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Year in Review 2014


Year in review 2014, rearview mirror

How to reach more customers? When I think about the biggest challenge faced by small businesses this year, it was how to find a way to improve marketing performance so their products and services actually get noticed amongst all of the noise. 

There was continued talk about the decrease in organic reach for brands on social media. With a finite amount of space in news feeds, an infinite number of businesses trying to be seen, and social media platforms trying to make money by charging for sponsored and promoted content, it’s getting harder and harder for most businesses to get noticed by current and prospective customers than it was even 12 months ago.

And just when you thought there wasn’t room for another social media platform, early adopters were abuzz over a new social media platform called Ello. Dubbed the “Facebook killer” back in October, after only 2 months it seems like the initial excitement has started to wane. 

Given the saturation (and frustrations) of businesses vying for attention on social media, you started to see an increase in email marketing. However, as was the case with social media, once more and more businesses start to double down on email marketing, there’s a good chance consumers will start to tune out.

Creating an Integrated Marketing Strategy

In looking at the businesses we work with and follow, those that were most successful were able to find the right mix of online and offline marketing tactics.

Having an integrated marketing strategy allowed them to reach customers where they are while also avoiding an overreliance on trying to find the “next big thing” in online marketing.

Making Marketing a Priority

The businesses that were most successful also made marketing a priority. Not a “when I have time” thing but a core focus area for their entire organization—with a seat at the table along with accounting, operations, and IT.

With the start of the new year right around the corner, we wanted to take a look back at 2014 and celebrate the success of some of our current and former clients and the exciting things that happened this year.

Client Success

Pittsburgh-based startup Diamond Kinetics successfully launched their first product—SwingTracker—which helps baseball and softball players improve their performance using motion sensors , real-time analytics, and interactive data visualization accessible via a mobile app.

In the spirit of being a startup, they stayed incredibly busy throughout the year participating in pitch competitions including being 1 of 9 startups selected for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, building out their website and mobile app, and finalizing designs for their product packaging.

diamond kinetics swingtracker, Pittsburgh startup

A Boston-based technology client that will announce a major deal in early 2015. The news comes on the heels of some incredibly strong momentum they were able to achieve throughout 2014 as a result of a website revamp (including carefully identifying and being able to articulate their unique value proposition), countless meetings with prospective corporate customers, and a lot of hustle from their team. I’m really excited to see what 2015 has in store for them.

First Insight, a predictive analytics company that helps retailers and manufacturers design and select the right new products at the right price, announced partnerships with Abercrombie & Fitch and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology as well as the launch of InsightPlanning—a predictive analytics platform that harnesses consumer insights to allow businesses to make more informed decisions on product production and inventory quantity.

PumpPeelz, an ecommerce business specializing in personalized insulin pump covers and diabetes accessories, was able to triple their sales over the previous year. The company worked hard to increase their online presence, continue to establish new relationships within their industry, and provide top-notch customer service to their customers. In addition to the spike in sales, it’s no surprise they also saw similar trends with their website traffic.

pump peelz, ecommerce

Resume Deli, a New York-based career coaching and resume writing service, was able to secure mentions by regional, national, and global news outlets including U.S. News & World Report and New York Daily News. Having successfully helped more than 4,000 satisfied clients, Resume Deli has some deep industry insights to share with job seekers ranging from executive to entry level. It’s been great to see their continued success on the public relations front.

Visibility is crucial for any brick and mortar storefront. Clay Yoga installed new eye-catching signage which is now much more visible to the hundreds of cars that pass by every day. The new signage, along with changes to their website and updates to their business listings in online directories including Yelp, will really go a long way in helping to increase their brand awareness.

storefront signage example for small businesses, curb appeal

Zenith Acupuncture was able to grow their client base over the past 12 months to a point where they will be able to add a second location which will go live in early 2015. Huge news and the result of lots of hard work.

Gretta’s Organic Tees continued to expand their growing list of retailers in Pittsburgh, Delaware, South Carolina, and Florida. You can find their awesome shirts locally at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Jules among others. Gretta, the creative force behind Gretta’s Organic Tees, hand-draws each of the designs for her line of organic toddler tees—a must have for any little one in your family. She’s also expanded into custom orders for organizations and businesses.

Marketing Consulting By The Numbers

Here’s a quick snapshot of our work with small- to mid-sized businesses this year.

  • 4285 miles traveled for 61 face-to-face meetings with local clients, business owners, and contacts; 87 cups of coffee consumed
  • 7. The number of workshops and presentations including a standing room only session on LinkedIn for Lead Generation at the Pennsylvania Business Technology Conference as well as Google for Entrepreneurs Week, Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture and Public Relations Society of America-Pittsburgh
  • 4. The number of Pittsburgh startups that participated in the second Marketing Sparks event hosted at AlphaLab Gear. It was great being invited back by the team at MARC USA and having a chance to join colleagues to share actionable marketing strategies and tactics with a talented group of start-up entrepreneurs
  • 11. The number of states including Pennsylvania where our clients were based in 2014. Although we’re based in Pittsburgh, PA and continue to work with an ever growing list of local businesses,  we continued to see strong growth from around the country including California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia 
  • For more numbers and client success stories, check out our marketing case studies

[Image: Flickr user Massimiliano Calamelli]

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"When we first started working with Shawn we had 20 clients and have since grown to over 50 clients worldwide."

Nick End, Shoefitr

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