Matt Mernin

 

 

By: Matt Mernin
Interactive Web Developer

Having a website should be a given for any business. A decade ago it would have been considered an option. If you don’t have one, or if you are considering a redesign, a budget is one of the most important things to consider. Your website is the primary digital platform used to represent your company / brand. It should be considered an investment, rather than a flat expense.

The key elements of a functioning business website include:

  • Accurate information
  • Easily accessible
  • Represent your company’s brand image properly
  • Demonstrate confidence in the specific field of business to the end user

7K0A9914For those with existing websites, consider this. A first time visitor should be able to perform tasks in the right order on their first attempt. Otherwise, frustration sets in and they are likely to leave. The same goes for your content and graphics… are they up to date, does it provide added-value, does it address all of your services and staff? Still thinking you don’t need a website redesign?

Maybe you should rethink that…

I need a website. How should I budget for it?

Each website is unique and the cost for each should reflect that. The number of pages, amount of content, complexity and interactivity all factor in. You might be asking, “How much does it cost per page?” The idea of pricing a website based on its page count is very common. However, a red flag should be thrown if you ever hear a web design and development company charging based on the number of pages.

At Pushing the Envelope, our expert team we start with a questionnaire and then spend one-on-one time with each client to research and analyze the needs of your company, and the needs of your customer. Then we can provide an estimate within your budget based on our expert recommendation – to meet your goals, not your page count.7K0A0223

The amount of content, the strategic planning, the types of tools and features, and the custom design are very important when producing an accurate website proposal. Content development is a good example. If you have content written for your new website or have content on your existing website, chances are we will modify it and create new content. Ease of access plays an important role when delivering the correct information efficiently.

Each one of these of elements can vary as part of our overall plan. The number one deciding factor though, is your website budget. Consider the importance of a quality web presence, what your goals are and then look at your budget. All websites should be treated differently and are not created equal.

How can we help you develop a website budget and, ultimately an awesome website for your business?

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Our team here at Pushing the Envelope believe in giving back to our community. In an effort to help end hunger in Southwest Florida, we hosted our 3rd Annual CAN IT! campaign. CAN IT! is a food drive benefiting  Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI), for their soup kitchen and emergency food supplies. It is with great excitement and appreciation that we share the results of our 3rd Annual CAN IT! campaign.

3rd Annual CAN IT!

3rd Annual CAN IT!

Through the support of our multiple drop off locations and the many donors who contributed, we collected 1,062 items! Items were dropped off to CCMI yesterday, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. It took three vehicles and a lot of volunteers, but we did it! With support from many community members and businesses, the goal was exceeded in just four weeks. To date, Pushing the Envelope, Inc. has donated more than 3,000 pounds of food to CCMI.

We would like to thank our participating drop off locations who joined the campaign this year including: Anthony’s on the Boulevard, Judy D & CO Hair Styling Salon, Profiles Hair Skin Nails and Salon Adrian for their efforts in helping local, less fortunate families.

Thank you all for your support! We look forward to collecting even more next year. If you’d like to see more pictures from our 3rd Annual CAN IT! campaign, please visit us on Facebook.

From all of us to you and yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR

Grand Poobah / Owner

 

We’re doing things just a little bit differently these days… I am excited to share just one of the new things we’re launching at PTE, Account Allies. As we grow and look to expand not only our services, but our clientele, we have created Account Allies to assist clients with all of their projects. Let me explain a bit – and point out how all businesses (specifically the customers/clients of those businesses) could benefit from a staff person like this.

We haven’t added any new staff (although we are hiring AND looking for interns), we’ve just changed the way we work. A big part of our “why” or how we do what we do is the relationships we create with our clients. We have to become part of their team, so to speak, and think the way they do about their business. The creation of this new Account Ally role specifically addresses this, first and foremost.

Tiffany, Alex and I are all Account Allies. We are committed to representing clients as their liaison and working with them to achieve the specific marketing, branding, public relations, social media, Internet marketing, etc. success which they strive for. We are their partner. That’s part of the reason why we chose that title – Ally. Not manager or coordinator. We are not managing or coordinating our clients. We’re their ally. We are working with them.

Why does this matter? No one wants to “go it alone” and when they are investing in the success of their business it’s important they have a partner to collaborate with along the way that they can rely on and trust. 

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to work with a business? What if you were making a large purchase and instead of just doing some research, getting hounded by a sales person, making the commitment/purchase and then going through the motions you had a Sherpa of sorts to help you along the way? Wouldn’t that be more pleasant, instill more trust in you and create more confidence within you about the company you were working with?

How can you be more of an asset to your customers or clients? How can you help them along the way (buying process, service cycle, etc.)? How can you become their partner in success?

This has always been the way we worked, we’ve just distilled it and we’re looking forward to the success it brings – our clients, and us. Questions? Feel free to contact me.

P.S. If you haven’t donated to our CAN IT! Campaign yet, what are you waiting for? I mean, please do so soon! The deadline is Nov. 25 at noon. :)

 

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Alex Fernandez

By: Alex Fernandez

Internet Marketing Strategist

Halloween is a pretty big deal here at PTE. Typically we get pretty awesome costumes together, bring is some sugar-laden treats and otherwise celebrate the scariest of holidays.

To go along with this week of All Hallow’s Eve – this week’s blog is about one of the scariest issues for start-ups and small businesses: Net Neutrality. Even if it’s not on the radar for the many small business owner or marketing agency – Trust us. This stuff is scary.

What is “Net Neutrality”?

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 6.49.01 PMNet Neutrality basically means a free and open Internet, as it exists today. In other words, today’s Internet is essentially the same for every user and every website owner. Any user can access any website for no additional charge and at the highest speed available. The current Internet “playing field” is level, or “neutral”. This is a great thing for start-ups and small businesses, because it encourages capitalism. Every business currently has an opportunity to compete for online visibility and website traffic.

Below is an example of Net Neutrality. Since any user can access any website, any business can therefore reach any user (potentially; with the right marketing effort).

net neutrality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what is NOT Net Neutrality?

Anything that restricts the free and open Internet, causing both users and businesses to shell out extra money for access/reach, ON TOP OF what they already pay for existing Internet expenses! Internet Service Providers (ISPs for short), such as Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, etc., want to restrict the Internet. They want the ability to block any website and create “bundles of websites” that people can pay a monthly charge to access. This is very similar to how television channel packages work.

For example, consumers would have to pay $19.99 per month for a “Google bundle,” or $12.99 per month for a “Facebook bundle.”  AND if a small business in Southwest Florida wants to be included in said Google or Facebook bundles, they have to pay potentially thousands of dollars, on top of their existing Internet marketing expenses, just to be accessible.

Imagine if you typed an address into your web browser (for example, www.getpushing.com), and a message came up to the effect of:

“Sorry, your current website package does not include this website. Please visit www.ABC-Company.com to upgrade your service.”

It sounds crazy, but this is the scary reality of where things could be headed if large ISPs get their way. This model essentially negates the basic purpose for which the Internet was created in the first place: for people around the world to share information.  Here is a model of what is NOT Net Neutrality:

net neutrality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this bad for start-ups or small businesses?

It is a slight on capitalism. Let me explain. It will cost small businesses additional money to reach both existing customers and new customers. It’s one extra hit to the budget of the small business owner in Southwest Florida. By restricting the open Internet, ISPs are essentially not giving smaller, privately-held companies the ability the opportunity to compete equally for online visibility with larger businesses.

Imagine a young entrepreneur that has a brilliant new business idea that could provide a product or service that would improve the world, or employ millions of people and help their local economy… But because they don’t have a huge amount of startup capital, they cannot afford to pay ISPs for an accessible website URL. Their brilliant idea may never be realized.

The Net Neutrality discussion is something that is most definitely on the horizon. Since we consider client success to be our success, and since we serve small businesses and start-ups in Southwest Florida, we consider it our duty to spread the word. Hopefully we haven’t scared you too much, but rather enlightened a few business owners about the very real threat this could become.

What now?

Write to your legislators. Ask political candidates what their stance is on Net Neutrality. Support groups that lobby for Net Neutrality. Make your voices heard and stand behind the principals that make this nation a great one!

If you want to learn more about Net Neutrality, check out some of these [currently uncensored] websites:

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner

It’s during this time of year that we think about the changing of seasons (even though we can’t see it here in Florida), holidays, family gatherings and generally a full work and personal schedule. Do we take time to also think about those less fortunate, right in our community?

Just the CanAt Pushing the Envelope, we do. I don’t share this to brag, but to inspire you and perhaps seek your support. Tomorrow, Friday, October 25, we will kick off our 3rd Annual CAN IT! Campaign, a food drive to benefit Community Cooperative Ministries and those in the community they serve. Our goal is to collect 1,000 non-perishable food items to be donated just before Thanksgiving. Last year we were honored to exceed this goal and helped many people along the way.

This isn’t just a shameless plug, however. Some of you may be wondering, what does this have to do with public relations, marketing, etc. as that’s what this blog is about. It has quite a lot to do with it in fact.

What is your company doing to help others this year? Or dare I ask, what has it ever done? Successful PeopleI wrote a post last year about giving back and the PR benefits. Helping others goes beyond making you “feel good” or providing a momentary reprieve or assistance. If you do a fund raiser, sponsor an event, do a food drive as a business these are all what we call “goodwill building opportunities.” You are showing your employees, your stakeholders, the community in which you live (which likely includes potential customers or clients) that you care and are willing to give up a little time or money for a worthy cause.

If you are in the Southwest Florida community, I would ask you to consider donating to our food drive (here’s your shameless plug), but also to consider doing something on your own too. If you are outside the Southwest Florida market, you can help others too. Maybe there’s not enough time to do it this holiday season, but now is the time to start planning for next year!

Imagine how we could change the world if we all committed to helping just one person. Happy holidays – and happy helping!

 

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Alex Fernandez

 

 

 

By: Alex Fernandez

Internet Marketing Strategist

 

Marketing is a very dynamic field to work in. What works today not work tomorrow, and vice versa. One of the toughest parts of my job is keeping up with the ever-changing Internet. On the other hand – it’s also a blessing, because PTE is a small, yet agile marketing agency. We can adapt to big changes with faster and more customized solutions for our clients, many of who are small businesses, right here in Southwest Florida.

At the moment, the Internet marketer’s biggest challenge/blessing is Google’s first new algorithm since 2001, and the most significant update to Google’s search technology since their “Caffeine” update in 2010 – Hummingbird. It’s a big deal, because it affects how our clients’ businesses will rank in search engines. Since organic search drives between 50-70% of our clients’ total website traffic historically, changes to how website rank in search are always on our radar.

We have recently created a page on our website that explains Hummingbird and how it affects small businesses, which I welcome all of our readers to check out at getpushing.com/hummingbird

After doing much due diligence, I’ve formed a few of my own conclusions on Hummingbird and where SEO is headed as a whole. While none of this can be confirmed this early on after the change (Hummingbird was just announced on September 27…), these are my insights into how your business can most effectively compete for search rankings. My “recipe” for web-excellence, if you will:

  • We all need to optimize our websites for our users, and then for search engines. Having a great user experience results in reduced bounce rates, which results in making the most of the traffic you have! Reduced bounce rates consequently boosts page-ranking factors (more traffic, more links, more engagement, more sharing), which boosts search engine visibility. In other words – don’t build your websites for Google, or any search engine… Build your website for your target audience.
  • Consumers don’t know anything about “algorithms” or “hummingbirds” or any other SEO jargon. Consumers search the same way they speak, semantically. Google’s new algorithm is just trying to make more sense of what people are searching. Thus – if your website speaks to people in their own voice or style, you will rank higher for their search queries in Google. Understanding your audience is fundamental.
  • Search marketing of the future will need to take a page from customer service fundamentals. We all want to feel special, right? Part of making someone feel special is empathizing with their wants/needs/challenges, and then helping them with a solution. This is why fresh, relevant content is going to continue to be huge in the future. Whether it’s a landing page, blog, social post, anything – your brand’s content needs to speak to a specific type of person and their motivations, and do so in their unique voice. By doing this, you will be automatically optimizing for semantic or conversational search!

So, give the audience a great online experience, speak in their language, identify with their needs… Marketing 101 basically! But I think these fundamentals are what every company should be focusing on at all times. They will never be phased out by some search algorithm, that’s for sure!

What are your thoughts on the future of SEO or Internet marketing? Please feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

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Matt Mernin - Interactive Web Developer

 

 

 

 

By: Matt Mernin
Interactive Web Developer

Have you ever been browsing the web on your phone and happen to notice the website’s address has a preceding “m”, e.g. http://m.website.com? This happens when you visit a website that has a completely separate version, optimized just for mobile phones. Creating a mobile version of your website is a popular way to deliver your content to the end user. The other option is to create a mobile-responsive website. Although both deliver similar results, there are a few important details you should consider to help determine which mobile website option is right for you. I’ve written this blog hoping to:

  1. Clear any confusion between mobile web sites and responsive websites
  2. Help you determine the right option for your specific needs.

So you’ve decided to make the jump into mobile web friendliness land. First off, congratulations on your decision to provide your website visitors a much better experience. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, Signs and Symptoms Your Website May Need to be Redesigned, in 2014 Microsoft expects the majority of Internet browsing will be done on a mobile device.  That being said, lets begin discussing which direction to go.

Mobile website

Example of a mobile website for Pure Naples

When a user visits your website, the programming of the site detects you are on a mobile phone and re-directs you to the mobile version site. If you have an existing website, this is probably the best route for a couple main reasons:

  1. It has the quickest production turnaround and the more affordable option. When designing a mobile site, the developer has to create one user interface. Where as responsive has multiple user interfaces. (I’ll explain later in this post).
  2. Mobile websites tend to load faster. The mobile website is delivering condensed content to the user whereas a responsive website has to deliver all of the website content, including all of those high-resolution, beautiful photos you’ll see on your desktop browser. (I’ll go into more details later in this post).

Now keep in mind, when you have to constantly maintain and update your website, you’ll have to do it twice. Once for the normal desktop version and another for the mobile site. Also, technology seems to be trending in the direction of responsive websites, a responsive site is going to suit your needs long-term.

Responsive website

Electronic devices isolated on white backgroundA responsive website works a little differently than mobile sites. On a mobile device, you have control to deliver specific and condensed information where as a responsive site has to load ALL of the content and images as the desktop version. This content is then styled based on the screen resolution/ dimensions of the device. This means more loading time. However, if best practices are used, web compression technology and techniques should make the loading time still acceptable. Here are a few important details to help you decide:

  1. Responsive websites are a long-term solution. Based on current trends of mobile device technology, we’re going to see many new devices with new screen sizes. Instead of making a new mobile website that’s suitable for the new iPhone 6, why not deliver your content optimally on ALL devices?
  2. Responsive websites take longer to develop. As explained before, a responsive website is optimized for all devices. This means more time to design user interfaces for multiple devices. This option is recommended more for a brand spankin’ new website.
  3. Responsive websites are more SEO friendly. Even though you may be condensing content for the mobile website, chances are you will end up recycling and duplicating your existing content. Google, as you may know, continuously update their search ranking rules. In May of 2013, Google rolled out with their Penguin 2.0 update. The update primarily targets black hat SEO techniques like duplicating content. Although your intentions are good, the Google bots and spiders that crawl your website cannot determine that. For more information about the new Penguin guidelines visit the blog of Google’s Webspam team leader, Matt Cutts.

I’ve discussed some of the key differences between mobile websites and responsive websites, now it’s your turn as a responsible web content creator to determine which option is best for your organization. If we can help, Pushing the Envelope would love to make this transition for you as seamless and easy as possible. Even if you just need help making the decision, schedule a meeting with us. My team and I will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner

As many a great business leader has said, it’s important to surround yourself with those smarter or more talented than you. It’s also important to, as Howard Behar says, “wear your one hat.” That’s exactly what we’re doing.

We are proud to share that we, Pushing the Envelope, Inc., have entered into a strategic alliance with Pulse Business Solutions. Owned and operated by James Ritter, Pulse is a locally-based business that serves clients large and small throughout Southwest Florida, the state and country. This complementary arrangement was developed so we could each better serve our clients – you!

logoAs you know, we offer comprehensive marketing communications services (publicity/public relations, marketing, branding, social media strategy, web development, etc.). We don’t, however, offer web hosting, IT services, data protection or other services, but Pulse does!

Pulse offers a suite of managed services from data hosting, hardware and software upgrades, IT infrastructure setup, maintenance and more. Yet another reason we get along so well is that they take the same proactive approach to business. They don’t operate in the “break-fix” methodology where you wait until your computer network crashes to get IT in to help. They monitor their clients’ systems 24/7/365 and take care of issues before they become problems. Learn more on their website.

You’ll be hearing/reading more about this in the future, but we wanted to share the news right away. It’s an exciting time for both Pushing the Envelope, Inc. and for Pulse Business Solutions. If either of us can help you or your business, feel free to contact us.

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Alex Fernandez

 

 

 

By: Alex Fernandez

Internet Marketing Strategist

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at least once or twice. It was popularized by a Mr. Bert Lance, Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Carter administration of the ‘70s.

Just because it isn’t broke doesn’t mean it should remain the same, however.

Anything can be optimized, or made better. Just because something is working well, it doesn’t need to be left alone. This applies to marketing communications just as it does to a nation’s finances, or even simple consumer products.

computer evolutionTake the fan, for example, which Dyson now makes sans-blades called “Air Multipliers” in order to remove an unpleasant effect they call “buffeting”. Most people probably weren’t aware that their fans were “unpleasant” until Dyson optimized the design. Miller Genuine Draft has even optimized their beer can to provide a smoother pour, calling it the “Push Top Can.” Both products weren’t broken, but the brands optimized them to create new marketing opportunities.

It would seem that today’s trend is following the maxim, “If it ain’t broke… OPTIMIZE it!” In some ways, the constant churning of new ideas can come across as cheesy or gimmicky. However, this marketer would much prefer the risk of being gimmicky, over the risk of complacency. While there have been instances of backfire (such as “New Coke”), for the most part, a competitive market demands innovation.

Optimization by PTE

This actually ties in with what PTE does for our clients, right here in Fort Myers, Florida (and beyond). As a marketing communications firm, we are constantly optimizing our communications efforts. In my day-to-day goings-on, I’m constantly optimizing clients’ websites and content strategies. Just last month, we had a client praising us for a high return on the previous month. When awesome things like that happens, it doesn’t mean, “Good enough, you can stop now”… It means “keep pushing the boundaries, because you’re onto something!”

Optimization is what “Pushing the Envelope” stands for in a lot of ways. It involves going beyond doing “what works” and finding new, creative ways to accomplish our clients goals. Optimization also creates the best possible experience for the customer, by providing them with additional value or utility.

How can we “push the envelope” or optimize for you?

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR

Grand Poobah / Owner

For those of you working for national brands the question sometimes arises, “do we really need a local PR person or local PR effort?” Sometimes the answer is “no,” but sometimes the answer is “yes” and it all comes down to the scenario.

Matt Hyde, President & CEO of West Marine with Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr. of Fort Myers (photo credit: Vandy Major)

Matt Hyde, President & CEO of West Marine with Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr. of Fort Myers (photo credit: Vandy Major)

One prime example is work we did with West Marine when they opened their Fort Myers flagship store in 2012. An international brand with locations all over the country and existing presence in the Fort Myers market, their communications team sought out local public relations assistance.

Why? They understood the two primary benefits:

 

  1. Having a local PR presence means having people on hand, in the town you’re working in to handle situations as they arise – a face and person, not just a name and email address.
  2. Local PR people have local connections. We know area journalists, media outlets and the market better than any media database could ever know.

Big brands tend to have more people and often times more money to spend on communications and outreach to the markets in which they do business, but it doesn’t always mean they have the necessary, critical connections to journalists, media outlets, consumers and stakeholders that make the biggest impact. We were able to help West Marine because we could pinpoint their audience, the key media that delivered messages to that audience and facilitate other arrangements (music, venue, community participation).

Scott Fischer, CEO & Founder of Scott Fischer Enterprises with members of local media in Huntsville, AL.

Scott Fischer, CEO and Founder of Scott Fischer Enterprises with members of local media in Huntsville, AL.

Local public relations DOES matter for national brands – if they are new to a market, want to foster new relationships or, in some cases, mend relationships with consumers or media. We’ve also been called on to aid in local public relations and crisis communications for national brands when something goes awry at a specific location. In those cases, having someone who knows the surrounding circumstances, mindset of the community and its residents, but can also speak on behalf of the brand is critical.

At PTE, we work with large and small companies, local start-ups and national, even international brands. The opportunities we’ve had (and currently have) to work with national brands are all unique, but have all benefited from a strong, well connected and professional local presence. (In fact we even won awards for some of them!)

If you’re interested in gaining exposure for your national (or local) company, or just want to talk about public relations, get in touch. We’d be glad to help.

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