is that area of web site development that allows search engines to not only properly index a web site’s content, but also gauge how useful that web site’s content is to viewers in comparison to other sites with similar content. These comparisons are done using what are known as search engine algorithms (complex mathematical equations). After as much data is collected about a web page’s content, these algorithms are used in conjunction with other applications to collate and process that data into the statistical results that determine search engine ranking placement. These results in-turn dictate where a listing for a web page is placed in the order of things (a search engine’s output), whether on the first page of (e.g.) Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), or on the 47th. Unless the listing is a paid ad of course (which I discuss briefly toward the end of this post). A little SEO history Though named otherwise during the span of its existence, SEO has more or less been around for about two decades now, since the advent of the first popular browsers. It has evolved to what it is today since the introduction of the first “WebCrawler” back in 1994. It is also constantly evolving as major players like Google continuously update search engine algorithms and SEO requirements in an ongoing quest to reward companies who focus less on gaming these algorithms and more on creating value for their leads and customers. The following two images sum up the major events that occurred with respect to SEO these past two decades (clicking on either opens them in a lightbox): Today, with respect to internet marketing as a whole, we’re moving away from relying solely on what we’ve traditionally been calling SEO, and more toward inbound marketing (or simply Inbound, of which SEO is but one facet). “Inbound methodologies” require strict and continuous review of a site’s analytics, as well as the vigilant use of social media and various “promotional” offerings to draw visitors into a web site, keep them there, convert them to customers, and have them coming back for more. Doing so comes with its own special set of required skills and tools, of course; and yes, it can cost more to implement and manage it in comparison to On-Page SEO (from hundreds to thousands of dollars monthly, depending on who does this work and its scope), but its rewards can be vast, regardless of the size of a business. It can also be done for less money than many full-blown marketing agencies are charging for it; and to varying extents, many site owners are already adhering to at least some of its principles as part of their Internet Marketing strategies (it’s actually been discussed quite extensively since 2006). The following images provide a high level overview of Inbound: Traditional SEO on-page practices Traditionally, when referring to SEO, we think of it in terms of the On- and Off-Page work web site owners do or have done for them to draw prospects into their sites. Having already discussed that off-page work somewhat in the section above...

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Marketing & the Internet: do consumers do online research?

Posted by on Jun 6, 2011 in Blog, Business analysis (including marketing strategy), For Slider, General Business | Comments Off on Marketing & the Internet: do consumers do online research?

Marketing & the Internet: do consumers do online research?

During an adjudicatory hearing on the viability of the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) project in Tupper Lake, adjoining property owner Phyllis Thompson brought up the fact that the ACR’s website isn’t currently in operation, wondering if that might have an impact on the marketability of the project (Resort’s marketability questioned, Adirondack Daily Enterprise – June 6, 2011). Per the Daily Enterprise article, one Terry Elsemore, an expert witness hired by the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) developers in Tupper Lake to bolster their cause, and owner of Fractional Strategies, Inc., responded …the website doesn’t need to be up right now because developers aren’t offering anything for sale yet. When further questioned by Thompson whether Elsemore expected prospective buyers to research [the] developers on the Internet, Elsemore furthered with, I don’t know to what extent this clientele uses the Internet to determine the fiscal capabilities of the developer. Thompson went on to proffer that if this clientele did so, they might learn that Preserve Associates, the development group planning the ACR, has regularly been behind on its property tax payments, which could impact potential customers’ buying choices. Telling information, for sure, in light of the tax arrears. What could be even more telling though, is Elsemore’s own apparent lack of a web site, especially in times like these when just about everyone and their uncle has access to the Internet (things that make you go hmmm…? ). …the website doesn’t need to be up right now because developers aren’t offering anything for sale yet. …I don’t know to what extent this clientele uses the Internet to determine the fiscal capabilities of the developer. So I ran a search on Google for “Elsemore ‘Fractional Strategies’,'” which returned a total of 64 results. Most of those were either somehow tied to projects Elsemore had either been involved with, or was currently managing. A couple of those results stood out like a moose on a high-diving board though. It seems that back about 2007 or so, Elsemore filed a breach of contract suit against one of his previous employers (the Lake Placid Group, owners of the Whiteface Lodge) and won $300,000 in back pay. Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t so much the lawsuit that struck me odd. Elsemore probably deserved that back pay (at least the court thought so). He also seems to be competent at what he does and has apparently completed a number of similar high-value projects successfully. What I did find out of place though, given my own experiences with the Internet (since 1994), was how a business like his could get away with not having a web site in this day and age. True, positive word of mouth probably played a large role in Elsemore’s past successes (and probably does so today). And I can’t blame him for not wanting to advertise his services via the Web given what might be interpreted as a subtle propensity for scandal (e.g., the lawsuit, his client’s tax arrears) should consumers doing research online come across that information. But to play dumb and state that a web site is not needed for a project the likes of the ACR because it’s not selling anything yet, or that you don’t have any idea about how or whether your potential market uses the Web to research costly purchases like, uh-hum, fractured  timeshares, well, that just doesn’t make sense. Especially when those statements are being made by a $350,000/year consultant. Unless, of course, you either don’t understand the nature of today’s Web and how consumers interact with and through it (as well as...

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