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The 6 Steps to Preparing Your 2018 Marketing Plan

As you prepare to take your business into the new year, it’s time to create a plan for how you’re going to best connect with your prospects and customers — and increase revenues.

Are you ready? Do you know what’s going to resonate with new buyers? Do you know how to best reach them? Do you know what worked and what failed last year? Do you know how much you’re willing to spend?

For 2018, we recommend challenging your current strategies, messages and audiences, and moving forward with full confidence that you have a strong plan in place for next year. Here’s our six-step guide for how to prepare your 2018 marketing plan:

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Keyhole Clients: Thank You for Trusting Me With Your Business

Each night of the week, I sit down at the table with my family.

It’s a gift to be there with them. To not be laboring late at night in some office or cubicle or trudging my way home in bumper-to-bumper traffic. To just sit and be with the two people who mean the most to me.

And some of the ones that grant me this luxury are my clients. The people that not only help to keep food on said table, but also trust me with their stories and their clients. It’s an honor to partner with them.

Read on to find out more about these companies, and scroll down to the bottom for a bit of inspiration in this Thanksgiving season.

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Why You Should Stop Google Searching Your Business

We’re all guilty of it. Curiosity gets the best of us and we start Googling our own business. But have you considered the negative implications this could have on your search results? On all of that hard work you’ve put into SEO?

Here’s what to expect when you Google your own business (and why you should stop doing it, pronto):

It takes time to see results.

SEO is an ongoing investment. It’s not a “one-and-done” project, but quite the opposite. The algorithm changes daily, if not hourly, which means patience is essential to the world of SEO. Almost everything you do on your website, blog and social handles affects your SEO rankings, and it takes a lot of good content built up over time to see results in your Google rankings.

The search results will differ.

The search results you see are different than the search results a prospective buyer might see. Why? Google takes into account each person’s location, personal search history and more to determine the results they are delivered. Therefore, there is no way to compare or predict the results your prospective customers are seeing when they search for the same term or phrase.

Local search will skew your results.

Often times, your search results will pull in businesses that are physically close to you and place them higher on the list; especially on a mobile device. Googling yourself on your phone will definitely skew the results and give you a false sense of where you rank compared to your competitors.

  • Pro Tip: Make sure all of your business details are listed on Google so your profile is 100% complete and presented on local search results.

You could worsen your own page rank.

Say that you Google your own business and then don’t click on your name. Or worse, you click on your competitor. You are telling Google that your own page isn’t relevant to the search you just conducted, moving it lower down in the rankings.

Google learns context.

Similarly, the Google algorithm learns something new with each search that is done. Therefore, if you Google a keyword that is important to your business and then don’t click on your company’s page in the results, you are telling Google that your website isn’t a good match for that keyword. Ultimately, you’re telling Google that your page shouldn’t be at the top of those search results.

There’s a difference between single keywords & long-tail keywords.

We’re willing to bet your search terms don’t align with the language that your customers are using. People aren’t using specific keywords in their searches, but rather they are Googling actual phrases, which are referred to as long-tail keywords. For these reasons, it’s important to optimize your website for the right search terms. Use Google’s tools to find out what actual visitors are searching for, and adjust your content to include those keywords.

SEO is critically important to your business, especially for locally-owned, small businesses. Don’t be frustrated if you’re making SEO changes but aren’t finding yourself first in Google search results when using certain keywords. Be patient, keep doing the right things, and resist the urge to Google yourself!

Questions about SEO for your small business? Reach out to us at any time!

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THE TWIST: Reflections on Grief and Growth With Samantha Smith

The plot twist…that moment in a story when an event or experience dramatically shifts the future direction of the storyline and all the characters involved. I’ve always found these moments fascinating in real life, and so I started this new, recurring series—called “The Twist”—where I talk to entrepreneurs and explore the plot twist that led them to start their businesses.


After enduring a tumultuous childhood, all seemed well for Samantha Stage when she first met Andrew Smith in high school and later married the Butler University basketball star at the age of 23.

But just two years into their marriage, life turned upside down when Andrew was diagnosed with cancer while playing basketball overseas. And before they knew it, the pair was somewhat unexpectedly thrust into a public battle with this disease for the next to years. In 2016, it eventually claimed Andrew’s life, and Samantha found herself widowed.

But their story did not end there. Today, Samantha Smith speaks regularly about the challenges from that overwhelming, yet refining, experience—helping people and businesses better realize their purpose. We met recently at The Neidhammer in downtown Indianapolis to discuss her relationship with Andrew, her steps toward public speaking, and the continual wrestling within her soul in this new season of life.

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Gender Equality and the Sexual Harassment Epidemic

The problem wasn’t just your grandmother’s problem…or your mother’s.  It’s not a thing of the past. It’s not dead.

Glance at the cover page of any news outlet and you won’t be scrolling long until you see another story on this problem still alive and slapping us in the face…or on the rear.

The problem?

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