Crisis Communication Tactics Every Company Needs to Know

 

By: Amanda Fischer

If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s that crises are bound to happen. No one plans for a crisis to happen, but at some point every company will face a situation that will require them to respond swiftly, articulately and directly to something that could make or break their business. The question isn’t if a crisis will happen – it’s are you prepared for when it does happen.

 

Here are best practices for crisis communication that every business should know and implement.

 

Don’t Panic

The worst thing you can do in a crisis situation is to panic. Businesses sometimes lose sight of the overall situation when a crisis occurs. The irony in our business is that often when our clients need us the most, they pull the plug because they need to “deal with a crisis.” The best thing to do is calmly assess the situation and figure out what the necessary steps are. Now is the time to use your public relations firm to communicate like crazy to your organization’s customers and stakeholders. A crisis is not the time to abandon the people who know the best ways to help you and it’s not the time to pull away from your customers and communities.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not having a crisis communication plan in place before they are dealing with a crisis. Although it’s impossible to predict a crisis, having a plan of action for basic procedures to guide your organization in stressful and difficult times can be the difference between getting through the issue with little to no long-term damage and having it turn into the PR nightmare that causes you to lose revenue, customers and respect.

There are many formats and ways to put together a crisis communications plan, but every plan should include:

  • Crisis management team – Who is your group of people responsible for making decisions during a crisis?
  • Spokesperson designation and training – Who is the one person of small group of people who have the credibility and authority to be responsible for talking to the media about the crisis? Once you’ve identified them, it’s important to train them. In the business, we say we need to practice having people in the “hot lights.” People are the most comfortable in situations they’ve experienced, so developing messaging and having your media relations team ask your designated spokespeople hard questions while you’re running a camera gives them muscle memory and the confidence they need when things are real.
  • Crisis response plan – What steps do you have to take to resolve to or respond appropriately to the crisis? There should be a crisis team within your organization that meets quarterly to discuss any issues related to responding to various types of crises—is the plan up to date? Are spokespeople still there and trained? Do you have the basics in place like what will you do if your workers can’t get to the office to do their jobs? Do certain people need to have special equipment? Are your important documents digitized and stored offsite so you could quickly get back up and running? Crisis planning is an important, whole-operation activity.
  • Communication team Who will be assigned to create all communications that will go out to internal and external audiences? These are people you trust to quickly respond with the right messages and to constantly keep your media lists up to date and on them at all times.
  • Key messaging – Every crisis is different. The most important thing you should have in your crisis plan is a reminder of who you are as a company. Reminding yourselves of your values when things are difficult can be the key to creating the situation-specific messaging that resonates with heart with your audiences, employees and media.
  • Audience identification – What internal and external audiences would you need to address? What about secondary audiences and stakeholders?
  • Notification system – How you will share approved information internally and externally? What is the approval process? What can you do now to make sure people who need to approve crisis communication are educated on media expectations and timelines? A crisis is the worst time to have an article say your organization couldn’t be reached for comment because your approval process took too long. Educate your executives and attorneys about the importance of prioritizing crisis communication and media response before you’re in a crisis.

You will need to update your crisis plan as the situation unfolds. It is a living, breathing document. You never know what’s going to happen and you will need to adjust – and that’s OK. Even the best communicators in the world can’t predict every situation that will arise. Be flexible and ready to make changes when needed—but try to stick to the important elements of the process – your spokespeople, chain of command, approvals, etc.

If you work with a public relations firm, be sure to enlist their help with putting together a plan right away. If you don’t have a firm, consider using one to help create a comprehensive plan because crises happen, and creating a crisis plan on the fly can wreak havoc on even a very trusted brand’s reputation.

Communicate Early. Communicate Often.

Communication is key during a crisis. Your employees, customers, board members, communities and a whole range of other stakeholders need to understand what is happening so they know your company cares and is working on a solution.

Get your message out about the situation as soon as possible after identifying the issue. After your initial messaging, your team should set goals for how often it’s going to communicate out messages about the situation – whether it be once in the morning and once at night or just by the end of the day, setting a goal will ensure you are sticking to good communication practices.

Be sure to communicate to both internal and external audiences and provide updates when new developments happen.

It also is important to stick to your company’s voice. If you send out messages that sound nothing like your business’ normal tone and voice, people will perceive it as ingenuine, fake and robotic.

Own Your Mistakes

The worst things a company can do during a crisis is to lie or try to hide the fact that something is wrong. You need to own the mistakes you made (with the guidance of an attorney so your apology for a situation’s effect on a community doesn’t turn into an unintended admission of wrongdoing), apologize for your role and communicate your plan to rectify the situation. The internet is quick to put people on blast for being less than honest. You aren’t going to get away with lies or misinformation, and you shouldn’t even try. People respect honest and authentic companies run by honest and authentic people. If you have something go wrong, come up with a plan to fix the situation, communicate the plan – and don’t hide from it. Organizational reputation management is a marathon and not a sprint – do the things that preserve your credibility for the future.

PR firms employ seasoned crisis counselors for planning and when you need someone to help you right this minute. When in doubt look to experienced PR firms for advice and help and don’t try to go it alone. When your business is mired in a crisis isn’t the time to be penny wise and pound foolish.

Do the Right Thing

The best way to avoid a crisis is to do the right thing. If you notice a process failing, an employee doing something wrong or your company’s values being ignored, do something to solve the issue before it becomes a crisis. Be observant and don’t be afraid to question things that seem off, wrong or out of the ordinary.

Follow up

You may think crisis communication is finished once the media stops calling and customers are satisfied, but there is still one thing left to do—debrief. To prepare for and even avoid another crisis, you should find out what your team did and didn’t do well. Sending out surveys, conducting focus groups or interviewing employees and customers are all good ways to get feedback.

Finally, you should update your crisis communication plan. Adjust things that didn’t work and add in things that you want to replicate if another crisis arises.

Ask for Help

We can’t emphasize this one enough. If you have a crisis on your hands, ask for help. Whether you look to another business who went through the same situation or you go to your board for advice, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There are many PR firms out there that specialize in crisis communication and employ rapid response crisis counselors who have spent their careers training to help companies when they need it most. At M3 Group, we have a seasoned team of PR professionals from all backgrounds and with varying expertise. We pride ourselves in taking PR nightmares and turning them into success stories of how a business faced an impossible situation and came out strong on the other side. Whether you use our services or someone else’s, PR firms care about your business and are here to help you get through anything.

 

We are Open for Business: M3 Group’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

 

To our clients and community:

I don’t have to tell you that we are in an unprecedented time facing challenges together. When we get to the other side of this pandemic—and we will get to the other side —we will have learned some difficult lessons and become stronger for it. We need to focus now on supporting our healthcare community and leaders in the days ahead working to save lives and minimize the damage on the economy.

I have been a small business owner in this community for many years. I’m proud of our agency, our portfolio of community publications and of our team that has built and grown them. I am like you – a business owner with employees who have families, and we are doing everything we can to respond to a crisis that changes minute by minute.

We are taking every precaution for our team as we continue to serve our clients and deliver our digital and print publications. I’m an optimist and believe we will navigate through this effectively while supporting people and businesses. We are open and plan to stay that way. 

As one of Michigan’s seasoned communication firms, we believe our role right now is to be communication first responders. Effective communication is critical through the weeks ahead. Don’t stop communicating with your employees, your customers, your partners and the media. Let them know what you are doing to make sure you take care of our community, and how people can help your business stay in business.

Our hope is that by continuing to drive our clients to communicate not just more, but with the transparency and heart their publics need from them right now, we are taking on a role desperately needed. 

You are not alone. You don’t have to have all of the answers. No one does right now. But your employees, customers, families and communities need to hear from you. We are here to help. It is moments like these that inspired many of us here at M3 Group to go into professional communication—to be part of the solution when people need information so they can keep moving forward in their lives as best they can.

Please stay tuned. M3 Group will be sending out regular emails with crisis communication best practices and we are here to help you implement them. We will be staying in close contact with our clients to make sure we are helping in every way we can. Our publications are dedicated to providing you with regular information on resources you need to help your families, employees and businesses through this. Please also check out our digital versions.

Keep heart. We are here. We are open. We are ready to help. And we will all get through this together.

 

 

The Power of Geofencing


Enable potential customers to circle back to your business

By Adam Lansdell

Have you ever felt like your phone or mobile device might be watching you? You leave a shop you’ve never been to before and suddenly everywhere you look online are advertisements for that store or one like it? You start researching new fitness trends and suddenly there are local gyms asking you to sign up now. These are just a few examples of ways you as a consumer have experienced the digital magic that is geofencing and retargeting.
Geofencing and retargeting are proven methods of connecting with customers who have shown they may be interested in or have visited your business or a competitor. Idea Applications and M3 Group know the secrets behind these applications and work directly with businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes to help them reach their desired target audiences more easily, effectively and accurately.

Geofencing
Geofencing helps businesses connect directly to consumers based on their location. Imagine taking out a map and drawing a circle around the circumference of your business. With geofencing, anyone that walks within the borders you’ve just created will then receive advertisements relevant to your business and their interactions with it. If you didn’t make a sale while those customers were visiting, you might now have a second chance. Either way, customers that now receive your advertisement will less likely to forget your brand and continue interacting with it digitally for a period of time after entering your determined radius.
Geofencing can be extremely helpful for businesses looking to generate new leads, promote exclusive offers, distribute information about upcoming sales or events and so much more. Geofencing enables your business to reach an audience of potential customers based on where they have been. Whatever your message might be, geofencing allows you to reach an audience of real-world people who are already in the proximity of your brand and who could eventually become loyal, valued customers with the right information while they are there.

“Geofencing is digital advertising tactic that allows us to find a desired group of prospects for your business, deliver ads to them, and provide businesses with the ability to track the success of converting prospects into customers,” said Dave Hodges, Idea Applications owner.

Geofencing isn’t limited to targeting areas surrounding your business. Let’s say you’ve identified a target audience or, better yet, a well-researched buyer persona that suggests you should be speaking to individuals with a specific household income, or that live in a specific region.

By loading specific details of a target customer your able to narrow down to certain age, sex, income level, previous purchase history, credit scores, household with kids, previous voting history, brand preferences, and more. This is addressable geofencing, and it’s a technology that helps organizations curate lists of households and to target the right prospect in their own homes, up-to a million at a time!

Geofencing Advantages
Geofencing provides many advantages that traditional advertising methods do not. While an integrated owned, earned and paid channels strategy is the best way to reach all of your potential target audiences, incorporating geofencing into your strategy can provide you with a leg up on the competition.

“Geofencing allows you to target very specific groups of potential customers and show them the ads that really speak to their problems and their interests in their language. This is much more effective than a generic ad that goes to all prospects,” said Hodges. “This provides information that’s tailored to specific needs and interests, almost to the individual level. When combining this targeting with the tracking capabilities of digital advertising we’re then able to provide a better answer to the age-old question: is my advertising working?”

Geofences create opportunities for you to connect with potential customers your brand’s reputation amongst new audiences that you might have never previously assumed would have interest in your organization.

To learn more and begin connecting with new customers in an exciting new way visit ideaapplications.com. 

Preaching the Blues in 2020

I’ll have a blue Christmas without hue.

If you were singing the holiday blues last month, you were in good company. In fact, you might even be able to call yourself a visionary.

Every December, Pantone throws some shade on product development and purchasing decisions by announcing its Color of the Year for the approaching 365-day cycle. The selection that will help shape marketing minds for 2020 is – drum roll please – 19-4052 Classic Blue.

But what does this mean and why is it important – or is it even important at all?

First things first: What is Pantone? The New Jersey-headquartered company provides a universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers. According to the company’s website, “In 1963, Pantone revolutionized the printing industry with the colorful Pantone Matching System, an innovative tool allowing for the faithful selection, articulation and reproduction of consistent, accurate color anywhere in the world. The tool organizes color standards through a proprietary numbering system and chip format, which have since become iconic to the Pantone brand. Pantone’s color language supports all color-conscious industries— textiles, apparel, beauty, interiors, architectural and industrial design—encompassing over 10,000 color standards across multiple materials including printing, textiles, plastics, pigments and coatings.”

Since 2000, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced decision-makers in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, industrial design, and product packaging and graphic design. The Pantone Color of the Year selection process includes thoughtful consideration and analysis, with color experts at the Pantone Color Institute scanning the world looking for new color influences to determine the color that best captures the prevailing attitudes and reflections of the coming year.

“They put a lot of research into it and try to establish design trends as well as overall trends,” said Lauren Brumbach, one of the team of graphic designers that delivers unique insight and vision for the clients of M3 Group.

The selection of Classic Blue as the 2020 Color of the Year helps signal the dawn of a new decade and the opportunity for a clean slate, Brumbach noted.

“Blue often means loyalty, a fresh start. … It’s kind of saying that 2020 is a year of revitalization,” she noted. “It’s something fun for designers to pay attention to and stay on trend.”

Although Pantone’s Color of the Year will, indeed, influence the design and marketing decisions for some businesses, one a broader stage it serves to showcase the importance of color selection in conveying specific information to the end user.

“What I like to take away from looking at the decisions by Pantone is the color theory behind it … the general psychological aspects behind it – what it means, how it makes you feel, what it represents,” Brumbach said.

The color blue conjures feelings of relaxation, peace and compassion, she noted, while green can signify new life or growth and red can stir sentiments of warning, boldness and anger. It’s a demonstration of how color can wordlessly convey a message and meaning, as well as subliminally evoke specific emotional responses and shape the way we think about something.

“Most design usually is subconscious,” Brumbach said. “What’s interesting about Pantone is they think about all those things and how it plays into trends for the coming year. … As a designer, I think it’s more something to keep in the back of your mind in the design world.”

As a business owner, color selection should be a more front-of-mind consideration when creating a marketing and branding plan. As Brumbach noted, the choices you make will be a significant component in how you are perceived by consumers

“I think it’s important for them to be aware that there is a lot of color choice and realize how big the color world is,” she said.

 

 

 

Leveraging Earned Media Placement for your Business

Amplify your Influence with HARO

Public relations can be an effective way to get brand exposure and drive more website traffic. Gaining publicity for clients is ultimately what most marketing professionals aim to do to put companies in a positive light. This is why being featured in various publications is crucial for any business. Finding a successful and effective media relations strategy can be slow. Spending hours looking for potential outlets and sources to randomly pitch to can is not a good use of time or resources, so it’s no secret that there are effective outlets out there to speed up the process. One program I prefer to take advantage of Help a Reporter Out or HARO.

HARO is a helpful outlet that journalists use to find industry experts to use as sources in articles featured on major media sites. According to HARO, the network reaches more than 800,000 sources and 55,000 journalists and bloggers.

There are many benefits of getting your business mentioned in leading publications within your industry or market. Besides exposure, link building, which is having a source or website link to your website, can be a great way to help boost search engine optimization ratings. This also is an excellent way to build relationships with writers around the globe that are influencers in your industry. Additionally, it helps to list your site with trustworthy directories.

HARO is a pretty straight forward platform used by PR professionals, journalists and experts all over. When you join as a source, HARO sends out new leads three times a day via email, Monday through Friday. Expect these emails to come in around 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. There are emails sent with specific topics, guidelines, industries and so on. When signing up for HARO, there are preferences that allow you to opt-in or out of additional emails tailored explicitly to the categories you’re an industry expert in.

When you’re an expert in a specific subject or industry, the response can seem like the easy part, but HARO is competitive, especially for popular media outlets. Take time to develop a thoughtful pitch to the query. Keep in mind that there are countless submissions to each writer, so your pitch should be concise and stand out from the rest.

I have had great success with pitches to queries via HARO. It has been a source that I continually use for both clients and in-house marketing efforts. Not only do I get free publicity, but it also is a great way to make connections across the globe with expert writers in the industry. HARO is an effort proven to work. M3 Group is a full-service branding agency from marketing and corporate consulting to PR and advertising services. If your business is looking to expand its brand awareness and reach, we’d love to help you out. To learn more about our services, please visit m3group.biz.

First Day Jitters: What It’s Like to Be A New Hire

Written by new M3 Group hire Amanda Fischer on her first day on the job

Do you remember your first day at your job? Most of us probably recall a blur of events, but what we tend to forget is how we felt.

As someone who is writing this blog on her first day, I am going to take you back to those first day jitters to help you prepare for the coming of your next employee. If you’re starting a new job, don’t worry because this will help you prepare for your next endeavor, as well.

Being a new employee isn’t easy. When it comes to starting a job, you can prepare all you want, but until you get there, you don’t know what you don’t know.

This morning, I joined the M3 Group team, and despite my excitement and eagerness to start, I was nervous. Driving into work, my stomach was full of butterflies, and a million small worries crossed my mind: What if I can’t find parking? I hope I’m not late. What door do I go in? How will I find my desk?

You get the point.

Most employers go over job descriptions and larger aspects of the position, but small details like the ones I stressed over this morning are often overlooked by both employee and employer. Businesses can better prepare new employees by having someone in a similar role write out their daily activities and using it to formulate a list of things to let your employees know before their start dates. Conversely, new hires should take time to write down questions they have about the job before beginning.

Once I got in the building, most of my anxiety subsided. I was met at the door by a coworker who promptly gave me a tour of the office, showed me where I would be working and introduced me to many of my coworkers. Feeling awkward is inevitable when beginning a new position, but this made me feel significantly less awkward because I didn’t have to wander around or sit at the entrance waiting for someone to come tell me where to be and what to do.

The first day often feels confusing, unorganized and lacking direction to new people, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s be honest, you’re busy. You can’t push deadlines and halt productivity to stand by your new hire’s side all day, but there are a few things you can provide to employees to clear up ambiguity and give direction to individuals when you aren’t available:

  • Orientation agenda
  • Handbook and company policies documents
  • Organizational chart
  • Company mission and vision statements
  • Calendar of important dates
  • Pay schedule and information
  • List of small projects to work on during downtime

New hires, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to coworkers and see if there are things you could do or advice they have for you.

Like many individuals starting a job, I was worried about meeting new people and whether we would get along. I quickly learned it would not be a problem at M3 Group. My peers worked to make me feel comfortable, ensuring I stayed up to date on when meetings were and how the organization worked. I must have had three coworkers inform me about our Monday meeting and walk me through what it looks like. Their actions were thoughtful, and it helped immensely to have people who were willing to go out of their way to make sure I knew the lay of the land.  

It is important to remember how scary it can be for a person to come in and meet a group of new people. You don’t know who they are, what the work environment is like or what they will think of you. To help new hires feel more comfortable and integrate them into the company, consider pairing new employees with a mentor or hosting a lunch to welcome new employees. As a new employee, it can be scary to put yourself out there, but opening yourself up to your coworkers and projects will start you out on the right foot and show initiative.

With all the fears of beginning a new job, comes an even greater excitement to dive in and get to work – personally, I have been enthusiastic about getting my hands dirty and contributing to the successes of my new venture since I accepted the job. Before you can get to that point, you must complete preliminary paperwork and have the proper materials. If you’re starting a new job, you should bring the following items on your first day:

  • Direct deposit, tax and 401K information
  • Proper identification (passport or license and social security card)
  • Office supplies
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Headphones
  • Vehicle registration

The more prepared you are for your first day, the quicker you will be able to get to work.

As I write about being new, the feeling I hope to never forget is the excitement I have for my future at M3 Group. Employee or employer, you have the power to help make your first impression a good one. Be prepared, be open and be ready to help your organization grow and prosper.

Shake It Up!

The average working person spends around 40 or more hours in the office every week. For some, it can be easy to lose their spark in the workplace. Job burnout can cause problems in work relationships, attitude and job performance. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for. Being burnt out can lead to feeling drained, irritability, cognitive issues, lack of effort and the list goes on.

The Mayo Clinic describes job burnout as a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. Instead of being miserable at the office, try shaking things up a bit. Sometimes change is as simple as making an attitude adjustment. And remember negative habits and thought patterns can be contagious. Stay positive in the office. Learn to manage the stress and feelings that come with your business and leave them at the door when you enter – and when you leave. 

Sometimes job burnout can happen when one person has too much on their plate.

  • Consider finding efficient solutions that will lighten your workload.
  • Identify some ways to manage a more reasonable and realistic workload and offer those solutions to your manager.
  • Be sure to celebrate your accomplishments in the workday, even the small ones.
  • Remind yourself that the work you do is meaningful and purpose-driven.
  • Try shaking up your daily routine by working in a different location (if possible) for a day or even beautifying your personal workspace to make it feel a little cozier.
  • Go somewhere new for lunch or clear your head if needed with a short break doing something enjoyable like meditating or reading.
  • Take a break every now and again to recalibrate and destress.

Make sure to focus on the basics in your home life as well, like exercising, getting enough sleep and making sure you are living a rich and full life outside of the office.

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to find the stressors that are causing job burn out and implement a solution to fix it. Without identifying the cause, you can’t begin to fix the problem. It’s easy to throw yourself into work and let the stress build-up. Make a goal to identify the root cause and move forward with a positive solution.

Making the most of Marketing Trends

Everyone is keen to jump on the latest trends to market their business. Many are game-changers. Some are costly. But is it worth it? Oftentimes, you really get what you pay for. The key is to do your research – or let a knowledgeable marketing firm do the work for you.

Social Media 

A now long-running trend, social media can be a huge boost to your business. But in this case, you do have to spend money to see results unless you are lucky enough to have the kind of business that attracts followers organically. Use tools available in Facebook to target your ad dollars to a specific group. If you are seeking the attention of other businesses – consider LinkedIn as a “business to business” approach. New reports state that if your employees post about your business on LinkedIn, the chances of getting your message out are greatly increased. Incentivize your staff to share your business message.

Artificial Intelligence

Many marketers are currently making use of technology that will allow them to pull data from several sources. This data is used for reporting information, which is then used to create marketing plans and to gauge their success. It is also used in decision-making, optimization and goal setting. Look into different software and service providers, read reviews, and do your research into which best fits your operation. 

Integrated Marking

You can’t really have too many cooks in the marketing kitchen. It takes a savvy team to integrate marketing across multiple platforms. The key to this recipe is consistency across those platforms – adapting to the readers on each but keeping the message the same at its core.

Geofencing

Essentially, geofencing creates a virtual perimeter around a location that allows a business to target a specific group with a specific message. Ads can be served to a group while at a specific location and for quite some time after. 

There are countless other trending options for clients to utilize, but it is important not to forget that face-to-face interaction and a human touch are just as important as all the grandest tools in the kit. In a very digital world, the human connection can be an important key to success. More than a trend, it keeps relationships cultivated and communication at its best.

M3 Group has capabilities in all of the above, and a team with the know-how to help brand your business forward. For details, visit m3group.biz.

Blogs are a Key Piece in the Social Media/Web Puzzle

They not only get your message out, they add to your online presence

Do you wonder why blogs are important to businesses? 

Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?

While some have declared the demise of the blog as businesses turn to other trendy delivery platforms, consider what Mark Twain said at news that he had died: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

That also applies to the rumored death of blogs. They are alive and well, gaining readership and bringing traffic to your website.

There are several ways to bring attention to your blog.

First, businesses must be proactive. Blogs must be updated frequently to continue to drive readers – who may become customers – to their websites. And the writing must be about a specific subject using a ton of relevant keywords, which will increase your “findability” on major search engines.

“A great way to author a blog is to answer an unanswered industry question from a Google-rich snippet,” said Mark Warner, creative manager at M3 Group. “If you can answer the questions users are seeking and add new content to your website, it’s a win-win.”

Take Google, for example. Google adapts to what shows up in a search based partially on how relevant a business is to its industry. So, even if you don’t pay for a Google Ad (which would put a business at the top of search results), you can still show up prominently in a search if you have timely and relevant content on your website – like a blog.

Blogs also increase search engine optimization or SEO. While it is nearly impossible to show up on the first results of an online search unless you pay for an ad or are one of the big players in an industry, using what are called long-tail keywords can increase the chance that you will be found by searchers looking for a specific niche.

Here’s how that works: An accounting firm might not show up early in a search for “accounting firms near me,” but if someone is searching for “accounting firms near me for nonprofit organizations” and you have written a blog about being an accounting firm that works with local nonprofits, you have a better chance of fitting into that search engine’s algorithm and popping early up in a niche search. 

By publishing a blog, a business can also set itself up as an expert in its industry, regardless of how small the company might be. Give readers some solid expert advice that they can actually use and sharing your expertise will set you up as the go-to source for whatever your blog is about.

A blog that enables readers to comment is a way to get to know your audience and reveal what interests readers, enabling you to continue to target content. By including blogs on your other social media platforms, driving readers to your website, you can identify your audience and build trust with them, which could result in a business relationship.

You can also keep readers on your domain through internal links. Let’s say you are reading the aforementioned accounting firm’s blog about nonprofits. The text mentions changes in the 2017 federal tax act that affects nonprofits, and you refer readers to an earlier blog on your domain that deals with how the new law impacts nonprofits. 

“It’s important to remember that the link should be relevant to the content on the page,” Warner explained. “Internal links and backlinks from external sites all play a major role in SEO rankings. Google’s algorithm tracks a variety of factors, so it is important to try to check off as many of the SEO factors when authoring content, such as placing images, titling the page or selection of tags.” 

Warner said the H1 tag is an HTML tag that indicates a header on a page – a snippet of code that tells your web browser how to display the content. An H2 tag is a subheading and should contain similar keywords to your H1 tag.

Now, how often should you post a blog? Research indicates a minimum of 11 blogs per month is ideal. Post the blog not only to your website but link the writing by including the posting on the other social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

If you feel you don’t have the know-how or the time for writing blogs and posting on social media platforms, M3 Group can do the heavy lifting. Not only can we create professional and relevant blogs that hit the mark in terms of SEO optimization, we also can craft effective social media posts and set up a social media schedule, posting at optimal intervals to keep your company in the minds of consumers. 

M3 Group has had success in conducting online surveys, man-on-the-street evaluations and assembling focus groups to better learn what your customers want.

Those are just a few of M3 Group’s proven specialties. Call us at (517) 203-333 to discuss these services and more!

Is it time for a rebrand of your business?

Rebranding is a delicate but very popular decision. A lot of major companies are jumping on the rebranding wagon – from Uber to Dunkin Donuts to Weight Watchers and dozens more. If your company is considering a rebrand it’s helpful to ask the right questions. We sat down with M3 Group Marketing Specialist Zach Krieger for his take on the topic.

Why should a company rebrand? Any organization should take a good look at their brand every five years; that doesn’t mean a HUGE change or overhaul to the look/messaging/culture of the company, but it gives leadership an opportunity to reassess what they’re striving for and what tools are needed to achieve those goals. Sometimes that means tweaks to messaging or a tagline, sometimes that means a new logo, color scheme, website, etc.

What are a few things a company should consider when rebranding? Strategy. Why do we do things the way we do them? How can we do things better? What do people think of when they hear our name or see our materials? A good strategy will put you in a situation to answer these questions and allow you to explore what pieces and parts you might need to ensure your whole team is working towards a singular goal, under a unified message.

Should they develop a logo first or a strategy? Why?  Always a strategy! You might not even need a new logo or name change … if the strategy dictates that this is something to explore, then maybe. But, the most successful brands are never created on a whim.

Why should a company use an agency instead of attempt this in-house? Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t see the label from inside the bottle?” Organizations know their businesses very well, they know their customers very well, they know the industry and the products and the peak seasons. Nine out of 10 people don’t know much about branding. Some may think having a social media page and possibly a sharp business card is a great brand. Agencies are brand professionals. Branding is a force that comes from every aspect of the organization, from top to bottom. An agency specializes in giving organizations the tools and direction they need to sustain a look and feeling to associate with their brand in all aspects, internally and externally.

Any other tips for companies considering rebranding? Designate a budget and be on the same page with internal leadership when looking at this process. Don’t just dip your toe in this; branding is a process and takes time. Proper resources and time NEED to be considered when looking at your brand. There also needs to be a trust factor in the people/agency you decide to work with – don’t turn your creative consultants into order takers. Agencies are trying to empower your organization through new ideas and process… don’t restrict them because that is “the way we’ve always done it”. Lastly, HAVE FUN with this … a brand is something that the TEAM needs to buy into; leadership, employees, families, customers, etc. are your “brand ambassadors”. Give them a reason to have good feelings when it comes to your brand.

If your company is considering a rebrand, let the qualified team at M3 Group help. Contact us at 517-203-3333 or visit our webpage at www.M3Group.biz.