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Celebrating Our Digital Marketing Agency’s 10-Year Anniversary: A Then and Now Story

Because one of the services my agency offers is PR — and we’ve had some decent success obtaining meaningful media coverage for some of our for-profit and non-profit clients (as documented in our Public Relations Portfolio) — of course, we reached out to The Patriot Ledger to see if they wanted to do a “then and now” story about our South Shore organization since they covered our story nine years back. We’re still awaiting news, literally and figuratively on that one, but we figured why not go ahead and share a similar version of that story on our blog using the highlights we shared with them? So, here goes…

Our Then Story

Here’s the telling of our story by a local reporter about a year after we launched our digital marketing agency, which eventually developed a specialty in search engine optimization (SEO) — which is why we often refer to our business as a Boston SEO company too!

I prefer to refer to my business as a digital marketing agency vs. a marketing consultancy because we do as much as hands-on work as we do developing & recommending marketing strategies.

Our story actually began with me launching my own WordPress website without the help of anyone else, and my officially hanging my digital marketing agency’s shingle via that site. And, if I knew as much as I know about WordPress and website development now as I knew then, I would have originally launched my site with WordPress.org (the platform that it’s on now) vs. WordPress.org, so I could use the many great WordPress plug-ins from the get-go! Or, I might also have considered Joomla instead, but owning a business and getting it right is all about the journey. And, you can’t learn what you need to learn without making a few mistakes and getting your hands dirty, right?

What’s been particularly challenging as an organization who helps others with their own marketing is, sometimes, as I’ve been known to share, “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.” That means often we are so busy helping our clients with their marketing, we don’t have time for our own. The aforementioned said, we make every effort to have our firm’s own marketing activities (such as our website and social media profiles) serve as a shining example of how to maintain a strong online presence, and it’s great that we’ve been able to use our own business to test and try out various marketing activities — therefore, serve as a bit of a guinea pig — before we test or try something brand new with clients.

We’re proud that, over the last 10 years, we’ve literally written and posted over 140 marketing, SEO, and health-related (yes, health-related — keep reading to learn more) blog posts, and we’ve had a few guest or co-bloggers along the way too!

This image is a light gray square one with the words "Celebrating 10 Years Of Using Our Digital Marketing Agency/SEO Company As A Platform For Doing Good." The image contains some colorful confetti in the middle and the logo of our Boston Marketing Agency, Results Communications and Research at the bottom.

Our Now Story

I believe and hope my story can motivate and inspire others considering opening their own business. Before, or right after I launched my business, I was told by one individual who works with entrepreneurs that 80% of female marketing consultants fail. I refused to be a statistic, and regularly told myself that during the first 5 years, which were the hardest. It takes a good five years to get the word out there and have business come to you organically/naturally thru referrals, leads, and recommendations from others — made by former co-workers and clients, existing clients, other marketing consultants and agencies, and other organizations who serve the same vertical/target audiences whom you serve.

My philosophy and dreams when I started my business have remained pretty constant and I’m pleased to report I’ve followed them. I’m particularly proud that I’ve been able to continue to offer what I believe, based on research, are very reasonable rates to small for-profit and non-profit organizations. Due to my years of experience and expertise, clients have access to the same level of knowledge and skills that they’d have access to via a larger marketing agency, but at much lower rates than what a larger agency might offer. And, because we have significant experience in both traditional marketing AND digital marketing, we can offer the majority of services a larger, full-service agency can.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned that I’d love to share with others starting a business is this: don’t think of others in your space as competitors. Think of them as collaborators – people who serve the same target audiences who may need your services.

Our Impact: Local (South Shore of Boston), National, and International

  • I’ve helped a number of young adults who grew up on the South Shore, or elsewhere in MA, get hands-on experience that they were able to parlay into a post-graduation job elsewhere.
  • Related to the above, I’ve had the great fun and pleasure of working with my nephews, my brother, my brother-in-law, and my late sister-in-law on various client projects.
  • I’ve also met with a number of college or graduate school students looking to pick my brain about careers in marketing and learn from me – including one in my neighborhood who found me thru a Google search! Yes, because early on I recognized I needed to create a Google My Business Profile for my own business to be found by local, relevant searchers and this is something I regularly help my clients with now!
  • I’ve given a large number of pro bono hours to nonprofits as part of a totally free consulting/volunteer situation or discussion, or as part of their paid arrangement with me. I’ve had a number of very interesting local nonprofit clients, including ones in the faith-based space, arts and music space, ones serving vulnerable populations, ones serving individuals with special needs, and one providing financially challenged teens the opportunity to serve vulnerable teens abroad, and more! Some have an international impact.
  • One of my specialties is helping nonprofits apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. I, then, often stay on and manage the Grant for them – $120,000 in free Google Search advertising annually. I can explain more.
  • I also have a number of for-profit clients on the South Shore, but my client base is national and I have had clients in New Orleans, CA, Texas, and more!
  • I’ve served over 120 for-profit and non-profit organizations in the 10 years I’ve been running my digital marketing agency/SEO company.
  • I had no idea when I launched my business that I would become an expert in something that I only had very little knowledge of at the time when I launched my business – search engine optimization (SEO). Many of my referrals for or sub-contracted work come from other agencies, marketing consultants, and website designers who need to pull someone into their client work/project who knows how to get websites and Google My Business Profiles ranking well in Google via organic and paid search (Google Ads) SEO activities. I’ve become a self-taught SEO expert and very proud of it. I just read and watched everything I could get my hands on, took Google Ads certification classes, and attended free webinars. I still do that daily as Google’s Search Engine will be switching to an AI one, and I’m already helping my clients be proactive about that and prep for it (Google SGE).
  • As indicated above, while I do sub-contracted or referred work for other agencies, marketing consultants, and website designers, many of my clients are my own clients, and I usually have a plate of about 12 – 15 clients for whom I’m doing ongoing, digital marketing work for on a monthly basis, plus also juggling several one-off/one-time clients at the same time. At any given point in time, I’m normally doing work for about 17 – 25 clients with the help of some fabulous interns and associates, as they were/are available.
  • My clients are diverse – large, small, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, product businesses, service businesses. I’ve done a bunch of marketing work in the food space, legal space, education space, and more! 
  • I’ve given a number of free workshops for SCORE and other organizations serving entrepreneurs, and I’m a SCORE volunteer and have provided tons of free advice to entrepreneurs by meeting with them on a complimentary basis. And, related to all of this, I’ve had a blast partnering with fellow marketing experts to give presentations that address multiple marketing areas of expertise! Thank you! You know who you are!
  • I’m a data geek and SEO geek and proud of it. I’m a huge data slicer and dicer and that’s what separates me from a lot of others in my space. I always say I won’t encourage clients to start or continue with marketing activities that don’t make sense for them based on what data is showing. I consider myself to be my clients’ accountability partner, and I’m not afraid to give tough love when I need to. I’m not afraid to voice a different opinion than other marketers. If I think something isn’t going to work, or isn’t working, I speak up.
  • I’m also proud that my marketing agency survived our recent COVID-19 pandemic and was extremely proactive about providing helpful insights from the very start of the pandemic for marketers to appropriately respond to the pandemic/pivot, such as these blog posts about using paid ads during the pandemic and how to make sure your social media presence wasn’t offensive and was relevant.
  • I give back significantly to the community. I was involved with the Braintree Relay For Life Committee for a while, and now, I do a number of charity walks in addition to all the other beneficial work I mentioned above.

Our Focus On Health & Wellness

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that I’ll throw in a good blog post about walking once in a while. You can use the categories search tool/drop-down menu to search on “walking” to see the various walking topics about which I’ve written.

Since my corporate marketing days, I’ve always loved to share health & wellness tips — whether they be with fellow employees as part of an internal communications role, or with members of a health plan I worked for, and from the get-go with Results Communications & Research, I’ve aimed to inspire those with health (and other challenges) to never give up, and keep fighting via my “Keep Up The Fight” website page. And, I recently put up a new blog post about an invisible disease with which many health warriors who have battled or are battling other forms of illness have to contend.

Our Thank You

My digital marketing agency/SEO company and I would have never made it this far without all the help of great collaborators, cheerleaders (friends, family, my husband Jay, and other fellow small business owners), and most importantly, our clients who looked to us for expert marketing guidance and assistance. We have many clients with whom we’ve served as an outsourced marketing department for years, and we thank you for your faith in us! We’ve so enjoyed being a part of your business family! We also thank those who we haven’t had the opportunity to work with for as long as some of our long-term clients, but have enjoyed or are enjoying being a part of your organization’s success story.

What’s Next

I don’t know what the future holds for Results Communications & Research, but I’m excited about what’s to come! And, I know I will continue to try to give back as much as possible with the platform that this fun, educational, and interesting business provides!

Want To Benefit From The Marketing Services Of A Digital Marketing Agency/SEO With A Long Tenure And Who Gives Back?

Reach out today to schedule a complimentary discussion about how we can help your organization create awareness and/or drive inquiries and sales via our outsourced marketing and/or strategic marketing planning services.

community involvement, COVID-19 marketing, good will creation, keeping up with trends, lead generation, Making Connections, Memorability, Networking, pandemic marketing, Post-COVID-19 Marketing, post-pandemic marketing, promotional items, sales, traditional marketing

Five Promotional Products for Challenging Times

The promotional product world looks very different now than it did in early March. It’s not all gloom and doom, but the way we interact with each other and stay in touch with our prospects and clients has certainly changed. Despite challenging times, you still need to promote your products and services, get in front of your target audience and generate new business.

So, what’s trending lately in the promo world to help companies stay top of mind? Let’s look at some new ideas and all-time favorites.  

Pens

Pens have been my all-time favorite product because they appeal to almost every audience. With the focus on everything being fresh, clean, and sanitized, a new pen is a coveted item. Antimicrobial pens are popular because they help fight off germs – plus, many come individually wrapped in cellophane to avoid any contamination.

Golf

Personalized golf balls are a crowd pleaser and they’re a cinch to customize. Just add your charity or business’ logo, message or photo, and voilà, you’ve got a unique and memorable giveaway. Some may even become collector’s items! Since golf is one of the few team sports that’s ‘open for business,’ many golf events are still on. Yet another reason customized golf ball remains a top choice!

Water Bottles

If you’re like me, you probably want to drink more water, but always forget to pack your water bottle.  Problem solved! Give your prospects and clients branded water bottles that they can’t forget! Water bottles are a health-focused promo gift that your target market can use every day – and the benefit is that your name is always front and center. Want a few ideas? Check out my client’s favorite water bottles.

Mugs

Do you start the day with a cup of joe or look forward to an afternoon tea? If that’s a yes, you know it’s not just part of your daily routine, it’s a time you really love. Chances are you have a handful of favorite mugs; some you’ve owned for years. Branded mugs make a reasonably priced and useful giveaway, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Add mugs to your marketing budget for a promotional item that lasts year after year.

Hand Sanitizer

With everyone going back into the workplace, hand sanitizers are a necessity.  If you thought customized hand sanitizers were a popular handout before COVID-19, they’re now one of my best sellers. Hand washing is serious business, so much in fact that the CDC has an entire section on keeping your hands clean. There’s even a “Life is Better with Clean Hands Campaign”. Piggyback on that for great PR and to do your part to keep America safe.

Why Promotional Products Now: The Benefits Of Using Promotional Products

Business is coming back and the same problems you solved before the pandemic, you’re still solving now. Don’t stop marketing. Let your clients and prospects know you’re well and alive and open for business. Promotional products that are reasonably priced and customized for your business, let the world know – “I’m here. How can I help you?”

Rachel Leone is president of Leone Marketing Solutions, a women-owned promotional product and apparel firm. She helps big brands and small brands stand out, get noticed, and generate leads through her promotional products and services. Thousands of new products are launched every day, and one of them may be just right for you, click here to browse her website. For more information or a complimentary brainstorming session contact her at 781.740.3171 or rachel@leonemarketing.com.

Acceptance of Circumstances, community involvement, keeping up with trends, LinkedIn, Making Connections, Making Connections and Introductions, making time for things you value, Networking, relationship building, sales, staying current, target audiences, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

How to Pivot Your Business Toward Relationship-Building in the Time of COVID-19

By Guest Blogger, Bethany Clarke

Running a business these days is no joke. The global pandemic has put many small businesses into a tailspin. No one’s seen anything like this before and everyone’s talking about “pivoting,” but what does that actually mean? What does a pivot look like for you? 

You’re great at running and marketing your business. You’ve got the branding, social media, and your new client funnel down to a science. You’re turning a profit and you can’t believe how far you’ve come since the first days of starting out, but this COVID-19 deal is uncharted territory.

You’re not alone. Sales for many businesses have dropped this month due to the distraction provided by the pandemic, but particularly, due to its associated social distancing practices. Yes, the latter are a matter of national health, but man, are they a pain for conducting in-person sales activities. And, our current world scenario has made all forms of sales and outreach activities far more difficult and far less effective, whether they be in-person, phone, or e-communications ones. That’s why we recommend that your pivot be one that includes relationship building.

Generating Leads And Sales Thru Relationship Building & Networking

What’s the deal with relationships? They will be what sustains you through this crisis and after it is over. By reaching out to potential clients now, you can be certain that you’ll be one of the first people they come to once the crisis has receded. You can establish yourself as a credible, helpful and friendly resource in your field, and even a “thought leader.”

How To Make The Pivot Toward Relationship Building And Networking

  1. Establish connections online by devoting a half hour to posting and being present on your social media each day. That’s enough time to reply to comments on your posts or to comment on others’ posts. Always make an effort to do this, especially on Facebook and Instagram since that’s part of the algorithm that drives your posts to the top of people’s feeds. 
  1. Direct message followers who are your dream clients. Now’s the time to reach out and say “hello” and offer to help or provide information they might find particularly beneficial at this point in time. Most people have more free time lately and are craving connections. If you’re making a practice of extending your olive branch now in a very genuine/authentic and heart-felt way, you’ll be remembered by people for helping make this hard time a little easier for them.
  1. Reach out to people who operate in fields adjacent to yours and who serve the same vertical (target audiences) you’d like to do work for. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you could connect with someone who does graphic design. In the future, when you meet a client who needs a website re-done, you can provide your client with the copy they need, and then refer them to your colleague who will design their fancy new logo or design their new website. If you help nonprofits with marketing, but there are other firms that don’t compete with you that offer bookkeeping services for nonprofits, then why not try to be referral sources for each other? These referrals can go both ways. People in your identical spaces could be competitors but what if you shifted that perspective? What if you turned them into collaborators or work referral sources? Developing a “referral circle” is an excellent way to broaden and strengthen your network and increase your customer base.

Aside from all the business benefits that come along with establishing and maintaining relationships, having these positive, collaborative, helpful relationships just feels really good right now. In this time of isolation, it’s human and healthy to crave connection with others. Making the pivot toward relationship building in your business will not only make your business stronger, but it may help make you healthier and happier as well.

LinkedIn, Networking, social media, Uncategorized

Identify the “Link” Before You Send a LinkedIn Invite to Connect

Because I’m a digital marketing expert, and advise clients on social media strategy and/or serve as their social media voice, I felt I owed it to the many individuals who use LinkedIn — both the right way and the wrong way — to call out a major user “faux pas” and how to fix it.

Given the fact no job or business is ever 100% secure — times and interest in products and services by current customers change rapidly, management comes and goes, new technology makes certain products or services obsolete, etc. — if you are of employment age, then you should be maintaining an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn and actively using it to connect with both individuals you do know, and individuals you don’t. This will ensure you are adequately connected when you find yourself in need of identifying your next permanent or contract gig.

Don’t Commit This LinkedIn Faux Pas

So, now to the “faux pas”. If you’re going to reach out to someone via LinkedIn whom you don’t know well or don’t know at all, and it’s not totally obvious why you want to connect with them (for example, they are not a close friend, or former co-worker or manager), you should never, ever send an invite to connect without 1) devising a note of some sort  that goes beyond the standard one of “I’d like to connect on LinkedIn.”; and 2) including in your note some context around why you want to connect.

LinkedInInvite

As a marketer who understands “best practices” and the proper use of various forms of social media, for some time now, I haven’t accepted requests to connect from individuals I don’t know who haven’t taken the time to explain why we should “connect.” However, I’m kind enough to reach out to these “inviters” and ask them why they want to connect before I completely write them off as a possible LinkedIn connection. I hope by doing so, I’m teaching them how to better make connections going forward, so they they and all LinkedIn users will benefit.

A good salesperson knows you have to explain the value-add associated with any product or service you sell. In the case of LinkedIn, you are selling yourself, and you need to explain to your “invitee” why and how they would benefit from connecting with you. As the inviter, you have the responsibility to identify the “link” for your “invitee”. Hey you wouldn’t invite someone to a party or event without explaining what it’s all about, right? The “link” could be having careers in the same field, volunteering at the same organization or ones with similar interests, having attended the same college or graduate school, having a lot of mutual connections, having the same passions/interests, etc. The explanation you provide with your invite doesn’t have to be long. In fact, ideally it shouldn’t be (you can and should wait until your target “invitee” accepts before providing too much detail; you can use the LinkedIn “message” function later on to provide that greater detail). Sample explanations include:

  • “I’d love to connect with you because of our similar interests in healthcare technology”
  • I’d love to connect because I see we have quite a few mutual connections from our careers in community banking”
  • “I think we’d enjoy being connected because I see we are equally passionate about digital marketing”
  • “I’d welcome connecting because I really enjoyed your article, blog post, presentation, etc. about x,y, and z, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.”

How To Effectively Connect On LinkedIn

So, the next time you go to send a LinkedIn invite to connect, give some good thought as to why you want to connect with the individual in-question, and why they’d want to connect with you. If all LinkedIn users employ this protocol, we can improve on the great tool that LinkedIn already is and make it an even more effective environment for ensuring interesting conversations and beneficial connections happen between the right people.

Reach Out To Our Team Of Social Media Experts

In addition to LinkedIn, the social media experts at our Boston Digital Marketing Agency, can help you and/or your organization use social media networks/platforms to their fullest advantage (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram), i.e., optimize your online presence, particularly your social media one. We offer one-time social media strategy development services as well as ongoing, monthly social media “voice,” work. Learn more about our social media services, and/or reach out today with questions. We are always here to help!

Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, Networking

Oh Yes, I’m The Great Connector…

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Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

Okay, maybe I’m stretching the Connector and Pretender rhyme a bit, but I’ve had so many reminders recently of the power of connecting individuals to each other that I wanted a punchy phrase and tune to kick off this discussion.

One of the best characteristics I inherited from my mom, Terry Snow — through observation and/or genes — is recognizing the value and importance of connecting people to each other, and taking the initiative to do so.  My mom is one of the classiest, kindest people I know, and while being a mother of six children didn’t allow for a corporate life, she always introduced individuals from one social or community/volunteer organization circle to people in another circle.  She didn’t care how different the people she introduced were.  She wanted everyone to feel included, loved, and supported, and she saw great value in ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds got to know each other.

Probably because of the above, I’ve always been a connector on the romance front.  Two of my closest friends can attest to my introducing them to their husbands.  My love of playing matchmaker dates back to my early 20’s and I continue that practice to this day; however, as my career and professional life grew after college and graduate school, I’ve also enjoyed and saw the great importance of connecting individuals on the professional front.

I’ve shared many a headhunter/recruiter name with fellow job searchers, and am always passing contract and permanent job leads on to individuals who might be interested in them.  I’ve passed many a friend’s or colleague’s resume on to another friend or colleague in a hiring mode/capacity, and friends have landed jobs or interviews that way.  I also regularly share information about someone else’s services with others who might benefit from that service and/or who might be in a position to take advantage of that service.  My belief is that there’s always plenty of work, and permanent and contract job opportunities to go around, so why not help facilitate some discussions in situations where both parties might benefit?  My other belief — and I’ve experienced this many times over — is that when you help someone out, they are likely to return the favor, and what you put out there in the universe is returned to you.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can make a “connection” on your behalf — I’m glad to do so.  While I’m well-situated on the romance front — in fact, a lovely friend match-made me and my wonderful husband over 15 years ago — I hope you’ll consider “connecting” me on the professional front, as appropriate.

I’d love to hear your great stories about how the personal and professional connections you’ve made changed someone’s lives or how someone “connecting” you to the right person changed your life. During this holiday season, don’t forget the importance of connecting individuals who could really benefit from some new personal and/or professional connections.