10 Free Marketing Tips (That Actually Work)

1. Article Contribution – what you’re reading is a great example. Come up with “Top 10” lists and “How To” columns where you can establish your expertise in your area, and give people a taste of what working with you might be like. Contribute these articles to syndicate websites or your local business publication that has an audience that would want to read your advice.

2. Internet Marketing – not all internet marketing has to cost money. You can optimize your site to be found better in search engines, exchange links with related companies, and the most simple – update your site content regularly. Think about the sites you visit most often and why you visit, and you’ll see what you need to do.

3. Strategic partnerships – a strategic partnership is a formal alliance between two enterprises, usually formalized by one or more business contracts that fall short of forming a legal partnership. The best companies to strategically partner with are the ones that usually have a mutually referring relationship with already, such as a massage therapist and a chiropractor.

4. Social networking – Create accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Update your status daily, connect with everyone you know and reach out to new people through the people you know. Leverage existing relationships to create new ones and to get your foot in the door where you’d like to do business.

5. Blogging – as with article contribution, establish your expertise by posting blogs covering “Top 10” lists and “How To” topics. Drive traffic to your blog via your social networks and engaging meaningfully on other people’s blogs. Even changing the signature in your email can help.

6. Doing Interviews – do you have any friends in media? This would be a great idea to pitch some ideas about how you can teach people what you know, while simultaneously helping them connect with their audience better.

7. Public Speaking – look for speaking gigs where you can tell your story of how you got where you are or you can educate on a specific topic that’s of interest to people. It’s very important to note that you absolutely CANNOT sell from the podium. It’ll destroy your credibility very quickly. To sell from the podium, you specifically must avoid selling. Ironic, but true.

8. Picking up the Phone – it sounds like such an easy answer, but most people would rather go get their teeth pulled out without anesthesia than cold call people. The trick is to have confidence and a purpose before you pick up the phone, and be able to NOT take it personally if they don’t’ want to talk to you. Remember, it can take 99 “no” answers before you can get a “yes.” Decide how much

9. Internal Referrals – your best and most abundant business comes from your very own client base. Ask your existing clientele for more business, and for referrals. Develop loyalty programs that keep people coming back to you, and conduct short surveys where clients can anonymously tell you the truth about your business so you can improve it if need be. Some clients will like you, but won’t refer until you work out “the bugs” they’ve found in doing business with you.

10. Volunteering – this is my favorite because it feels the best, and people really come to see you and your company in a different light. You meet the nicest people (who can refer nice clients to you), and develop strong relationships through it, which are the foundations for a good referral-based marketing plans.

Why You Should Find Fun Ways To Advertise

Let’s face it, most of us market products and services that aren’t exactly knee-slappers. But here’s a few things to consider when planning your next advertising campaign.

Have you ever been bored into buying something? Neither have I. Yet most advertisements I come across are more Ambien than RedBull. Why do companies expect their snoozer ads to do anything more than put people to sleep? I mean, the goal of advertising (which costs money) is to encourage people to take action.

Let's look at a real-world example.

I just went to see the new Avengers movie and couldn't wait to tell my buddy, Gats, how amazing it was and that he literally needed to clear his schedule and go see it right this second. I went on (and on) about the writing, acting, special effects, and anything else I could say to encourage him to take my advice and go see it. He did.

Now, what if I would've called him and said something like... "Hey, I just saw the new Avengers movie. I think Iron Man was in it. It was ok, I guess." Do you think that would've encouraged him to take the rest of the day off and rush over to the theater? Not a chance.

Advertisements work (or don't) similarly. They're like recommendations. And if they're dull and lifeless, consumer reactions will also be dull and lifeless.

Consider this when planning your next campaign. What would motivate you take action?

In my next post, I'll explain how to to make your ads more fun and entertaining (even if you sell toilet paper). But if you can't wait until then, click the button below to chat with me personally.

How To Get Your Business To Show Up On Google

You’d be shocked at the number of people in your area who are searching
Google for exactly what you have to offer. Let’s make sure they can find you.

Run an advertisement on Google.

You need an easy-to-create Google ad, that Google will only show to people who are actively searching your area for exactly what you have to offer. You want to show up on the first page of Google, right? Read on to find out how.

How to run an advertisement on Google.

Simply pick a business category, write your ad, and set a budget. That's it. If you need help writing your ad, setting a budget, and launching an advertising campaign on Google, click here to schedule a consultation with Apricity Media Group and let us help you.

Here's how it works.

When prospective customers search your local area for the products or services you offer, your ad will appear on their results page - whether it be in Google Maps, or Google Search.

Here's what it costs.

It's actually all up to you. Just set a budget you're comfortable with. You only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad to get more information.

Why run an advertisement on Google?

Your current customers likely search for your business by name (i.e. "Google Inc") and, consequently, your Google listing shows up in their search results. 

Your prospective customers however, tend to search by topic and city (i.e. "Restaurants in Canton") in which case it's likely your business won't show up - especially if you're in a neighboring city.

Quite often, they're seeking information you could easily provide in an ad - be it your expertise, this week's special offer, or the latest "must-have" product.

Ready to get started?

The customers you're looking for are looking for you - on Google.

Is Squarespace The Right CMS For Your Website?

If you’re in the market for an easy-to-use content management system for your new website, there are literally TONS from which to choose these days. We prefer Squarespace. As of early 2015, there were over a million sites using the Squarespace platform. And did you know that DKNY, HBO, Lyft, Mario Hugo, Apricity Media Group, and even Target are all using Squarespace?

First, let’s talk about what a content management system (CMS) actually is. A CMS is simply a portal through which you can make changes to your website. Now, in some situations, your web development company will make changes for you, but for now let's assume that after your website is built, you'd like to maintain and update it on your own. Is Squarespace the right CMS for you? Well, read on to find out.

5 Reasons To Use Squarespace As Your CMS

Squarespace is the best solution for many of our clients. Once we build your website on the Squarespace platform, training you on the CMS so you can update it yourself is a breeze.

1) Squarespace is easy to use.

For the most part, Squarespace is regarded as one of the most user-friendly CMS’s out there, especially amongst modern platforms. You don't need a degree in computer science to effectively update & maintain your site. There's very little training required. Now, we're not saying that Squarespace is simple, but we simplify the tasks that you will need to perform.

2) Squarespace is scalable & flexible.

It’s important to understand what you need out of your site both now, and in the future. Maybe you’re just looking for a simple landing page right now, but later on, you'd like to run a full online store. With Squarespace, we can do that. Kathy Beal Signature is an example of a highly customized Squarespace website. We can mold it into any shape that you want.

3) Squarespace has a very large community.

While Squarespace is a newer platform, it has a very large group of developers, supporters, and contributors. What’s awesome about this is that if you’re running into a problem, chances are someone else has had the same problem you're having, and you'll find the solution on the "Squarespace Answers" forum.

4) Squarespace is great for non-techies, too.

Obviously having an on-going service agreement with a Squarespace developer (like us) to make changes to your website is great, but sometimes that’s not an option. Thankfully, Squarespace provides outstanding 24/7 support, and will often solve your problems with you, in real-time. Squarespace offers incredible (right of the box) control over both the appearance and the functionality of your website.

5) Squarespace offers amazing tools.

Modern website elements that would normally take weeks or months to develop (and cost a small fortune) come standard with each Squarespace template. Popular features include a sophisticated SEO tool, a social media integration system with different levels of control, the ability to add your own code, image optimization, and more.

2 Reasons To Be Cautious About Using Squarespace As Your CMS

Honestly, Squarespace isn’t for everyone. We know your website needs to fit your business perfectly, and sometimes we go with another option. Below are a few reasons why.

1) Squarespace isn't for your online mega-store.

For those of you who live and die by online sales, Squarespace is not for you. While their eCommerce system is great, it just doesn't have the dashboards and reporting tools you'll need to run a huge online store. We usually stick to 100 items or less on Squarespace.

2) Squarespace requires a developer to really have a custom website.

Squarespace is popular for non-developers because it allows you to pick one of their beautiful templates and quickly replace their content with your own. However, if you want a website that's completely customized to fit your goals, you'll need to hire a Squarespace developer (like us) to do the job.

How To Pick The Right CMS For You

When you boil it all down, it’s all about your needs, budget, and timeline. Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll have a better idea of what you need from your CMS.

Will I pay a developer to build my website?
What control do I want after my website is built?
How often will changes need to be made?
Will I dedicate time to learning a CMS?
Am I able to learn a CMS?

So, whether you’re going to use the Squarespace platform or not, it’s important to take the time to research your options. Understand your choices and put a plan together.

Responsive or Die: Google’s New Focus On Mobile

For better or worse, Google’s always changing the game.

On February 26th, Google announced a new search algorithm which ranks non mobile-friendly sites lower in the results queue. 

Here’s what you need to understand:

1) As of April 21, there are (way) more mobile-friendly websites in your organic search results. Google Webmasters wrote, "we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

2) More than ever before, having a responsive designed will boost your search ranking and user satisfaction. According to a recent report, most digital media consumption growth over the past four years occurred on smartphones and tablets; up 394% and 1,721%, respectively. And, 31% of all traffic to the top 10 websites were mobile-only visits.

With the recent announcement from Google in mind, here are some tips for web designers & developers to improve the responsive experience on websites.

1) Brains Over Beauty. When developing for mobile sites, screen real estate is limited, so it’s important to focus on the ease of use over a sexy interface. It doesn't make sense to have every single element visible on smaller screens. You need to prioritize the elements that are most important and make them the easiest to find.

2) Performance Is Critical. Despite how fast our mobile devices are, it’s still important to build for slower connections (and let’s not forget that we're all limited by the networks we connect to). But regardless of our connection, when we're are on the go, slow-loading websites get no love from us. Load time should be quick & clean.

Change is upon us, so we ask you: Is your website responsive? Are you going to choose to build an m.domain site instead of a responsive one? Are you ready for Google’s new algorithm? Or will you do nothing and pray for the government to ban mobile devices?

Tell us what you think of Google's move. We’d love to get a discussion going on the implications for small to medium-sized businesses.