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“I don’t think there is a single group of people more driven, motivated, resourceful or courageous than entrepreneurs.”

VISION Marketing & Consulting was created with the small business client in mind. They know how overwhelming and intimidating marketing may seem at times – so they’re here to make it simple.

VISION provides small healthcare practices in the Phoenix-metropolitan area with simplified, effective healthcare marketing solutions to help grow their business. They make the extra effort to listen and learn what makes a business unique in order to present their clients with a customized plan.

MO: Where does your passion for small business come from?

Karen: I wasn’t born into the wealthiest of families, so at a very young age (I believe 12 years old), I began my first job as a teachers assistant for my church to help pay for some of my own things and ease some of the financial pressure off of my family. I quickly developed a strong work ethic and the drive to learn more and do more, and established a growing respect for others who did the same.

As I continued in life, earning my Bachelor’s degree from ASU while simultaneously working two to three jobs at a time, my respect for others with the same drive and work ethic only continued to grow – especially as I began to realize that people with those characteristics were few and far between.

In saying that, I don’t think there is a single group of people more driven, motivated, resourceful or courageous as entrepreneurs – small business owners. As I finished my degree at ASU and realized my love for marketing, I couldn’t imagine a better fit than helping those small business owners see even greater success. They’ve taken a great chance in leaving corporate America and starting their own thing, and I want to support them and help them achieve their goals.

MO: What are some ways that you make the marketing process less overwhelming and intimidating for your clients?

Karen: The most important thing we offer clients, that is overlooked by almost all small business owners, is an opportunity to plan. There are so many ways a business can market themselves, an overwhelming variety of options, planning allows us to organize those options and select what is going to be most effective for their business. Instead of trying everything at once, we can roll out campaigns in an organized and strategic manner, allowing us to evaluate effectiveness and make adjustments when necessary.

In addition to that, we don’t recommend everything. We take a close look at the business goals, budget and current efforts and with these items in mind, only suggest what will truly align most effectively with their business plan. For example, working with healthcare businesses, we aren’t necessarily going to get the biggest bang for their buck by getting deeply involved in Pinterest, even though all of their small business owner friends are raving about it, so instead let’s focus our social efforts on LinkedIn, where they can maintain a social presence but also connect with their key referral sources such as specialty physicians, physical therapists or human resources managers.

MO: Can you share some resources that you think are often either overlooked or undervalued in your industry?

Karen: Working with the small business budget makes us very aware of any free or inexpensive tools available for businesses. Since we are proponents of email marketing as a cost-effective and engaging way to interact with your audience, a tool we often recommend (that most businesses are unaware of) is MailChimp. MailChimp is a free email marketing tool (free up to 2000 subscribers) that is almost entirely customizable and fully capable of being the only tool you need for email marketing. With premade templates, social sharing capabilities, integration tools, drag and drop editing and other features, business owners don’t need to know how to write code or even create design pieces.

Another very important, and often underutilized, tool is Google Analytics. If you have a website, you need to have some sort of tracking installed to know how you are performing, where your visitors are coming from, what keywords are driving traffic, what content visitors are reading, and how they are behaving on your site. Google Analytics is a free resource that allows you to do all of those things and so much more.

MO: Congratulations on being on track to more than double your revenues in your second year of business! What’s been the secret of your success?

Karen: Working hard and having a plan!  Veronica Shaw, my business partner, and I have worked tirelessly to get to where we are today. When times get tough, we stay focused on the solutions, our plan and our future instead of dwelling on the problem and because of this move forward even stronger.

We are always honest and resourceful with our clients, being the eyes and ears for them in everything we do – keeping their success top of mind – and because of this we are fortune enough to have a good reputation in the healthcare industry in Arizona and have seen great success in our word of mouth referrals.

MO: What tips would you give to our readers in need of a social media strategy and unsure of where to start?

Karen: Take your time in researching the options out there. Although you may be anxious to get involved, the more patient you are in evaluating your options the more likely you will be to see success in your efforts. Don’t get involved in all of them – especially if you don’t have time to be involved in all of them. One of the last things you want to do is start a bunch of social accounts and then not follow through with a strong content strategy and engagement. Stagnant, dead sites are only going to hurt your business. With that being said, a quick snapshot of our recommendations for social:

1. Identify which platform(s) you want to focus on based on where your audience and competition are. Take a close look though, your competition may be on Twitter but they may not be getting any engagement from consumers. If this lack of engagement is because your audience isn’t there (and not because your competitor doesn’t have a good strategy) then that may not be the best place to focus your time and energy.

2. Create Editorial Guidelines for your business (so anyone posting on your business’ behalf follows these guidelines and accurately portrays your brand)

3. Create a Content & Posting Strategy to include topic ideas (you can base this on targeted keyword research), themes, posting frequency, post format, etc.

4. Stick with your plan! After you’ve developed these things, stick with them. Consistency is key in getting consumers to recognize, expect and WANT your content. Provide valuable information at set times throughout the week that encourages your customers to engage with you (i.e. ask questions, tell them to share, use polls, etc) and shy away from being “salesy”. Customers come to these social sites to be just that, social. They don’t want to be force fed your sales pitches and if that’s what you’re going to do, they will quickly stop interacting.

MO: What inspired you to initiate a through revamp of your website?

Karen: The website we have up now is the one we created when we first started our business. Although it serves the purpose of getting our information across to clients, it lacks a personal touch and brand personality.

Every day we are making recommendations to clients for online and offline marketing efforts and we need to walk the walk too! We knew our website needed an update, and instead of putting it off (like most small businesses will do), we’ve decided to move forward! The new site will have more engaging visuals, will allow for more interaction and will show who VISION Marketing & Consulting really is!

 

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