Since our blog here at Results C & R focuses on marketing, but still covers one of our passions — walking — once in a while, we’ve been giving some thought to how we can combine two of our favorite topics in one blog post. Therefore, we’ve been noodling what walking and SEO have in common. And, here’s what we’ve come up with.
Staying In Shape and SEO Both Require Consistency
As it should, regularly posting content that is helpful and relevant to the target audiences your organization serves continues to greatly support your website and Google My Business profile being found and ranking well on Google. We recommend putting up new, fresh contentat least twice a month. The aforementioned can take the form of a new blog post, a relevant FAQ, or some other type of website page. You can also support ranking well by simply updating existing content, including blog posts. The same goes for walking, or whatever exercise or athletic activity (or a combination of several) you choose to do to get and stay in shape. Exercising regularly and consistently is the only way to get and stay in shape.
Staying In Shape And SEO Both Require Patience
Unless they have an SEO expert on their internal team who has advised them otherwise, many organizations believe — until they meet with an organization like our Boston SEO company — that after implementing a few on-page and off-page SEO tactics on their website, that their site will immediately start ranking/be found on the first page of Google. As we discuss in this blog post about what to know before you engage someone for SEO services, that’s just not a realistic expectation, particularly if your organization’s marketplace is a very competitive one and you have competitors who effectively employ SEO tactics to support ranking well. It’s a slow, long climb to go from NOT ranking well in search results to ranking on the first two pages of Google for desirable, high-volume terms used by your target audiences to find someone who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems you do, and it requires great patience.
We’ve found the same goes for staying in shape. It takes time to build up stamina to walk or run longer and longer distances, or to walk or run faster. The key to success is to remain patient and slowly increase the distance you walk and the speed/pace at which you walk. The same analogy applies to other forms of exercise, of course!
Staying In Shape And SEO Are Both Life-long Games
Staying in shape and ranking well/being found on Google are both long games, as we explained above, but also life-long games. In addition to it taking you a while to get to where you want to be, if you don’t keep up with your regular, ongoing exercise and continue to implement tactics on your website to support SEO (and particularly the tactic of regularly adding fresh, relevant content to your site), you’re going to eventually forfeit any forward motion/gains you’ve made.
Staying In Shape And SEO Often Require Support From A Partner
Whether it be sticking to an exercise routine or related to obtaining an athletic goal (like completing a marathon), or staying on track with executing SEO best practices; sometimes, you just need an accountability partner to keep you motivated to stay the course.
The team at our Boston SEO company is always here to serve as a cheerleader and accountability partner related to continuing to rank well/be found on Google. But, we’ll also gladly cheer you on related to your walking goals and other health initiatives! So, reach out today or use our calendar app to schedule a complimentary discussion about your challenges and opportunities. We’re “cheer” for you!
Regardless of whether your organization has a small or large marketing budget and staff, you still want to spend your time and money on marketing judiciously. Who wants to throw either valuable dollars or time out the window, right?
Why not make this the year you ensure you’re maximizing your marketing efforts by revisiting your marketing plans based on the information shared below about what marketing tactics make sense based on available data.
What Is Pull Marketing?
Each marketing expert probably has their own thoughts on what they consider marketing tactics that fall in the “pull” category. But, at our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company, we think of “pull marketing” tactics as those to be employed if evidence shows that individuals are actively searching to identify someone in your geography who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems that your organization offers.
So how do you know if people are actively searching in the geography you serve for the products, services, and solutions you offer? The best way to ascertain the aforementioned is by conducting keyword research. As we explain in this previous blog post, keyword research helps you identify the average # of monthly Google searches that are conducted on search terms (known as keywords) relevant to your products, services, and solutions. Because of the tools to which you’ll need access and the challenges of figuring out how to structure your research, you’ll likely fare better by hiring an SEO company or a team of SEO experts, like ours, to conduct meaningful and accurate keyword research.
If keyword research does indicate a large volume of individuals are regularly searching to identify an organization like yours, then pull marketing tactics, such as optimizing your website to be found on Google via organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and/or paid search tactics (think Google Ads) make great marketing sense. You’ll still need to have an effective website (one with appropriate calls-to-actions and that provides for a strong user experience) to cause site visitors to take desired actions on your site (convert), but the two aforementioned tactics should definitely cause individuals who are “warm leads,” i.e., likely interested in your products because they are actively searching, to visit your website.
What Is Push Marketing?
We always like to say “push marketing” is about the putting the idea in the heads of individuals and organizations who might be a good fit for the product, service, or solution you offer. Push marketing tactics are all about serving up/providing information about your products or services to individuals who, based on various demographics and characteristics, such as age, gender, income level, job/career/industry, etc., might likely be interested in buying your product or engaging you for your service.
Examples of both digital and traditional push marketing tactics include: display advertising (both social media advertising and Google display advertising), banner advertising (ad purchased on a website that serves individuals and orgs. who might be a good fit for your product), and print advertising in a newspaper or magazine. The aforementioned list is not exclusive, but we think you get the picture.
So, when is push marketing warranted? Push marketing makes great sense if keyword research indicates that individuals aren’t actively searching in your geography to identify someone like your organization. Particularly when a product or service offered is a brand new one that your target audiences are not likely familiar with/don’t know exist, then focusing on executing effective push marketing tactics will be the most efficient use of your marketing time and dollars.
When To Employ Both Push and Pull Marketing
Organizations with particularly large marketing budgets and teams tend to employ both push and pull marketing tactics, and therefore, both pursue people that are “warmer” leads for their products and services, i.e., those who are actively searching AND people who are less warm but still might be a good fit for their products and services. A key reason they may employ both push and pull marketing tactics is that pull alone doesn’t bring in the volume of leads and sales they need to meet their sales objectives.
For smaller organizations who have fewer in-house individuals devoted to marketing and a limited marketing budget, the majority of marketing dollars and time should definitely be earmarked for the type of tactics — push vs. pull — that make the most sense for the organization, based on what keyword research and any other appropriate available data indicates. But, it’s likely still worth investing a small amount of time and dollars in push marketing tactics, like Google Display or Instagram/Facebook advertising, just to see what such tactics yield in results.
Our Team Of Marketing Experts And SEO Experts Is Here To Help
We always say our Boston SEO company and Boston digital marketing agency “never encourages clients or prospective clients to continue with or start with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them.” In fact, our company’s tagline since we launched our marketing agency in 2014 has been “maximizing results thru research-supported marketing.” We’ll never suggest a client employ a particular tactic, based on whether or not we offer a service related to it. If we don’t offer a marketing service from which research indicates a client would benefit, we’ll refer the work to a one of our fellow marketing collaborators. But, the very first step is holding a complimentary discussion to learn about your particular organization’s marketing challenges and opportunities, so please use our calendar app to select a convenient day and time for you if you’d like to chat!
This morning I participated in an interview with two University of Connecticut students who were working on a class project about leadership in marketing & communications (I’m a UCONN alum to whom they outreached via LinkedIn). I had already completed an initial draft of this post before my meeting with them, but while discussing with them the shift that has occurred since I first launched my marketing career – from “traditional” marketing to digital marketing – it struck me to refer to traditional marketing as “pre-internet” marketing. I’m going to start using that term and “non-digital” more because “traditional marketing” has just never felt right to me as the term to use for activities advertisers engaged in more before Google searches, social media, and texting took over the world!
Read on to learn what I see as the two broad categories of perks to employing non-digital marketing activities.
1. Perks To The Marketing Professional Developing and Executing Non-Digital Marketing Tactics
Call me crazy, but I miss things like print checks and listening to possible music beds and writing advertorial copy – all things that came with being involved with or overseeing non-digital marketing activities like direct mail, TV and radio advertising, and print advertising. I also miss physically visiting or viewing images of billboard locations and scripting messaging for radio ads. And, I miss holding a beautifully crafted – both in appearance and messaging – sturdy, direct mail piece, and being responsible for buying a target audience mailing list and working with direct mail house partners. I miss ad slicks and seeing my print ads in the Metro newspaper that I snagged at the train station to read on my commute to work, and I miss seeing my advertising subway posters on that same commute.
Particularly during my days when I was employed in bank marketing roles, and we implemented integrated marketing campaigns that ran anywhere from one month to three, I loved overseeing the content, production, and design of various pieces; plus, working with our external marketing agency to produce a number of physical marketing pieces that all mirrored each other and sent customers and prospective customers the same marketing messages and reminders. These included:
Physical statement stuffers that went in customer bank statements – it was so enjoyable to brainstorm with others on my team to arrive at fun, punchy, effective copy and seeing the stuffer come to fruition in its beautiful slick, printed form. Often we would create extras of these for tellers or other bank employees to give out to customers or prospective customers.
Lobby posters – these would appear in each of the bank’s various branches and most branches had several locations within the office to hang the posters that highlighted whatever product or service we were promoting that month.
ATM messages – back then, people used ATMs more and we’d arrange for messages to appear on the screen that mirrored the campaign-in-question’s key messages.
Teller posters/cards – these were mini versions of the lobby posters that were placed at teller stations for viewing by customers as they waited in line or interacted with the teller.
Visual displays – these were physical/tangible items we’d place in bank branches that were relevant to the product or service we were promoting, such as telephones to encourage people to use the bank’s “phone banking” service.
The takeaway? Pre-internet marketing activities allow marketing staff and professionals to use a different part of their brain and more of their senses, including touch/feel, and it’s important to shake things up that way, right? Using one part of your brain can help strengthen the other part of your brain, or give a certain part of your brain a rest or new perspective.
2. Perks To The Organization Employing Non-Digital Marketing Activities And To Their Target Audiences
In keeping with the message that ended the discussion of perk #1 above, everyone has different preferred and default means of learning and absorbing information. Organizations need to understand that seeing a billboard or an advertisement at a movie, mall, or subway station might resonate more with, or be more easily digested by, certain individuals than an online ad or social media post.
Plus, some target audiences may not spend a lot of time online or on the phone because of personal life circumstances or the nature of their job – equating to missed opportunities for the organization who is advertising. Some target audience members may be more likely to see or notice your advertising if it occurred on or in a billboard, train, bus, mall, TV, radio, or a printed/hard copy of a newspaper or magazine. I think you get the picture! Plus, there is so much distraction for a prospective customer when they are on their phone or computer; non-digital marketing tactics are often served up and to, and viewed by, customers when they are in more of a “captive” vs. distracted mode.
To summarize the above, we believe both the advertiser and target audiences win when marketing activities that go beyond digital ones are employed to create awareness and educate prospective customers. As we discussed in our recent blog post, non-digital marketing activities can greatly contribute to the success of a multi-tactic, integrated marketing campaign.
We Can Help You Decide If and What Non-Digital Marketing Is Right For Your Organization
While we often refer to ourselves as a Boston digital marketing agency or Boston SEO company, we are so much more than that, and bring significant non-digital/traditional marketing experience. We can serve as a marketing consultant for developing strategic marketing plans and as your outsourced digital marketing team. Our team can help with both high-level marketing work like determining strategy, as well as hands-on implementation of day-to-day marketing work and marketing campaign and advertising campaign tactics.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for several months now — while folks were still wearing shorts. You’ll learn why shortly (hah, hah, see what we did there?) But, fortunately, it was a very busy summer at Results C & R, and when it’s busy, we always put our clients’ marketing work above our own.
Earlier this summer, I visited my local “Paper Store,” and while perusing and admiring their clothing items for women, I was extremely surprised to see how short their various short offerings were. I had always assumed The Paper Store catered to women of my age, i.e., women aged 40+ and that their “sweet spot” as far as target audience went was women 45 – 65. These assumptions were likely based on the following:
What I observed to be the demographic of other shoppers when I visited various Paper Store locations
The fact that, despite their rewards/coupons program, their prices for various items like clothing, toiletries, and accessories, are higher than what you would pay at a discount store like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, or Marshalls. And, therefore, younger generations (who in many cases would have lower income than the above middle-aged group) might be less likely to shop or make a purchase at a Paper Store.
I decided to take a poll on LinkedIn (which I also shared with my Facebook connections) a few months back to to see what other consumers believed The Paper Store’s primary target audience to be and to inform my planned blog post.
As shown above, poll results indicated that I am not the only one who believes The Paper Store’s primary target audience is women over 40. If the aforementioned is really true, then why didn’t The Paper Store offer longer shorts — shorts that hit you one, two, or three inches above the knee — to its shoppers this summer? Either The Paper Store overlooked their primary target audience’s needs and missed out on an opportunity to sell them a summer staple, or women 45 – 65 really aren’t their primary target audience (or, at least not their primary target audience for shorts). Or, based on our poll results, there’s a big misperception about who their target audience is. Regardless, one or more of the following seems to be at play:
The Paper Store is hoping to reach and sell to a younger demographic/consumer and is moving in that direction by selling clothes that appeal to younger audiences — and perhaps, they are achieving that goal. Only they know the answer to that.
The Paper Store isn’t giving enough thought to their primary target audience’s needs and what they will and won’t wear.
The Paper Store is targeting numerous target audiences at once as part of their overall target market, but only targeting certain products to particular target audiences, as indicated in part by the fact that they offer:
A very large collection of Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer products which I see most used by middle-aged or older women vs. teens or 20- or 30-something women because of the price associated with those products
Alex and Ani bracelets or other jewelry items which I’ve seen worn by both younger and middle-aged women, but primarily by women under 30
In keeping with the above, there is no pecking order when it comes to the various audiences The Paper Store serves; therefore, there is no one true primary target audience – just lots of smaller target audiences to whom various distinct products are targeted
The Paper Store’s website has been updated for fall and at the time of this post, homepage images showcase women who appear to be aged 40 at most, and who could possibly be and pass for 30-something and younger. So, I’m left thinking my bulleted thoughts above are accurate. Did/do I and others have their primary target audience wrong or is the retailer just trying to move away from that older audience, and attract younger consumers/shoppers? Or, are they just trying to offer something for everyone?
Products, Services and Marketing Creative Must Meet Needs Of And Resonate With Primary Target Audiences
Ultimately, what I hope you will take from this post is this. Whomever your primary target audience is, if you want to maintain them as customers and grow the amount of business they do with you, you have to offer products and services that make their lives better and easier, and your marketing creative (messaging and images) should reflect those audiences and what they hope to accomplish with your products and services, i.e., their reasons for buying them. If, for whatever reason you want your primary target audience to shift, i.e., you want to cause a new audience with different demographics (this could be based on age, location, gender, income level, and more) to become the primary consumers of your products, you need to make sure that products and services resonate with and provide solutions to problems of that new audience and your marketing creative speaks to that new audience and their needs.
Know What You’re Good At And Who You Serve
We’ve always been of the mindset that “you can’t be all things to all men.” You need to know what you’re good at and understand what the demographics of the audience who will be most interested in your particular products and services, i.e., your primary target audience, will look like. That’s usually a best practice when it comes to deciding what products and services to offer and how you market them. But, in the case of The Paper Store maybe trying to be many things to many people is working for them? Regardless, I won’t be visiting The Paper Store again to purchase shorts. I hope that was The Paper Store’s intention/objective.
Anyone who knows me well, knows I love watching cooking shows on Food Network, particularly ones where competitors have to combine ingredients that are given to them to make a dish that is appealing to both the tongues and the eyes of the particular show’s judges. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m watched pretty much every episode of “Beat Bobby Flay,” and countless episodes of “Chopped.”
So, what does food have to do with me, my company, and search engine optimization (SEO)? While my digital marketing agency isn’t just an SEO company, we’ve definitely gotten to be known, particularly in the last five years, for helping organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) in the Greater Boston area and beyond be found better and rank better on Google. Due to more than 10 years of being responsible for how websites rank in Google and other search engines, I’ve learned thru hands-on experience what combination of ingredients, i.e., what SEO tactics/activities, make for a winning SEO recipe!
Keyword Research: Your First and Most Important SEO Ingredient
I’ve given to, or shared with, Massachusetts chambers of commerce and SCORE chapters, as well as existing and prospective clients, a number of SEO presentations about the importance of keyword research. I’ve also written blog posts about it, and have a Word doc I’d be glad to share with you if you reach out to me to ask for it (hey, we don’t want to give out all the secret ingredients in our special SEO sauce too easily!) As we’ve shared in all the aforementioned documents and activities, keyword research ALWAYS needs to be a first step or ingredient in implementing an effective SEO strategy and recipe.
Even if you believe you already know what search terms (known as keywords) your various target audiences are entering into Google’s search engine to identify an organization or individual that offers the products, services, or solutions to problems you do, you should still make the time to confirm your intuitions about target audience’s search behaviors are accurate for these two key reasons:
you may be ranking well or trying to rank well for terms that target audiences are truly searching on, but are you missing out on terms that audiences are searching even more frequently on (high-volume search terms), and therefore, missing out on being found for desirable, relevant search terms because you don’t include those in your website content, page headers, meta tags, or other SEO real estate?
while you believed prior to keyword research completion that individuals were actively/regularly searching to identify an organization that offers the products, services, and solutions you do, your keyword research ends up indicating that the number of people entering relevant terms into Google is very low or negligible. The aforementioned scenario means all the SEO tactics in the world aren’t going to solve an immediate challenge of wanting and needing to generate more sales and leads for your organization since a “push” vs. “pull” strategy is warranted. You’re not going to drive a lot of “organic search” (search engine) traffic to your site, so traffic to your site will need to come from clicks on social media posts, display ads, links/banner ads on other external sites, e-blasts, and other marketing activities that put the idea of your products, services, and solutions in the minds of relevant target audiences who aren’t actively searching to find you.
Keyword research allows you to take a preliminary set of keywords/search terms you believe your audiences are searching on, and generate a much larger list of relevant search terms and the average # of times a month someone is entering that particular term into Google, for a particular geography. By reviewing this research, organizations can identify the keywords for which they most want to be found, and then make sure, as explained above, that those terms are included in SEO tactics/activities such as meta tags and public-facing website content and headers.
SEO Audit: An Ingredient That Adds Depth To Your SEO Recipe and Strategy
My Greater Boston SEO company employs a paid vs. free SEO audit tool to accurately determine for which of the keywords/search terms our clients most want to rank in a particular geography (identified thru the keyword research process above) they already rank well. We used to conduct SEO site audits for clients manually, but as our client list grew and the number of terms for which clients wanted to rank grew, we knew we needed to, and did invest in, a more cost- and time-efficient way to conduct SEO audits.
I consider an organization to rank particularly well for a particular keyword in Google if a listing with a link to its website or its Google My Business Profile/Google Search & Maps listing appears in the first 10 – 12 listings (for a particular geography) that Google serves up for the high-volume keyword in-question, i.e., appears on the first page of Google search results. I consider an organization to rank well, versus particularly well, if a listing with a link to its website or Google My Business Profile/Google Search and Maps appears within the first 25 listings Google serves up for desirable search terms, i.e., on the first two pages of Google Search results.
Identifying the intersection of relevant high-volume search terms and ranking on Google on pages BEYOND the first two (in positions 26 or higher in Google, and depending on the nature of an organization’s products and services, it may be critical to rank in position 1 – 12 in search results) allows us to know where there are areas for SEO improvement — therefore, areas where our client could be experiencing sweeter SEO success and for what terms we need to apply our secret SEO sauce to support ranking better in the future for those important keywords. The aforementioned secret sauce includes, but is not limited to, applying tactics such as employing the high-volume keywords in meta tags, page headers, and page content.
Why You’ll Want and Need To Repeat Your SEO Audit
Once you’ve set up your initial SEO audit, you’ll want to repeat it monthly to see if and how your organization ranks for the high-volume keywords regarding which you’re applying a lot of your SEO energy. Repeating this SEO audit will allow you to continue to tweak your SEO strategy and where you spend your SEO time, so that you continue to rank better and better for the keywords that are most important to the success of your organization and to your target audiences. Read why SEO is not a one and done marketing activity.
Why You Need This Winning SEO Ingredient Combo
Why does combining keyword research with an SEO audit make for a winning SEO recipe? Why spend time trying to rank well in Google for relevant, high-volume terms you’re already ranking well for? Sure, SEO is not a one and done marketing tactic and you should continue to employ appropriate-to-the-page-or-post-in-question content, headers, and page title tags that include those keywords for which you already rank well, but why not put the majority of your SEO energy into trying to rank well for high-volume search terms your organization currently isn’t ranking well for so you’re not missing out on important opportunities to reach your various target audiences?
Here’s an example from my own business. Two high-volume keywords I want my own site to rank well for are “digital marketing agency Boston” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. = 480/month), and “Boston SEO company” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. also = 480/month) since both of the aforementioned keywords have the highest average monthly search volumes among keywords/search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems we offer. Based on an audit we conducted today, we learned that we rank better for the term “digital marketing agency Boston” than we do for “Boston SEO company” — hey, Boston is fortunate to be a place that a very large number of SEO experts call home, so we are always competing with the best of the best SEO experts to rank for relevant terms. Anyhow, given the aforementioned audit information, while we’ll want to continue our efforts at ranking for “digital marketing agency Boston,” we’ll put extra effort into tactics to rank for “Boston SEO company (for the time being anyhow since rankings constantly change and shift depending on your marketplace and competition to be served up for certain keywords.)
Continuing with our food metaphor, we know this was a lot to “digest,” We’d be glad to walk you thru a recent case study we put together about the above winning combo, so please don’t hesitate to use our calendar app to schedule a time to chat https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.
It’s Patriot’s Day here in Boston — the area in which our digital marketing agency and SEO company is headquartered. For those who aren’t familiar with Patriot’s Day, it’s most known for being the day both elite and less-elite-but-still-very-passionate runners from around the world gather to run the Boston Marathon. For many in Massachusetts, it’s also a day off since some businesses shut down to allow employees a chance to watch the Marathon or participate in other festivities occurring that day.
A day focused on extreme athleticism seemed the perfect day to write another in our ongoing series of blog posts about walking in the Greater Boston area and on Boston’s South Shore. We’ve been wanting to write specifically about the joy of two-walk and three-walk days for a while, and this past weekend afforded one such day.
I had the good fortune on Friday night to walk at a beautiful South Shore park (one that’s still a bit of a well-kept secret): King Oak Hill Park in Weymouth. In keeping with what I was taught as a child, I’ve always believed that Good Friday should be a day of reflection and a quiet, low-key day. Not too much celebrating (because of the sad and somber event associated with it), not too much noise, not too much socializing. A walk in a park felt like a good fit for the day.
My husband, Jay, and I visited the park toward the end of the day (around 5:30pm, I believe). The spring sun was still bright and warm and felt heavenly, and before we started walking the main pathway of the park, I announced that we were going to walk 7 laps as I recalled the last time we visited in fall of 2022, we had walked 6. I’m definitely both a destination walker and one who likes to set goals to increase my distance. Thus, I love the goal-setting allowed by a place where you can walk and track laps.
Good Friday walking was followed on Saturday with three more distinct walks. Up early because of construction being done at a neighbor’s house, I walked to and from a local plaza to run some Easter errands at CVS and The Paper Store — hey, the eggs needed fillings for the annual Easter egg hunt, and I needed more plastic eggs too. Between walking to and from the plaza and walking around the stores, I added a couple of more miles to the similar distance walked the evening before.
A good friend reached out spontaneously about getting together later in the day on Saturday. To fuel ourselves (or so we could claim anyhow), she, Jay, and I did an ice cream run at the Braintree Ben & Jerry’s, followed by a walk on the very scenic trails at Blue Hills Reservation. It was definitely far more of a hike than a walk and I used muscles that I hadn’t used in a while, but I was a good sore the next day and welcomed the second opportunity of the weekend to soak in nature’s beauty and all the great fresh spring air.
After our hike, our friend expressed a desire to see and be by the ocean, so off we went next to Nut Island, another South Shore favorite walking place. And, the Island certainly delivered ocean feels, smells, and views. So, so gorgeous! During times when I was battling serious illness, visits to the Island always provided so much comfort, peace, and rejuvenation, and I know this park will always remain a South Shore favorite and a place of refuge!
The fifth and final walk of the weekend was another priceless one. A walk at the end of a very fun & festive Easter Day spent at my twin’s family’s house in Hanover — with four generations of family members! After eating a variety of snack and meals items during the day — as part of celebrating Easter, my eldest niece’s birthday and the first Celtics playoff game — a walk felt like the perfect ending to the day, as well as as much needed, after so much sitting.
What made the walk so priceless was the company — me, Jay, my twin, her son and our nephew, Matthew (who in keeping with this blog’s intro, respectively, had run a BAA race, and the Newport half marathon, the day before), and our nephew, Mike. There’s only so many moments in a year, where we get can get this group together for a great walk ‘n talk. So, despite the fact that the temperature was far lower that day than the previous two, and the wind made it feel particularly chilly, we did a neighborhood walk where we talked about things Boston, Massachusetts, and global, before we headed to back to our various homes.
We’d love to hear about your two- and three-walk days and your favorite places to walk on Boston’s South Shore, in Massachusetts, New England, New York — or any place in the world, for that matter — so please do share! And, never stop walking and never give up!
After writing several blog posts in recent years about one of my favorites hobbies — walking — I was torn about whether it should be a walking or a digital marketing topic that would be the focus of the first blog post of the new year. But, then, it hit me (while I was out walking, of course) why not combine the two topics? So here goes…
Depending on how your business, organization, or you personally fared in 2021, maybe the new year/2022 doesn’t require some kind of grand gesture or large overhaul related to new beginnings and resolutions. Hey, if it ain’t broken, why fix it, right? Maybe, it’s just a matter of making some small tweaks to last year’s marketing strategy and/or the particular tactics that are part of it, or to your personal habits and mindset, so you can optimize results even further in the new year.
That’s why, while I plan to keep up with my “no excuses” winter walking plan this year, I made a small adjustment to it in the beginning of 2022. Sure, in the blog post that I linked to in my previous sentence, I sang the praises of last year’s coat related to being “prepared for opportunity.” But, I realized this winter, I needed to do something slightly different. The coat I bought and wore last year was just too heavy for my back, which started troubling me in fall 2021 (life happens). Plus, the length of last year’s coat-purchase (down to my ankles) limits the length of my stride. So, I went to Macy’s last week to capitalize on post-Christmas sales, and bought a very reasonably-priced coat that’s a bit shorter and a bit less heavy –because life circumstances, business, and marketplaces constantly change and we need to adjust to them, even if only slightly.
We’d welcome the opportunity to chat with you about what your business/organization could or should do slightly or significantly differently in 2022, based on the following and other possible or anticipated changes pertaining to:
the competitiveness or other attributes of your marketplace, such as pricing and inflation
consumer or business buying behavior or interests
technology used by consumers or businesses to gather information about products, services, and solutions, i.e., consumer and business technology preferences
marketing technologies and opportunities to reach target audiences
So, please let us know how we can help and don’t be afraid to make some very small or some very large tweaks to personal habits or business processes, tactics, strategy, etc. if warranted for a more prosperous, less stressful, more productive, and/or healthier new year!
If you’re a fellow walking fanatic, enjoy our other walking blog posts:
Knowing that I and my Boston-area digital marketing agency team help clients obtain, maintain, and optimize Google Nonprofit Ad Grants, a few weeks ago a fellow digital marketing consultant asked me if I ever had a client utilize the entire $120,000 in free Google Ads search advertising available thru the Grant. While I knew generally that a few of our nonprofit (NPO) clients who offered products and services across all of the U.S. (vs. in a smaller city/town or state geography) were able to really capitalize on the free advertising $/media buy available annually via their Grant, it prompted me to both dig deeper on what % of their Grant dollars were being used, and to detail in this blog post, the various ways our marketing agency’s Google Ad Grant clients have used their search-advertising funds.
I hope that, by documenting here the types of nonprofits we’ve worked with who have obtained a Grant and successfully employed Google Nonprofit Grant monies, I might inspire other NPOs to either apply for a Google Grant, or use their Google Ads Grant differently or better to maximize it.
What Types Of Nonprofits Qualify For A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant
Let’s start with the types of nonprofit organizations we’ve helped obtain and/or capitalize on their Google Nonprofit Ad Grant:
organizations that offer training programs/coaching to at-risk women/women in-transition
organizations serving those with special needs and/or disability
organizations that serve financially challenged/at-risk teens in both the U.S. and abroad
Most non-profits who apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant will qualify for one unless they are a government agency/entity, a healthcare provider like a hospital, or an education institution (philanthropic arms of colleges and universities may qualify for a grant). We’d be glad to coach you thru the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant application process. The initial part is pretty simple, and starts with applying for a Google Nonprofit Account and joining Tech Soup if you haven’t done so already. But, you do need to know how to set up a campaign that effectively meets certain Google Nonprofit Ad Grant search advertising requirements, including using certain available advertising features.
Does Anyone Ever Use Their Entire Annual Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Funds?
The answer to the above is likely “yes,” or close to it. As alluded to above, the broader the geographic area in which a nonprofit offers support, services, and products, the more likely they are going to be able to employ much of the available monthly $10,000 in free paid search advertising, particularly if the volume of individuals searching on terms relevant to what the nonprofit offers is significant.
We just conducted an audit of several of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients who are able to offer all or some of their products and services across the whole U.S. All three of them sell products and services that are available for purchase by anyone in the U.S. For example, one sells mass cards to fund the great work they do; another sells curriculum and online training programs; a couple have online gift stores whose sales allow them to provide the services they do to constituents. One client will likely use 70% of their annual Google Ad Grant dollars ($120,000) by year’s end; another about one-third; and another, about one-third. It’s not easy to properly and effectively employ those large search advertising budgets, but it shows it is possible! And, of course, we’d be glad to brainstorm with you to come up with creative ideas for optimizing Grant dollars.
How Can I Use My Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Dollars?
Many of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients are using their Google Grant in a number of simultaneous ways, including the following:
Drive sales of products, therefore, tangible goods, such as those available in an online store/shop that fund their good work in our communities
Cause use of the organization’s on-site services or online/virtual services
Recruit volunteers for their organization
Through general/branding messaging, create awareness of their organization among appropriate audiences in an attempt to secure donations (keep in mind that ads specifically asking for donations aren’t effective; but letting individuals and orgs. that are interested in your cause know about you can be effective with development efforts)
Support attendance at paid or free events, including webinars, seminars, workshops, courses, and classes
Cause target audiences to visit/read/use resources/information on their site, or download information
Cause appropriate individuals to fundraise on the organization’s behalf/participate in the organization’s fundraiser
Cause target audiences to be an advocate for the organization’s cause or the general/broader cause with which the organization is associated
Cause other desired “conversions,” i.e., desired behaviors, such as:
visits to organization’s physical site for a variety of reasons
We think Google Nonprofit Ad Grants are a well-kept secret and are often under-utilized by nonprofits — either because they don’t apply for and employ one to see if it will work for them, or they obtain one and don’t use it for the many purposes they could or should.
I promised blog readers and myself that I would write a follow-up post to my original “Why I’ve Always” Walked” blog post, and based on my passion for walking, additional follow-ups to Parts I and II are likely to come. But, for now, we’ll stick to Part II and its focus, “no excuses.”
Wanting to keep up with my daily walks in late 2020 and early 2021, despite anticipated dips in New England temperatures, I made sure in Mid-October-2020 that I eliminated as many deterrents to walking daily as I could in advance of November – February colder weather. There’s been a lot of social media conversation around the “best or favorite item you purchased in 2020.” And while, a few furniture purchases for my breezeway to allow for outdoor visits with friends and the family were strong contenders, for me, the award for best purchase was and is my Tommy Hilfiger Faux-Fur-Trim Hooded Maxi Puffer Coat! Thank you Tommy and thank you Macy’s! Yeah, it cost me $157.50 since I purchased it prior to late-season sales (something I normally wait for when it comes to coat purchases), but to-date, it has been worth every penny I spent on it and then some. And, there’s still a lot of South Shore of Boston winter weather ahead of me!
I specifically sought out a coat that would keep me toasty warm while walking in all kinds of Northeast winter weather — winds, rain, snow, temperatures in the teens — without causing me to sweat too much or to feel too weighed-down. This coat is light-weight, keeps me super-warm, and it’s not made of Down, and therefore, doesn’t make me feel all clammy while walking in it. And, I love the fact that I can wear a lightweight sweater vs. a really thick one under it, since the coat itself is so warm. This prevents my movements from feeling/being restricted, and I don’t feel like a walking sausage when I walk!
I also invested in these boots from Toms because the sneaker-bottom works well for me and my ongoing right hip issue, and I don’t want concerns about keeping my feet warm, or having shoes that are comfortable to walk in, to get in the way of my walking either! They’re super warm and I always love the fact that a Toms brand purchase means someone who really needs one, will get a free pair of shoes.
Be Proactive About Preventing Obstacles and Eliminating Excuses
Yeah, that was likely more than you wanted and needed to know about my walking-related purchases. As a new year gets underway, I really just wanted to remind readers that when you take an offensive, proactive approach to health & wellness goals, or to other non-health objectives, you’ll increase your chance of success. I didn’t want any excuses to get in the way of my getting the exercise and sunlight I need to keep my mind and body healthy — particularly during our pandemic when it’s so important to one’s sanity to get outside and get a change-of-scenery.
“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”
I’ve always liked the expression “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” My ever-green blog post “While You Wait, Educate” speaks to this same premise. Maybe I’m stretching it a bit when associating buying a warm coat and warm boots with opportunity. But, hey, when friends have reached out to walk on a cold day, I’ve been ready for that opportunity to socialize, or when I run into neighbors while out walking, I have the opportunity to catch up a bit (socially distanced, of course!) because I’m warmly and appropriately dressed and don’t have to rush back inside/home.
With the start of a new year, I’d love to hear from my readers what preparations you’re putting in place to seize opportunities or to prevent obstacles from getting in your way of achieving an important personal or professional goal. So, please do share!
Walking has always played a huge role in my life. During my early childhood years, when I lived in a very rural area, my five siblings and I walked everywhere — a long, uphill trek to a small candy store, in the many wooded areas of the very country-ish-at-the-time town of Burlington, Connecticut, and around and near two different ponds for swimming to which we had access.
Moving with my family at age 9 to a less rural part of Connecticut (Bristol) didn’t put a damper on my interest in and ability to walk great distances. Just the opposite. My twin, Audrey, and I had sizable walks to school, particularly related to our junior high school, which was a forty-minute walk from our home. As part of that long daily walk, we’d stop by the houses of friends along the way, so that they could join us on the “walking bus” to school. And on the way home from junior high and even elementary school, we’d take routes home that made the trip longer, but that afforded us the opportunity to purchase favorite snacks. In addition, I regularly walked to Bristol’s downtown area to shop, take advantage of the city’s great library, and accomplish other errands.
A Few Of The Many Benefits Of Walking
As you would expect, during college days at UCONN, I continued to walk a great deal. UCONN has a very large campus, so often class location required walking long distances, but UCONN also has a beautiful pond area for walking, known as Mirror Lake — an area to which I was often pulled. I attended the Universite of Rouen in France my senior year and logged a crazy large number of shoe- and sneaker-leather miles abroad, partly due to the fact that the home of the family with which I lived was a significant distance from the Universite, and partly due to the fact that I had the opportunity to spend blocks of time in Paris and other beautiful parts of Europe. Walking is such a great way to get to know a new city or area.
Fast forward to my first apartment post-graduation in Quincy MA (where I didn’t own a car) and to my 15 years of living in Brookline MA (where most of the time I didn’t own a car). I ran many of my errands on foot, but also regularly enjoyed non-errand-related amblings all over Quincy, Brookline and Boston. I often walked numerous stops past the closest MBTA (subway) stop to my employer/job or my home, just to get my mileage and my time in nature to clear my head in.
When I was a child and in my early 20’s, reasons for walking probably tipped more to it being the means to end — a way to get to where I needed and/or to run an errand. As I got older, walking began to take on a different role in my life for the following opportunities it afforded:
a way to regroup and rejuvenate, and simply have an uninterrupted block of time to think and decompress
Particularly during our pandemic, many of my days have been “two-walk” days, and there’s even been some “three-walk” ones — either because of the need to emotionally manage daily work and personal demands and/or the tough news we’re constantly bombarded with. Or, to have the chance to visit and spend time with friends and family. Of course, walking looks a little bit different these days because of needs to social distance and wear masks.
Since our dating days, my husband, Jay, and I have always enjoyed nature and vacation walks together, but up until recently, I’ve been the primary “neighborhood” walker in the family, but now’s he’s joining me, or walking by himself, having recognized some of the benefits of walking that I’ve shared above.