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Find Your Authentic Company Voice

It is Time to Speak Out

Your company’s voice, spoken right, communicates your brand loud and clear. Discovering and conveying that true voice is an ongoing  process that flexes as your company flexes. It is the foundation for the building of a strong brand that resonates with your audience. And it is the cornerstone of all successful marketing campaigns.

For most organizations, content does not receive the concentrated effort it deserves because  it generally falls somewhere between the cracks of marketing and design. After the draft is written internally, it is many times sent to outsiders to edit to gain a measure of objectivity. The reason?  These drafts often reflect the internal struggles many companies face when striving to articulate their own stories and find their voice in the market.

Your Voice is an Amazing Asset

An authentic company voice is a carefully integrated blend of content, brand and tone. Prospects and customers hear that “voice” and construct their sense of your organization’s identity around what they hear. The ability for them to hear what you want them to hear is critical to the health of any organization’s brand as a well-defined voice creates an intangible, but reverberating, echo of who you are and what you do. The key is for what you say to be credible. The worst thing you could do is try to sound like something you are not. More importantly, if your company does not define your own unique corporate voice, your competitors and customers will define it for you. Your potential asset then becomes a liability.

Is the Medium the Message?

Today content marketing has caught on as never before. It’s popularity has opened up a tremendous opportunity for you to get your message out. However, with this opportunity comes a much greater responsibility to get your message right – and to tailor that message for each medium in which it is presented. The voice used on your website, print materials, outbound marketing campaigns and social media should all have an underlying, consistent theme – but the tone for each may vary per medium (more formal on thought leadership vehicles like whitepapers , more informal on some social media platforms, like Twitter).

Voice is an adjective that describes your organization

“Tone” is the particular personality trait that intrinsically defines your organization.Your tone can make you stand out from competitors, communicate efficiently and effectively with your audience and broadcast your brand’s personality. To help you discover your tone, think about who your customer is, what you want to communicate to them and how you want to communicate with them (channels). And ask them who they think you are.

Practice Makes Perfect

Attached is a simple exercise to get you started in defining your organization’s voice by uncovering the words that your constituents feel best describe your company. It will take a participant less than 5 minutes to complete. Distribute it to a number of people throughout your company and to a few customers, prospects and vendors to capture each group’s perception of your organization.


Once you have gathered all the descriptive words review them carefully and record where there is correlation and disconnection. Drop out the duplicates, but track how many times they showed up. Then focus on the remaining words and select 3 to 5 that you think would best represent your organization to its stakeholders.

What emerges from this exercise can not only help your organization massage or reshape its overall content, but could also serve as the foundation of your most authentic, powerful voice. This may be a values and vision- driven exercise. Your values and vision drive what you do and why you do it. Your voice will reinforce the story you tell about your company and its products in a way that truly connects with both your external and internal audience. After all, they will have helped define it.

At Steelsmith Group, we are experts at guiding companies through to the creation of their unique voice and clear points of view.  We can help you tap into your imagination, and your stakeholders to let the ideas flow. Then we assist you in arranging these ideas in a logical written sequence designed to strengthen and underscore your brand.

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Can You Articulate Your USP?

For start-up, small and medium-sized businesses, figuring out what makes your business unique is one of the most significant marketing decisions you’ll ever make. What distinguishes you, your business and your product is known as your USP or “Unique Selling Proposition”.

The bottom line is that if you can’t decide what makes your company different, then how can you expect your prospects, and even your customers, to know? Your inability to pin down exactly who you are and why they should both care means that they will likely base their decision to purchase (or not purchase) your product on a whim. Which will probably make it a one time purchase. What’s worse is that your competitors who have more clearly spelled out their space will look a lot more attractive to this random buyer.

The Unique Selling Proposition concept is not new. It’s been around since the 1940’s, present at the cusp of the advertising golden age. Theodore Levitt, a professor at Harvard Business School, suggested that, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”

What has made USP more difficult for companies to define today is the sheer volume of available marketing channels, the global customer base (even if you are a smaller company) and the highly increased exposure every business has due to the internet in general and social media in particular – often exposure they cannot control. Corralling all this is sort of like trying to find your classes your first day of college. “Where do I go?”  “Who do I talk to?” “What do I do next?” –  And maybe,”Why am I even here?”

Once you are able to articulate your USP, you will have a much clearer idea of how to create successful integrated marketing campaigns to promote your brand and your product across the entire gamut of traditional and internet/digital marketing channels.

To get you started down your USP path, answer these questions –

  • When you started this business, what was your vision?

  • What kind of internal culture do you want for your employees?

  • What does your business do? And why do you do it?

  • What do you stand for, both professionally and personally?

  • Are you in business to make money, make a difference or to make just enough to to make a living?

  • What market or markets are you serving, and what specific benefits do you offer them?

  • Do you solve a problem for your customers? What problem?

At Steelsmith Group, our marketing strategy team will give you the help you need to answer these questions and identify your key points of difference. From there we can partner with you to take that difference and come up with a bunch of creative ways for you to communicate your points of difference. We’ll put together campaigns that span content management,  email marketing, business blogs, SEO, local SEO, website design, website development and CRM. So whether your business is right down the street here in San Diego, or across the country, give us a call. Together we’ll discover your unique selling proposition and we will build a business that customers love.



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10 Ways to Take Your Internet Marketing Content to the Head of the Class

It’s like your teachers always told you –  if pay attention in school, you’ll carry what you learn with you through the rest of your life. So with a nod to the great teachers at Marysville Pilchuck High School (Go Tomahawks!), I decided that this was the right time of year to replay some lessons you first heard in school and can now use to master the art of internet content for your website, blog and social media pages. Because, just like back in those hallowed halls, a lot of it is about building friendships, muddling through oodles of data and trying to keep from failing. Oh – – – and being popular.

1. Show Up

It’s way more than half the battle. Show up and keep showing up. Keep your content fresh and timely. If you are absent too often or don’t show your readers that you’re here for the long hall, they will lose interest in you – and in your product – swiftly.

2. Make good relationships

Build those contacts, develop a strong networking base. Why?  Because the relationships we have with the customers we serve, with the communities we live in, and even with our frenemies/competitors are the building blocks that help us reach our goals.

3. Don’t fear to fail

It’s going to happen. It just is. You may create some content and post it on your website,or put your company out on a social media site, and get feedback that is far from what you wanted. So deal. You WILL learn from it. Think X-ray, nylon, penicillin, popsicle, velcro and Silly Putty. All “mistakes”.

4. Be honest

Don’t hedge the truth, pile on the you-know-what or try to muddy the facts. Your customers and prospects will respect you for being honest. And anyway – anything and everything can be found out today. No hiding of the truth is really possible. Remember when the CEO of a major oil company that had just had a major spill pretended he never saw the memo telling him that a certain oil tanker needed major repairs?

5. Don’t be afraid to be a nerd

Flaunt it. Revel in it. Pontificate. We all love Bill Nye. You know every single whosit detail about your product better than anyone else does. And buyers want to be dazzled by details. BUT – don’t fall into the trap of focusing only on the nerdy bits of your offering.

6. Celebrate Your Unique Style

Make sure your message shows how really unique your offering – and you – are. Dress up your content to show the real you. You can even (metaphorically) mix plaids and stripes if you want. Look what it’s done for  Ivanarevic. (What? I’m up on fashion…sort of)

7. Tell stories & jokes & poke fun at yourself

Show that you are human and that you deal with the same things everyday that everyone else does. If people relate and respond  to you as an individual – even if it’s online – they will absolutely relate your product. And they will keep coming back. They’ll come back  just to hear about the really weird things that are happening in your life/your company’s ‘life’  and how you are applying those happenings to your product.

8. Don’t skip art class

Adding visuals to your content is very, very important. Whether it’s videos, photos or infographics you absolutely need to pull in your viewers visually.  Your words by themselves will not grab and hold the attention of your customers and prospects.  Make your visuals reflect who you are. Try to avoid stock photography. Illustrations are great as they are easily tailored to look like you and your business and no one else, which makes them more compelling from the get go. If it makes sense, try to get visuals of your customers using your product or service.

9. Pay attention to what’s going on

Keep your eyes open and ‘watch the store’. If you don’t look around you, literally and digitally, you may miss something really important. Like what the market says about your industry or what your competitor just started selling. And – most importantly – what your customers are flocking to when it comes to product, price and performance.

10. Be respectful

Don’t ever, ever make fun of anyone or anything – except yourself – in your content. Not a competitor, a political issue, a religion –  nothing. People will generally not buy from what my grandpa used to call a “wiseacre”. ( Merriam Webster: “a person who says or does things that are funny but also annoying”) There’s a farm stand not too far from my house. The produce looks good, but I seldom buy anything from there because the owner is JUST PLAIN RUDE.

And finally – for extra credit –  Don’t forget to get the best “teacher”. Hire the right professional partner to make your content come alive. We strongly recommend Steelsmith Group (us). If you need internet marketing, A+ content management,  impressive blogs, great SEO, winning email marketing campaigns, superb local SEO, and amazing website design,we can get it done for you. So whether you are our neighbors here in San Diego, or you live somewhere else, give us a call. Let us get you high marks for your online marketing and gold stars from you customers and prospects.


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Snapchat Grabs the Biggest Cluster of College Users

Making Facebook Look Like Old School

A new study conducted by the marketing firm Sumpto, who specialize in connecting brands with college students, says the photo messaging social media app Snapchat has snagged a huge chunk of the college market – 70% of college students “ use the app one or more times a day”. They’ve done this in spite of the fact that Facebook has introduced its own form of the offering (Slingshot), albeit with a lukewarm reception.   Only 2% of this same audience says they have downloaded Slingshot. Snapchat touted in May of this year that its users were dispatching 700 million photos and videos daily and that Snapchat Stories were being read 500 million times a day. The app firm turned down two multi-billion dollar buyout offers – one from Facebook, one from Google.

(Let’s also put this out there in the “Huh. That’s interesting…” bucket – Snapchat was started on a college campus by two savvy students. A third student was also involved and has sued the other two for stealing what he sees as mainly his idea. Sound familiar?)

So why is Snapchat the newest BMOC (look it up)? The study and other reports point to a few reasons for the app’s popularity. User’s think:

  • Snapchat offers a more security (because the media you send disappears after a very short time from both the user’s device and Snapchat’s servers, but we all know this could be false sense of security…)

  • Snapchat functionality lowers the risk of an automated mass-sharing

  • Snapchat  is more spontaneous. (the main use for Snapchat seems to be for posting funny/silly stuff.  Slightly over 59% said that’s what they use it for.)

  • Snapchat  is foot-print free (digitally speaking)

Outside of this sort of thought-provoking info about a battle between a David and a Goliath app, what does this mean in the business world?  Here’s the thing. Snapchat seems to be gearing up for something big – investment-wise. They just agreed to sell a bunch of shares of itself. And Snapchat is playing with new features  directed at brands and events. So what? Because, even if the reality is that Facebook is still the number one social media engine and isn’t going anywhere, if your demographic target is college students, you better sit up straight and pay attention to this app.

At Steelsmith Group we pay attention – to website design, CRM implementation, SEO, digital marketing, local SEO, video marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and content management. We do this for our clients to provide them with the best of the best marketing. We do this if they are here in our beloved San Diego or across the nation.  Give us a chance to earn an A+ from you. Reach out to us today.


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Does Enchantment Pour out of Your Website’s Door?

Pulling customers to the street where your business lives?

You own a small to medium business and have a similarly-sized website.  How do you get that website to grab your visitors’ interest, trust and dollars?

To get yourself thinking about how to answer that question, start by remembering the last time you were walking down the street – maybe a street in San Diego – and something (G-rated) grabbed your attention and held it. I mean anything (again – G-rated…).

Was it large and bright? Small, but compelling? Did it pull at your emotions or have a forceful message ? Did it have some great imagery and color? Chances are it had all of these things to a certain degree. It probably presented you with a sundry of stimuli. If it grabbed you, it was telling you a story somehow, asking you to respond in some way – consciously or unconsciously.

It made you stop and take note. It was converting you into believing in it – even if it was only for a moment or two. Just long enough for you to take some action or another. Laugh,cry, dream, shout, cheer – or buy.

Websites aren’t much different. Visitors demand to feel this same – almost visceral – pull from the websites they visit. And they demand that these websites have ‘legs’ – pointing them somewhere else or taking them down several different paths – while always telling them that one, believable story.That puts a pretty heavy burden on companies – especially small companies –  who want their website to simply post and preform.

Let us help. Here are a few pretty easy ways to give your website some legs so people linger, explore and become buyers.

1. Keep your information fresh and add the new stuff as soon as it’s ready. And use the words that make the most sense to your visitors.  Words that mean something to them. Get that SEO pumping!

2.  Tell your story using more than one “narrator” – graphics, videos, whitepapers, case studies, testimonials.

3. Ask your customers what they want to see. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions on your site. People like to respond to questions that are phrased right –  or that might help them solve a problem or meet a need they have. And that’s called a conversion.

4. Use social media to showcase your story in a different way – to push and pull the information across a wider spectrum of viewers and then lead those viewers back to your website.

5. Jump on the blogging train. Your website needs a blog. It just does. Blogs give your site personality and pith, gist, essence. (You’ll also get a chance to peruse a thesaurus.)

6. Get local. Local SEO is the bee’s knees.

Use your website to talk to the people who live near your business’ front door. Talk about things that matter most to them. And talk about what you sell that they can get right down the street from where they live.

Get involved in community events and post the particulars on your website. Start or sponsor local contests. It’s really not that much different than it was years ago. The big difference is that now you can go grassroots and have those roots reach globally.

7. Get – and stay – mobile. This is something many small to medium businesses do not do. Which is unfortunate because it’s that sized business that is the most likely to get new customers from going mobile. Think about it. Folks are walking down the street – again – and they decide that they are hungry, or remember that they need to buy their aunt a birthday present, or that they need new earphones, or…or… a million other things. So where are they most likely to go to find what they need? To their smartphone, or tablet, or android wear. And then to someplace that same device tells them is nearby.

Give these ideas a try. They may just get your customers humming, “…there’s no place on this earth that I would rather be…” as they walk through your website – or your store’s door.

A final thought – If you need digital marketing, great SEO, stellar email marketing campaigns, super local SEO, awesome website design, cool content management and bangup blogs, at Steelsmith Group we do all of those things – really, really well. So whether you are our neighbors here in San Diego, or you live somewhere else, give us a call. Let us plop some personality and some great stories onto your website. We’ll get you those conversions you want (translate:customers). We promise.


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Summer Flash: Mobile Content Kicks Sand in the Face of Static Content

It’s summer and consumers are out and about all around the USA  – hitting the beach (a shout out to San Diego!), the road, or the mountains. What they are not doing is sitting at a desk searching static websites for information. They want their content mobile, easy to get to and feature-rich. They want help finding the right places to play, eat and drive. And they expect the businesses they buy from to supply them that information wherever they need it and as fast as they need it.

No matter how how important, robust or scintillating your content is, if you do not take your message mobile you will absolutely lose customers. “If you’re not ready for the mobile moment, you might as well stay home”,  says Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Schadler goes on to explain, “Mobile is not small Web. It’s an entirely different experience based on simple steps and deep engagement, not self-service catalogs of transactions. Bolting a new interface onto an old technology stack won’t close the engagement gap that separates a company from its customer in that mobile moment of need.”

Summertime is the perfect time for companies to get their mobile content in shape. Maybe tone it up by developing and offering a new app, turning a hot website offer into a mobile contest or simply taking full advantage of the cloud as an indispensable element of any mobile delivery program worth it’s salt – or sand.

The bottom line – – – building a strong content management program is a complex and multi-faceted  undertaking that is a tossed salad of external, internal, cloud-based, web-based and mobile ready ingredients. Steelsmith Group, right here in sunny San Diego, can make your content sizzle this summer – with a special extra helping of flavorful mobile-ready content that reaches your customer where they are. We know content management, mobile content, CRM customization, web design, social media, SEO, local SEO, online marketing, email marketing, and PPC. Reach out to us today. We’re mobilized.



8 Simple Strides Towards Small Business Social Media Savvy

As a small business owner, trying to decide where to spend your marketing dollars can be overwhelming.  You know marketing is a must, but so is keeping the lights on. The easiest thing to do often seems to take the traditional route – local newspaper ads, coupons in the neighborhood ‘saver’, and building a basic website. But the thing is, while that route makes some sense, don’t forget about building a digital marketing program that includes solid social media. And the cost can be very manageable.

But social media can also be really baffling. How do you start? How do you know what channel is most beneficial for your business? And how do you get the results you want?

Here are 8 internet marketing steps that will set you on the right social media program path:

1. Research all available platforms

There are new social media networks popping up every day. Make a list that includes the usual leaders – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr – read up on them and then go a step further. Watch each of them for a few weeks. If you do, you will pretty much find out what audience and demographic they attract. And what their personality is. For example – LinkedIn is almost all about business and business people. Other platforms are a bit more casual.

2. Pick three platforms to get you started

Pick the platforms that match your target audience. Build a profile on each. And start posting – often. You should place new company info, offers, product announcements, etc. at least once a week. Cross-platform integration will make these easier to manage. Once you get comfortable with three, do more research and add more platforms to your social media kit.

3. Blog

Blogging is not as scary as you think. WordPress or Blogger will walk you through the technical process. The most important part of blogging is good content. (More on that later.) A good. well-written blog that is shared effectively gets readers and grows an audience. Write what you know about to the audience that is interested – and go local. If you sell bikes in San Diego, talk about the best biking routes, or events, or products popular in that city. If you become known as the expert, they will not only buy your product, they will recommend it. The most likely place for your blog is your website, but it can also be elsewhere. Research other great blog venues.

4. Connect

No matter how good your message is, it’s no good if no one sees it. So connect. Make it easy on yourself by starting with established customers, friends, and even family.  Network with them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They know you and trust you so they will likely share your content with others. You can also search these same sites to see who is interested in and commenting on the kind of product or service you offer. Start a conversation and/or connect with them. If you have a brick and mortar location, make sure your customers know about your blog –  and all of your social media presence.

5. Good Content

This is important – – If you aren’t sure of your writing skills, hire an expert to write in your voice for both your blog and your other social media postings. Poorly written, stale or boring content can be very damaging to your social media profile and overall marketing program. Use the keywords your target customer will use when they search. Write about what you know – just like your sixth grade english teacher told you to. Encourage interaction by using  polls or surveys or asking for photos. Do this through all of your chosen channels. And write about current, trending topics that resonate with your target audience and help soothe their pain points. But remember to keep top of mind the ‘social’ part of social media – don’t sell too hard.

6. Get your content out there!

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook cross-connect if you use them right. Just set them up to link with each other. And a good place to start connecting, no matter who your target market, is LinkedIn. Check out the Groups area of LinkedIn and join all the groups that have your target audience as members. Also link into websites or blog sites managed by associations affiliated with your industry. They may be looking for content. If you are connected to your local Chamber of Commerce, see if they have a venue that may be perfect for your content.

7. Respond to Feedback

The only thing worse than posting poor, irrelevant content is not responding when a reader/customer/potential customer reaches out to you. This is your time to really shine. Carry on a good conversation that answers their need. And stay connected past the first conversation by keeping them informed of new happenings in the industry and in your business.

8. Keep it all in Perspective

Social media should not be the only marketing tool you use. It’s a very important tool because that’s where the world spends most of its time these days. But an ad in the church bulletin, a speech to the local Kiwanis club and even sponsoring a local little league team can also bring in leads that turn into business.

A final note- There is a way you can have a great digital marketing program and still make it really easy on yourself – At Steelsmith Group we get internet marketing, CRM, SEO, web design/development, website analytics and social media. We know how to get your message right, say it in an engaging way, post it in the right places, and measure the results. And we have offices in both San Diego and Seattle. So give us a call. Just sayin’.



Five SEO Techniques to Trash

Before Steelsmith Group sits down with a client in San Diego to talk to them about any facet of internet marketing – SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email Marketing, Content Marketing or CRM Services – we make sure we do our homework on not only their company, but also the trends and best practices for each facet.

These days you have to be especially careful about how you do your SEO. What used to work yesterday may be a big no-no today.  So if you want to avoid getting your hand slapped, and getting your site penalized, listen up.

According to analytics guru, Neil Patel, as posted in his Quicksprout blog, there are 5 SEO techniques that you must kiss goodbye if you want to win at the SEO game. (Patel notes that what works or doesn’t work can be a day-to-day proposition and underscores that these 5 bad practices are bad as it stands today.)

The first technique is “Spammy Guest Blogging”. Many folks use guest bloggers to pull traffic to their site. But the trick is to be selective and smart. As Patel points out , “There is legitimate guest blogging, and then there is spammy guest blogging.” A few hints: The guest post has to be relevant to your site’s theme and it must be well-written with high level content. And try to not use optimized anchors.

And that’s the second technique you’ll want to kick to the curb – Optimized Anchors. People use optimized anchors that contain keywords for which they want to rank, but Patel says you’re just asking for a penalty when you use them today. His suggested reading on the topic includes Google’s “Link Scheme” document. Plopping anchor text willy-nilly can get you in big trouble. But some optimized anchor types are still on the ‘okay’ list – like naked URLs, branded URLs and carefully constructed long phrases.

The third technique to tip into the bucket is Quantity of Links Over Quality. The belief that more is more when it comes to the number of backlinks your site gets is so wrong. Yes, you can purchase backlinks quickly for not a whole lot of money, but be careful! The site that links may be penalized or it may have a low Domain Authority (DA). If you receive a huge bunch of links in a short time that raises a red flag too.

There’s a fourth taboo technique that points out that too much of a good thing is not a good thing – Keyword Heavy Content. This surfaced early and often as the easiest – and laziest – SEO practice. But this too has had the kibosh put on it. This is how Google defines keyword stuffing: “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”

The fifth SEO technique to boycott is Relying on Link-backs Instead of Content. Patel cautions that it is a delusion to think that “merely throwing a lot of links to a site will magically bring massive authority, high rankings, and tons of search traffic.”

Bottom line is that good SEO strategy is learning to combine a number of good techniques, never relying on just one. And good content trumps poor techniques all day long.


Meissner Jacquét New Website Announcements

Steelsmith Group is pleased to announce the launch of a newly recharged website developed for our leading commercial properties management client, Meissner Jacquét.  The website has a crisp new look that employs intuitive navigation, streamlined searching mechanisms, and logical flow.  It clearly outlines Meissner Jacquét’s expertise, services, and company profile. It also offers references, videos, trending industry best practices and acts as a business tool for the company’s clients by providing them access to timely, relevant articles, blogs and resources.

Located in San Diego, Meissner Jacquét offers premium commercial property management services to clients and their clients’ commercial real estate assets.  They manage the day to day operations of the facilities and quickly work out solutions to any property problems that arise. For over 22 years, an impressive list of clients have entrusted their valuable properties to Meissner Jacquét.

Steelsmith Group is a leading west coast digital marketing agency. We develop solutions using the full spectrum of digital marketing tools, technologies and on line musts. We deliver clients a holistic digital marketing plan and program tailored to both who they are and who they want to become.

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El Dorado – New Client Announcement

Steelsmith Group is proud to announce the addition of the leading insurance firm, El Dorado Insurance Agency, to their list of remarkable clients. The Houston-based firm  specializes in insurance solutions for private security firms, alarm companies, private investigators, janitorial services organizations, and fire safety companies.

In its 40+ years as an organization, El Dorado has successfully turned their passion for developing insurance programs specifically for industries that are traditionally difficult to insure into a viable, highly-respected business.

We are working with the El Dorado team to fine tune the company’s website, better position their services and launch a robust leads program that takes full advantage of the strength of their CMS. We will also be designing a strategic and comprehensive program for the organization that drives application submissions, utilizes SEO, and takes full advantage of social media, PPC, and strong content marketing.