Tag Archives: Connection Graphics

Connection Graphics is Now Connection Group (CG)

Connetion-Graphics-Name-Change-Connection-Group-old-schoolhouse-building

Why change the name to Connection Group after 20 years?

In addition to the award winning graphic design and web design specialties, marketing services have increasingly been added to bring additional value to our customers. As these marketing services continued to answer the needs of an ever changing business climate, customers and prospects consistently remarked that the name did not indicate the many benefits they received.

From administrators, to designers, to writers, to website and app coders, Connection Group staff and contractors are unified in the effort to achieve the highest results in the most efficient manner. We are dependent on each other and appreciative of each others skills and talents. The new name, “Connection Group” better represents the company mission to help customers reach their goals.

How will the name change to Connection Group impact existing customers?

Connection Graphics, LLC will be retained as the corporate name and we will be doing business as (DBA) Connection Group. The name change will not impact established business relationships. Pricing and agreements will not change.  Payments can still be made to Connection Graphics.

Essentially there will only be minor changes to note:

  • new website address is www.connection.group (connectiongraphics.com will be retained also and will point to connection.group
  • new name will be placed on correspondence and marketing items
  • company email addresses will be forwarded from the old address

What else can companies expect from the new Connection Group?

Founder and President, Connie Sweet said “We know small business owners are busy running their business. Keeping their website updated, designing leave behind materials or determining what marketing and advertising methods offer the most value is not an efficient use of their time.” In answer to this challenge, Connection Group has developed affordable packages that combine design and marketing services to keep small businesses current and connected to their customers. From brand design packages to quarterly or monthly website maintenance, customers can select one package, multiple packages or customize packages dependent on their goals.

How will businesses benefit from this change?

Any business, from start ups, to established businesses, large and small can take advantage of new services. With over 20 years of design and marketing experience, Connection Group dedicates efforts to increase brand image and maintain brand presence affordably and efficiently. From logo design to brand and website maintenance, each business message can be streamline to get noticed.

In 2017, Connection Group will update their marketing materials to reflect the name change. To keep clients up-to-date on industry changes and mandates a monthly e-newsletter, regularly posted content to connection.group, social media outlets, and regular published blog posts will help keep customers informed. Sweet says, “The name has changed but the commitment to bring the highest level of service while continuing to stay connected to our customers and the communities we serve remains.”

Brand Image for The Salvage Yard Antiques

The salvage yard antiques visual brandingA long time customer, The Salvage Yard Antiques in Grand Ledge, Michigan is expanding and has contracted Connection Group for web and print brand design.

The Salvage Yard official website launched earlier this month:

  • a responsive website design that formats to the size of a smart phone, tablet tablet or other computer screen
  • simple, clean designed for the photos to pop
  • easy for the customer to update on their own

Brand Print Items: Updated business cards and new postcards incorporate the same brand images. Keeping colors and visuals consistent help build a recognizable visual brand – plus saves money on design fees! Connection Group printed a larger quantity of postcards than needed to promote the upcoming open house. Keeping the information generic without dates adds the flexibility to be used throughout the year for multiple purposes: future promotions, new product announcements, thank you notes, and more!

Congratulations to The Salvage Yard Antiques on your expansion! For those in the Lansing and Mid-Michigan area be sure to stop in for the opening. For those out of state this is a destination shop not to be missed when you are in Michigan!
The Salvage Yard Grand Opening on February 22nd
Special hours 7:00am – 7:00pmwww.thesalvageyardantiques.com

Can A Small Business Blog Increase Website Visits?

computer screen with connection graphics website design with list of blogging basics: • Integrate your blog with your website. • Include tags in your posts. • Include comments on your blog.  • Promote your blog.  • Include share buttons in your blog. Absolutely! A corporate or small business blog is one of the best ways to share information about your products and services, current events and sales promotions or press your organization has received. A happy accident of sharing this information is that your company blog posts add relevant content to your website which offers a better chance of appearing in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. A third benefit is when you add scheduled corporate blog posts your small business website will get higher marks from the search engines because not only is the content relevant, it is current. Relevant plus fresh content equals SEO (search engine optimization) or higher search results.

Not every visitor who comes to your website from a search may result in a phone call or a sale but like all advertising, marketing and sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people who engage with your blog and your corporate website the more likely you will enjoy increased company sales from your blogging. By posting relevant blog content you become the trusted source for your visitors and existing customers for information on your product or industry.

Proactive planning can determine how often you should post a new blog entry

editorial-calendar-graphic-connectiongraphics.comThere really is no on-size-fits-all formula for small business blog posting, anymore than there is a one-size-fits-all marketing plan for small business. It really depends on the goals you have set for your digital marketing. It also depends on how much time you have to feed your blog or the budget to outsource it to an marketing company.

Now, there are success stories about small business blogs that have become income generators in and of themselves.  If your corporate blog attracts 1000’s of daily website visits you may want to plan daily blog posts. However most small business blogs primarily serve as information tools, and as a portal to add relevant website content to increase website visits through SEO. The way Connection Group approaches client blog scheduling is to determine the role of the blog in each small business marketing plan. We recommend creating an editorial calendar for your blog posts. Our e-marketing packages that include blog posting, e-mail newsletters, and social media we develop a monthly plan. For instance if your company hosts an event for small business owners every January all of the content scheduled for the month of January will include information about the event. All of this will be in your editorial calendar. Including your blog updates in a small business editorial calendar helps you know what you will be covering each month and will help keep you on a schedule. Whether you write blog posts daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly a plan is a must.

Embrace the power of content on your small business blog

Each blog post should offer insight into your corporate philosophy, industry standards, details on a product or service you offer, or changes that may effect the customer. Seek content that will increase the visitors understanding of the subject. Help your customers make educated choices and purchases. Just as the visitors to your small business blog are researching, be sure to research the content for your corporate blog posts. Research but no stealing! Sharing the most current information available is important just avoid plagiarizing others work.

When you are satisfied with the information you have written for your blog post, add an image. Statistics from 3M corporation and Zabisco state that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are transmitted to the brain 60,000 times faster than text! Increase your website visits by using original graphic designs, photos or videos to connect and engage with your audience. Select only images that that are free from copyright. See the article in our e-newsletter about copyright issues and images.

Your blog is posted – Now, how do you increase your website visits?

integrate your blog with your website  blog and navigationIntegrate your blog with your website
The first step is to make sure your small business blog  part of your corporate website, not a separate page. There are many free blogging software options available and it is very easy to tie them into your existing small business website. Contact your web design and development company to create a seamless integration of your blog and corporate site. The biggest benefit is if you have a visitor to your blog, in the eyes of search engine tracking, you have just increased website visits. Other benefits are a custom designed blog will be consistent with your corporate brand and your complete website user interface is built into the blog so the visitor can easily click over to other website pages.

Include tags in your posts. Tags help people find your information more easily when they are searching the web. For instance for this blog entry on our website I would include small business blog, and small business website design and development as tags. Because we offer those services and those services are discussed in this blog adding them as tags show our website and our blog are relevant when people search for small business blog or small business website design and development. When visitors click on a tag in our posts they will see a list of previous posts that relate to those subjects.

Include comments on your blog. Comments show that you are open to feedback, good or bad. Allowing comments on your blog shows your visitors that you want to communicate with your customers. Comments may also help you determine what your visitors are looking for, give you ideas for future articles, and  comments may use keywords that will come up in searches too. Do make sure you moderate your comments though! Even with strong spam filters blogs are petri dishes for spam – check them regularly. We set up our comments to be pre-approved prior to posting just for this reason. As visitors begin to interact with comments you will build a community and advocates for your brand on and offline.

share buttons for blogInclude share buttons in your blog. Make it easy for viewers to share your website content. One share from a high ranking social media influencer can increase website visits astronomically. The ability to share across social media and email is how videos and blog entries go viral – this is an easy way small business blogs can get noticed.

Promote your blog. When you have posted a new blog entry promote your blog in all your marketing outposts. Social media is a great platform to share your blog posts, twitter, Facebook business pages, Linkedin profiles and industry specific groups and social media channels get the information to targeted groups. Include your blog link in your email signature and add a snippet of your current blog posts to your email newsletters.

Are you a small business who doesn’t have time to blog?

Connection Group understands that small businesses are limited with time and resources to implement all the marketing components that will help build their corporate brands and increase website traffic. We have developed a variety of e-marketing packages to suit the variety of requests our customers need. We’re here to help you build connections and reach your target audience – if you just need a monthly blog entry, a combination of e- mail marketing, social media and blog management we have monthly packages that will suit your small businesses goals and budget. We offer a free half hour consultation to discuss what digital marketing elements will fit you best.

Give us a call or shoot us an email today. We appreciate feedback on our blog content and encourage additional insights readers can share to help other visitors learn more. Please add your comments or questions below.

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Small Business Website Design Powered by WordPress

rls energy - small business website design rlsenergy.com
Rob Sepeter of RLS Energy contacted Connection Group for a small business website design. Mr. Sepeter found Connection Group when he visited a website we designed for a local retail gift and nursery shop, Hidden Trail. Hidden Trail Gift Shoppe specializes in nature themed gifts for home and garden, plus fresh plants and holiday greens. The website design quickly communicates this nature and environmental niche.

Although the original RLSEnergy.com website functioned and had similar content Mr. Sepeter felt the website design was not reflective of his clientele or the environmental nature of the products he offers. Another issue Mr. Sepeter asked us to address was the inability with the old site for ease in updates. Connection Group needed to set up a back end content management area where he or a staff person could easily and quickly edit website content, without having to have a PhD in web programming and development.

RLS is a start up company and serves customers throughout Michigan. RLSEnergy.com didn’t require a lot of automation or bells and whistles that e-commerce websites and some larger company websites often need. Connection Group solution for the small business website design that RLS Energy needed was to set up a website powered by the WordPress content management system (CMS). Choosing WordPress allowed us to keep the cost effective for the small business owner and also allow ease in website updates by any staff member. WordPress also offers numerous plug-ins that assist blog and small business website owners with automated features to help with SEO, comments, calendars, pretty much anything a website manager could need to optimize a website for effectiveness. Information on website and blog plugins are a whole different post but are an important considerations when looking at blog and website solution for your small business.

rls energy logo small business website designRLS Energy is enjoying the new environmental website design and in just one half hour content management training session they are now able to easily post project and merchandise photos and updates. Do you think a WordPress blog or small business website design would work for your company? Connect with us and let’s talk about your digital marketing and communication goals. We can help you choose the best blog or website solution that will grow with your company and allow you to control updates at the level you desire.

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Raising a puppy and building a brand ain’t what it use to be.

Photo of Bar-leigh (Barley) in the garden sticking out her tongue.Our family recently welcomed a new puppy into our home. It has been over 15 years since we have harkened down this path. I am quickly reminded of the dedication and attention puppies require, as well as the many items needed for entertainment and home protection.

Yesterday’s visit to the big box pet store displayed rows and rows of dog treats and toys to; stimulate minds, increase physical activity, encourage agility…, so many tools to ensure successful puppy raising. A quick Google search on ‘how to train puppies not to bite,’ resulted in a plethora of free videos and resource links for every activity imaginable for a dog or owner to explore.

All of this is underway while in the midst of developing an integrative marketing plan for a client’s expansion into a new geographic area. As with the puppy merchandise and training, tools and resources for brand marketing and graphic design continue to evolve. There is a large variety of options available that promise to achieve the same successful result.

Do I stick to the tried and true methods; discipline, attention, consistency? I know they worked, I have had well behaved dogs and successful customers throughout the years. Or do I bury the old school methods and invest time, faith, and money into the new approaches; gadgets, permission, rewards?

An appetite for the new with respect for the old could be an adage for all I do, from home decor, marketing, graphic design and puppy raising. I believe combining old with new is the true key to success in most every endeavor. As we travel the road together, our family and puppy, and Connection Group and our customers, the best solution is to recognize the individuality in each relationship. Each situation, each personality, each philosophy, is unique and requires personalized solutions that are adaptive to current times, trends, and budgets. We will continue to invest in the appropriate tools and disciplines each project requires to reap the most reward – happy, contented, successful clients and puppies.

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Every Door Direct Mail® Lansing Area

RFC Home Improvement Every Door Direct Mail® postcardAre you a business in the mid-Michigan area looking for a cost affective way to reach area residents or businesses? Do you have a specific product, service, event or promotion you want to get out to potential customers?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a new campaign with incredible postage rates for flat mail pieces. These mail items can be targeted into specific neighborhoods. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars purchasing a list. Do you want a direct mail campaign in Lansing, DeWitt, Waverly, or Grand Ledge, or a direct mail campaign just in Whitehills? With this program we can target an entire city, rural area, or hit a specific neighborhood. You can choose to run 500 pieces or 350,000 pieces or more, there is no cap.

The postage fee for the Every Door Direct Mail® pieces are a mere 17¢ each! That is a savings of 28¢ per piece compared to a standard first class mail piece. The postage savings as well as the elimination of the mailing list expense offers an opportunity for small businesses to have a more level playing field against companies with larger marketing and advertising budgets. Lansing restaurants can mail menus, local retailers, local service companies, local builders and beauty salons can mail promotions, coupons and even local political campaigns can enjoy the savings.

Connection Group recently completed an Every Door Direct Mail® campaign for a local home maintenance company, RFC Home Improvement. We chose to primarily target the area where they are located, where they have an existing clientele and have built brand recognition. We also chose a targeted Lansing neighborhood with similar priced homes that were of an age that may require the specific services RFC was promoting in this mailing.

We worked with our client to determine what services are best to promote for the Spring and Summer season. After establishing the focus, our graphic designers created a custom designed postcard displaying before and after photos of the clients work. The promotion was clearly outlined with a call to action included. Mail quantities were determined and the postcards were printed with the correct indicias and mailing information the USPS requires for the Every Door Direct® mail campaign.

Neighborhoods and routes were then counted and the every door direct mail campaign pieces were bundled in packs of 50 with facing slips attached.  For each post office drop off point an Every Door Direct Mail sheet was included with Connection Group unique customer i.d. and the specifics of each route were outlined.

With the large variety of advertising and marketing options available for business – especially with the explosion of social media marketing, internet marketing, SEO and SEM – it can be difficult to know where to commit your marketing budget. Direct mail campaigns can compliment other marketing efforts and continue to expand brand awareness and recognition. Not every marketing component is appropriate for every business, including direct mail. Custom solutions targeted by industry and by market are the best approach.

Connection Group specializes in implementing integrated marketing solutions. This means, we can help you determine if the Every Door direct mail campaign is a good fit for your business.

Although the USPS has attempted to make this an easy experience for small businesses to create these campaigns themselves and theoretically save more money by doing everything in house, experience shows this may not be the best choice. As professionals, with over 20 years experience in direct mail, our crash course with our first Every Door Direct Mail campaign found us going in circles on the USPS website. Once the direct mail pieces were ready to mail we spent time sharing what we learned with some of the postal service employees who were not familiar with the program and were able to keep the project moving forward. Using a professional can keep your costs in line and take away a lot of headaches. Of course a professionally designed layout can present your message in an appealing and professional light that recipients will take seriously.

So if you are ready to increase brand exposure in your area, introduce your new business, attract attendees to an event, get votes, share your new product list, service menu, restaurant menu and more, give us a call. We can get your get your foor in every door.

Call us or email us today – 517-645-4387 or info@connectiongraphics.com

STOP STEALING FROM GOOGLE!

copyright symbol graphic with colorful graphicEver wonder what your name means? How will you find out? Look it up in the tome, the Dictionary of Names from Oxford University Press? No, you will do what I did and Google it. Go ahead, do a search, see what you come up with.

In searching ‘what does my name Connie mean’, Google graciously returned 8,280,000 results. Granted I did not go to every website citing the information. I went to four. All had different results. One spoke of the history of the name and how it is derived from Constance (I thank my parents for being kinder than that). Another provided a pretty little graph showing the popularity of the name (seems Connie peaked in the fifties) my third attempt landed me on a page filled with ads and a three word descriptive answer to my inquiry; ‘Connie means knowledge’. I really think I am much more complex and warrant more than one descriptive word! So, I took a chance at one more, which I believe is profoundly more accurate. This website states the meaning of Connie means “Queen of the House – a determined but also an awesome person who can always make you feel good and is a boy magnet.” Absolutely! This is what I am going to tell everyone my name means! So what that the website designers Mom was named Connie and people can enter their own interpretation of the name. I choose to believe.

To all writers, professional assistants, marketers, students, authors, please don’t limit your research to a Google search!

Don’t go to results page 72, click the link you think nobody will ever find and plagerize the content for your next newsletter, term paper, or website. That is stealing AND it could be completely inaccurate information! After reviewing multiple sites and finding similar facts you can then compose an original article or paper. If you are using proprietary information, quotes, statistical research, remember to cite your source and respect those who came before you and did the work.

The internet is getting smaller every day. Once I post this blog entry I can randomly select a sentence from it and do a search. Every website who has used my sentence will be returned in my Google search.

This also goes for Google Images – ugh, don’t get me started! When you search Google Images please note the disclaimer that states “image may be subject to copyright” that does apply to you too. What’s the best solution? Find the original owner and pay them for use, or hire a professional graphic designer or photographer to create an original solution. Appreciate the wonderful web of knowledge we have access to and share your wisdom, don’t steal others and think you will get away with it.

What are the consequences of Copyright Infringement?

If you use a copyrighted work without permission and your usage is not exempt under the law, you are infringing on copyright. If the copyright holder discovers it, they can then sue you for actual damage or loss of profits. The holder/owner may also choose to seek statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement. So if you have stolen a logo and used it on your business cards, letterhead, brochure, signage and website, etc. the copyright holder can sue you for statutory damage for each, or $750,000. Here is a list of damages and profits of copyright infringement.

If you use a copyrighted work without permission and your usage is not exempt under copyright law, you are infringing upon the copyright holder’s rights. The copyright holder can sue you for actual damages or loss of profits. The copyright holder may also seek statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringement. See Section 504 for additional detail.

Copyright law is not limited to just United States Citizens. In an effort to address international use concerns as the world wide web expanded.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 signed by President Clinton addressed this issue by implementing two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Depending on if you are citing an entire website or citing a specific article or page within a website following are the MLA (Modern Language Association) Style standards to follow for proper citations:

· If you can’t find all of the information, cite what you can find in the recommended order for each.
· In these examples we have provided them as single spaced; you should double space citations in your list.
· For more information on MLA citation styles, refer to the handbook and the website.

To cite an entire website that you have referenced in your work :

Title of Database. Date of electronic
publication or latest update. Name of
sponsoring institution or
organization. Date the information
is retrieved <URL

Example:  Connection Group Web and Design Tips. July, 2011. Connection Group. August, 2011, www.connectiongraphics.com

To cite a webpage, cite a blog or cite an online journal article use the following format:

Author. “Article Title.” Journal Title
vol.issue (Year): pages.
Date retrieved information
<URL>.

Example: Sweet, Connie. 10 Baby Steps for Small Business to  Grow in Social Media.
Web and Design Tips, 17 (2012) 1. Retrieved August 25, 2011, from
http://www.connectiongraphics.com/tips/

Be original! We are ALL connected.

Let Your Image Speak for You

Pung Foundation logo created for mid-Michigan based concrete construction and renovation service company.

Phones have been ringing, emails are flowing in, social media posts are crammed with new business start ups ready to make a difference. New entrepreneurs are emerging with products and services that can change the world – or at least their communities and bank books. Ahhh, the passion of entrepreneurs!

I love when new start ups come to Connection Group for a graphic design or marketing consultation. I know when they start here they are serious about their approach and their image. I get to see their eyes light up, hear their story, and feel their drive. New business start ups come to us with a lot of questions, hope and dreams and often very limited budgets. It is our job to understand their goals, their philosophy, their market, their budget, service or product, and provide guidance to them that will assist their business launch without breaking the bank.

McNaughton and Gunn logo

McNaughton and Gunn is a 50+ year old book printer headquartered in Michigan

One of the first recommendations I make to business owners is to start with a professional logo. So many software programs and websites out there have stock art that people can place on a business card, throw a phone number and website next to and convince themselves they are the next Apple or HP. Online printers spout 250 free business cards, free icons, free templates. What cash crunched start up can resist’, FREE graphic design, FREE business cards?

We have all been to a networking event where we come back to the office and have two or more identical design business cards or two cards with the same logo or clip art. image. The designs and logos are the same the only difference is the names on them – one is a massage therapist, one is a florist, and another is a dog groomer. One was a contractor who specialized in tile installation, the other does windows. Now which one was the it that I wanted to refer to my mother? None of them. Why? Because they are not unique, they do not stand out from the crowd and chances are that is the way they will run their business. These owners did not take their business or craft seriously enough to invest in their image  – they decided their business was only worth a free set of business cards.

Women In Successful Enterprises logo

Logo created for WISE, a Michigan based organization comprised of second stage women owned businesses.

So when I have a start up company call or email and say they understand the importance of presenting themselves professionally but don’t know where to start, my question is not, ‘What is your budget?’, my question is, “When can we set up a time to meet?” I love an entrepreneur, I am one, I know small businesses make a difference in their communities and can change the world. I want to help the good ones to succeed.

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Join us on Facebook.com/connectiongraphics

How to Convert a Facebook Profile to a Facebook Page

Throughout the year we have been providing training to local organizations and colleges on social media marketing. As the owner of Connection Group I also consult with customers who want us to manage their social media and create profiles in the best format to reach their market. In almost every consultation, social media class, workshop, and training this year, I have been asked what to do if a business established a personal profile page for their business instead of a true business fan page in Facebook. Yes, there is a big difference between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page, I will not get into all the reasons in this post. Please post a question if you would like more specifics, I am happy to help clarify.

I have a previous blog post covering merging pages also which directs you to the Facebook help page entitled Converting your profile page into a page but it didn’t make it as simple as it can be. Below, I will walk you through merging your Facebook pages and to clearly answer the question: ‘How do I convert a personal profile to a business page in Facebook step by step.’

Words of caution: 

All of the people on your page, plus your profile pic, will be converted into your page but no other content on the old page will be moved over. Remember to save any important information prior to migrating the page. You can download a file that contains all your messages, photos and videos that you have uploaded to Facebook here. If you don’t mind losing previous posts there is no need to go through the download step.

Graphic of Facebook business category options

  • Step one: Be logged in as the personal profile you want to change with your original email address and password you set up. BE CAREFUL!!! Do not log in as your real person profile (the one you use every day)!
  • Step 2: Go to Facebook Profile to Business Page Migration page.
  • Step 3: Choose which category your business page is (Company, brand, place, etc.)
  • Step 4: Agree to Facebook Page Terms
  • Step 5: Choose the page you want to connect to, add content, name the page, etc.

You should now have a complete professional Facebook Business Page for your company instead of a profile page. Please contact us if you need more assistance.

If you need help merging two Facebook business pages or if you have a business page and then suddenly a Places Page has emerged with your same business name and address, Facebook help now allows you to easily merge these pages too. Currently, the Facebook page with the most likes will become the main page, the Facebook Business page with the least amount of fans will merge into the first and then it will disappear. Let me know if you need help with this one!

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