Jeff Coon

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    Client's Social Responsibility Campaign Yields Big Results

    Posted by Jeff Coon on Jun 27, 2013 7:37:00 AM

    Create marketing that offers 3-for-1 specials

    The other day I was at our local watering hole, enjoying its regular "Happy Hour 2-for-1 Special," when it occurred to me that the recent social marketing campaign we helped develop with West Bend Insurance to "Avoid Distracted Driving" was a super mega "3-for-1 special". Because when companies like West Bend support worthy causes, they create this "3-for-1" effect — with values and benefits that are passed along to:

    1. The Cause
    2. The Company
    3. Their Customers (or the general public)

    One of West Bend's core principles is to give back to the communities it serves—its employees are very active in the community, so this campaign supported its culture and brand. At Stream, we believe in supporting like-minded companies such as West Bend, so to be a part of a program that offers this kind of value is personally rewarding. And it doesn't hurt that having a "meaningful brand" makes a brand stronger, more engaging and 120% more valuable, according to a study done by Havas Media.

    The Campaign

    This 5-week campaign, launched through the West Bend Cares program, featured the following content elements:

    The Results

    West Bend received a lot of positive feedback from their associates, customers and independent agents network. After 5 weeks, the results of the campaign elements listed above have garnered:

    • 1,200+ Page Views
    • 200+ Leads
    • 700+ requests for bracelets
    • 220+ Facebook Likes
    • 65+ LinkedIn Shares
    • 40+ Tweets

    This campaign also caught the attention of a national safety organization that will be featuring West Bend and their commitment to promoting safety, recognizing West Bend as a thought leader in this area.

    Marketing Takeaway

    Businesses should continually look for ways to align their personal passions and company message platforms. In short, find a cause you believe in to support! If you don't currently have one, ask your employees — surely, they'll have one that is near and dear to their heart.

    The benefits of social marketing can be:

    • Increased brand awareness/PR
    • Increased trust for your company, showing the personal side of your business
    • A boost in company morale (team-building at its best)
    • Positioning your firm as a thought leader
    • A warm fuzzy feeling deep within your soul knowing that you made a difference (and that my friends, is priceless)

    In closing, do some good. Leave the world a better place and "Happy Hour" will lead to many Happy Hours for you, your company and your cause.

    What causes do you support? How have your efforts resulted in a 3-for-1 special?

    About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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    Topics: blogging for business, inbound marketing, stream creative, distracted driving

    Paving Company Kicking Asphalt with Inbound Marketing

    Posted by Jeff Coon on May 24, 2013 6:28:00 AM

    Wolf Paving, an asphalt paving and manufacturing company located in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, has seen the real benefits of committing to an inbound marketing plan. What has success looked like for Wolf Paving? Here's a quick overview:

    • 44% increase in the number of calls for quotes compared to the same time last year
    • 92% increase in online quote requests compared to the same time last year
    • Improved search rankings for terms - “Milwaukee Paving Companies” & “Madison Paving Companies
    • Increased media coverage
    • Recognition from peers and industry trade publications

    With the help of Stream Creative, Wolf Paving has been successfully practicing inbound marketing for over 2 years - blogging weekly, developing case studies, creating eBooks, landing pages, calls-to-action, etc.

    If you take a look at the graphs below, you'll see the consistent growth that Wolf Paving has had. Organic traffic has increased by 172% since 2011 and online requests for quotes has increased by 140%.

    Wolf Paving Organic Traffic 2yrs

    Wolf Paving Contacts 2yrs

    Looking to make an even bigger impact this year during "quoting season", Stream Creative and Wolf Paving decided to add some traditional and paid media to the marketing plan.

    Mary Jo Preston, Stream Creative's Senior Marketing Consultant and Media Planner/Buyer, worked with Wolf Paving and local and national media outlets to put together a very strategic plan that not only supported the existing inbound marketing plan but was also VERY targeted at Wolf Paving's market.

    The results of these efforts, as outlined in the graph below, were a 44% increase in the number of phone calls received (compared to the same time frame the year before), as well as a 92% increase in the number of visitors requesting a quote online.

    Wolf Paving Request a Free Quote

    In addition to the increased lead volume, Wolf Paving has also been recognized as a thought leader by industry trade publications and has received media coverage from local TV stations, most recently being featured for a story on pothole repair.

    When asked why the TV Station chose Wolf Paving, the station admitted that they found them via online search. When arriving at Wolf Paving's website, it looked like Wolf Paving was the right company to talk to.

    Wolf Paving has received similar inquiries regarding other services, such as porous asphalt paving. A contractor contacted Wolf because, in his words, "Wolf Paving is clearly the expert on this topic."

    When is outbound marketing effective?

    When it's part of a bigger inbound marketing plan. The boost in visibility is most effective when you have the credibility and foundational elements in place that help convert new website visitors into potential new customers.

    What outbound or paid media techniques have you found to be successful? Do you think they'd be as effective without an inbound marketing plan already in place?

    About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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    Topics: case study, outbound marketing, paid media, inbound marketing, stream creative

    Tools and Tips to Make Blogging Easier

    Posted by Jeff Coon on Apr 20, 2013 8:01:00 AM

    By now, most marketers and business professionals understand the importance of blogging. Two of the biggest obstacles we've seen that prevent business owners from blogging more frequently are: lack of time and fear of writing.

    Here are a couple of simple strategies and tools that let companies tap into the collective expertise within their organization, which can help build a blogging team and create efficiencies in the blogging process. These are also great strategies to help prevent writer's block and burnout.

    Our first tip is to leverage an app called Dragon Dictation. In their own words, "Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text content for everything from email messages to blog posts on your iPad™, iPhone™ or iPod touch™."

    It’s up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard!

    Dragon Dictation App

    Dragon Dictation features include:

    • Voice-to-text transcriptions that may be sent as SMS, email, or pasted into any application using the clipboard
    • Submit text to social networking applications – Twitter and Facebook
    • Convenient editing feature that provides a list of suggested words
    • Voice-driven correction interface

    At Stream Creative, we use this app. In fact, the outline of this blog post was created on my commute using Dragon Dictation. After dictating the outline, I emailed the draft to myself and cleaned it up for posting. It's a great way to make the most of travel/commute time (just make sure your focus is still on driving!).

    We've found Dragon Dictation to be very accurate. You do need to speak a bit slower than normal. It works best if you only speak 2-3 sentences at a time and then pause to let the app render the results. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!

    The second tip is to arrange brief meetings or phone calls with your internal experts (e.g. sales team, customer service reps, etc.). Keep the meetings short (max of 30 minutes). Develop a list of questions that you can send to the person being interviewed ahead of time.

    Use your laptop or smartphone to record the interview session. Be sure to get their permission before recording the session. We use GarageBand on our MacBook Pro. We've found that these simple conversations can provide plenty of great content for blog posts. The people being interviewed are happy (and flattered) to share their knowledge. 

    On the flip side, asking those same professionals to write a blog post for the company blog would've created some mixed feelings. Let's face it, no one wants more things added to their already full plates. By using the techniques outlined in this article, we're getting the same information but via a method that doesn't create friction.

    What tools, tips or strategies do you use in your blogging efforts? What have you found to be a successful for getting others to contribute to your blog?

    About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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    Topics: business blogging, blogging tips, dragon dictation

    Does your business need a mobile app?

    Posted by Jeff Coon on Feb 10, 2013 9:00:00 AM

    5 steps to perform a mobile auditDoes your business need a mobile app? Before investing a lot of resources into developing a mobile app, be sure that it's the right thing for your company and your audience.

    Below are 5 steps to perform a mobile A.U.D.I.T.

    A = Audience

    Is your audience ready for a mobile app? Even the best mobile apps will be rendered useless if your audience and customers aren't tech savvy individuals. The number of people with smartphones increases dramatically every day, but that doesn't mean that all smartphone owners are power users of mobile apps. 

    "While usage continues to increase for native apps as a category, the typical user is working with only a handful of apps," said Christian Gurney, President & CEO of Torsion Mobile. He added "The abandonment rate for installed apps is very significant. So the value proposition for continued app use must be very strong."

    So, how do you know if your audience consumes your content via their mobile device? 

    You can start by reviewing your website analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you can view the number of visitors accessing your website via mobile. This may give you a rough indication of mobile popularity amongst your audience. Combine this data with industry reports on mobile usage for your audience demographics and consider asking a large sampling of your existing customers about their mobile usage.

    "With 800,000 Apple AppStore and 600,000 Google Play apps, random discovery and installation of a native app is a low percentage proposition. So any native app you produce will require marketing efforts to get to your customers and prospects," said Gurney.

    U = Understanding Mobile

    Understand the difference between a mobile app and a mobile-optimized website. Your company may not need a full mobile app. Rather, a website that is optimized for mobile viewing may be all you need. 

    There are great mobile website builders such as Mojaba, a tool created by Gurney's team at Torsion Mobile, that allow companies to quickly create a mobile website. Mojaba can help you create a mobile presence that leverages smartphone functionality, such as geolocation services and click-to-call buttons, while presenting information following best-practices for mobile viewing.

    At Stream Creative, we use Mojaba and appreciate the ease-of-use and robust functionality that it offers. Our clients appreciate having a tool that allows them to make updates to their mobile website without having to write a line of code.

    D = Determine Goals and Budget

    What are the goals of your mobile experience? Is it simply to showcase your product/service or are you creating a custom tool that requires functionality such as using your phone's camera? Outlining the specific goals and functionality of your mobile experience will help determine whether you need a full mobile app or if a mobile-optimized website will do the trick.

    Here's a list to help you determine when a full mobile app might be your best option:

    • Frequent use and personalization - will users need to login frequently to see highly personalized information (ie: robust dashboard info)?
    • Complex interactive games - will your game require your phone's processing power?
    • Camera access - will your app need the ability to take and upload photos?
    • No Internet connection needed - will your app need to run natively on the phone, with or without Internet connectivity?

    If your goals are more marketing and communication driven, then a mobile website is probably the right fit for your company. If your goal is to create a complex data processing tool, then a mobile app might be your best option.

    The other obvious thing to consider is your budget. 

    Creating a mobile website is much more cost-effective then developing a mobile app. Native apps, obviously depending on features and supported platforms, can be significantly more expensive to produce. And each time the operating system is updated, it may be necessary to update the app (e.g., iPhone 5 and iOS 6 - different screen height). Native app developers are scarcer, which can drive up the cost of development. It's easier to teach a web developer mobile site principles than it is to make them into app developers.

    I = Information

    What content are you going to present to your audience? Think through what your users will be interested in if they are viewing your website via their mobile device. Be sure to look at your website analytics to see which content is the most popular amongst your audience.

    The goal is to make your mobile website a more streamlined experience. Users are less likely to browse your site on their mobile device. They are more task-driven, looking for specific information quickly. Some things your users might be looking for are:

    • Store hours
    • Driving directions
    • Phone number (click-to-call button)
    • Menu (in the case of a restaurant)
    • Pricing
    • Job openings

    Make your action-oriented content very easy to find on your mobile website. You can give users the option to "View your full website" if they so choose. This will allow them to browse your full desktop website in the event that they want to read your blog and learn more about your company.

    "Native apps and mobile websites are not mutually exclusive. Giving smartphone visitors a mobile website experience today helps you gather information on what those users are trying to accomplish. This data is valuable in narrowing down the feature sets for native app development," said Gurney.

    T = Timing

    Since mobile websites are using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, the time necessary to produce something is generally much shorter than a native app. In many cases a native app can approach 12 weeks for production. A mobile-optimized web experience will be far, far shorter.

    Gurney added, "The great thing about the mobile web is that you can do something very quickly and update as you learn more - all the while actually engaging and listening to customers."

    Having the ability to publish something quickly, in smaller iterations and analyze how people are using your mobile website can save you thousands of dollars in development. Again, why create a robust app if no one is going to use it!

    Is your company considering developing a mobile app? What problems will your app solve? What tools have you considered? What other steps would you add to this audit? Please share you comments below.

    About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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    Topics: how-to, Mobile Websites, Mobile Apps, Mobile Website Builders, stream creative

    Using the iPad and LinkedIn to Grow your Network

    Posted by Jeff Coon on Nov 13, 2012 9:03:00 AM

    Using the iPad for businessAre you looking for creative ways to use the iPad for business? Have you ever wanted to do more with your LinkedIn Connections? In this article, I'll share some ideas on how you can do both to help grow your network and strengthen relationships with your current customers.

    I had the opportunity to interview Tom Boudreau of R&R Insurance (a client of ours). Tom is a Commercial Insurance Account Executive who was looking to provide better resources for his current and prospective customers. Tom was kind enough to share his thoughts and process in how he's using his iPad and LinkedIn network to do a "52 in 52" video interview series featuring Wisconsin business professionals.

    Below is a recap of my interview with Tom:

    Q: Tom, what is "52 in 52"?
    A: "52 in 52" is a video interview series where I'm interviewing 52 Wisconsin Business Professionals, with nothing but my iPad, over a time period of 52 weeks. I've wanted to do this "52 in 52" initiative for years, but it took time to build my network of Wisconsin experts. I am now in a position in my career to leverage the collective expertise of my network. They are a great group of people and I'm happy to be able to share their knowledge in a way that can help all of us grow our businesses.

    Q: Where did the idea come from?
    A: I sell business insurance like a lot of individuals. But my goal is not only to be the best at that, but to also help my clients build their businesses — whether it's insurance related or not. "52 in 52" is my attempt at putting the "social" back in my social networking.

    I really wanted to offer my clients and prospective clients something of value. I also wanted to do something with my LinkedIn Connections. In the past, I was simply accepting new connection requests on LinkedIn and then not doing much more with it. I wanted to reach out to my network and learn more about what their businesses do to see if they could help my clients. Ultimately, my goal of "52 in 52" is to share knowledge.

    Q: How has this worked for you?
    A: It's been great! I'm spending an hour with each individual for the interview - and prior to that we're communicating about what we'll be discussing in that interview and what we can provide the audience as a leave-behind.

    It's really strengthening my relationship with these individuals. This process is kind of a bonding process. I share with them the analytics and they feel that I'm truly trying to help them - and that's my goal.

    This has also resulted in new and additional business for me. I had a client that I was working with sign an 'Agency of Record' letter for additional services because he appreciated the fact that I was differentiating myself from other insurance agents and working hard to help my clients grow their businesses.

    I've also had several opportunities present themselves in ways that I didn't expect. Just by staying in front of my clients, I'm having them refer opportunities my way, as well as introduce me to other professionals that help me strengthen my business network. Even beyond the sales, this has helped build brand awareness for me in a way that doesn't come across as salesy.

    Q: How has this benefited your network?
    A: It's been very beneficial for them as well. As an example, the interview I posted a couple weeks ago resulted in business leads for the individual being interviewed. A couple hours after I sent out the email to my network letting them know that I posted the new video, three people reached out to me asking to have my guest speaker contact them about quoting some business. It really was a win, win, win for all of us involved.

    Q: From a production standpoint, how are you doing the video interviews?
    A: I'm using nothing but my iPad set up on a tripod. My father-in-law was kind enough to let me set up a little studio at their office (Circular Marketing in Waukesha, WI). I purchased a couple lights and printed up a sign, but the rest of it is just setting up the iPad and shooting the interview.

    I purchased the iMovie App for the iPad and do the editing right on my iPad. When completed, I upload the video to our YouTube Channel and then with your help (Stream Creative), we build out the blog post, create a landing page and upload the leave-behind piece.

    When those pieces are in place, I create an email in SubscriberMail and send that out to my network. From start to finish, including the interview, the entire process takes about 4 hours.

    Q: In closing, do you have anything else you'd like to share with readers?
    A: As a sales person we try very hard to get that initial meeting to learn what our prospects' businesses are all about and where R&R Insurance can help them. Through these "52 in 52" interviews, I can ask these same questions through a totally different process that doesn't feel like I'm selling to them - which I'm not selling - I'm trying to help them reach a new audience, and they get a better value out of that.

    If I had to do something different, it would be finding a way to shorten the final videos - but I just can't find a way to get them between three to five minutes without cutting out a lot of the content or sacrificing the personal element involved with these interviews.

    Overall, this has been a great experience!

    So how are you engaging with your LinkedIn Network? How are you using your iPad for business? Please share any of your ideas in the comment section below.

    About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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    Topics: online networking, online business networking, online referrals, iPad, Tom Boudreau, inbound networking, linkedin, stream creative

    [Story] How a Resort Collaborated with Their Competition to Reel in More Sales

    Posted by Jeff Coon on Jul 27, 2012 1:13:00 PM

    This article is a guest post by Jeff Coon (@milwaukeedesign), a Partner and the Creative Director at Stream Creative (@streamcreative), an inbound marketing firm and Silver HubSpot Certified partner. Jeff recently encountered a small business using 'inbound networking' to generate sales. I asked him to write up the story and share via the Co-Grow blog. Hopefully it inspires all of you inbound networkers...

    While vacationing in northern Wisconsin, I took the opportunity to interview the property manager at the resort where we were staying. I interviewed him in order to understand how they're using traditional networking in conjuction with online networking to fill their cottages.

    John Burger Estrold Resort resized 600John and Jami Burger have been managing The Estrold Resort located in St. Germain, Wisconsin for over a year. Before that, John was working for Aimbridge Hospitality at the Aloft Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to that, John managed several lakefront properties in northern Minnesota, after getting his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

    Collaboration with your competition can create business opportunities for everyone. In an industry where you'd think business owners would be competing against each other for guests, John stated that it's just the opposite. "We all share a common goal, and that's to get people to St. Germain, Wisconsin." John regularly refers guests to other resorts when The Estrold Resort is full and other resort owners return the favor. John and Jami support the local Chamber of Commerce, working at local events and helping to promote the St. Germain area. Everything from volunteering at the local Bingo games to participating in the annual "Bikini Run" - a snowmobile race featuring men and women sporting bikinis and battling the winter cold to raise money for local charities. John said that it's these community events that help keep their brand name out there, while giving John and Jami the opportunity to network with local business owners.

    In addition to their offline networking, John and Jami are very active in online networking and marketing - specifically Facebook and blogging. The Estrold Resort will soon be publishing their YouTube Channel that will feature virtual tours of their cottages. John recognizes that guests want to see what the cottages and resort have to offer before booking, and these social media sites make that very easy to do at a cost that's more an investment of time than money. Letting your customers create content and market your small business for you In John's words, "We like to create vacation envy." By hosting daily events on the resort for families to participate in, such as a fishing contest, a scavenger hunt, movie night, S'mores night - just to name a few, guests have the opportunity to meet other guests and it creates great photo opportunities for both the guests and for The Estrold Resort. While we were vacationing on the resort, John let me know that he received a call from a Facebook friend of mine. This gentleman saw the photos I was posting on my personal Facebook page, which led him to investigate The Estrold Resort as a potential vacation spot for him and his family. That's social commerce in action! You'll never find John without a digital camera on hand. He's great (and discreet) at capturing moments that showcase all of the great things that happen on the resort. John then posts those photos to The Estrold Resort's Facebook Page, which creates great visual content for guests and potential guests to engage with.

    John has generated more leads by co-marketing and blogging with industry partners. Besides showcasing the resort and activities, John also uses their Facebook page to post last minute openings, post snow and fishing reports for outdoor enthusiasts and promote other community events. One of those community events was the "Only Fools Run at Midnight 5K Run/Walk" held in Minocqua, Wisconsin - an event he found out about via the Chamber of Commerce's Facebook Page. John posted a message on the Chamber's Facebook wall letting runners know that The Estrold Resort would pay for the race entry fee for any runner staying at their resort. Within 24 hours, John had someone take him up on his offer. "Covering a race fee in exchange for a weekend booking worked out really well for the resort and came via a marketing channel that was free of charge," stated John. In addition to Facebook, John's wife and business parter Jami, writes for the local snowmobiling blog. On behalf of the resort, John and Jami take photos of the snowmobiling trails and report on the conditions of those trails. The results of their blogging efforts helps drive traffic to their website and increases the resorts brand awareness. "Snowmobilers don't always believe the official snow reports. They want to see what the trails look like first-hand and we show them that and give an honest evaluation of the trail conditions - and the snowmobilers appreciate that" said John.

    John and Jami recognize the power that social networking offers and plan to do more of it - including a YouTube Channel, Facebook Ads as well as looking into the adoption rate of LinkedIn in the northwoods of Wisconsin to see if that's a viable option for their business.

    John has shifted to marketing his small business online - instead of traditional advertising - to conserve resources.  In the past, The Estrold Resort has paid for ads in local print publications but have discontinued some of those efforts due to the lack of response from those investments. John plans to shift those dollars over to online marketing where he can better track and monitor the results.  John admits that he could do a better job of tracking the results but with a two-person staff it's sometimes hard to find the time. "When I was working for very large hotel chains, we had a small staff dedicated to this. Now, it's just Jami and I doing everything" laughed John.

    This is a reality that most small business owners can relate to. Having limited resources is really one of the main factors in the resort's decision to pick Facebook as their main marketing platform. "It's really easy for me to do a status update or upload a photo to our Facebook page. Much easier than making changes to our website. Plus, it offers a much more engaging experience for our guests" said John.

    Online or offline, John credits much of their success to networking and collaboration with local business owners and guests. John sums up their collaboration by saying "You get more bees with honey than vinegar." A sweet message for all small business owners to live by.

    How is your business collaborating with other local businesses? What have you found to be successful? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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