As a marketing agency specializing in crafting comprehensive, customized strategies, we've had the privilege of working with businesses across various industries. When SNL Painting approached us to help redefine their marketing approach and lay the groundwork for long-term success, we knew this was an opportunity to make a meaningful impact.

The Crossroads:

In 2012, Nick found himself at the helm of SNL Painting, taking over full ownership from his long-time partner, Barry. With this transition came a critical juncture – it was time to reevaluate the business, streamline operations, and pave the way for sustainable growth. Nick recognized that to take SNL Painting to new heights, he needed expert guidance to build a solid foundation and chart a strategic course forward.

Partnering for Success:

Enter Seafoam – a marketing agency dedicated to empowering businesses to reach their full potential. We took the time to understand SNL Painting's unique challenges and aspirations, crafting a tailored plan to establish a rock-solid foundation for enduring success.

Crafting a Comprehensive Solution:

Our team recognized that revolutionizing SNL Painting's online presence was paramount. We developed a stunning new website that effectively communicated the company's services and value proposition. But we didn't stop there. We implemented a robust SEO, paid advertising, and content marketing strategy to drive targeted traffic and generate quality leads.

Our focus extended beyond digital tactics. We worked closely with SNL Painting to:

  1. Craft a compelling brand story and messaging that resonated with their target audience
  2. Streamline lead generation and sales processes to maximize conversions
  3. Implement a CRM system to efficiently manage and nurture customer relationships
  4. Provide ongoing support, analysis, and optimization to ensure continuous growth
The image shows a split-screen comparison of two website designs titled "before" and "after." the "before" side features an outdated, cluttered interface, while the "after" side shows a modern, clean website redesign.

The Fruits of Our Labor:

Through this holistic approach, the results spoke for themselves:

By laying the groundwork for a robust marketing foundation, Seafoam empowered SNL Painting to achieve remarkable growth and thrive in a competitive market.

The Power of Partnership:

SNL Painting's transformation underscores the immense value of partnering with a marketing agency that takes a comprehensive, tailored approach. By focusing on building a solid foundation aligned with their unique needs, SNL Painting was able to achieve substantial growth and establish themselves as a leader in their industry.

Their journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of a well-constructed marketing system. With Seafoam's guidance, SNL Painting is now poised for limitless success, armed with the tools and strategies to paint a bright future.

Conclusion:

At Seafoam, we believe that every business has the potential for greatness. By taking the time to understand our clients' unique challenges and goals, we develop comprehensive, customized strategies that drive sustainable growth. SNL Painting's success story is just one example of the transformative results that can be achieved through a strategic partnership built on trust, expertise, and a shared vision for the future.

As digital marketing continues to evolve, staying ahead requires not just adaptation, but foresight and innovation. The introduction of Google’s latest enhancements to its Search Generative Experience (SGE) marks a pivotal shift towards a more intuitive, rich, and user-focused search landscape. This new era, characterized by SEO Google AI, offers both challenges and opportunities. At Seafoam, we are equipped and ready to help you harness these changes for strategic advantage.

What is Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE)?

Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an innovative leap forward, designed to make the search process more intuitive and informative. This technology uses advanced artificial intelligence to generate quick, context-rich summaries of web content directly in the search results. These summaries aim to provide users with the essential information they need at a glance, enhancing the overall search experience by making it faster, more accurate, and visually engaging. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, SGE can understand the intent behind a user's query, presenting tailored summaries that highlight the most pertinent information, along with richer visual content. This allows users to grasp the context of their search results quickly and decide more efficiently which links are most relevant to their needs. SGE represents a significant step towards creating a more interactive and helpful search environment, setting a new standard for how information is accessed and consumed online.

Exploring Google's AI-Enhanced Search Capabilities:

The launch of AI-driven features such as quicker, smarter search summaries and richer visual content in search results represents a significant evolution in web search dynamics. These AI-powered enhancements use sophisticated machine learning algorithms to deliver accurate, context-rich summaries and a more engaging visual experience. This revolutionizes how information is retrieved, making the search process not only faster but also more relevant and intuitive.

Seafoam’s Strategy in Adapting to SEO Google AI Innovations:

  1. Refined SEO Techniques: With the integration of AI-driven enhancements in Google's SGE, a significant adaptation in SEO strategy is required. At Seafoam, our focus is sharpened on optimizing content for clarity, relevance, and depth. These are the attributes that align with the SEO Google AI capabilities designed to enhance content discoverability and improve user engagement.
  2. Diverse Content Formats: Given AI’s growing preference for visual content, Seafoam is expanding its content strategies to include a variety of formats such as videos, infographics, and interactive media. These content types not only cater to the algorithms of SEO Google AI but also significantly enhance user engagement, thereby boosting the visibility of your content across platforms.
  3. Authoritative and In-Depth Content: Recognizing that SEO Google AI places a high value on authoritative, in-depth content, we are committed to crafting comprehensive articles that cover not just the primary topics but also explore related queries. This strategy positions your content as a valuable resource for both users and search engines, enhancing its authority and relevance in search results.

Building a Future-Proof Marketing Strategy:

The continuous evolution of Google’s search algorithms emphasizes the need for a dynamic, adaptable marketing strategy. Seafoam is at the forefront of integrating technological advancements into marketing strategies that are not only responsive to current trends but also predictive of future shifts.

Leveraging Advanced Analytics and Data Insights:

To effectively navigate the complexities of SEO Google AI, Seafoam utilizes advanced analytics and data insights. This approach allows us to understand better and predict user behaviors and preferences, enabling us to tailor our strategies more effectively. By analyzing search patterns, user interactions, and engagement metrics, we gain invaluable insights that inform our SEO tactics and content strategies.

Conclusion: Partnering for Growth

We're committed to transforming the latest digital trends into substantial opportunities for your business. By proactively adapting to the updates in Google's AI-driven search, we ensure that your marketing efforts remain innovative and effective, keeping you ahead in a rapidly evolving digital world.

Discover how Seafoam can help you leverage the new capabilities of SEO Google AI to not only meet but exceed your strategic goals. Let’s navigate the future of digital marketing together, ensuring your growth remains a top priority.

When Alton & Southern Railway needed to bring their century-old brand into the digital age, they turned to Seafoam Media's marketing experts to get the job done.

As a vital transportation artery originating 48 trains and handling over 2100 cars per day in the busy Gateway Yard of St. Louis, Alton & Southern has a rich history dating back to 1910. But outdated branding, an unclear web presence, and inconsistent messaging was hindering the company's ability to communicate its evolution and strong value proposition to customers and prospects.

Seafoam Media tackled this challenge head-on through our comprehensive Brand Strategy Workshop methodology. By diving deep into Alton & Southern's business, industry, target audience and overall marketing approach, we developed the insights needed to craft an authentic, compelling brand voice and visual identity.

The results speak for themselves. Seafoam delivered:

Armed with this strong foundation, Alton & Southern is now well-positioned to tell its story and engage customers as a leader in rail freight transportation. With over 120 years of expertise, the company has a deep understanding of rail transportation and an impressive legacy. Seafoam helped them establish a powerful brand that captures who they are and will carry them forward.

By partnering with Seafoam Media, even the most established, traditional companies can embrace digital transformation to drive growth. Our proven process empowers organizations like Alton & Southern to own their unique strengths and connect with audiences in meaningful ways.

Ready to energize your brand and elevate your marketing? Let's talk.

April 2024 Marketing News & Happenings:

Our Take

The shift in how marketers utilize AI reflects the importance of strategically leveraging new technologies while maintaining a human touch. AI should enhance and support marketing efforts, not replace the need for original, high-quality content.

The trends toward partnerships, UGC, short video, and focused social media strategies all point to brands seeking more authentic connections with their audience. It's about building genuine trust and relationships vs. casting a wide net.

Savvy marketers will adapt to these changes by developing robust first-party data, exploring creative collaborations, encouraging customer content, and selecting the most relevant channels to engage their core customers. An agile approach focused on providing real value will be key to sustainable success.

Must-Attend Marketing Events:

For more insights and updates, follow Seafoam on LinkedIn. Contact us to discuss how we can help you navigate the evolving marketing landscape and achieve your growth goals.

The term backward planning is borrowed from the educational field, and it describes the best way to define objectives and develop instructional techniques. Instead of beginning with a first, second, or third lesson, educators begin with the goals of a particular course. They identify what students are expected to know, and then proceed “backward” to create lessons.  

Lately, strategists have adopted this concept, applying it to marketing and other fields. The reason is simple: the method works. It allows marketers to propel their efforts forward, using the tools available to them, and reach more ambitious goals for clients. Here’s how. 

Backward Planning is Key to Success as a Marketer

Just as a writer can’t wait around for inspiration to strike, a marketer can’t assume that their audience will be engaged and interested every time they post something on Facebook. Especially if that something is a clever meme posted once every couple of months. 

The problem with clever ads or posts is that they’re not sustainable. You don’t catch lightning in a bottle every time. You have to have a purpose behind your marketing efforts. That’s the necessity behind backward planning. 

It takes planning with the end in mind—a benchmark teams need to reach, a value proposition their target audience needs to understand—to plan a variety of content across channels. Not all of the blogs, emails, or social media posts will be brilliant, but they’ll all be leading toward something; they’ll have a purpose that potential customers can understand.  

At Seafoam, We Don’t Chase Lightning, We Make the Weather

As our team develops strategy, we use a tried and true procedure. Together, we get to know our clients. We develop big goals and benchmarks. Then, we plan out how we’ll measure our progress and make adjustments going forward. Doing so gives us a solid framework to get creative while understanding the purpose behind it all. 

We aren’t chasing after that next bolt of lightning; we don’t have to. We have the tools, we have a plan, and we can easily measure what’s working and what isn’t. 

Giving Our Clients What They Really Need

In marketing, we take a message and we disseminate it to the public, in hopes of getting a big win for our client. But what happens when that message is muddled? What happens when what the client is asking for isn’t really what they need? 

Another skill that’s vital to a good marketing team is the ability to listen, and to listen to the questions behind the questions. Sometimes a client’s frustration has to do with a key marketing concept or strategy they’re missing—certain vocabulary that must be learned. In other words, many of our clients are just familiar enough with marketing buzzwords to be dangerous. 

When you work with clients, accept feedback on a project, and adjust your marketing strategy, you have to listen with all three of your ears. That is, you have to use your background knowledge, your intuition, and your communication skills to understand what they really need. Then, you have to deliver. 

Communicating the Seafoam Way

One way to deliver is by giving your target audience some scaffolding. You start with something they already know and understand. You evoke an emotion they’ve felt before. Then, you use that base and build upon it to teach them something new. 

So much of marketing is about educating the public, and doing so in a way that meets them where they are. You wouldn’t talk down to someone you wanted to win over (at least, you wouldn’t if you wanted your pitch to work!) and you wouldn’t lecture them to death either! 

Instead, you speak clearly. You give them information they can use. You inspire. That’s the real heart of marketing. 

Good Marketing Strategy Takes Both Smarts and Heart

Marketing, like education, is as much art as science. After all, you’re dealing with messy humans and their very messy feelings. You have to have a plan, and you have to have a heart, too. You need that just-right balance of hard and soft skills.

Once you open your ears and focus more on strategy and goals, you discover that truly creative marketing happens almost naturally. Lightning strikes more often. Your client trusts you a little more, and your efforts are increasingly effective. 

Learn more about the Seafoam process, and how we practice these tips day in and day out. Let us know if we can help your business. 

It has been about six months since the world first turned upside down. From mandatory shutdowns to supply chain disruptions, businesses had to quickly come to grips with the understanding that this new normal was absolutely not normal. Some companies had to adopt new safety protocols as they grappled with what it meant to be essential. Others had to lean into creative ideas to keep their employees working as customers hunkered down at home. As in most times of crisis, companies had to learn on the fly how to adapt to survive.

What do you do, as a business, when your customer’s needs shift overnight? Can you adapt in-person processes to an online world? How do you pivot to rise to a rapidly evolving marketplace? What do you do when what always worked before, doesn’t work now?

Hobbled by COVID-19, many of our clients are asking these very questions. Industries from healthcare to communications software have been upended by this virus, and every company is feeling it differently. One common theme among almost every industry is this: the time to identify ways to improve your digital marketing is NOW.

Rely on Data to Lead the Way

The first step in this process shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has ever worked with the team at Seafoam: you have to look at the data. If your customer’s behavior has changed in the past six months, the data should reflect that. So how can you tell if your past digital marketing strategy is no longer working? 

There are a number of ways to determine if your digital marketing has taken a hit in recent months. Initially, the first indicator may feel a little more intuitive. Maybe the phone is not as busy, or appointments are down. Perhaps your team’s schedules are not quite as full or, after years in your industry, something just feels off. Trusting your gut is important in the world of business, but it should always be coupled with a look at the data. If you can combine these two, you may be able to get a handle on your issue and rebound far more quickly. So jump into the data!

Indicator #1: My Overall Website Traffic is Down

One of the first stops on this data train is to look into analytics to see what the traffic to your site looks like. A word of caution, however, when looking at the data you find in analytics... Looking at one data point fixed in time can sometimes offer opportunities for misinterpretation. Instead, look at the data from a couple of angles to get a full picture of what’s going on.

Questions to ask yourself if you see a dip in website traffic

While this is not an exhaustive list, it should put you on the right path to understanding how COVID-19 has impacted your brand. Analytics is not the only place to look to understand how your users are behaving. In addition to understanding traffic patterns on the site, you can also look to other channels to see how your users are engaging with the brand. 

Indicator #2: Social Media Is No Longer Engaging

As COVID-19 forced more and more people to be at home, social media usage climbed. It became a safe way to interact with friends and family while you were stuck in the house. Sales people took to LinkedIn when their regular contacts weren’t in the office any more. Unburdened by typical workplace restrictions, many users hung out on Facebook while working remotely. In short, social networking surged during the pandemic. 

For many brands, this offered a golden opportunity to reach new customers and engage with existing customers. It provided a way for B2C brands to communicate new guidelines, restrictions, and even special offers in real time. Bored users also spent time showing support for their favorite brands on these platforms. Creating engaging content in these times became the name of the game. Some brands did an excellent job, which we will highlight below. But there were also brands that floundered during this crisis period. 

Did you see a dip in engagement? Did you struggle to get users to even see your posts? During the COVID -19 pandemic, social media saw an increase in engagement for many brands. If your brand was not one of them, what happened?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if your social media is no longer engaging

You might notice a trend. For many brands, what worked before quit working during the pandemic, in part because the nature of the conversation changed. A deeper look at social media and the brands that did well during the crisis highlights the need to speak authentically in the moment to the moment. Another indicator of this can be found in keyword data. 

Indicator #3: My Keywords Aren’t Converting Anymore

If you have invested in SEO in the past several years, you understand how important it is to find the right keywords and rank for them. This can take a lot of time and effort to get just right. The perfect keywords can bring a TON of value to the brand, funneling users from awareness to intention to conversion. Between paid ads and organic rankings, keywords allow brands to target exactly what their target audience is looking for. So what happens when that intent shifts? 

One data point that can’t be overlooked is your conversion rate. If your keywords are still ranking at the top, but they are no longer converting, you have to recognize that you have a problem. This may be the clearest indicator that what once worked is no longer working. The question you have to ask yourself is this: what changed? How have your user’s needs shifted, and what do you think they are searching for now? In the COVID era, the answer to what changed might just be – everything. 

If everything has changed, then your digital marketing efforts have to follow suit. From your keywords to your messaging, your brand’s strategy must evolve to meet your users' new needs. So perhaps the better question to ask is, how has COVID-19 impacted the customers within your industry?  And what can you do to help? 

So, What Can You Do About It? 

Taking a deep dive into how your users lives have changed can be an impactful exercise into understanding how your marketing needs to shift. 

It is only after you answer these questions that you can truly understand how your brand’s messaging needs to shift. And believe us when we say, it needs to shift. The conversation online has completely changed, and your brand should not try to pretend that it hasn't. 

Speak to the issues that your users are facing, in an authentic manner. Show them that you understand the hardships and frustrations that they are facing. Then you can offer solutions appropriate to their needs.  

Remember when we talked about all of the brands that did so well on social media during the pandemic? Let’s look at a few: 

LEGO

Kids were hit pretty hard during the pandemic. All of a sudden, their whole worlds shifted in a pretty scary way. They had to learn the new rules of the world, so to speak. No play-dates (or hugs and high-fives) with their friends, no going to school, and LOTS of hand washing. The ever popular building block brand, LEGO, decided to speak to the miniature sized demographic through the voices of their ultra-popular characters created for the LEGO movie franchise. For  fans, the characters offer their PSA's in a fun, lively, and completely on brand way.

Note that playing with LEGOS AND watching LEGO movies are two great ways to spend some time while quarantined, but the brand didn’t even have to mention that. By reminding users of the simple magic behind the brand, and helping parents talk to their kids about a crazy new set of rules, the LEGO brand further endeared itself with parents and kiddos alike.

Tiny Little Monster

As shut downs hit small, local businesses especially hard, many companies struggled to keep their employees working. Overnight revenue dried up. One Saint Louis-based screen printing company, Tiny Little Monster, decided to think bigger than just their business. As a B2B brand, they saw many of their customers struggling and decided to create a campaign to help. And because they were a screen printing company, they built their campaign using their core capabilities in a simple and authentic manner; and BOY did it take off! 

The #hereforgood hashtag and website offered custom t-shirts for local small businesses impacted by the shutdown, providing a much needed cash flow for the participating brands. The concept was simple: buy a t-shirt and support a local business with $10 from every purchase going straight to each participating company. Their social media messaging shifted completely, with posts that focused on the campaign and on all of the businesses involved.

Beyond simply helping local businesses, Tiny Little Monster reached out to their counterparts across the country and helped them build their own #hereforgood campaigns. All told, the #hereforgood movement reached 34 states and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for small businesses across the country. 

The passion for this project showed in every post, every follow up comment, and every t-shirt Tiny Little Monster made. The conversation absolutely shifted to meet the time, but it was so much more than that. The conversation was authentic, compassionate, and inclusive; which is why so many users jumped on board. It goes to show that one really good idea, and some passionate marketing, can really make an impact.

Newtec Services

Of course, creating a powerful statement is a bit easier when you are working on something fun and approachable like t-shirts and t-ravs. (If you are not in St. Louis, you need to call us for an explanation and an invitation to dinner next time you are in town.) What do you do, however, when your brand is all about keeping businesses moving? How do you cope when the world of business comes to a screeching halt and then moves exclusively online? This is the trouble that Newtec Services, an information technology company that specializes in managed IT services and network security, faced as the pandemic raged on.  

Newtec Services had invested in digital marketing for a number of years. They were ranking for their core keywords, and some really great leads were coming in the door. Then, early in 2020, the bottom seemed to drop out from under them. While their core keywords continued to rank, the traffic and the leads associated with said traffic was no longer there. A global pandemic was not the time to see traffic drop, and Newtec Services knew that they needed a new approach to tackle the issue. 

Turning to social media was not the silver bullet that it proved to be for the #hereforgood campaign in our previous example. This was not a situation that allowed for a B2C type rallying cry. After all, the core demographic for this brand was not the average t-shirt wearer (which is everyone.) Instead, the target audience was medium sized business owners and IT professionals looking to expand their bandwidth. Moreover, many of these users were no longer working in the office, so traditional sales outreach instantly became a whole lot more difficult. 

Newtec Services decided to follow many of the same steps we outlined above, looking at the new problems facing their users and creating solutions that would help tackle these issues. Knowing that Google was going to be a big part of the conversation, keyword research was in order. As a brand, Newtec Services needed to understand what was driving the conversation in this new era. They took to their website, creating pages that spoke to these issues in a technical yet informative way. 

Working with many of their existing clients, they dug in to find a greater understanding of the problems that COVID-19 had created for their industry and worked to explain how their brand could offer solutions. As with any SEO tactic, the return on this tactic was not instantaneous, but the brand has seen an increase in their leads as these pages pick up steam. 

How Does Your Conversation Need To Change?

While the world is slowly returning to some semblance of normal, the reverberations of COVID-19 are probably here to stay. So, how has your brand shifted its messages to speak to this new way of working? What are your clients saying about their struggles, and how are you rising to meet the occasion? 

If you are not sure how to answer any of these questions, help is just a phone call away. At Seafoam Media, we help brands of all sizes tackle some of their biggest digital marketing challenges. We take the deep dives, looking at changes in the marketplace, to help craft a strategy that will not only prepare you for the world today but also help to propel your brand into the future. No matter what crazy things 2021 may bring, we are here to help your brand succeed. We would love to chat about your particular brand. Call us today, or schedule a (virtual) discovery session with our team. 

A month ago, in the middle of the lockdown we have been patiently enduring, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that a coming recession could be "the steepest in almost a century," approaching levels not seen since the Great Depression. Between a worldwide pandemic and skyrocketing unemployment levels, it's no wonder that business owners are worried.  

Even at the best of times, the U.S. economy is fluid. Depending on the health of the national and global stock markets, your customers may either be comfortable investing in your products and services or anxious, withholding their dollars just in case financial catastrophe strikes.

Over the centuries since the founding of the United States, our nation has been affected by no fewer than 11 recessions. Although these times can be scary for consumers and businesses alike, this is a natural pattern in our nation’s economic development. That’s why it’s important to know how to leverage today’s technology to ensure your business’ longevity through the next impending stock market dip and beyond.

Digital Marketing Matters Now More than Ever 

Many business owners, faced with a looming recession, are cutting costs and making difficult decisions about what to prioritize going forward. One decision likely has to do with their marketing budget. 

You may be considering scaling back your marketing efforts, too. 

In our opinion, cutting your team's marketing efforts in half or even entirely is a big mistake. We believe that digital marketing can help companies now more than ever. Here are just 3 reasons why: 

Your website is your hardest working employee. 

Your website works when you can't. It's on 24/7. If it's not providing your customers with clear information and an easy-to-navigate design, you may be missing out on valuable customer dollars. Digital marketing can give your website a timely refresh. 

If you're not optimizing for SEO, you're not getting seen. 

And if you're not getting seen, you're losing business. With the help of digital marketing, you can get nearer to that top spot on Google and draw more people to your website. 

People staying in are DEFINITELY on their phones. 

More screen time means more of an opportunity to reach out to your audience via social media. Are you taking advantage? Digital marketing can help by providing your users with engaging content and earning you a broader reach. 

Six Ways to Use Digital Marketing to Survive a Recession

1. Maintain Ad Spends

When your brand’s steady income is interrupted by a recession, it may seem logical to trim your expenditures where you can; unfortunately, ads aren’t where you want to do it. Whether you’re managing various ad campaigns through your brand’s social media profiles or AdWords, reducing output on these platforms is actually more likely to hurt your business than empower it.

Remember: the more eyes that see your brand, the more people are likely to invest in what you have to offer. Keep your visibility up by maintaining your monthly ad output.

2. Invest More Time in Thoughtful Content

The internet is an intrinsic part of daily life. Just because the economy is a bit strapped for cash doesn’t mean consumers will stop surfing the web for information, entertainment, and the occasional purchased good. Take this time to increase the likelihood of your brand catching consumers’ attention by bolstering content production.

Especially if you can find a way to connect your brand to the struggles brought on by an economic crisis, examine how your business can provide sound advice, tips, information and even products/services to improve the way your customers survive the recession alongside your company. Showing support and relating to your audience may even help your brand earn some extra customers to help you through these hard times.

3. Opt for More SEO, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Content is powerful, but it isn’t effective if no one can see it. Search engine optimization is the driving force behind your brand’s ability to be identified, categorized and ranked by search engines, such as Google and Bing. If you set up and maintain a comprehensive SEO strategy, you can keep your brand’s content at the top of search rankings for months, if not years, to come.

4. Turn Your Brand’s Social Media Accounts into PR Machines

We briefly mentioned social media in tip #1, but there is so much more this platform can do than just serve up ads to targeted groups of people. Since social media found its way into the hearts of online users everywhere, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and their counterparts have become monumental pillars in modern communication. Today, people use these platforms to engage with one another, share their views on heavy-hitting topics, and offer a glimpse into their daily lives.

And if they’re doing this, why can’t your brand do the same?

With the help of some cleverly designed social media campaigns, your brand can engage with its audience and build relationships on a deeper-than-transactional level.

5. Audit Your Website

It may be hard to believe, but a recession is the perfect opportunity to take a long hard look at your website and analyze its design, functionality, and ease of use. Especially during a time as emotionally and financially stressful as a recession, customers deserve to have the least amount of clutter in between the information they need and the products/services they’re looking for.

In fact, the more clicks a customer has to make before he/she can find what he/she is looking for on your site, the less likely your customer is to convert, which ultimately hurts your bottom line. As a result, trim any unnecessary menus and graphics from your site; make it as simple and elegant to use as possible.

6. Remember That Your Customers are People

Finally, the biggest tip of them all… Despite how heavily your brand feels the effects of the recession, there’s a good chance your customers are just as affected – if not more so – than your business.

At the end of the day, your customers are not dollar bills or sales quotas; they are human beings filled with needs, emotions, and challenges, particularly during times of financial hardship. If your brand can keep them at the forefront of everything it does – if you can make them feel empowered during this difficult time – you stand a chance at generating the revenue you need for a long and bright future.

Proof of Concept

Okay, so far we’ve discussed six ways you can elevate your brand’s likelihood of surviving economic stress, but now you want some proof.

In the great recession of 2009, these brands were able to leverage their marketing strategies to rise above adversity and even thrive:

Del Monte Foods

In an interview with Adweek, Del Monte’s CMO, Bill Pearce, discussed the success of increasing Del Monte’s ad spends during the recession:

“I think we’re making very good progress. If you go back to our September earnings and benchmark versus our peer set, we’re doing very well...Our marketing capability has improved dramatically, and I think people are generally excited and feel good about where we’re going.”

Hyundai Motor America

Despite the auto industry struggling, as a whole, to break even during 2009, much less generate a profit, Hyundai forged a different route to success. By taking the time and care to invest in a consumer-focused ad-campaign-turned-into-a-service, Hyundai Assurance boosted sales as much as 5 percent while the competition floundered.

Miller Brewing Company

Sometimes fitting into a consumer niche is the best way to survive an economic crunch. Identifying an opportunity to push an affordable product to thirsty consumers, the Miller Brewing Company leveraged a series of one-second TV ads that aired during the biggest football game of the year to promote Miller High Life beer. This strategy ultimately resulted in Miller generating a 5 percent increase in beer sales prior to the game and 9 percent increase following the game.

Marketing, Exposure, and the Chopping Block

If you could take all of the many ingredients of a complex marketing strategy – content, social media, SEO, web design/development, ad spends, analytics, etc. – and boil it down to one overarching concept, the result is simple: marketing leads to exposure.

During a recession, when the limits of every dollar bill matters to a company trying to survive, your business may be naturally looking to cut spending. As a marketing agency, we’ve seen all kinds of companies with various understandings of marketing and why it’s essential to financial growth; that’s why we can unequivocally say. 

Don’t let your marketing strategy be the first expense on the chopping block!

Your brand needs marketing to ensure your consumers continue to see your products and services. And in many cases – as mentioned in the examples above – a recession may even be a great time to invest more into your marketing endeavors. With the right strategy in place, your brand doesn’t just have a chance at surviving a recession; it can become an industry leader.

Here’s an interesting challenge: ask a group of creative professionals to create something bad, on purpose, to use as a teaching tool.  

It’s not as easy as it may seem. You’re asking a group of writers and designers to toss out everything they instinctively know about web development and marketing and create something outdated and inefficient. 

When our web developer saw the final product, she nearly fainted. 

Seafoam took on this challenge recently in the name of education. The result was literally laughable. Here’s how we did it.  

How We Created a Terrible Website

So, how do you create a terrible website in the first place?

1. Invent a company and give it an awful name, logo, slogan, and back story.

In our case, we imagined an owner who’d had big success back in the late 90s and early aughts. We thought back to outdated style and listed the things people these days hate about fashion, including too-thin models and cheap-looking apparel. We gave our imaginary owner all of these things, plus a logo and slogan that would really turn people away.

2. As you create a website, bring back some trends from the 90s.

As we brainstormed a few of our least favorite websites and made a plan, we decided that outdated (so as to be nearly unreadable) was the best way to go. 

3. Pay zero attention to user experience.

We decided we wouldn’t make it possible to actually buy anything on the site. After all, don’t most customers want to drive to a brick and mortar store? (That was sarcasm.)  We covered the basics, and only the basics. 

4. Create a Social Media page, too — a bad one.

Yes, we made a Facebook profile. Then filled it with Victoria Secret rejects and cheesy copy. (Am alarming number of companies actually do this.) 

Working with Students at Maplewood Richmond Heights (MRH) 

When we presented our website to students at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School (MRH), we weren’t prepared for how marketing savvy they’d be. They quickly pointed out the problems with both the website and the Facebook page. 

Within a few weeks, these marketing marvels had come up with more authentic images, a better website format, a variety of stylistically-simple logos, and more, including: 

In short, they took to this project like a duck to water. It's safe to say that the future of digital marketing is in good hands.

A Few Better User Experience Tips

If you’d like to be as smart as these St. Louis high schoolers and create a usable website as well, here are some tips:

1. Make your images authentic.

Stock images are easy to use, but they’re not very believable or compelling. When you can, use photographs of real people and real locations. 

2. Use white space strategically.

Minimalism is still on trend in 2020, and using white space framing can add sense of clean sophistication to your site.

3. Your copy should focus on benefits to the user.

People can argue about whether or not content is still "king." The thing that's most important to remember, however, is that your content isn't for you; it's for your user. It's imperative that you tailor your content to your audience and speak to their concerns.

4. Optimize your site for mobile.

Over half of all online shopping is done from a smartphone or mobile device. More and more customers do their research online before they make the decision to buy. So, your site should be simple to navigate, cleanly informative, and optimized for mobile. 

5. Make your site image-heavy and interactive.

Adding dynamic or 3D elements to your site is one way to stand out in 2020. Some sites are using a layered or collage-like technique to add interest or depth. Even if you don't go this route, consider making your site interactive with quizzes or video and sound.

The Future of Web Design is Bright

As we think about what our young people are learning and how online trends are changing, everyone here at Seafoam is excited about the future of web design – and how it will continue to impact digital marketing. Within the next few years, we'll see creativity in typography, the use of moody dark space, and the manipulation of images. We're trying out some of these trends as we build sites for our own clients.

What's your least favorite outdated web design trend? How are you changing your approach to web design in 2020?

As a business leader, you understand better than most the importance of hiring good help. 

Think about how important it is for your company to hire a reliable accountant, a quick-response IT team, a knowledgeable lawyer. While each team member knows quite a bit, no one would dream of handling all these specialized tasks alone; that would waste time and money. Part of being a great business leader, after all, is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and reaching out to experts when you need them. 

Now, think about how you handle your company’s marketing strategy. Do you rely on your administrative assistant to post on social media every so often? How much do you really know about SEO? Do you have all the resources you need to get the marketing results you want? 

Your digital profile works for you day and night. It’s always on. And as your hardest-working asset, it should offer you the best return. Are you developing it the way you should? 

Digital Marketing Evolves as Quickly as the Internet Does.

The state of digital marketing is constantly evolving. It used to be fairly easy to “trick” Google and boost your rankings. Now, however, the bots are getting smarter, and they’re learning to play together. 

Here are a few things we like to remind our partners: 

Google Functionality

Every year, Google makes hundreds of changes to its search functionality, sometimes rolling out major algorithm changes that digital marketers need to keep pace with. 

Local SEO

When it comes to local SEO, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google My Business, and other social media sites all feed into Google’s algorithm. Customer reviews do as well, and they play an increasingly bigger role in establishing your authority as a business. 

Inbound Link Authority 

Do you have inbound link authority? This is another tool that boosts your visibility on Google. Sometimes called link-building or backlinking, it refers to the number of legitimate sites linking to you as a subject matter expert. If you aren’t getting inbound links, you’re probably not doing enough to get noticed.  

Content 

Marketers may not say “content is king” any longer, but we still recognize that content is consumed in myriad ways across the internet, and it’s a tough task to write both for human eyes and roaming bots. Is your on-page content relevant, up-to-date, and compelling? 

Analytics 

Do you have people on your team willing to take deep dives into the murky waters of analytics? Anyone can log into Google Analytics, but not everyone can make sense of the results. If you’re not getting regular insights on organic search, including bounce rates, page views, keyword rankings, and other useful benchmarks, you may be missing a huge piece of your overall marketing picture. 

Mobile Optimization

mobile optimization

More consumers do their web browsing on mobile devices than ever before. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you’re missing a huge opportunity.  

Personalization 

Personalization is the watchword of the future. What is it? Essentially, it’s the ability to give your site visitors a custom, personalized experience based on their needs. When it takes over as the next big thing in marketing, will you be ready?

To be effective, marketing must be interconnected. All of the above factors, and inevitably a few we haven’t come across yet, will all come into play in the digital future. That’s why it’s important to have a team dedicated to staying on the front lines and keeping track of the way Google evolves. 

Partnering with a Team of Marketing Experts is Worth the Cost.

When you hire a marketing team, you’re getting more than a decent-looking website and a kid who understands Google better than you do; you’re getting a team of professionals. What you’re really paying for is time, brain-power, and creativity: the time it takes to research the competition and create a strategy that makes sense for your business, the brain-power that comes along with years of expertise in the field, and the creativity it takes to stay ahead with bold ideas.  

We believe that a marketing agency can offer a level of professionalism that in-house teams can’t. Why? Because we put all of the pieces of the puzzle together into a strategic whole:

Keep reading! Below, we go into a few factors we consider as we execute on a plan for our partners’ success. 

First Things First: Define Your Goals and Fine-Tune Your Message.

The internet is a vast place. It takes strategy to insure that you’re not just adding to the noise. To break through the static and have a real impact, you need a well-defined brand and a clear message broadcasted and shared on the right platforms. 

Before we design a website or write your first email newsletter, we start at the beginning: we clarify your branding and messaging, we size up the competition, and then we outline the strategies and tactics that will help you reach your goals.

It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. We don’t execute on a marketing plan until we have a marketing plan – one with objectives that make sense for your business, not the business we worked with last week. 

Your Website is Your Hardest Working Employee.

website design

You wouldn’t keep an employee that didn’t work well with others and had little to offer in the way of character and expertise. Why would you accept anything less from your hardest working asset – your website? 

If you don’t have an up-to-date website, or if you do have one that’s confusing or unwieldy, you’re turning off customers who increasingly use their laptops and mobile phones to research and make buying decisions. 

You may know what your website should include, but we’re guessing you haven’t earned a degree in web design. You probably haven’t thought much about the psychology of color or the way users typically navigate around a site. A great marketing team has that resource. What’s more, a great marketing team considers your target audience, builds an easy-to-navigate site, and collects data to learn just how that website is performing and continually improve it. 

If You’re Not Reaching Your Target Audience with a Well-Defined Message, Your Marketing Efforts are Wasted.

Since we mentioned your target audience, let’s take a longer look at that piece of the equation.

Think about your close friends and family. If you’ve known a group of people for a long time, you instinctively know what drives them, what values they hold dear, what quirks of personality they display. 

A similar thing happens when you find your business’ target audience and get to know them on social media and elsewhere. You start to predict which ideas will catch hold. You’re no longer throwing out taglines and hoping one or two will stick. That “flyers on windshields” approach simply doesn’t work anymore. Luckily, though, consumers are still susceptible to the same emotional drives human beings have always had. Tapping into those all-too-human drives is the key to great marketing. 

It is not about being everywhere, but being where “your people” are. A perceptive marketing team can help you find your tribe, so to speak, figure out their motivations, and tap into those emotional touchpoints with engaging content.  

Insightful Content Matched with Smart SEO? What a Beautiful Relationship!

While any SEO specialist can talk about Google, it takes a professional to create content that both attracts customers and understands what the bots are looking for. 

It’s easy enough to add a quick paragraph to your “About” page or post something on your favorite social media channel. What’s harder is developing a consistent message and voice, and drafting web content that’s scan-able and SEO friendly. At Seafoam, we don’t look at search engine optimization as an algorithm you need to hack, but as a guide showing what your customers really want.  We take time to do the sort of deep-dive research that informs our content strategy. Then, we draft copy that will establish your brand in the minds of your customers and drive traffic to your social media pages and your website

It’s not easy. It takes talent to put a message across succinctly and elegantly so your newsletters, articles, social posts, and emails are shared – not ignored or discarded. This high-quality content eventually pays for itself in greater awareness and rising numbers of conversions. 

Great Marketing: All the Things, All the Time. 

The factors we described above are just a taste of what a marketing agency takes into account. A top-notch marketing team understands how to translate analytics and subtly shift a message to reach the right audience, providing a holistic approach that’s difficult to achieve alone. We handle all of this and more, and we do so with a team of specialists who have experience working with all kinds of businesses, in all kinds of industries. 

When you think about the countless hours, the late nights, early mornings – all of the work that your team pours into your business day after day – are you willing to gamble on anything less? Be honest: is your team connecting all the dots? 

Contact Seafoam When You’re Ready to Get Serious About Marketing.

We believe that a glowing online reputation, an exquisitely designed website, and a malleable, goal-oriented strategy are all worth the investment. What you’re investing in, after all, is the growing awareness and future success of your brand. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call. 

Several weeks ago, we discussed the do’s and don’ts of nonprofit marketing strategies. This week, we’re diving back into the world of nonprofits to discuss how you can make the most of your marketing funds.

Nonprofit Funding and Budgets

When it comes to fueling a marketing strategy, maintaining the proper budget is key to maintenance and growth.
This can be particularly difficult with nonprofit organizations. Since their funding typically comes from donors and fundraising events, nonprofits don’t have the cash-flow that larger brands rely on. Therefore, maximizing spending is critical to a nonprofit’s marketing success.
Here are some tips for your nonprofit to consider as you map out your marketing budget.

How to Build a Friendly Nonprofit Marketing Strategy

1. Simplify your strategy.

Marketing can be a complex beast to tame. There are many facets involved in online success; we often talk about the main four pillars with our clients: content, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and  St. Louis website design/development.
This is just the beginning, though. Within each of these pillars, there are more, potentially expensive, pieces to consider, such as the types of content you want to create, which social platforms your nonprofit belongs on, the extent of your SEO, and the depth of your website’s design and functionality.
If your nonprofit is strapped for cash, you probably don’t have the funds to tackle the high end of each of the marketing pillars, but you should at least have the basics:

2. Get creative!

Marketing doesn’t always have to cost money; sometimes, it just takes a bit of precious, valuable time.
You can put the word out about your nonprofit by doing things such as:

3. Team up with a local marketing agency.

Who is better qualified to run your nonprofit’s marketing strategy than an agency whose mission is to help brands succeed online?With the Seafoam Marketing Challenge, our agency was lucky to find willing participants to help us launch the first round of our new program. And now, as a result of Seafoam and MRH working together, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Louis will receive a free marketing strategy that they otherwise would not have had.
You never know what unconventional opportunities are available to your nonprofit until you go looking for them — or until the right moment presents itself to you.

It’s safe to say that no two marketing strategies are alike. Not only do these strategies change based on a brand’s wants and needs, but their goals and mission will largely influence their digital route to success, as well.
The differences become even greater, still, when breaking down a client’s business structure — particularly when it comes to for-profit companies versus nonprofit businesses.
In partnership with Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School (MRH) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Louis, our team recently had the opportunity to shift our line of thought from the for-profit brands we usually represent to a local nonprofit organization that’s striving to make a difference in the St. Louis area.
Here are some of the things we have to share about nonprofit marketing...

What’s the difference between nonprofit and for-profit brand marketing strategies?

Building a marketing strategy for a nonprofit is significantly different than building a strategy for a for-profit brand.
Why?
The differences are largely determined by the variations in each brand’s primary mission.
For-profit brands exist to make money from their products and/or services. They may be motivated by other endeavors, like making the best products they can or building a superior customer experience, but at the end of the day, for-profit companies want to make money and thrive so that they can continue to build new products and services that their customers will enjoy.
Nonprofit brands, on the other hand, exist to help their customers live better lives through their products, services and message. All funding that a nonprofit receives will be used to pay for the expenses of running the business (employee salaries, bills, etc.); the remaining money will be invested back into the organization’s goals and mission to help their community. For this reason, nonprofits don’t typically have the capital that for-profits brands have.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Nonprofit Marketing

Do...

Don’t...

Want to learn more?

Our team’s journey into nonprofit marketing is just beginning. If you’d like to keep up with the progress the MRH students have made for NAMI St. Louis, visit the official Seafoam Marketing Challenge landing page to learn more! We’ll have much more to share over the next several months.

The world you live in and the websites you visit on a daily basis are more similar than you may realize: both are the home to large expanses of information, experiences and engagement. As technology gets smarter, websites are collecting more data about you to help personalize recommendations and provide answers that are tailored to your needs. Whether you're filling out a contact form, making a purchase, or even browsing a social network, you're constantly creating data that gets sent and stored online.
As more information is received and stored, society needs better ways to ensure that it is being transmitted securely, and that we can also trust the websites that we are submitting this data to. The same is true for your brand’s website — do your customers feel comfortable giving out potentially sensitive information on your site? If you’re familiar with online security tools, you may even be asking yourself: “Do I need SSL?”
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Whether you’re savvy with the concept of an SSL Certificate, or if you’ve never heard of it, we’ll be explaining the benefits of SSL and why your site should be setup with one to help your customers feel confident when interacting and sending information on your site.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An abbreviation for “Secure Socket Layer,” an SSL Certificate helps connected devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, etc.) establish an encrypted link between a web server and the device’s web browser. This helps to ensure that the data that gets passed between these mediums remains private, thus enhancing customer security and letting visitors know your site is safe to browse.
On the front end side for your customers, this is seen as your website address starting with “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP,” and also showing a green padlock image and/or the text, “secure”. If your site is not protected, you’ll see a circle icon with an “i” to the left of it.

On the back end, SSL consists of two cryptographic keys: a private key and a public key. Essentially, these data files work in tandem to help web browsers authenticate websites’ internal security based on a series of digital checks and balances. The data of your site’s public key is used to initiate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR), which is a data file containing details that verify your brand’s identity and business, as well as the length of time that your certificate is good for.
A Certificate Authority then validates this data and issues you an SSL Certificate to your private key. These are organizations, such as Comodo or GoDaddy, which are authorized to provide SSL. A web browser will only accept SSL from a Certificate Authority that it trusts!

Finally, when a user initiates a connection with your SSL-enabled website, the browser will retrieve the site's SSL Certificate to check if it's valid. This is all done quickly and behind the scenes where your customers won’t see. If all is well, the only visual cue they’ll need is to look for is the padlock and the “secure” message!

What are the benefits of SSL?

SSL certification is important because today’s websites are increasingly becoming more complex and storing more customer data. This is especially true for Ecommerce sites where SSL is required in order to run transactions from payment gateways (such as Authorize.Net or Stripe). As a result, the benefits of SSL are two-fold:

  1. On one hand, a site with an SSL Certificate makes the user feel secure and they will be more likely to fill out data fields and contact forms. It tells users that their online activities are protected and safe.
  2. On the other hand, Google’s search algorithms are known to prioritize SSL websites over non-SSL websites. Therefore, a site with proper SSL certification may see an increase in its search engine optimization rankings, thus improving its online exposure.

How do you register your website for an SSL Certificate?

Getting SSL can involve multiple steps, usually including the purchase of an annual SSL Certificate from your hosting provider, and then installing and making sure your site is setup properly to support SSL. After purchasing the certificate, many sites often still have what are called “insecure elements”, which are files or areas in the code that reference HTTP rather than HTTPS. In order to fully utilize SSL, you must make sure your site doesn’t have any remaining insecure elements!

From there, you’ll need to make the necessary changes in your tracking software—so for example, if you’re using Google Analytics, you’ll want to make sure your property is now set to HTTPS as the default, rather than HTTP.

As a digital marketing agency, website design, development and maintenance are a large portion of what we do to best serve our clients; as a result, we are able to take care of SSL certification for you!

Contact Us 

We love doing good things here. All it takes to get your business 'on the map,' is a conversation with Seafoam.
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