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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

Vol. 99: Listen Up Marketers: Listening is Essential

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Vol 99

Listen Up Marketers: Listening is Essential

Consumer trends are constantly shifting, making marketing a delicate and ever-changing process. Modern consumers are incredibly discerning, quick to research brands before committing to purchases, and have more choice and buying power than any previous generation.

It’s essential to convey your brand’s authenticity and tell a story that captures your target audience’s attention and imagination, but it’s equally important to know when to step back and really listen to your audience.

Modern Consumers Want Personal Connection and Memorable Interactions

Bad Listeners in Business Meeting

Do you consider yourself a good listener? Or are you just very good at pretending to listen while you wait for your turn to talk? Think carefully about this and then apply this question to your brand’s marketing. Are you developing the content you think your audience wants, or are you paying close attention to what they say to you and other brands in your niche?

Good listening is different from good hearing; it’s one thing to hear what another person says and repeat it back, but listening is another thing entirely. To make a truly profound and valuable impression upon your market audience, you need to develop a conversation with them.

Want to take a deeper dive on the subject of becoming a better listener?

Create Dialogue with Your Customers

Today, the brands that succeed in their markets are the ones that take the time to get to know their target customers on a deeper level. They generate content that not only appeals to their interests and needs, but also resonates with them. They reach out to their customers to learn more about their goals and expectations for doing business with certain brands.

Social media and email marketing are two of the most valuable channels you have when it comes to gathering information directly from your customers. Take time to develop thought-provoking questions and try to go above and beyond when it comes to crafting answers to your customers’ thoughts and concerns.

Honing your ability to listen to your audience will not only help them recognize the value your brand offers, but also enable your brand to serve your target market’s needs even better.

Need help becoming a better listener?

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Increase Productivity

8 Steps to Increase Productivity Before 10am

Here are some tips to make it through the work day… and don’t stress. You won’t become more productive overnight. But these small adjustments will help you get on the right path.

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Vol. 98: Create Popular, Ranking Blog Posts by Following the Right Approach

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Vol 98

Everyone wants to reach that coveted spot at the top of the Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Is it possible for your company, or are those spots only reserved for the biggest of businesses?

The truth is that any business (yes, including yours!) can have a popular ranking post with the right approach.

Here’s the Lowdown:

  • Start with a template. An easy to fill blog template will help you organize your thoughts, choose the right keywords, and take the other steps necessary to create content that is optimized for Google Search. We have a template that you can follow for keyword research, blog creation, on-page SEO checks, and editing!
  • Use the right tools. There are plenty of free tools available to help you with keyword research, on-page SEO checks, and more. We like SEMRush for keyword research and blog optimization.
  • Use images and screen captures. Having images not only makes your content more interesting to read, it also helps you look better in a search engine’s eyes.
  • Gather contributor quotes. Using quotes from influencers in your field helps with your social media (people want to share things they’re quoted in!) and makes for good networking.
  • Check your work! Always be sure to run your finished blog through an online SEO checker like SEMRush. You’ll get a ranked score and have opportunities to improve right from your Google Doc.
  • It’s time to publish! You have researched, written, and edited your blog for clarity and optimization. Now, disseminate it through multiple channels to expand your reach. Think beyond just your blog and share to social media channels, LinkedIn, Medium, and via email blast.

Writing a popular ranking blog post takes time and planning (and we mean a lot of planning). Want to know everything there is to know about writing a blog post that ranks well? Follow our step by step guide and use all the tools we have to make the process easier.

Now you’re ready to create your popular ranking blog post – download our blog template and get started!

Nab This Sexy Blog Template


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How to Write A Ranking Blog Post

How To Write a Popular Ranking Blog Post

Following a specific approach to content writing can help you make the most of your content marketing efforts. Here, you’ll learn how to start a blog and create content that helps improve your online visibility.

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Our approach is simple: Help our clients to attract leads, convert customers and create brand promoters with strategic website marketing services, including…

Premium Website Blogging

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Like optimized website content, high-quality blog posts help to refine your brand, connect to customers and improve search engine rankings. Whether your blog posts act as assets for weekly social media sharing or double as informative sales tools, a blog producing consistently superb copy helps to establish your company as a subject matter expert in your industry.

  • Deeply Researched Blog Content
  • Fully Optimized for Engines and Users
  • Custom Designed and Socially Shared

Learn More

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Vol. 97: The Value of Frequent ‘Google My Business’ Updates

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Newsletter Vol. 97 Dec 2019

Keeping your dynamic business page fresh and engaged should be a priority. Here’s Why.

Do you have a Google My Business page? If so, you likely already know that it is a boon for your Local SEO. But are you leveraging it to its full potential?

Like any other aspect of running your business, maintaining your Google My Business Page can require a lot of time and effort – but it is well worth it. Since most customers see information about your business via Google and GMB, it is essential to update and monitor your page as frequently as necessary.

Why Update Your GMB Page?

To the casual, local user, GMB is the destination central for learning more about your business, including directions, reviews, and even looking at photos of your establishment and products or services. For some industries, such as hotels, GMB allows you to look at services and available amenities that people can see directly in their Google Maps app.

Since GMB is constantly evolving, it is important to continually monitor your business page and provide updates frequently. Here’s why:

  • You want people to find you. GMB is one of the single most important factors when it comes to people looking for your business locally. Making sure your content is optimized for search and that you have accurate location data is essential.
  • You want (good) reviews. Your customer reviews and rankings help affect your online reputation as well as how well you rank. Addressing fake or spam-like reviews through consistent monitoring will only help.
  • GMB updates its algorithms frequently. Google is always adding new features that can help your local SEO. Knowing what these are and making updates to your listings accordingly will help you stay ahead of the curve.
  • You can use GMB to increase conversions. Updating your listing to reflect short-term sales and special events can turn the casual observer into a paying customer.

So how often should you update your GMB page, exactly? There is no ideal answer, though most experts will recommend searching for big changes or spammy reviews daily. For business owners who don’t have enough time to monitor their own listings, that’s where we come in. 🙂

We can help keep your listing and fresh and as up-to-date as possible.

 

Let Us Keep Your GMB Up to Date

 

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“Businesses that monitor and update their GMB pages have a distinct advantage over those that do not.” – Adam Dorfman, Search Engine Land


From the Eminent Team

Our approach is simple: Help our clients to attract leads, convert customers and create brand promoters with strategic website marketing services, including…
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Local Marketing Services

Local marketing doesn’t stop at adding geographical locations to your keywords. Successful engagement with the community as a whole can represent priceless opportunities to solidify your growing brand and draw in new customers. Whether it’s connecting with regional business organizations or coverage by local news organizations, Eminent SEO can offer the local marketing services that help your company expand its reach.

  • Google My Business Optimization and Management
  • Premium Yelp Business Listings
  • Local Citation and Review Development

Let Us Keep Your GMB Up to Date

 

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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ADA Compliance – Is Your Website Up To Snuff?

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What Does It Take to Have an ADA Compliant Website?

Nearly one in four adults in the United States has a disability that impacts activities of daily life. While most business owners know that federal law mandates physical accessibility and covers structures such as wheelchair ramps and counter heights, many overlook the fact that the internet should be accessible to all as well. Which laws cover compliance? How can you make your website more accessible to the disabled?

Which Law Covers Compliance?

Accessibility for individuals affected by a disability has a historically been the center of discussion and a point of contention in the United States. Many businesses and government entities chose to provide accessible entrances and other features on their properties to enable those with disabilities to access their facilities. Yet, others remained unaware of the physical barriers provided by features of their buildings or ignored the difficulties experienced by people unable to utilize facilities and services due to their disabilities.

ADA LogoThe Americans With Disabilities Act, instituted in 1990, addressed these difficulties. In the same spirit as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Act – otherwise known as the ADA – recognized the rights of disabled people to gain access to businesses, government entities, and public spaces. The Act requires most organizations to provide reasonable accommodations for employees and public individuals to access their facilities.

As a result of the ADA, organizations began to install the wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and other physical accommodations we have grown accustomed to. The changes provided access to many businesses, services, and products formerly unavailable to disabled people. However, one thing nobody anticipated in 1990 was the eventual rise of the internet.

The Internet Added a New Dimension to ADA Compliance

Since 1990, the internet has become a central part of the lives of many Americans. People use the internet for entertainment, research, business, and much more. While the necessity of getting online and using a website to accomplish a task was not something that was crucial to survival in the 90’s, times have certainly changed. Now – perhaps particularly for disabled individuals who experience difficulty leaving home to accomplish business – online accessibility is a legitimate concern.

In its original language, the ADA required every organization to provide equal access to its facilities and resources for disabled persons. Now that millions of people nationwide utilize the internet to shop and accomplish business and personal tasks, among many other things, it stands to reason that organizations’ online services should remain accessible as well. As the ADA has evolved, undergoing changes as recently as 2018, some changes apply to internet accessibility.

ADA Compliance – Disability Stats

ADA Is Not Specific

Title III of the ADA states that although the original ADA does not mention websites, its stipulations regarding equal accessibility should apply to web access for sites that provide public services. As such, the writers of the ADA have provided Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, to provide recommendations for organizations to make their websites more accessible.

Other than these guidelines, however, the ADA provides no specific law requiring all business websites to maintain ADA compliance. In short, there are not laws in place requiring you to format your commercial business site in any way. However, in recent years, a series of lawsuits and their associated rulings have begun to shape how businesses should go about providing accessibility.

Tips For an ADA Compliant Website

Although your business may not be required by law to format your website to adhere to certain standards, ADA compliance can help you avoid litigation in the future. In addition, it is simply good business practice Follow these suggestions for maintaining ADA compliance:

  • Ensure your site can be navigated by keyboard. Multiple disabilities make accessing your site via mouse or touchscreen impossible. In addition, some third-party accessibility accommodations utilize keyboard navigation to work effectively. Thus, your website should be fully functional with keyboard-only commands.
  • Provide enlargement features. Users of your site must be able to easily enlarge text and media features for use on a standard screen or third-party accessible screen. Primarily, you must ensure your content can be enlarged up to 200% without requiring your users to scroll horizontally or breaking up content.
  • Add alt tags for media files. An alt tag allows a user unable to understand a media feature on your page – whether photo, video, or audio file – to access a description of the content behind the tag. When your users click on or mouse over an alt tag, it will provide a description of the contents of the media file as well as its purpose on the page. The description could be audio for those unable to view a photo, or text based for those unable to hear an audio file.
  • Add transcripts for media content. In addition to alt tags, provide full text transcripts for video and audio files. Deaf and hard of hearing people are unable to access the content of these formats, but can read transcripts.
  • Optimize header code. Your site’s header code should provide vital information about the language used on the page. Disabled users utilizing text readers depend on header code to identify the language used so that the text reader is prepared to read in the proper language.
  • Ensure website availability across all devices. Whether a disabled user is utilizing a computer, smartphone, tablet, or other accessibility device to navigate your site, all portions of your site should be available on all devices. It is crucial to ensure your website loads and all features and subpages are fully navigable.
  • Provide accessibility instructions. In the event that users experience access issues – primarily input issues – when attempting to navigate your site, provide on-screen suggestions for other approaches. Such instructions should be automatic, clear, and easy to follow.
  • Ensure your website is easy to navigate. In general, taking care to organize your site in a way that makes access intuitive is important for any user’s experience. Arrange clickable links, buttons, and features like menus so that any user is able to determine which features to select, and clearly distinguish separate site features from one another. Finally, ensure your color and text style selections are easy to read for users of all ranges of vision.
  • Provide accessible documents. Any documents or files users download from your site should be provided in multiple formats, including HTML, .pdf, and .rtf for access by third party accessibility programs and devices.

While commercial business operators may not yet have a stringent set of requirements for access, providing accessibility accommodations is just good practice. As the legal boundaries of ADA compliance change, it is essential that you provide access to your site to all your users, in order to ensure you stay ahead of the compliance game.

Talk to Us About Making Your Website ADA Compliant

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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What Is a Local Citation?

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What Is a Local Citation

If you are a business owner in your community, you have probably heard about something called a local citation. You may have wondered what this term means. In simple terms, a local citation is any mention of your business on the internet. They can range from a partial citation such as a mention of your company name all the way to a complete citation that includes the company name, address, and phone number.

Does a Citation Need to Include a Link?

While a link back to your website within a citation can be helpful in giving your website an extra data point for search engines, it is not necessary in a local citation. Even without the link back to your website, the Google algorithm will still identify that your company was mentioned through the local citation information and give you credit for the mention. The more often your company is mentioned other websites, the greater your local ranking will be on search engines.

Structured Citation

These citations are located in a business listing directory such as:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Mapquest
  • Yellowpages
  • Superpages
  • Any other online directory such as your local chamber of commerce website

These citations will include the most information about your business such as the company name, address, phone number, website, and even directions or a map to your location.

Yelp and Facebook also include an option for customer of your business to leave reviews or comments regarding your products or service. These reviews are often used by potential customers or clients when deciding whether or not to visit your establishment.

Unstructured Citations

An unstructured citation is simply a mention of your business information on any website that is not a business directory. There are many places to find unstructured citations such as:

  • Blogs
  • Magazine sites
  • Newspaper sites
  • Wikis

Unstructured citations may include a blog about your products or services or even a mention of special deals your company is currently offering.

They may include a phone number or website link in addition to your company name but, this information is not required as long as your company name is mentioned.

Why Are Local Citations Important?

Local MapThere are two main reasons that local citations are extremely important for your business. The first is to verify that your business exists to search engines such as Google. If the only mention of your business comes from your own website, many search engines will struggle to verify that you have a legitimate business. By having your company name mentioned on other reputable websites, the search engines can easily verify that your business exists.

Local citations will also help you to establish prominence for your business in search engine algorithms. Have you ever wondered how search engines rank the pages that are displayed at the top of the results list? The algorithms for these search engines factor in citations when ranking local search results. The more citations your company has on the web, the higher your company’s listing will rank in search results. The key to ranking higher in the search results is to get your company name and information mentioned as often as possible throughout a variety of websites.

Are Some Citations More Important Than Others?

While having your company name mentioned anywhere will help you, having it mentioned on certain websites will help more. For example, having your company mentioned on the white house website will be more beneficial than having it mentioned on a small-scale blog. Citation value is separated into different classifications of importance.

Core Search Engines

Search engines are not distributors of business data. They receive the data and categorize it when determining how to display the information in search results. These include Google, Bing, and Apple Maps.

Primary Data Sources

These are the data collectors that verify information from a variety of sources and distribute the information to other sites. They include InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.

Tier 1

Tier 1 sites are the prominent sites on Google and are often used by people who are searching for businesses. There are two types of sites listed in tier 1, generic and Hyper-Local and Niche sites.

Generic Sites

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Yellowpages
  • BBB

Hyper-Local and Niche

  • Lawyers.com
  • Avvo
  • Denver.com
  • Physics.org

Tier 2

Tier 2 sites are still prominent on Google search results but may be lesser known such as:

  • Yellowbook
  • Merchant Circle
  • HotFrog

Tier 3

These sites are not frequently listed in Google searches and are not very well known by the general public.

  • Yellowise
  • Local Database
  • My Local Services

Tier 4

These sites have a very low authority and are rarely heard of.

  • IGotBiz.com
  • UnitedStatesSeek.com

When looking at citation options to get your business more attention from search engines, it is important to consider the quality of the citation.

Consistency Is Important

local citation mobileWhen it comes to local citations, it is important that each citation for your company lists accurate information. To do this, you will want to look at each site that features a citation for your business and make sure that there is only one listing and that the listing contains accurate information about your business. You will want to focus most of your attention on the Core Search Engines, Primary Data Sources, and Tier 1 sites. You should then verify your tier 2 citations as well to ensure accuracy within those sites. Tier 3 and 4 are the lowest priority when verifying citation accuracy as they will not make or break your SEO.

How to Build Local Citations

There are five important steps to follow when creating citations for your business. It is important to follow all five steps to ensure the best possible results.

Step 1 - Email Address

To create listings for your business you will first need an email address. It is always recommended when doing anything related to your company to use a company email address rather than your personal email address. This means an email address that is associated with your company’s domain not a Gmail or Yahoo address. Having a company domain email address will cause your listings to be more trusted and more likely to go live after creation.

Step 2 - NAP Consistancy

Be sure that your name, address, and phone number are the same on every site that your listing appears. The formatting may be different on individual sites and that is fine as long as the information contained in the listing is correct. Check to make sure no numbers have been inverted or swapped in the address and phone number fields and that there are no spelling errors in the company and street name. These errors may cause your listing to be less trustworthy and delay it going live.

Step 3 - Categorization

Read through all category choices and choose the ones that best describe the type of business you own. Then be sure to select the same categories on each site you are posting the listing to. This consistency will make it easier for search engines to verify your business and see that it is a legitimate company.

Step 4 - Details

Add as much detail as you can without going overboard. You can add photos, your logo, a description of your company, hours of operation, contact information for social media accounts and much more.

Step 5 - Verification

Claim your listing. Once you have created the listing on a site, most will ask you to verify the listing before allowing it to go live. This verification process will be done via email or phone. For phone verification, the company will call your business and request that you enter a pin number you had previously received or give you a pin number to enter online. Verified listings have more authority and a higher level of trust.

 

Finding Citation Sources

There are a few ways you can go about finding citation sources for your company listing. Which option you choose will depend on how much time and money you have to devote to the project.

Hire a Company

If you have the money to invest in the project but lack the time to do it yourself, hiring a company to do the legwork for you is a great option. These companies will find the most reliable citation sources for businesses in your local area and compile a list of the top citation sources for your local area.

Search for Citation Sources

You may also choose to search for citation sources on your own. This process can be lengthy but the rewards for your company will be great. Begin by finding the top national citation sources. These may include:

  • Google My Business
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • MapQuest
  • Citysearch
  • MerchantCircle

Once you have compiled this list of national listing sites, you can then look for citations based on your business category and location. Begin a search that contains your company type, city, and state.

Review that results of other citations for similar businesses. You can do this a general search or search out specific competitors and review their citations. This will help you to determine which direction to go while creating your own citations. You can accomplish this by searching for the following:

  • (city) Business directory
  • (city) Directory
  • (city) Business Listings
  • (keyword) Directory
  • (keyword) Business Directory
  • (keyword) Business Listings

map mobileWhen determining how to best optimize your local SEO, citations are considered one of the basic foundations for any company. Citations should be created before you focus on engagement, content, and link building. One of the greatest parts of local citations is that you never have to worry about them again unless any part of your business information changes. These changes may include moving to a new location, new phone number, make changes to the company name, etc. If any of these things occur, it is important to update your citation listings to maintain the most accurate information.

Get Help with Local Marketing

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How to Gain Public Support for Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

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How to Gain Public Support for Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

Business owners and the employees that work in the medical marijuana community may not think about whether they have public support for their marijuana dispensary. And why should they when the primary focus is on serving the people who already find value in their products and services. But there’s a larger picture here that affects the long term livelihood of any cannabis-based company and it’s centered around neighborhood sentiment about the industry as a whole. If this speaks to you, without the support of local municipalities, businesses, and the people who live nearby, your marijuana business won’t have a leg to stand on.

Know the Legal Challenges of Marketing Marijuana

Enthusiasm is great when you want to open your doors with the intention of serving the public well. But intention doesn’t pay the bills; your customers help you do that. The playing field for the cannabis industry is tightly woven with regulations and laws that may have loopholes for constructing workarounds, if you can find them.

Although marijuana laws differ from state to state and invariably with the federal level as well, following specific laws pertinent to your state of business is paramount to setting yourself up for success. And while some states may seem to have more forgiving or gracious pathways to starting a cannabis business, government strategies have long been set up in a manner that won’t be in your favor.

This is why you need to hire legal experts in marijuana, real estate, and intellectual property.

Online Aspects

There are intricacies involved in the medical marijuana industry that don’t enter into any other business. And if your cannabis business is going to have a website, which it should, intellectual property may be involved. In addition, since the marketing of marijuana has other laws that must be abided by (especially when marketing products for sale online), you’ll need to know what you can say and visually display, and what you can’t. An attorney with expertise in cannabis will know how to properly draft the terms and conditions of your website, as well as what’s needed in the physical location of your operation.

Real Estate Aspects

Searching for and securing the right space for your marijuana business can be a lofty battle, likened to a chess game that you’re stepping into – with a deficit.

It isn’t about knowing what you need today to run effectively and efficiently, but foreseeing your needs one, three, and five years down the road. Even if you’re looking to rent space from a property owner, (if they are good with your business model) adjustments will most likely be required to accommodate your needs. Tenant improvements can easily be worked into the lease agreement. But unless you’re taking up an entire strip center or planning on being housed in a standalone facility, you will have to share your intentions with nearby tenants, property owners and homeowners.

This is where the challenges can come at you from all sides. We witnessed this in Phoenix, Arizona.

Embrace the Negative Nancys

A desired location for a medical marijuana dispensary is more than just logistics. The property has to come with the right zoning. If it doesn’t, a zoning variance is required. This is where it gets sticky. To prepare for the zoning hearing, other public meetings will take place designed to help the cannabis business acquire positive sentiment behind their proposed zoning variance request.

Here’s what can happen, and does.

By proposing your cannabis enterprise to the local residents (business and homes) you will be opening yourself, your personal and business brand, to a litany of ridicule and judgment. Not everyone is an advocate of what you do. In fact, there remains a lot of fear about it in the minds of many naysayers.

Marijuana Dispensary Marketing Tips

To have a viable shot at easing their fears, perhaps even removing them, give them a forum to speak. Make sure you listen to them. What the naysayers will tell you often provides the clues to what you’ll need to do to quell their negativity. If you can do that, they are less likely to show up at the zoning variance hearing and derail your plans for occupancy.

If a nearby homeowner is concerned about his family’s welfare and the risks that a cannabis store might bring, explain the characteristics of your security protocols. If privacy is an issue (should neighboring property back or side to the proposed cannabis shop location) discuss how to remedy it by adding height on an existing perimeter wall. Share your operating hours with them and come up with a plan that everyone can live with.

Marijuana Industry Advocacy Is a Full Time Job

Just like in any industry, not everyone is going to love you. But staying cognizant of potential setbacks fueled by misinformation or unflattering public sentiments will help you avert the same.

Top Tips for Public Support in Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

Public relations will have an impact on marijuana dispensary marketing, be it good or bad. To arm yourself and create a strategy ahead of time, you’ll need to map out potential challenges. Once you’ve identified them, generate a list of solutions for each challenge. This will save you time, energy, and money because you’re eliminating prospective setbacks to your business launch that would come with being positioned on the defensive, instead of the offensive stance.

Tips to Stay On Top of the Public Outcry

  • Stay current on state marijuana laws
  • Stay current on local legislation
  • Know key players in local government who are marijuana advocates
  • Forge positive relationships with other business owners who will speak well of you
  • Attend community and charity events
  • Host neighborhood meetings to show local support
  • Retain solid legal representation who knows the marijuana industry
  • Partner with a marijuana dispensary marketing agency
  • Keep facility security and employee professionalism as a priority

The Sweet Spot between Outreach and Off the Grid

It’s been said that people can’t criticize you if they don’t know you exist. True. But with easy access to people, places, and all the what-ifs and what-fors that fall within them, a point, click or swipe on social media makes staying silent a virtual impossibility, pun intended.

While it may be an initial preference to keep your cannabis business on the down low, it’s not a strategy that will give you any traction and credibility. If you want to be a leader within your community, take on what’s necessary to get you ahead, use the existing laws and regulations to your advantage, and leave the rest behind.

See How Public Support and Strategic Marijuana Dispensary Marketing Go Hand in Hand

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A Guide to Getting Started with Instagram Sponsored Posts

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If you are a business owner or marketer, you know that social media is one of the top ways to interact with potential customers and get your brand out into the public eye. You have probably used Facebook to interact with existing and potential customers, and likely have heard of Instagram as an advertising and interaction platform.

Did you know that there are 1 billion active users monthly on Instagram? Of those 1 billion, at least half are engaging with not only friends, but with brands, too. Instagram users actually engage with brands 10 times more than they do on Facebook.

Using Instagram properly can make a huge difference in the engagement levels your business sees each month. One way to increase your brand awareness is through Instagram sponsored posts.

What Are Instagram Sponsored Posts?

Instagram sponsored posts are organic posts made by you on the Instagram platform that you can then use as an advertisement for your brand, so long as you put money behind it. Unlike traditional advertisements, you will use an existing organic post and all of its engagement to reach more Instagram users.

These will look like any regular Instagram post, but will say “Sponsored” next to your company’s name. Like this:

If you want to be able to target a specific audience, you should make use of true promoted posts. These posts will only appear on the Instagram platform. But, you can target them to a specific audience based on age, location and interests. You can add your website URL and even an action button to help drive potential customers to your website.

If you want to run engagement-oriented sponsored posts, you can choose a past Instagram post from your profile and use the targeting options that are available for typical Facebook and Instagram ads. The benefit of this type of sponsored post is that all engagement on and off platform will be transferred to the original post while the sponsored post is running. This increases your user-generated content (USG) and helps to spread the word of your brand.

How Are Sponsored Posts Different than Other Types of Instagram Ads?

Promoted and sponsored posts both focus on promoting existing posts as they currently are. This includes all user-generated content. Other types of Instagram ads focus on brand awareness, lead generation, conversions and traffic.

These ads will create new posts even if you are using the same image and caption as an existing post; they will not carry over comments left by users in the past on similar/identical posts. By creating a blank slate, you can’t capitalize on the engagement that exists on the original post.

When you initially create your sponsored post, you will be asked what the objective is for that post. You can choose from the following options:

  • Traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • App installs
  • Messages
  • Video views
  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Store visits

The option you choose will determine who sees your ad. Both Instagram and Facebook will only show your ad to people their algorithms identify as most likely to take your desired actions. This means you may have a hard time getting more engagement while also getting new leads by creating just one sponsored post.

Creating Instagram Sponsored Posts in Ads Manager on Facebook

Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can create sponsored posts that can populate both platforms. The Ads Manager is extremely easy to use when creating a sponsored post.

Narrow or Broad Target Audience?

First, you will go to Facebook’s Create Ad page and choose “engagement” as your objective. Once you have chosen your objective, you will then begin choosing your targeting:

  • You may choose to create a narrow target audience if your brand will appeal to only a certain type of person.
  • Or you may choose to keep your targeted audience as broad and general as you can.

This choice depends on your brand and to whom the sponsored post would be most relevant.

While having a broad and general audience may allow you to reach a higher number of individuals with your sponsored post, having a more narrowed target audience may just get you more engagement on the post coming from individuals who are truly interested in your brand and what you have to offer them.

What to Post, Where to Post

Once you have chosen your target audience, you will need to choose your placement and determine how much you want to invest in this sponsored post. Choosing the correct platforms will affect whether people will be able to view likes, comments and shares. This can affect the overall engagement the sponsored post generates.

Once you have handled all the logistics of the post, it is time for the fun part: choosing your creative. This is the step where you review all of your previous Instagram posts and determine which organic post you would like to use as a sponsored post. In many cases, you will have a similar post on both Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you select the Instagram version of the post.

The final step is to review your ad and submit it. During this process, you will want to check that you have chosen the correct post, the correct target audience and the correct objective for this sponsored post.

When Should You Create Sponsored Posts on Instagram?

Instagram sponsored posts are not ideal for every situation; whether you should use sponsored posts or the traditional ad system will depend on your ultimate objective for this campaign. Are you looking to simply get more attention to your brand, convert engagement into profit, or increase local store traffic? Then a traditional ad may be a better option.

However, there are four cases when a sponsored post can reap benefits for your brand and business:

  • Shoppable Posts: Instagram allows business owners to tag a product in their images and create a link for users to purchase a product they like immediately. These posts only work on mobile and the Instagram platform, so you will want to use sponsored posts with Instagram-only placements.
  • More Brand Awareness and Visibility: Even brick-and-mortar companies can benefit from sponsored posts on Instagram. These posts can raise the awareness of your brand while allowing you to engage with current and potential customers. This engagement level can lead new customers to your store.
  • Accumulating More User-Generated Content: Again, using an organic post with plenty of user-generated content will gain you more UGC on a sponsored post. When people see posts that already have a ton of UGC, they are more likely to take notice of the content of your post.
  • Leverage Your Existing UGC: Chances are you have at least one post that is doing really well in the engagement department. If this is the case, you should consider using this post in a sponsored campaign, as it will likely do well with a larger audience. As a bonus, the user-generated content it has already earned will carry over into the sponsored post.

Sponsored Posts and Traditional Ads Can Go Hand in Hand

Instagram sponsored posts in conjunction with traditional Instagram Ads can help you reach a diverse set of goals for your business. Traditional ads serve to drive specific actions, while sponsored posts are available to boost the momentum of your existing organic posts. When getting started, you should test out both and see which works best for your individual business needs. You will likely see differences in the way your audience responds to each type.

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Why Arizona Employers Put Employees and Clients at Risk

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Why Arizona Employers Put Employees and Clients at Risk

Small to midsize business owners, and for their employees who work in account service in some capacity, meeting with clients and customers to do a face-to-face can serve a multitude of purposes. It can get you fired or end the business relationship. It can provide you the opportunity to upsell products and services, or renegotiate a current contract. It can give you the opportunity to ditch the office and head out to a spectator sport or go for a round on the golf course. But for all the benefits behind wanting to meet your client in-person, most of us in Arizona never even consider the reasons not to. Here’s something to think about before you step into a conference room:

Are employers and their clients aware of guns in the workplace?

What Lurks Behind Company Doors Can Kill You

Now I’ve got you thinking… about the last time you set foot in your office, their office, or maybe the last pitch you gave to a business prospect. You see, we all take a lot for granted when we step into the workplace, whether it’s a warehouse, retail center, office complex, high rise, or somewhere in the field. We take our safety for granted because we assume the environment is safe. And you know what they say about the word ass-u-me

Imagine sitting in the reception area of your favorite client’s headquarters. Just because they require a fob for entry, or there’s a sign-in sheet that gives you the right to enter by signature, doesn’t mean the employees and third-parties in tow are: 1. Reasonable human beings and, 2. without a weapon.

It’s the negligence of people and flaws in the law that put us all at risk.

Why Violence in the Workplace

Why Violence in the Workplace Contrary to popular belief, statistics for U.S. places of work show that most homicides are related to domestic violence, robberies or suicides (the latter may have a lot to do with the opioid crisis and subsequent accidental overdoses). From here, the types of work place further segments this statistic. For example, convenience store workers and their customers have a 7x increased risk for on the job death than other types of companies.

Unless you work from home and never have a need to interact with people (other than in the digital space) there are dangers in where we work, some known, others not so much.

There’s a strange subliminal code that we, unwittingly and subconsciously, are supposed to buy into and it is based on the premise of trust. We use trust in our personal relationships (if you don’t you better check yourself) and usually apply it in one of two ways:

  • Trust but verify
  • Trust is earned

Though the above characteristics of applied trust don’t always align in the workplace, maybe they should. In Arizona, and many other states, we seem to favor the right to bear arms over safety. Here’s how.

Arizona Gun Laws at Work

If you’re a gun enthusiast, you may already know some of these stats. For those who don’t, this will be eye-opening.

Gun Ownership in Arizona

  • 325,421 active licenses to carry a concealed weapon (CCW)
  • 37 other states will honor Arizona CCW

Yeah. That’s a lot of firearms power. There are stipulations in place to get an AZ CCW, though not prohibitive for most.

Required for an Arizona CCW gun permit:

  • Cost for permit – $60.00
  • Duration before expiration – 5 years
  • Minimum age of applicant – 21
  • Lawfully in the U.S.
  • Arizona residency OR U.S. citizen
  • Completion of approved U.S. firearms training course
  • No felony convictions or pending charges
  • No mental health diagnosis of record

This is scary for anyone not comfortable with owning a gun. Now that you know the ease of the process in gun ownership in Arizona, and the wait time for an application is just 75 days, how many people that you work with would, could or do carry? And where?

Protections for Arizona Gun Owners and Non Owners

No matter which side of the gun ownership coin you stand on, here’s an overview of where it’s cool to carry, and where it isn’t:

Can Carry

  1. In a vehicle
  2. Road side rest stops
  3. National forests
  4. State forests and parks
  5. School property (WHAT???)
    1. ONLY IF you’re an adult in a vehicle and unload the firearm before entering the school grounds.
    2. To exit the vehicle, the unloaded firearm must stay in the vehicle, out of plain sight and locked inside.
  6. Elsewhere in Arizona as long as it is not on the Off-Limits list.

Any establishment that has a no gun policy must have a readily visible sign stating so. In addition, these specific places are cited as Off Limits by law:

  1. Liquor retailer with no weapons sign posted
  2. Nuclear generating and hydroelectric generating facilities
  3. Election day polling places
  4. School property
  5. The grounds of any school
  6. Correctional facilities
  7. Federal law prohibitions

But what about businesses that do allow gun carry in the workplace?

Liabilities for Business Owners with Gun Carry Policies

Places of business are required to integrate best practices at their premises in health and safety for employers, employees, and third-party entities. This falls under the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to the need for a Drug Policy in place, businesses should be vigilant about having a Workplace Violence Prevention Program and training employees on how to use it, should an event occur that requires response.

This isn’t just about the people that come under the employ of a company, but their family members, as well as external vendors, clients and customers.

Precautions should go beyond what is legal and recommended. Consider the loopholes. We’ve seen the repercussions of those who have the right to carry, or know someone who does, inflicting harm on others because no one noticed or cited their adverse emotional behaviors to authorities.

In a business, employers and coworkers are the authorities, in a sense. “If you see something, say something,” comes to mind. This is where human frailty comes into play. There’s only so much that each of us can predict. The rest is up to chance. Is there truly any security in place for that?

The Four Pillars of Protection

Now enter your client’s workplace. Even if they have a no gun policy (and a sign posted as clear as day) does that make you feel any safer? Probably not (from the perspective of gun enthusiasts and non-advocates).

Here’s what the law provides to help keep a balance between safety and freedom.

General Duty Clause. OSHA guidelines require employers to provide a safe working environment. If this is in lack and a workplace violence event takes place due to the improper provisions or safeguards related to firearms, the business will be cited.

Workers’ Compensation. Governed by individual state, employees who are injured as a result of a firearm can file a claim for benefits.

Negligence Claims. Business owners are liable if they employ a person with known or exhibited tendencies or behaviors that indicate the possibility of inflicting harm on others in the workplace. This includes clients or customers at the business as well as persons (contractors) at the company. Should someone be injured at a place of business with these circumstances, the employer would liable under state law through any or all; negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent retention.

Vicarious Liability. This is evident when an employee, during their working hours and typical designated job scope, uses a firearm to injure someone else.

Of course all of the above pillars of protection are subject to interpretation and other mitigating circumstances. Yet this still seems to do little to support workplace safety and the risks of allowing firearms in the workplace.

How Long Can We Dodge the Bullet in the Office?

You’re in your car, heading out to meet a client or clock in for the day. How many people, in the cars around you, are AZ CCW licensed?

You’ve arrived at your client’s office or, for that matter, your own place of business. Do you know who has a license to carry? Any idea who keeps a firearm in their car? Which beloved client or coworker keeps one in their desk, a purse or backpack, even with a no gun policy?

Unless they share their personal information with you about how they handle gun ownership (or abhor it) you’ll never know. Until they find an opportunity in the workplace that would warrant its use. And in that moment, what would you do? What could you do?

Does greater safety in the workplace equate to more firearms, or less? Is there a need for armed guards? Designated, lawful gun carrying employees? Metal detectors upon entry and exit? Individual pat downs and searches? Or do we all insist on work-from-home employment?

Is anyone safe in an Arizona workplace anymore? Are you?

 

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How Dynamic Landing Pages Help Increase Conversion Rates

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How Dynamic Landing Pages Help Increase Conversion Rates

Is your company’s website performing at a much lower conversion rate than you are trying to target? You’re not alone. Many company sites fail to generate enough leads due to design flaws and ineffective conversion techniques. However, having landing pages that are dynamic and creative can aid your company in boosting online conversion.

What Are Dynamic Landing Pages?

Landing pages are the bread and butter of your company website. Typically, businesses use these pages as links for sponsored advertisements to drive web traffic to the site. Web designers craft the page to target a specific conversion, such as purchasing a new product or downloading a free eBook.

Standard elements of a landing page include:

  • A single, clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Potential SEO, although not required.
  • A description of products and additional content necessary to sell the conversion.

A landing page does not have a site navigation attached to it. In addition, only one CTA can exist on a landing page since the purpose of these pages is to target a specific conversion. No internal or external links are available on a landing page aside from the CTA.

Dynamic pages, on the other hand, are web pages that are customizable to a user’s location. It displays different messages to different users based on location or keywords. Landing pages and dynamic pages can combine forces to create one effective web tool for your business: the dynamic landing page.

Dynamic pages for e-commerce allow businesses to further customize the user experience and push the conversion. A user will appreciate the tailor-made page and is more likely to convert than they would a standard landing page.

Dynamic Landing Pages and Conversion Rates

Dynamic landing pages have the potential to increase your company’s conversion rates because they are directly relevant to the user. Standard landing pages lack this relevancy. Instead of landing on a basic page, the designers customize landing pages to fit the user’s needs.

For example, say that you run a nationwide cleaning service company. If a person is searching for a cleaning service, they want to find one in their local area. A standard landing page would lead them to your site, but they may need to type in their location manually. However, a dynamic landing page will tailor results to their location specifically, showing that your company can service their home. This will make it easier for the customer to schedule an appointment with you.

A study by the UK-based firm Periscopix directed visitors to a cleaning service site to either a dynamic landing page or a standard landing page. The study found that desktop conversion rate for the dynamic landing page increased by 9.2% and the mobile conversion rate increased by 25.2% — a major increase in business for the company.

Dynamic Landing Pages

Necessary Elements for Creative Landing Pages

Investing in a dynamic landing page is crucial to increasing your company’s conversion rates. However, you should follow these best practices to ensure that your web pages direct traffic in the right direction and communicate your desired messages clearly.

  • Write a strong, well-crafted headline.

    You can create different headlines based on keywords to add the dynamic factor to your landing page. Select a handful of the most common pain points and construct your headlines around them.

  • Include a visual focus on your landing page.

    Choose an image that reflects your company culture and values. Choose an emotion to target and find large, dynamic images to match this emotion.

  • Add a persuasive subheading.

    After you grab your visitor’s attention with the headline, include more information to help them convert. Elaborate on the offer you’re trying to sell and aim to help your visitors move past their hesitation to convert.

  • Eliminate risk by adding a guarantee.

    Offer a free trial, free consultation, or product demo. You can also offer a money-back guarantee within a certain timeframe. Whatever the case, create a situation where the visitor has little to lose from the conversion.

Dynamic Landing Pages with Help from Eminent SEO

Ready to create a dynamic landing page for your company website? Contact Eminent SEO today to learn more about our web design services.

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The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Why Cultural Differences Matters

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Color Tells Your Story

In December, Pantone calls out its “color of the year,” dictating to many companies and consumers what the next 12 months will look like in trends and, hopefully, corresponding purchases. It’s a big deal to real estate and interior design businesses, textiles, apparel and accessories creators who want to make sure they garner appeal to their audiences and referring business partners. But there’s a methodology behind color choice. It’s multilayered and touches on where people are at in their hopes, dreams and current state of emotional flux. As such, this psychology of color in marketing isn’t only apparent at Pantone’s discretion but ongoing with every brand redesign and creative campaign. If you’re palette savvy, color will mean more to you than an afterthought. Done right, it’s the basis of shaping consumer behavior and responsiveness, both, on conscious and subconscious levels.

Color Is the Visual Personification of Emotion

In simplistic terms, think back on when you were a kid, spending time on a rainy afternoon with a box of crayons and a coloring book. No one said you had to use brown, black, gray, or tan for hair color when you filled in between the lines (okay maybe outside the lines too). Perhaps you stuck with convention on colorization or maybe you felt that blue, green, violet or chartreuse were appropriate choices for Goldilocks. But why? What was the reasoning behind color choice? It has much to do about what choice made you feel good or feel right about crafting the complete picture.

How we feel about a product or service, even prior to having a direct experience with it, can be initially carved from the visual brand itself, evident in a logo, product or its packaging, associated merchandising, and web design.

Let’s drill it down into a harsh human moment. Have you ever met someone and just didn’t like them? You may not have been able to put your finger on it but there it was… that feeling of nonalignment, discomfort and disinterest. Yeah… the psychology of color can show up like that too, affecting brand marketing on a grand scale. So how do you know what color is right for your brand? It’s not an exact science, not even close.

Color Theory

Color Wheel of Feelings

If you search for the meaning behind each color, there are a variety of answers available, it just depends on where you look and the preconceived notions you may already have about them. Though the color wheel provides answers, it is meant as an overview of what many people believe defines the feelings or emotions of these hues. But exercise some caution. Think of it similar to the game show, the Wheel of Fortune. You turn the wheel and it lands on a color. There is no rhyme or reason behind where the wheel stops turning. It’s somewhat the luck of the draw. The same can be said about brand color and how your target audience(s) responds. Are you feeling lucky?

Beyond luck (and knowing your target audience) you’d be wise to include psychological, spiritual, and cultural aspects of their thoughts and behaviors that could affect their perception of color.

Life Experiences and Associations Shape the Meaning We Give Color

Why do you like turquoise while your best friend swoons over carnation pink? There could be an association between the color and a positive memory you have surrounding it. This is sort of like a subconscious word association but with pictures. For me, when I envision the color midnight blue (my favorite) it reminds me of the sky and the water at night on the beach. It was peaceful, calm and a personal place to escape. Can you recall why you have your favorite color?

Spirituality Brings Color to Light

Aspects of religious teachings or spiritual thought can enter into colorization preferences. Many people who believe in Judeo-Christian faiths refer to white light as the means to ascend into heaven, while dark and eerie shadows represent pending death. In addition, those who believe in hell may describe it as a violent place, full of red-colored demons surrounded by bright orange fire.

For the metaphysically minded, color is often used to define a person’s aura. If you are told that you emanate a yellow aura, it means your energy is full of spiritual power and the ability to harness new ideas and creativity. But if you weren’t a spiritual person and didn’t view color in this way, seeing a brand symbol in yellow might be a subliminal sign of caution. If so, how likely would you be to trust this product or service?

Culture Holds the Key to the Tone that Color Sets

Depending on where you are in the world, the same color can mean something entirely different from region to region or culture to culture. For example, many Americans hold the color white to mean purity or goodness. However, in some countries in Asia, including China, Korea and Japan, white equates to misfortune, loss, mourning or death. Often worn at funerals in Eastern cultures of the world, white is the antithesis in North America as it signifies light and purity in Western society.

Regarding the color black in the U.S. and Canada, for example, its underworld connotation may bring discomfort to some but not to those who resonate with Goth or Gothic culture. People who consider themselves Goth follow certain color guidelines in their fashion. Often misunderstood by the general public, Goth individuals will don heavy contrasts in their clothing and makeup. Stark white faces, deep red or black lipstick, eye liner and clothing represents Goth culture but not as an obsession with death. Rather, the use of black apparel and accessories is more about emulating a dark or mysterious allure, while paying respect to Victorian and Elizabethan eras as well as punk couture.

How Business Gets Color All Wrong

Perplexed yet? While there are no guarantees that you’re going to get brand color choice right for everyone, it’s more about what you need to be doing to maximize the possibilities of appealing to as many people as possible. Here are some points of contention that could make the difference between a marketing win and a complete snafu.

Disconnected Brand Impression

There’s a hierarchy of linear thinking that plays an important role in brand color. It isn’t about choosing the right color but more about understanding the relationship between your product or service and how color should properly represent it. Men and women will favor certain colors over others differently and it’s rooted in how they perceive the meaning behind the color. If you take that into consideration when picking your palette, your brand color will more likely hit the mark.

To illustrate this concept, imagine a company entitled Green Machine. For the executive, the name could imply a money-making endeavor. For a horticulturist, the name eludes to landscaping. And for environmental enthusiasts, there’s an expectation that Green Machine supports ecological initiatives. If their brand color is only green, expectations of who the company is will not meet expectations of many because the color doesn’t make it clear.

Now, if the brand palette includes brown, this favors landscaping business. If green is partnered with blue, this aligns with environment. And if the green is interspersed with accents of black, there’s a more corporate or hard-edge feel, aligning with financial business.

The use of color in your brand should instantaneously equate to what your business provides, what it stands for, or ideally both. When your color represents your business authentically, you will more likely attract the people who would be interested in what you have to offer.

Personal Choice Rather than Audience Specific

Ego often gets in the way of selecting the colors that fit a business. It sends chills up and down my spine when ego takes front and center. I recall a client in Scottsdale who was starting a new marketing agency and needing to pick his brand colors. This new business was going to be the next best thing since sliced bread in the creative world, showcasing strong work by the best art directors, writers and videographers in town. The brand positioning was edgy, bold and confident. Think about the colors you would choose. I can already tell, your ideas are better than what the client decided on. You ready? He was adamant about navy blue and gray for his brand. (pause) I know, epic fail.

Miscommunicating Focal Points

Even if you’ve chosen your brand colors right to a tee, how you place them will strengthen your decision or dull it. Color, used effectively, can draw the right attention to where it needs to be: on a tagline, a product, or a pricing CTA. Effective use of color can serve as visual cues to a customer, leading them to where you want them to go on your website, and throughout the user experience.

Why Brand Messaging and Color Should Complement Vision

Whether you’re just a getting your business off the ground or considering a marketing refresh, color is a crucial piece of the success puzzle. In fact, make it part of your marketing plan to revisit its use each year. I’m not suggesting that you need to ditch what you already have, but maybe add another color to make the primary brand hue pop off the page. Or select a more subtle hue that brings the existing palette together better, defining your brand story more succinctly.

All in all, color is a personal preference. Though when a business utilizes the power it possesses through audience assessment and strategic execution across all media channels, color not only gives your company the attention it deserves but leads people to your door.

Rethink Your Color, Reevaluate Your Brand. Hit Us Up!

 

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