The News Chair
  1. Get a Zen State of Mind

    December 16, 2014 by Tiffany Whisner

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    The end of the year is a season of both panic and pause. The holidays are here, and you want to check off all the gifts on your list and get your home prepared for the festivities. There is the chaos of work to get done before 2014 expires.

    But just as you want to keep your body in good health, you must do the same for your business.

     

    Tiffany Whisner

    Tiffany Whisner

    Pick up around the office

    Before you get too overwhelmed at the end of the year, take the time to tie up any professional loose ends with the following advice:

    1. Streamline your activities. Schedule blog and social media posts ahead of time if possible on WordPress or through Hootsuite or TweetAdder, says Natalie Sisson, the Suitcase Entrepreneur. But you might want to keep an eye out for any big news during the holidays in case you need to adapt your messages.
    2. Set up your systems. Make sure your voicemail and out-of-office email replies reflect your plans for the holidays. Use an online tool like Doodle to simplify your scheduling.
    3. Clean up and prepare for next year. Clear out your email inbox and remove anything more than a month old. Organize your computer, and file documents in their proper folders. Clean up your office too! It will do wonders to get you off to a good start in 2015.
    4. Get your finances in order. Review budgeted and actual revenues and expenses to help plan your finances. A great tool is inDinero, which keeps track of your business with visual graphs as well as reminders of bill payments and whether or not you’re on track.
    5. Prioritize! Figure out what activities are the most important to ensure your business continues operating and progressing forward while still giving you the time and flexibility to enjoy the holidays. Try RescueTime for your ideal work-life balance.

     

    Perk up with a positive mindset

    Once you’ve got work items in order, you can focus on getting in the right attitude for 2015 — by thanking your clients, partnering with community organizations and getting creative on ways to leverage your company’s brand marketing efforts. Sisson offers additional tips:

    1. Tis the season for caring and sharing. Get into the holiday spirit by sending holiday cards to your customers and clients online. Include a note of appreciation and a holiday blessing. Also, send the greeting to your newsletter subscribers.
    2. Make new contacts. Take along your business card to holiday festivities. You never know who you will meet along the way. Follow up with your contacts, and connect with them on LinkedIn with a personal introduction.
    3. Reflect and reset. Is your business where you envisioned it a year ago? How can you carry on the momentum into the New Year? Or how can you redirect it so it’s back on track?
    4. Use down time for personal development and growth. Catch up on the reading you’ve been meaning to get to. Learn some new skills and ideas to help your business grow in 2015.
    5. Relax and enjoy the holidays! Don’t forget to recharge your batteries and de-stress. Spend time with friends and family and offers thanks for all your blessings.

    And there is certainly no better time than the holidays to say THANK YOU to all of our clients for your business. The Coles team thanks you and wishes you a happy holiday season and successful 2015!

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  2. Unleashing Your Super Powers

    December 10, 2014 by Christopher Lloyd

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    It’s become almost a cliché in many business circles to write these types of articles at the end of the year, trying to predict what trend lines will hold up after January 1. But there’s a reason for that: December is the time — often the only one we get on an annual basis — when things slow down just enough for us to sit back and contemplate things a bit.

    Besides, looking at trends isn’t just an exercise in total chicanery, making up stuff and flinging it against the wall to see what will stick. Basically what we’re doing is looking backward as much as forward, to see if what was predicted for the passing year has held up. If so, that likely means it will continue and expand.

    So what’s on the horizon for marketing in 2015? And how can you dominate the competition?

    Christopher Lloyd

    Christopher Lloyd

     

    Focused marketing

    One of the biggest changes in the marketing field is the ability to tailor and target messages to specific customers based on the things they’re already interested in. It wasn’t that long ago when seeing customized advertising next to our Web searches seemed amazing (and intrusive, to some people). Now we accept it as a matter of course.

    Just recently I was looking up a local electronic retailer’s offerings on my smartphone, and wasn’t surprised when I started to receive emails from them with similar product listings.

    Over at the blog visual.ly, Lizetta Staplefoote says micro-targeting is the best way to get to know your customers. The first step is to find out who your audience is and dive deep into “buyer persona development.”

    “Touching these customers will require data parsing to create the kind of one-to-one conversations for successful micro targeting,” she writes.

     

    Mobile keeps growing

    While you’re familiarizing yourself with your customers’ needs and lifestyle, understand smartphones and tablets are increasingly the way many of them engage digitally. Jayson DeMers of Forbes predicts “2015 will be the year that mobile strategies move beyond simply having a responsive site or mobile app, and focus on mobile-optimized content and social media marketing as well.”

    In other words, smart businesses should be thinking about ways to optimize their audience’s mobile interactions with them. That means building a fully-responsive website — we do plenty of that here at Coles Marketing — mobile ads geared to their interests, and creating separate content specifically for mobile platform users.

     

    Social media: ads & content

    Recently an experience working with a client on an ambitious roll-out campaign convinced the Coles team of one thing: reject social media advertising at your own peril. We’d exceeded all expectations for earned media and eyeballs, but the social media component lagged because no advertising dollars had been allocated there.

    BuzzBuilder has a Slideshare that says it best: “Paid advertising in social media is becoming a necessity, not a luxury.”

    Going hand-in-in hand is the need to create content to engage audiences across a variety of platforms and channels, especially social media. Roger Katz at Clickz.com rightly notes it’s hard to produce quality content in quantity. Once you do, he advises, use it in as many different ways as you can.

    “Be smart about how content can be leveraged and re-purposed,” he writes. “One expensively produced piece of content can be distributed in multiple ways to get more use.”

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  3. New website design trends for 2015

    December 5, 2014 by Christopher Lloyd

    Trend meme

    The thing I’ve learned about website design is that it’s always changing — not just individual sites, but the ethos behind how they are created and interact with users.

    Back in the day, people thought nothing of having a chunked-up page full of text and maybe a few tiny photos. Take a look at the Drudge Report for an example of a proudly paleolithic look of the 1990s, in case you need a reminder.

    Here at Coles Marketing we work on a lot of clients’ sites — from just updating their blog to doing total top-to-bottom redesigns. In addition, I’m currently in the midst of a redesign of the movie site I founded, The Film Yap. So the look and feel of websites is very much on my mind these days.

    So it’s not surprising that I ran across this article from Elegant Themes, “Web Design Trends To Look Out For In 2015.” It’s got a lot of great ideas and predictions, so make sure to read the whole thing.

    Among its insights:

    • Responsive or Go Home — “Responsive design” refers to a website’s ability to resize and reformat itself for mobile devices. “Over the last few years responsive design has solidified itself as the new standard for web design in general and WordPress themes in particular. “
    • Bigger Emphasis on Typography — It’s easy to be dismissive of “font nerds,” but the type of text you use is important. “Type kits are becoming more affordable (or free in the case of Google Fonts) and that means there is more freedom for designers working with a smaller budget to bring their typography skills to the web design table.”
    • Scrolling Over Clicking — This refers to a shift away from having lots of independent subpages. Instead, of clicking to get to each new topic area, the front page has all those elements that people can simply scroll down to see. “(Scrolling) is more intuitive, easier to do, cuts down on load times and allows for more dynamic interaction to take place between the user and the website.”
    • Microinteractions — “What are microinteractions? They are contained experiences or moments within a product (or perhaps a module on a website) that revolve around a single use case. One example of this is the email signup box that pops up on this website. It sort of wiggles back and forth on the screen, giving a playful personality to an otherwise static graphic.  This microinteraction promotes an increase in user engagement.”
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