NEWS: Marketing Consultancy with Global Experience Touches Down in Bristol, Connecticut

Journey Communications is proud to announce its recent expansion into Connecticut, with Bristol serving as the consultancy’s new local headquarters. The company, which offers marketing services to small and medium-sized businesses, brings an exciting repertoire of lead generation and brand awareness solutions from Los Angeles, California to the Constitution State.

Clients look to Journey to help them tell their brand story and attract more clients through the use of both digital and traditional marketing platforms. The consultancy offers a range of strategy, advertising, marketing, social media, and public relations integrations designed specifically for locally owned and independent businesses. The most popular services that Journey offers are business planning, marketing strategy, social media strategy, content creation, media relations, digital advertising, and influencer communications. The company’s current clients are located in Connecticut as well as New York City, Los Angeles, and Sydney Australia, and vary in industry from health, wellness, and beauty to food and beverage, hospitality, home improvement, real estate, technology, and financial services.

Journey owner, Chelsea O’Donnell, is a Bristol, Connecticut native and often comes back to the city to see family while on business trips to New York. Through word of mouth and recommendations, she found that her personal visits were becoming increasingly peppered with meetings from local business owners looking for advice and assistance with their marketing, social media, and brand positioning.  O’Donnell was inspired by the demand and decided that extending her services to her home state of Connecticut could offer local businesses the opportunity to increase their visibility and potential reach.

“Finding new customers can be difficult, and while online marketing and social media provide small business owners with an infinite number of tools to get their brands in front of people, knowing how to use those tools effectively can be overwhelming,” says O’Donnell. “Our job at Journey is to take our knowledge of these amazing platforms and build a brand story to help our customers reach the people who are looking for the products and services that they provide.”

According to O’Donnell, small businesses are the engine room of the local economy, yet so many don't have the resources to grow the way that they want to. One particular pain point lies in the areas of marketing and social media management. Many small business owners are aware of the new client acquisition tools at their fingertips, but with sales, operations, and staffing nipping at their heels, very few have time to manage a Facebook account, send out regular email newsletters, and keep their website up to date with compelling content. That’s why Journey works directly with small and medium-sized companies to create and implement a marketing plan to attract and retain clients, freeing the business owner up to concentrate on other critical business operations.  

“When a client comes to us for the first time, we start with their business goals in order to get a better understanding of their needs and what we are expected to deliver,” says O’Donnell. “Once we go through the initial discovery session, we develop a plan and execution that gets our clients results on time and on budget. As a small business owner, you can't do it all, and you shouldn't have to. Journey has the resources you need to get your business moving, growing, and performing the way you expect it to.”

Journey Communications is currently accepting new clients in the Central Connecticut area. For more information on the company and its services, visit journeycomm.com or call 646-589-2267. The company can also be found on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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About Journey Communications

Journey Communications provides smart, strategic marketing solutions for busy small business owners who are looking to attract more clients and build their brands. With clients in the health, wellness, beauty, food and beverage, hospitality, home improvement, real estate, technology, and financial services industries, Journey helps businesses get noticed through traditional and digital marketing, social media, public relations, events, and integrated creative campaigns.

20 Free (or Cheap!) Marketing Tips to Light Up Your Brand

20? Did you say 20? That's right, we've got a whole lot of inspiration and ideas to help you get your business groove on. So what are you waiting for? Get to it!

IF IT’S FOR FREE, IT’S FOR ME

What’s the best way to start a business with no marketing budget? Create a suite of branded assets that you own and control. A website, various social media channels, a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel or video blog, a newsletter or an event series can help you get your product or service out to the world at no, or a relatively low, cost. The key is to pick a few and do them well and regularly. You want to build an audience of dedicated, loyal purchasers, not a massive and passive fan base.

HI, MY NAME IS…

Don't assume people know what your business is all about. Just because you live and breathe it doesn't mean everyone else does. Give your customers, followers and fans a monthly refresher to remind them about who you are and what you do.

COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE

Need help finding customers? Make sure YOU are where THEY are. There are a whole slew of online websites and forums connecting small businesses to consumers, from Yelp to Thumbtack to Angie’s List to HomeAdvisor, and let’s not forget Facebook, Google+, Instagram and other social media platforms. Not ready to spend a heap of cash to get started? Many of these services offer the ability to create a free profile, so even if you’re not yet able to maximize the opportunity via advertising, you can still be found and contacted by potential customers. 

MONEY, CASH, GOALS

Many small business owners want to know how much they should be spending on marketing. There is no hard and fast rule but we like to suggest at least 10% of revenue should go to marketing for established businesses, while start-ups should think about investing upwards of 20% or more. The key is to put your analytics to the test so you can invest more into what’s working and say sayonara to what’s not.

CALL ME, MAYBE?

Want to get more online reviews? Ask for them! You probably have tons of satisfied customers who would be happy to write you a testimonial, but guess what? They’re busy! It’s up to you to remind them. After each transaction, send a follow-up email to your customers thanking them for their business and include a link to your Facebook, Yelp or Google page. A simple, “if it’s not too much trouble” can go a long way in helping you build your business.

FINDERS KEEPERS

Every small business owner knows that it’s cheaper and easier to retain customers than to find new ones. So treat your customers like gold and add value in ways they can appreciate. See an article that a customer might be interested in? Give them a heads up. Come across an event you think might be a fit? Send it over. Have an idea that might help a client solve a problem? Offer it up. In a time when good customer service is very hard to find, a simple gesture might just be what keeps you ahead of the competition. 

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT US?

If you're spending money promoting your business, you need to be clear on what's working and what's not. If you're not technically savvy, implementing a lead form on your website that asks “how did you hear about us?” is probably all you need to learn more about what is and isn’t performing. The way you capture the data doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be accurate.

BUDDY UP

Expand your reach by partnering up with local businesses that offer products and services that are complimentary to yours. Think about the types of companies in your area that are looking for similar clientele and host a meet-up to discuss collaborating on events, social media or PR efforts. You'll get the benefit of expanding your audience, as well as the support from working with other small business owners who have similar goals. 

I’VE GOT THE POWER

Too many small business owners forget that their best ambassadors are right under their own roof! Give your employees the opportunity to contribute to the growth of your business by giving them insights into your short and long-term business goals. Lead a brainstorm session to discuss employee ideas that can hit specific targets. Empower your team to share their favorite at-work moments on social media and repost and reward your favorites. Let your experts share their knowledge through short blog posts. Remember, everyone in your organization can be a business builder, but only if you let them.

WORD ON THE STREET

We all know testimonials and referrals are the best forms of marketing, so why not make the most of yours? Did you get an email or thank you card from a grateful customer? Ask if they mind if you share it with your social media following! Get a great Facebook review? Jazz it up and repost it on your website or other social media channels. When someone is looking for a professional, they want to know the person they’re dealing with is trustworthy and will get the job done. Hearing reviews from your past customers is a great way to gain that trust. So get on it!

SHE’S A BRAINIAC, BRAINIAC

As a small business owner, you have a certain expertise that puts you ahead of the general public. So make sure you’re using it! Own a spa? Tell us your top tips on how to keep our skin looking soft and sexy. Have a bakery? Help us learn how to make the perfect cupcake! Is fitness your game? Give us your favorite 15-minute core workout. Customers respond better to being educated than being sold to, so mix your knowledge in with your product pushes and service sells. Your target market will thank you.

YOU USED TO CALL ME ON MY CELL PHONE

How does your website look on your mobile device? More than half of all Internet usage is being consumed on the go, so if your digital storefront isn't mobile-friendly you could be losing valuable customers. Luckily, platforms such as SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly make building a mobile site easy and cost effective. Don’t turn off people who are actively seeking you out, instead, make it easy for them to transact!

EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Have something new to promote in your business? Don't just leave it to social media to announce the news. Schedule several social posts using different images and content, post to your website, send an email newsletter, write a press release to send to the local paper and blogs, list events in free local calendars, take advantage of Eventbrite and Facebook Events, publish your story on Medium, print some eye-catching postcards or flyers, and share it with any local businesses that you think might want to help promote the news. Creating something new is one thing but making sure you're shouting it from the rooftops is a whole other beast. Have a list of ways to promote your news and make it your routine. It's the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck!

CALENDAR GIRL

Social media can be daunting if you're constantly worrying about what to post. A simple editorial calendar will help you collect your ideas and organize them into categories to ensure your posts are relevant and exciting. A content calendar will also let you know what kinds of posts are getting the best response. Need help with a template? Let us know!

CAN I HAVE A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME?

Thinking about launching a new product? Wondering what name, design and language will appeal to your target demographic? Consider surveying potential customers to find out! Tools such as Survey Monkey will allow you to find your future customers and ask them questions about their preferences and likelihood to purchase. If you're entering a new market or your team is in an opinion deadlock, a simple bit of research might be just what you need to move forward. 

DON’T HATE, APPRECIATE

Negative reviews are a reality of being in business. If you get one, the best thing you can do is communicate with the reviewer by offering an apology and working to understand what went wrong. You’re never going to get it 100% perfect all the time, but a willingness to acknowledge a mistake and improve upon it will show your customers that you’re willing to give it your all.

FREE TO BE ME

Give your online presence some personality! We live in a world full of perfectly curated communication, which can get really quite boring. Let your business be a reflection of you, rather than being so stuck on the rules. A little experimentation might just uncover a voice that customers relate and respond to.

DON’T LET THE NUMBERS DEFINE YOU

Social media success is not just about how many followers you have. It's about how many followers you have who engage with you and your business. Would you rather have 1,000 followers who are genuine, prospective customers or 10,000 followers who don't even know what you do? I’d take the first option any day.

MIX IT UP

Not all great marketing costs a fortune. You can build your brand through a smart mix of traditional marketing (like snail mail or sponsorships), digital marketing (like newsletters and SEO), social media (through a combo of great content and advertising), events (such as speaking engagements or networking) and public relations (like media articles and publishing). Just don't put all your eggs in one basket, make sure you diversify your strategy.

SAY G’DAY!

Social media check-ins and tags are gold. Don't ignore them. Make sure you are virtually welcoming your guests and acknowledging them for their patronage. These interactions can be brilliant testimonials for your business if you use them correctly. 

Mix It Up With a Diversified Marketing Strategy

If you’re like most small businesses, marketing might seem like a bit of a crapshoot. You hurl yourself into social media, maybe send out a few postcards or put an ad in the paper and hope for the best. Truth be told, for businesses that are new to marketing, the spaghetti on the wall approach isn’t a bad thing, so long as you measure and monitor as you go and refine your approach based on what activity is generating leads.

You might have heard from your accountant or financial planner that it’s always a good idea to diversify your assets. Believe it or not, the same thing goes for marketing. Once you have honed in on your target market, you can start to figure out the best places to market your services to them.  But just like in finance, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

If you’re on Instagram, you might remember the near hysteria that occurred a few weeks ago when information began circulating that the platform was going to change its algorithm to deliver “engaged” posts first, instead of its current chronological format. This change created panic amongst businesses who rely on Instagram, and feeds began filling up with requests for followers to “turn on notifications” so brands wouldn’t be left in the gutter. Of course, none of that was the case, and within 24 hours, the dust settled and our photo-op obsessed existence went back to whatever we consider normal nowadays.

For any brand that went into panic mode, this potential change should have been a wake-up call. Instagram, Facebook and any of the social media goliaths have the opportunity to change the way they do things in the blink of an eye, and they aren’t likely to ask permission. So if you were one of the business owners who felt their heart drop into their stomach at the thought of an algorithm change, here’s my advice. Diversify your marketing with a mix of channels that will help you stand out from the crowd and give you the ability to market a message through multiple touch points, not just a single picture or post. It’s that simple.

In marketing, there are five general categories to explore. Let’s go through them.

  1. Social Media – Small businesses love using social media because its wide-reaching, free (or cheap) and it doesn’t take much time or effort. Don’t get me wrong; I love social media as much as the next person, but here’s the thing. Because everyone uses it, it can be hard to get noticed and stand out from the crowd. So, by all means, use it, but don’t rely on it as a sole means to market.
  2. Digital Marketing – In addition to social media, there are lots of things we can do online to promote our businesses. Email newsletters, online advertising, ad words, your own website, blogs, vlogs, and self-publishing sites such as Medium give you plenty of opportunities to raise awareness for your brand. Using some of these tools in conjunction with social media is a great way to reach a larger audience.
  3. Traditional Marketing – Remember when you used to get 20 pieces of snail mail and five emails in a day? Good times. With everyone rushing to build a digital and mobile brand, it’s worth remembering how powerful a traditional marketing approach can be. Whether it’s a postcard mailer, business cards on the bulletin boards of the local coffee shops, or even an ad on the local radio or newspaper, a bit of old-school outreach can be extremely effective, so long as they hit the right audience for your product.
  4. PR – The say public relations is the oldest profession in the world, and it’s no wonder why. For generations, people have used the power and reach of the media to get their brand in front of potential customers. From seeing your product featured in a major magazine to enlisting an influencer to spread the good word, PR is a powerful mechanism for building a brand. It’s not the easiest way to get attention, but because it’s widely recognized to be a non-paid endorsement, a nod from a well-regarded person or publication can easily be a major boost for your business.
  5. Events – Many start-ups are so consumed by digital marketing that they forget the power of being seen as a living, breathing brand. Event marketing is a great way to allow people to see, hear and touch your product or service, especially if you’re target market is concentrated to a local area. If you’re a new yoga studio, setting up a free class at the local park is a great way to attract new customers. If you’re an accountant, attending networking events might be the ticket to drawing up new business. People don’t fall in love with profile pictures and posts; they fall in love with living, breathing human beings. So make sure your face and name are out where your customers are.

So now you know the five areas of marketing. From this list, pick at least one channel from each category to help you build your marketing plan.  As an example, let’s say you own a florist that delivers daily, pre-arranged bouquets at a very affordable price. You might use Instagram to showcase your bouquet of the day and email newsletters to make sure potential customers see it when they arrive to work in the morning. Then you might decide you want to put up flyers in the local coffee shops, and hand out discount cards at the local farmers market. Finally, you might decide to offer a flower-arranging workshop once per month at your studio, and you’ll use Facebook events to notify your target market about the event. Then you might invite the local paper along to participate in the workshop and take photos for a potential feature story. These activities might represent your first month’s marketing activities and from here you can measure and monitor which channels provided the best results. Then, you can decide which to repeat, which to tweak and which to discard altogether.

Remember, there is no use putting together a marketing mix if you have no way to measure your results. The key to getting the best bang for your buck is ensuring you ask the question “how did you hear about us?” with every new interaction. Otherwise, you’ll find it tough to decipher one channel’s results from the next. Good luck!

Need help planning your marketing strategy? Get in touch, we are here to help!