Hello, lovely Solamar blog readers, Sam George here. For those who don’t know me, I’ve been your friendly blog author here since 2013, and have written everything we’ve posted since June of 2017. As many of you may have noticed, I’ve been absent for the last few months. I promise I still love you, and we have big plans for this blog moving forward, so stay tuned for that! But first, we need to have a sad moment. Continue reading
A little over a year ago, the Solamar design team began working on a really exciting project that we’ve been keeping under wraps, and a few weeks ago we finally got to reveal it to the world — a redesign of Lisa Sasevich’s website!
If you don’t know who Lisa is, you really should. Often called “The Queen of Sales Conversion”, Lisa has helped over 15,000 clients from over 130 countries in the course of her amazing career, and was named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing privately held companies for two years in a row.
It was a real honor for the peeps here at Solamar to undertake such an important design project for such an illustrious client, and we’re super-psyched for what a modern web presence is going to do for her, her biz and the many, many people she helps on a daily basis.
How did we approach this incredible project? Stick around, and we’ll walk you through it. Continue reading
Here at Solamar, as we work with a wide variety of business owners to help them create standout brands, we find that many of our clients fall into the category of “accidental” or “reluctant” entrepreneur. What I mean by this is that they are highly trained and skilled at what they do, and they have a burning desire to help others using their gifts and expertise, but they didn’t necessarily go into their field thinking like an entrepreneur.
Take our therapist clients, for example — each of the amazing therapists who hired us for branding and website design over the past few years had impressive training and experience, knew how to support their clients through life’s greatest challenges, and had hearts of gold with their sights set on helping more people through crisis and difficulty. And though they wanted and needed more clients to continue doing this meaningful and fulfilling work, they didn’t all know how to consistently attract the right clients to fill their practice and create or maintain a sustainable business.
What they needed — and what many business owners, like therapists, coaches and professional service providers need — is a standout brand and an exceptional online presence that communicates their message and connects with their audience, authentically and powerfully. Continue reading
When Solamar started, we were completely virtual. In those days, the decision was made both out of necessity and a desire to escape from the confines of the traditional corporate environment. For five years we stayed that way, but as we grew, we wanted to have a place to call home, so we opened a fantastic space in Birmingham, AL, in which those of us who live there have been happily working away for the last four years. Now, with nine years of business under our belt, and a staff that’s grown to around 20 people, we’ve decided to return to our roots and go virtual once again. Continue reading
Hands down, your marketing should include video. According to SEJ, “people watch more than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos on Facebook every day, and they share about 700 videos on Twitter each minute”.
If you’ve ever clicked on a video of a dog riding a skateboard, you understand what I am about to say — video promotes engagement and “likability” or share-ability of anything we want to market. That is why it is so essential that small businesses start to incorporate video into their marketing mix if they haven’t already. It’s just that simple. The only question you’ll have to ask yourself is: which video hosting site should you use?
YouTube and Vimeo are both the metaphorical “King of the Hill” when it comes to marketing and small business. But, they are very different animals. Let’s take a look at why, and how you can maximize your brand using one, or both.
According to the YouTube Press Page, “more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute”.
That’s kind of a big deal.
Not only is YouTube the second-largest search engine after Google, but it also has a massive reach across social networking sites. Clearly good for large audience numbers, it is no wonder that YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing platform. But, there are many factors that attribute to YouTube’s recipe for success.
- YouTube is free, both to upload and to watch videos. If you aren’t already on YouTube, SproutSocial created this guide to creating a YouTube account that walks you through the process step-by step.
- It is very easy to share YouTube videos to social media sites and other outlets. This “sharability” just makes sense in the world we live in. What’s more, sharability is crucial to brand awareness.
- YouTube is owned by Google – a relationship that, with a little help, many claim will boost Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. That’s a definite perk.
- Easy-peasy advertising. In three short steps, YouTube walks you through how to place an ad. They also customize your options to allow you to target your audience based on gender, age, interest and location.
If you visit the YouTube Statistics page, you’ll learn even more impressive stats, but the bottom line is that YouTube clearly has the reach that business owners want at a price tag that can’t be beat.
So, if YouTube is so amazing, the question begs — why isn’t everyone using it? Let’s take a look at the popular video hosting site, Vimeo, to answer that.
While Vimeo gets considerably less viewer traffic than video giant YouTube, it has become incredibly popular with peeps looking to export quality video in a boutique environment. According to Sprout Social, “This idea is related to the notion that Vimeo has more quality content. Since the site is much more niche than YouTube, there is a good chance that only serious video creators and watchers are frequenting the site on a regular basis. People viewing and commenting on your videos are a lot more likely to give you constructive feedback.”
- No Video Advertisements. Vimeo doesn’t place advertisements on any videos that they host. This alone is most likely the biggest perk to choosing Vimeo over YouTube. When your audience tunes in — there is a much smaller chance of them sub sequentially tuning-out due to pop up banners and advertisements.
- Quality Peers. Because Vimeo is more of a niche community, it is home to more professionally made and better-looking videos. Want to judge it for yourself? Vimeo offers a Staff Picks page that allows you to explore videos that they feel stand out in the crowd — and they are definitely worth a watch. This able community lends credibility to your video and really just helps your brand to look more professional and polished.
- More Tight-Knit Community. If you are looking for a video hosting site that lends itself to constructive criticism, Vimeo may just be the place for you. On Vimeo, members comment on each others videos regularly. According to Sprout Social, “This site is more close knit than YouTube, so building a community of thought leaders should be one of your highest priorities. This also means you should make sure to respond to those who comment one your videos.”
- YouTube restricts users to turn privacy either on or off. Meaning, it is completely private or available to the public. On Vimeo, users can customize their privacy. Vimeo allows you to hide your videos from folks browsing Vimeo, password protect them, or restrict your videos to be viewed/embedded on specific websites that you dictate. This gives you lots of flexibility to offer products for pay that are delivered in part by video.
At the end of the day, when you are choosing which platform best represents your brand, it is vital to consider the end-game of your marketing plan. Important items to weigh include:
- Who is your target audience?
- Are you looking for conversion or brand awareness?
- What the types of videos do you produce — and how often?
Need help answering these questions before you decide? Give us a shout! Because we do that too.
No matter how good looking your website is, if the design has stayed the same for a little while one of the best things you can do is give it a refresh. In fact, even if you have a brand new design, it is still important to track its performance and evaluate exactly how well it is performing. If any part of your site isn’t meeting expectations, than a refresh of that section could turn things around. One of the first things you need to do is make sure that you have decent analytics (such as the free Google Analytics) set up for your site, and that you view regular reports on traffic and other metrics. Remember that it can take 6-months to a year to gain enough data to have a good understanding of how you are performing, so give your self at least that much time in between redesigns. Performance will fluctuate, and it’s important to appraise it over time.
Once you have enough data in hand, you will be able to decide if refreshing your website will mean working on a complete re-branding, or just changing the layout of your home page or the language you use in your messaging. Either way, it can breathe new life into any existing site, simply by providing your visitors with something new and unexpected. Even a tiny adjustment to layout can increase engagement with even semi-regular visitors, as people will indulge their natural curiosity just to find out why things have changed.
And hey, we lead by example! The design team at Solamar has just finished a refresh of our own website, and we’re super stoked to show it off to the world. You should totally click through and check the whole thing out, but stay tuned here, I’m going to go through some of the changes, and why we made them. Weeeeeeee!
Adjusting to the Landscape
One of the things that you need to be constantly aware of when doing any online work is that the internet is a moving target. The moment you commit to a design, the technology and aesthetic of that design begin to become outmoded immediately. Here at Solamar, we pay attention to trends in design internationally, and we are always trying to make sure that our site (and our clients’ sites) are always on the forefront of what’s cool and what’s possible. We’ve taken inspiration from emerging trends all over the web and molded them together into a new vision for our site.
Our new homepage continues a movement toward the heavy use of big, attractive images, and we’ve embraced a longer style of page design that understands the fact that people are willing to scroll a lot more on their touch devices. To accommodate that choice, we’ve adjusted our design to more clearly delineate between different sections on an individual page. We start with a big ol’ team picture (I’m the silly one all the way on the right), followed by a quick description of what we do best. Following that, we’ve split our work showcase into two sections, and given them as much screen real-estate as possible, so we can really show off our work!
In addition to looking fabulous, this new “edge-to-edge” type of design makes it even easier to make the site responsive across all devices and screen-sizes, as well as making the design pop even more on really small screens.
The Team Behind the Screen
With any refresh, you also need to focus on making sure your personality, or the culture of your business, come through. At Solamar, we’re really proud of the work we do for our clients, and part of that work is the people that do it. Our personality infuses the design that we do, the way we interact with clients and each other and it is a fundamental part of Solamar and why we do things the way we do. Our team is distributed across the country, but that only means that it’s been even more important for us to build a group of people we all really trust and love. We work hard at keeping everybody tight-knight, and we want to show that off to the world.
To that end, we’ve redone our “What” and “Who” pages to bring even more light to them. On the “Who” page, we use the new “edge-to-edge” design aesthetic to make sure everyone’s smiling face gets as much space as possible, and we changed the portraits to color! Yay, color!!
Even on the “What” page, which is about the services we offer, we’ve included a bunch of photos, not just of some of our work, but of the team being all full of togetherness and kindheartedness and such. Oh yeah, and of course a picture of me being silly.
Sweat the Details
We’ve made a host of other small tweaks and adjustments throughout the site, too many to get to here, but you should be sure to poke into the corners of your site and make sure it hasn’t gotten too dusty, or broken down where you haven’t been looking. Do your research before you commit to any refresh. Make sure you have the data concerning it’s performance necessary to make informed decisions. Find inspiration out there in the internet wilderness. There are so many people doing so many cool things, and you won’t know about it until you search for it.
And as always, if you’d like a little help refreshing your site, give the team at Solamar a shout, it’s what we do, baby!
Chelsea Berler founded Solamar Agency in 2006. Today, at the youthful age of 30, Berler has grown her boutique marketing agency into a successful powerhouse of talent.
Dubbed, “The Curious One,” Berler is young, yes, but not too young to have known success, grief, love and loss — and to have turned all of that experience into a thriving career as a hands-on CEO and author.
Berler and Solamar have been featured in Shelby Living, Birmingham Business Journal, B-Metro (as the Face of Birmingham in digital marketing for 2014) as well as in Hoover’s Magazine and on ABC 33/40.
With a book that is flying off the shelves, and a business that continues to grow — we thought this was as good a time as any to sit down with our charming CEO. Continue reading