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  • 10 Essential Elements of Brand Storytelling

    Brand storytelling existed long before the rise of social PR. Even in the earliest days of marketing, branding was as much about telling stories and creating a connection with your audience as it was about the hard sell.

    But since the rise of social media and modern SEO, brand storytelling has changed: Now, it’s all about connecting your audience with one another. It’s about being real and accessible, rather than bragging. It’s about using all of the new media opportunities at your disposal to show, rather than tell.

    In short, crafting a compelling narrative around your company is essential for drawing in new readers online and helping to turn them into loyal users. But how do you get started?

    Thanks to marketing guru Pam Moore’s “Social Zoom Factor” podcast, here are ten of the essential elements to shaping your brand story:

    1.) Be You, Be True

  • 10 Ways to Write Better EmailsDigital communication is at the forefront of our society. We post messages on Facebook, we shoot out texts, and... we email.

    In fact, according to WhoIsHostingThis.com, business correspondence alone accounts for over 100 billion emails sent and received each day.

    In the workplace, it is has become a very common practice to substitute an email in place of a face-to-face interaction with a client or a phone call. 

    Because of this, more and more business professionals are sending emails to people they've never actually met in real life. Emails become the new "first impression" and can make or break your budding relationship with a prospective client.

    These same ideas hold true for marketing emails as well (like newsletters, offer emails, event invitations). Every digital interaction you have with your pool of subscribers, whether or not they are long-time customers or newly curious prospects, is an important one. It creates a lasting impression about how you'll be communicating with them in the future. These impressions make the difference between closing a deal and losing one.

    Learning to write better emails enables you to build better relationships with your prospects. Here are the top 10 ways you can start writing better emails, as recently suggested by WhoIsHostingThis.com in an infographic.

    1. Use a Better Email Address

    Your email address is your business identity. While an @gmail.com address may be fine for the average person, you can do better as a business owner.

    Use Google Apps for Businesses to link your @gmail.com address up with your own domain name (i.e. @geekchicago.com).

    1. Use Google Apps for Businesses
    2. At Sign Up, choose "Use a Domain I already own."
    3. Enter the domain name.
    4. Create the account, accept the terms, and sign up.
    5. Start the domain verification process with the "Start Setup" button.
    6. Change the MX (mail servers) to Google's services.
    7. When confused, reach out to your host (or your local Geek!) for help getting the information you need.

    Why do this? Linking your email address with your domain name creates an improved air of professionalism. Wouldn't you rather interact with a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. than a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.? The first email address appears to stem from a professional organization, while the latter appears to be stem from a personal address.

    2. Keep Subject Lines Short and Sweet

    Did you know that 35% of email recipients choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone?

  • Ho, ho, ho!

    It’s that time of year again. The air has turned cold, sleigh bells are jingling, presents are being put into stockings with care… We could go on, but you probably get it!

    It’s the holiday season, which means that the man in the big red coat will soon be flying around the world with his trusty reindeer, delivering presents (and a few lumps of coal) to kids everywhere.

    And while some of our adult readers may have stopped believing in Santa Claus, there’s still something about his spirit that’s downright infectious – particularly for digital marketers! Don’t believe us? Well, it’s true!

  • SEO. You know it stands for “search engine optimization.” You know it’s about securing the top spot on Google search results. You know that lots of businesses of all sizes have used it to generate traffic, secure leads, and make sales.

    That’s a lot to know – but it’s not the whole story.

    Recognizing this, lots of business owners search out information on SEO, whether online or in conversations with digital marketing professionals. This is an important first step if you’re deciding whether SEO is right for your brand, and we applaud anyone who’s doing it!

    But here’s the thing: Sitting down with an SEO pro is a little like visiting a doctor. It’s vital that you’re honest and realistic about everything. And, above all, your future success may come down to knowing the right questions to ask.

    Wonder no more! Here’s some insight into three major SEO questions you may be too nervous to ask:

    “Is the Field of SEO Changing?”

  • 3 Signs You're Ready for Digital Marketing (Source: pexels.com - used as royalty free image)

    James Soto is one of the leading voices in the industrial marketing sector, so when he offers a few pearls of wisdom online, it never hurts to listen.

    Soto recently penned a fascinating post for Hubspot, all about helping marketers identify when a brand is or isn’t ready to invest in marketing. His advice is interesting, and, in our experience, spot on.

    But we pride ourselves on our connectedness here at Geek; we believe that marketing is a multi-step process that requires both the close collaboration of the brand and the full commitment of our marketing team. Like Soto, we recognize that the decision to go with a marketing firm isn’t a one way street. It’s a big decision that requires a lot of trust, and ultimately, it has to come from the brand itself, based on any number of factors.

  • You've heard it before, from us -  Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms around, and a fun, low-pressure way to expand the reach of your social marketing campaign.

    With more than 400 million monthly active users, Instagram is one of the best places for your brand to diversify its content and broaden your reach.

    With the right strategies in place, Instagram can become one of your top marketing tools to grow a bigger, more engaged client base. But what’s the right way to use it for your business?

    Here are three strategies that will help you attract clients, increase sales, and give your business major Insta-results:

    Provide Exclusive Content

  • We're well in to our new year, and we're well into a new game of Search Engine Optimization. Yes indeed, it's time for companies to buckle down and tackle the ever-changing search world to ensure their websites show up when someone searches for their target keywords.

    While there are, of course, hundreds of SEO strategies you can use to improve your website SEO, we've chosen these 4 SEO tactics (with the help of Hubspot's recent article) as new ones you can use to start your 2015 strategy off right. Here are 4 SEO tactics you may not be using yet.

    1. Embrace Google Hummingbird and Skip Meta Keywords

    With Google Hummingbirds's new algorithm, search engines are no longer valuing pages with targeted keywords. Now, Google effectively knows what your webpage is about. It knows your page topics, how unique the content is, and if it is of high quality.

  • 4 Reasons Why You Should Consider the Podcast

    Chicago is famous for many reasons, but more recently it garnered attention not for a museum or restaurant, but a podcast. Serial, produced by the Windy City’s own WBEZ, took the United States on a wild ride via weekly podcast posts that discussed a murder, the victim, and the offender’s alleged mistrial. (Seriously, if you haven’t listened, do so now.)

    Per CNN, more than 40 million listeners downloaded the podcast last year, creating a tipping point for podcast producers and entering this medium into the mainstream.

    Content marketers should learn from this frenzy. Podcasts are a multitasking platform that allow people 20-60 minutes to listen to you weekly, and they could be a great way to bring in the storytelling element that your current content is missing. Here’s why you should consider the "low-cost, low-risk" podcast when planning out your digital marketing strategy:

    1. Podcasts Are “Push” Audio Content

    “Push” content is like a digital newsletter. As soon you produce this form of content, it reaches a targeted audience made of those who want to engage with your content - a “push.” Podcasts offer something different from newsletters, however, in that they are intended for listening on the move. All your listeners need is a smartphone or MP3 player to subscribe.

  • 4 Tips For Avoiding Copyright Infringement

    Let's say you're walking through your neighborhood on the way to a friend's house. It's her birthday, but you haven't had a chance to pick up a cake or presents. (It's not that you forgot - It's just that Netflix dropped the newest season of Orange is the New Black one day early, and, well, things came up.) 

    You're coming up with an apology when you walk past an open window where a pie is cooling off. It smells so good, and you know it would make your friend's birthday so special. You look to your left and then to your right. You reach up into the window and make sure the pie pan isn't too hot. It's just warm enough to lift it off of its perch. "Oh, it's nothing," you rehearse to yourself as you grab the pie and run. "It's a family recipe. My grandmother brought it over with her from the old country. Did you know that the crust takes six hours to make?"

    In reality, you probably would never take a dessert out of someone's window and then pretend like you made it to impress a friend. But, would you use an image that you didn't create in order to make an impress your blog followers? Copyright infringement can feel like a grey area in today's world of digital and visual marketing, but here are some strategies to help you get a fair piece of the pie.

    What Is Copyright? 

  • In today’s media landscape, content is king. It’s vital for everything from maximizing search engine optimization to getting free shares on Facebook and Twitter.

    How can you make sure your content is as effective and accessible as possible? A lot of your blog’s success comes directly from the language and voice that you use.

    Here are a few ideas that will help you speak to your readers, rather than above them:

    1. Use Language Your Audience Knows

  • 5 Big Predictions for the Next 5 Years of Digital Marketing

    One of the great things about digital marketing is that it’s a field that’s always evolving – sometimes so incrementally that you barely even notice, sometimes in sweeping leaps that make it feel like the whole world has turned upside down.

    What do the next few years hold for SEO, social media, and content marketing? Here are five big predictions worth keeping in mind for the next five years of digital marketing:

    A Complete Restructuring of SEO

    SEO is an ever-changing beast, and the next three to five years promise some of the most dramatic shifts to ever hit search engines, as a result of a few major advancements.

  • 5 Exciting Changes Coming to Content Marketing

    You might be familiar with this famous misquote from Charles Holland Duel, the commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office from 1898 and 1901: 

    Everything that can be invented has been invented. 

    Of course, as you sit (or stand) and read this from your smartphone and tablet, maybe from the backseat of an Uber ride or in the cabin of an airplane, you know that this concept is laughably untrue. 

    And, like the rest of the world, content marketing is in a constant state of revision and reinvention. The marketplace's continued transition into online platforms hands out opportunities for marketers to log in and creatively meet digital demands. 

    Once you get to know digital marketing, you can begin to anticipate and prepare for its changes. Here are five huge changes to content marketing that will affect the way you engage with leads: 

    1. Seeing is Believing - Visual Content

  • 5 Golden Rules of Mobile Website Design (Source: http://pixabay.com/en/woman-smartphone-chatting-girl-410320/)

    Did you know that 80% of Internet users are using their smartphones to search online?

    Did you know that Google plans to use mobile friendliness to rank websites?

    Creating a fantastic mobile website experience for your prospective clients is more important now than it has ever been. This algorithm change from Google will affect 40% of mobile search inquiries - a massive amount compared to the measly 12% which the former Panda updated impacted.

  • 5 Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn from Politicians

    The goals of new small businesses often share some common components - Provide a great product or service, market that product of service, and build a loyal following.

    As it turns out, the needs of great political leaders often fall under these same categories. Their great product? Their political platform. Their marketing? Their campaign and presence on media. Their loyal following? Those that will vote for them come election time. 

    Thankfully, these similarities provide small businesses a great source of opportunity to learn how to better their own practices. We've learned a great deal from our political clients over the years, and they're not so different from the small- to medium-sized businesses with which we work.

    Here are 5 lessons we can learn from our politicians:

    1. Have a clear platform

  • 5 Lessons We Can Learn About Social Media from NASA (Source: pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

    Here at Geek, we’re always looking up at the stars and dreaming about the future… of web development and digital marketing. But there are plenty of other people who look to the stars and see adventure, opportunity, and science’s next cutting edge.

    The astronauts, analysts, technicians, and public relations teams at NASA aren’t just inspiring because they’re exploring the “final frontier” of space – they inspire us because of the way that they’re bringing back those discoveries and sharing them with those of us who are still stuck here on earth.

    Recently, Loren Grush of The Verge held a fascinating interview with Jason Townsend and John Yembrick, two of the three social media leads at NASA headquarters, about what it’s like to help operate the organization’s 510 accounts across 14 platforms.

    So, what can earthbound social marketers learn from NASA? To put it in really scientific terms: tons! Here are five major pieces of wisdom from NASA’s social media team that you can put to work for your brand today:

    1.) Use Multiple Channels to Share Your Content

  • 5 Reasons Not to Use a Free Website Builder (Source: pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

    We have reached a point in business where the importance of having a website for a company of any size is pretty much universally understood. In today's digital landscape, it is simply "the cost of doing business." Despite this, however, many business owners balk at the idea of investing money on website design.

    To a certain extent, this reluctance does make sense. Investing in a custom site seems like a sizable chunk of change upfront, especially for start-ups, where money can be spread exceptionally thin.

    At this point in the decision-making process, many small business owners decide to self-design a website using a free website builder, like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, as a way to cut costs in the short term. Unfortunately, this decision has come back to haunt many small businesses in the long term, due to hidden costs, loss of ownership, perceived lack of professionalism, and poor functionality.

    Don't let it happen to you! Take control of your site now, and enjoy the benefits down the line. Need some convincing? Here are five big reasons you should avoid free website builders altogether:

    1. You don't own your site

  • 5 Reasons You Need to Use Social Media to Boost Your SEO (Source: Pixabay CC)

    With more than 74% of internet users logging into social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter on a regular basis, social media needs to be a top priority when addressing your SEO issues (Pay lots of attention to Facebook- 71% of adults have profiles on this behemoth website). While it might take a while to get acquainted with these internet offerings, social media can be an invaluable method of reaching your target audience. Here are our top 5 reasons why you need to update your status, freshen up your Facebook copy, and hashtag the workweek away! 

    1. It's Not Just About Google

    The social media boom came along with something equally as important: the birth of the social search. The internet is changing the way people research products and services. (Maybe you looked up last night's restaurant on Yelp instead of consulting a Zagat guide). The numbers don't lie. Twitter searches hit 1.6 billion in 2011, while Facebook rakes in about 1 billion per day. Your leads are out there - Give them a chance to look you up and 'like' you before the conversation begins. 

  • 5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes It's Time to Stop Making

    Social media marketing is an invaluable tool for reaching new audiences and retaining your existing ones. It has a nearly unlimited capacity to generate referral traffic, improve your SEO efforts, generate and convert leads, and create positive buzz around your brand.

    Of, course, there’s a “but:” To see the amazing benefits of social marketing, you need to know how to do it correctly. Whether you’re looking to fine-tune an existing social campaign or launch a new one, here are five huge social media marketing mistakes to avoid:

    Having Unclear or Inconsistent Messaging

    Before you begin to market on social media, it’s important that you know a few things, including:

    • Your brand messaging (Who are you? What are you marketing?)
    • Your audience (Who are you marketing to?)
    • Your goals (Why are you using social media marketing?)

    You may be surprised (or not) to learn that many brands get started on social media without a clear vision or goal in mind; it’s important that you narrow your focus and understand what you’re trying to achieve, so that you can actually work towards it.

  • 5 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Referral Traffic

    In terms of inbound marketing for your site, we tend to talk about traffic in two major ways: either as organic traffic, or referral traffic.

    Broadly speaking, organic traffic is best categorized as the clicks that come from users who find your site directly from a Google or Bing search. Referral traffic, then, refers to the visitors who come to your page through any site other than a major search engine.

    For your site to truly generate value and help your brand achieve its strategic goals, it’s important to have campaigns in place to drive in both organic and referral traffic. Unfortunately, we see many too many people who tend to focus on the former at the expense of the latter, not realizing that SEO and referrals are deeply interconnected.

    Referral traffic is, indeed, a key part of “off-page SEO:” The more trustworthy sites that link to your pages or content, the more the search engines value your content. The more that Google and its ilk trust and recognize your content, the higher they prioritize it on search engine ranking pages (SERPs). Consistent, steady referral traffic, then, will also net you more organic traffic down the line.

  • Facebook’s algorithm has been changing – and it’s all anyone who cares about social media marketing seems to be talking about!

    (Well, that, and all of the major social media PR crises and data privacy issues that have seemingly dominated the news cycle in 2018.)

    For marketers – and brands who rely on Facebook to reach new audiences, retarget their existing clients, and build up loyal followings – Facebook has long been king. Next to Google, it’s the largest digital marketing platform by a wide margin, soaking up more attention (and ad dollars) than just about anywhere else on the internet.

    As such, many businesses who want to expand their outreach online find themselves having to play by Facebook’s rules, even when it comes to marketing on other social networks, like Twitter and Instagram. And those rules just seem to keep changing.

    The Ever-Changing Facebook Algorithm

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).