What is marketing, exactly?
Marketing is easily defined as any element that influences a potential customer or client to purchase a product or service from your company. It is a process. It is getting people who have a specific need or problem, to get to know you, like you, trust you, and THEN contact you. It is just that simple but it doesn't happen overnight. It is a system that takes forethought, analysis and good execution. And never forget follow up!
Biz-comm, a marketing communications firm, analyzes a client's market position and develops effective tools to communicate with a target market. In other words, we see where you are, what you want to accomplish, and then provide the tools to get there.
These tools include well-researched marketing and business plans; fully developed corporate identity packages; creative collateral materials; functional Web sites; effective advertising and direct mail campaigns; external and internal communications; social media programs; and positive publicity.
Biz-comm brings affordable marketing to a wide range of clients including the construction trades; medical, educational and professional practices; and non-profit organizations.
If your company needs affordable marketing, Biz-comm is here to help. Whether it is a fresh corporate identity, a functional web site, or one of Biz-comm's many other services, give us a call.
Remodelers and builders: Remodelers and builders may be interested in articles in which Biz-comm was quoted or wrote.
A 20+ year VA/MD/DC home developer has expanded business to include custom homes, remodeling and build-outs. A&G Homes now has a new division, A&G Builders, dedicated to working closely with homeowners to deliver every detail imagined. Visit the new division at ANG-Builders-VA.com.
I recently found a short story that I posted 24 years ago. I was thinking of Hillary even then. I hope you enjoy this distraction. The 11th Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Have Illicit Communications” Copyright 1996 by Patrice Olivier Cross She could remember when they first passed the law in 2000 — made it not …
In marketing, a corporate identity is the personality of a corporation and is visibly manifested by way of branding and the use of trademarks.
In general, within a set of guidelines, this amounts to a logo and supporting materials. These guidelines govern how the identity is applied through the use of appropriate color palettes, typefaces, page layouts and other such methods of maintaining visual continuity and brand recognition across all physical manifestations of the brand.
Corporate identity is composed of three parts:
Corporate Design (logos, stationery, signs/vehicles, web sites, clothing, etc.). A strong corporate design is critical to successful communications; it is a keystone upon which all else is built.
Corporate Communication (website, advertising, public relations, brochures, direct mail, newsletters, events, etc.)
Corporate Behavior (internal values, norms, customer service, etc.)
Corporate Identity: Logo development is a key element to overall marketing efforts
A logo is one of the most important elements of your marketing efforts. Every marketing effort that follows is as strong (or as weak) as this initial building block.
Scroll to see examples.
There's more to an effective Web site than its design. Functionality is critical for success. What is the site's purpose? What information is important? How can a visitor use the site?
Biz-comm understands these are all important considerations. We approach Web design from a solid marketing position, designing with the client's best interests in mind. If a Web site doesn't communicate to its visitors, it has failed.
Biz-comm provides total backend editing capabilities to our clients. Built on databases, our system is easy and fun to do. Want to add another photo to a portfolio? Use a form to upload. Want to change a meta tag for better search engine optimization? At your fingertips.
In addition, while many visitors to a Web site find it through traditional marketing efforts (signs, direct mail, etc.), the site must also be constructed properly in order to be found by search engines. Search engine optimization is in the control of the site owner. Want to add a new focus? Change the meta tags, headlines, content. Want to dedicate a page to a specific topic? Add a new page.
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Biz-comm hosts clients on its dedicated servers. Biz-comm only hosts its own clients; we do not host clients not developed by Biz-comm. The advantages are many: a high level of security, only Biz-comm has server root access, low traffic, high speed and reliability.
When Biz-comm develops a new site, it includes one free year of hosting. A second free year can be granted when a client refers a new client to Biz-comm for website development.
Biz-comm does not accept projects hosted on other servers. All servers are not created equal. In order to provide the full extent of our services, we require a server to have all the software installed that we use. The time it would take to get 'root' access changes from a non-Biz-comm server makes designing for another server unprofitable for Biz-comm. To help with the transition, Biz-comm gives the first year of hosting FREE to web clients.
Biz-comm's servers are located in Vancouver BC in a secure data center featuring redundant UPS and diesel generator power systems making it able to sustain any possible power outages, as well as military-grade pass card access are used to ensure total security in the facility. In addition, a Network Operating Center (NOC) team monitors and manages the network 24x7x365 to ensure 100% uptime. Redundant HVAC Systems, climate control with particle filters and humidity control create optimal conditions on site for severs and system operation and eliminating any hardware failures caused by the environment conditions.
In addition to Biz-comm staff monitoring the servers' uptime, technical staff monitors uptime, virus alerts, and security issues. Nightly back-ups to a second server protects against data loss should a server fail.
Search engine optimization isn't voo-doo. It's simply making all the elements in your site to work together. Beware of any company that claims for $xxxx a month, you'll be on top of Google.
Here are the main ingredients to a good ranking.
1) Good, clear, human-readable writing. Content is the most important ingredient to get higher in results.
2) Find key phrases. Which words do you think your target audience would use to search for you? Focus on those words. A general word such as "remodeling" alone won't put you on the top list. Portal sites such as ServiceMagic are too large to compete with. However, "remodeling yourtown yourstate" will zero the search to a geographical area, and has a better chance of having a good result.
3) Write a summary of the page and place in a metadesciption. Write human-readable key phrases. This summary is what appears in Google after the title of the site.
4) Make each of your pages useful, informative.
5) Write in the third person. No one searches for "you" or "we"... use nouns and adjectives.
6) Google has recently changed its system to a "conversational" type of search. People more often than not, type in a question, such as "who does kitchen remodeling in Richmond VA" rather than typing in kitchen remodeling.
Biz-comm puts control of a website's content in the hands of its owners, including search engine optimization (SEO) updates and changes.
Born out of the frustration of so-called SEO experts talking our clients into paying thousands of dollars so sites could be "optimized," Biz-comm developed a database driven system that puts the power to make SEO changes easy.
Once a site is built, our clients can log into an administration backend, review which meta tags and descriptions are in the pages' code, and make changes. Clients can change titles, content, images, everything except the code, or design, of the site. This prevents anyone from accidentally "breaking" the page, yet allows for full content change.
If, at some point, a client decides a new phrase should be considered for searching, he or she can make the appropriate changes and then watch Google Analytics to see its effect.
"Often times I have grown client sites beyond their original scope. Self-maintentance then becomes a bit of a nightmare, as simple edits can end up creating havoc on a page. And un-doing that havoc can eat up billable hours in a flash. Working with Patrice at Biz-comm has changed all that. From the initial set up stages, Patrice creates a distinct set of back end tools that enable complete page editing without breaking code or changing overall site functionality. Her controlled and consistent client editing system means that clients can quickly jump into their sites, add new pages, import images, create new links, and instantly see the results. Suddenly I feel as though I can offer my clients so much more; a well built website that can be seamlessly maintained for years to come. Biz-comm has made growing my business that much easier."
"The ability for NATE to host their store on my site and for me to be able to fulfill their products for the store has helped increase NATE's online business and also has increased mine.
"The ability for their certified technicians to purchase items online has simplified their process and allowed them to order frequently which has increased demand for the products that I supply, which means that they order logo merchandise from me more often which increases my sales and bottom line."
Karin Collis-Arnett KarinsCustomImages.com
Web site development involves fast-changing technology. What was state-of-the-art three years ago, is old-hat today. While this fast pace is a challenge for web site developers, it is a bonus for companies seeking to add more information, usefulness and interest to their marketing materials.
Before beginning a Web site, Biz-comm asks a series of questions about our client's perceived use for a site, then explore what other benefits a site can bring to a marketing plan.
Items to consider include:
Online lead tracking systems: See where your leads come from.
Clients only management system: great for construction firms.
Self-administered update pages: save monthly maintenance charges by filling out a form to add a news item, customer testimonial, tip, all page content etc.
Calendars: keep your customers updated on upcoming events by self-administered events calendars.
Blogs: keep visitors returning by writing interesting or useful information. Biz-comm also offers blogging services to keep content fresh.
Message boards: post items for feedback.
Mail lists: HTML email notices or text only messages to your customers, if not overdone, stimulates Web traffic.
Surveys: find out opinions on hot topics; post results or keep results private.
Client satisfaction surveys.
Shopping carts: use Biz-comm's secure server for credit card transactions.
Virtual tours: Whether it's a home for sale, a remodel to show off, or a yet-to-be-built design, animations and videos are an effective technique to get a marketing message across.
Seach engine optimization: We don't charge extra to prepare your site for good rankings. If you get an offer to get your site "on the top of Google" beware. It all comes down to which search words are "guaranteed." Most of these offers are bogus.
Domain registration: Don't lose your domain name accidently. We keep a master list and will let you know when it's due. Do NOT pay any bill that arrives in the mail from companies that you don't recognize. With our system, you own your domain, but we are listed as a contact to keep you safe from scams.
How are we different from other web site developers?
If you want to manage your own websites, we build easy-to-use update pages so our clients can add content as they wish. A new testimonial in the mail? Just type it in, and instantly it is online. Add new vendor to your list? Type it in. A news item? Same drill. Want to add a new page? Easy to do and no extra cost.
If, however, you do not have in-house staff, we are here to help with quick turn-around.
Blogging has become the Internet equivalent of a diary, an essay, or something of both. There are an estimated 3-plus million active blogs and that number grows everyday.
Creative clients find uses beyond a simple message. One Biz-comm client uses his blog to highlight and showcase his latest jobs. Another uses his blog to educate his clients. And yet another client uses his blog to answer his clients' questions.
A blog is useful for search engine optimization. Fresh content gets noticed!
Items to consider:
Have something relevant to say.
Delivers the message within the confines of good writing, good spelling, punctuation. Work in key phrases that help optimize the site, especially geographical location if your market is local.
A good blog leaves the reader with the feeling they're glad they read it, have learned something useful.
Biz-comm installs blogs on clients' sites, teaches clients how to use them, and is available for posting for our clients on a pre-determined schedule. Ask about Biz-comm's very reasonable, well-written blogging services.
Both Stephen Wilson and Patrice Olivier-Wilson have decades of experience as writers and editors.
Stephen worked for several government contractors, writing to RFPs to gain lucrative government contracts. His freelance work included magazine columns, including several years with Remodeling Magazine for marketing topics.
Patrice's experience includes working as a journalist at The Mining Journal in Marquette MI, founding and publishing the monthly Above The Bridge Magazine, editing and publishing a family monthly paper, publishing a quarterly business association paper, numerous freelance magazine articles and short stories. She also held a corporate communications manager position for more than five years with a company of more than 600 employees (Niagara Paper of Wisconsin). In that capacity, Patrice managed all internal and external communications, including company events, press releases, employee newsletters, corporate presentations, etc.
In the past two decades, Patrice and Stephen have collaborated on thousands of client newsletters, direct mail pieces, ad copywriting, customer letters, press releases, radio spots, tv spots, and web content.
Biz-comm's extensive writing/editing expertise is coupled with graphic design and programming skills, offering its clients a solid background to meet their marketing needs.
Brochures, sales materials, folders, and promotional items all have their place in an overall marketing plan. Whether mailed to a targeted audience or given away during a face-to-face meeting, collateral materials reinforce a company's positioning.
When Biz-comm enters a relationship with a new client, we often hear: "I need a brochure."
Everyone's marketing needs are different. Each of Biz-comm's clients market to a different segment of society in their geographic area. We bring an understanding of how demographics work and how best to take advantage of them. Every line of text, every graphic representation is carefully considered to make the best possible impact regardless of the medium. Sometimes a brochure is an effective first tool, but sometimes the benefit of a web site or direct mail campaign is more appropriate to our client's situation.
Consider this scenario: A company is looking for new leads. It needs to reach fresh markets. Will a brochure do this? Not necessarily. A web site, coupled with direct mail, would be a better first investment.
Our basic recipe for marketing development:
1) Strong corporate identity: a logo is critical as it is the keystone for all other work.
2) An effective website: Business cards, signs, brochures, direct mail, etc. all point to the web site. It's a waste of funds to print materials before a site is established. At the minimum, a web presence should be established that can be developed later.
3) Direct mail: Get your target audience's attention... drive them to your effective web site.
4) Social media: The newest tool on the block -- use it smartly.
5) Reinforcement materials: Here's where newsletters, brochures, presentations, trade shows, etc. are worth the expense.
Direct mail is efficient and it's cost effective. Biz-comm plays a number of key roles in a direct mail marketing campaign:
Build a target market profile
Define demographics that match that target
Purchase direct mail lists using defined demographics
Design a direct mail piece that speaks to the target
Write copy for the piece
Manage the mailings, on time, on budget
Here are a variety of reasons to use post cards as direct mail:
You have three seconds to make an impression. By using postcards or self-mailers, you can achieve an almost 100% brand communication. Since these mail pieces don’t need to be opened, nearly every recipient will at least see the name of your business. Even if they don’t respond right away, you’re still creating an impression in their mind, thus giving you a better opportunity to maintain “top of mind” recognition.
Standard postal rates apply, so postage is nearly half of a first class letter.
Printing costs are very low per unit.
Rate of return will vary, depending on what industry your company is in.
When a company wants to stay in touch with current, past or potential clients, a newsletter is the solution. Few marketing pieces represent your company as well as a well-crafted newsletter.
A well-done newsletter makes a lasting impression at a reasonable cost. Biz-comm client newsletters are designed and written to be read, and read again. Once a newsletter is mailed to its intended audience, Biz-comm adds it to our client's websites where it can be read by an even wider audience. Biz-comm newsletters have "legs."
An editorial meeting results in ideas for the newsletter.
Our clients email us any relevant photos.
Biz-comm interviews any appropriate parties (our clients customers for testimonials, etc.)
Once copy is written and layout completed, the newsletter is posted online for our client's review, comments, or changes if needed.
Once approved, the newsletter is sent to press, full color, delivered to a mail house and mailed.
No muss, no fuss.
Custom content, no cookie cutter, slap on a logo newsletters! Stand out from your competition, and do it right!
Advertising is the art of convincing another to believe, act or to purchase a specific thought, idea, or product. The advertising community employs the art of persuasive communication through tools such as print ads, billboards, radio or television ads, and Internet ads. Clearly, as not all markets, not all products or services lend themselves to all advertising mediums, nor are all mediums affordable to every advertiser.
Through experience, Biz-comm is uniquely qualified in the application of the art of advertising. When we enter into a contract with our clients, we bring the elements of persuasive writing, design, and the ability to purchase space and time under the most favorable pricing and position in the appropriate media to best serve our clients. Within a pre-determined budget, we evaluate the different venues for ads and then make recommendations based on our client's best interest and budget.
Before making any media buy, we supply our clients with a speadsheet comparing local opportunities with cost per view rates. The spread sheets measures the size of the ad in inches, with the distribution, with the cost per inch, per view. It is a logical comparison of options, balanced against a yearly marketing budget.
No more impulse purchases by clients who are cornered at the last chamber meeting. Our clients merely say: "Biz-comm makes our media buys. Please call them."
Biz-comm takes the uncertainty out of media buys, using a yearly budget, resource comparisons, and designing/writing to match our client's overall marketing message.
A sign takes your corporate identity to the streets! Make a statement on a vehicle, on a job, on your building, on a t-shirt.
Your vehicle is a rolling billboard. Every person who sees your vehicle learns something about your business. Your yard sign or building sign is another way to increase awareness about what your business is offering. Invest in hats, t-shirts, jackets or other apparel for your employees.
Keep the message simple so potential customers can easily tell what your business is, the service you provide and how they can contact you.
Having a good logo is also essential, especially when using it on signs. Your logo is the image of your business, so keep it professional and make sure it reflects what you company does. Using the logo on all forms of signage will strengthen your brand and help people to remember the service you provide.
When Biz-comm develops a company's corporate identity, file formats are provided for signs, apparel and vehicles.
Collaborating with Patrice for my business has been consistently first-rate. Whether dealing with graphics, copy editing, layout, or print materials, quality and an eye for detail have been stellar. Highly recommended. -- Dr. Pat Velkoff
Biz-comm is first class! Patrice has always been spot on with her ideas and design work. She knows her business and is proactive in helping me work out what I need . Highly recommend! -- Erich Leatham, Mountain West Construction
Patrice at Biz-comm was a joy to work with. She exceeded our expectations on all fronts, and we were able to launch two sophisticated corporate sites with e-commerce capabilities in a short timeframe. Patrice’s approach to site design broke the project down into manageable components and enabled us to hone in on desired site functionalities and create appropriate content. We were quite particular about certain features, and Patrice seemed to welcome the challenges we presented to her. DDH Design created a series of fun icons to “brand” our numerous programs and even tweaked our logo for the most effective look. The end result are eye-catching, responsive websites that are earning compliments and, most importantly, efficiently selling our services to current and new customers. -- Janine Leete Executive Vice President Collaborative Testing Services, Inc.