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  • 3 Key Steps to Setting Successful Business Goals

    Happy New Year, people! In case you haven’t noticed, the clock turned over and it’s officially 2019. Whether you were happy to kiss 2018 goodbye or reticent to turn the page and head to a new year, 2019 is upon us, and so is the looming of those lofty AF goals you’ve set. Each new year brings with it a new opportunity to begin again; if you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring one, this reset is much needed! We’ve been busy transitioning, expanding, and preparing for a massive year – and so have our clients. In October, the Visionary team began our 2019 strategic planning by asking clients and partners their goals for this year. Our Strategists urged clients to set actionable goals prior to the clock turning over for many reasons, but the primary one was because we wanted to enter the new year already at a full sprint. The holidays can be a time where many, many, many businesses stop operating. As a matter of fact, unless you’re in Retail, or entertainment, your year ends around 12/21 each year. A lot of times, the season lulls us into a sense of comfort that makes creating goals a very hard thing to achieve; that’s why most diets go out of the window after Halloween, never to be seen again until March or April, after several false starts. We know, because we’ve been guilty of this behavior for years (and in many areas, are still a bit of procrastinators, as a way of appeasing the rebel within. We are creatives after all). We wanted this year to be different, so the transition to 2018 began in September of last year, whereas the last quarter of the year is usually spent in “reeling mode”, the last quarter of 2017 was spent in transition and preparation for what is to come. There was a lot of time spent thinking about business goals and the things yet to achieve, then there was a little more time spent thinking about our clients, partners, and their goals. We realized something very important during this time: many of our clients were in a free fall, just coasting along on the plans and ideas set almost a year earlier. That’s what happens when you achieve a level of success previously thought impossible – you slow down. And, this is where most businesses fail: the slowing down after a victory. The best business strategy and marketing plans need to constantly be reworked, reviewed and rewritten, but many clients simply don’t have the time to do it. At the very least, the new year is the perfect opportunity to spend time creating goals for your business. Whether it’s getting closer to starting that business you’ve been dreaming about, growing sales in the one you’ve already started, or finding the budget to hire the subject matter experts you’ve been dreaming about to get your business to the next level - it will not happen unless you CREATE THE PLAN. Below we’ve included our proprietary action plan designed to help clients achieve their top five goal, measure growth, and take one step closer to achieving more in a year than most people do in a lifetime. 1. Create specific goals The key is to set realistic, achievable, actionable goals! The more specific your goal, the better. You want something you can come back and look at in the future that will help hold you accountable. No matter how smart you are, with everything else in your face in running your business (and the rest of your life) it’s possible those well-thought-out goals of yours will actually slip your mind come March if you don’t write them down! Don’t just focus on blanket statements like “Increase brand awareness”; instead put a tangible figure beside that. It’s all about accountability, so you’ll want to remind your future self that you WANTED to increase brand awareness by “increasing website traffic 15% month over month”. Pro tip: Don’t forget that it’s not all just sales. Most business books tell you that you must increase sales at all costs, but the truth of the matter is there are any number of goals you may decide are better for your business at this point in its life. This may include winning industry or local awards, lowering your costs, getting into a certain number of new stores or farmers’ markets, or doing a better job of engaging with your customers via Facebook or Twitter. Just make sure that the goals you write are specific so that down the road you can accurately tell if you achieved what you wanted to. 2. Detail the actionable steps you will take Now that you’ve decided to “Increase website traffic 15% month over month”, how do you intend to do that? Write 5 or 6 things you can do that will help you achieve this goal. Think through the steps you are going to take to help achieve the goal; sometimes seeing yourself actively pursuing the goal makes for a far better motivator than I simply writing it down. Do not be afraid to think outside of the box either. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that entrepreneurs have more flexibility to try things that can take Corporations 200 days to get approved through red tape (We’ve worked in enough corporate offices to know this as FACT). If you think something might work, list it in your actionable items. The worst thing that can happen is you try, and it fails. If it fails, you can just chalk that up to a lesson learned. After all, most successes are just failures you learned from. Do not be afraid to dream big. 3. Review your goals frequently Visionary's clients understand that the plans developed as a cohesive team are a living document. These goals (or a fully reworked business plan) are utilized to help guide through the coming year, and used frequently to evaluate if we are making progress towards achieving those goals; if not, then, it is utilized to determine how (and why) we will need to change course while there is still time to make a difference. Why is this significant? It’s only the first week of January and we have clients who have ALREADY reached some measurable goals, set new ones, and still more action plans being delivered. We set the tone in 2018 and discussed it weekly thereafter. It’s our job to help them reach those goals, and then set new ones once the goal is achieved. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may not have time to keep a steady eye on your goals, then actively work toward them with everything else that’s going on. If you’re just now setting business goals for 2019… you’re already behind. Let us help you catch up. Even if Visionary Rising isn’t the firm to help you do that, we urge every business owner to invest in an outside source consultation. At the very least, you’ll walk away with an action plan that can carry you in to the last quarter of 2019, then prepare you for the transitional phase of 2020 and beyond.

  • Business + Life Lessons From Jay Z

    There are only a few whose names are synonymous with success, but Jay Z, Mr. “I just signed a new deal”, is one of those whose name should go alongside Webster’s definition of the term. Since his entry into the rap in 1994, his success has been unparalleled. From being considered one of the G.O.A.T’s, to inspiring artists, businessmen and fans a like -Shawn Carter has become the definition of success for many. With business ventures like Roc Nation and Tidal under his belt, an amazing wife, Beyonce’, by his side and an equally successful bevvy of friends in his circle, Jay Z has become one of the most respected men in the world. His success, though others may offer conflicting points of view, is not by coincidence. One listen to his songs and you will learn so much about life, relationships, and how to hustle. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most memorable quotes from Jay, along with our interpretation so you, too, can follow Jay Z’s blueprint to success. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below and play along. The Lessons: 1. “…just remind yourself, nobody built like you, you designed yourself” – Our interpretation: At the end of the day, there is no one on this earth like you. The decisions you make influence the life you have – good, bad, or indifferent – your fate is in your hands. This is not only good news for life, it’s GREAT news for business. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur or artist. 2. “…I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them” – Our interpretation: It’s cool to have your ideals and dreams, but you have to be willing to implement them, and once you reach a certain level, it’s your responsibility to help those less fortunate than you, but you can’t do that if you’re poor yourself. Build wealth, focus on your goals, reach a certain level, and then, look to give back. Jay expounded on this belief in depth on 4:44's Legacy. 3.“Love me or leave me alone” — Our interpretation: Either respect what I’m doing, where I’m going and who I am, or leave me alone. It’s simple, really. If you can’t get on his level, then just leave him alone. We’re sure a lot of entrepreneurs and artists have come to that point at one time or another. The lesson here is to stand firm in your intent to move forward without those who don’t approve of your process. Sometimes, elevation requires isolation. 4. “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business…man” – Our interpretation: You’re a brand. Anyone can be a business man, but you have to build a business, man. Brand yourself, brand your business, create the plan and get out there. 5. “Everybody can tell you how to do it, but they never did it” – Our interpretation: In life, there are always going to be those people who offer unsolicited advice. You’ll recognize these people by their “I would never…” judgments on your decisions – but until a person has walked in your shoes, or is attempting to attain the things you are attempting to attain, who are they to speak in your life? This goes for your career, relationships and business. 6. “I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.” – Our interpretation: Life is short, indulge. 7. “I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not trying” – Our interpretation: There are a lot of things that are certain in life, but none as certain as – One day, you’re going to die. Morbid, we know, but absolutely true. Would you rather live a life afraid to take risks, or one in which you tried most of the things you conceived? 8. “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned so that evens it up for me” – Our interpretation: Failure is essential for success. To succeed at a dream, you must fail at it, learn from the failure, and grow. The best lessons are the ones that are discovered through a difficult loss. Success is guaranteed if you can bounce back from failure and learn from it. Fail forward and do it fast. 9. “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week” - Our interpretation: Nothing is impossible. Why put limitations on what can be done? The concept of “impossible” is destroyed on a daily basis. They put a man on the moon, explored Mars, found out there may be life in other planets and you think your dream is impossible? The only thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve is the belief it cannot happen. 10. “Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it” – Our interpretation: You don’t have to be a genius to obtain the life you want. The people who “make it” in this world are the ones who make it happen. Don’t worry if you don’t know everything. The answers will present themselves through the work. There is no such thing as a perfect moment. Start now. It is the only option if you want to reach your dream. 11. “Tried to teach people how to be Kings and all they ever wanted to be was soldiers. So the love is gone until blood is drawn because we no longer wear the same uniform…And truth be told, after all is said, I still have love for you” – Our interpretation: There will come a point, in business or relationships, where the parties involved will have to part ways – you can’t be afraid to make difficult decisions or part ways with people when your visions no longer mesh. In doing so, understand, there are no easy roads to success – it may mean losing friends and relationships that you’ve cultivated for years. The departure may be forever, or it may be temporary to move into your new season. One thing is certain – successful people learn to make the difficult decisions when it matters most.

  • 3 Ways to Improve Inbound Marketing Efforts

    So, you have your website up; it’s mobile friendly and looks awesome (if you do say so yourself), but that phone still isn’t ringing, at least not as often as you would like. For the life of you, you can’t quite understand why your website isn’t attracting the kind of traffic you would like: high qualified leads (HQL) that you can convert to buyers. This is an issue we encounter a lot with customers; while the answer is usually multifaceted in nature, it comes down to a few key areas: 1) Your Local Search Engine Optimization plan is not effective. 2) Search Console and/or Google analytics is not setup correctly, and 3) You’re not generating enough organic content to rank. Alone, these areas may not cause problems; but encountering the trifecta (which is often the case) creates the perfect storm for web properties that are as effective as paper weights. Below, we dive into things to look out for and ways you can optimize your local efforts to start ranking in as little as 4 – 6 weeks. 1.) Your SEO plan is not effective: The product you’re marketing, and overall goal, will determine whether you need to focus on a Local SEO plan or an SEO plan that ranks nationally. Our advice is to always focus on a “Think Local. Grow Global” approach; that is identify 5-7 keywords in your local area that you want to focus on ranking for, and 7-10 words to rank Nationally. For the purposes of this example, we’ll focus on LOCAL SEO. LOCAL SEO: Choose keywords that are specifically used in your area and ensure BOTH the meta tags AND page on your website display references to the keywords. This will determine your relevancy score within Google. The HIGHER the score, the more relevant the content and the more likely Google will display your site when people search. Example Meta Tag Description for Keyword “Digital Agency”: Title: Tampa Bay Digital Agency Description: We are a Tampa Bay based Digital Agency with focus on mobile app and website development. Bonus Points: If the page it directs to also has full length article directly linked to your web content, and/or a blog post specifically touting the services you offer. 2.) Search Console and/or Google analytics is not setup correctly How often is your site being crawled? You, and your webmaster, should know the answer to this question, but in the event you don’t, it’s pretty easy to find out. Google’s Search Console allows users to do the following: view how often their website is being searched, the keywords associated with that search, who is linking to your page, whether or not there is duplicate content and, any issues Google discovers during the hundreds of times they crawl your page. Sites that are updated with content daily can expect to average between 300 – 400 crawls per year. You can increase or decrease that number based on the amount of times you submit updated content to Google. That’s right – you can submit manual updates to Google by following a few easy steps, ensuring your sitemap is up-to-date and making sure all of your properties are connected to your Search Console dashboard. 3.) You’re not generating enough organic content to rank. This seems like a no-brainer, but is often the most overlooked aspect of content management. To achieve the maximum level of engagement across platforms, you need a mixture of organic (natural and original content) and paid content linking to your website. This can be achieved a number of ways, but our tried and true is always maximum use of the following channels: -Your blog is your best friend. It’s more than just where you update people on what’s going on with your company; this is the space you prove to existing and potential clients, why you are the best at what you do. Whether it’s providing educational or informational content, updates on changes you’re making or upcoming releases – linking people to different spaces in your website and generating content that links back in Search Engines, will help to increase your overall ranking. – Your social media accounts. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, all come equipped with offsite linking capabilities. Yes, a great digital plan includes aspects of paid and organic, but the higher and more engaging your organic content, the less expensive your paid advertisements become. If you really want to achieve maximum engagement, increase traffic and get that phone to ring – we’d recommend completing the steps outlined here as quickly as possible. If you don’t have the time, let us take this off your hands with a 1-time Digital Audit and Analytic update.

  • 7 Tips to Elevate Your Digital Strategy

    Here’s a fact that should shock no one: Social Media is the fastest, most direct and unarguably best way to reach consumers. Here’s a fact that might surprise you: most people are using it wrong. Granted, most smaller brands are doing relatively well in reaching their customer base, but more than likely aren’t doing the kind of numbers that would warrant/justify continuing to invest in this marketing route, but pulling the investment after only a few weeks of testing (which 60% of owners end up doing) is the wrong thing to do. What should they do instead? The answer is simple: Adopt an all-inclusive strategy that utilizes the Social Media funnel as 1-part of a much larger marketing schema. I know what you’re thinking “well, how do I do that?” It’s not as hard as it sounds, but TRUST US, it is also not as easy as you think. Below, we break down the 7-things you can do today to get your Digital Strategy in order and start capitalizing on the vast world of social media marketing: 1. Know What You Want Knowing is half the battle, so start with understanding exactly what it is that you want to achieve across your social platforms. Set measurable goals, also known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), that you can refer to on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to assess whether you’re on task with your goals. If our client wants to increase their user base by 30% in 3 months – this gives us something to work with, and so, we'll establish KPIs based on the conversion cycle. 2. Don’t be afraid to look in the rear-view mirror Establishing an effective digital strategy starts with understanding what you’ve done (or haven’t done) in the past, and being brutally honest about the results you did or didn’t get. Some of the questions you’ll want to ask during this portion of the review are: how well did the past campaigns perform? Was there a period of sustained growth? (where your followers were growing every week/month) Were there points of stagnation? (instances where engagement was low/nonexistent) What content performs the best for me? (video, blogs, direct posts) 3. Speak the Language Don’t let the planning and review of content take your focus off those you’re trying to reach with your content. You already know your audience (at least we sincerely hope you do – otherwise, we need to have a very different discussion), but the audience is often the first thing people forget amid the KPI setting, budget examining, and chaos that is trying to get your digital plan right. 4. Develop Useful Client Profiles Whether you are a business entity or an individual brand (musician, artist, creative, etc.) it will be important to establish as least 3-7 profiles for the type of buyer you want to target. The profiles don’t have to be too intensive, but you’ll want to include enough information in them so that your targeting on future campaigns will make sense down the line. For example: A small business whose ideal clients are creatives, entrepreneurs, and tech-savvy startups, will want to develop personas for each of these areas, and a painter whose ideal clientele consists of people between the ages of 24-36 with disposable income, of a certain lifestyle type and with certain likes/dislikes, will need to get granular. 5. Understand Your Limits There are two things you need to understand to have a successful strategy – your budget and your channels. Your budget will provide a realistic view of what you can expect from your marketing efforts. A client with a weekly budget of $30 will get very different results from a client who has $300 or $3,000. Your channels (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc) are going to dictate a lot. $25 per week across Facebook and Instagram goes a long way … $1,000 goes further. 6. Stop Wasting Time – Create the Damn Plan Knowing what you want to achieve, reviewing your past performance, understanding your audience and content they like, and knowing your budget and channels you want to use are all great steps on the journey to creating a viable strategy – now you’ll need to actually create a plan. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get great results, you just need to know who/when/how to target to achieve the maximum results, and where to spend the money to ensure you receive a return. 7. Get Out There + Solicit Feedback The final step to take is to launch. Choose a date to release your new strategy and then solicit feedback from your audience. Ask them what they like, what they want to hear, and how often they want to hear from you. Including them in the content you produce will ensure their engagement down the line. Keep in mind, that you can’t please everyone all the time, but there’s a large portion you can please by delivering content that’s consistent and relevant to what your audience needs. There you have it, our 7 things you can do today to get you on the track to creating a digital strategy that is going to launch your business into the next phase. If you get stuck on any one of these, contact us today. We have Digital Media specialists who can help to create the type of strategy that will save you time and make you money because, in the end, it should be about increasing your bottom line. Don't forget to subscribe to our mailing list below to receive updates like this, opportunities to expand your brand, and ways to collaborate, direct to your inbox. Whatever the mission, you need an agency with a vision.

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