LOOKING BACKWARD CAN MAKE THE ROAD AHEAD EASIER TO NAVIGATE
Fourth quarter will soon be upon us, which means it is time to start reviewing the progress of the current year and making plans for the year to come. This is especially true for marketing, since preliminary fact gathering is often an hours-consuming process and effective implementation of marketing plans can sometimes take a little time. Start by looking at the last 12 months, and answering a few questions.
- How much money was actually spent?
Even if you are disciplined and specifically allocate your dollars in advance, chances are likely you’ve had a few add-on purchases throughout the year. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you haven’t blown your budget along the way. But knowing how much was invested will make evaluating and planning for the future easier.
- What worked and what didn’t?
Consider the various outlets you used to get your name out. Did all of them perform up to your expectations? Sometimes “amazing opportunities” deliver less than stellar results. This may be due to a salesperson over promising what his medium cannot deliver. Or, possibly, the channel chosen just wasn’t a good match with your target audience.
Hopefully you have employed a tracking mechanism of some sort. Most digital media provide access to analytical data. POS systems usually reflect special offers. Physical coupons can be saved and counted. Even anecdotal experience, though often flawed, is better than nothing. Use whatever data is available to generate a list of MUST DOs and DON’T REPEATs.
- What opportunities came across your desk that you weren’t prepared to maximize?
Maybe you learned about them too late, or had already spent the necessary dollars on something else. Either way, there are always new marketing avenues to consider. Research these enough to make an educated decision for the coming year and plan accordingly.
- What has changed in the last year?
Business patterns ebb and flow. Product/service offerings are modified. Goals evolve. Competitors open and close. Media outlets come and go. Understanding what has changed will help you better prepare for the months ahead.
Taking a long, objective look at your current situation. You’ll probably find some things to regret and others to celebrate. But don’t hold back. Ask yourself the hard questions and plot the route for the success you want to achieve in 2018.
Next month, look for pointers on deciding how much to spend on marketing.
New initiative aims to make the transition from pupil to pulpit easier for Brittany McDonald-Null
COLUMBIA, Mo.— When embarking on a chosen career, the early months and years can be a whirlwind of chaos. The pressures to succeed, to fit in and to establish your own voice can take a toll. Imagine how daunting it must be for seminary graduates to begin vocational ministry, often in an unfamiliar town and in front of an unfamiliar congregation. Burnout is common, as roughly 40 percent of pastors quit ministry within the first five years.
To combat this trend, churches nationwide are beginning to consider pastoral residencies. The Serving Team at First Baptist Church in Columbia began exploring the idea of such a program in February 2015. After two years of planning and securing the necessary funding, First Baptist Church invited recent seminary graduates to apply for a two-year pastoral residency. An intensive and exhaustive interview process led them to Brittany McDonald-Null, whom the church will help transition into her pastoral career.
Brittany will be immersed in the full experience of pastoral life and practical ministry at First Baptist Church. Having spent the past eight years in the arid expanse of west Texas—she graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s in Divinity—Brittany is enjoying the shift in scenery.
“Coming from a place where there aren’t really any trees or grass, this has been a wonderful change,” Brittany said. “First Baptist Church has been an incredibly welcoming family, and I love how I’ve already witnessed people coming together to worship ecumenically. To see children serving and women serving… it’s just not a context that I’m used to. It’s great to see equality actually represented in this church, much like the Gospels teach us.”
The plan is to give Brittany support, guidance and on-the-job experience as she learns to be a pastor. Up to 96 percent of ministers who go through a pastoral residency stay in ministry.
“I have had the good fortune of having good mentors,” says First Baptist Church pastor Carol McEntyre. “While I did not participate in a pastoral residency, I had the benefit of serving in large churches early in my ministry that had seasoned members on staff who served as mentors. These relationships were informal, but the knowledge, advice, emotional support and modeling they shared with me was transformative.”
In October 2016, First Baptist Church received an award of $25,000 from Indianapolis-based Pastoral Excellency Network to supplement their own financial investment in the pastoral residency program. It is First Baptist Church’s goal to raise funds to eventually endow the program and make a lasting impact over time.
“By mentoring young pastors, we have a chance to keep great leaders in the church,” McEntyre says. “What an incredible way to serve God by shaping those who will lead God’s church for years to come.”
Founded in 1823, First Baptist Church is a historic, vibrant community of faith located in the heart of downtown Columbia. Carol McEntyre has served as Pastor since 2012.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As mid-Missouri’s premier job placement and recruiting company continues to grow, JobFinders Employment Services occasionally needs to use its own resources and techniques to find the perfect candidates to aid its own expansion. To that end, JobFinders has tapped Anna Marie De Giorgio as Regional Operations Manager. De Giorgio has been an effective salesperson and recruiter in central Missouri for more than a decade, with experience in key JobFinders-centric areas like Columbia, Fulton, Jefferson City, Marshall and Sedalia.
“Over the course of 20 years of working in leadership positions, I have come to believe the best part of any team is the quality of the individuals you have working with you. We can never bring greatness to the table if you do not have greatness working alongside you,” De Giorgio says. “I pride myself in the development of those around me, leading and guiding them to tap into their unexplored potential.
“JobFinders is a woman-owned company, which I hold in high regard, but it is also an ethical company, having a strong foundation of always doing the right thing. We’re focused on finding the right position for the right job in the right companies. These attributes have made it my honor to be able to work with them.”
A mother of two daughters and grandmother of 10, De Giorgio enjoys fishing and golfing in her spare time.
Established in 1986, JobFinders Employment Services provides cost-effective staffing solutions for client businesses while affording solid career opportunities to employment candidates. Whether you seek temporary, contract-to-hire, healthcare or direct professional hiring, JobFinders is the expert source for matching the right people to the right jobs. JobFinders recruits talent for local to national job openings and has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the country for three consecutive years. In 2014, JobFinders was named a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dream Big Small Business of the Year.
Owned by Anne Williams, JobFinders is a Certified Women-owned Business (WBE) in Missouri, as well as a proud member of the American Staffing Association, Missouri Kansas Staffing Association, National Association Personnel Services and the Chambers of Commerce in Sedalia, Jefferson City, Mexico, Fulton and Columbia, Mo.
ANALYTICS HAVE BECOME AN INDESPENSIBLE ASPECT OF MARKETING
Consider this: spending on marketing analytics—broadly defined as quantitative data about customer behavior and marketplace activities—is expected to skyrocket from 4.6% to 22% of marketing budgets by the year 2020. According to Forbes magazine, marketers say barely a third of available data currently drives the decision-making processes in their companies.
It’s time to learn how to crunch the numbers.
A number of factors prevent marketers from using the analytics at their disposals. The biggest issue is not having the processes or tools in place to measure success through analytics. Wrapping your head around new technologies and capabilities can be challenging. To this end, having the right mindset is key. Embrace the possibilities that come with data analytics and choose to believe they can help your business grow.
Here at Visionworks, we believe that marketing is equal parts art and science. The same could be said about evaluating data, as you need the ability to think analytically and creatively to make the most out of the information. We look at the data for many endeavors—digital newsletters and pay-per-click, to name a couple—and use the results to make modifications to content. We can track what works versus what doesn’t, which makes us more agile. In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, you need to be able to change directions quickly. Analytics help achieve that.
What do you do with your analytics?
ENTICE ONLINE ENGAGEMENT BY MAKING IT WORTH THEIR WHILE
A newsletters (ahem) can be a valuable part of an organization’s overall marketing plan. It portrays confidence, competence and relevance. But few people jump to sign up for a newsletter; the specter of repetitive contacts doesn’t build excitement. To really spur engagement, you need to lure them with something they value. You want their data. But that data isn’t free.
You can go about this a variety of ways. You could provide a white paper with “56 Industry Secrets” that can be instantly downloaded when the customer fills in their contact information. You could run a contest or giveaway that requires an email. You can tease “subscriber-only” benefits to encourage folks to sign up. Whichever direction you go, remember that the promise of a newsletter probably won’t whet many appetites. As with most relationships, you’re going to have to give before you get.
GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH ONE SIMPLE QUESTION
Does your mouth suddenly go dry at the thought of asking your clients and vendors for a—gasp!—referral? Perhaps you don’t want to be rejected after asking, or maybe you assume your connections already recommend you in their daily interactions. Truth is, no matter how highly your clients speak of you, a recommendation falls short of a solid referral. Plain and simple, you have to ask for referrals. And you have to be specific about what you’re asking for.
“Could you introduce me to a couple of people like yourself, with needs like yours, who could benefit from our services?” Chances are, you’ll need to ask more than once, as your clients and customers are constantly meeting and making connections with new folks. Again, use specifics when you ask. Which industries are you targeting? Or is there a particular business you are pursuing with whom your client has a connection? Make sure to get the name of a decision-maker. Ask them to make an email introduction or, better still, set an in-person meeting for you. People, for the most part, are hard-wired to want to help. If they believe in you and your work, they’ll likely vouch for you.
Once you get a referral from someone, make sure to thank them appropriately, and reciprocate the gesture when possible. This customer has put their name on the line to endorse and refer you, so show your appreciation.
If you want to grow your business, put a plan into place to ask every customer for referrals.
Columbia agency recognized for work with McDonald’s®, Columbia Public Schools, A1 Party and Event Rental, and Child Development Center
Columbia, MO – The Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts has awarded Visionworks Marketing Group four 2017 Communicator Awards for work on behalf of various clients across Columbia.
Visionworks received an Award of Excellence for a half-page magazine ad on behalf of McDonald’s® Restaurants of Columbia. A1 Party and Event Rental’s radio commercial, Columbia Public Schools’ Spring Quarterly Connection, which is distributed to 68,000 homes in the Columbia school district, and a brochure for the Child Development Center also won Awards of Distinction.
The 2017 Communicator Award competition received more than 6,000 entries from across the U.S. and around the world, making it the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. In the past five years, Visionworks has won nine Communicator Awards for eight clients.
Celebrating 22 years of business, Visionworks has developed powerful and effective marketing strategies for clients across multiple platforms. The agency’s core competencies include strategic planning and consulting; creative services; audio production; and media planning and placement. Owner Lili Vianello leads a dynamic, creative team who craft engaging messages and strategic plans to make a difference for clients with local, regional, national and international interests.
For more information about Visionworks Marketing Group, visit Visionworksgroup.com or call 573.449.8567.
McDonald’s® Corporation recognized McDonald’s® of Kingdom City general manager Dean Davis as an Outstanding Manager. Robyn Shire, the operations supervisor for the Kingdom City location, nominated Davis for the award based on his people skills, leadership and service to his restaurant and community.
The annual award commends the top 10 percent of restaurant managers across the nation in regards to sales, customer service and operations. In order to be eligible for the award, a general manager must have at least one year of experience and be a graduate of Hamburger University®, McDonald’s® global operations training and leadership development program.
“Dean is a great brand ambassador that truly cares about his customers and team,” Shire said. “He’s a positive role model that really goes the extra mile to assure everyone feels like they’re part of a team.”
Davis became the general manager in Kingdom City in June 2014 and has been with the company for 11 years. His store’s 2016 customer-service scores ranked well above regional and national numbers, as his team has embraced table service at a busy highway location with vigor. Davis also provided a steady hand during a hectic major remodel process in December 2015.
“Dean and his team represent outstanding hospitality in taking care of their guests,” Shire said. “He is a champion manager and it shows in his results.
McDonald’s® is the largest and best-known global foodservice retailer, with more than 30 stores in the Columbia-Jefferson City area. More than 85 percent of McDonald’s® restaurants in the United States are owned and operated by independent, local businessmen and women. The Kingdom City location is owned and operated by Mark and Kate Mehle. It is managed by Dean Davis and supervised by Robyn Shire.
Some things in life don’t have extended expiration dates. Fresh raspberries. Taylor Swift’s romantic relationships. Websites. Yes, unfortunately, the biggest window into your business must be updated regularly and ultimately replaced every few years. It’s true—what looked great and inspired customer engagement five years ago looks archaic now. Haven’t we all seen some terribly dated websites? Be honest—they affect how we feel about the company in question.
How fresh is your website?
It’s not easy, or cheap, to build a quality website. Sitemaps, content, search-engine optimization and other factors all determine how well your site functions. If you don’t have rich, frequently updated content to lure readers to revisit your website, you will likely lose that consumer (and her wallet) to a company who does. Having a visually pleasant website is important; just as crucial is having the content to keep the customers coming back.
Visionworks Marketing Group builds and maintains the websites of several clients and has a proven track record of improving digital engagement. Enlist a trusted partner to build a fantastic website and keep it running smoothly. You’ve got enough on your plate as a business owner. Contact Top Dog Lili Vianello today to find out what’s possible with Visionworks.
Chances are, you’ve used a search engine before. Whether looking for a new pizza joint to try out or researching the best carpet installer in town, most people understand the concept of an internet search via Google, Bing, etc. But what goes on behind the scenes to make a list of websites appear on your screen in a matter of moments? The answer lies in SEO.
SEO = Search Engine Optimization
Simply put, SEO makes your website easy for search-engine robots to understand and users to find. Search engines have become increasingly sophisticated. SEO helps the engines figure out what each page is about and how it may be useful for users who are conducting a search.
If your SEO isn’t good or current and your company is listed deep in the search results, the user might not ever get to you. Worse, a website can be completely invisible to search engines if you don’t have any SEO in place—which can be tricky if you don’t know where or how to start.
Visionworks Marketing Group is well-versed in SEO and can improve your website’s functionality for less than you might think. Relax and let the professionals sweat the details. You’ve got more important tasks to tackle.
Contact Visionworker Melissa Boukezzoula today to learn more about how we can make sense of your SEO and get more eyes on your business.