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Although marketing is an extremely wise investment when trying to build your company’s unique brand image and grow your bottom line, client base and reputation in the marketplace, not all forms of marketing call for large sums of cash to help get your story out there. As a marketing agency with more than 25 years, dozens of awards and a diverse roster of clients to its credit, Woodall Creative Group has not only guided its clients into using cost-effective – and sometimes cost-free – marketing tools, but has also applied all of the following tips to grow their own business. So let’s count down the 10 Marketing Tips That Don’t Cost a Dime:

  1. Be Proactive in the Marketing of Your Business: The first – and most important – bit of advice regarding marketing is to DO IT! All too often, companies allow the marketing of their brand to take a backseat to more pressing matters – only to learn later that they should have never taken their foot off the gas. Plan a marketing calendar – keeping it active and fairly steady year-round with spikes in activity leading into your most lucrative months or seasons. Never fly by the seat of your pants – your company’s success is far too important for that.
  2. Identify and Leverage your Competitive Advantage: Really focus on what makes your company special. What sets it apart from the competition? Next, ask yourself “What do prospective clients have to gain from this advantage?” Are you the least expensive or most experienced? Do you provide top-notch customer service or a proprietary product? Do you offer extended hours or specialized services? While gaining insights to your own business, become a student of your competitors in order to discover what you can do or provide that they cannot and then weave it into all of your messaging – from copy on your website to prospect communications to talking points at network events. Make your competitive advantage an integral part of your overall brand and remain consistent in your use of that advantage in all digital and traditional marketing.
  3. Make Sure Prospective Customers Can Find You: Did you know that nearly half of U.S. adults said they have Googled someone before doing business with them? With so much research being conducted online before a prospect ever picks up a phone or sets foot inside your brick-and-mortar location, you need to make sure your company is listed anywhere and everywhere possible. There are a wide variety of free options, such as social media sites, city business directories and websites like Google Local, YellowPages.com, BizHwy.com and more. If you’re a member of a Chamber of Commerce or industry-specific organization, make sure your company is listed in their online directory. Take care to research keywords that will help get your company noticed and weave them into your business description in every directory and take full advantage of each listing – filling out as much information as you can in hopes of driving traffic to your website and through your front door.
  4. They Like You, They Really Like You: You know when you’ve had a great customer interaction, or when they’ve had a positive experience. Don’t be shy! Ask for a positive review. If your company is set up for reviews on Facebook, ask your customers to share their experience with others. If you are on a site like Yelp, TripAdvisor or an industry-specific review site, ask them to review you there. Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more? It’s worth it to ask, and it might make that customer feel special to know they’re doing something to help a local small business. Even better, the best reviews can be repurposed as client testimonies for use on your website, in social media posts, in newsletters, as references to potential clients and more!
  5. Word of Mouth Still Reigns Supreme: In addition to reviews, you can also ask your best customers to serve as ambassadors and directly refer your company to friends, family, business associates, neighbors, church members, anyone and everyone who will listen. You can also take it one step further and look to your affiliates to do the same in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” spirit of doing business. Related companies within the same or similar industries make great referrals, such as a dentist referring a patient to an orthodontist, an architect referring a client to an engineer or builder, etc… Make relationship building a major part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t have a referral rewards program in place, considering adding one to cultivate and reward referrals. Fostering a solid referral stream is one of the most effective ways to grow a business.
  6. Set Your Sights on Being an Industry Expert: It’s not enough to be the best at what you do – you have to let others know that you’re the best at what you do. Start positioning your company and members of its leadership team as experts in your industry. Create a personal brand for each expert in your company. Network, write blogs, create webinars, book speaking engagements, submit your work for awards, offer yourself as a source for local journalists and more in order to share your knowledge and grow your brand.
  7. Narrow Down Your Target Audience: While casting a wider net CAN work in catching customers, it’s far from ideal. Instead, really drill down to define your target audience – for instance, companies that might benefit from a relationship with your company. Identify the “Top 20” with which you’d like to get a foot in the door to start. Become familiar with each of their businesses and all of the key players you’d like to reach. When you do market to them, do so in a personal, authentic and approachable way while conveying your all-important brand image and communicating CLEARLY why they should do business with you.
  8. The Show Must Go On: Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience and begun making contact, meetings with prospects should soon follow. But don’t just hand over a proposal, thank them for their time and be on your merry way at the end of the meeting. Use this opportunity to set a date for the NEXT meeting. Before the next meeting takes place, keep the dialogue going in order to stay top of mind for that prospect and continue to build on that initial relationship. Chances are, you’re not the ONLY one in your industry with whom they’ve set a meeting. Stay in the game by sending a follow-up email and/or making a follow-up call, sharing relevant blogs, adding them to your e-newsletter database and more. All of these can be pre-designed and set to a schedule so it doesn’t require a lot of extra thought on your part. Just make sure these follow-ups feel fresh and personalized, rather than canned.
  9. Place an Emphasis on Long-Term Client Retention: In the pursuit of new customers, the existing customer is sometimes lost in the mix. A large part of your marketing calendar should include marketing to CURRENT customers with a goal of building long-term relationships. Let them know you appreciate them. BUILD on that existing relationship by offering additional services that could benefit them. After all, a happy customer is one of the best marketing tools you can have!
  10. Market, Rinse, Repeat: Once your marketing calendar is starting to wind down, it’s time to start building another one. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Track what elements worked and what didn’t. For those that didn’t work as well as you’d hoped, ask yourself WHY and consider tweaking those elements in hopes of achieving better results the next go-around. Build your new marketing calendar to be even stronger and more robust that the last.

When you ARE ready to invest part of your annual budget into marketing – from cutting edge digital means to tried-and-true traditional methods and everything in between – Woodall Creative Group welcomes the opportunity to add your company to our growing list of satisfied customers!

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Award-Winning Digital Marketing Agency Rounds Out Design Team with Seasoned Industry Veteran Who Has Led Campaigns for Coca-Cola, Chick-Fil-A, The Home Depot, MetLife, Porsche and UNICEF.

 Atlanta, September 10, 2018 (Press Release) – Jim Balke has joined the design team at Woodall Creative Group (WCG). A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta, Balke has served such recognizable brands as Coca-Cola®, Chick-fil-A®, The Home Depot®, MetLife®, Porsche® and UNICEF®. In his new role as Lead Designer at WCG, he will be implementing design trends and strategy throughout the full suite of marketing services WCG offers to its clients.

“There is a rare culture of mutual respect and dedication to the clients here,” said Balke. “I find myself among like-minded design strategists who love what they do. Accustomed to giving 200% to my clients, I value the fact that WCG really connects with the small businesses and brands it serves through a personalized, service-oriented, above and beyond approach.”

Balke defines his foundational career strength as an artistic approach to design. His love of typography has been honed into a true forte that has been used with great success for a wide variety of clients and projects. Included among his career highlights to date are his role as a two-time winner of the Peachtree Road Race T-Shirt Design, five-time winner of the Graphic Design USA Award, and his work with both UNICEF and Chick-fil-A.

“The addition of Jim to our award-winning team further solidifies our position as one of Atlanta’s most exciting digital marketing agencies and reaffirms our dedication to serving our clients in the best possible way,” said Tracy Woodall, Founder and President of Woodall Creative Group. “In addition to his incredible talent as a consummate artist, Jim is a seasoned marketing veteran with more than 25 years agency experience – ten of those years spent in senior-level management. In just the short time that he has been a member of the team at Woodall Creative Group, Jim has already proven himself to be a real asset – not just for his artistry, but also for his ideas. He works beautifully with the rest of the creative team – as we fuel one another to reach even higher levels of excellence in the work we produce for our clients.”

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Balke eventually migrated south to the foothills of North Carolina before moving further south to Georgia to attend classes at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Today, he lives in Lilburn with his wife Cathy and their two children, Bryce and Grace. Three cats, one dog and a bird round out the Balke family.

About Woodall Creative Group: With over twenty-seven years of award-winning strategic marketing, Woodall Creative Group has the expertise to catapult brands for success. The expert graphic designers, copywriters and programmers at Woodall Creative Group excel in implementing dynamic creative design, website development, marketing, social media content and corporate branding campaigns. The Atlanta-based agency has served a wide variety of clients from a broad array of industries. Included among them are Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies, Service First Pros, Southside Church, Hallco Community Credit Union, Clayton Signs, Weener & Nathan Law, CBP Engineering and BM&K Construction. WCG will make sure your project gets the full creative attention that ensures success! Contact Woodall Creative Group by calling 706.658.0244 or e-mailing support@woodallcreative.com.  To learn more about Woodall Creative Group, interested parties are invited to visit www.woodallcreative.com.

The Importance of Consistency and Multiple Touchpoints in Marketing

Rolling out an effective marketing plan is not unlike planting season on a farm. If executed properly, you’ll get to reap the rewards later for all of the preparation and promoting you do today. Just like at a farm, you till the soil, sow your seeds, keep watch to ensure growth and prepare for the harvest.

Dr. Jeffrey Lant – professor, author of more than 60 books and internationally renowned expert on the subjects of marketing, business development, copywriting and more – put forth the “Rule of Seven” marketing principle decades ago. The principle dictates that it takes an average of seven touchpoints before a customer remembers your brand message and feels compelled to act.  That’s a lot of marketing seeds to plant. While the advent of the internet and social media has served to speed up the process considerably from the original 18-month period for the Rule of Seven to take root, there are a number of things to take into consideration when planting those seeds…

Tilling the Soil: When planning your marketing campaign, make an effort to really stir things up. Do your research to see if there’s an audience segment you may have missed with prior campaigns who might be the next great thing for your brand. Also, dig DEEP to come up with a marketing campaign that will really grab your intended audience’s attention. Phone it in, and that will not only come through in your less-than-stellar messaging – but also in customer’s response.

“In a crowded marketplace, you want your message to stand out,” said Tracy Woodall, founder of Metro Atlanta-based Woodall Creative Group. “Be sure to outline all of the differentiators that set your company apart from the competition – everything that makes you ‘special.’ Stay true to the look and feel of previous campaigns for brand consistency, unless it’s time for a complete company rebrand – which is an excellent way to really shake things up and attract members from a new, previously underserved market.

Sowing the Seeds: Once you have a fairly clear plan in place, it’s time to start sowing the seeds through the design of your campaign and identification of the various modes of delivery you will use to reach your audience. Rather than planting just ONE kind of seed, use a variety of means to get your message out there. Think of the rows in your garden as streams of communication: website, digital marketing, e-mail marketing, social media, direct mail, print ads, TV commercials, radio ads, billboards, promotional items, experiential marketing and MORE. Because today’s marketplace is so crowded and noisy, multiple touchpoints are the key to success. Don’t merely select one avenue at one time – it will be the marketing equivalent of shouting into the wind. After you’ve identified the best modes of delivery, start creating designs to fit.

“If design is not your strength, consider outsourcing to an agency,” shared Woodall. “You may be highly skilled at identifying your audience, brainstorming ideas and media buying, but if you’re lacking in the design department – your entire campaign will suffer. To compound matters, you may even be compromising your company’s brand image. Professionally designed digital and print pieces can have a completely opposite effect, propelling your brand in a positive direction in the eyes of your audience.”

Keep Watch to Ensure Growth: Once you launch your campaign, don’t take your eye off the ball. Track results and make adjustments when necessary. If you notice that your digital efforts are really taking off, whereas your print campaign might be falling short – you may want to reallocate any remaining budget to the digital side for continued traction.

“Many companies miss this step,” said Woodall. “They send their campaign out into the world, then watch their sales results to measure its success. There are a variety of ways to track results and measure success – not merely by watching one’s bottom line. “

Prepare for the Harvest: Another often overlooked step many companies miss is to communicate the upcoming campaign to its employees. It’s SO IMPORTANT to share your marketing direction with the folks in the trenches.

“An internal campaign rollout is a great way to get team members excited and to encourage them to reinforce that same messaging to customers,” suggests Woodall. “Try to practice patience. The results won’t always be immediate. However, if your marketing campaign is truly successful, your employees will be better prepared for a bountiful harvest of happy customers. Not to mention the fact that your product or service had better live up to the hype, or that new customer you just worked so hard to earn might not return in the future.”

Begin Planning for Next Year’s Planting Season:  Once your campaign has hit the market and you’ve begun to reap the rewards of your hard work, it’s not time to rest on your laurels. It’s time to start projecting and laying the groundwork for NEXT YEAR’S marketing campaign.

“Take a look at your tracking to assess what worked and what didn’t,” said Woodall. “If everything worked, pat yourself on the back and determine what had the strongest impact on your campaign’s success: mode of delivery, audience identification, the message itself or a combination of all of the above. If some elements were stronger than others, start considering ways to make the weaker elements stronger the next go-around for even BETTER results next year.”

Woodall Creative Group is a trusted resource for marketing managers and company leaders throughout the Southeast seeking a creative partner to share their company’s unique brand story with the world. If you need help planning for a harvest of your own, contact the team at Woodall Creative Group at 706-658-0244, info@woodallcreative.com or via our convenient online contact form. To learn more about what we do and sneak a peek inside our extensive portfolio, visit www.woodallcreative.com.

Is it better to be a small fish in a big pond (where you risk getting gobbled up by bigger fishes) OR to be a big fish in a small pond? It’s a question more and more brands are asking themselves these days. Continuous evolution is the key to survival. Take for instance the recent, tragic case of Toys “R” Us, Inc. One might believe that they had found their niche as THE biggest toy store chain in the world. Unfortunately, its inability to evolve due to mismanaged debt and growing competition from retailers like Walmart have apparently led to its untimely demise – at least here in the U.S. When you read the lamenting tales of bloggers and journalists who grew up as “Toys “R” Us Kids,” it’s clear that the final blow to Toys “R” Us’ success was something deeper… they lost that personal touch – that ability to connect with its audience and make them believe that they, too, should be a “Toys “R” Us Kid.”

The American Marketing Association (AMA) suggests that “as personalization increases, brands will find growth opportunities in niches rather than mass markets.” Trying to be everything to everyone is seemingly only working for Amazon these days. Personalized marketing involves a combination of data analysis and digital technology to deliver personal, targeted messaging to current and prospective customers. In doing so in an effective way, sometimes your niche finds YOU. Through tracking, it should become clear who is responding and to what they are responding. One way to go about it might be to use that knowledge to help find your niche, and then consider a rebrand to fit.

From logo and website to an across the board digital marketing plan, a strategic marketing partner like Woodall Creative Group can not only help you determine that core audience and the messaging they want to hear but can also design a rebrand to which your niche will respond.  Our team was called upon by longtime client, Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies, in 2010 to help them change the way they were perceived in the market. Virtually since the company’s launch, Kids ‘R’ Kids had used a logo at their schools all across the nation that reflected a more playful vibe. Due to the evolution of their business and the changing perception of early education in the marketplace, Woodall Creative Group revamped their brand from an image related mainly to childcare to that of an elite learning academy – which their new logo reflected. This, in turn, impacted all of their collateral material, signage, messaging, website and more, and eight later, Kids ‘R’ Kids continues to reap the rewards of this gutsy move.

Entrepreneur Magazine has outlined the following five qualities for any good niche:

  1. It takes you where you want to go—in other words, it conforms to your long-term vision.
  2. Somebody else wants it—namely, customers.
  3. It’s carefully planned.
  4. It’s one-of-a-kind, the “only game in town.” – NOTE: While WCG agrees that this an ideal, it’s often a tall order for most brands, particularly in larger cities. However, we firmly believe that just about any company can find something unique that they have to offer their target audience… something that strongly distinguishes them from their competition.
  5. It evolves, allowing you to develop different profit centers and still retain the core business, thus ensuring long-term success.

In today’s world, companies need to resist the age-old practice of casting a broad net and employing shotgun marketing tactics. Instead, consider using these tools to determine your niche:

  • Begin with what YOU want. Define who your ideal customer might be.
  • Next, determine whether or not your product AND your brand image is a good fit for your ideal customer. You may own a cookware retail shop, but your NICHE could be “affluent aspiring chefs”. Your product line should reflect that, as should your messaging and brand image. To enhance your standing among that core group (and increase the level of personalization), you could begin marketing cooking workshops on social media.
  • Now it’s time to start a dialogue. You may conduct a focus group or actually TALK to people who fit your idea of the ideal customer. Find out what they want and how you can improve. This step may involve several layers to determine if you’re ready to pull the trigger or head back to the drawing board.
  • Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to take your plan to the implementation stage. This is where your creative partner will prove most helpful as they design a rebrand to fit your niche.

Need help determining your niche and designing a rebrand to fit?  Woodall Creative Group and our talented team of designers, content specialists and account managers welcome the chance to help you! Contact us TODAY to schedule an evaluation of your current brand image and target audience! We can be reached at 706-658-0244, info@woodallcreative.com or via our convenient online contact form.