Rebranding a Small Business: Valley Window & Door

Rebranding a Small Business: Valley Window & Door

Established in 1985, Valley Window and Door, a well-established Pembroke business was in need of a brand make-over.

The company logo had strong bones but its application was inconsistent: green, yellow and black on most signage, solid green on job sites, and blue on many of the service vehicles.

When it came to messaging, the most often used taglines — and there were several — were either too vague or too narrow in scope: Windows For Life, and Turning Dreams Into Reality.

Owners Jeff Jessup and Ian Lloyd wanted to rebuild their corporate brand by bringing consistency and impact to their visual identity, and targeting their messaging to better reflect the range of products and services they offer all year ’round.

First we drafted a marketing strategy in which we defined target markets, buyer personas, traditional and online marketing tools and tactics, a 12-month media calendar, and an annual marketing budget.

Logos for Valley Window and Door - old and new

As with any good rebranding project, we started by reworking the corporate logo. We simplified the icon and standardized the wordmark. Then we established a contemporary and pleasing colour palette and accommodated flexibility in its application.

To correct the assumption that home renovation contracting is only a fair-weather service, we drafted a tagline that said it all: Your Home Renovation Experts | 365.

When it came to applying the new brand, we started small by updating the corporate business cards featuring head shots by John A. Butler Photography.

Valley Window and Door Business Cards

Then our Design House team rebuilt the Valley Window and Door website, transforming it from a technical portal into an engaging online portfolio of the company’s product and service offerings.

screen capture of valley window and door website

Wrapping it in the refreshed corporate identity, the new website features a wide range of enticing product photography and concise yet detailed text content.

Google Analytics show that the Valley Window and Door blog, which features helpful posts on how to care for windows, doors, sunrooms and decks is proving to be very popular for visitors to the site. And the Get A Quote form is very effective in capturing leads and contact info of potential clients. On the back end, the customer database is building.

Reflecting the Ottawa Valley culture where personal relationships are key to business success, the Valley Window and Door Facebook business page has always had a solid following of family, friends, clientele and suppliers.

In spring 2017 to count down the end of a two-month window promotion, Design House created a series of boosted Facebook posts that ran one per day.

Thanks to strong visual imagery supplied by Valley’s suppliers and simple bold graphics, this first foray into inbound marketing proved to be a very affordable, engaging and successful marketing tactic.

Over time, Design House plans to work the Valley Window and Door inbound marketing strategy by rolling out social media posts and ads that by far out-perform traditional media spends. As well, the new brand identity graphics and colour palette will be consistently applied as signage, store and vehicle graphics are updated.

Watch for it, for years to come — just like the Valley Window and Door staff and job crews — this refreshed corporate brand will be working 365 to boost the success of the longstanding local business that it anchors.

Talk Directly to Your Buyers Via Branded Emails

Talk Directly to Your Buyers Via Branded Emails

A recent article in Renovation Contractor magazine stated that businesses embracing email marketing enjoy 40% higher revenues on average. For most entrepreneurs, that’s a number that can’t be ignored.

Top Sharing Tool

The world of social media offers an ever-increasing variety of tools and tactics, but the simple fact is that email was the first online sharing tool, and it remains the most widely used.

While many of us use email to keep connected with family and friends, email has also proven to be a very valuable inbound marketing tool for small businesses with modest budgets.

The Money is in the List

The cornerstone of every effective inbound marketing strategy is your database of current contacts. Use social networks to funnel new users to your website or blog, then capture new leads by offering free incentives or exclusive deals. For optimum results tag and sort your contacts according to buyer profiles, matching target markets with the products and services your offer.

On average, 20% of your email database will stale-date each year, so it’s crucial to keep it current by scrubbing bounced addresses and refreshing email contacts on a regular basis.

Authenticating all email addresses will help prevent your emails from turning to spam, so it’s best to ask permission as part of the sign-in process. In Canada, that’s a best practice and the law.

Email Builds Brands

In today’s business environment, email trumps traditional communications. Archaic marketing tools like the dreaded cold call, and expensive print media and postal costs have been replaced with branded emails that are dynamic, direct and highly engaging.

When used strategically, branded emails share targeted messaging timed to reflect client profiles and user algorithms. And from a budget perspective, email is by far the best buy for your buck. It costs marginally more to distribute an email campaign to 4000 contacts, than it does to reach 400.

Tools of the Trade

Smart marketers are using engaging emails to:

  • say thank you for recent work
  • distribute monthly or quarterly e-newsletters
  • email appointment or service reminders
  • send personalized renewal notices
  • promote special offers and discounts
  • invite referrals and reviews on social media

Remember to keep your content engaging so your audience will stay subscribed — and even better — forward your emails to others. Always link back to relevant content on your website or blog. Use a responsive template to accommodate mobile devices, and integrate auto-responders to provide follow-up emails at preset intervals.

The Numbers Have It

Another key feature that pushes email well above traditional telemarketing and snail mail as a must-have inbound marketing tool, is that emailing platforms such as Constant Contact and MailChimp provide unprecedented user analytics. This means you can track who receives, opens and clicks on the content you’re sending out.

As a smart entrepreneur you’ll use these stats to shape and schedule follow-up campaigns to effectively engage your buyers.

Studies show that for every dollar invested in email marketing, businesses enjoy a $44 dollar return. By my math, that’s an investment worth leveraging.

Use Inbound Tools and Tactics to Market in the Year You’re Doing Business

Use Inbound Tools and Tactics to Market in the Year You’re Doing Business

Most small business owners aren’t marketing in the year in which they’re operating — words of wisdom from online marketing guru and venture capitalist, Gary Vaynerchuk.

Many entrepreneurs are still spending the bulk of their advertising dollars in traditional media such as print, radio and ad mail. But as he illustrates, if a carload of people are driving past your billboard, the driver has his eyes on the road, the rest are surfing their mobile devices. So your investment is lost on them!

The same goes for newspaper advertising. Browse through your local daily and you’ll notice that it’s mostly editorial. Gone are the days when ads balanced out the news. Papers are running half-page ads promoting their inbound marketing and SEO services. That’s because we’re accessing our news online and in real time. So why would we wait 24 hours for it to arrive on our doorstep? And why would we invest our advertising dollars in redundant media?

Change Is Hard

To be fair, the online marketing landscape is changing so quickly and radically that it’s hard for many small business owners to keep up.

Those I talk to feel like they’ve got one foot on the dock and the other in the boat. They know they’re not spending their advertising dollars as effectively as they could be, but at the same it’s easier to stick with what they know.

If they’ve been in business for at least a decade, print brochures and newspaper ads, radio spots and ad mail are still their go-to media. And the bulk of their annual marketing spends that are directed by commissioned media reps who push contracts across the desk — or coffee-shop table — to be signed without a spec of strategic planning.

The result is shotgun marketing. The bang can be big but short-lived. The reach can be wide and broadly targeted. But the disconnect with your consumer is real. So one must do this repeatedly to convince a consumer to connect. Traditional media makes it so much harder to convert a cold lead into an engaged consumer.

Change Is Good

Conversely, if your potential customer is browsing online to find a solution that fits their needs, effective targeting can mean they’re only a click or two away from landing on your website and providing you with their email address. Just like that a cold lead converts into a valuable prospect and you build your business.

Cost-wise, it’s hard to print anything – from business cards to billboard – without spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars. If you’re not aware of how much you can buy in online ads and social media with the same amount of money, you’d be smart to find out.

Change Is Constant

Take some advice from someone who started her career BEFORE computers and mobile devices – at work and at home. Never stop learning and exploring.

The internet offers a wealth of resources and tactics to tap into. With a bit of time and tech, you too can become an effective inbound marketer. If you’re part of a team, ask the youngest in your circle for advice – they’re consuming these online tools with their morning cappuccino.

Smart business owners will hire an inbound marketing professional to help navigate the options, develop strategy and roll out tactics that cost less and target better. User analytics will prove where your money is best spent.

So change has come – big-time. Start inbound marketing today!

Inbound Marketing: How Much Will It Cost Me?

Inbound Marketing: How Much Will It Cost Me?

It’s never easy to talk about money — but in business it’s always top of mind. So when I put a call out for questions, it was the first one that came in: “How much does inbound marketing cost?”

Quick answer: “Much less than traditional media.”

I just checked in with a peer who’d hosted a booth at a regional trade show. Their spot wasn’t the greatest. Geographically they were pushing the limits of connecting to their target market. And it cost $2000. My first thought was she could have bought a lot of social media with that kind of money!

Shift Your Budget

Add up your marketing budget for last year. If you’ve been investing in print, TV or radio, I guarantee you’ll reach a more targeted market with less money by switching to inbound marketing. And if you’ve been using snail mail to deliver your print promotions, then your savings increase exponentially.

By shifting your spend towards an inbound strategy, you’ll leverage the best of social media: free platforms and low-cost engagement tools to reach an ever-expanding, organically grown network of family, friends and business connections. That’s why it’s also called viral marketing.

Time Versus Money

Social media works best when you share content that provides solutions to the problems your customers are looking to fix. It’s about the soft sell — building community by sharing online resources that engage and inform your buyers.

If you’re comfortable creating and uploading your own content (text, images and video), with a bit of training you’ll save money by doing much of the work yourself. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do so, then we can help by setting up a monthly media calendar and sharing quality content on your behalf.

Geared to Your Business

To get started you need the basics: a bit of a plan, a good website and an active presence on the social media platforms where your buyers hang out.

Once we draft your marketing plan you’ll want to update it annually. Your biggest investment will be your website, so think of it as a long-term spend that will serve you well for several years. Then set a fixed monthly budget (time and/or money) to cover social media posts and branded emails to keep your business top-of-mind.

Remember, we’re shifting your spend to get more bang for your buck – from traditional offline marketing to measurable inbound marketing tactics.

By doing it right, inbound marketing is sure to pay off!

Top Three Inbound Marketing Tactics

Top Three Inbound Marketing Tactics

In a recent session with a potential client, we talked about the various tools and tactics of effective inbound marketing. We covered a lot of ground in an hour, so on her way out the door this small business owner turned to me and asked: “If I can focus on only three tactics, what should they be?”

The answer is easy: Plan, Portal, Post.

Start With a Basic Plan

Every business needs an inbound marketing plan even if it’s only one page to start with. Focus on the coming year with an eye to the next two to four. Choose your marketing team, and engage them in a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Reflect on your goals, target markets, products and services, and the challenges you face building your brand.

Add a 12-month media calendar, and a block budget to track spending. Track your analytics, then update your marketing plan annually to record what works and what you need to change and improve to reap the benefits of a solid inbound marketing strategy.

marketing plan iconSee PAGE 3 to read more about developing your inbound marketing plan >

Invest in a Responsive Website

About 50% of small businesses do not have a website, but it’s the smart entrepreneur who understands the need for an engaging online portal. While the upfront costs can be considerable, think of it as a long-term investment. If you build on a dynamic content management system, your code base should last at least five years.

With the ever-increasing use of mobile devices your portal must be responsive – which means the content reflows to adapt to various screen sizes from desktop through to mobile phone.

Once you launch your portal, remember that websites are organic entities – they must be fed to remain relevant and to increase your chances of rising to the top of various search engines. Make sure your web master optimizes your metadata – better yet, learn how to do the same as you add new content.

website iconSee PAGE 10 to read more about developing an effective website >

Share on Social Media

Social media is a powerful brand builder. Statistics show its users are more likely to buy from the businesses they follow than from those they don’t. Determine which social media platforms are most popular with your buyers based on their interests and relationships, and become an active player on that online hub.

Start with one social media network, scan for problems you can solve, then post meaningful advice. The first step is to earn trust – never overtly oversell. Share original content by linking back to your website whenever you can, but also promote access to relevant online resources that you find useful and engaging.

social media iconSee PAGE 15 for helpful tips on optimizing your social media >

So there you have it: effective inbound marketing in three easy steps. Depending on where you are in your small business brand building, roll these tactics out concurrently or focus on one at a time.

The Best Time to Start a Blog Was 20 Years Ago

The Best Time to Start a Blog Was 20 Years Ago

The second best time is today. And today is the day for me! But why now and what took so long?

To Engage

My mom always said I loved to talk. But starting up a cold conversation can be a daunting task. In May 2015, I joined the local chapter of BNI, and since then the frequency of business-based conversation in my day has multiplied exponentially. And I’m loving it!

Because, as a creative thinker who embraces the concept of collaborative models, I’ve learned that rich conversation is at the heart of building healthy community. If we can feel safe sharing within a framework that accepts differing points of view and skill sets, we’ll deepen the connection between service provider and client.

To Teach

To quote inbound marketing guru Marcus Sheridan, “Content marketing is a culture — we can all be teachers.”

Hosting a blog means I can purposefully create content that’s relevant to my target audience: small business owners and service providers. It means I can extend the reach of our conversations and help others by sharing ever more broadly.

To Validate

As a small business owner myself, this blog is also a personal challenge. It means I’m going to woman-up and literally put my money where my mouth is.

I aim to prove that by strengthening my online voice, I will in turn build awareness for Design House and expand our client base. And as I have for the past thirty plus years, I will leverage what I learn for the benefit of others — business, non-profit and municipal partners alike.

To Inspire

As always, I continue to encourage my peers to do the same: to embrace a sharing strategy that makes our whole greater than the sum of our parts.

Inbound marketing, content marketing, social marketing or emarketing — whatever we want to call it. We all need to jump into the proverbial sandbox and learn how to play with others by embracing the tools and tactics of online communications.

I’m in!