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Marketing Must Haves for 2018

content marketing

In the 2018 race to the top of relevant search results, companies of every shape and size will be adding more to their online experience. Simply having a website and a few Google Ads isn’t going to be enough to conquer the world of online marketing. And, if you don’t follow a comprehensive approach to strengthen your digital marketing mix, you may fall behind your competition.

The 4 Must Haves

“Must Have” is a great phrase. It implies necessity. And, it’s exactly why the marketing must haves for this year should not get pushed aside for another year.

  1. Website Optimization for Mobile Devices

Last year, mobile and tablet devices accounted for more than half of internet usage worldwide. This comes as no surprise, because sales in mobile devices have been growing exponentially since the inception of the iPhone.

Optimization for mobile devices goes beyond responsive design. It tackles mobile issues, such as connectivity, distractions, and smaller screens. The best website designs will resemble mobile apps.

Rather than struggle to read broken text and awkward drop-down menus, 61% of visitors to sites without optimization will leave the page. That’s a lot of opportunity lost! But, if the site is optimized, 67% of consumers are more likely to use a service or buy a product.

  1. Content strategy

Late in 2015, Google released a major update to its search parameters that included: frequent site updates, relevant content, and links to and from other credible sites. This was meant to eliminate poorly performing search results that gave irrelevant and outdated content to their users.

Over the past two years, Google continued to change many of the parameters to fit the needs of its users. Now, search engine optimization feels like shifting sands beneath our feet. A strong content strategy can provide some solid ground.

Company websites need to become a resource for all consumers—past, present and potential. This means frequent updates with articles, blogs, and case studies. Companies also need to develop relationships with media outlets and provide frequent press releases. Over time, this strategy improves search results and user engagement.

  1. Video

Dwell time is another parameter for Google’s search rankings. A “sticky site” can have visitors reading great articles, but what they would really prefer is to watch a video instead.

Videos provide an entertaining way for visitors to get more content, faster. A company’s brand message can be conveyed within seconds! The key here is entertaining, because visitors have a short attention span and they won’t watch bad videos. Professionally produced videos give an air of credibility and class, as well as faster brand recall.

What makes an entertaining video? It has to be interesting, relevant and useful. Tell a story. Present a narrative. Quality graphics, animation, professional photography, scripts, and production can make most subjects entertaining, even one about logarithms.

  1. Email list

Email marketing is still the most cost-effective way to reach your target market. According to MarketingSherpa, over 60% of consumers are open to weekly promotional emails and 91% prefer email promotions to other forms of advertising.

It’s time to clean up your current email marketing list. It’s time to grow it throughout the year, adding the leads you receive via tradeshows, website inquiries, and sales leads. Don’t forget to include your weekly or monthly email newsletters in your content strategy.

Maybe in a Year or Two…

Augmented and virtual reality is being used more and more on mobile devices. Some of the biggest companies in the world, IKEA, Facebook and Apple, are using these advanced technologies to capture the attention of more consumers, which means they are making it more mainstream for other companies to follow. Maybe in a year or two, we’ll be talking about them as must haves, but for now, this is the year to really focus on some core, online best practices.

If you don’t know where to start with content strategy, shoot us an email and we can help.

Keep It Fresh!

content marketing news

No one likes stale bread, stale news, or stale anything. Neither does the Googlebot. Savvy marketers know that the Googlebot looks beyond keywords embedded within a website. The Googlebot looks for frequent content updates to websites, often found in blogs, videos, press releases, and case studies. They call it crawling. These frequent updates increase the chances that a site will be placed higher in the search results.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it, because embedded keywords alone won’t bring the best search results. The world’s biggest and best search engine reaches around the globe for new and interesting content to fulfill their users’ search parameters. The trick is to keep your site fresh and looking new.


The do-it-yourself method of updating the company blog, special events, success stories, and general news requires planning and commitment of many employee hours. Let’s not forget, it also requires some creativity, which means you need to step away from the noise of the day and devote three or four hours to writing one piece.

Before publishing it, always remember to edit your material, either a couple times by yourself or have one of your coworkers help you. It’s hard to get your thoughts on the page to read exactly how you want them (even for seasoned professional writers), so please be careful when you do-it-yourself.

Time Is Money

Hiring a firm to do the writing also means you’re hiring them to plan, organize, and execute it. The cost may seem out of reach at first, but when you add up all the hours you would be spending on a properly run plan, you’ll see that it will make you money over the long-run. If you’re the owner of the company or head of marketing, that time spent writing could be time spent doing more pressing work and contributing to the bottom line.

Here’s a good example. In one week, your company may need to write a blog post and a press release. These take a professional writer less than 10 hours to complete. On average, it will take an inexperienced writer double that time.

Some Accounting Required

If you do the math, you’ll see how hiring a firm to handle the constant flow of updates to your site can save you money. More importantly, it will allow you to focus on what you do best, so you can increase revenue and profit.

Within a month or two of frequent updates, the Googlebot will reward your company by ranking it higher than before. Trust us. We’ve seen it happen, time and again. Let us know if we can help.

b2b marketing

Spotlight On: Matt Foreman, Co-Founder of Shoot to Thrill Media

matt foreman web development

When it comes to dependability, the guys at Shoot to Thrill Media, a web design and development company in St. Petersburg, FL, are unparalleled. We feel like we hit the jackpot when we met Matt Foreman and his partner, Mark Lombardi (who you’ll get to meet soon as well). Friendly, responsive, smart, creative, AND fun … we knew we needed to Spotlight them. We are proud to call them Pinstripers, and simply love working with them on our web projects.

Name: Matt Foreman

Title: Co-Founder

Company: Shoot To Thrill Media

City: St. Petersburg

Web site:


What inspired you to start Shoot to Thrill?

I love businesses! While I was freelance web designing I noticed I was helping out many different types of businesses. So as an entrepreneur I knew I would be able to provide a service that could help other businesses grow online. I knew I had an incredibly talented friend/partner in Mark, so it wasn’t a hard decision to pursue something bigger than freelancing. Shortly after, Shoot To Thrill Media was born.

What do you like most about the your industry and community?

Web design and marketing allows (and rewards) creativity. Whether it’s a new type of design or a new service we start offering, I love being able to think outside the box.

What challenges does your industry face?

I think one of the biggest challenges that the web design world faces is the fact that many people try to cut corners when it comes to web design. Whether it’s a DIY web builder, cheap hosting, or even just not knowing or understanding the value of a strategically built website. Your online image is one of the most important aspects of your business and there are so many things that can tarnish that image that may promote itself as “cheap but effective.”

How do you measure your success?

I think I measure success a little differently than most. I love taking (calculated) leaps of faith, so I put myself in a position of struggle when I’m at a point of wanting/needing to grow. Typically these ‘struggles’ either impact my personal life (like skydiving or riding a motorcycle) or my work life (offering a new service or investing in an unproven system). I measure my success by determining if those decisions are no longer a struggle, but a thrill or a successful endeavor.

What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career?

Being able to help other businesses grow while successfully growing my own business. Our one year anniversary is right around the corner, so knowing that we survived while shouldering all that responsibility is a huge accomplishment for me.

What do you think is the biggest mistake companies make when working in your industry?

Over-promising and under-delivering. We see it all the time, where a company or freelancer will bend the truth (lie) about their skill set just to secure a client. It’s hard to watch clients get away, especially ones with big dollar signs behind them, but knowing your limits and holding yourself to those limits to not harm the client and your own reputation is a great skill to have and it should encourage you to continue learning.

What is the most interesting trend you see in your industry?

I think it’s interesting (and great) that people are realizing more and more the importance of a mobile friendly website. It’s been super important for a few years now, but we’re really starting to notice clients being proactive in ensuring their website is mobile responsive.

How has technology helped/hindered your work?

Well, we wouldn’t be a company without technology, so we appreciate the strides technology has made in the recent past. But specifically, WordPress has come such a long way. It now powers more websites than any other platform, and it continues to grow at such a fast pace. Rightfully so. WordPress is amazing!

How do you stay on top of your field?

I can always admire and appreciate other great websites. It often times encourages me to learn a certain new design, or website function. I personally like to stay on top of my field by always learning and keeping an open mind when it comes to design, so as not to get stale.

What resources do you recommend? (Books, magazines, web, etc.)

If you’re interested in learning WordPress yourself, I recommend Treehouse. Some great courses that definitely helped me along the way. If you want to learn the basics, and how to troubleshoot, check out And as always with WordPress, check the WordPress codex for all your technical questions.

If you could give one piece of advice to Tampa Bay companies, what would it be?

Keep crushing it! Tampa Bay is doing some amazing things. Growing up in the entrepreneurship community here has shown me how creative and determined the community is. Also, look for strategic partnerships. They’re SUPER beneficial for both parties and it’s always great knowing another expert has your back when you need them.

What was your first job?

I worked at the car wash down the road from my house when I was 15. I dried the cars that came out of the wash. Hated the job. My neck was permanently sunburnt.

What are your hobbies?

I love to travel, especially out of the country. I’m always up for an adventure, and the more physically demanding, the better!

Favorite food?

My grandpa’s t-bone steaks. They’re out of this world!

Last book you read?

Startup Stories by Jordan Raynor. Loved the book so much I reached out to Jordan, and eventually interned for him. Now he’s a great friend and mentor of mine.

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 marketing new year? We are!

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