Why SEO is the most underrated part of your marketing strategy

Flamingo started out as a social media agency, and we admit it’s still our bread and butter! This past year, however, we’ve been able to ramp up a lot of our other digital capabilities, and we’ve fallen in love with SEO as an extra-special ingredient in our marketing secret sauce.

First of all, what is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of web strategies to make it easier for Google (or Bing, or Duckduckgo, or whatever search engine you use) to find your business and its content. It involves everything from the words you use in your copy, to the amount of images and page headers you use in a particular webpage or blog. By making sure that Google doesn’t have to work as hard to search your website for the things consumers are likely to be looking for, it rewards you by ranking your content highly when people are looking for a certain term.

SEO is less complicated than you might think

SEO can seem scary, because when you start researching what is involved with it, you may come across a lot of highly technical terms that you may not know much about, such as “backlinks” “domain authority” “h1”, etc. Like most professional realms, self-proclaimed “experts” like to throw out these words to make unassuming consumers believe that this area is something that they can never know enough about to be useful and they should outsource this skill set at the soonest possible chance.

However, here at Flamingo, where love being our brands’ best kept secret, we’ll let you in on the fact that this is a misconception. In fact, SEO is much more about not doing the wrong things than it is worrying if you are doing the right things.

Avoid SEO no-no’s like these

  • Having pages on your website with no content or “Coming soon.” It’s better to add those pages when they are complete.
  • Checking your website on a mobile device to ensure everything is readable and working properly
  • Break up long areas of text with headers, bold text, and bulleted lists (see what we’re doing here? 🙂 )
  • Make sure your pages include at least one image

Ways to play the SEO game well

Think thoughtfully about what your customers will be looking for. Try Googling yourself or your business and see what comes up! But be realistic. For instance, Flamingo Consulting is one of hundreds of marketing agencies in Grand Rapids. We know better than to think we’ll be able to rank at the top of the list every time someone types in one of those key words. But we can rank for Alicia’s name, our own name, and some of our specialties, so we make those the things we prioritize in writing our website copy.

Also, simply having a Google Business page can catapult you to the top of page rankings, especially if your business has a brick-and-mortar location that can be seen on a map.

Need more help figuring out the SEO world, or would you like to have our team give you some advice? Contact us – we’d love to chat with you about how to make your website better!

Let’s Talk Content Marketing!

Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, and sharing content through channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, and more. The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.

But as a small business how do you achieve this? The Flamingo team has you covered! 

Why is content marketing important for your small business?

Content marketing allows you to build relationships between your business and customers. A stronger relationship means a stronger sense of loyalty to your brand! Also, you’re able to educate your customers on products and services through creative ways such as blogs, social media posts, and podcasts while reaching a greater audience. Overall, content marketing allows your business to build a sense of community for your brand and followers. 

Where to start

This stage of content marketing can seem overwhelming but following these steps will help!

  1. Determine your brand and the type of content you want to produce.

Ask yourself these questions: What do they need from you? Why do they need your products or services? The answers to these questions will help you understand your target audience, thus determining the marketing content your produce. Choose your content channels.

Once you have identified your target audience then you can decide which content channels your audience uses most effectively. If your audience is in their early 20s to early 30s then you might choose content channels such as social media (Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok) blogs, and podcasts. 

  1. Now it’s time to create content

This is the fun part – creating unique content to draw in your audience. This content will be shared on various channels depending on your audience. If you need some extra help developing and distributing your content, we’re here! Flamingo Consulting offers a FREE social media strategy session to start your small business on the right path. So your business can achieve the full potential of content marketing.  

  1. Track your results

Our last tip is to analyze and measure the results of how your content is performing. By looking at your business’s results you can determine if the strategy or content needs to be improved to reach a larger audience. 

When you introduce incredible content marketing to your small business, you can reach your target audience, build brand awareness, and increase sales. Remember to determine your brand, choose your content channels, create interesting content, and track your results. If you need that extra help to take your small business’s content marketing to the next level, you know who to contact!

How to Create a Brand Voice For Your Small Business

Having a consistent and meaningful brand voice is important for your small business to stand out from the crowd. But what exactly IS a brand voice? Brand voice is more than logos, fonts, and color schemes — it’s the personality of your business and the presence it creates. The voice of your brand is how your business communicates to your audiences with specific grammar, tone, messages, and images. All of those pieces create the image of your brand as a whole. How do you create a brand voice? We’ll explain.

Think of it this way: the way you dress, speak, and act represents you and those aspects create your image, just like brand voice is to the overall brand.

Know your audience

As a brand, you need to understand your audience. The content such as language, images, and even responding to comments and DM’s has to align with your brand voice and be appropriate for your audience. 

Consider this: if your audience is individuals in their 20’s to early 30’s, it will be vital to keep your messaging and content lively and relevant to keep your audience entertained and to attract new individuals to your small business. 

Knowing your audience will also help you to understand where to play. The 20s to 30s crowd is connecting in very different spaces than the 40s to 50s crowd.

Who are you?

It is hard to stand out from the virtual crowd. Before creating content it is important to ask yourself a few questions to define your voice:

If your business was a person how would you describe it to your friends? Is your business authentic, relatable, and fun or is it mature, formal, and informative? 

Defining the characteristics of your small business will help you and your team in the long run when developing content.

First Impressions Matter 

Once you’ve developed those defining characteristics of your brand, it’s time to put those into action. A consistent brand voice is essential for your business because it controls your business’s impression. The messages you send out to your audiences represent how they see you. With that in mind, the type of language you chose to use has a large impact on the image of your business. Also, the tone of the messages matters depending on the context of your message. No matter what the subject of your message is, it is important to keep in mind your brand voice. You always want to make sure the content you are putting out represents your business. 

Stand Out From the Crowd

After you have finalized your small business’s brand voice, it’s time to get your hands dirty. This is the fun part: creating unique content for your small business that represents your mission and values. No matter what, you should always stay consistent with your messaging – online and offline. Also, your small business is unique, so you shouldn’t need to copy your competitors. Their branding may be working for them but you need to stand out from the rest. Put your own twist on your messaging to make your small business stand out from your competitors.

Remember that a consistent and meaningful brand voice is important for your small business to thrive. Though we understand that it can be hard to define and implement it. Flamingo Consulting offers 1×1 coaching options and brand voice workshops to help you define and grow into your unique brand voice. Contact us today to schedule yours!

Does my business need a year-end review?

Does my business need a year-end review? I’m going to make this easy – the answer is YES. Especially this year, I’ve heard a LOT of pushback from business owners about not feeling a need to make this a priority – and the reasons usually fall into 1 of 3 camps:

“I’m only looking forward – there’s no reason to look back because we can’t change anything.”

“This year was a dumpster fire. I just need to pretend it never happened.” or…

“It’s just TOO BIG. There’s too much. I don’t know where to start. Does my business need a year-end review?

I get it. This has been a year for the record books – and not always in a good way! But reviewing your business – even when the business world is amiss – can give you great insight into how to be bigger, better, and faster going forward. Don’t believe me? Check out these 5 BIG reasons you need to review your business at the end of a year like 2020:

  1. It will improve your learning curve. Looking back on good – and especially not so good – choices you made can make you more apt to learn what works and what doesn’t for you and your business. You’ll be able to react quicker, with more confidence, and with better results by analyzing your wins and losses.
  2. It will help you avoid making the same mistakes again. Think about when you were first learning to ride a bike. Or, really, your first time doing ANYTHING. The slip-ups, the bad leans, trying to move too fast – they all taught you how to actually complete the task appropriately. When push comes to shove, the mistakes show you something to learn. EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES in their business. EVERYONE. They’re necessary but you don’t want to repeat those mistakes.
  3. You can better anticipate the future. We hear this all the time: History often repeats itself. While there’s no such thing as a business crystal ball (wouldn’t that have been helpful?), looking for the signs of repeating patterns can give you a jump-start on what external and internal factors could affect your business. Those may be frequent buying cycles for your customers (like holidays), surging trends in your competition, and even your own burnout cycle that may impact how efficiently your business runs. By analyzing and understanding your own trends and patterns, you can be more prepared to keep moving in the direction of your goals when those trends start showing up again.
  4. You can acknowledge and build on your successes. This one is especially for those of you in the “dumpster fire” group. It’s easy to look at a year of change and say “I didn’t do anything right.” Identifying what you did well – whether it was a full product launch, or even one small item from each project – will give you the confidence you need to keep growing and allow you to capitalize on that success and keep the momentum going from one part of your business to the next.
  5. Finally, You can learn from others’ experiences. Learning from other entrepreneurs’ successes and pitfalls can give you insight and inspiration for new options with your own business – just like your experience can help others learn. Rising tides raise all ships, right? Networking and having a safe space to share your experience and learn from others is KEY. Whether you’re learning from their experience, their actions, or even their mindset when they made the decisions they made can help you move forward with your own business.

That’s it! 5 HUGE reasons to review your business! Do we have you convinced now? Sign up for a chat with us if you’re afraid to get started and we’ll show you just how easy it can be!

3 Reasons Your Company Needs to Maximize Social Media

When you think of promoting your company and your brand, what do you picture? Emails, print ads, brochures and commercials? Maybe signage outside your brick-and-mortar business. The basics, right? These are a few tried and true ways businesses have promoted themselves in the past. However, as the world has changed – especially this year – businesses everywhere are having trouble using these the way they used to. Whether you’re breaking ground on your first business or you’ve been in the game for years, there’s one aspect today’s businesses can’t survive without: Social media. How do you maximize your social media presence?

It’s impossible to ignore. No matter where you go, you’re constantly surrounded by people Tweeting, commenting, sharing, liking… The list goes on and on. And although social media may seem like a trivial detail, it deserves every bit of hype it’s gotten.

Social media’s multigenerational reach is stronger now than ever before. Teens, young adults, parents and even their parents are all connecting and sharing through these virtual coffee shops – For a company desperately seeking exposure with its target audience, this opportunity is unprecedented.

While the amount of information on social media may seem overwhelming to those newcomers out there, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done all the digging for you and have compiled the top 3 benefits of having a strong social media presence.

1. Customer Reach

First, let’s start with the numbers. According to this article on Oberlo.com titled, there are about 3.08 billion social media users as of 2020. I repeat, 3.08 billion. For reference, there are around 7 billion people in the world – so that’s nearly half of the entire planet. What does this mean to you as a business owner? Reach. This is undeniably the greatest benefit of social media in relation to companies – particularly for smaller or budding businesses. The sheer number of social media users provides the potential to connect with tens of thousands of new consumers who were previously unreachable. According to Hootsuite.com, 92% of Instagram users say they’ve followed a brand, clicked on their website, or made a purchase after seeing a product/service on the platform. To sweeten the pot, 84% of Instagram users say they’re open to discovering small/local brands, or new brands and products. This is a major win for every startup, mom n’ pop shop, or small-town business. Moral of the story: whether they’re 10 miles or 1,000 miles away, you can quickly and easily reach consumers on a global level through social media. With each post, share, comment and ‘like,’ you’re exposing your company to more and more consumers. The further your reach, the greater your awareness.

2. Decreased Marketing/Advertising Costs.

The second major benefit of having a strong social media presence is the potential to lower your marketing and advertising costs. Traditional avenues can cost your company thousands of dollars and may still ultimately be ineffective. Two perks of advertising through social media: it costs nothing to create an account, and there are proven metrics to monitor your progress. Add in the benefits of social media ads to increase exposure– all at a cost much lower than traditional ads – and you have a winner.

Still not sure? Consider this stat from Business News Daily: 78 percent of people say that companies’ social media posts influence their purchases. That means nearly 4 out of 5 consumers are basing their purchasing decisions on a medium that cost virtually nothing to the company. That means more cash stays with your business and you increase your sales.

3. Improved Customer Service.

Last, but not least – a strong social media presence allows for improved customer service. How, you ask? Picture this – It’s Monday morning and your new coffee-maker has just been delivered. You unpack it, plug it in and realize it won’t brew. You call customer service only to hear you have 45 minutes until the next available representative. So now you’re stuck on hold, angry and uncaffeinated.

Sound familiar? This is where social media gives companies a unique advantage. Increasing lines of communication means more accessible customer service. We are seeing more and more individuals Tweet, direct message, and tag companies to get their attention. If you have a strong social media presence, your accounts can provide the unique opportunity to converse with individual customers in real time. Thus, allowing you to address and resolve customer service concerns as they occur. The quicker you can resolve an issue, the happier your customers will be.

And, it gets even better: You can also score your business some major brownie points if you handle a customer issue properly. When publicly addressing a customer service matter, a quick and sympathetic resolution will show fellow consumers that you value your customers, not just their wallet.

Social media for businesses in a no-brainer these days – are you using it to its full potential? If not, you’re leaving a LOT of business on the table! Book a chat with us to learn more about how your company needs to maximize its social media now!

Impact and Loss of an Advocate and Ally: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Politics aside, this country has, in my opinion, suffered a huge loss in the last month – one I, as a female business owner, feel I need to pay tribute to. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, passed away on September 18, 2020. As though an election year complete with a pandemic and an economic crisis wasn’t rough enough, I feel our country lost a true advocate for gender rights. Whoever replaces her will have some huge shoes to fill.

Notorious RBG, as she has been lovingly come to be called, was a steadfast fighter for equality among genders. I truly believe that had she not paved the way over her 87 years, my life would be drastically different – and Flamingo Consulting LLC would not have been possible. Her influence resonates in everything we try to do as a business:

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” -RBG

She believed in strategic change over a complete overhaul. She embraced the idea that change cannot happen overnight. Prior to her role on the bench, Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked with the ACLU and founded the Women’s Rights Project. Here, she focused on making one legal precedent at a time, allowing for major shifts to occur over time.

As a business, we at Flamingo Consulting push for the same thing. We want every move to be in the right direction – one that supports the vision of our clients and one that makes them proud to continue to build and grow. This belief in small changes having a great impact allows a business, a brand, or a country to shift and grow as the world changes.

“Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” – RBG

She fought for women’s rights for EQUALITY with men, which also meant fighting for men’s rights. While it seems a little counterintuitive at first to achieve gender equity by fighting for men’s rights, it was clear RBG knew how necessary this was. She spent her early career fighting for men’s rights as caregivers of family members and the spouses of female service personnel. She did not push for women to surpass men, but to be their partners and their equals.

She continuously discouraged legislatures from treating men and women different under the law – focusing instead on allowing all of us of any gender the ability to choose our own path.

A female entrepreneur was nearly unheard of – especially one who would be coaching and supporting other businesses. Add in the ability to both start and grow a business (a traditionally masculine role) while being a SAHP (Stay At Home Parent – a traditionally feminine role) – and my very existence in the business world would never have been acceptable without her strategic shifts over her career as both an advocate and a judge. How different would your world look – even if YOU were able to start your own business? How different would your support system, your vendors, your marketing look if not for the many boss babes we work and interact with now?

“If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.” – RBG

She believed in partnership in relationships. Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her husband, Martin Ginsberg, shared a 56-year long relationship and partnership. The two worked in tandem, supporting each other throughout their fair share of struggles. Soon after the birth of their first child, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Ruth not only attended classes for him to take notes, she typed his dictated papers and cared for him and their young daughter, all while attending law school herself. Martin continued to support his wife’s dreams and advocated heavily for her first court appointment. He felt she belonged on the bench and focused on her career path as much as his own.

Throughout their decades together, the two worked together not only for their careers, but to balance the roles at home. Martin lovingly told stories of his wife’s terrible cooking and how he out of self-preservation, had to learn to become a better cook. Ruth, in order to keep the household duties equitable, took over the role of cleaning up.

This overall shift in acceptable behavior led to a generation – my generation – that believed there was room for two partners or spouses to be equals – and for both to be successful. I have consistently been supported by my husband, who views my work as equally important to his. In every regard, he has given me the space and opportunity to grow my business in the time we have – from supporting my decision to leave the corporate world to become a SAHP, encouraging me to create businesses that fuel my passion, supporting me to attend seminars and training, giving me the opportunity to take evening and weekend meetings while he plays the primary parent role, or even being behind the scenes as a supporter and cheerleader. Without the cultural shift brought about by RBG’s (and Martin’s) inspiration, my role would have been simply to be home or to work for someone else – and I’d have been fighting my own entrepreneurial spirit in order to maintain my predetermined role.

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.” -RBG

She didn’t always win, but she made sure she was heard. Especially later in her career on the Supreme Court, she made it a point to not only write her dissenting opinion when needed, but to actually read it from the bench. She did not want an opposing opinion to be lost to the law textbooks but to allow the masses to hear a differing opinion, even if it was not the winning opinion.

By going on the record with her opinion, she could be sure that the masses – the normal folks like me who do not sit down to read legal opinions – could hear both sides when all 9 judges obviously did not agree. It allowed for discussion and changed perceptions. She did not go to the presses to bash those who disagreed. She simply did what she could with her judicial position to be sure she acknowledged that differences existed (check out this great list of her dissensions for examples: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s top opinions and dissents, from VMI to Voting Rights Act)

I am, by nature, vocal about my opinion when I have one. I certainly do not expect to win every argument or to be the primary leader in every endeavor, but I will certainly voice a dissent. I proudly stand by my opinion, but will go in the direction that is needed, even when my opinion isn’t the winning one. And – in business as well as law – that dissent is necessary for growth.

“Fight for things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” -RBG

Finally, she advocated for not only improving your life, but to bring others with you. Throughout her career – with the ACLU, on the bench, and even in the public eye – Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an advocate for learning, teaching, and becoming more. She embraced her gifts of understanding and speaking to be the voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. She fought tirelessly until her dying day for equity for all of us – no matter gender, skin color, or upbringing. Her impact was seen and understood – and she was honored by being the first woman and first Jewish person ever to lie in state at the US Capitol. Flags were held at half-staff for 30 days. 2500 people attended her vigil the day following her death and mourners around the country hosted vigils at their local courthouses. Thousands poured in from around the country to pay their respects and many more mourned at home.

Her influence allowed others to follow in her footsteps and continue to push the barriers that kept women in inferior roles. Her precedents, opinions, and dissents allowed others to thrive and embrace the roles they were meant to have – whether they were traditional or not.

This particular trait is something I live and breathe every day. I firmly believe there is room for everyone to be successful in business, and I strive to give as many business owners the tools and support to build a stronger, more consistent business. I actively seek out new relationships with emerging or newly-graduated writers and marketers who are looking to grow their skills and résumé in a career path that doesn’t always offer the “first big break.” I donate time to aspiring entrepreneurs who just need a little direction. I support moms who are wanting to rejoin the workforce or find alternatives to a traditional “job” that takes them away from the day-to-day experiences and activities with their small humans. If Flamingo Consulting does nothing else, I want this business to be known for helping businesses and people to grow into what they are driven to be.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneer for women like me – women who didn’t want to be solely defined and limited by their gender and their expected role. She paved the way for millions of women to push for equal pay, the right to fight for their country, and the right to choose their own direction in life.
As a woman, a female business owner, and a mother of young girls – the loss of this ally is heartbreaking. I can only hope to use these rights she fought so hard for to better the lives of those around me – to support my family, to bring up the next generation of movers and shakers and dissenters, and to live the life that I have chosen and be an example for other strong women to rise.

~ Alicia Shumaker

Founder & Owner – Flamingo Consulting LLC