15 December

Go Team! A Proven Strategy for Best Customer Results

Go Team! A Proven Strategy for Best Customer Results

Marshall Hester

By: Marshall Hester – Bayshore Solutions Business Development Team

All of us at some point in our business lives are “the new kid in the class” when we start to work fresh for an organization. So it was for me when I joined Bayshore Solutions.

My newbie experience was a true eye-opener to a company with a project management process different from anything else I’ve encountered in my 30-year career.

Many moons ago Bayshore Solutions’ leadership decided that project management is best accomplished by encasing tasks within a unified Bayshore project team. The logic behind the decision was to centralize tasks, speed up communication, insure accountability and maintain quality control – all to the benefit of the customer.

When Bayshore Solutions accepts a project the work is assigned to one of three delivery teams within the company. Each team is led by a vice president and is comprised of project managers, designers, developers, digital marketing account managers and a business development director. Each Bayshore team member is a senior level professional with years of experience (Bayshore does not outsource any project tasks). Team members occupy work stations adjacent to each other and are connected to each other and the rest of the company with instant messaging.

I belong to Bayshore Team 2. Each and every morning Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. our team VP oversees a team production meeting where project work is analyzed, plotted and assigned. Production goals are a big part of these daily sessions so that all team members are updated on project budgets and deadlines. (Speaking of deadlines, Bayshore Solutions operates with core values of integrity and commitment-to-win and staff will work overtime and on weekends when needed to deliver what we say we will.)

I mentioned earlier that Bayshore’s services delivery process is designed to benefit the customer. To elaborate:

  • The project tasks are shepherded by the team. Tasks are never farmed out to unaligned departments where the big idea behind the project, not to mention the devil in the details, might be lost.
  • Bayshore employees are evaluated based on team performance, thus incentivizing team members to assist and critique one another in producing highest quality end results.
  • Customers can know the status of their project down to specific task with one phone call or email to the project manager.
  • At a minimum, Bayshore project managers provide detailed bi-weekly project updates to customers.

For contrast, imagine the traditional workplace flow chart (that I’ll name Agency X). The majority of the arrows move up and down. At a minimum, even with scattered sideways pointers, the organizational structure is vertically aligned. The overall project process, including authority, communication, accountability and quality control, is an up and down affair. A project enters the agency somewhere near the top of the chart. Tasks are segmented and parceled out toward the middle, but actually performed near the bottom. Then the pieces of the finished product must be pushed up from the bottom, assembled in the middle and shipped out from back at the top.

Bayshore Solutions’ customers are not endangered by the inherent pitfalls of Agency X’ process. Projects enter Bayshore then are completed and delivered via a unified team.

When evaluating a digital partner, knowing how the work gets done is a key indicator. The team approach is the cornerstone of Bayshore Solutions’ unique value we bring to our customers.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” –Andrew Carnegie

To connect your business with the benefits of your own dedicated digital team, Contact Bayshore Solutions today!

Marshall Hester is Director of Business Development at Bayshore Solutions- a Digital Marketing, Web Development and Internet Marketing Strategy company.

8 December

Your Business Forecast: Cloudy with a High Chance of Profit

How to get your CFO to say “Yes”

Chris Gilbert

By: Christopher Gilbert – Bayshore Solutions Development Team

I predict that the future of your business is Cloudy!

No, we don’t think that your business has a stormy future because at Bayshore Solutions we are dedicated to viewing our customers as partners and are committed to the success of your business.

I am suggesting your business has a future in “Cloud computing”, specifically with Microsoft Azure. Let’s start with an introduction to cloud computing and then we will cover some of the benefits and offerings of Microsoft Azure.

Cloud Computing Basics

Have you ever heard someone talking about “the cloud” and wondered what it meant?

Cloud computing is a fairly recent technology and for many is still quite nebulous (pun intended), yet it is not too hard to understand. In fact, you most likely have already used one or more of the many services in the “Cloud” without even knowing it.

Cloud computing and cloud technology, often referred to as “The cloud” in simplest terms is just software and services that run on the internet. Taken a little further, it is the ability to access computing resources, applications, and centralized data all made possible through vast networks of data centers and servers.

Essentially, cloud computing can be thought of as a metaphor for the Internet. Services like Dropbox, Gmail, Evernote and countless others are all made possible through the cloud.

Now that you know what the cloud is and how it works, let’s see how it can benefit your business.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing offering. In short, Azure is an ever-expanding list of integrated network, data storage, and application services – all designed to help your business get more done in less time while saving money.

In order to understand some of the key features of Azure, we first need to quickly define IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service)
The most basic offering is IaaS which is where you get access to the physical hardware in a data center along with power, cooling and networking. The rest you need to manage yourself.

PaaS (Platform-as-a-service)
In addition to the infrastructure, the next level of service that PaaS offers encompasses the operating system, database, web server and the computing environment to run your software applications. However, you still need to monitor those services, apply updates when needed, etc.

SaaS (Software-as-a-service)
The highest level of service is SaaS where you only need to focus on the application your business delivers.

What does Azure have to offer?

Web Sites
You can launch and host a website using Azure Web Sites. These sites can be developed with a variety of languages and frameworks including ASP.NET and PHP. In addition, many templates of common web applications such as WordPress and nopCommerce are available.

Virtual Machines
You can set up virtual machines in the cloud that can run Windows or Linux as the operating system and you are even able to connect remotely using Remote Desktop. Virtual machines are a great option when you want to add more computing capacity for applications or for setting up virtual networks.

Mobile Services
There are many features in mobile services that will accelerate the development time of your next mobile application. You will be able to rapidly develop engaging cross-platform applications leveraging push notifications, offline browsing and data sync as well as social integration with Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Media and Storage
Microsoft Azure media and storage aids with the creation, management and distribution of a variety of media and content. There’s everything from caching and content delivery networks to serving a variety of digital formats and even media streaming.

Cloud Services
With cloud services, you are able to deploy highly available and scalable applications and services. Your application can be deployed to multiple instances in a matter of minutes and be scaled to meet demand, saving both time and money. You are able to focus on your business and your application instead of worrying about hardware because health monitoring and operating system and application patching are all included.

Is Azure right for my business? How can I save money? What are the benefits?

Faster Time to Market
Since you are not focusing on server architecture, physical hardware or underlying infrastructure, you are able to focus solely on delivering your business application. Development can be completed in a fraction of the time which results in faster time to market.

Greater Flexibility
Applications can be deployed to Azure very quickly with no downtime. This allows for greater flexibility and creativity to explore adding new functionality to your applications that were not possible before.

High Availability
Was your business able to respond to Cyber Monday without any glitches? When there are spikes in traffic due to seasonal demand or other factors, you can easily scale your application to handle the increase in traffic and resource requests.

Reduced Costs
The model of Microsoft Azure is to pay-as-you-go and only pay for what you actually use. There’s no minimum purchase and you can cancel at any time, so there’s no risk.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what Microsoft Azure can do for your business. There are multiple products and services that enable you to get your product to market faster, serve a larger number of customers across multiple regions and have your application scale to meet the the increased demand for your business.

Interested in taking your business to the next level? Contact Bayshore Solutions today to have one of our many Microsoft Certified developers help get your business into the cloud!

Christopher Gilbert is a Senior Developer at Bayshore Solutions- A Digital Marketing, Web Development and Internet Marketing Strategy company.

2 December

How to Get Your CFO to Say “Yes”

How to get your CFO to say “Yes”

Michael Sapp

By: Michael Sapp – Bayshore Solutions Controller

Newton’s 3rd law of motion states that when two objects push or pull against each other, the forces are equal and opposite. Simply stated, for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. You probably have noticed it before firsthand – when you try to get the buy-in from your CFO to increase your marketing budget. The harder you try, the more pushback you get.

Here’s a little secret – although they are viewed as relishing every opportunity to say “no” to anything that involves the budget, CFOs really want to be able to say “yes” to a worthwhile venture.

So, how do you pull on the heartstrings of the one holding the purse strings?

You go to the numbers.

The best offense in your arsenal is developing a solid plan to not only procure the resources you need, but to also illustrate the return to your C-suite. Consider the following tactics as you look to increase your marketing spend.

Where do you compare?

Most companies try to define their marketing budgets as a percentage of sales. Although this may be an arbitrary number for some companies, there is merit to a healthy percentage of sales being cycled back into producing future sales.

Here are some general marketing budget benchmarks by industry (as a % of revenue):

  • Telecommunications      5.4%
  • Advertising/Consulting/PR    5.0%
  • Healthcare/Pharmaceutical    4.7%
  • Transportation    4.6%
  • Media/Entertainment    4.3%
  • Real Estate    4.2%
  • Professional Services    4.1%
  • Travel/Tourism    3.8%
  • Manufacturing    3.1%
  • Energy    2.9%
  • Retail Trade 2.7%
  • Financial Services 2.7%

Where does your company rank?

If you fall outside of your benchmarks, use it as a rallying point for realigning with your industry peers.

Sharing is Caring – & Promotes Approvals

The CFO is charged with being objective and using data to validate the majority of the company’s initiatives, marketing included. A major reason for the friction between marketing and finance results from the difficulty in measuring the ROI of marketing’s efforts. If a CFO does not have any data to validate a claim, it becomes “subjective” and therefore more risky.

How to help ease this friction? Give up all of your data. This means sharing all of your analytics, all of your tracking data, all of your media buys and impressions, etc. There’s no room for silos or hoarding information.

Then, work with your CFO to determine and agree on the targets/ratios that signify a successful campaign or healthy ROI in financial terms. Of course, make sure you or your marketing solutions provider has systems in place to successfully procure all of this data.

Focus on low-hanging fruit

Rather than pushing for PR/branding initiatives that have long-term benefits that are harder to objectively measure, aim for channels that can generate immediate, measurable return, such as demand generation.

By focusing and targeting your marketing programs to drive awareness in a specific product or service, you can reap the benefits quicker and curry favor for ceding more dollars into like-type campaigns. As your initiatives gain traction, you’ll have more leverage for going after the meatier programs.

 

There’s no silver bullet to curing the divide that sometimes exists between finance and marketing, but there are many areas for a potential partnership. Have a plan, have the data, and have an open and honest conversation with your CFO. Before you do, though, contact the Bayshore Solutions team to discuss new ways to supplement, measure & validate your marketing strategy.

 

Michael Sapp is the Controller at Bayshore Solutions- A Digital Marketing, Web Development and Online Content Strategy company.

24 November

YouTube Space Proves Content is in Demand

YouTube Space Proves Content is in Demand

YouTube Space Proves Content is in Demand

Doug Pace

By: Doug Pace – Bayshore Solutions Executive Vice President & COO

How would you react if I told you that some of the world’s best production facilities and video equipment is available for use free of charge? The facilities are stretched across exotic locations including Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and London and provide you access to collaborate with some of the brightest minds.

The immediate reaction is normally, “What’s the catch?”  Well, you just have to have over 10,000 subscribers to your YouTube channel and you could have access to a YouTube Space.

YouTube Spaces are physical locations built and managed by YouTube. They are meant to provide creators the resources they need to make original content and gain invaluable hands-on experience with industry-leading production equipment and resources.

The space idea is amazing and innovative, but it shows the industry’s hunger for more and more quality content. Without original content, YouTube cannot capture an audience; without an audience YouTube cannot monetize their web traffic and continue to grow revenue.

A similar strategy is being employed by Amazon via Amazon Studios. Amazon Studios takes a bit more of a crowdsourcing approach to creating content – soliciting screenplays with increasing incentives if your creation is selected for testing and producing.

Each of these channels are looking to produce the next “House of Cards”, which was syndicated via Netflix and enjoys a viewership of millions online. The strategies are amazing, but it is a great illustration for the challenge that faces today’s advertisers.

In the MadMen days of advertising, you would select your audience, produce an expensive commercial, and secure air time during the Superbowl or the Cosby show to make people aware of your offerings.

In today’s world, many consumers no longer watch TV.  They spend more time browsing social media and blogs than ever.  They are exposed to thousands of marketing messages per day, and they interact via a variety of devices including PC, tablet, phone, and even their watch.

Consumers interact with media on their own terms and marketers are challenged to capture their attention with the simple ad or commercial. Online platforms have modified their strategy to help creatively produce their content – helping the platforms to provide channels that capture audience attention and provide value for marketers and products.

As audiences continue to have more choices in how they interact with media our jobs as marketers will become increasingly difficult. One thing remains consistent in that great content marketing will always have a great following.

Instead of getting frustrated, I think marketers should embrace this change in the ecosystem and help our customers create their own unique content. Gone are the days that a video cost millions to produce.  With the camera technology and post-editing software available, companies can produce a series of videos for a reasonable budget.

Examples may be an online cooking series produced by the Publix shopping market chain, or a series on high school athletes produced by Sports Authority or Dick’s Sporting Goods, or maybe even a series on alternative energy by your local power company.

Content is King, but context is Queen – the marketing field is changing and we must keep our customers thinking ahead!

Contact us to learn more about how Bayshore Solutions can help you create and implement the right content strategy for your business.

Doug Pace is the Executive Vice President and COO at Bayshore Solutions—a Web Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing Agency.

20 November

How to Grow Your Leads with LinkedIn

How to Grow Your Leads with LinkedIn

Carisi Parisi

By: Carissa Parisi – Bayshore Solutions Digital Marketing Team

Most professionals have a LinkedIn account and typically use it for job searching, however you may be missing another way to use LinkedIn. This can apply to any business – B2B or B2C.
Learn how to use LinkedIn to grow your leads and prospects in 4 simple steps – Optimize Your Profile, Join LinkedIn Groups, Save Successful Advanced Searches and Create a Sequence of Messages.
1. Optimize Your Profile
If you want to have success on LinkedIn, you’ll need to have a profile that’s professional, search-optimized and client-focused. Your LinkedIn profile needs to speak to your ideal clients and tell them how you can help them.
First, make sure you use the same keywords in your profile that your ideal clients would input when doing a search for someone with your specialty.
For example, someone who’s looking to find a marketing professional to run their Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising might type “ppc advertising” or “pay per click advertising” into the search. If that’s a service you offer, then put those words in your LinkedIn profile.
Choose up to three keywords and include them throughout your profile.
Some of the most important places to include these keywords are in your:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Current work experience (in the title and description)
  • At least one past work experience (title and description)
  • Skills

Being found in search results is important, but it’s not everything. You also need to have a headline that makes people want to click on your profile.

Once they get to your profile, you need an enticing summary.
Include the following in your summary:

  • One to two paragraphs telling your story: who you are, why do you do what you do, what makes you credible
  • Who your ideal clients are
  • What problem your ideal clients face
  • What solutions you offer to solve those problems
  • Call to action: what you want them to do next (call, email, connect with you, etc.)

2. Join LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups are a great way to start growing your network.
LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, so join as many as possible. Don’t feel like you need to join only industry groups. The majority of the groups you join should be the ones your ideal clients are in.

The mix of groups to aim for should be as follows:

  • Ideal client groups: 80%
  • Special interest groups: 10%
  • Industry groups: 10%

To locate potentials prospects within each groups, scroll through the list of members in the group to see if there is anyone you want to connect with.
You can also search for relevant keywords, job titles or locations within each group by using the search bar within the group.

3. Save Successful Advanced Searches
LinkedIn’s advanced search tool is great for finding potential prospects. You can search for people by keywords, relationship, groups, location and industry, which are available with a free account.
Make sure to remove first-degree connections from your search parameters, since they are already part of your network. If you find a specific search that produces good results, save that search using the Saved Searches function.
LinkedIn will email you once a week when someone fits the search criteria you set up. You can have up to three Saved Searches with a free account.

4. Create a Sequence of Messages
It is not enough to just grow your network. Build a network with your new connections. Send a sequence of value-based messages to your prospects.

Always take the time to personalize each message appropriately before sending it. Use their first name and add any details that will improve the message and make it  more personal.

The messages should include information that would be considered valuable to your prospect. This includes links to relevant articles, checklists, white papers, case studies, reports, eBooks, videos or downloads.

These resource materials can be ones you either created or curated, but they must be of professional quality and solve a pain point or help prospects make educated future decisions.Make sure NOT to mention your products or services within the messages, so they don’t come off as a sales-pitch or spam.
If you complete these steps successfully, you should see your network on LinkedIn grow and these connections will start to view you as an authority in your industry and may seek guidance or professional advice from you. This would be your opportunity to mention your products or services and how they could help that connection, who is now a Lead.

To learn more about how Bayshore Solutions can help drive results with your LinkedIn strategy, contact us today.

Carissa Parisi is a Digital Marketer at Bayshore Solutions- A Digital Marketing, Web Development and Online Content Strategy company.

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