We are the digital agency
crafting brand experiences
for the modern audience.
We are Fame Foundry.

See our work. Read the Fame Foundry magazine.

We love our clients.

Fame Foundry seeks out bold brands that wish to engage their public in sincere, evocative ways.


WorkWeb DesignSportsEvents

Platforms for racing in the 21st century.

Fame Foundry puts the racing experience in front of millions of fans, steering motorsports to the modern age.

“Fame Foundry created something never seen before, allowing members to interact in new ways and providing them a central location to call their own. It also provides more value to our sponsors than we have ever had before.”

—Ryan Newman

Technology on the track.

Providing more than just web software, our management systems enhance and reinforce a variety of services by different racing organizations which work to evolve the speed, efficiency, and safety measures, aiding their process from lab to checkered flag.

WorkWeb DesignRetail

Setting the pace across 44 states.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

The sole of superior choice.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

WorkWeb DesignRetail

The contemporary online pharmacy.

Medichest sets a new standard, bringing the boutique experience to the drug store.

Integrated & Automated Marketing System

All the extensive opportunities for public engagement are made easily definable and effortlessly automated.

Scheduled promotions, sales, and campaigns, all precisely targeted for specific demographics within the whole of the Medichest audience.

WorkWeb DesignSocial

Home Design & Decor Magazine offers readers superior content on designer home trends on any device.


  • By selectively curating the very best from their individual markets, each localized catalog comes to exhibit the trending, pertinent visual flavors specific to each region.


  • Beside the swaths of inspirational home photography spreads, Home Design & Decor provides exhaustive articles and advice by proven professionals in home design.


  • The art of home ingenuity always dances between the timeless and the experimental. The very best in these intersecting principles offer consistent sources of modern innovation.

WorkWeb DesignSocial

  • Post a need on behalf of yourself, a family member or your community group, whether you need volunteers or funds to support your cause.


  • Search by location, expertise and date, and connect with people in your very own community who need your time and talents.


  • Start your own Neighborhood or Group Page and create a virtual hub where you can connect and converse about the things that matter most to you.

December 2016
By Kimberly Barnes

Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

Loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.
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Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

article-thedistance-lg It’s easy enough for a customer to join your loyalty program, especially when you’re offering an incentive such as discounts. All your customer has to do is give out some basic information, and voila! They’re in the fold, a brand new loyalty member with your company. From there, it’s happily ever after. You offer the perks; they stand solidly by you, bringing you their continued business. Simple. Or is it? In reality, just how many of those customers are act ively participating in your loyalty program? Do you know? Sure, loyalty program memberships are on the rise according to market research company eMarketer, having jumped 25 percent in the space of just two years. However, that figure may be a bit misleading. The truth is that, while loyalty program sign-ups may be more numerous, active participation in such programs is actually in decline. At the time of the study, the average US household had memberships in 29 loyalty programs; yet consumers were only active in 12 of those. That’s just 41 percent. And even that meager figure represents a drop of 2 percentage points per year over each of the preceding four years, according to a study by loyalty-marketing research company COLLOQUY.

When discounts just aren’t enough

So what’s a brand to do? How can you make your loyalty program worth your customer’s while—as well as your own? After all, gaining a new loyalty member doesn’t mean much if your customer isn’t actively participating in your program. Consider this: Does your customer loyalty program offer members anything different from what your competitors are offering? Chances are your program includes discounts. That’s a given. And what customer doesn’t appreciate a good discount? But when every other company out there is providing this staple benefit in comparable amounts, it becomes less and less likely that customers will remain loyal to any one particular brand. Frankly, it’s all too easy for customers to get lost in a sea of loyalty member discounts. They’re everywhere. In fact, just under half of internet users perceive that all rewards programs are alike, according to a 2015 eMarketer survey. The key to success, then, is to differentiate your business from the crowd. If you can offer your customers something unique and valuable beyond the usual discount, chances are they’ll be more likely to stick with your brand. Here’s some inspiration from companies who get it.

Virgin: Reward more purchases with more benefits.

That’s not to say you need to get rid of discounts entirely. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Customers still love a good discount. The goal is to be creative in terms of the loyalty perks you offer. Take the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for example. As part of its loyalty program, the airline allows members to earn miles and tier points. Members are inducted at the Club Red tier, from which they can move up to Club Silver and then Club Gold. Here, it’s not just a discount. It’s status. And people respond to feeling important, elite. Still, even where the rewards themselves are concerned, Virgin is motivating loyalty customers with some pretty attractive offers. At the Club Red tier, members earn flight miles and receive discounts on rental cars, airport parking, hotels and holiday flights. But as members rise in tiers, they get even more. At the Club Silver tier, members earn 50 percent more points on flights, access to expedited check-in, and priority standby seating. And once they reach the top, Club Gold members receive double miles, priority boarding and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can get a drink or a massage before their flight. Now that’s some serious incentive to keep coming back for more. Discounts are still part of the equation – but they are designed with innovation and personal value in mind, elevating them to more than just savings.

Amazon Prime: Pay upfront and become a VIP.

What if your customers only had to pay a one-time upfront fee to get a year’s worth of substantial benefits? It may not sound like the smartest business idea at first glance. But take a closer look. Amazon Prime users pay a nominal $99 a year to gain free, two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase. And that’s just one benefit of going Prime. It’s true that Amazon loses $1-2 billion a year on Prime. This comes as no surprise given the incredible value the program offers. But get this: Amazon makes up for its losses in markedly higher transaction frequency. Specifically, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 spent by non-Prime users, a ccording to a 2015 report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Patagonia: Cater to customer values.

Sometimes, the draw for consumers isn’t saving money or getting a great deal. The eco-friendly outdoor clothing company Patagonia figured this out back in 2011, when it partnered with eBay to launch its Common Threads Initiative: a program that allows customers to resell their used Patagonia clothing via the company’s website. Why is this program important to customers? And how does it benefit Patagonia? The company’s brand embraces environmental and social responsibility, so it was only fitting that they create a platform for essentially recycling old clothing rather than merely throwing it away. The Common Threads Initiative helps Patagonia build a memorable brand and fierce loyalty by offering its customers a cause that aligns with deep personal values. OK, so their customers get to make a little money, too. Everybody wins.

American Airlines: Gamify your loyalty program.

If you’re going to offer your customers a loyalty program, why not make it f un? After all, engagement is key to building a strong relationship with your customer. And what better way to achieve that goal than making a game of it. American Airlines had this very thing in mind when it created its AAdvantage Passport Challenge following its merger with USAirways. The goal: find a new way to engage customers as big changes were underway. Using a custom Facebook application, American Airlines created a virtual passport to increase brand awareness while offering members a chance to earn bonus points. Customers earned these rewards through a variety of game-like activities, from answering trivia questions to tracking travel through a personalized dashboard. In the end, participants earned more than 70 percent more stamps than expected – and the airline saw a ROI of more than 500 percent. The takeaway: people like games.

Stand out from the crowd.

Your approach to your customer loyalty program should align with your overall marketing approach. Effective branding is about standing out, not blending it. Being memorable is key. To this end, keep in mind that loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.


071 - Tribes in today's marketing: Becoming a member of the tribe

Membership doesn’t begin the day you start participating in the conversation. In today's installment in our series on tribes in

June 2016
By Jeremy Girard

Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

There’s no time like the present to implement these quick fixes and reap the rewards for months to come.
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Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

artice-smallchanges-lg Every spring it happens like clockwork: the temperatures get warmer, the days get longer and everything in nature becomes more vibrant and colorful. Along with these changes in the great outdoors comes the irresistible urge to clean house and embrace a fresh start. Why not keep that motivational momentum going and apply it to your business – and, more specifically, to your website – as well? After all, there’s no time like the present to sweep away the old and outdated and bring in fresh new ideas and technologies. But you don’t necessarily need to dive head-first into a full redesign and all of the time and expense that entails to reap measurable results. Instead, here are five small steps you can – and should! – take today to ensure that your site is up-to-date, relevant and doing all it can to bring you new customers and grow the community around your brand:

1. Reposition your contact form.

For most website owners – especially those in service-based businesses such as law, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. – the key “win” for their site is when it motivates a visitor to request more information or schedule a meeting. Contact forms are a ubiquitous website staple intended to provide a convenient – and highly measurable – avenue to initiate communication between an interested prospect and a company. However, perhaps because they are so commonplace, all too often these forms are given little strategic thought, resulting in a cookie-cutter name/email address/phone number format that yields more bogus spam submissions than legitimate new business opportunities. However, there is one simple change you can make that has been shown to get better results: reposition your standard “Contact us” form as an “Ask our experts” feature. By doing so, you shift the focus of the form to providing your visitors with an opportunity to submit a question that is specific to their needs and concerns. Rather than feeling like they are opening themselves up to an endless barrage of solicitation calls and emails, your visitors will sense that they are initiating a dialogue with an expert who will help them solve their particular problem. Make sure to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, provide helpful advice that is free of charge and tailored to your prospect’s situation, and leave the door open to continue the conversation in a future meeting or phone call. By doing so, you will establish an important foundation of trust and confidence with your potential new client that will make them more inclined to engage your professional services. expert I have personally seen the submission rates on these types of forms increase dramatically. On one site where this small change was implemented, form submissions jumped from one or two per week to one or two per day – all legitimate business opportunities that were sparked simply by repositioning the focus of the form.

2. Productize your offering.

Another challenge that professional services organizations face in creating a website that works as an effective customer conversion engine is that they do not sell a specific product but rather a suite of services that can be customized to each client’s specific needs. This makes it terribly hard to market to visitors who come to their site and simply want to know “What exactly does this company sell, and how much does it cost?”. Because there are so many variables to the company’s offerings, there is not a quick and easy answer to these questions. If this challenge sounds familiar to you, one approach you can try is to “productize” what you have to offer. Create a bundle of services with a fixed price, and market that package on your site in a simple, straightforward manner that makes your offering easy to understand and helps visitors feel like doing business with your company is as simple as buying a product off the shelf at a store. package This is exactly what my company did with some of the technology consulting services that we offer. Instead of only listing the array of services we provide, we also created a product that representing a very specific offering. This made it so much easier to answer the “What do you sell?” question, and it gave us something tangible to promote in our marketing campaigns. In reality, this approach in no way limited the range of services we are able to offer our clients; rather, it merely served as a vehicle to open doors to new opportunities and made it easier to start conversations with new customers for whom we could ultimately provide a custom-tailored solution. Examine the services that you offer, and work with your marketing team to create an appealing package that you can market – understanding all the while that this “product” is really just a means for you to connect with customers and begin the sales process with something tangible that they can easily understand.

3. Lose your home page carousel.

One simple change that I have seen many websites make in the past year or so is to remove animated image carousels from their home pages. These carousels have long been a popular fixture of website design, but the reality is that they can sometimes do more harm than good. Home page carousels typically feature giant, screen-spanning images which carry with them heavy download requirements both for the images and for the scripts that power the animation sequences, thereby creating a potential stumbling block in performance for users on mobile devices or with slower connections. Additionally, studies have shown that click-through rates on animated carousels are extremely low, and they drop significantly from the first slide to the subsequent ones. This is why many companies are replacing rotating carousels with a singular static message instead. This one change can greatly reduce a page’s download size (when my company did this on our home page, its file size decreased by 75 percent) while having little to no effect on actual user engagement or click-through. In fact, because the page now loads more quickly, many sites actually see an uptick in user engagement because fewer people are abandoning a site due to poor performance. image Do you have a carousel on your website? If so, do you know whether or not it is working well for you? Your marketing team may be able to do some A/B testing between a version of your site with this animation feature and one without it to see which performs better. Since carousels do work well for some sites (like news organizations or sites with lots of frequently updated content), having this data can help you determine whether or not it’s time to ditch the carousel.

4. Update your image(s).

Stock photography is something of a necessary evil of website design, as more often than not, companies don’t have the budget to execute a full-fledged custom professional photo shoot. However, not all stock images are created equal. Stock photos that are overused or that look so obviously staged that they scream of their “stockiness” can cheapen a site’s design and leave visitors with a negative overall impression of the site. Replacing those images can make a big difference in a site’s visual appeal. If your site’s imagery is stale, you can make some simple image swaps to freshen it up. If you are going to change out old stock images for new stock images, make sure to seek out photos that feel fresh and that are not terribly overused (most stock photo sites will tell you how many times an image has been downloaded). An even better option is to try to add some unique imagery to your site. This could be photographs that you hire a professional to take or – in keeping with one of this year’s hottest trends – custom illustrations that you commission from an artist. illustration If your budget is tight, incorporating even just one or two such one-of-a-kind images in key spots on your site can really boost its visual impact. For instance, if you lose that aforementioned carousel on the home page and replace it with one truly compelling static image and message, it can make a really powerful first impression on your visitors.

5. Publish less.

Most experts agree that publishing original, value-add content on your site on a regular basis is key to optimizing its success – both from a sales and marketing standpoint and as an advantage in the never-ending battle of SEO. While I agree with this approach in principal, for many companies, the drive to publish regularly has resulted in putting out mediocre content simply to meet an inflexible standard of frequency. This is often an entirely counterproductive effort, as content that lacks in quality, original thought or value for the reader reflects poorly on the organization and its perceived level of expertise. Publishing original content to your site on a regular basis is still a best practice, but that content must offer value for it to succeed. Let’s say a visitor comes to your site and is impressed to find that you publish new articles weekly or monthly; however, once they click through the headline to see what they can glean from your writing, if what they find is mediocre at best, what motivation do they have to return to your site again in the future, let alone entrust you with their hard-earned dollars? If, on the other hand, you publish new content less frequently, but everything you produce is of the highest quality, then that same visitor will know that the time they spend on your site will always be worth their while, and they will look forward to the next time you post something new. Re-examine your current content marketing strategy, and ask yourself whether you are focused on quality or frequency. If it’s the latter, commit instead to writing less but to improving the quality of what you offer on your site. While this change may not have an immediate impact, it will absolutely yield long-term results that your visitors will appreciate and respond positively to.

In closing

Eventually, your website will need a redesign, but in the meantime you can make small, strategic, surgical changes that will pay immediate dividends in your site’s success. This approach of implementing gradual but regular modifications will also benefit you when it does come time for that full redesign. By making intelligent improvements over time, you will ultimately be closer to your end goal, leaving less to accomplish with the redesign and thereby paving the way for a smoother and less costly project.
June 2021
Noted By Joe Bauldoff

The Making and Maintenance of our Open Source Infrastructure

In this video, Nadia Eghbal, author of “Working in Public”, discusses the potential of open source developer communities, and looks for ways to reframe the significance of software stewardship in light of how the march of time constantly and inevitably works to pull these valuable resources back into entropy and obsolescence. Presented by the Long Now Foundation.
Watch on YouTube

June 2012
By Sufyan bin Uzayr

From Panda to Penguin: How to Practice Safe SEO Today

Make sure your site's performance in organic search results doesn't fall victim to the latest updates to Google's algorithms.
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From Panda to Penguin: How to Practice Safe SEO Today

soe-article

Anyone who has had some exposure to the internet knows the importance of Google. After all, as the world's single most important search engine in terms of user base and popularity, Google wields considerable power to make (or break) any website.

Time and again, Google makes changes to its SEO algorithm, in order to improve its search functionality and usability. Thus, while earlier it was an attack on paid links, last year Google came up with the Panda update that effectively tackled websites which were mere content scrapers or low-level affiliates.

While the impact and implications of Google Panda have been discussed all across the internet multiple times, certain newer changes in SEO algorithm are still relatively lesser known. In this article, we focus on the newest change – the Over Optimization Penalty, and how to tackle it.

What is it about?

To quote Google's Matt Cutts, certain websites are often built keeping search engines in mind, and thus many SEO folks have sites that are “over optimized”, or in other words, “overly SEO-ed”. In short, the axis mundi of Over Optimization Penalty is to target and punish websites that focus more on SEO and less on content quality.

Yes, that's right. With search engines controlling a good deal of incoming traffic for almost any website, many site owners publish content keeping Google and Bing in mind, not their website visitors. In other words, SEO becomes the King, while content takes back-seat. It is this very practice that Google's recent Over Optimization Penalty patch aims to hit at. The motive is to “level the playing field” and crawl websites that offer quality content, not quality SEO.

seo-main

How does it affect me?

Before going any further, let me present you with (my version of) a handy guide to Search Engine Optimization.

At the most basic level, SEO deals with analysis of data related to your website, so that you can assess what interests your website's visitors the most, what makes them visit your site, which topics are popular (and which aren't), and so on. Once you have such data, you can optimize or tweak your website to provide your visitors with information that they prefer, and avoid information that they don't like.

For instance, say, you are running a website about coffee. Now, you notice that most visitors to your website come by searching for terms such as “how to make awesome coffee”, and not “utensils for coffee”. Thus, you can focus more on preparation guides for coffee, rather than offering advice about purchasing coffee mugs. Similarly, you realize that your visitors are keen on knowing about the production of coffee all across the globe, and you can further provide such informational articles.

This is where over optimization comes into play. In your bid to get more and more visitors, instead of simply providing awesome coffee-related articles, you may also resort to repeatedly offer technically similar or 'SEO-friendly' articles about the history of caffeine, which may or may not be totally useful.

Good SEO is about content, proper coding standards and information hierarchy, and definitely not just about extra keywords.

So what should I do?

Avoid excessive usage of keywords.

The crux of the Over Optimization Penalty is to promote websites that do not play a handicap match by relying on keywords more than the actual content itself. Of course, keywords still matter – but you should not stuff them or fall prey to the 'keyword density' gimmick.

Avoid unnecessary "networked" links.

Let's say you have 10 websites, and you've created a 'network' out of them. Now, if only you can cross link within this network of websites, your traffic will increase – after all, users visiting the first site will be like, “Hey there's more to this network. I gotta visit 'em all!” Right? Sadly, not anymore. Google has been going tough on websites that are abusing interlinking.

Avoid backlinks from uncanny locations.

In other words, avoid link spam, period.

Avoid spending days and nights to 'comprehend the algorithm'.

Do not create content that satisfies Google's search algorithm – instead, spend time creating content which meets the expectations of your users. Google will automatically follow suit and take notice of your hard work. Surely, many SEO experts can claim to give you instant traffic boost and content promotion – but rarely do such tricks work in the long run.

Update your old posts and articles.

If your website has older articles and posts which have a good rank in terms of SEO, it is worth updating them – not necessarily a re-write, but check for broken links, outdated information, etc.

Build links the proper way.

Yes, properly employed link-building techniques can be effective in promoting your website. Certain measures such as writing guest posts and posting relevant comments on websites that are similar in genre to yours can be fruitful.

Implement a healthy on-site strategy.

It goes without saying that simple and clean code, along with validated HTML and CSS promotes better crawling of your web pages. Also, it makes sense to employ plugins and methods to make your pages load faster. Good load times almost invariably lead to better traffic. Similarly, HTML5 and responsive web design are the way to go, like it or not!

Employ social networking.

Websites such as Twitter and Facebook are ideal for viral campaigns – this is a well known fact. Further more, just in case you haven't noticed, Google is now keeping social networks in mind when assessing the importance of a website – in any search page, you can see the +1 buttons under each result, thereby allowing users to like or dislike a website in one go. Naturally, you'd not want to miss out on the social networking front.

social-network

Keep track.

Google itself offers a plethora of tools to aid you in your quest to promote your website – for instance, you can consider using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to your advantage.

webmaster-tools

Follow the golden rule of good SEO

So, what's the final word? Well, it's pretty simple, actually – Google is trying to offer search results that are clean of subpar content. Your best bet is to create content for humans, not search engines, so make sure you always write for people, not crawlers.


April 2010
By The Author

10 Keys to a Successful Marketing Partnership

A trustcasting agency is an indispensable asset to the growth of your business. However, the best marketing partnerships start with you and your active engagement in the fulfillment of your growth objectives.
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10 Keys to a Successful Marketing Partnership

handshake

You would never try to write your own legal contracts. You certainly wouldn’t dream of trying to perform your own root canal. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even attempt to change the oil in your car.

There’s a reason these tasks are left to the professionals. They require a high level of expertise to ensure success. One misstep could have disastrous consequences.

The task of growing your business is no different. Getting and keeping customers is the very lifeblood of your organization, and as such, must be handled with surgical precision. Don’t shortchange your business growth goals or leave the critical process of building community around your brand to chance.

There are many hidden costs of do-it-yourself marketing – not the least of which are a loss of time, loss of focus on running and managing your business and loss of money if you are still playing by the outmoded rules of old marketing. If you are not capitalizing on every opportunity to engage with your customers and prospects via new technologies and new media, your competitors will, and you’ll be left behind.

Yes, you need the creative resources of an agency. But more than that, you need a trusted business partner that is invested in your long-term success. It’s not about flashy ad campaigns or catchy slogans. It goes far beyond advertising and branding. Trustcasting agencies are experts in more than just the creative arena. The real value in working with a trustcasting agency is applying creativity to every element of business growth.

When you choose the right trustcasting agency, you’ll have an equal and proactive partner in the growth of your business.When you choose the right trustcasting agency, you’ll have an equal and proactive partner in the growth of your business. Nothing is more important in today’s marketplace than cultivating and nurturing your core group of customers. Finding them, engaging them in community, building their trust and putting their passion to work to help you grow – this is the specialty of the trustcasting agency.

Working with a trustcasting agency requires you to do more than give your blessing to creative campaigns and sign checks when the invoices arrive. The best marketing partnerships start with you. You must come to your agency with an open mind but armed with clear objectives, good perspective, creative ideas and solid data. You must be prepared to back up their efforts by creating a culture of quality and service within your business to ensure that you practice what you preach.

Following are 10 practices you must implement in order to actively engage with your trustcasting agency in promoting the growth of your business.

Good discipline goes a long way

Your business – and the promotion of it – thrives on your ideas. You must have a clear vision for your company: How will it grow? What do your customers need, and how do you address those needs? How do you create a brand that people embrace as part of their own identity? How do you excite your fans to the point of being your evangelists?

The only way you can make the time you need to grow is through vigilance with regard to organization and productivity.Achieving this level of clarity requires an investment of time, effort and focus – with the greatest emphasis on time. The only way you can make the time you need to grow is through vigilance with regard to organization and productivity.

Efficiency creates more opportunities for profit, while disorganization has significant opportunity costs. Having the right work environment saves you time and money every day. Steve Strauss, author of The Small Business Bible, coined the term R.O.O. (return on organization, estimating that “increased R.O.O. can yield up to an extra two hours of productive time a week and up to an additional six percent of revenue.”

For a business owner or marketer, good time management is just as important as sound financial management. Eliminate distractions. Stop multi-tasking. Clear your desk and clear your mind.

Give yourself the time you need to take a step back and gain perspective. Focus on ways to improve your internal operations, your employee morale, your customer service and your product or service offering, and bring your best ideas to your trustcasting agency.

Out of order comes inspiration

Once you’ve organized your work environment and maximized your productivity, you’ll find that the space and time you’ve created for yourself paves the way for inspiration to follow.

The good news: inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. Keep your eyes open, be present in the moment and be an active observer of the world around you. Blogs, Twitter, books, magazines, art, friends, neighbors, customers – any of these can be the source of your next big idea as long as you are perpetually searching and constantly in tune with your passion for growing your business.

The challenge of inspiration is that you never know just when it will strike. Ideas don’t arrive on schedule. In fact, they are probably least likely to come when you are sitting in front of your computer. More often than not, your best thinking happens when you are driving, cooking, sleeping or even brushing your teeth. Make sure you always keep your journal or smartphone at hand so you can jot down a note whenever and wherever you might be.

Part of being a good entrepreneur is being a good steward of ideas. Don’t allow inspiration to pass you by without capturing it, and don’t allow the motivation behind it to dissipate before you explore all the possibilities that lie therein.

Every idea has the potential to become something valuable, even if you can’t immediately recognize how to execute or monetize it. That’s where your trustcasting agency comes into play. Bring them all of your ideas – no matter how rough and unrefined. They’ll help you sift through them, identify the gems and polish them into a brilliant and actionable business growth strategy.

Playing the numbers game

calculatorIt’s a fact: business growth requires some degree of trial and error. However, that’s not to say that you can’t tip the odds of achieving success in your favor.

In today’s marketplace, good marketing is more cost-efficient than ever before, but it all starts with good data. You need a solid foundation in order to ensure that your efforts are driving revenue rather than undermining profitability.

The key is having good metrics in place – metrics that go much deeper than just measuring traffic to your website. You need to quantify your core business operations. At the most basic level, you must know the real cost to acquire a new customer and the lifetime value of that customer.

There are a number of factors that play into these figures: What brings your customers in the door? What motivates a them to make a purchase? How much do they spend? How many times do they return? What brings them back, and who do they tell about their experience? If they leave, where did they go and why? By answering these questions, you can determine the level of investment you must make in your marketing and trustcasting efforts in order to continue to grow.

If you have a Web presence and are active in social media, it’s also critical to keep a finger on the pulse of your online community. Again, it starts with the basics: the number of visitors to your site, what brought them there, how long they spend there and what causes them to leave.

But in the Web marketing universe, where community building is essential to brand building, you must take this analysis much further. Is your online following growing, and if so, how quickly? What is the ratio of active members to total members? How many mentions are you getting in the social web, and are they positive or negative? Are your fans sharing your content and links with their friends, and are their friends then passing these on to others within their own networks?

If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. Your trustcasting agency can show you how to take your business processes and break them down to the numbers. Together you can examine the data to determine what’s working and what’s not and use this information as a baseline for improvement. In doing so, you can be sure that you are making a sound investment in growth, not just spending money and hoping for a good return.

There is no substitute for consistency and quality

Now that you’ve made an objective analysis of your business operations, it’s time to take a subjective look at your brand and its perception in the marketplace.

Sit down with your trustcasting agency and inventory everything that you put in front of your customers – from your signage to your business cards to your merchandise displays to your advertising and website.

Evaluate each element with critical eye. What do these things say about you? Do they all work together cohesively to make a clear and deliberate statement? Or are they sending mixed messages about who you are and what you stand for? Worse yet, are they turning potential customers away because they project a lack of professionalism or quality?

Your customers can always tell when you cut corners, and it undermines their trust in you. As you work through this process, a good exercise is to look at the best of the best – companies like Apple, BMW and Nike that have mastered quality in the perception of their brand. What trends do they follow? What is the common thread that runs through everything they release into the marketplace?

For example, Apple has built their name on unparalleled quality in design, and nothing reaches the consumer that doesn’t reflect their unrelenting dedication to protecting this reputation. From their products to their packaging to their stores to their ads, Apple is invested in sending a clear and consistent message that they stand for innovative, beautiful design. As a result, when people do business with Apple, they know exactly what to expect time after time.

You can’t fake quality. Your customers can always tell when you cut corners, and it undermines their trust in you. Instead, you must recognize the importance of quality as a way of demonstrating respect for your customers and be committed to preserving the integrity of your brand through and through. With the help of your trustcasting agency, you can ensure that just like Apple, BMW and Nike, it is your name that is synonymous with quality in your market.

Keep your enemies closer

It is the curse of the entrepreneur to be obsessed with the competition. And, to a degree, that fixation can be quite productive.

If you’re like many business owners, you probably think that your competitors know more than you do, are doing more and are doing it better. However, if you want to get and stay ahead, don’t just assume – analyze.

Be your competitor’s customer. Pay close attention to each and every aspect of your experience. What kind of service did you receive while you were there, from the moment you set foot in the door until you left? How do they organize and present their merchandise? Did you walk away with a positive impression? What are they doing to build community around their brand? What kind of incentives do they offer customers to become their fans and evangelists?

Get every detail down, and feed this information to your trustcasting agency. Together, you can determine whether your perceptions line up with reality and mine this information for opportunities to outperform your competitors and conquer your market.

That being said, it’s also important to keep your focus on your competitors in check. It’s necessary to keep tabs on what your competition is doing but not to the point where it becomes a distraction from or a detriment to doing what is best for your own business.

Don’t fall into the temptation to follow your competitors or replicate what they are doing successfully. Instead, allow your trustcasting agency the freedom to try new things. You need to carve out your own niche in the marketplace, create your own identity, offer something unique to your customers and cultivate your own community of dedicated followers.

Everyone is in marketing, everyone is in sales

No matter what business you are in, you are in the customer service business. Brands are built on engagement. You may get only one chance to make a first impression, but the reality is that each and every impression counts toward earning and sustaining customer loyalty.

Good customer service is the proof in the pudding of your brand promise. Good customer service is the proof in the pudding of your brand promise. Your marketing investment is nothing but money down the drain if you don’t back it up with relentless dedication to ensuring that every customer experience reflects the values you claim to stand for.

Your trustcasting agency can help you initiate the trust-building process through honest, communication that demonstrates respect for the customer. But if the customer has a bad experience face-to-face, the foundation you’ve worked so hard to establish will be quickly destroyed. You can’t win loyalty through even the best, most well-crafted and sincere marketing messages; you must earn it through a series of positive experiences over time.

When a customer comes through your doors, your employees are the ones that make or break their experience. Every detail – from their appearance to their demeanor to their attitude to their response to requests or problems – shapes the customer’s perception of your brand. If they have a negative encounter, they won’t lose faith in your staff member, they’ll lose faith in you, and you’ll lose the lifetime value of that customer.

As a result, marketing is the responsibility of every person in your organization. From the first impression to the last, you must place value on every interaction and every event. Don’t be complacent in expecting that a certain percentage of customers will inevitably have problems and be content to offer an apology after the fact.

Indoctrinate your employees on the importance of service that goes above and beyond expectation at every opportunity. Teach them how to anticipate needs before they are even expressed, listen attentively for concerns and proactively address problems. Continuously seek out and improve areas of weakness. Make every encounter as personal as possible, no matter how large or small your business.

Trustcasting begins at home

employeesThe charge of a trustcasting agency is to help you meet your business growth objectives by facilitating the process of building and maintaining trust. Everything they do is centered around developing authentic and reciprocal relationships that are founded upon honest, two-way communication.

Most often, this process is focused on your customers, but cultivating trust and honesty within your organization is equally important.

Just as you strive to create a personal experience for your customers, do the same for your employees. Engage in face-to-face interaction whenever possible. Foster an environment that promotes open communication at all levels of your organization. Give every employee complete transparency in regard to their job tasks, why they are important and if their work came to a good effect.

Even more importantly, your employees are one of the most cost-effective sources of ideas that you have at your disposal. Your people are your eyes and ears. They are in the trenches of your day-to-day business operations and on the front lines of customer service. As such, who could be better qualified to identify areas of improvement and propose viable solutions?

Design positions in a way that allows every employee to provide input and experience personal growth. Listen to everyone’s opinions and let them know they are a part of the process and that their voices matter.

By encouraging employees to share ideas, you send the message that you are entrusting them with a stake in the company. In return, they will invest a higher level of trust in you and be motivated to always demonstrate honesty and fairness in their dealings with you and their colleagues.

Invest in your employees

Just as your best customers are your brand ambassadors, so are your best employees.

As such, your hiring practices are critical not only to the health of your brand but also to the success of your trustcasting agency’s efforts to further the growth of your business. There is a profound difference between employees who are competent in their jobs and those who actively contribute to your success.

It is essential to hire people who not only have the skill set you need but also are a good fit with your corporate culture. Seek out those who have an innate talent for leadership and put them in roles where they can help you keep your team motivated. Those who are passionate inspire others to want to work harder, too.

Once you have the best people in place, foster a culture of execution in which every employee is empowered to make decisions. Support them by developing a corporate philosophy that clearly defines the core values that drive your business practice and helps them understand what differentiates you from your competitors.

High caliber employees will be able to take this philosophy and apply it creatively to their tasks, the way they perform their work and the decisions that they make so that everything they do reflects and promotes the values your brand stands for.

Know thyself

As an entrepreneur, you are essentially in two businesses: the business of what you do and the business of promoting and growing your company. The mission of your trustcasting agency is to support you in achieving your business growth objectives.

Not every corner coffee shop wants to become the next Starbucks, and that’s okay. However, the success of your partnership depends on clearly defining those objectives. What is your purpose? To stand pat and realize a certain level of profitability? To expand to multiple locations? To own your market locally, regionally or even nationally?

What is your timeline for growth? Are you content to test the waters where you are, or do you want to pursue an aggressive expansion plan?

Just as importantly, do you have a stopping point, and if so, what is it? Not every corner coffee shop wants to become the next Starbucks, and that’s okay.

No matter the scope of your aspirations, you still need good marketing. It is essential to make the investment in creating a culture around your brand in order to sustain the longevity of your enterprise. However, your growth objectives hold the key for your trustcasting agency to determine the tactics and resources necessary to reach those goals.

Patience is a virtue

The final key is the most simple but perhaps the most important: don’t expect results instantly. Business growth is about increasing awareness, building trust and earning loyalty, a process that takes time and dedication. There are no shortcuts to cultivating real, authentic relationships with your customers.

Don’t get frustrated if things don’t work as you planned immediately, and don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear of or anxiety about failing. Keep trying new approaches, slowly building on those that work well and shaving off those that don’t.

Through it all, maintain your motivation, passion and focus. Don’t try to be everything to everyone all at once. Stay true to your core brand values and concentrate on what you do best.

Above all, have faith in your trustcasting agency. They are in the business of understanding the culture of today’s consumer and creating platforms for long-term success. The methods of new marketing may feel unfamiliar, but in reality, the practices and principles of trustcasting are rooted in and based upon a timeless, proven approach to business development.

The ultimate payoff for your steadfastness and patience will be getting and keeping the best kind of customers – true, dedicated fans that identify themselves with and become evangelists for your brand.