decision tree for creative agency services

Can you help us test our new “decision tree”?

We’ve changed our website home page.  It’s now got a new graphic of an apple and orange there.

Behind this is a cunning “decision tree”.

What happens next?

Please help us test it out by visiting our home page and clicking on the image (or by clicking on the image below) and see what you discover.

Please send us your feedback! It’s a new technology we’re trying and want to hear your thoughts.

Thank you

decision tree for creative agency services

Could you use a similar device on  your website to help guide your prospective customers through your services and products?

 

This is the second one we’ve done – the first was for FeedBlitz – they use it to help readers understand the FeedBlitz services for RSS delivery for email, feeds, podcasts as an alternative to FeedBurner.

FeedBlitz leaves FeedBurner standing

Leave FeedBurner

Write your new business development year plan with us

What’s the best way to market my business to get more paying customers?

The answer, is a new business development plan.  That’s a month by month chart of activities.  It includes proactive marketing that builds up your business profile which leads to enquiries which become sales.  It’s a continuous cycle.

Join us for in a business development workshop to write your own plan.  

This workshop is for business owners and managers who are responsible for finding new clients and growing revenues.  It will show you the practical, tried and tested techniques that the Creative Agency Secrets team uses for its clients.

Eventbrite - Write your new business development year plan with Creative Agency Secrets

You will learn:

  1. How to create a unique company profile.
  2. A check list of marketing activities .
  3. New business pipeline analysis and tracking template.
  4. What you need to do to get better known in your industry.
  5. Learn relationship building for getting and keeping long term clients.
  6. How to spot opportunities for new business sales.
  7. The business process that delivers leads.
  8. What to measure to track progress.

And it is all compiled into a unique 12 month plan for your business.

“I thought it was great, enlightening and thoroughly enjoyed the ideas. I also appreciated all the little things that can be done and those things that don’t take money but have a big impact. It was great and I thoroughly would recommend it to all business owners looking to expand business online.Julie Soboil, co-owner, Hushamok

The business session with you was very good – reinforced my thinking but was given expert and very helpful and thoughtful information for me to digest.Dr. Helen Mitchell, Managing Director, Anti-Aging World

Each attendee will take home a high level plan for their business – planned through the year with month by month activities.

You will walk out at the end of the day (29th of August) with a plan lasting twelve months, bespoke to the needs of your business.  These plans work – we use them all the time for our clients – so the method is tried, tested and very adaptable to YOUR business needs.

This is your chance to get top flight advice without the price.

Be Quick – there’s a BONUS OFFER for early bird subscribers on the event page.  We are very much looking forward to welcoming you.

Kickstart your business for biz dev success with Creative Agency Secrets 

3 ways to improve proposal writing next steps

We advised a client today about how to make 3 improvements to their proposal ending texts.  Writing a descriptive of your service or product and pricing it is only part of the new business development process.  It is essential that it leads to a next step to keep the discussion going and lead towards a buy/no-buy decision by the prospect.

Three key information points in a proposal

  1. clarifying next steps
  2. adding a timescale
  3. pushing the client towards buying what you want to sell

Here is the original ending paragraph they wrote:

Let me know if you are interested in talking more. If it would help, we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2 if you provide us with some game event data. As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.

By improving the text the reader is given clear expectations about next steps in the discussion process .

We recommended editing the last paragraph to give clarity on the 3 key information points

“The next step is for you to send us with some game event data and we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2.  

As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.  We would make a nominal charge for this work of $XXX which will be fully refundable if we proceed to a full implementation.  

I will call you on Wednesday next week to confirm when you can send us the data and a date for the demo.”  

Although sounding rather presumptuous this text sets clear expectations with regard to timeframes and next steps against which you can update your biz dev pipeline.

What are your favourite closing sentences in a proposal?7 Make New Biz Happen icon

GoHachi introduces you to new biz dev prospects

Getting in front of the people you want to sell to is difficult. Hell, we even wrote a how to manual about ways to research and find contact details of people online.

GoHachi threatens to make this history with its network-of-networks approach to business referrals and introductory sales.

I was an early beta tester and I love the idea of joining together all my networks and using whichever works best to connect with prospects.

So when Hachi invited me to test it out again, I jumped at the chance.

Hachi is improved

Take a look at the nice graphics and easy site layout.  All good for UX.

I added in my Linked In contacts.

Hachi linked in connections

Hachi linked in connections

– but was a bit confused because I thought I’d already done them.

My profile photo isn’t rendering properly (but I know what I look like).

Hachi helps make a connection to a prospect

Hachi helps make a connection to a prospect

So I thought I’d try out a couple of new introductions.

I browsed the “surprise me” tab to see who Hachi thought I should connect to.

Then I ran and saved a search for “marketing managers” in Auckland, New Zealand.  Came up with someone at Fonterra – a  milk marketing and buying company so I thought I’d give it a go.

Hachi offered me 5 possible routes to connect and I selected Jason – who I know from PocketSmith (cute financial planning tool).

Irritatingly, it doesn’t offer me the chance to just click and send.  I have to manually type in his email (necessitated going to Linked In which I thought I’d connected).

Hachi requires you to insert email

Hachi requires you to insert email

There’s a nice page where you can keep track of all the introductions you have in progress.

Let’s see what comes back.

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Writing a cold email introduction

Copywriting for new business development involves meeting and starting conversations with new people all the time.

Sometimes, you have to write to someone you don’t already know and this is called “a cold” email.

I just received this one – and I think it’s quite good.

Hi Rebecca,
 
I bet you’re inundated with emails so I’ll make it quick.
I’d like to write some free killer content guides for Start-up Marketing software for your blog.
Here’s an example of my writing style. I write content that sells:
I’ve written for Huff Po, Social Media Explorer, Creative Bloq and I’m writing for Mens Health atm.
Let me know if you’re interested and I can send over some article ideas for you to review!
Kind Regards
 
 
David Duncan,
Social Search Consultant,
Here’s what I like about the message
  1. it’s short.
  2. it opens with a statement to make me empathise with the writer
  3. it comes straight to the point and makes the offer in line 3
  4. the reassurance about the author’s skill is designed for a business reader (like me)

There’s only one thing wrong with it.

The link to the article is NOT actually authored by David Duncan – it’s by his boss.

Pity

How to introduce your business by email

Copy this email introduction for your business; make a template and add in key information about your business.

In my networking group, we’re working hard to make it really EASY for members to introduce each other to new prospects and new clients.

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was asked by the group to help coach them in the best way to write an introduction that others could use.  So here’s an introduction to my own firm and a commentary on what information to put down for yourself.

Now read the perfect email introduction.

What does my business do?

This is an email you can send about our services
Creative Agency Secrets is an expert in marketing and promoting businesses using traditional and online methods.  We work as the outsourced marketing team for busy businesses doing marketing that starts conversations and leads to sales.
 
I have seen their work for [name a client] and used them for my own business to write the copy on our website About Us page.  And I’ve also recommended them several times and had great feedback especially about their careful attention to detail.
 
I will leave you two to connect – I’ve spoken to you both about each other and shared your emails and phone numbers below.

The elements in an email introduction

Start: with your one-liner…. who are you and what do you do
Build: with an example of their work for someone you both know, preferably.  If you can’t say you have worked personally with them, a mutual acquaintance is a positive reinforcer.
Memorability: Add an anecdote that describes your experience – if you can make it funny, cute or WOW that’s best but not strictly necessary.

End: Include all the information they need to continue a dialogue without you….

We plan on creating a shared document for everyone so they can cut/paste the text into emails for business referrals for new business development.

The best introductions are when you’ve spoken personally to both parties.  NOTE not emailed, spoken….

Want to know more? Make sure to download our FREE e-book "Cold Emails – Doing it right and netting yourself leads".

cold emails ebook

The Top 6 most popular articles of all time

How to make a visually attractive QR code

QR codes enable website linking from mobile phones. And are a simple way to connect your prospects to your physical marketing materials.

They are butt-ugly.

Who wants to ruin a nice design with a pixellated image plonked down in the corner of the page?

We’ve found easy ways to improve the look of QR.

Unitag QR Code Generator Review

Unitag Live is a website that lets you create and customise QR codes in a huge variety of ways. More free online QR code generators have limited customisation but Unitag lets you add your logo into the code, change the corner images and alter the colours.

Unitag Live Features

Unitag Live Features

The first step in the QR code creation process is picking the website your QR code will link users to. You can send them to a location using the GPS on their scanner or tell their smartphone to instantly call a number. You can even have the QR code call in a business card for the user to look at.

Once you’ve directed users to the right content you can start customising the look of your QR code. Unitag has several predefined template ideas, but gives you the power to alter every aspect of your QR code in a variety of ways.

  • Colors (American spelling) – allows you to modify the QR code colour. You can also blend two colours into the QR code which gives a shaded rainbow effect across it.
  • Look – this modifies the shape and style of the corners and main section of your QR code. The main section refers to the dots that make up the code.
  • Logo – uploading a photo here places that uploaded image in the center of your QR code. Large files cannot be uploaded however so you’ll have to save big images as smaller ones (e.g. reduce the size in powerpoint and re-save it as another picture).
  • Eyes – this feature changes the colour of the inside and outside of the corners on your QR code.
  • Options – here you can change the background colour of your QR code, it’s shading and the quality of the image (the size). Be wary of altering this too much because if the background colour clashes with the QR code colour then the QR code cannot be read by scanners (e.g. dark purple QR codes on a dark blue background will not work).

You can also pay a yearly fee to get extended features from Unitag including:

  • 1 or more mobile websites
  • QR Codes management and storing
  • High resolution exporting
  • Template management
  • Batch generation
  • Editable QR Code content
  • Tracking & analytics
  • Intelligent filter (e.g. different languages)
  • Multi-user accounts
  • Statistics per campaign
  • XLS and CSV export for statistics

Definitely explore the higher level plans if you run marketing campaigns that require heavy statistics tracking. Website clickthroughs and tracking on Google Analytics would more than likely track the same statistics, however.

If you’re looking for a simpler QR code creator online you can also try:

Just to give you an idea of what these codes look like and are capable of, here’s one that leads back to the Creative Agency Secrets homepage!

 CAS QR CODE

The DOs and DON’Ts of SEO – The Easiest Way To Appear On Google

Google SEOGoogle’s new update – Hummingbird has changed Google’s algorithm. Fortunately, there are SEO properties that have and will remain constant. This article will illustrate the easy way to ensure your website is run optimally for both man and machine – the visitor and Google’s bots (crawler).

What you’ll find in this guide are a more concrete set of guidelines which are unlikely to change in the near future.

This means, delicate topics such as keywords and keyword density etc will not be discussed in this article as the rules surrounding them are prone to change.

As many of you will be aware, search engine optimisation is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. Only when viewed collectively will results begin to be noticeable – so don’t give up early on is the moral of the story.

 

Without further ado – The DOs and DON’Ts of SEO.

Page Titles

Page titles should define in a few words the content of the page. Effective page titles draw visitors to your site and give an indication to search engines the context of the page’s content.

  • Do: Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content
  • Don’t: Choose vague titles that have no relation to the content on the page or a default title such as “New Page 1”.

 

Metatags and Descriptions

Metatags and descriptions allow you to describe and/or summarise your pages content. Descriptions will be the snippet provided by google to help the visitor determine the value of the page before opening it. The text in the red box below is what the user sees.

MetaDescription

  • Do: Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description as a snippet in a search result.
  • Don’t: Write generic descriptions or use only keywords. Although no longer common, people have been known to paste an entire paragraph as the description.
  • Don’t: Repeat the same tags and descriptions across multiple pages.

 

URLs

*Changing your URL structure is not a small job! If it is ok currently then leave it as is.

Page URLs are often a difficult thing to effectively change if you’ve got a large website and/or have been using it heavily for a while. The reason for this is by changing the structure, all previous links will no longer work. The quick fix is of course to set up a redirect however this is far from ideal – to best utilise your site’s existing SEO capabilities you would have to correct all of the links. You’d probably still have to set up a redirect anyway as external sites linking to your page would also stop working.

  • Do: Your URL should contain words which are both relevant to your site and the individual page the URL links to.
  • Don’t: Choose generic page names such as “page1.html”
  • Don’t: Use unnecessary parameters/ID numbers
  • Don’t: Use excessive keywords, else risk getting the individual URL or even the whole site banned by Google.

 

Navigation

The menus on your site help visitors navigate your site. They also provide a template for creating an effective XML Sitemap which will help bots crawl your site. Having an effective menu layout is a win-win situation.

  • Do: Create a natural flowing hierarchy which makes it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate your site.
  • Do: Use text for navigation as often as possible – not everything has to be in a dropdown menu! (what this means is that often you can navigate visitors to other pages effectively using text on the page as opposed to everything being exclusively in the menu)
  • Do: Submit an up to date XML Sitemap to Google for both your main site and any mobile sites you may have – (update regularly)
  • Do: Have a useful 404 page. Many 404 pages simply have an error. Include a link back to a useful page such as your home page or main news page.
  • Don’t: Create a difficult, complex linking structure by either linking to too many things (that the visitor is unclear what to click) or by breaking your content up (so to increase number of pages but the visitor has to visit multiple pages unnecessarily)
  • Don’t: Have a navigation system based entirely on dropdown menus. As mentioned before, not only can this be frustrating for the user, it also has adverse SEO consequences.

 

Keep Your Text Easy To Read

Obvious really – the DON’Ts however will explain how Google can punish you for making your content hard to read.

  • Do: Write content that is easy to follow, concise and organised by using formatting options such as headings, bullet points etc
  • Do: Create fresh, unique content which is designed for your users, not search engines.
  • Don’t: Overuse headings/bolds/italics etc
  • Don’t: Use pictures to replace words. Pictures aren’t read by search engines which reduces SEO friendliness. Pictures also make it difficult for readers to copy/paste from your site (which although you might think this is a good thing, many would argue that the purpose of the internet is to share information).
  • Don’t: Deceptively hide text from users but displaying it to search engines (Such as having white text on a white background).

 

Links

Links on your page (both internal and external) are an important way of guiding visitors around your site. They also however help Search Engines decipher the page’s content and purpose.

Don't Click Here

  • Do: Try and describe what the link is linking to in the text. Hyperlinking keywords or phrases which define the link’s purpose will both help your visitor and Search Engines know what the link is pointing to.
  • Do: Format links so they are easy to spot (don’t try and trick visitors into thinking that normal text is actually a link). This means highlight them with a different colour.
  • Don’t: Use generic anchor text such as “click here”.

 

Images

Images help beautify a site. They also slow down loading speed so only use them sparingly and avoid using high-definition photos unless needed. Slow sites appear lower on Google’s search results.

  • Do: Use brief, descriptive filenames and alt text. This will help search engines know what the picture is about and will serve a double purpose if the picture doesn’t load, the visitor will know what should’ve been there.
  • Do: Supply alt text when using images as links. Similar to what was said in the Link section of this article to help describe the link.
  • Do: Supply an updated image sitemap file
  • Don’t: Stuff keywords into the alt text – it can get you blacklisted from Google!
  • Don’t: Use only images as links for your site’s navigation
  • Don’t: Overuse high-def images as this will significantly reduce site speed

 

Headings

Headings should be used to help visitors scan your page for the applicable information. Avoid using them for unimportant content.

  • Do: Use headings as an outline – the reader should be able to read just the headings and have a clear understanding of what the page is about.
  • Don’t: Place headings that don’t help clarify the page’s structure and summarise the page’s content
  • Don’t: Erratically change heading tag sizes or put all of the page’s text into a heading tag.
  • Don’t: Use heading styles when italics or bolding may be more appropriate

 

Robots.txt

Robot.txt

Robots.txt files tell search engines what to crawl and what to ignore. Used effectively, they can help bots crawl your pages more effectively and reduce spam. Used incorrectly – your whole site could disappear from Google. To find out more about Robots.txt files and how Google utilises them, check Google’s developer pages

  • Do: Have an up to date robots.txt file – perhaps even a second if you’re attempting to block ssl pages.
  • Don’t: Allow search result-like pages to be crawled.
  • Don’t: Allow URLs created by proxies to be crawled.

 

Promoting Your Site On Google

There are many ideas you can utilise to appear on Google. So long as you don’t spam or buy your links – you should be fine.

  • Do: Sign up for Google Places if appropriate to appear on Google Maps and web searches.
  • Do: Include your website URL in all of your online mailings (blogs, newsletters and social media posts).
  • Do: Guest blog and comment on other’s sites with links back to your own.
  • Don’t: Sign up for schemes where your content is artificially promoted to the top of selected services.
  • Don’t: Purchase links from another site with the aim of getting PageRank instead of traffic.
  • Don’t: Spam link requests to all sites related to your topic area.

 

Google’s Webmaster Tools

Google’s Webmaster Tools are a great way of monitoring and optimising your site – USE IT!

  • Do: Use it regularly to keep up to date with how Google’s bots see your site and whether there are any issues which can be resolved to make your site appear higher.
  • Do: Rectify any issue which Webmaster tools suggests.
  • Do: Utilise analytics and other tools available to optimise the most visited pages and help navigate users around your site.
  • Don’t: Do anything reckless which you don’t fully understand – you could block your entire website from appearing on Google if care isn’t taken.

A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – The Future Factory

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

The Future Factory profile

This week we’re looking at The Future Factory, a London based cold calling firm. The Future Factory aims to create leads for agencies listed with them by calling up potential clients and offering services on their behalf. The most interesting thing about The Future Factory is their hands on approach to their clients and business in general. They opt to work so close to the client, even spending several days in their offices, to really understand the agencies they work with. In doing so they then fully understand the best approach to take when cold calling for them and it develops quite a close relationship.

The Future Factory

The Future Factory

They offer:

  • Cold calling work search services for agencies.
  • Relationships management services for agencies.
  • Provide brand research and feedback for agencies.

Services for Agencies

By spending 8 days per month, half of that time in the agency’s offices, The Future Factory get clients for agencies by cold calling potential brands. They research these brands and develop relationships with them.

Before this is undertaken however they go through a rigorous understanding process whereby they get to know the agencies business and core principles. They also pass on all information about brands they get work from to their agencies and make sure they are well prepared for the meeting. In this way The Future Factory double as a relationship building firm.

Services for Brands

The Future Factory provides no services to brands directly. Rather they research what services they could provide brands and call up those brands based on a set of unknown criteria.

Charges and Fees

Monthly membership subscriptions are the only apparent payment The Future Factory takes. They decide total monthly costs based on meeting and negotiation (this may be fixed for every agency but it is unclear). These fees may possible be extended each time they win work for their clients but again this is unclear.

Key members of staff – from Linked In

Who is The Future Factory right for?

Agencies who like a hands on approach to client work will find The Future Factory to be greatly accommodating. They work closely with their clients and their testimonials suggest they regularly bring in work. They also benefit those agencies not wanting to get in too deep with an agency search firm through the monthly subscription service, meaning you can cancel any month if it’s not working out.

The risks seem low and the potential rewards seem high, so working with The Future Factory could be a good way to test the waters for newer agencies. If your relationship procurement and development skills are high as an agency though, you might want to go for more of a listing service so you have a greater presence online.

Shortcomings

No listings, only calls – With no listing or extra exposure, The Future Factory is only good for bringing in clients directly. This means if you are already a star agency at procuring and developing relationships then they may not do too much for you. If you’re looking for a greater online presence, better go with a company that  lists your on their website for seeking brands to find.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the

Agency Search Firms Listly