What do Garth Brooks and Chris Gaines, Cee-Lo Green and Gnarls Barkley have to do with your Business?

A gift of being an artist is the ability to express yourself in whatever ways are authentic to you. A gift of being in business is to be able to pivot as the needs/desires of your market and business change. A gift of being a marketer is to be able to make those pivots and forms of expression grow your bottom line.

Circa 1999, I was watching most likely VH1 when a video came on with a man wearing a long black coat with, what I call, that starfish-like haircut that was popular in the late ‘90s. The video had a blueish tint to it and was set at night (if i recall correctly). It looked a bit like Meatloaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” video with somewhat of an alternative rock feel. Among all these quick observations, one detail I noticed especially struck me, “He kind of looks like Garth Brooks.”

I’m from rural Illinois, where it was common to hear Garth Brooks, Shania Twain and so on. “Friends in Low Places” was a family favorite.

This song was different…with a soft, sweet melody, sung in a gentle falsetto—maybe even kind of BabyFace-y, if you will, with a beautiful chorus that stuck with me for years afterward, “Heaven Knows 🎶🎶🎶 I’m head over heels and it shows…”

Turns out, it WAS in deed Garth Brooks who had recorded and filmed the song, “Lost In You,” experimenting with the persona of Chris Gaines. I since found out that it was written by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick, who’ve written songs for Eric Clapton, BabyFace, Blackstreet (Sims), and so many others. I loved it!

I was similarly surprised and impressed when I heard the song “Crazy” for the first time on the radio. I thought, “That sounds like Cee-Lo”, but it had a slightly different sound than his music I’d heard up to that point. It kind of reminded me of the Gorillaz song, “Clint Eastwood”, and had somewhat of an electronica feel. It drew me in. Sure enough, it was Cee-Lo–this time as part of Gnarls Barkley. Again, I was already a fan…became even more of a fan.

So, what does this have to do with your business?

What I appreciate about Garth Brooks and Cee-Lo’s pivots is their willingness to test out markets where they were interested in growing. And to do this they experimented with their style, sound, dress, design, music videos and so much more. I imagine they were already a fan of these genres, and already had fans in these genres. I appreciate them taking the time to figure out how to further express themselves through their art and venture into new markets in their business.

When you’re ready to grow into new markets—where you have a following and want to better serve and connect with those audiences, one of the easiest ways to do this is through your website…but not necessarily your main website. That can serve as your control in this experiment.

To test out a new market, it’s great to use a LANDING PAGE geared towards that audience you want to give more attention to.

You can experiment with tone, copy, design, video, typography and so much more that speaks to your audience, display your key offerings for your target demographic more prominently (or exclusively) and track what resonates and what doesn’t connect.

Landing pages are where your customer “lands” after they’ve found and clicked on your link, whether that’s via your email outreach, search engine ad campaign, social media push, affiliate campaign, etc. With offline campaigns, it would be a site you’ve created specifically for the viewers of that particular campaign. They are versions of your site that you’ve set up with a segment in mind.

With a landing page and an intention to build your firm’s reputation and grow your business in new markets, you can tailor your content to the ideal client of kindred spirits you’re aiming for.

So, you tell me? You know your work.

  • What are you capable of as a designer, as a business owner?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Is there a service you want to build your firm’s reputation for?
  • How are you testing the market?

If you’d like help with this, book a call and we’ll help you re-position your content so that it caters to the market and niche you’re testing.

And, stay tuned! We’ll show you how to build out your content and automate your processes to further engage that market you’re targeting so that you can grow your sales in that market, in a coming post.

SNEAK PEAK at the Real Estate Agent Search Engine Marketing Playbook

What began as a series of explainer screenshots and text message drafts, I’ve crafted into this handy blog post to address the question we get asked from time to time of how search engine marketing (SEM) works for the real estate industry. Is it feasible to even take on SEM, as a real estate agent? Is it possible to have success with it?

As with any industry, the best route to take depends on what your goals are for growth.

Let’s say you are a real estate agent based in Louisville, Ky.

  • So, for example, are you interested in growing your commercial real estate sales?
  • Or, residential? Or, selling more of a particular kind of residential property, like townhomes or condos?
  • Are you wanting to attract more home sellers, rather than buyers? Or, vice versa?
  • Do you want to grow outside of the Louisville market, and how far? Or, into what areas?

It’s important to get specific on what kind of growth you want.

From there, let’s talk strategy. We love a good strategy session.

Large property database sites like Zillow get a lot of attention, right? People look to them for their listings. A major opportunity that I want to emphasize, which I’ll share more about later in this post, is that:

You have an advantage in positioning yourself and your properties in front of interested people simply by keeping your listings up to date and reliable, and emphasizing that in your search engine marketing copy and on your landing pages.

Let’s explore the Google search engine scene together for a moment and the opportunities we encounter along the customer’s journey, using very general search terms.

Of course, when running ads, we’d be specific to what you’ve indicated are your growth goals, whether you want to target buyers or sellers, and to the kinds of houses or services we want to sell the most of, or be known for. We’d use the kind of terms used by customers who most want those services, when they are most ready for them. We call these your ready-to-buy customers.

Here are the results that came up when I typed in “4 br house 2 baths Louisville Ky”:

Notice that Elite Built Homes is running the ad that appears at the top of the results page. That’s the only ad, indicating that there’s little competition on these search terms. Opportunity!

Let’s look at the DC market for a moment, to see what results show up when a different major metropolitan area is mentioned.

Here are some results using the search terms “townhomes DC”. (Notice Redfin is running an ad at the top, emphasizing how often they update listings):

Back to Louisville results, using the search terms “commercial property downtown Louisville Ky” (Notice loopnet.com is running an ad at the top, also emphasizing how often they update their listings and how many listings they have):

Here are results that appear using the search terms “commercial property Louisville KY” (Notice there are no ads running at the top, just a Loopnet ad at the bottom). This could perhaps be an opportunity, as well.

These are the results that appear using the search terms “condos for sale in louisville ky east end” (using a more specific location as part of the terms).

There are several ads running here (at the top and at the bottom of the search results page). These search terms may be more popular, or indicate that people are more ready to buy or look for property. And, you can also see at the bottom some related search terms that people have used.

As you look throughout the results that have come up, you can see real estate database engines like Zillow, Redfin, loopnet and Realtor  promoting themselves on how accurate and timely their listings are, and on how many they have.

It’s encouragement for you to keep your listings up to date, because that’s a major marketing differentiator in this space. Be in those listings conversations, too. It helps you be of service to your customers.

With you they’d get person-to-person contact, someone they can ask questions of, your familiarity with the area, as well as fresh listings (if you keep them up to date).

Let’s look more closely at how Redfin is using the search engine to market. Here’s a search I did simply using the term “redfin”.

Do you see how they’ve tailored what came up for me to my location, and what they think I’d be searching them for (condos for sale, homes for sale, selling without an agent, how to stage a home). It’s useful to see how a popular brand positions their offerings on the search engine results page.

It’s also helpful to see what topics they’ve determined may be of interest to a customer who is possibly interested in buying a home or selling a home (They’re assuming that is why such a customer would be searching for “Redfin” in the first place.)

How-to articles, like the ones they offer here as part of their ad—How to Sell Without an Agent and How to Stage a Home, can be a reference as you determine how you will share your expertise in your ad copy (and any content marketing copy you’re doing, for that matter).

Ad copy that makes an impact caters to:
who the audience is that you want to share your message with;
what stage they are at in the home buying or selling process;
what questions/concerns they have (that you can deduce from your experience working with them).

It helps you showcase your expertise.

So, can SEM work in real estate? Yes, if you’re strategic about it. With study of what heavy hitters are doing in the industry, looking for opportunities and refining your messaging, you can knock it out of the park!

See to your success!

What do Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines, Cee-Lo and Gnarls Barkley have to do with your Architecture Firm?

What do Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines, Cee-Lo and Gnarls Barkley have to do with your Architecture Firm?

Experimentation! They both (Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines and Cee-Lo with Gnarls Barkley) tested the market with what I call niche experiments. And, I support artistic expression and experimentation. I’m proud when artists who are especially known in a particular genre venture into new genres and markets that I imagine that they’ve been singing along to, in their own time, for quite a while. When they share with their audiences and new-to-them audiences styles that they’ve known they had in them all along.

Did you ever see the music video where a man was wearing a long black coat and he kinda looked like Garth Brooks only with longer hair,  in that what I call starfish-like haircut that was popular in the late ‘90s? The video had a blueish tint to it and was set at night (if i recall correctly).  It had a bit of an alternative rock look. The artist’s name was Chris Gaines, and he was singing “Lost In You”.  The song was beautiful. And, it was in deed Garth Brooks singing it, taking on the persona of Chris Gaines. I was already a fan of Garth Brooks’ music, and became even more of a fan when he did a niche experiment into what I consider to be a bit of an alternative and R&B sound.

I was similarly surprised and impressed when I heard the song “Crazy” for the first time on the radio. I thought, “That sounds like Cee-Lo”, but it had a slightly different sound than his music I’d heard up to that point. It kind of reminded me of the Gorillaz song, Clint Eastwood, and had somewhat of an electronica feel.  It drew me in. Sure enough, it was Cee-Lo–this time as part of Gnarls Barkley.  Again, I was already a fan…became even more of a fan.

Swift experimentation is an advantage you have when you’re ready to venture into new markets and see what fans/clients emerge.

A quick and easy way to experiment with niches and test new offerings with your market is with your landing pages.

Landing pages help you experiment.

Landing pages are where your customer “lands” after they’ve found and clicked on your link, whether that’s via your email outreach, search engine ad campaign, social media push, affiliate campaign, etc. With offline campaigns, it would be a site you’ve created specifically for the viewers of that particular campaign. They are versions of your site that you’ve set up with a segment in mind.

With a landing page and an intention to build your firm’s reputation and grow your business in new markets, you can tailor your content to the ideal client of kindred spirits you’re aiming for.

Experimentation. You’re capable of it.

If you’re an architect who’s done transit design, there’s likely a corporate campus in you.

If you’ve done workspace design, you’ve got a set of experience designs or event architecture projects in you.

So, you tell me. You know your work.
What are you capable of as a designer, as a business owner?
Is there a service you want to build your firm’s reputation for?
How are you testing the market?

Book a call with us, and we’ll help you re-position your content so that it caters to the market and niche you’re testing.

And, stay tuned! We’ll show you how to build out your sales funnel around that market you’re targeting, in a coming post.

“When someone hires you to do a $50 million project, they kinda have to trust ya…”

“When someone hires you to do a $50 million project, they kinda have to trust ya…” an architect friend once told me. So, how do you build trust?

Foster trust by demonstrating your expertise and by anticipating and addressing your clients’ needs. Address their questions or concerns and empathize with their mindset. You know your clients’ experience as well as anyone: what they typically ask or want to know when they’re considering working with your firm, or when they’re in the beginning stage of a big project. Meet them there and show off.

And, for other ways to position your firm for growth…

Let’s Start With…

Continue reading ““When someone hires you to do a $50 million project, they kinda have to trust ya…””

The CHEATSHEET on Positioning Your Business for Growth

The first question is, what does growth mean to you and your firm?

Is there a particular service that you want to sell the most of in your firm? Bread-and-butter services that you can always count on to bring in steady  revenue, that you want to sell more of? Do you have a new service that you want to launch? Or, is there a top ticket service you offer that you want to build your firm’s reputation for?

Take a moment and write down what growth means to your firm.

Whatever arena you’re in, there are some low-hanging-fruit commonalities we’ve seen where firms can begin to look for growth opportunities.

Let’s Start With…

Video

Firms that use videos in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster year-over-year than those that don’t. They also enjoy 27% higher click-through rates and 34% higher web conversion rates, compared to non-users. (Aberdeen Group, 2015)

Video of what, you say? Let’s be smart about it. Use this as an opportunity to address your customers’ questions or concerns, or to empathize with their mindset. You know your customers’ experience as well as anyone. You know what they typically ask or want to know when they’re considering working with your firm, or when they’re in the beginning stage of a big project. As an architect once told me, “When someone hires you to do a $50 million project, they kinda have to trust ya…” You know what helps to build trust. Use this video to establish trust, expertise, and to anticipate and address your customers’ needs.

Video is a function of your user experience. Where the video appears on your website and what the video is make a difference, and are influenced by the customer/user flow of or path to your website.

Website UX (User Experience)

We can and will spend a lot more time on this in later posts. For now, we’ll suffice it to say that it’s important to look at your customer touchpoints (a topic that we’ll also go into greater detail about in later posts) along your user path.

So, let’s say, if a person looking for architecture services types the service they’re looking for (that you provide) into Google, will they see your firm? And, if they do, where will they land on your page once they click on the result that they found via the search.  Is that place where they land what we call customer-ready?

Reviews

If a potential client comes across your firm via Google or Houzz, or stumbles across your firm via Yelp, they might as well see something good about your firm when they get there.

Ask your current clients to leave ratings and reviews for you on the sites that you know are popular for your firm. Encourage them to share the experience they’ve had, along with the rating, to give depth and relevance to the rating.

Ask your previous clients to leave reviews as well.

You can do this through your Email List (another area of opportunity).  Do you have one? You most likely do, whether or not you call it that or have it organized as such.  You most likely have kept the contact information you used for the clients you’ve worked with in the past and can reach out to them to ask them to share their experience with the firm.

And, if you have yet to organize this contact info and evolve it into an email list for your firm, now may be a good time to do that. More on how to do that in a later post, as well.

Which brings us to what to do with those stellar reviews, once you’ve gathered them.

Testimonials

Put those shining reviews on your website, displayed prominently. Past and current clients will most likely say something that will help a potential client make the decision to work with you. Keep up with and showcase these testimonials that highlight how your firm helped make your client’s project a success.

These are some ideas to get you started.

Remember the growth that you identified earlier that you want for your firm? We’re here to help you see it through.

Book a call with us, and we’ll help you get there sooner rather than later.

Can SEM Work in Real Estate? Of Course!

What began as a series of explainer screenshots and text message drafts, I’ve crafted into this handy blog post to address the question we get asked from time to time of how search engine marketing (SEM) works for the real estate industry. Is it feasible to even take on SEM, as a realtor? Is it possible to have success with it?

As with any industry, the best route to take depends on what your goals are for growth.

Let’s say you are a real estate agent based in Louisville, Ky.

    • So, for example, are you interested in growing your commercial real estate sales?
    • Or, residential? Or, selling more of a particular kind of residential property, like townhomes or condos?
    • Are you wanting to attract more home sellers, rather than buyers? Or, vice versa?
    • Do you want to grow outside of the Louisville market, and how far? Or, into what areas?

It’s important to get specific on what kind of growth you want.

From there, let’s talk strategy. We love a good strategy session.

Large property database sites like Zillow get a lot of attention, right? People look to them for their listings. A major opportunity that I want to emphasize, which I’ll share more about later in this post, is that:

You have an advantage in positioning yourself and your properties in front of interested people simply by keeping your listings up to date and reliable, and emphasizing that in your search engine marketing copy and on your landing pages.

Continue reading “Can SEM Work in Real Estate? Of Course!”

[DRAFT] What do Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines, Cee-Lo and Gnarls Barkley have to do with your Architecture Firm?

 

I am from rural Illinois, where it was quite easy to encounter and become familiar with Garth Brooks’ music. My father used to like the song, “Friends In Low Places”. Garth Brooks has a great voice, and I enjoy songs like “To Make You Feel My Love” from Hope Floats.

One time a video came on TV of a man in a long black coat, who looked like Garth Brooks, but had longer hair, kind of in that what I call starfish-like haircut that was popular in the late 90s. The video had a blueish tint to it and was set at night (if i recall correctly).  It was like he was going for an alternative rock look. The artist’s name was Chris Gaines, and he was singing “Lost In You”.  The song was beautiful.  And, it was in deed Garth Brooks singing it, taking on the persona of Chris Gaines.

For a long time, I felt like, “Did anyone else see that?”

And then later when I was in college, my good friend and I were talking while she was doing my hair; and somehow we got on the subject of Chris Gaines. We both had really liked the song.

I respect his decision to experiment with a new sound. I wonder what he must have felt he was capable of as an artist and even interested in, and what he must sing to himself in his own time and space (how, if it all, it may differ from the brand, market and genre that he is often associated with) that was so strong that it would make him want to express that in his art that he shared publicly with the world. And, I empathize with his effort to figure out how to do that.

I remember hearing the song “Crazy” for the first time on the radio, and thinking, “That sounds like Cee-Lo”, but it had a slightly different sound than the music of his that I had heard up to that point. It kind of reminded me of Gorillaz’s song, Clint Eastwood.  And, I was curious about it. It drew me in.

The lyrics spoke to me and still, as Cee-Lo’s voice tends to, made me feel like everything is and is going to be all right.

Experimentation

You’re capable of it.
I’ll tell you this right now, from looking at your website…

If you’ve done transit design, there’s a corporate campus  in you.

If you’ve done workspace design, you’ve got a set of experience designs or event architecture projects in you.

You tell me. You know your work as well as anybody. What are you capable of as a designer? Is there a service you want to build your firm’s reputation for?

Now, how do you get yourself in to that market?

Well, does your brand need a haircut or a new hairdo, or a new sound?
Does your brand need to emphasize or de-emphasize this or that feature?

Landing pages help you experiment.

They help you reach in to other markets (if that’s what you want to do), and still keep your foundational essence.

They offer another way of branding and an opportunity to showcase your work differently.

Same talents. Different use of them.

They help you be agile and nimble in this field where there are so many uses of and ways to express your talents, this field that you are uniquely suited for.

They both tested the market.

Swift experimentation is a benefit you have as a business owner in these times. You can test your market, see what resonates and remove or tweak what doesn’t.

One of the quickest and simplest ways to do this is with your landing pages, or where the customer lands on your website after they’ve found and clicked on your link in the digital universe. How they happen upon your link, we’ll explore more in a later post.

But, what they see when they hit the link, is where

Positioning Your Architecture Firm for Growth

Perhaps the first question is, what does growth mean to you and your firm?

Is there a particular service that you want to sell the most of in your firm? Bread-and-butter services that you can always count on to bring in steady  revenue, that you want to sell more of? Do you have a new service that you want to launch? Or, is there a top ticket service you offer that you want to build your firm’s reputation for?

Take a moment and write down what growth means to your firm.

Whether you’re in the arena of commercial, residential, civic, educational or hospitality architecture, or historic preservation, there are some low-hanging-fruit commonalities we’ve seen where architecture firms can begin to look for growth opportunities.

Let’s Start With…

Continue reading “Positioning Your Architecture Firm for Growth”

Refueling your campaign

One of the most mishaps people do daily with today’s campaign is they set it and forget it. Most people get caught to thinking that the lack of daily monitoring of a campaign has little to any effect on a campaign.

Oh contrair montair, the opposite is true. Due to the fact that today’s market movers move with switching daily trends and news cycles, it takes a special care to make sure that your message stays align as the current around it is pulling the industry or market any-which-a-way.

Continue reading “Refueling your campaign”

Math Intros. Smoking Colors

We like progressive brands. Brands that find their way in the market of greatness. Architech and Founder of Smoking Colors sat down with us and had a few candid conversations about how and social media marketing is being pushed the way it is and ways people have as real options for turning around their product. We sat out side MRGMXMM and the follow are a few photos as a result.

Continue reading “Math Intros. Smoking Colors”