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Pinstripe and Southern Roots Realty Win Silver Davey Award

Tampa Bay web designPinstripe Marketing and Southern Roots Realty – proud recipients of a silver Davey Award for the Southern Roots website. What is a Davey Award? We asked the same question about a year ago, and the path leading to us receiving one is a prime example of good marketing (both on our part and the Davey Awards).

We receive a lot of mail. Much of it is promotional mail of various types, and the Davey Awards piece we received was no exception.

Except it was.

I opened the envelope, which has since been discarded, but must have been compelling in and of itself to prompt me to open it. Inside I found this Davey Awards poster. pinstripe davey awards website design I loved the design! I couldn’t throw it away. It wasn’t just a promotional piece – it was a work of art, and just so happened to look nice on my wall. There it stayed for several months until one day I really looked at it and noticed the deadline to enter was approaching. Come to think of it, I hadn’t really bothered to visit the website, I just liked the poster enough to hang it on the wall – indefinitely. So, that morning I decided to go to the website.

Upon entering the site, I realized that the Davey Awards suited Pinstripe Marketing perfectly.

“Small agencies. Big ideas.” That’s us.

Meanwhile, we had also just put the finishing touches on the Southern Roots website – and it was beautiful. I browsed the award entries until I found the right category for Southern Roots, took a look at some past winners and decided that we had a fighting chance. So we entered. A few months later, I received notification in the mail – we won the silver! It’s such a great feeling to receive outside recognition for something you’ve worked hard on. To be sure, the Southern Roots team loved their site and showered us with endless praise, but to have a panel of judges tell us that we deserve recognition as well, that was a good feeling. Also, it’s plain old good marketing. Sometimes you have to seek outside recognition for your work, and once you do, you are sharing that work with many people who may not have seen it otherwise (plus the bonus bragging rights if you win).

And on the part of the Davey Awards marketing team – kudos for coming up with an idea that hooked me, even though it took six months for me to realize it. If they had sent a regular postcard, I probably would have thrown it away, especially if I didn’t have a project to enter at the moment. But, because the poster had the longer shelf life of a work of art, something I really connected with, an entry materialized over the several months that the poster hung, and it all came together eventually. We try to keep this in mind with our marketing materials as well. Good design connects with people, people connect with it. Find that connection, and you’ve found a pot of gold.

residential real estate web site wolfnet integrationHere’s to a job well done by all involved, from the Pinstripe Marketing creative team, the Southern Roots team, and the Davey Awards team. Each of these people played a role in this award. We all decided to do a photo shoot with our trophy and then celebrate afterwards, (minus the Davey Awards team because they are in New York and we thought it was too short notice to fly them down for the shoot). Here’s to a job well done for all of us who worked on this site!

~ Nikki

If you are craving good design, let’s chat!

 

Photo: Judson Kidd, Sarah Calabrese, and Natalie DeVicente from Southern Roots

Evie Larson, Nikki Devereux and Lyndsey Shaw from Pinstripe Marketing

Not pictured: Chris Jenkins, ImTheirWebGuy, developer

Good Marketing Never Forgets the ‘Old Year’

Tampa Bay marketing firm
The New Year is upon us, and with it comes a sense of a “fresh start” — especially if the past 365 days haven’t been particularly good. However, before we can measure progress, we must have an idea of how far we’ve come. Therefore, it’s essential to record the results of past marketing initiatives and reference them from one year to the next.

Understand that every advertising campaign or customer/prospect outreach effort is very much like an experiment. Not only are you interested in results, you’ve got to control for variables.

Necessarily, there will be a “best guess” component to your experimentation based on experience, industry knowledge and instinct. Additionally, some variables will be beyond your control while others are completely invisible to you. But every campaign requires standard, basic decisions. To avoid repeating the same mistakes and to steadily improve results, pay attention to:

  • Audience demographics – Age, gender, ethnicity, income, location … you should have a profile of your target audience before your campaign begins. Say, for instance, 75% of your target audience is male but 50% of the leads generated are female. Such over-performance with women might suggest untapped demand. Yet you’ll never know unless you record who received your messages in the first place.
  • Campaign timing – From “back-to-school” sales for children’s clothing stores, to tax season for CPAs, every industry has a time of year that’s expected to bring in more business. But is it better to advertise a month before the event or just a few days in advance? And the days of the week that you advertise could make a difference in response as well. Will your Monday email blast get lost in the clutter from the weekend? Make identifiable changes from one campaign to the next, and compare results.
  • Types of communications (email, direct mail, radio, social media … etc.?) – The tricky part about comparative analysis of media is that results can be radically different from one to another, yet actual effectiveness could be almost equal. Take for example, the email blast that costs next to nothing per contact, but also brings in very few qualified leads, versus a creative (and expensive) direct mail campaign that nets a much higher percentage of actual sales. It’s only when you try different approaches over time that you can determine which has the greater positive impact on your bottom line.
  • Frequency of contact – One thing we hear commonly hear from clients is that they tried a certain type of advertising and got no response. This often means they mailed a postcard or sent out an email blast—one time and out of the blue—and no one noticed. But people get bombarded by thousands of messages every day. To make an impression, you usually must repeat yourself. However, there is a sweet spot—before diminishing returns on your advertising investment—that you won’t find until there’s a documented history to examine.
  • Tone of the communication – Did your advertising seek to get a chuckle, tug at someone’s heart strings or imply that life as we know it rested on the prospect’s buying decision? Most business owners think they know their customers—and they usually do—but it’s risky to make blanket assumptions about the mindset of others. Certainly, you want to stay within the boundaries of your brand image, but occasionally changing the tenor of your messages may provide valuable marketing insight.

As you go from one campaign to the next, isolate a specific aspect of the communication to change.  You don’t want to change too much. Otherwise, if results are greatly impacted, you won’t know which factor was at work. Plus, if you’ve been getting reasonable ROI from your marketing budget, you don’t want to risk a disastrous result by suddenly changing too much. Your expectation should be incremental improvement. Sure, you might discover an advertising formula that exceeds your wildest hopes, but in the meantime, plan on adjusting and analyzing your marketing plans as long as you’re in business.

 

Ready to kick off your 2017 marketing? We are!

Pinstripe Brands Florida Nature Preserve Cemetery

funeral cemetery marketingIn May 2014, we were invited to visit a 40-acre parcel of what was formerly part of the J.B. Starkey Ranch to hear about an idea.

After attending a workshop at a national land conservation conference years earlier, Laura Starkey had an idea to develop a business model that would allow her to conserve natural lands while sharing the beauty of laura_and_frank_starkeyFlorida’s woods with residents and visitors – the same woods she grew up in and is dedicated to preserving. Heartwood Preserve would be a nature preserve and conservation cemetery – only the second in the state – to provide ‘green’ burial options.

Natural, or ‘green,’ burial is a safe and environmentally friendly practice that allows the body to return to the soil naturally by using biodegradable materials, and avoiding vaults and toxic embalming fluids. Conservation burial takes this practice a step further by burying in a nature preserve rather than a conventional cemetery, and utilizing a portion of the burial fee to help permanently protect the natural environment.

More than two years after that first walk in the woods, Heartwood Preserve is a reality.

The Pinstripe Marketing team had the pleasure of working with Laura to design the brand and create marketing tools that tell the story of natural burial and illustrate the beauty of the preserve she fought to protect.

The brand is, of course, inspired by nature. A hand-drawn pine cone referencing the thousands that drop from the long-leaf pines throughout the preserve serves as the iconic mark. The stationery package was printed on natural, FSC Certified, Green Seal certified, 30% recycled paper (minimum). The colors and texture throughout all marketing pieces are earthy and exude the beauty of Heartwood Preserve.

stationery suite design branding

branding logo design

logo design and professional services branding

The web site is a source of information about natural burial and for the Florida nature preserve as an asset for the community, available for enjoying the flora and fauna. It’s also the platform to show off the beauty of the preserve. The home page video, shot by nature documentary videographer, Jennifer Brown, draws the visitor in with stunning visuals of the pine trees, palmettos, flowers, and animals who call the preserve home. The photo gallery highlights the environment and events hosted at the preserve. The site, including font selections and simple navigation, was designed with a senior audience in mind.

website design website development

The brochure also features a brief introduction to the preserve and photography by Andrea Ragan. As a stand-alone piece for prospective families or as part of a comprehensive package for funeral directors, the brochure provides information about conservation burial and what loved ones can expect by selecting Heartwood Preserve as a final resting place.

brochure design printing

With all the elements for a great story, the Pinstripe public relations team is anxious to begin pitching the media about this beautiful new conservation cemetery and the Florida families who make arrangements to be buried among the long-leaf pines and palmettos.

For more information about Heartwood Preserve, visit the web site or stop by for a peaceful walk in the woods.

Contact a Pinstripe project manager to start developing your brand and marketing materials.

Online Marketing: 5 Things That Most Smart People Don’t Know

Online marketing is one of those things that’s easy to start, but difficult to do correctly. That’s because the internet makes it easy for people with little or no experience to present themselves as experts and give lots of bad advice. It’s bad enough when this bad advice doesn’t produce results, but in many cases, it can even harm your business for the long term. Just like with medical and legal decisions, it’s not what you know about marketing that gets you in trouble—it’s what you don’t know. The tips below will help you avoid making some of the common marketing mistakes that a lot of smart people make simply because they followed bad advice from someone who presented themselves as an expert.

Meta tags have no direct impact on ranking

Despite what most people believe, meta tags like the keyword and description tags have zero direct impact on ranking in the search results. In fact, so many people held this misconception, that Google made a formal announcement way back in 2009, yet the myth remains. I want to note that I said no direct impact; that’s because the contents of the meta description tag display in the search results and that can have an impact on click through rates, which can have an effect on ranking. I stopped using the meta keyword tag over a decade ago, and you should too. While I do still pay attention to the meta description tag, the only reason is to improve click through rates. You can stop obsessing about meta tags and put your energy into more productive SEO techniques.

Skip manipulative linking schemes

While we’re on the topic of SEO, the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm is quantity and quality of links from other websites pointing to yours. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there were no rules. Reciprocal link exchanges, comment spam, link wheels…everything was fair game. But as quickly as new techniques have popped up, Google has deemed them to be against their webmaster guidelines. The most recent example was a penalty they handed out to bloggers who linked to websites in exchange for free products.

Today, manipulative link building techniques won’t even work in Narnia, let alone in the real world.

narnia

Google’s algorithm has become so advanced that they can quickly identify attempts to artificially manipulate ranking, but they don’t just ignore those attempts—they now penalize both the website linked to and the site linked from by dropping them from the search results. Called the Penguin Update, this means even people searching for your company name in Google won’t be able to find your website! And don’t get the idea that you’ll try to get away with it until you get caught, and then fix it. Many websites that got hit with Google’s Penguin update are still waiting to recover several years later. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? Instead of “cheating” by using artificial links, focus on producing amazing content that other people feel compelled to link to.

Start building an email list now

You might have thought “there’s no point in starting an email list yet because my website doesn’t get enough traffic yet.” That line of thinking is backwards. What do you have to gain by waiting? Think about it like this—mail services like Aweber will cost less than you probably spend on coffee each month, and you can get everything set up in less than an hour. Sending out a quick email to drive subscribers back to your newest blog post might take 5 minutes, if that. So even if you just have a handful of subscribers, it can have a significant impact on your website traffic. More importantly, your email list enables you to contact your subscribers with special offers when you need to generate a quick influx of revenue. Your email list is one of the most powerful resources in your online marketing toolbox, and the sooner you start building it, the sooner you can start multiplying your results.

You don’t need to be on every social network

It’s tempting to try to build a following on all of the major social networks, but unless you have a marketing team and a hefty budget, you can’t do it effectively. Each social network has its own nuances to learn, and it takes time to find your flow and acquire followers. Spreading your time too thin by trying to build a following on every network will only hamper your long-term growth. You’ll achieve better results, and you’ll achieve them more quickly by focusing on one social network at a time. Build up a loyal and engaged following on one network, and only after you’re producing consistent results, can you replicate the process on another network while maintaining activity on previously established networks.

Never rely on your gut

A lot of business owners think they’ll just “know” how their online marketing is performing. The fact is that you simply can’t rely on your gut. Sure, it’s easy to identify exactly how many customers come in as the result of a coupon without using special tools, but online marketing is a lot more complex. Even with the proper tools, it can be difficult to track precisely. There are so many variables involved all at once; SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, banner ads, email marketing and more, and it can sometimes take weeks or even months to see results. If you’re relying on your gut, how do you know where a sudden surge in sales came from? Was it the result of a new Google algorithm? A seasonal change? A viral post, or particularly effective email subject line? Multiple activities from multiple channels could be a factor at the same time, which is why it’s so important to use the proper tools to track your online marketing efforts. That way, you can change or eliminate the underperforming activities while increasing the activities that are performing well. You have so many free tools available to track the performance of your online marketing efforts, including Google analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools, so it would be foolish not to use them.

 

About Jeremy Knauff

Jeremy Knauff is the founder of Spartan Media, a proud father, husband, and US Marine Corps veteran. He has spent over 15 years helping businesses of all sizes to make their mark online, and today, he’s busy building his own media empire. 

We’re proud to call him a Pinstripe partner!

Tips for Stress-Free Website Design and Redesign

Tampa Bay web design companyYour company’s website is the heart of your business. It’s where people go to find you, connect with you, contact you, and admire your work. It is one of your most important assets, the hub of all communication, and it should define your brand. Because your website is such a pivotal piece of who you are and what you do, you want it to be beautiful, functional – the best it can be. Thus, hiring a web design company is a big decision, and starting on that web design project can be a daunting task.  If you have a lot of content, images, and functionalities that add complexity to the project, the task may seem even more tremendous. However, it does not have to loom so large. Here are some tips for a smoother, quicker web design process.

The most important factor in determining the timeliness and simplicity of even the most complex web design project is organization. Each web design project manager may have a different approach, but the below are some basic ideas.

  • Organize your folder structure – you should have separate folders for content and graphics. Organize them by page and name them according to function and/or placement. Consult your design firm’s project manager to determine their recommended format for organization.
  • Communication – Conveying your ideas and your vision clearly and succinctly to your web designer or project manager is essential. Prepare for your first meeting by researching some sample websites  or elements that you admire. This is a crucial part of conveying your vision to the creatives involved in the process. They are inherently visual people and sharing visual cues – perhaps picking pieces of different sites that you really like – will give them ideas that will help them create the best possible site for you.
  • Read the contract – Every web design and development firm will have a unique contract. Fully understanding the contract is the first step to great communication. There may be time limitations and protocol for revisions. These are in place to ensure a timely, smooth project, so make sure you understand the process and ask questions if anything is unclear.
  • Ask questions – Another path to great communication is thorough understanding. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. This will keep communication flowing and eliminate the fear that comes with loss of control. However, be prepared to step back and let your design firm guide the process – this is why you hired them.
  • Stepping back – You hired a web design and development firm for many reasons. They know what they are doing. The good ones care about your business. They want you to succeed. They are creative. For all of these reasons and more, you should be able to trust your design firm when they offer advice. Sometimes this means you must take a step back from the minutiae of your design and see the bigger picture. Being able to do this will save you time and money.
website design

We recently finished a gorgeous website design for Southern Roots Realty at southernrootsrealty.com.

The web design process can be truly rewarding. If you hire the right design firm, you will have the opportunity to work with creatives who can make your vision come true, an incredibly satisfying process for all parties involved. Do your research and make sure you not only love the firm’s portfolio, but that you are able to communicate comfortably with the team. Next to organization, communication is most important! Good luck with your project, and be sure to check out some of our other articles about web design and development.

 

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