Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Customer service: the key to your design business success

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This post is by Adam Broadway of Adobe Business Catalyst.  We were asked to be interviewed to give our story on why we use Business Catalyst and what we could offer other Designers in their success. We loved sharing our story.. I hope you like it as well.

Dave and Kim Kolb share experiences in growing their business, Hightouchweb.com – ideas that could help grow your design business.

After meeting at a resort, falling in love and being laid off at the 2000 tech bubble burst, Dave and Kim decided it was time to build their own Web company.

By combining and complementing their strengths in strategy, design and marketing, HighTouchweb.com was born.

MP3 audio interview of Dave and Kim Kolb, has them candidly sharing:

  1. Finding motivation in each other and maintaining a "CAN DO" attitude, to get through the tough times.
  2. Have fun doing it - Love what you do and "whatever you do", do it well.
  3. Taking time to follow up with every client (Kim sends personal welcome cards to every one of their customers).
  4. Dave shares his feelings on building their own CMS and the pain of using lots of 3rd party open source plug-ins, that didn't always work.

In their words:

  • Keep it simple and excel at the basics.
  • Don't be all things to all people, you'll drive yourself crazy.
  • Know who you are and what you do.

A Business Catalyst feature that benefits their clients:

"We view InContextEditing as the strongest sales tool within the tool set that BC offers. You can take a mere mortal and have them updating their website in no time with little or no training. The power this gives the client is priceless. They feel like they are actually participating."

I hope you enjoy hearing some of their story as much as I did.

Adam :)

Click here for the mp3 interview of Dave and Kim Kolb.

Who Are You and What Do You Do

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How many times has someone asked you this question, "Who are you and What do you do?" And how many of us can nail the answer each time without causing a blank stare from the person who asked the question?  This should be easy to answer, right?  It is the elevator pitch that every good Speaker tells us we should have. 

Being a Web Design & Inbound Marketing Firm, we tell our clients that "Content" is King.  Even all the expert Bloggers and Social Media Consultants will tell you this.  It is a true and valid fact.  The problem is, is that it is really easy to tell someone that content is King and that you should have no problem coming up with "Who You Are and What You Do, after all it is YOUR story, right?  WRONG!

We recently redesigned our website and going back over all the content we had to "Freshen" up, was a big process.  Oh, I can tell you exactly what we do and who we are, if you are standing in front of me so I can speak to you.  Writing it is a different animal all together.  When we get a new client and tell them that they need to go through their content and get rid of stuff that doesn't matter or outdated and replace it with new, fresh content, it is one of those items that gets put off until the very end.  Or worse... A client has no website and then has to come up with ALL the content for the site.

I have a new appreciation for this process.  It is always easier to tell someone how to do it, but when it comes to actually doing it, that is the problem.  Here are some tips I tell my clients to help in the process:

  • Start with the pages you have or think you want, the Contact Us is a good place to start.  Why?  Because you know the answer!  It is an easy score.  
  • Move onto the About Us page.  Most people can talk about themselves.  Just tell us everything there is to know about you. Then go back and weed out the wordiness and stuff that really isn't important, like the time you were in the Boy Scout's and you actually got the fire started with 2 sticks.
  • If you have a portfolio of projects, this is usually easy, especially if you are showing a picture or even adding a little text about what the project was.
  • If you offer services, this can be a hard or easy page.  Start with what you know and are confident about.  Then fill in the rest
  • The Home Page should be last unless you just have that one down.  The Home Page brings all of what you do and who you are together.  It is the page that needs to be the most captivating and inviting.  You want people to get to this page and say "Wow", I want to know more.  This will probably be the hardest page to complete.
My advice for any page you start, is just puke it out onto the screen and then re-read, fix, and repeat.  Have someone else read it to see if it makes sense. Sometimes we know what we are saying because we actually do the work, but get someone who doesn't and you will have a different perspective.

Hopefully this helps.  I would love to hear other people with their best ways to write content.  Like the saying goes "A Gardner's garden is never green, but the rest of the neighborhood is beautiful."

Which Blogging Software to use

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Hello to all my fellow Bloggers.

I come to you today as a community of well knowledge people who want to help. This is one reason I love blogging so much. I love the feedback that people are willing to give. 

So, here is my dilemma. I need a Rockin Blog Software Platform! I hope that by getting your feedback, I will also be able to better serve my clients by being able to provide a case study and a recommendation to them and yes; I will share this with the Blogosphere. 

Here is the scoop. I currently have a CMS that has integrated blogging software. Yeah, that’s the good news. The blogging software DOESN’T talk to any other types of tracking tools or analytics tools. The one tool that truly bums my groove is that I can’t get it to hook into Technorati and the software company doesn’t feel this is a huge issue right now, although the forum on this is huge (which means others out there confirm I am not crazy). I can’t even get it to connect to Google so I can set a goal on how many subscribers I get through my RSS like Avinash Kaushik talked about in the last Webinar with HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University. This is the Bad news. 

So, I come to you for suggestions on blogging software:

  • What is the blogging software you use and why do you like it? 
  • Does it hook into all the cool tools that HubSpot recommends to get found?
    • Technorati 
    • Google Goals 
    • I am sure there are more and please feel free to share 
  • Does it give you complete control over the design of your Blog and if not what kind of limitations does it have (Dave loves to design and have control)? 

Since I am fairly new to blogging, I would appreciate any advise you have. I subscribe to some really cool RSS feeds and I read all the important info, but most of you have been doing this longer and know the tips, tricks on getting found and that is what I want, to get found by more, I am convinced the blogging software has a huge impact on this. 

As a Web Design and Marketing Company, I am starting to think that websites are a dying breed, like outbound marketing. Blogs can accommodate just about anything we need to convey to the world and most times our Blog gets picked up by Google faster than our website. So HubSpot, HATS of to YOU! 

Thanks in advance to all who comment on this Blog! I also hope to make some new friends during this process.

NSA549VW9GZA


Top 10 Reasons Why Online Marketing Dominates Traditional Advertising

Kim Kolb - Monday, November 16, 2009

Online marketing has become the most successful method of advertising for any kind of business during the last decade. It is fast and promotes your business to thousands of potential customers daily. As marketing is a primary factor to a successful business, the internet facilitates this process in a way that will ensure the maximum exposure to what you are offering.

Traditional marketing, known as outbound marketing or interruptive marketing, requires much more time and effort. It often takes many people to be involved which means it takes more time, resources and money to produce. Outbound Marketing is also very hard to track for results. With the internet you can reach customers all over the globe in a matter of seconds. Online marketing is superior to traditional ways of marketing in almost every aspect. Here is a list of the top 10 reasons online marketing dominates traditional advertising.

1. SPEED

  • Email marketing campaigns are fast, targeted, cost-effective, highly efficient method of marketing your business.
  • Traditional mail marketing can take months and a lot of money and effort to generate results.

2. GEOGRAPHICAL RESTRICTIONS

  • The whole globe can be your customer base when you are marketing your business online, as the internet reaches almost every house on the planet.
  • Traditional Marketing restricts the amount of people you can reach.

3. MARKETING EFFECTS

  • Online marketing is based on pull marketing or Inbound Marketing, which means the customer found you while looking for a particular item.
  • While offline marketing is based on push marketing effects, which means you have to introduce your business to every single customer that comes into your location.

4. SALES PROCESS

  • When your business is marketing online, you can make a sale in a matter of seconds; whether it is an online store they are shopping or request more information through a contact form.
  • Offline advertising is very different in that someone has to sell the person the item, which means the person has to have the product knowledge and ability to sell to someone.

5. HOURS OF OPERATION

  • Your website is your business being open 24/7. Generating leads, and sales while you are asleep.
  • Offline stores are restricted to the human active times, this means you open in the morning and close in the evening and you can’t make a sale while you are closed. In other words, the offline selling process has a shorter sales life than the online one.

6. COST OF MEDIA

  • Online marketing allows you to make a short video or audio commercial and submit it thousands of media communities and is usually free or minimal charge.
  • To make a commercial on TV or radio or place an ad in the newspaper is a very costly engagement.

7. LIMITED ADVERTISING LIFE SPAN

  • When you post an ad online about your business or website, using an article for example, it can be online forever.
  • Traditional Ads can be active for an agreed-upon period of time and then it will be replaced.

8. COST PER CUSTOMER

  • These costs are reasonably low with online marketing but relatively high with offline forms of advertising. They are simply the costs incurred to generate potential customers for the business.

9. CUSTOMER SUPPORT

  • Online customer support can usually be solved via email.
  • Offline support requires a little more time and effort to be resolved.

10. ONGOING MARKETING INFORMATION

  • Data collection online is instant. You can track marketing efforts via google and other tracking tools.
  • Offline data collection is usually paper copies of items which usually take up storage space and requires manual computation for stats.

As you can see, online marketing is a far more cost effective method of marketing to traditional marketing. Online marketing is all about saving you money, time, and effort; yet brings you the required results you seek and most of the time exceeds your expectations.

Social Networking on the Rise

Kim Kolb - Saturday, November 14, 2009

Web 2.0 is the latest evolution of search engine technology. Today it’s no longer good enough to have a professional-looking webpage and a blog. Successful companies are posting viral videos on Youtube, creating Facebook Fan Pages, Myspace pages, getting followers on Twitter, Connecting with other colleagues on LinkedIn and applying cutting-edge technology to their core business principles. Now business owners big and small are looking to get these services to help them catch up with this ever-evolving phenomenon.

According to a 2009 Deloitte survey, 94% of business executives plan on ramping up their social networking participation over the next 12 months. Additionally, nearly 40% of businesses are hiring full-time professionals at an online marketing company to manage their social networking strategies.

Francois Gossieaux, a senior fellow with the Society of New Communications Research, says there are still “plenty of companies who do not realize the power of communities, and others who have not yet figured out the proper approach for leveraging communities as part of their business.” He adds, “Businesses are truly becoming social again, and companies should look to leverage the collective wisdom of their employees, customers and partners in order to innovate faster, reduce costs and bolster their bottom lines."



A Professional website design on a solid foundation is the first step towards your Online Success.  Your Online presence needs to engage your potential customers by Calls-to-Action and the Remarkable content you display.    

Whether you are one of the companies already on the Web 2.0 wave or just starting out, the rules of Marketing your company have changed.  If you are not capitalizing on the Social Media, Blogs, RSS tools that are available to you, you are missing out. 

Today the success of marketing your company does not rely on the size of your budget rather the time and willingness you have to put into your online marketing presence.  I think some companies would rather throw dollars at the marketing than to put time into it.  I think this is one of those times when we find out who the "Real Players" are.

Thoughts?

Cloud Computing: Government is shooting for the Clouds

Kim Kolb - Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cloud ComputingThe Government has finally accepted that "Cloud Computing" is an acceptable form of doing business.

If you have been involved in some shape or form with the Government, you know that Cloud Computing was something that was just not an option.  Too many hoops to go through, too much information that could be lost, etc.  Well hold on to your hats.  The White House has just announced that the Federal Government is going to go to the clouds.  This will save the taxpayers money and make the government more efficient.  It means no more costly servers for every office, no more purchases of software that is not needed.  It means that the different offices can actually communicate.  Cloud computing allows you to get what you need.  Now the Government can be up to date with the latest technology that we in the private sector enjoy. 

Apps.gov is an online storefront for federal agencies to quickly browse and purchase cloud-based IT services, for productivity, collaboration, and efficiency. Cloud computing is the next generation of IT in which data and applications will be housed centrally and accessible anywhere and anytime by a various devices (this is opposed to the current model where applications and most data is housed on individual devices). By consolidating available services, Apps.gov is a one-stop source for cloud services – an innovation that not only can change how IT operates, but also save taxpayer dollars in the process.

What is Cloud Computing? Cloud computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a computing model where IT capabilities are delivered as a service over the Internet to many users. Like a utility such as electricity or water, cloud computing allows users to only consume what they need, to grow or shrink their use as their needs change, and to only pay for what they actually use. With more rapid access to innovative IT solutions, agencies can spend less time and taxpayer dollars on procedural items and focus more on using technology to achieve their missions.

Although this is in its beginning stages, the U.S. Chief Information Officer of the White House is very confident that soon they will be in the clouds.  Stay in touch with this topic by subscribing to their blog.

Is There Good News For Colorado Springs Housing Market?

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Today I heard on the radio that Colorado Springs was in the Top 10 Best Cities For A Housing Recovery according to Forbes Magazine.  I had to check out the details of this and came across an article written by Matthew Woolsey on August 13, 2009 that states that Colorado Springs, CO is ranked 3rd in the Top 10 Cities for the housing recovery.

Could the market be returning to the Colorado Springs area?  The sales activity is up 14%, while transactions involving bank-owned properties made up one-fifth of them.  While 20% is still a sizable chunk, it's relatively sound compared with areas like Bakersfield and Vallejo, Calif., and Phoenix, where over 50% of sales made up of foreclosures.

I can't speak for other neighborhoods in the Colorado Springs area, but in my neighborhood, I believe that of the 12 homes for sale, only 1 is bank owned.  Which is good news.  I am glad to hear this news since there are many people who have been trying to sell their home for some time now, whether they are being transferred with the military or just can't afford the payments.  Maybe this will bring some "Hope" back to the Housing and Building Industry.

I look forward to hearing comments from the Builders in the Housing Industry to see if they are experiencing movement of existing homes.  

CHANGE: Why is it so hard to do?

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Change is to do something a different way. Why is CHANGE so hard for some companies? It's hard because we get so use to doing things one way and are convinced that if we just keep trying at it, it will eventually prove a different result. This is the definition of Insanity. I think we have all been there at one point in our life. We are creatures of habit.

Change is a scary and exhilarating experience. Even people who like change still complain every now and then. Sometimes it can be hard to see the reward of the change. In the end, change is GOOD! It shakes things up, evens the playing field, makes everyone perform at their highest level and in the end you see the fruits of your labor.

Take Social Media for example. I can tell you when I say Social Media or Inbound Marketing to my clients; they have that look of “what is that”? Or “oh yeah, I have heard of that but what is it”? Digital Marketing is hot and I don’t expect it to cool anytime soon. Newspapers and magazines offer online subscriptions, coupons are being sent online, and stores are sending their weekly advertisements via email. This is the future so we may as well start the embracing now so as to not be left behind later. CHANGE, is good. Think of it this way, we are saving trees and the ozone.

How can you change the way you think about marketing your company? How can you change the way you reach your clients? Step outside the box and see if Traditional Marketing can be replaced with Digital Marketing.

How do you change? Get a Facebook page for your company, get a twitter account, start a blog, get on Linkedin. You would be amazed at the amount of people you can reach just by utilizing these tools (Facebook has over 4 million users, Twitter has 14 million, and LinkedIn has 35 million). You have a marketing department, right? Get them to CHANGE their way of doing things. Get them engaged to market the company online by talking about the company.

Small businesses need to take a risk and change. Get your employees involved with Digital Marketing. Engage them to get more friends, followers, and connections. You will be the talk among their peers. Some CEO’s think their employees are wasting time on the Internet or doing personal things, but if you make it their job to do those things, I bet they spend more time working for you. Take a risk!

To many times people worry about “what if it doesn’t work”? Instead worry about “what happens if it does work”? What a problem to have!

Social Media Frenzy: Time and Benefits

Kim Kolb - Friday, April 17, 2009
Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In....AHHH.  I know what your thinking...I don't have enough time in the day to get regular work done let alone this.  Breathe.....Yes, the Social Media Frenzy can seem overwhelming at times.  Believe me, it is overwhelming to talk about it.  I get so excited about  the two I am using right now, that I get that "deer in the headlights look" from people I am talking too.

Time seems to be a factor when talking to people about Social Network Marketing as well as what to say.  I tell my clients, sign up for the accounts and then start linking and following others to get an idea.  This usually gets them jumped started.  The time factor those is like with anything new you start.  It will take a little time to get your profile set up, but once you have that and you start inviting people to follow you and  you following them, it because exciting and almost addicting.. Soon they will have a Social Media Anonymous. :)

A recent report put out by Marketing Charts provides a range of the amount of hours people spend working their Social Media Marketing.


48% of those surveyed said their efforts resulted in more qualified leads and 35% said it helped them close more business.  Below is a chart to depicted what areas benefited the most.


This next chart is kinda mind boggling since Social Media was started by marketers, yet a lot of marketers I know haven't even tipped their toe in the water. 



Should Your Business Be Social?

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Absolutely!  In fact a 2008 cone Business in Social Media study showed:

  • 93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media
  • 85% believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media
  • 56% of American consumers feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.
If you company is not networking socially via the many avenues available, you could be missing out on thousands of business connections.  People are using Social Media venues to communicate with others more than email, 85% to 65% as of last year. 

Social networking is also a way to better your search results when someone is trying to find your type of business.  Social networking is like having a 24/7 after hours... You meet new and interesting people who you could provide your services too or that you could use their services.  Don't wait to long to get connected.  Below I list some of those popular Social Media Venues.  I have not gotten into all of them, but I am working on it.

I’ve focused my personal efforts around FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter but am willing to expand.

Here is link to the webinar I attended with Hubspot that has made me a believer is Social Networking.  

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