The Whole Brain Group http://www.thewholebraingroup.com Smart Web Design & Inbound Marketing Strategies Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:52:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/cropped-WBG_150x1501-32x32.png The Whole Brain Group http://www.thewholebraingroup.com 32 32 4 Essentials for Any Marketing Budget Planning Session http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/4-essentials-for-any-marketing-budget-planning-session/ Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:54:45 +0000 http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/4-essentials-for-any-marketing-budget-planning-session/ If you’re not already well into next year’s marketing plan budget setting sessions, you soon will be. As with any endeavor, planning is key, even if it’s planning your planning session! Here are four considerations you need to have in place before planning out your marketing budget that are critical to your success.  1) SMART Goals Are…Smart! By […]

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businesspeople gathered around a table with papers and post-it notes making plans

If you’re not already well into next year’s marketing plan budget setting sessions, you soon will be. As with any endeavor, planning is key, even if it’s planning your planning session!

Here are four considerations you need to have in place before planning out your marketing budget that are critical to your success. 

1) SMART Goals Are…Smart!

By now the entire business world knows what SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound. Every marketing director has goals for their marketing plans, but unless your goals are specific, measurable, and attainable, you won’t know what you’re really aiming for.

We ask all of our clients to create quarterly SMART goals because not only do they help you focus your efforts, they help you measure what does and doesn’t work as you move along.

If you use HubSpot, check out the Goals app that helps you incorporate SMART goals into your planning.

2) Marketing Plans and Strategies

A destination is great, but how do you get from here to there? A great plan coupled with proven strategies is how.

And your plan and strategies need to work for your target market, your customer personas.

For example, if you’re selling to the B2B market, a social media campaign focusing on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest may not be nearly as effective as an email campaign that offers in-depth articles on solutions to your prospects’ pain points and the chance to download free ebooks that take a look at these pain points in greater length and detail.

Bonus resource: Check out our ready-to-go inbound marketing planning recipes.

3) Resources: Time, People, Capability, and Technology

Marketing takes time, money, and people. Marketing correctly and strategically – the kind of marketing that truly provides incredible results – takes even more time, money, and people.

For example, your marketing plan might include something like writing long-form content such as a white paper or case study, as well as writing six to 12 blog posts a month. Do you have the employee capacity (and do your staff members have the writing chops) to consistently deliver well-written, in-depth, optimized content?

And it’s not just the writing: the white paper needs to look great visually. The blog post needs to read easily on your website. (How well-designed is your site to begin with? Do you even have a proper website that will post the content and help online readers find it easily – is it properly optimized?)

4) Budget

You have your goals, you have your strategies that fit your marketing plan of attack, and you know where you may be lacking in resources. Now it’s time to start playing with numbers for your budget.

You may find you can’t afford all you want to do (join the club!), but the SMART goals based on your sales funnel will help you define your plan and identify what to cut back on and what to keep.

Most importantly, you’ll have better metrics and key performance indicators to help you evaluate your plan and your budget throughout the year, so that you can create an even better one next year.   

Next Steps

Download the Cooking with Inbound eBook

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Does Your Marketing Budget Include These Essential Tools? http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/does-your-marketing-budget-include-these-essential-tools/ Fri, 19 Aug 2016 14:07:31 +0000 http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/does-your-marketing-budget-include-these-essential-tools/ If you’re on your game, you’re already planning your 2017 marketing budget. Hopefully, you’ve already reviewed your 2016 marketing efforts and you’ve set up your metrics tools for tracking your performance. Now it’s time to figure out what tools you’re missing in your daily and weekly inbound activities. Knowing what you need and why you need […]

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wall of tools

If you’re on your game, you’re already planning your 2017 marketing budget. Hopefully, you’ve already reviewed your 2016 marketing efforts and you’ve set up your metrics tools for tracking your performance.

Now it’s time to figure out what tools you’re missing in your daily and weekly inbound activities. Knowing what you need and why you need it will help you make a strong case when you present your budget proposal for next year.

So let’s identify the tools you should have, but might be missing. These are the tools we really like—in fact, we use them every day.

The Inbound Marketer’s Essential Toolkit

To do inbound marketing successfully, you need to use all of these channels effectively, with the right tools and technology.

Website

Google loves websites with fresh content—so you need a content management system that’s easy to use and flexible enough to let you make updates. Especially when you refresh your website every 2-3 years.

If your CMS isn’t easy and enjoyable to work with, you absolutely need to find one that’s simple to use. Successful inbound marketing includes regular content updates, so your CMS needs to keep up with the workload and pace. We use HubSpot and WordPress for our web content and blogging, and we’re very happy with both platforms. HubSpot provides more automation and integration, but WordPress has a lot of plugins that you can make use of. (Be selective about the plugins you use though! Not all are created equal.)

Email Marketing

What platform are you using for email communication? You need something that’s easy to use and also provides good analytics. Questions to ask:

  • How easy is it to add contacts and create email lists?
  • What level of automation does the platform provide?
  • Does it integrate with your contacts database?
  • Can both the sales and marketing teams use it?
  • Can you easily create email templates for salespeople, marketing campaigns, and newsletters?
  • How useful and insightful are the analytics?

screenshot of HubSpot email analytics

If your current email marketing program doesn’t make the grade, it’s time to budget for a better system. HubSpot provides fully integrated features that work seamlessly between the sales and marketing teams, and the level of automation can’t be beat. We also use MailChimp for several clients, and we love it’s usability and campaign reports.

Social Media

If you have a fleshed-out social media plan and you’re following it, you’re doing a lot of posting and monitoring every day. Good for you!

What’s not good for you is bouncing around from tool to tool, manually publishing your updates and viewing different sets of data in different formats. It’ll wear you down fast.

Make sure you’ve got just one or two social media tools that can handle scheduling across all social channels and track your success with the right data. HubSpot’s social media tool is incredibly easy to use—one of my favorite things about it is that I can paste a URL and the tool automatically pulls in images and content from the page title and meta description. So simple! Scheduling is a snap, too, and it’s easy to see what’s already been scheduled and posted.

animated gif showing how to create a tweet in HubSpot's social media tool

And because HubSpot’s social is integrated with everything else, it’s easy to see track the effectiveness of your campaigns, and follow your database contacts on social media. You can even set up a list of your database contacts that alerts you when they are talking about your industry!

We’ve also used SproutSocial and Hootsuite for social posting, but they don’t integrate as nicely as HubSpot.

Keywords

Keyword research is critical to your inbound success. We use SpyFu for competitive keyword research. It shows us what keywords are on a domain and the ranking for each keyword. SpyFu saves a date-stamped cached search engine result page to back up the position assigned to that URL. The nice thing about SpyFu is that it not only gives a lot of good information, but it also proves it with indisputable cached search engine result pages.

We also use Keyword.io to find keyphrases people are actually using when trying to solve a problem. It uses the Google Autocomplete function to generate hundreds of long-tail keywords. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I know what people should search for to find my business, but I don’t know what people actually search for when they need my business,” then this tool is for you.

Marketing and sales funnel

It’s scary how many companies have no idea what their sales funnel looks like. They know how many visitors and closes they have, but everything in the middle is a mystery to them. So they assume their funnels have that idealized conical form when in fact they’re horrible-looking messes.

misshapen sales funnel that's bloated with too many leads

HubSpot’s integrated analytics let you quickly understand your sales funnel by identifying exactly what’s working and what isn’t. You can create a ton of customized reports that are full of rich detail—even tracking every interaction of specific contacts or personas.

So what tools are missing from your toolbox? Don’t go another year without them—build them into your 2017 marketing budget so that you can be more successful at generating conversions and winning revenue.

Take the Next Step

Take Off With Inbound Marketing

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Seamless Collaboration Results in Seamless Security: Access Control and Custom Bullet-Resistant Doors http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/seamless-collaboration-results-in-seamless-security-access-control-and-custom-bullet-resistant-doors/ Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:09:54 +0000 http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/seamless-collaboration-results-in-seamless-security-access-control-and-custom-bullet-resistant-doors/ Building a good bullet resistant barrier systems with access control requires seamless collaboration between vendors.  This doesn’t just reduce stress and lower cost (although it always does the former and almost invariably the latter)—it also results in systems with a tighter fit, smoother look, and altogether better performance.  Seamless collaboration is the only way to […]

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Building a good bullet resistant barrier systems with access control requires seamless collaboration between vendors.  This doesn’t just reduce stress and lower cost (although it always does the former and almost invariably the latter)—it also results in systems with a tighter fit, smoother look, and altogether better performance.  Seamless collaboration is the only way to get a seamless system: One that operates smoothly, consistently, and doesn’t tip off possible attackers.

Access Control is a System

In contrast to traditional door locks—which are interchangeable stand-alone pieces that can be easily swapped out—a modern access control system is just that: A system, relying on dedicated software.  While the initial installation and configuration is more complicated than just having a locksmith come in, the resulting functionality is an order of magnitude simpler to deal with and more useful.

For example, key management is traditionally a nightmare—staff turnover, new hires, lost and stolen keys, special access needs, contract maintenance teams, security staff, etc. With an access control system, adding or removing access is just a matter of keystrokes. If someone looses an RFID fob or keycard, issuing a new one is significantly cheaper and easier than having a new key cut (or, in the worst-case scenario, having to re-key all the doors accessed with a given key). In a building-wide system, each individual user can have customized access to different spaces without having to carry an entire ring of keys, and can be granted access on a temporary or conditional basis (e.g., only on weekdays, only between 8am and 5pm, only after business hours, etc.).  A system can have 100,000 users or just 10, it can be accessed via keypad, card, card and PIN, RFID tag, biometrics, and so on.  Additionally, the system can log users as they come (and go), or pass between building sectors.

“These are really incredibly flexible systems,” Eric Malzahn, a Total Security Solutions project manager, explains.  “So, before an architect or facility owner starts talking to any vendors, what’s most important is to really take a look at the end-users’ daily operations, how they are functioning every single day, so that the system can be designed around that.”

Secure Access Demands Collaboration

Eric notes, “With such powerful systems, it’s really important to get all the details right, all the parts meshing.  What separates TSS is that we’re willing to work with other security vendors as equals.  Other companies in our industry really shy away from that. They don’t understand access control, so they don’t want to deal with it. We’re not scared of these types of challenges.  We’ll customize our systems to make it work however the end-user wants.  We always take the time to research it and work with others to make it happen.”

Such collaborations can be very straightforward.  It might take nothing more than a few quick phone calls, and then supplying doors prepped for specific hardware.  TSS can also design and fabricate bullet resistant barrier systems around the access control system, which can include integrating power supplies feeding the appropriate voltage, installing electric strikes and electrified hinges, and so on, so that the access control system can be easily wired up once the barrier is installed.  “We’ve done full-blown access control systems with everything: key cards, electric strikes, Aiphone, the works—much of it buried in the door or frame, so you don’t have external wires and ‘after-market add-ons’ showing.”

This isn’t limited to new construction or entirely new systems.  “For example, we were working with a client in Florida who had an Aiphone system in place.This brand of audio/video intercom system is especially popular with schools.  “We came in, took measurements, investigated what we need to do to keep their existing access control system while improving on their security by seamlessly integrate access control with a fully rated door.”

A Security System is Only as Good as its Doors

Instead of bulk-purchasing mass-produced pre-fab doors, TSS fabricates all of their doors entirely in-house.  In part, this is simply a matter of practicality:  A pre-fab door is never going to be a perfect fit. If you want a system that looks good and works smoothly, you need a custom-tailored door.  By building their own doors, TSS can be sure that any hardware the end-user wants will be perfectly fitted to the door, and that the door can be properly prepped for seamless integration with any access control scheme.

But for TSS CEO Jim Richards, custom bullet resistant doors are about more than just being practical. “We always want our work to be a cut above,” he explains.  As an example, he shares these 100% custom interior double doors, built for a sensitive corporate facility.  “This is the kind of custom work we can do on a one-off.  No one in our industry has ever done doors like these.”

DSC01411

At first glance, they seem like standard vestibule doors.

“But those door lites aren’t individual panes—each door has a single-piece of monolithic acrylic, visually divided by false muntins that we built from scratch, precisely blended to the surface of the door”—which is backed with bullet resistant fiberglass, and also conceals access control devices integrated with the building-wide system.”

In most cases a buyer will order a door either veneered, or simply primed to be painted on site.  For this particular job, they needed a quick, quiet, clean installation.  The client also wanted to assure durability, so TSS handled a custom paint job, as well as all of the brass hardware, perfectly matching every other piece in the building.

The result: security-rated doors and advanced access control systems, seamless integrated to fade into the background.

NEXT STEPS:

Make or Break Project

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Your First Bullet Proof System: Planning, Production, and Installation http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/your-first-bullet-proof-system-planning-production-and-installation/ Wed, 02 Mar 2016 22:00:51 +0000 http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/your-first-bullet-proof-system-planning-production-and-installation/ According to Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions, people worry too much about bulletproof barrier installation:“They get really focused on what it’ll take to get a system installed, and it’s hard to persuade them that this isn’t that big a deal. The real challenge is in the initial planning, which comes weeks and months […]

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bulletproof glass barrier in business setting

According to Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions, people worry too much about bulletproof barrier installation:
“They get really focused on what it’ll take to get a system installed, and it’s hard to persuade them that this isn’t that big a deal. The real challenge is in the initial planning, which comes weeks and months before anything ships. That’s the tricky part, the part we’re really eager to carefully guide them through. The installation? Heck, we get that done overnight. That’s a piece of cake.”

Planning for a Great Bullet Proof Barrier System

There are five questions you’ll need to think through before calling a bullet proofing consultant:

1) What sort of threat do you need to protect against? It takes different levels of ballistic material to stop a .9mm and an AK-47. Likewise, it takes different styles of systems to deter an ideologically driven sniper and a smash-and-grab bandit.
2) What area of your building do you need to secure? Different materials and designs work better in indoor and outdoor applications. The number of access points, the height of ceilings and lengths of counters, the materials of the walls, all have an impact on system design.
3) What sort of business do you need to get done through the barrier? A barrier with high traffic–many transactions, many deliveries, many visitors, a loud and bustling lobby–poses different challenges than a barrier mounted at the end of a quiet hall with only the occasional visitor turning in paperwork.
4) What are your aesthetic goals? Some businesses want unobtrusive bullet proof reception windows and bullet resistant doors that blend in with every other door in the building; others want the system to clearly announce itself and act as major a deterrent.
5) What limitations are there to the delivery and installation? Your system arrives in a semi-truck strapped to pallets that need to be moved with a forklift. Installing on a second floor with narrow halls in a building at the end of an alley is challenging–knowing about that early will give TSS time to find solutions.

Getting the Details of Your Project Right is the First Step

Once you have these details clear in your head, then you will have a very productive conversation with a TSS consultant. That consultant will walk you through the options that suit your space and application, arrange to get accurate measurements, have drawings prepared as you work through the approval process, and so on.
It surprises most new customers to learn that the trickiest aspect of any bullet proof system is the doors. Any member of Jim’s team can recall countless occasions when a customer has been absolutely confident that they need a door hinged on the right and swinging into the secured area, only to take one look at the drawings and realize that’s impossible because of the furniture layout, or the way two halls come together, or fire code, or one of a million other tiny details.
“Doors get people all the time,” Jim notes. “It’s why we made this bullet proof door checklist, to help people think through it before they commit.”
It may seem like a simple matter, but TSS bulletproof doors are entirely custom made–which is how they can get a seamless fit and smoothly integrate your your preferred hardware, from standard keyed locks and panic bars to multi-entry computer-controlled electric strike access systems. Changing the direction of swing or how the door is hung often necessitates redesigning the door from scratch.

Smooth Production and Installation Preparation

Once the plan is squared away and approved in writing, the process rolls very smoothly. All TSS bullet resistant barrier systems and components are fabricated on-site). In order to assure tight tolerances among all of a barrier’s components, TSS relies on a highly tech-driven engineering workflow. Because of the job batching process, many projects go into production immediately upon receiving your approval. This is great for delivery times, but bad for last minute changes; always double check all drawings carefully prior to approval.
While your system components are being fabricated, there are a few things you can take care of to be ready for installation. The most important of these are:
1) Establish a single point of contact within your organization to answer any questions about the system, delivery, or installation. Having a single point of contact assures faster turnarounds and fewer miscommunications.
2) Prepare for installation: Make arrangements within your organization to receive shipments, clear out spaces, grant after-hours access to installers, and so on.

Keeping Installation Easy

The installation itself is a breeze, rarely taking more than a single evening. Even complex systems can be installed over a weekend. While some buyers may elect to do their own installation–especially with a “single-site” or “single element” installation, like putting in a simple transaction window–Jim is quick to point out that it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.
“These are unfamiliar materials to most people,” he explains. “What you’ve got to keep in mind is that these materials can’t be treated the same way as regular building materials. First off, they’re heavy. It’s very easy to damage your drywall or framing by leaning a large ballistic acrylic window against it. A bullet proof door, if leaned against a wall, can actually deform under its own weight. Also, some of the materials–especially the transparency–can be badly marred by things like paint thinner or lacquer thinner, which are no problem for regular window glass.”

NEXT STEPS:

Bulletproof Glass History

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Hero or Outlaw? How to Use Archetypes in Marketing Your Brand http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/hero-or-outlaw-how-to-use-archetypes-in-marketing-your-brand/ Thu, 30 Apr 2015 20:03:59 +0000 http://new.thewholebraingroup.com/?p=396 If someone asks you what your archetype is, don’t worry—it’s not a cheesy pickup line. Archetypes are an ideal model of a type or group, like a personality type or a typecast character. Think of Darth Vader as the archetypal Bad Guy, or Dorothy Gale as the archetypal Innocent. Archetypal images represent fundamental human desires. […]

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If someone asks you what your archetype is, don’t worry—it’s not a cheesy pickup line.

Archetypes are an ideal model of a type or group, like a personality type or a typecast character. Think of Darth Vader as the archetypal Bad Guy, or Dorothy Gale as the archetypal Innocent. Archetypal images represent fundamental human desires. In literature and art, they connect with readers and viewers at deep emotional levels.

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7 Ways You’re Ruining Your Calls to Action http://www.thewholebraingroup.com/blog/7-ways-youre-ruining-your-calls-to-action/ Thu, 30 Apr 2015 20:02:51 +0000 http://new.thewholebraingroup.com/?p=394 Let’s face it. You spend more time combing through stock photos than you do crafting your calls to action. CTAs are easy, right? Just tell your lead to sign up or download. Simple!

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Let’s face it. You spend more time combing through stock photos than you do crafting your calls to action. CTAs are easy, right? Just tell your lead to sign up or download. Simple!

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