Winner of Best of the Best

Ad and Plaque

For 13+ years we have been voted Best of the Best by the readers of the Auburn Journal, and we couldn’t be more thankful to our community and our fantastic customers.

Since opening the business in 1946 we have striven to be been involved in the community and has enjoyed giving back. In 1984 Brad and Merrill purchased the business and have since continued to be involved and continue the tradition of giving back and supporting many community events. Being a big part of our community, being involved and giving back is what I am passionate about. I do it because I see a great future for our community and all there is to benefit from for me, our company and my kids.

Besides being such a staple of the community we work hard at being a partner to the land trusts and non-profits locally. We give back to many non-profits and work closely with them to find new ways of attracting donors and new revenue. Using print, email, direct mail, signage and promotional products to elevate their clients message in a cohesive, timely and branded manner. Our clients have seen that the value improves exponentially with a multi-touch approach.

I strongly feel that we are a one of a kind shop in this area with all the equipment and up to date technology that we have in our North Auburn location. Feel free to stop by and see all that we have to offer.

Do you SEO, PPC, or go both ways?

As you may know customers can get to your website many different ways. This blog is about SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click). Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines are how your customers find stuff on the web. They pull out relevant information gathered from what you put in your search. Google alone accounts for 3,500,000,000 (3.5 Billion per day) that’s a lot of people looking for answers, products and services every hour of every day.
So how do you find which is the best way for you and your company to the first page on search engines? Both SEO and PPC work, but do you need both? To understand the difference between SEO and PPC, let’s take a look at them and see their strengths and weaknesses.

PPC (Pay Per Click)
Instead of organically and gradually ranking your way toward the top of search results, you pay the search engine to place your website on the top of page instantly. Every time a user clicks on your ad or website, the search engine charges a small fee. One thing to take note, it’s more than money that gets you to the top. It’s also “quality score”, location, relevance, and site functionality. But PPC search words are sold on the open marketing, meaning anyone can come along a take your spot if they want to pay more. Here are some of the top keyword costs per click:
Continue reading Do you SEO, PPC, or go both ways?

The Death of Flash and Why it’s Important for Your Business

Flash dissapearing
We got this image from an e-learning website article about the changeover to HTML5. Click on the image to see the article.

We have been getting a few clients asking us about enabling Flash on their browser. Why do you need to do this just to see what you want to see? Flash is going away. It is dying a slow death, and as with many tech deaths, it is taking people by surprise.

What is Flash?

I had to get a simple breakdown from our tech guy and well, here is my attempt to put it into un-techy language: Flash is a kind of “computery” language that enables computers and browsers to play back videos, animations, interactive media, advertisements, etc.

Why is it going away?

  1. It’s not very secure
    More than a few Zero Days have occurred last year in which hackers could target your computer. According to Norton Antivirus, “The term ‘zero-day’ refers to a software vulnerability that the developer is newly aware of, and thus an official patch or update to fix the issue has not been released. Essentially, ‘zero-day’ refers to the fact that the developers have “zero days” to fix the problem that has just been exposed—and perhaps already exploited by hackers.”
    This has led many users and many browsers to disable Flash automatically.
  2. It’s obsolete
    Developers have moved on already to HTML5, JavaScript, etc.
  3. It’s being dumped
    All major browsers block Flash by default. Firefox began blocking Flash in 2015 followed soon by Safari, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. Internet Explorer is the only Flash enabled browser right now. That will soon be gone too, as IE is planning to disable Flash by 2019.
  4. …But there will be stragglers
    Just like obsolete font types are still being used, nobody can stop developers from using Flash. But it won’t be supported by browsers anymore, just like old fonts are not supported by new operating systems. It’s ability to work will be patchy without support.

What this means for your business

  •  Your websites will need to be updated to avoid using Flash by the drop dead year of 2020, though support in browsers will end before then.
  • Your animations using Flash can only be used on a computer with a compatible operating system that has Flash installed.
  • If you have interactive learning sites or proofing tools, you will need to make sure they have an HTML version.

What we are doing about it

  • We have already updated our website to not include Flash.
  • We are still going to use ProofHQ as our client proofing tool because they are developing an HTML version of the website that goes live in the next couple weeks. Currently, they have a beta version available. If you want to test out this platform right now, click this text in the bottom left hand side of your proof. It looks different but proofs still show accurately, and that is the important part to us and our clients. Of course, because it is in beta right now, you must have Flash enabled to access the button (go figure, right?).
    You can preview HTML on our proofing tool
    While you are in ProofHQ looking at your next proof from us, try out this feature.

Net Neutrality: Not Neutral Anymore

Net neutralityIf you aren’t familiar with net neutrality, you are not alone. Most Internet users don’t realize what it is or how they can be effected. Below is a quick overview.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality legislation was put into place to prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against or showing favoritism toward certain websites. Let’s say you use your local cable and Internet comp for streaming video; without Net Neutrality they could now intentionally slow down the stream of competing services such as Netflix, giving themselves an unfair advantage.

How Will It Impact You?

Broadband providers will be able to charge consumers and companies varying rates. You could be charged more for a package that allows unrestricted access to streaming sites than someone else who only uses their Internet for email and reading newspapers.

What Does This Mean for Web Searches?

Currently, websites all have an equal opportunity to be found and visited. Without legislation in place to keep it that way, the stage is being set for large, established companies to be able to push out the little guy much like with current TV stations.

In a pay to play environment, large companies could put their websites in an express lane of searches. This is of course bad for smaller or new companies and bad for us as consumers, because our freedom to evaluate two services on a level playing field is restricted. This gives larger payers an advantage over smaller, similar services.

Specific to SEO, without net neutrality, it could mean that sites that rank high may not get the traffic or customers they did in the past. Also consider how highly Google values website speed; sites that are paying for speed will have access to their sites, a clear advantage based on money not merit.

The Internet has become a very integral part of our everyday lives. Even though recent legislation protecting Internet equality has been killed, it will take months if not years to see the full impact of an unregulated Internet.
If you are a small business owner with a websites or and online store, don’t completely overhaul everything just yet, the SEO industry isn’t going away for quite some time.

And the Future Will Be?

Web searches as we know them will be changing in the next couple years. But changes and evolution are just part of the game, good changes will evolve and bad ones will disappear. Help keep the internet equal for everyone:

SUPPORT NET NEUTRALITY

Why Business Thank You Notes Are Important

TY NOTE

Growing up we were always told saying thank you was important; writing a thank you note was even better. The art of sending a Thank You Note has faded a bit but there are still a lot of people that send them and for good reason. Not only does it show you are appreciative for an item, an action, or just a relationship, but in the business world you are giving your perspective customer or current customer another reason to see your name, your business name and just another “touch” in a world that likes to be noticed.

Sometimes we get busy, sometimes we just plain forget, but making sure to send a thank you is a GREAT thing when trying to make someone feel the warm and fuzzy. It requires very little effort, it doesn’t have to be a novel, just a quick jot of words will do. A proper thank you note contains just a few things; generous, specific, prompt, concise and personal. Even if you are late to write the note, don’t let that hold you back, late is better than not at all.

Writing a Thank You note will set you apart from your competitor. Like I said before, Thank You Notes are fading a lot from what they were in the past, so sending a handwritten thank you sets you apart from the other company that has been trying to get their business. When you send a thank you note, the receiver is more likely to see your worth and value your appreciation than just a quick email or social media post. Studies have shown the great power of saying thank you. When you send a Thank You to your customers they in turn spend more, they tell their friends about you and your service delivery.  This drives profit, margin and success.

The Well-Targeted Newsletter Audience

Imagine:

Example #1

It’s Friday afternoon and you’ve just sat down in your favorite chair on the porch with your favorite beverage in one hand and a stack of mail in the other. You revel in the fall breeze at it gently pushes away the once stuffy, hot air. It’s nice to be outside again.

You examine your stack of mail:

Cable TV ad. Nope.

Another “pre-qualified loan offer”. Not falling for that again.

Car insurance quote offer, for the hundredth time. Maybe later.    

Bills. Absolutely later.

Here is a newsletter from the community organization that you donated $20 to last year. Well that is interesting. What’s going on in the community? What are they doing with your investment? You can’t believe what you are reading. ALL OF THAT is happening right now? How can you help? You get this strange, powerful drive to do something for your community and look for a person to contact. All the info is right there.

Example #2

Next door to you, the neighbor kid has just gotten home from school, fallen on the couch, and is looking through his Facebook feed. Endless streams of information. But he isn’t really reading it, he is scanning, turning his brain off for a bit and only stopping when certain interesting words or images catch his eye.

Angry cat. Hah, that cat is great.

Political upheaval. Later, when I have more energy.

An ad for a T-shirt with his last name on it. The shirt reads: “It’s a Smith thing, you wouldn’t understand.” Clever, but that’s been way overdone.

Headline: “A man plunges into a rushing river and what he does next will amaze you”. No, it won’t. It will be disappointing. The picture displayed here won’t even be in the article and it will only be amazing to a toddler. Oh wait, no pictures. Not even toddlers are impressed. The kid starts to write a post about how annoying headlines have become and then erases it. Nobody cares about that either.

His attention piques when he sees a post about the alarming rate of child trafficking in Placer County.

The next few minutes are filled with furrowed brow, narrowed eyes, and held  breath. The wheels of alarm are turning. What can he do to help? He cares about his community a great deal and must do his part in something great. Well it says right there how to help, who to contact, and some words of encouragement. Hey look, a button that says “Yes, I will help organize a Safe Walk Home meeting at my school.” Yes please.

Example #3

Miles away in the city, a young woman is finally on her last hour of the work day. She checks her email one last time and notices an e-newsletter from the community organization that she volunteered at last year during a park trail cleanup. She likes getting emails from this organization because they gather up all the most important things going on in the outdoor (about as outdoor as you can get in the city) community and give her a snippet of what each thing is about. She thinks that the articles are always on point and usually relevant to how she can participate further or what has been done as a result of volunteers like her.

She’s had a rough day. She clicks on the link to learn more about using plants to create a stress free environment in the workplace. There is a great place right over in that corner for a succulent plant!

Reading this newsletter gives her inspiration to go outdoors over the weekend, and also to buy a plant for her office.

And look, they are having a tree planting event next week in the park! She will make sure to join. The park is just a couple blocks from her office.

These are what well-targeted readers and tailored content look like. Not every avenue is perfect for the entirety of every audience. In fact, it’s best for an organization or company with a wide range of clients or potential clients to reach out in different ways, according to segments of their audience. Not sure where to start?


Start Your Information and Invitation Funnel by:

  1. Surveying existing interested parties and researching their demographics and motivations so that you can get more readers like them.
  2. Decide on how to tailor content to each segment of your audience.
  3. Plan a timeline and follow it repeatedly, provided it works. Otherwise make adjustments.
  4. Make your content. What do you want your audience to do and how will you make it clear that they are to do that thing?
        
    Now is the time to send your message. Not sure how to get it done? Or are you concerned about the professional quality or the possibility of hitting the spam folder/trash can? If you get lost anywhere in the process or you just need somebody to take over in the social media, email, design, or printed newsletter department, give us a call! (888) 282-8764. Or email us at quote_request@api-marketing.com

FYI your SEO and PPC work together

Before I explain the details, let’s take a look why it is important for your online business marketing. As you may know, Google, Bing  and other search engines are basically how people find stuff on the web. It pulls out relevant information it thinks people might find useful. That’s millions of people looking for answers to their real-life questions every hour of every day.
So how do you find your way to the first page on search engines? There are basically two ways to do that: SEO and PPC. Both of them work, but do you need both? To really understand what the difference between SEO and PPC is, let’s take a look at them individually and see what their strengths and weaknesses would be. Continue reading FYI your SEO and PPC work together

Authenticity in Modern Marketing

A free range, grass fed blog postAuthenticity.  What does it mean to you?
Is it a pristine, original painting? A perfectly restored classic car? Perhaps organic fruits and vegetables? Artisan firewood? Using leeches as a way to heal wounds? Well, you get the picture. Humanity can get a little carried away with authenticity. But it sells. In fact, the Rule of Seven (“rule” stating that you must contact a person 7 times before they will consider your product or service), is becoming a laughable thing of the past. It’s no longer about how many times you contact somebody, it’s about HOW you contact them and if it is RELEVANT and COMPELLING to them.

We are obsessed with authenticity
In the digital age we are bombarded with demands for our attention,  In our over-processed lives nearly every outlet is untrustworthy. The things we do trust are original, simple, and down to earth. We are drawn to people and other creatures that persist, and that are unapologetic originals—because we want that too. This phenomena can be seen in nearly every issue on every side of the political aisle and is manifested in different ways.

Businesses can direct that passion and drive for authenticity on a product or service by speaking the new language of the consumer.
Continue reading Authenticity in Modern Marketing

“But I’m not ready for you to see my website!”

Cat with smily face placed over his mouth
Just fix it already

“I don’t like my website, I’m going to redo it soon” [like a year from now].

Does this sound familiar? Or how about “I’m going to invest in social media when I am ready for large orders.” But you aren’t ready for large orders because of several reasons, including not having a proper website for clients to view and/or place orders.

It’s 2017 and 39% of small business owners don’t have a website, and many that do are unhappy with the way it performs or looks. While there are several reasons that a website can do a poor job at generating leads, there are a few reasons that are unashamedly staring us all in the face.

Continue reading “But I’m not ready for you to see my website!”

Giving Like a Big DOG

Big DOG

If you haven’t heard of Big Day of Giving, you have either been living under a rock, are not from Northern California, or not on social media at all in the entire month of April!

For those that don’t know about it or don’t know the details, Big Day of Giving is a yearly event in the beginning of May and this year was held on May 4th. It is a program in the greater Sacramento region created to help spread the word of philanthropy. It is a twenty-four hour challenge for almost 600 non-profits to get as many online donations as possible. This big push for one full day of donating helps non-profits spread the word of the good work they do. The event helps to draw attention to all the amazing non-profits in our region. The goal is to bring donors and non-profits together for an experience to remember forever, or at least until the next year.

Along with the many donations from donors, there are also prizes given from sponsors throughout the day to help build momentum. Each hour a prize of $1,000 is given to the non-profit that got the most donations during that hour. There is a $1,000 donor prize each hour that goes to the non-profit that has the most unique donors during that hour. A booster prize is one that is a randomly selected donation from that hour adding anywhere from $250 to $1,000 to boost that donation. And lastly the blast off booster prize in which one of the donations made within the first 10 minutes of the event starting at midnight will get boosted by $1,000.

This year was the 4th year of the event and again it was a HUGE success! Raising nearly $7,200,000 from thousands of donors beating last years totals by nearly $100,000. This years donations brought the total to more than $23,000,000 in donations. The leader of the pack for the past three years is non other than one of our favorite printing partners Placer Land Trust. They have raised the most money during this event for the last three years and almost were the leader the first year but came in at a close second. We are happy to partner with them all year long for all their print and marketing needs!

Placer land trust logo

Although a large portion of the non-profits were from the immediate Sacramento region there was a great representation from the Placer County region as well and we are happy to call many of them our partners. We look forward to this event every year, helping out great non-profits exceed their donation goals. Every one of the non-profits are winners and we would like to congratulate them all!