A 101 On Why Social Media Marketers Should Use Instagram


So what is this Insta-picture, photo, candy gram business anyway? The social media network you’re referring to is properly named Instagram, and if you don’t know about it, it’s time that you learn.

Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media networks on the scene in Houston and around the world. It provides viewers with a constant stream of photos from people that they choose to follow, updating constantly throughout the day as people continue to post more and more.

Why does it work for online marketers in Houston? The same reason that photos are the most popular item on Facebook. People want to visualize. They want to actually see what people are doing, wearing, selling, and boasting about. As social media continues to grow, words are becoming less and less important, and photos are taking the forefront. Instagram caters to just that.

So where’s the appeal? It’s just photos, what’s in it for me? When uploading photos to Instagram, you can add filters to them, crop them, angle them, add a border and basically ‘Photoshop’ them up to make them the best photos that they can be. Cue the ‘likes’ people! Each photo ‘like’ and comment increases your views on the network by sharing to other users. That’s not all. Not only can you upload photos for all of your followers to view, but now you can even upload 15 second videos right to your feed.

Even better? The videos can be pulled from the storage in your phone and be cut and merged together into a single 15 second clip. That’s right, you don’t have to record directly into the Instagram platform. This gives users endless opportunities to edit whatever they need to cater to their audience.

Once you’ve posted something, you can then choose to share it to all your other social accounts with just one click. Instagram allows its users to link to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, AND Flickr! All you have to do is select which accounts you want to share with, hit “post” and voila, you have now shared one picture/video to numerous other social networks. Are you seeing the endless marketing opportunities yet?

Instagram has even started to experiment with sponsored posts, one of the most popular sponsors being Michael Kors. We all know that clothing genius, and if you don’t, I guarantee your girlfriend does. Why would Instagram do this? For the same reason Facebook and Twitter have allowed users to now sponsor and pay money to further the success of a post… MARKETING.

The fact that Instagram has now realized its marketing potential should not be overlooked. If you are looking to jump on the train, now is the time. Instagram will continue to grow in success and you want your Houston-based company to establish itself in this photo realm before it becomes swallowed by the corporate sponsor giants.

So what’s the hitch? Instagram runs mainly off of mobile devices/tablets. Although the site instagram.com is accessible on a desktop and laptop computer and allows you to ‘like’ and comment on photos, you cannot actually load a photo to the network unless it is through a mobile device/tablet.

Has this put a dent in the company? Instagram is so far from hurting.  “The mobile app boasts over 50 million users, despite only living in iOS and Android devices. Instagram launched on Android just this year and it quickly earned 5 million downloads in six days. Its success caught the eye of the most valuable social network in the world. Facebook acquired Instagram in April for $1 billion.” (Mashable.com)

The biggest social media network in the world has bought them out! “Instagram’s presence on the web has improved enormously in the last year. You can now use the web version to do just about everything — edit your profile, comment and like photos, discover and follow other users — except upload pictures and videos.” (Mashable.com)

Instead of hurting themselves with this move, Instagram is working overtime to ensure that they are exclusive so their idea and also one of the most popular and current social media networks to date.

Setting up an account is very easy, if you can’t figure it out our friends over at Mashable have given a very nice step-by-step “Beginner’s Guide” to Instagram here.

My parting words… Get on it. Don’t be a fool, Instagram is where it’s at. Get your company on it. The best part? You don’t need to spend hours updating it. It IS possible to overshare on Instagram. Users who post too much do have a higher “unfollow” rate. This means that starting off, your company only needs to post once a day, or a few times a week at that. We can’t make this much easier for you. If you aren’t Instagramming, you’re losing.

SEO is as SEO Does: Tips for Effective Search Engine Optimization

seo_keywords_marketing_etcOne of the most important things that you should know about search engine optimization (SEO) for any market, including Houston, is that it is not easy. Google is continually updating the way it ranks websites, which means that a company will need to stay abreast of SEO developments in order to earn or retain a high search engine ranking. Plus, it’s important to remember that SEO does not usually bring instantaneous results. It takes time for on-site and off-site search engine optimization to bring in heavy organic traffic.

However, keeping all this in mind, SEO as a marketing effort for any Houston business will be time and money well spent. Recent statistics show the following:


  • Over 131 billion search engine queries are generated every single month
  • 70% of the traffic goes to organic results rather than the paid advertisements at the top of the page.
  • Over 95% of consumers turn to the Internet to find a local business that can meet their needs – according to Local search engine statistics


With these numbers in mind, the question then is, “What are you doing to ensure your business is showing up for the right terms and searches?”

A busy business owner who does not have time to take on website SEO efforts on their own may want to hire a professional SEO company, like Cox Media Group. There are a number of Houston based digital marketing agencies and media companies that have diverse experience in handling long term on-page and off-page optimization for businesses. Even if you have a Marketing Director, they may not have the time or expertise to execute an effective SEO and content marketing strategy.

However, whether you hire an expert or do it yourself, every business owner and marketer should know the basics of SEO. Knowing which tactics are effective and which are not can save you thousands of dollars in advertising and generate a significant amount of revenue.

Choose Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are five to ten words in length. These keywords have the potential to be highly profitable because they do not get much competition; at the same time customers who are seriously interested in buying a particular product or service often use them.

For example, a local car wash company might want to show up for “Car Wash” or even “Car Wash in Houston” but these keywords might be more competitive than others and could attract a variety of people not actually searching for services but instead want tips on how to wash their own car. However, long-tail keywords such as “Car Wash Company in Downtown Houston” or “Best Car Wash Companies in Memorial Park” are going to provide you with much more qualified and targeted searchers.

Increase the Number of Indexed Pages with a Company Blog

Having a blog, and consistently publishing on it, can have many benefits to a Houston business. However, one of the top SEO benefits is the ability to greatly increase the number of indexed pages on your site while incorporating keyword-optimized posts onto your website.

Strongly written and consistently published content that answers the questions of your prospects and customers is the best kind of content to deliver on a company blog. Skip the product announcements and press releases and instead write about what people actually want to read and share. This will ensure your site is showing up for a variety of keyword terms, while also establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry and area.

Use Video in Your Online Marketing

Video content is one of the few forms of online content that has not been negatively affected by Google’s recent search engine updates. Post an interesting or informative video related to your business on YouTube, add the company URL in the description field and choose keyword-rich tags. Because Google owns YouTube, it often gives relevant videos from this site a first-page ranking.

Plus, videos and images are the most shared content online – especially with social media – so having this kind of content with your name on it can benefit your company in many ways.

Test, Optimize, and Stay Informed

What does and does not work in the realm of SEO is changing all the time. Tactics that worked well yesterday may be detrimental to your site today. Keywords that were irrelevant yesterday may be highly popular now due to trends in the marketplace. The key to successful SEO is to keep up with local developments, analyze site and buyer statistics, consistently do your research, and experiment to see which keywords work for you.

Write for Humans

Above all, continue to include website copy and content on your site that is written for humans. Follow copy writing best practices and ensure that your headlines make sense. Be descriptive, tell a story, make your website user-friendly, and be active on social media. All of these best practices will help ensure you are driving organic traffic to your site for years to come.

A company that wants to successfully drive new traffic to their site will find that SEO can be one of the most effective ways of doing so. At the same time, a company owner must realize that SEO is not a “magic wand” that can bring in instant success. It takes time, effort, and expertise to ensure that it is done right.

Your Houston Online Marketing Estimate: What Does it All Mean?

online_marketing_termsFor your business’s online advertising you might find yourself working with a local media group or a Houston online marketing company to facilitate the purchase of different marketing assets. While it’s critical to have a solid strategy in place before launching any type of campaign, it’s also important to be sure you understand what is being presented to you by a third party so you can make an educated decision.

We don’t want your possible lack of knowledge of the internet marketing world to negatively impact your purchasing power, so we’ve compiled some of the most popular terms and language you’ll find in an online marketing estimate. Fully understanding these terms will also help ensure you are able to properly measure and track your results online.

Above the Fold:

Ideally, any time you place an ad on a website, you want to be above the fold. This references to being on the top part of a webpage so you are visible without a person having to scroll further down the page.


Any Houston marketing campaign should provide you with analytics. This is a form of metrics to tell you about the performance of your marketing so you can check on the effectiveness.

Behavioral Targeting:

This is a great marketing tool as it will put the ads in front of people who are more likely to take action. If your marketing estimate doesn’t have this, you want to find out who your ads are being placed in front of.


This is known as the click through rate. You need to know this number so you know how many people are clicking on the ad to go to your website.

Conversion Rate:

This is the rate that tells you how many people are becoming customers or taking action on your site instead of actually visiting. You want a high conversion rate with any marketing campaign as it will bring you more business and/or leads.


This is the cost per acquisition. Instead of just getting a click, this is the cost per actionable event, such as a purchase or filling out a lead form.


This is the cost per click. You would pay a pre-determined rate for each click that you get to your website. You need to be cautious of this rate because you want a good location and behavioral targeting on the higher priced clicks.

Day Parting:

You need to know if your campaign is subject to day parting. Similar to how you would market with a commercial, your ads would only be visible during certain times of the day or week based upon your agreements and settings.


This is the number of times someone has viewed a page with your ad on it. It may not be your ad, but they have the chance to view your ad. Many times, an estimate will include the cost per 1,000 impressions.

Paid Search:

This is another form of pay per click or search engine marketing where you pay to be listed in the search engine result pages.


Pay per click, otherwise known as cost per click.


Return on investment – you want a high ROI to have a successful marketing campaign and you want to make sure the company you’re working with has a plan in place to track and measure your ROI.


Search engine result pages. When someone searches in a search engine, the results or links that show up on that page are known as SERPs.

All of these terms should have you well on your way to talking the lingo and understanding how your Houston online marketing estimate and campaign is made up. And any Houston online marketing company you’re working with should be more than willing to explain terms and make sure your proposal and estimate is 100% clear.

Top Mistakes Made in Houston Paid Search Ad Campaigns

ppcIn the digital age, getting to the top of search results and competing online has become increasingly more difficult. But paying for search ads (or pay per click ads) on search engines such as Google or Bing allows you to have a prominent location for your desired keywords, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website when prospects are searching online. However, these types of paid search advertising campaigns should be carefully planned to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth rather than throwing it down the drain.

We’ve compiled the top mistakes that Houston businesses often make when placing a paid search campaign for their business. Be sure to avoid the following fatal flaws and you’ll be well on your way to search engine marketing success!

1. Only utilizing paid search and ignoring organic search

Many businesses spend a lot of time and money focusing on paid search, which can be incredibly effective when done right, but you shouldn’t ignore search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities. Online searches are all different and when targeting specific keywords you want to have a solid SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) plan in place to make sure you’re covering all of your bases. In our experience, Houston companies are most successful with search when they implement both tactics into their online marketing plan.

2. Going too big

Remember the old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket? This extends to paid search campaigns, and frankly, any advertising tactics in general. We suggest you never run a single campaign around just one keyword. Several smaller campaigns might provide you with the greater payoff in the end, as well as the ability to test and optimize your efforts.

3. Having one creative message across all online marketing

The ads that appear directly on the search results may not be the best option for Facebook or Google’s Display Network, which includes other sites and non-text advertising options. You should absolutely have different creative messages and campaigns for the different sites you advertise on, as well as the uses of those sites. Think about the target audience, the placement, the way users interact with these different sites, and always plan on testing your creative.

4. Not thinking local

Marketing to Houstonians is a big job because Houston is a top market with a lot of competition. It’s also full of many different neighborhoods and some people rarely leave their work and home “bubble.” You might want to ask yourself if your business caters to specific neighborhoods like The Heights, Bellaire or Spring Branch? Not only does thinking about smaller areas open up new keywords for Houston online marketing campaigns, but it also attracts more potential customers by speaking directly to them in a way that you can’t do when targeting Houston as a whole.

5. Ignoring long-tail keywords

Long phrases, also known as “long-tail keywords”, are less frequently searched but they are often much more targeted and effective in reaching your ideal prospects. Plus, long-tail keywords tend to have a better conversion rate due to their focus and can ultimately provide better results.

Research shows that more online users are searching by asking questions or typing in more detailed queries. This is why Google recently updated their search algorithm to reflect this type of activity. As a whole, consumers are become more and more savvy in fine-tuning their online search to help deliver exactly what they’re looking for in the shortest amount of time.

6. No customer benefit

Yes, your company might be 80 years old and trusted, but what can you do for consumers right now? Are you available 24/7? Do you have a money-back guarantee? Maybe you make house calls. Any way you can guarantee effectiveness and/or promote your convenience to customers makes your company look desirable and sets you apart from the competition.

7. Lacking call to action

Internet users want to know what they should do next. Should they click here? Call now? Buy this product? Whatever it is, add that call to action to any online advertising including paid search copy and encourage browsers to become buyers.

8. Not testing your ads

After you create a paid search ad campaign, take the time to compare your efforts. Some keywords may not perform as well as others… or maybe some keywords deliver lower conversion rates but more qualified leads. This is the kind of datathat you want to be sure you’re tracking. If you don’t have the expertise or time to properly track and manage your paid search campaign then make sure you hire an expert who can.

9. Skipping paid search advertising all together

Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean that purchasing paid search ads isn’t possible. You might not have the dollars to compete for the most targeted keywords but with the right research and long-tail keyword strategy in place you can effectively reach consumers early on in the sales process by showing up for the right search results.

10.  Bad website or landing page

Once someone clicks on your ad you want to make sure they’re directed to the exact page their expecting to get. If you provided a special offer in your copy, then they should be sent to a landing page that reflects this exact promotion… not just your homepage.

Also, it’s critical that your website is updated and user-friendly. This could be a consumer’s first impression of your brand and getting the click is only half the battle, they need to be happy with where they ended up or you’ll immediately lose them and probably not have the chance to win them back.

11. Starting SEM campaigns over repeatedly

Google rewards businesses with relevancy and history. The longer you’re out there with an SEM campaign – the better your quality score will be with Google – and the higher you’ll pull up in search results. Every time you pull your campaign, you pull your history and momentum. Have some faith and keep your SEM campaigns alive. There will always be peaks and valleys – especially in the start. Ride the wave to the upswing and you’ll see it will have been worth the time.

3 Great Reasons You Might Want To Hire A Houston Advertising Agency


Anyone running a Houston small business has a lot of responsibility, far beyond managing just advertising and marketing efforts. You might have a marketing director on your team, but business owners still need to be involved in the process and sometimes a marketing director can’t do it all alone.

In order to be successful, it’s important to rely on experts for different aspects of your business. This includes hiring an accountant or a lawyer if needed, and it also might mean hiring a Houston advertising agency to plan and implement your marketing strategy.

There are many great reasons why you should seek the help of an advertising agency, but we’ve put together three that tend to be the most common. While not every business needs (or can afford) to hire an advertising agency, it can be a great investment if it fits your unique needs.

Here are the three reasons you might want to hire a Houston advertising agency:

1. You Need Help with Your Marketing Strategy Planning

The most important steps to getting started with a marketing plan is identifying your target audience and understanding the places where you can best reach them. Whether that means radio, print ads, website banners, ppc marketing, or direct mail – it all comes down to audience and budget. Who do you need to reach and how much money do you have to spread across different platforms?

An advertising agency is able to provide you with in-depth research on your customer, a plan with various options, and a marketing strategy that fits your budget. You will be guided in the right direction, and most importantly you’ll save valuable time having someone else do all of these steps for you.

2. You Have No Idea What Your Creative Should Be

Maybe you know exactly where you want to advertise or maybe you’ve got a great marketing director that’s done the due diligence to research properly and develop a marketing strategy plan for your next campaign. But do you have the resources and level of expertise to create unique creative for your advertising?

Questions you’ll want to answer include:

  • Who is the exact audience for this campaign?
  • What is our call to action and is it clear?
  • What approach are we going to take? Funny, informative, educational, emotional… ?
  • What is our voice?

Then you’ll need to think about the costs associated with creating copy and designing ads – whether it’s radio, TV, print, or digital advertising… there is always a need for creative production.

The prices and investment can vary drastically depending on the medium and concept but any type of Houston marketing firm should be able to guide you in the right direction for your budget and brand.

3. Analytics and Measuring Your ROI Just Doesn’t Make Sense to You

Maybe you’ve been able to capture leads but your conversion rate isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.. Or maybe you have no idea whether the results you’re getting are standard, below average, or above average. If measuring your ROI and evaluating analytics and data seems like a foreign language to you, then you might benefit from hiring an advertising agency here in Houston.

By choosing someone from the outside to examine the problem and the analytics, you won’t have to worry about any prejudice going on. It may be something as simple as failing to follow up in a timely manner or something more intricate as no call to action in your creative or poor ad placement. Either way, an expert should be able to identify the problem and help you plan out your next steps.

There are many reasons why hiring a Houston advertising agency is a good idea. You need to do all you can for your business to succeed. If you are not marketing oriented or you simply cannot see the forest through the trees, you need to hire someone who can. Just as you hire an accountant for your taxes and an IT professional for your networking, you may need an advertising agency to help with your marketing in various regards.

Is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Working for Your Houston Business?

native_ad_are_the_buzz_but_what_are_they_and_why-The elusive, yet highly sought-after click is the zenith of digital success. Marketers spend millions trying to get consumers to commit, to show engagement, to click on their ad. Is a click really that important? What is a click worth in general? What is a click worth to you?

To learn the value of a click to you, you must first step back and figure out your value per customer.

Divide your annual revenue by your annual number of different customers. Now, 80% of your income will come from 20% of your customers, but you need to start somewhere, so the average will work just fine for this simple exercise. Let’s say each customer is worth $300 to you – remember that number, it’s an important one!

Let’s say you run a $30,000 online marketing campaign to reach certain Houstonians a given target in the Houston market. You are paying a $10 cost per one thousand impressions (aka: CPM) and therefore receiving 3,000,000 impressions. Wow – three million.

Now, if the average click-thru rate (CTR) is .01%, you can predict about 300 clicks. If 10% of those possible leads (includes unintentional clicks) is an actual lead and 10% of them turn into sales, how many sales will you net? Three. If each customer is worth $300, you made $900 on a $30,000 investment. Oops.

Let’s try this again….

What if you could raise the CTR to .06% and increase your conversion rates to 25%? You would make $33,600 on a $30,000 investment. How can you do this? Here are some suggestions:

  • Optimize your website for increases in organic rank
  • Tweak your online creative to include an aggressive offer in rich media that would run on highly targeted sites
  • Run a cost per click (CPC) search campaign to compliment
  • Drive prospects to a landing page that collects name, email address and zip code for you to use for future campaigns

By making these simple adjustments, Houston businesses can elevate their respective conversion rates and receive valuable data to use on follow up campaigns like remarketing and direct mail to hot zip code areas. Online marketing the right way involves layering well-thought-out details to create attainable goals and the right data needed to reach them in the future.

Video Advertising vs. Banner Ads

dreamstime_xs_24565535Spending just a little bit of time online will show you one thing – video marketing is becoming increasingly popular. Sites across the Internet will open with a video advertisement on the sidebar, which may cause you to wonder whether or not banner display advertising is on its way out. While video is becoming quite popular, it is by no means the end all for modern advertising. Here’s what you need to know…

Consider the Cost of Video

Video advertising seems flashy and modern, and it can be effective. In fact, several studies have shown that video can gather a higher click through rate (CTR) than other forms of display advertising. However, this form of advertising is only effective if it is done well. It will only work for you if you have the budget and skills to create quality, targeted videos.

If you do not have in-house video production capabilities, then you will need to spend money to hire someone who can do it for you. Quality video production services are able to charge a premium price for their services. This cost is something many businesses don’t have in their advertising budgets. More importantly than video production is – of course – your message. You can make the coolest looking video but if your message if so off target that your audience does not understand it, or worse yet, won’t remember it when they need your product or service, than you have lost valuable time and money. So, if you do take the video route, spend some time and effort writing a script.

Can Banner Advertising Be More Cost Effective?

The fact is that banner display advertising is a more cost effective solution for most businesses. Yes, video might bring clicks, so it’s worth considering if you have the ability to do it in-house, but the cost of producing a quality video with outside services may quickly overshadow any benefit you receive from these additional clicks. Also, banner ads can be seen on almost every computer and every website, so you are getting your message to more people. These benefits point to the reason that banner display advertising is the best option for many businesses, particularly when advertising budgets are tight.

Banner advertising is far from dead. Yes, video may be the newly popular medium, but you need to ensure that you are making the most out of your advertising dollars. For many companies, this means a renewed focus on banner ads, rather than a jump to video advertising.

Marketing Solutions That Build Your Customer Base


Over the past sixty years, the world of marketing and advertising has changed drastically and what were once tried and true marketing strategies are no longer relevant and have been replaced by integrated campaigns that don’t focus on one medium but many.  These changes are important to Houston business owners and marketers because they have altered the strategies that were once employed to build and keep a customer base.

In the Fifties, marketing solutions stood at the cusp of an evolution, placing the core focus on economics rather than behavior. Products were central to marketing campaigns, which were woven around functionality and investment. Walls of text explained, praised and described whilst pricing strategies were kept firmly away from marketing departments. Supply and demand were the sole determinants of price setting, effectively placing emotional response into economists’ hands. Marketing solutions focused on units rather than relationships.

The 80/20 rule had emerged a decade earlier, yet Fifties business leaders failed to link it to their corporate dealings. Pareto’s Principle of the crucial minority versus the trivial majority only emerged as a guiding marketing practice in 2004, and since then it has been tailored to fit a variety of uniquebusiness practices.

Modern Marketing Theories

Today’s marketing landscape has evolved into an industry that defies its adolescent self. Brand potency and corporate identity have become buzz words as products fade into the background. Invented needs have overwhelmed existing ones as today’s high tech marketplace creates an ever evolving demand for virtual products, gadgetry and invention. Brick and mortar campaigns have lost much of their force as the internet creates a global marketplace that steals competitive advantage from businesses that don’t keep up with the times. Digital strategy dominates campaigns, and algorithms such as Google Panda continually complicate the tactical solutions used by SEO and social media professionals.

Digital Marketing’s Impact

Digital marketing solutions have thrust small businesses into unfamiliar territory, and while many best practices have become extinct, brand strength and corporate identity remain two of the most muscular ways to gain market share. Contemporary environments have become infused with social media networks, which have negated the archaic, traditional media tactics from years prior. In fact, many traditional marketing solutions no longer work. The new frontier has opened the doors to methods of engagement that allow for intimacy, powerful communication and more comprehensive ways to build branding power.

Social Media Emerges

Social media sites have resurrected old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising. Consumers have been brought into closer contact with friends, family and colleagues through Facebook and similar sites, inducing community-oriented buying habits that take place online. The opportunities social media sites offer is astronomical. Companies now have tremendous power to cultivate client relationships and simultaneously gather market research material. Customer lifetime values are soaring as a direct result of campaigns managed strategically through online networks and deciphering data intelligence. The Pareto Principle has become turbo charged through web channels which can exploit customer advocates and influencers to your business’ benefit. Value is no longer measured financially but rather in terms of social capital built on reputation and customer influencers.

Optimally, a social media campaign is designed to carry enough potency to eventually ride passively on the back of viral advertising. Truly compelling content is created through traditional market analysis and research so that marketing media campaigns appeal to a select demographic compellingly enough to induce ‘like’ and ‘share’ responses.

What Does This Mean?

What does all of this mean to you, the Houston business owner or marketer? It means that if you have been using the same marketing strategy for too long (eg. ineffective direct mail pieces) you risk falling behind the curve in terms of technology and relevance with your customers.  Using some of these marketing solutions to grow your customer base can not only help jumpstart your revenue but should also attract a new generation of customers that are more technologically savy and expect more from the businesses they deal with.

Pick Two: A Must-Know Marketing Theory for Houston Businesses and Marketers


A wise creative director once put effective campaign execution so eloquently to me: “You can get it good, fast or cheap. But you can only pick two.” Talk about a marketing and advertising proverbial truth.

Back when I was a rookie in my career, it became increasingly obvious that the perfect mix of these three key ingredients wasn’t always possible. In fact, in most cases, it was impossible.

My understanding of the “Pick Two Triangle” saved the execution team and myself from the additional stress of a workload that didn’t have to be, allowed me to set realistic expectations and gave me relief to know that there was some semblance of a formula for success in the shades of gray that marketers constantly sift through.

My goal is to help the Houston businesses or marketers know and understand expectations when launching new campaigns or tactics. Looking at the “Pick Two Triangle” from the business to consumer angle may help:

Good + Fast = Not Cheap

You’re the owner of a Houston-based auto body shop and a customer comes in with a new, red convertible. It was just rear ended by another vehicle. And the [desperate] owner needs the vehicle good-as-new by 10a tomorrow. You know your crew can get it done – but it won’t be cheap for you, or the vehicle owner. That’s because unplanned man hours +over-time + expedited parts + rearranging existing auto appointments = a whole lot of work. But it’s worth it because you’ll make it up with the revenue on this one. Your team makes it happen. The car is as good as new and it was ready in time. But – again – it wasn’t cheap.

Good + Cheap = Not Fast

You own a local bakery that specializes in wedding desserts. You make it very clear to Houston consumers that you have a handful of experienced, professional bakery chefs that can create intricate, delectable wedding desserts at competitive prices. But in order for you to deliver on these expectations, your cake specialists only work twice a week. [Any more hours logged would increase customers’ costs and you don’t want to sacrifice this value proposition.] Yet, while orders for wedding cakes must be placed months in advance, the fantastic results drive business for you.  Weddings guests rave to others about your desserts and you continue to woo the fathers of the brides with the affordability.

Fast + Cheap = Not Good

You own a residential painting company and a leasing agent must turn a recently vacated apartment in less than two days, on a slim budget. You’re known for quality work and typically you could handle this job with ease. But on short notice, you’ve got your top employees booked on jobs. Therefore, you’ll need to send in a painter with less experience, the only one who can be available last minute. You debate in your mind the risk of quality in work – which could hurt your reputation. This may jeopardize the integrity of the job…and your business. It upsets you thinking of the risk you’re taking. Perhaps it’s not even worth it? You’re right. It likely isn’t.

As I painted these scenarios for you [pun intended,] it probably became evident that the inclusion of “good” in both instances seemed to position each business owner for success as long as the expectations on timing or budget were clear. Therefore, Houston business owners, whenever possible – include “good.” It’s worth the time. It’s worth the money. And you make the time and money factors work by effectively planning for both.

No business owner or marketer wants to see their brand and reputation compromised. Partner with your marketing teams/agencies to build effective timelines that maximize your budget but don’t compromise the quality of the experience with your brand. Respect the time that it takes to do good work. Your marketing and advertising teams want to help elevate your brands, not bring them down. Give them the resources and time to do their jobs well. It’ll be worth the wait – and the budget.

Houston consumers – marketing savvy or not – have been exposed to enough both sophisticated and shoddy advertising efforts to and know which brands have gone the extra mile to make it worth consumers’ time. Those are the brands they’ll do business with…the ones that make sure that no matter what… good is a part of their equation.

Social Media Best Practices for Your Houston Business


With the popularity of social networks on the rise, more Houston businesses are turning toward creating their own followings on these sites to market their own businesses. While some small businesses question whether they have the time or resources available for delving into social networks, they stand to gain from turning their marketing into sales by using simple techniques and best practices for social media.

Not only do businesses benefit from highlighting their own products and services, businesses seeking a competitive advantage can incorporate social marketing to stay ahead of the competition. Follow these best practices for social media for small businesses to effectively promote your business:

Engage Frequently with Followers

Even before they sign up, users of social media are drawn to the idea of interacting with other users. As a best practice for social media for Houston small businesses, it is recommended that they have frequent interaction with followers by providing fun and helpful information, without directly pressuring them to buy. Houston businesses can promote what they’re selling by posting “liked” company news on Facebook or micro blogging about new product launches on Twitter.

Connect Social Media and Traditional Marketing

While some Houston businesses prefer traditional marketing over social marketing or vice versa, the two can be used to complement each other. Small businesses can promote the link to their Facebook page on packaging or other printed materials in-stores in order to give customers more options in learning more information.

Promote Participation Using Contests

As a way to directly connect with current and potential customers, another best practice for social media for Houston small businesses is to create contests to increase user participation and raise brand awareness. Companies gain new fans as their followers win items that are either related to their own business or highly sought after like iPads.

Link Social Media to Other Websites

While each social networking site has a distinct persona, small businesses can link their pages together on different sites to boost their social marketing. Houston businesses are able to promote their how to video guides uploaded on YouTube and share them using links on Facebook. When a business links its social media accounts together, this can increase the followings of their social media accounts with weaker numbers as users cross over from one site to the next.

Reward Loyal Followers

To encourage social media users to join their small business fan pages, businesses reward their loyal followers with exclusive information about new features or give them the chance to try out new products. Allowing followers to have new information or promotions first gives them incentive to continue visiting a business’ social marketing pages.

Acknowledge New Fans and Other Businesses

Since engaging with social media users is integral to successful social marketing, encourage new fans and other businesses to learn about your business by following them or liking their pages. Using a career-oriented social site like LinkedIn allows a small business to network with others in its industry and to increase connections with like-minded individuals and businesses.

When strategizing about social media for small businesses, marketers should concentrate on improving user interaction and participation. By engaging with their followers on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and more, businesses can raise awareness of their online presence in order to effectively promote and sell their products and services to targeted customers. After learning about the best practices of social media for small businesses, companies are better capable of growing their business online and off.