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There is one phone call that I hate to get. The one where a prospective client calls to tell me that their website is not functioning properly. They can’t update it, they have been hacked or worse yet, it crashed. I think about all the money they have invested in their main digital asset, their website is now gone or they will have to spend more to get it working properly again.

website maintenance notes on desktop

The analogy I like to explain to my clients when they see a Website Maintenance fee in their proposal is this: You buy a brand new car (my second love is cars, so bear with me). You drive it. You never change the oil, the filter, or rotate the tires. A year goes by. The car isn’t driving as nice, things keep breaking down and now you are faced with a hefty repair bill or the cost of buying a new car.

If you never, EVER maintain your car it will break. Same goes for your website. You spent a lot of money building your business’ website and you must invest in it to keep it going! There are updates all the time for WordPress and any additional plugins. Things break when they are not updated.

So please, do me a favour, either call us to help you out or call your web design person and ensure they are doing this. If they are not, it is time to go consider other options!

That is my two-cents and I hope it saves you a thousand-cents.

Julie
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It is beyond a blessing to see how warmly our new marketing agency has been welcomed in our beautiful community. Orangeville has embraced our new venture with the support of our clients, family, and friends, The Small Business Enterprise, The Orangeville BIA, our town council and Mayor as well as our MPP.

ribbon cutting at open house in orangeville

Everyone wants to know the story of how we began….so here you go!

Our story isn’t a long one, but let me share it with you. In 2016, I was working for an agency and was not happy. I was not happy that I could not offer the level of service I thought my clients deserved because we were so numbers-driven. All I was doing was answering emails. I knew I had to get out of there. I then threw it out to the universe that I wanted to get back into consulting. Well, she answered in a VERY loud voice and I had no choice but to listen. I was part of a re-org. I was so relieved. Within four hours I had two ‘old’ clients back and there was no stopping me now.

I worked for about a year with a bunch of different clients and happily was moving along. Jess and I had collaborated on projects together in the past, and I heard that she was leaving her job at the agency she worked at. I reached out and we met up in April 2017 and discussed projects and next steps.

That day will always be pivotal to me. We just made such an amazing team together. We could take on more work, explore other services and really go at this company with both of us contributing. This is where Green Monkey Creative came along. Thurgood and White seemed so ‘stuffy’ and not us.

I had used a little green monkey in some of my marketing and we wondered how we could keep him. Well, after many domain searches (yes it really can be that difficult), greenmonkeycreative.com was not taken and it all came together. Our Monkey got a facelift and here he is today!

green monkey open house with sylvia jones

The next logical step was a partnership – and here we are today! Did we think we were going to have an office this soon after signing a partnership agreement in September? No! But here we are, running our agency at full-tilt.  Earlier this year, we were also awarded a $5,000 Grant from the Orangeville Small Business Enterprise and pretty much used all of it up getting our office open at 28 Mill Street (Mill Street Mall), Unit 108. (Thank you board members for your amazing grant!).

We would like to thank Sylvia Jones, MPP Dufferin Caledon for presenting us with a plaque and Mayor Jeremy Williams and council for also welcoming us to Downtown Orangeville. Joe Sammut, the President of the BIA and the Ellen Sinclair and Mark Jamieson for all your support during our journey.

green monkey in orangeville open house

For Jess and I, it still feels so surreal that we are here, right now, with our new office and our amazing roster of clients.

But most of all – thank you to everyone who ever believed and supported us. We look forward to supporting all the businesses in and around Dufferin County.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart (and Jess’)

Julie

PS. View more photos from our open house: CLICK HERE >

Photos: Jim Waddington

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I don’t know about you, but I am wondering how we are already at the end of January – wasn’t Christmas last week? Alas, we are well into 2018 and hopefully you have reviewed 2017 and are ready to make some tweaks and even some big changes when it comes to your content marketing and social media.

Social Media marketing and content marketing are very powerful tools for businesses. It is so imperative for businesses to be playing in this field as it is part of their consumers every day life! How many times have you checked your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc in the last 15 minutes? (The answer should be none since you are reading this article….)

What’s New in 2018

Before I even get into the known trends for 2018, I want to address the news coming from Facebook. I wanted to share the news, but I wasn’t sure how to tell my clients that “Hey, all that money you spend on social media marketing – well…..” At first glance you may think that Facebook is punishing businesses and plan on making it harder for them to reach their consumers. But I really don’t think it is that at all.

What it looks like from the outside, is that Facebook wants to make sure it is bringing better content to your newsfeed. I too, am tired of all the ads and business posts that take up my newsfeed (that I have not “liked” or interested in), meanwhile one of my friends got engaged, another had a baby but all I knew is that Gap had a sale and some overseas clothing company was selling fake goods……

Is Facebook going to really end the success that businesses have had on social media? Heck no! They make too much money from businesses. I think you will need to spend more money on advertising and ensure that your are sharing quality content instead of multiple posts kills the newsfeed. Does that make sense? Hopefully it does, but please remember this is my assumption.

Trends to Expect in 2018

Back to the reason I am here…..2018 trends.

Twitter really suffered in 2017 with little to no growth – don’t worry, it is still alive and breathing, but I think we will see some big changes with regards to this social media channel.

We have seen some notable changes from the other big guys like Facebook and Instagram. Some of the new players to keep your eye on will be LinkedIn (maybe it will be more than just a job recruiting site and those sharing all that they know). Snapchat will bring some competition to the market and they better put their best-game face on because they are evolving and growing so fast that they may not stop.

Some other things to watch and take into consideration while you are planning:

Less Organic Reach – businesses are going to be very selective of where they spend their advertising dollars and ensure they are on the right platforms for their business. (Again, this comes from the recent Facebook news…but please don’t panic yet.)

Videos – According to research done by Kenshoo, spending on social video increased 130%!!!  But keep in mind that now everyone wants to do video because of this trend and it will become saturated.  Relevant content and making sure you post it in the right social media platform must be considered.  Video is not cheap!

Instagram Stories – it is really going to take off in 2018.  And those who have over 10,000 followers are going to be able to put links in their post (which is a first for Instagram!).

Overall, I think the saying “Keep it simple, stupid”, will really ring true for 2018.  Getting back to the basics and not all that fancy stuff will also make for a successful marketing campaign.  You don’t have to do it all…just do it. Play in the sandbox and have fun!

– Julie
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2017 brought a lot of change in the world of social media. Although we can’t predict exactly what 2018 will bring, we can prepare your marketing plan and allow it to adapt to change.

social media trends 2018

BIGGEST CHANGES FROM 2017

The launch of the ‘Live Video’ has been an exciting way to interact with users in real time through Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter’s “Go Live” feature. We also saw new technology, like virtual and augmented reality, propelling us into the future of social media marketing.

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WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018?

More live video.

Build a stronger brand personality and engage with their customers in real time! Live Video has now been built into all of the common social media networks. A study from Livestream found some very compelling reasons why brands should find ways to engage with their audiences through live video. Here’s what they found.

  • 80% of people would rather watch a live stream video from a brand they follow than read that brand’s blog.
  • 82% of people would rather watch a live stream video from a brand they follow than read a social media post.
  • People spend an average of 2.8 minutes watching standard videos, yet they spend 5 minutes on live streams.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has the potential become an exciting marketing tool and reinvent the way marketers share information, demo products, and engage audiences.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality now enables marketers to alter their customer’s real-life experiences. Snapchat was one of the first networks to adopt augmented reality into their platform. It started off organically with users seeing dancing hotdogs and their bitmojis dancing around. The most recent update allows brands to use the AR experience for paid lenses! Really the possibilities are endless but we see this being huge for events or in store use.

Disappearing Content

Vanishing content has a certain appeal to customers who fear missing out on special deals or exclusive content. Brands are now leveraging this type of content to drive urgency and action from their audience. Where do you see this now? Instagram stories! We love using stories for many of our clients when they have an event, sale, special or sneak peaks. This also adds more of that ‘real’ aspect which is the underlying message in all of the trends we are seeing for 2018.

Social Messaging Change

Your social message MUST provide value. There must be a point and some type of importance in EACH post you share. Keep it relevant & straight forward. Get to the point. You have less than 8 seconds to grab the attention of your viewer, make it count

Facebook live

PLAN FOR 2018

Before you plan your marketing you need to know the essentials:

Social Media Goals

Why does your business need a social presence? What are you hoping to achieve?

Here are some examples of common social media goals:

• Increase exposure and brand awareness
• Increase exposure and brand awareness
– How social can help: Impressions, Reach & Followers
• Increase brand engagement
– How social can help: Engage your audience with likes, comments & shares
• Generate new leads
• Drive web traffic
• Grow revenue

Organic Tactics

Using free tools provided by the social networks to share posts, respond to customers, and interact with your social community.

• Share events or sales to other local community pages, events or groups.
• Build your following by following influencers and accounts on Instagram & Twitter.
• Research and use key hashtags that your audience uses!
• Share blog posts.
• Reward your customers, run contests, sales or giveaways.
• Customer reviews.

Paid Tactics

• Reflect and audit your 2017 social content, try to identify your most effective content pieces.
• Think of ways you can retarget or update your content to ensure that what you share on social is reaching your target market through the right channels.
• Boost posts with minimal text that are performing well.
• Know your audience. If you want to reach a larger audience base you need to know and understand how your audience talks, what they like, where they live, where they play and times they are active so you can target the right audience in your paid ads.
• Target your existing customer base.
• Target people who have completed a specific CTA.
• Target recent customers or your most engaged audience.

 2018 is almost here, and it’s time to evaluate your social media approach and marketing strategy. Digital marketing trends are constantly changing, make sure you keep up with these trends to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

-Jess
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I don’t know how many times I am asked, “Can you measure ROI when it comes to social media?”.  Yes, and you should. We want to share with you a successful social media campaign we recently did for a golf course located outside of the GTA: Shelburne Golf & Country Club.

Shelburne website design

 

We were approached in February 2017 to plan and execute all social media for Shelburne Golf & Country Club.  Our client, Megan, didn’t have time or the expertise to take on the task of managing their social media.  One of the biggest things that we pride ourselves on, is that we are here as part of your team and to make your life more simple.  Not add to your already busy workload, nor make it complicated.  At all.

So, a couple of things were going on.  Their new website was phenomenal, but how were they going to get the word out and expand their clientele?  Newspaper ads weren’t working.  Radio wasn’t working particularly well.  They knew that they were not executing social media as they should be.  They were relying on automatic postings that also fed into their newsletter.

Goal: Brand Awareness = Sales = Growth

Simple?  Yes.  In less than a year, we have increased their brand awareness.  We focused on golf, weddings, catering and lessons.  We went from zero followers on Instagram to 269 followers.  Facebook’s reach was up 230% within the first month!  Their fans were listening and responding!

The best part?  Sales!  With every event, they have seen an increase in attendees.  Mother’s Day Brunch had a nearly 50% increase in bookings.  For Father’s Day we didn’t discount golf, we built a day package with lunch and a gift and they were booked solid!

Weddings?  Their goal going into 2018 was to at least book 4 weddings.  With some Facebook and Instagram ads alongwith a strong campaign on social media, we have already achieved that goal!  (so you better go book your 2018 wedding so you aren’t disappointed).

Next stage of Shelburne Golf & Country Club?  Update some things on the website, get their wedding marketing materials designed and printed and keep promoting this hidden gem.

Do you know why I say ‘we’ when I mention the successes?  Because it is reflective of what we are doing as a team with our client.  We are part of their team along this journey and we are darn proud to be!

We hope that when you measure your social media success do look beyond just the insights and really get into your sales $$ and how people are responding.  Engaged fans are the best fans.

– Julie
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So when is the best time to post on social media? The obvious answer, “The best times to post on social media are when the people you want to see the content are on the network.”

… So when is that? We have put together a general infographic to show the best times for each platform. Posting during the best times will help you get more traffic, more engagement, and more followers.

Every business is different and the audience will vary so you should still take your own insights into consideration when determining the best times for YOU to post on social.

best times to post on social

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I just returned home from this year’s Design Thinkers in Toronto and had a blast seeing great design & business visionaries like Timothy Goodman, Douglas Davis, Emily Cohen, Emily Oberman, Stephen Gates, Paul Sahre & Jeff Greenspan (to name a few!)

rgd design thinkers event

This year the event was held at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Downtown Toronto. In case you have no idea what this event is, it has been an annual Graphic Design conference for the past 18 years. The event is run by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. The event is basically a creative thinkfest that always leaves me so inspired.

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) is Canada’s only accredited body of graphic designers with a government-legislated title. Earning the RGD title signals quality and competence within the profession.

This past year I earned this recognition which communicates dedication and commitment to the profession. The Registered Graphic Designer (RGD) certification denotes a quality signal to buyers of graphic design services, helping clients distinguish between professional graphic designers who are trained, professional and adhere to the industry code of ethics vs. people with little or no training who offer graphic design services. The RGD vision is for a graphic design profession that is broadly valued for its contribution to life, commerce and society. 

This year the events theme was ‘Perspectives‘. As quoted on page 2 of the handbook,

Some perspectives inspire us. Others challenge us. Yours defines who you are and what you make. Altering your perspective can add dimension to your work and depth to your craft. It can help you see the world from a different point of view. The freedom is yours to make the shift.

rgd sessions 2017

rgd design thinkers 2017

The past two days has left me so inspired, excited about the shift in the design business and (thanks to terrible traffic and a 2 hour commute which should have only taken 1 hour), relieved to back in Dufferin County with a new perspective and insight to inspire new work! This is my second year attending this amazing event, so excited to see what next year brings!

-Jess
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Whether you are a small crafting business or a global corporation your brand should be the most valuable part of your business. Now when I say ‘brand’ I don’t exactly mean ‘logo’… Think of your brand as your company’s personality and your logo is your appearance.

branding-orangeville

So What Exactly is a ‘Brand’?

It is everything… well to be more specific, your brand is essentially how your customers perceive you. The emotions they connect with your business. It encompasses your company’s mission, product or services, customer service, the quality and value of your product or services, the voice of your company and appearance across all touchpoints in print and online.

What Are The Benefits of a Strong Brand?

A well developed and designed brand is valuable, credible and trustworthy. It also helps to promote recognition to loyal customers. Word of mouth is still the #1 sales tool for many businesses – once you have earned your customers loyalty they become your brand ambassadors and share your name with their friends, family and even strangers!

What Makes a Brand a ‘Strong’ Brand?

A ‘good’ brand should:
• Clearly deliver your mission statement
• Confirm your credibility
• Trigger an emotional reaction from your customer
• Motivate a sale (but please, don’t be too pushy… no one likes to be sold to)
• Creates user loyalty
• Be consistent throughout ALL touchpoints (logo, stationery, website, social, print etc.)

Questions to Ask Yourself:

• Does your brand relate and speak to your target audience?
• Does it share what is unique about what you offer?
• Is your voice, messaging and design consistent across all touchpoints?
• Does it reflect your values you want to share with your customers?

If the answers are not clear you may want to take a step back and refine your branding.

Have You Established a Strong Brand?

Branding can be confusing but by now I hope you realize that your brand is the foundation of your company. It enables you to align a marketing plan with your brand objectives and fulfill an overarching strategy… but how do you create a good brand?

Well, we suggest you start with a business plan, or at the very least craft your companies mission, vision and values and know your audience and your unique selling proposition (USP).

What We Can Do For You?

When we meet with a client who is passionate about their brand, it excites us! We spend a great deal of time getting to know our clients and start each project with a brand discovery to get a full understanding of your company values and goals.

If you do it right the first time, you avoid a rebrand when you change your mind next year. Expert design and marketing advice is why our clients contact us and that is what we deliver. Let us help you communicate your brand essence through all relevant touchpoints!

-Jess

 

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Who Owns Your Domain & Hosting?

When you set up your website you paid the previous web guy for your domain registration, you pay them annually for hosting, your website is live… but do you actually own it? The unfortunate and surprising answer may be no.

We ran into this recently with a new client of ours…. the sad fact is that this happens too often and we honestly said ‘Ack! Not again…seriously…not again.’

laptop with website

I hang my head when I am talking to a new client and they tell me that their domain name was registered by their designer.  WHAT?  (Designers/web peeps please listen as well…..).  Never, ever, EVER should your domain name or even your hosting be registered to anyone else other than YOU!

That is right.  Walter the Web Guy that you had design your webpage years ago registered your domain, your hosting and heck, even your premium website templates.  And where the heck is Walter the Web Guy now?  Out of business?  Or you no longer speak to Walter the Web Guy, so he isn’t about to give you what you need.

Our #1 Rule

If we had one rule of thumb to ANY business, big or small, please, please make sure your domain name, hosting, premium template elements are in YOUR name!  I can’t say it enough.  And after you are done reading this,  you are going to email your amazing Walter the Web Guy and tell him that you need to transfer all your digital assets to your name now.  Like right now.  Like go.

Why Is This SO Important?

Well, glad you asked! If you want to make changes to your website and don’t have access to your domain and host information…. you can’t. You could completely lose access to a domain, website and emails you have invested in, a domain name you have added to all of your marketing assets and has possibly become part of your branding. If you have a great relationship with the company or person who registered this for you then you likely won’t run into a big issue… the headache starts when that relationship breaks down and they go MIA – which sadly is a reality.

This is one reason why Green Monkey Creative encourages clients to register their own domains and hosting. We completely understand that the process can seem complex for non-technical people, and we’re happy to help you do it!

Who Owns My Stuff?

Domain

Don’t know who your domain name is registered to?  Head  over to whois.com  and have a look.

Hosting

If you don’t receive a hosting invoice at all, check if it is even in your name and if that isn’t, get it moved over.  From the bottom of my heart, please do this.

Other Digital Assets

Also, your digital assets don’t just end there.  Don’t forget about these:

  • Online accounts registered to your business (like your hosting)
  • Online store that you manage (etsy, ebay, etc)
  • Mailing lists, newsletter subscriptions (Mail Chimp, Constant Contact)
  • Social media accounts (everything you own should have you as an admin or you have the recent login creds….)
  • Online storage accounts (Dropbox, Google Drive)

Now that you have some organizing to do with your digital assets, I am going to try and figure out how to get these domains for my client, as her Walter the Web Guy is MIA.

– Julie
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The founders of Thurgood Marketing and Spring Studio have a HUGE announcement – the two companies have joined forces and are now operating as Green Monkey Creative!

The founding partners are Julie Thurgood of Thurgood Marketing and Jess Holder-White of Spring Studio. Both partners bring an extensive amount of marketing and design knowledge to the company, and like all successful creative partnerships, Jess & Julie create the perfect balance of design and marketing.

Over the past few months, many of you have expressed your support for this combination. We appreciate your shared excitement and confidence in our skills and services.

For Green Monkey Creative, our goal is to make it easy to help YOU achieve your goal. Our full-service strategic creative solutions cater to small to large businesses in a wide variety of sectors.

Don’t know what you need? Don’t have a marketing department? This is where we come in. We will evaluate your marketing needs and work with you to accomplish your marketing goals – even if it gets done in stages!

We truly believe good design & marketing is good for business and are incredibly excited about the future and what this merger can offer our valued clients.

Thank you for your continued support!

-Jess & Julie