How to Create Longevity Within Your Design Firm

Design and marketing firms tend to have ups and downs. Freelance and contract work tends to ebb and flow since you serve small businesses that might struggle in a down economy or during major catastrophes such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding the right balance to stay afloat even during lean times isn’t always easy.

Creating a design firm that sticks around for the long haul gives you the brand name recognition you need to land contracts with big players. You want your employees and customers to feel confident your doors will be open for decades.

How Do You Ensure Business Longevity?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shares that about 20% of small businesses fail during the first 24 months of operation. Another 45% fail by year five, and 65% by year 10. If you want to be in the 35% of companies still thriving after a decade, there are some things you can do to ensure longevity.

Design firms may be a little more complex since they rely on the health of the businesses they serve. One thing you can do is to seek out businesses that are essential and more likely to survive poor economic times.

1. Take a Customer-First Approach

Spend ten minutes on social media and you’ll see how many people complain about customer service. You’ll find notes on company pages, on personal walls and under ads about the terrible experiences people have at various establishments.

Watch TikTok for a beat and you’ll see videos of fast food managers throwing food at customers, cursing them out and showing poor service skills. While it’s understandable people get frustrated after being treated poorly, if you don’t put your customers first, you can’t expect to grow your brand or your reputation.

Set a policy that the customer comes first. Train employees to do everything in their power to keep the patron happy. If someone isn’t happy with a design, communicate better and rework it. While you can’t please everyone all the time, you can strive to.

2. Retain Top Employees

It costs a lot of money to recruit, interview and train new employees. Keeping the highly skilled designers and crew you have is always the best approach. However, recent statistics show between three and four million people quit their jobs every month in the United States.

Called the Great Rethink or the Great Resignation, people are no longer willing to work for lower pay or in situations they don’t like. Figure out what your employees want most and strive to offer it. Is a remote position something that would keep your highly trained marketing manager on board? Let them work from home most days.

Pay attention to the packages and benefits your competitors offer, give raises as you can afford them and never miss an opportunity to let your workers know you see their effort and are thankful.

3. Set a Five-Year Plan

Small business owners sometimes get so caught up in the here and now that they fail to look ahead a few years and plan for growth. Let’s say your business does well and suddenly a big box store wants you to design their website. Can you meet their request and take advantage of the growth opportunity?

If you have a five-year plan, you may have already brainstormed the logistics of fulfilling a large order requiring more people than you have on staff. A plan gives you goals to strive toward and makes it more likely you’ll find success.

4. Avoid Bad Losses

Running a business always involves some level of risk, but you shouldn’t get so bold that you lose everything. Be careful where you invest your money. Don’t buy equipment you don’t need yet and that your operation can’t financially support. Be careful hiring too many new people at once and letting your payroll get out of control.

Everyone makes mistakes running a company. Get a mentor who has gone before you so you can bounce ideas off them and find out what might not pan out.

5. Create an Emergency Fund

Every business goes through lean times or sees shifts in the economy. If you want to survive tough moments, you have to plan ahead. Keep an emergency fund to cover three to six months of business expenses in an emergency. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many small businesses couldn’t survive the shutdowns. Those with enough funds and creativity weathered the storm and came out on the other side.

Make your emergency fund work for you. If you have $2,500 or so, you can sock the cash into a money market account and earn some interest while still having easy access to your savings.

6. Set Up Checks and Balances

You might be the final say in almost everything about your business. However, you aren’t infallible, so it’s good sense to have other people to turn to for advice. Big purchases should require an okay by at least a mentor.

Hire third-parties to conduct regular financial audits of your company. Let employees review management to make sure leaders are helping with growth and not hindering it. Look for ways to ensure a single person never works in a vacuum. Without someone to give feedback and check them when they come up with a crazy idea, your business could fail miserably.

Focus on Branding

Think about some of the brands you’ve known your entire life, such as Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company and General Electric. When you create an image for your brand and make it come to life, people remember it and will turn to you when they need an expert in your industry.

Your marketing should push your brand recognition over product as frequently as possible. Think about the needs of your target audience and how you can best meet them and you’ll create a design firm that sticks around for the long haul.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

Why Starting a Business Should Be the Next Logical Step for Freelancers Who Want to Expand Their Offerings


Doing work online may be more of a side hustle than a long-term business opportunity. However, some freelancers have chosen to build their side hustle into a serious money-making machine. So if you’re contemplating investing in your career full-time by starting a small business, here are some guidelines to help you get started, courtesy of Design Web Louisville.

The Early Steps of Starting a Business

Of course, in the beginning, you’ll want to follow the necessary steps to get your business registered. Furthermore, you’ll have to choose what type of structure your business will have; you’ll probably need to apply for an Employer Identification Number to open a separate bank account to help you manage your finances better, as well as decide on an appropriate name for your new business, too. Also, don’t forget about the importance of drawing up a business plan so that you can monitor the steps you take towards growing your business.

Moreover, you may need to also invest in additional hardware and software to get your business operational in the right areas. You’ll want to prioritize developing a process for invoicing to collect payments promptly to cover your immediate expenses as they arise. Invoicing software can help get your invoices paid on time and can help you with your cash flow too so that you don’t fall behind on your own payments.

Marketing Your New Business

Marketing will be a crucial component for generating awareness for your new business in the beginning stages, where you’ll need the added exposure most. Indeed, there are many ways to go about this nowadays, including marketing on social media and designing a professional-looking website so that people can find your business online.

By creating informative, entertaining, and valuable content, you can build a loyal following of potential customers who are interested in what you have to say. And because they’ve already shown an interest in your brand, they’re more likely to make a purchase when the time comes. Cornerstone Content offers some tips and resources on content marketing.

You may also want to update your resume to detail your qualifications, skills, and accomplishments to potential clients. Use this resume generator to create an eye-catching customized resume that you can tailor to your design needs.

Hiring Extra Staff to Help Your Business Grow

Perhaps, you realize that you require additional assistance to help get your business off the ground. If, for example, social media marketing is not in your wheelhouse, then it may be worthwhile to look into hiring other professional marketing freelancers to help you with this vital task. Or maybe, you need to get the word out about your business, and having a separate lead generation professional on board would help. Again, it’s really more about determining where your strengths lie and leveraging these to grow your business further. Moreover, you’ll need to identify your weaknesses so that you can outsource these elsewhere if need be.

In conclusion, building a fully fledged business as a freelancer may seem like it’s not that far off from what you’re doing already. However, it might just end up growing your brand exponentially so that you can accomplish more and increase your earnings significantly as a result.

Design Web Louisville has affordable prices and payment plans so that any business can get themselves online. Call (502) 755-2633.

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What New Businesses Need to Know About Salesforce

Starting a new business requires rising up the learning curve on a lot of different topics at one time. Even the software programs you choose to implement may require specialized training. Knowing the ins and outs of a particular option, such as Salesforce can help you hit the ground running and ensure you never miss an important step.

How Is Salesforce Helping Businesses?

The most recent statistics from the Small Business Administration show there were approximately one million new businesses opened and 833,458 closed, for a total of around  33.2 million small businesses in the United States alone. No matter how you look at it, you have competition for attention and possibly within your own niche.

One of the ways you can stand out is by automating as many processes as possible. Ensure your customer relationship management (CRM) skills are better than anyone else’s and you’ll not only gain customers but keep them for the long-term. 

Salesforce helps new businesses in many different ways with automation. Here are the things you need to know to take full advantage of the benefits. 

1. Know Your Customers

One of the best things you can do to ensure your messages are on target for your audience is to know who your customers are. With Salesforce, you gain access to a dashboard where you can run reports looking at demographics and other factors related to the people who already buy from you.

As you get to know the buyer persona most likely to become a loyal fan, it impacts every aspect of your new business from the inventory you order to how often you reach out to your clients. 

2. Backup Important Data

It’s hard on any company to go through a computer crash or loss of data. However, a new business may not be able to recover as easily from such a hit. The average cost of a data breach was around $4.24 million in costs, security measures and lost revenue. Of course, your loss may not be in the millions but it will have a similar impact on your ability to earn income. 

Salesforce automates your backups so you have fewer concerts over a database meltdown.

3. Get in the Cloud

Salesforce products are a software as a service (SaaS) that is cloud-based. Because the SaaS is in the cloud, it integrates easily with other cloud programs such as payment gateways, newsletter management and website content management programs. 

Being in the cloud also means you can access information anytime, anywhere. If you have field technicians, they can pull up customer data. If you want to work from home or let staff go remote, you are already set up for it with Salesforce. 

4. Implement a Chatbot

You can increase customer engagement by 90% by adding a chatbot to your site. Salesforce utilizes artificial intelligence so you can program responses or gather information before sending leads to a live agent. Not only will your system become more efficient but you’ll save money by letting the computer do some of the work. 

5. Lose the Cracks

In a traditional sales environment, you’ll sometimes lose a lead along the way. Someone fails to follow up or they say they’ll return a call and never do. Implementing a CRM software such as Salesforce ensures you get reminders to follow up with your leads. You’ll not forget to reach out when someone hasn’t placed an order in a while.

Other Advantages

The platform is completely customizable to your needs as a business. Think of it as a simple CRM solution where you can add on additional features as your business grows. Salesfoce easily scales up to meet the needs of small, medium and large businesses. 



Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

The Top Underrated Digital Marketing Opportunities Most Businesses Overlook

It seems as though every brand has a strong presence online. Therefore, standing out from the crowd can be highly difficult.

With social media feeds updated every second and news articles published constantly, gaining some traction is a success for most.

However, you might be thinking of other ways to boost your visibility. Rising above others is one way to get noticed, but how can you diversify your marketing efforts?

Sometimes the best way is to apply an overlooked digital marketing technique.

Here are some of the most underrated digital marketing opportunities to improve your brand awareness.

1. Featured Snippets

Many businesses often ignore the steps of claiming the prized spot of a featured snippet.

Featured snippets are relatively new to the Google results page. They are small excerpts lifted from pages. Normally, they appear near the top of the SERP (search engine results page) — and they show up in response to an information request.

Google implemented these excerpts to resolve a user’s problem without the need to load a hosted website. Featured snippets significantly enhance the user experience. Plus, it builds trust and credibility for the site source.

Take into account that featured snippets aren’t always in the first spot of the results page. Instead, it acknowledges the language and concept of the excerpt, the page’s authority, formatting — and the most relevant answer.

Take advantage of the featured snippet by optimizing your content in natural language and identifying the context of that language. You could also consider using Schema markup to help search engines understand your content and obtain a higher chance of getting featured.

2. Offline Marketing Channels

Most businesses often don’t think about creating a strong digital marketing strategy offline. They separate digital marketing from the traditional methods because they believe it’s the only way.

With traditional marketing, you might think of having a beautifully-designed sign to attract customers outside your store. Or, maybe you’d spend time sending mail-outs to promote your brand.

Yet, it’s possible to give your traditional marketing strategies a digital twist. You’ve most likely seen standard approaches like leveraging Snapchat to offer coupons. Other methods also include QR codes or app pairing — where an app brings up online reviews instantly when you tap a phone against a product plate, for example.

Plus, paper can also do wonders for your digital marketing strategy. For instance, if you’ve created a blog post you’re proud of, you could print it out and post it at local coffee shops.

Just be sure you’ve got a URL labeled clearly, so it leads back to your website or social media profiles.

3. Virtual Reality Video Content

Of course, video conquers when telling a brand story. People connect more deeply with engaging content than the posts you see on social media feeds.

However, why not give your audience something more to experience? With the tools available at the hands of businesses, most overlook the opportunity to market with VR (virtual reality) video.

360 degrees-video is an emerging technology that businesses have the potential to use for sharing brand moments and connecting with customers.

With it being available on YouTube and Facebook, businesses can expand their content to 360 degrees-video — bringing a new depth that photos can’t capture.

If your business is all about connecting with your audience, consider posting VR-compatible video content to enhance your interaction.

4. Voice Search

Voice search is one of the most recent top investments of Google and for a good reason. The rise of mobile devices largely spurs virtual assistant technology. Therefore, voice search is becoming more commonplace for users.

With that in mind, many businesses often overlook content optimization for voice search. However, it only calls for small restructuring in your content.

For instance, you’ll need to shift your keywords in favor of longer phrases and include direct answers to queries rather than simple restatements.

Consider using the “People Also Ask” section in a Google search to find keywords and phrases to improve your search engine rankings.

You may also see other changes in the future. These might include improved natural language processing where the algorithm can dissect sarcasm, background information, intonation, etc.

For instance, an intonation could deliver optimistic content versus pessimistic according to a specific topic.

Therefore, you’ll need to understand your audience more efficiently than ever to take advantage of this digital marketing opportunity.

5. Gamification

Gamification is a gaming technique used to improve customer engagement. If you’re thinking of ways to connect with more prospects, build brand awareness and increase conversions, gamification is it.

You can gamify practically any stage of the customer journey. Contests, incentives and scoring systems are a great way to interact with potential customers. Yet, it helps to consider your goal and audience interests before building an entire campaign.

Once you have those ideas in place, you can develop a gamification approach and its incentives.

Remember, it’s always best to keep things simple. Too often, you’ll see a great campaign, but too many rules and conditions apply to participation.

6. Native Advertising

The native advertising market is rapidly growing, and now is the time to take advantage of it. According to ADYOULIKE, native advertising spending will jump by 372% from 2020 and be worth over $400 billion by 2025.

Native advertising is a paid form of advertising involving a seamless ad design on the platform they appear. Unlike banner ads, native ads are less intrusive and don’t affect the user experience.

However, many businesses are missing the opportunity to improve their content output.

Native ads are typically on social feeds, below articles and eCommerce sites. While building an effective native ad campaign takes time, the effort is worth it. These ads have higher click-through rates and are often more engaged by consumers.

To optimize your native ads for the best results, ensure you establish clear goals, choose the right advertising platform — and align the campaign content with your goals.

Own Your Digital Marketing Endeavors

While these are the most underrated digital marketing opportunities, there’s also no one-size-fits-all solution to growing your brand. Often business owners use social media as their go-to digital marketing strategy.

However, you have plenty of ways to drive great results. Consider testing different approaches and running campaigns others haven’t thought of yet. Your marketing efforts won’t go unnoticed as you stand out from the crowd.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

3 Tips for Successfully Expanding Your Business

Healthy business growth is a delicate balance. You want to ensure that your company is ready for growth and has the capacity to handle an increase in business without overextending yourself. If you’re considering expanding your business, here are five key factors to keep in mind.

1. Map Out Your Growth Plan

Every business expansion needs a strategy. You need to decide what you want your business to look like after its growth journey. There are a few paths you could take:

  • Expanding your product line. One of the simplest expansion models is to add new products or services to your existing lineup. This approach not only encourages customer retention but can also attract new business.
  • Opening new locations. Adding another location in Crestwood, KY can be a great way to increase your revenue. It’s also a step closer to franchising if that’s something you’re interested in down the road.
  • Increasing your capacity. If you’re already operating at or near capacity, expanding your production capabilities could be the way to go. 

No matter which path you choose, it’s important to have a plan in place. This will give you a roadmap to follow so you can keep your expansion on track.

2. Evaluate Your Existing Strategies and Processes

Once you have an end-game in mind, it’s time to take a step back and assess your current business model. Are your existing strategies and processes set up to support growth? If not, you’ll need to make some changes. This might mean automating processes, streamlining your supply chain, or investing in new technology.

A company’s website, for instance, can be a powerful tool for growth. You can use your website to automate sales, marketing, and customer service tasks. This frees up your team to focus on other areas of the business. Kentucky web design firm Design Web Louisville can help optimize your website for local SEO.

You might also need to revisit your invoicing strategy. As you scale, you might need to automate your invoicing process to save time. There are invoicing solutions that offer features like recurring billing and automatic payment reminders so you can get paid on time, every time. You can also use an invoice template to simplify your invoicing process. The best invoice template will allow you to customize colors, fonts, etc. to be consistent with your branding.

3. Expanding Your Team

Finally, you’ll need to consider your team. As your business grows, you’ll need more people to help you achieve your goals. But adding new team members isn’t as simple as posting a job listing. You need to make sure you’re hiring the right people for the right roles.

When expanding your team, think about the skills and experience you need to support your growth. Do you need salespeople? Customer service reps? Once you have a good idea of the roles you need to fill, you can start writing job descriptions.

Celebrate Your Growth

Taking your business to the next level is an exciting accomplishment. Celebrate the milestone and use it as motivation to keep pushing forward. You can release a press statement, update your website, or throw a party for your team. 

Reach out to Design Web Louisville and take your website to the next level.