Meet the Team: Lauren Dreisbach

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Some of you may know me as Lauren Annibale, but don’t worry, still the same person here! I got married this past June, so my name is now officially Lauren Dreisbach. I’m still getting used to seeing my new name in print! My husband, Alex, and I are currently enjoying the newlywed life and all of our free time without the numerous tasks associated with planning a wedding. It was a blast, but I’m excited to get back to some of my regular hobbies and activities. And, this upcoming fall season is a great time for one of my favorite things to do – running.

Most evenings, you can find me running on the Montour Trail.  The cooler temperatures lately have been perfect conditions! I was always a part of the track team in high school, but running distances is a rather new adventure for me. So, why have I found myself running so much? I run mainly because:

  • It’s peaceful, and for me, my time on the trail is the perfect time to relax and clear my mind.
  • The races are so much fun! It’s inspirational to see what other runners can accomplish, and at the same time, I’m able to set goals for myself in terms of distance and time.
  • It’s good exercise!
  • I won’t lie – finding new running gear is another excuse to go shopping!

I ran my third Pittsburgh Half-Marathon in May, and I’m looking forward to the annual Pittsburgh Great Race at the end of September. I guess I’ve caught the runner’s bug!

Marketing 101: Search Engine Optimization

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different marketing mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

So you’ve developed a website filled with information on your product or service. Good job. Now what?

Like most people, you’ve probably searched for your product using a search engine. Did your website show up as one of the first results, or are you still clicking on “Next?”

SEO

Search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing use a variety of factors to determine where your website ranks in search results. While it may seem overwhelming to think about, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not that scary. Here are four SEO strategies that you should work on with your website administrator or developer.

1.      Keywords: One of the easiest ways to get your website noticed is to use keywords that are relevant to your product or service. Once you determine what keywords to use, place them in each page on your website. Keywords should be used in page titles, headings, content and URLs. Most search engines use software programs called spiders to analyze webpages. These creepy crawlers pick up on the use of a keyword and rank the page accordingly. However, avoid littering a page with a keyword. Look at how many times I’ve written “keyword” in this paragraph. Annoying, right? The spiders may mark the page as spam, which would have a negative effect on the page’s ranking.

2.      Titles: Titles appear in the upper left-hand portion of your browser window. Look at this page, its title reads “Marketing 101: Search Engine Optimization.”  Each page on your website should have a different title that is descriptive of the content found on it. Be sure to use keywords in the title and keep them brief (less than 60 characters).

3.      Content: The rule of thumb is to keep text brief. Nothing is more intimidating and less appealing than staring at a wall of text—at least to me. Try breaking up text with photos and other images. Search engine crawlers are beginning to use media files as part of their algorithms. Nowadays, when you upload a video to a website, you can input keywords as “tags” that will help users discover your content and improve your page’s ranking.

4.      Inbound Links: Another important factor that improves your website’s ranking is how many other websites are linking to your site. When there are inbound links, the search engine sees your site as a go-to resource for information on a topic. Sources for these inbound links could include social media, blogs, articles, and press releases.

Whether you’re updating your existing website or developing a new one, make sure SEO is part of the planning process.

Meet the Team: John Millea

love Labor Day weekend.  Not just because it’s a long holiday weekend that celebrates the infinite contributions of labor – unionized and otherwise – to the world’s greatest nation, but even more so because it also is the annual kick-off to the college football season, which is, of course, America’s greatest sport.

Living in the heart of Steelers country, I’m sure that sounds like sacrilege.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the black-and-gold.  How could I not, having moved here in 1972, at the age of 10, a Bears fan in grateful exile, just as Franco was beginning to amass his Italian Army and Gerela was forming his merry band of gorillas?

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But as an Irish-Catholic boy raised a short bicycle ride from Notre Dame Stadium, I can assure you that no sport will ever trump my affection for college football.  From the first Big Ten game at noon to the last PAC-12 game on the West Coast, nothing can anchor me to the couch and big-screen for 12 hours like the excitement and pageantry of a college football Saturday, even on a sunny afternoon in the last throes of summer.

I know.  It sounds pathetic.  Some might even feel sorry for me (I’m sure my wife does), but I don’t care.  I’m addicted and I’m not going to apologize.  It’s just the way I was raised.  Am I ready for some football?  You bet!  God Bless America!  And, of course, Go Irish!

Why Choose User-Generated Content?

In recent years, online marketing has made a big push in the direction of user-generated content. What, exactly, is user-generated content you ask? Well, simply put, user-generated content is any collection of original words, thoughts or images that users voluntarily submit online – It could be as simple as selecting an answer in a Facebook poll or using a company-promoted hashtag in an Instagram or as involved as curating a special Pinterest board to enter a contest.


The solution? Integrating user-generated content into your online marketing strategy – But how do you do it? Encourage audience members and customers to submit their photos, videos or other content simply by asking. Run a contest, offer incentives or just put out a general call for content. Great user-generated content carries social proof that your product or company is tops and, whichever method you choose, you’re sure to get some awesome stuff.
Today, customers want to see more than just company messages and paid advertising. According to this Nielsen study from last year, 92% of customers are likely to trust earned media (recommendations from friends and family, word of mouth) and 70% trust online reviews – An overwhelming majority of the same group surveyed viewed paid online advertising with deep suspicion.

Adding user-generated content into your social marketing strategy also comes with the bonus of reaching new networks. A vast majority of people love being in the spotlight – By using their content, you’re validating them and giving them a certain level of celebrity among their peers. They’ll share your post featuring their praise for your product or service and, odds are good, you’ll see some new customers.

Consumer trust is a major factor in successful marketing – If potential customers don’t believe you, they won’t buy from you. By leveraging the thoughts, opinions, images and videos of real people, (with permission, of course) you can help boost your brand into trustworthy territory.

Tips for Using New Media: Vine & Instagram

In the world of social media, photo and video are great ways to grab a user’s attention. Utilized effectively, they can drive consumers to your website and/or social media profiles. However, it may not be so easy to create these posts yourself without some help.

Vine and Instagram are two of the most popular photo and video apps available for smartphones and other mobile devices. While these platforms can, at first, seem daunting, we’ve compiled a few simple tips for using Vine and Instagram as part of your integrated social media strategy:

  • Hashtags are important. A hashtag is created when you add the pound, or hashtag, symbol (#) to a keyword to make it searchable on various social media platforms. Currently, hashtags are supported by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest and should be used on these platforms to make specific content easier to find. But use caution – you only need to use 2 or 3 hashtags per post. Any more will seem like spam. Social Media Today gives some good advice on using hashtags the right way.
  • Use a variety of different subjects. There are few things more boring than the same picture over and over again. Create a list of photo and video ideas to refer back to when you need an idea. Whether you use people, products or scenery, you want to be able to keep people interested. As with any other platform, the right content mix is essential for building and engaging your audience.
  • Utilize their uniqueness. Instagram and Vine have both similarities and differences, but their unique abilities are important to note. Instagram provides filters that add a unique look to each photo and video. These filters help give each photo or video a unique look. With Vine, you can create tons of different videos using the app’s user-friendly interface – Slideshows, seamless looping and panning are just a few of the different tricks you can utilize. While Instagram gives you the ability to take both photos and videos, Vine current only supports video. You may choose to utilize one or both depending on your strategy and content ideas.
  • Learn the photography basics. When it comes to recording video and taking pictures, knowing the basics is essential. Composition and lighting are important within these mediums because proper composition makes a photo or video interesting while lighting is what makes it work as a whole. Kodak offers some tips for beginners  that will help you create eye-catching photos or videos.

According to Digital Trends, in June 2013 both Vine and Instagram were averaging over 2,000,000 links shared daily and businesses not using these platforms may be missing out on great marketing opportunities. Here’s why: rich media, like photos and videos, gives your company personality. Sharing sneak peeks from the office, current projects and interesting events makes consumers feel like they’re intimately connected with your company or your brand. This kind of transparency gives consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your company and products and can help stimulate engagement online.

Marketing 101: Television Advertising

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different marketing mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

Did you know: the average American watches more than 4 hours of television each day? By age 65, most of us will have watched nine years’ worth of television. Nine years. So what does this mean for marketers? Simply, you can’t leave television out of your marketing mix.

Thanks, in part, to the ever-changing landscape of technology, television advertising has become an affordable medium for many small-to-mid sized businesses – Something that, a generation ago, seemed unfathomable. With hundreds of cable and broadcast channels to choose from, you’re sure to find a mix that will reach your customers.

Before embarking on a television advertising campaign, however, there are several things you’ll need to consider:

  • Is your product visually appealing? Products like jewelry, cars and “you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it” products fare best on television simply because they’re interesting to look at.
  • Who is your target customer? With so many options available on television today, it’s important to drill-down to just who your customer is – If you’re hawking the latest teen shoe craze, it would benefit you to focus on those networks teens actually watch.
  • Where is your audience? Options like national networks, local broadcast and independent networks that reach national, local and regional audiences, give you the ability to speak directly to the customers who live where your product or service is available.
  • Does timing matter? If your product is seasonal (like ski equipment or patio furniture), identify the times of year when you want to focus on advertising. By doing this in advance, you can lock in your placements and, sometimes, even secure lower rates.

Once considered out of reach for many smaller companies, the addition of numerous networks and seemingly endless options has helped make television a realistic option for many businesses. Television is a great way to capture, and hold, your audience’s attention and, if you can make it work within your budget, can be a great tool in your marketing efforts.

Writing Effective Social Media Posts

Every day, consumers check in with the ever-expanding world of social media – And as social media platforms continue to grow, so does the potential reach for businesses. With the right strategy and content mix, social media is a great way for brands to make contact with their customers.

Choosing the right strategy and content for your posts is the most important part of the social media process. It’s all about having the right mix as consumers will decide if they’re going to check out your link, image or infographic or decide it’s not worth their time. Much like writing a catchy headline, there is an anatomy to constructing a great social media post – keep it short, simple and to the point.

 

Here are three more tips for crafting great social media posts:

  1. Keep it positive – Creating a positive environment will encourage consumers to contribute and keep in touch with your brand. A happier tone appeals to all audiences, which is important when dealing with reach in social media. If you show that you’re comfortable and knowledgeable with a topic, consumers will usually agree. Lying and misinformation can hurt your company’s image, so honesty is your best policy.
  2. Engage with your audience – If someone comments on your page or replies to an update, make sure you get back to them in a timely manner. If consumers see you engage with other customers, it invites more conversation and more conversation keeps your pages buzzing. Social media opens new doors to providing better customer service quickly and effortlessly. You can solve a problem, begin the process of dealing with a complaint or thank a customer easily. You can also release news and information faster than ever to a wider, more engaged audience.
  3. Links are very important – You can drive a lot of traffic to your website with links in your social media updates. They can be retweeted, shared and generally spread all over. Keep in mind though; your post should never just be a link. Always lead with concise, informative copy so that followers can decide whether they want to click on the link you’ve shared.

Keeping yourself organized is an important element to a successful social media campaign as well. Laying out an editorial calendar for your social media content is a great way to keep your content organized and ensure you’re properly implementing your content strategy. The Content Marketing Institute has a great example, along with more tips and tricks for creating your own editorial calendar. What are some of your best tips for crafting social media posts?

A Case for Digital Advertising

As someone one who has experienced, and even used, many forms of advertising during my marketing career, I find that the current “Digital Age” offers its own unique forms of creativity and message dissemination and, in my opinion, can often achieve similar, effective results.

In order to better explain my premise, let’s use an example of marketing automobiles today. Since cars are viewed as essential components of the American lifestyle and appeal to a wide range of customers, most car manufacturers employ traditional advertising (radio, TV, newspaper, outdoor) to secure the attention of listeners and viewers who are accustomed to relying on traditional messaging for obtaining information and reinforcing buying habits.

However, to reach the core of today’s millennials, with their laptops, smart phones, iPads and other instant-access devices, the savvy advertiser should leave a portion of their marketing budget dedicated to leveraging these digital marvels and place their messages on what has become the optimum method of reaching-out to younger patrons and shoppers.  Digital advertising is not coming soon – it’s already here!

Now Hiring: Part-Time Account Coordinator

Yearick-Millea is looking for a part-time account coordinator to assist the account team with a number of client and internal projects including research, social media management, web site updates, blog writing, media pitching and more.

The ideal candidate for this position will be organized, highly motivated, adaptable to change, have a keen attention to detail and will demonstrate a desire to learn more about the various aspects of account services in an agency setting beyond those listed above.

He or she will also possess the following preferred skills:
• Excellent written and oral communication skills
• Experience using social media in a professional setting – i.e. managing brand or company accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
• Web design and development; Experience with WordPress a plus
• Experience writing press releases, pitch emails and/or media alerts
• Experience working with MS Office programs including Word and Excel
• Ability to work within and keep deadlines
• Ability to multi-task
• Previous agency experience a plus

Candidate must be able to work 15-25hours per week. Depending on agency work volume, this position could be temporary or lead to full-time work.

Interested? Submit your cover letter and resume via email to Tessa Carroll (tcarroll@yearick-millea.com) and Lauren Dreisbach (ldreisbach@yearick-millea.com) for consideration. No phone calls regarding this position please.