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7 signs that your website design is out of date

(MARKETING) Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past?

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Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past? Here are 7 things to consider about your design style:

1. Sans serif or not? With 4K in full effect, serif types are coming back into vogue. A serif typeface is one with small lines attached to the end of a letter.

Sans serif typefaces, those without those small lines, were introduced for readability on mobile devices which used to have much lower resolution.

2. Are you constantly changing colors to keep up with trends? Although the “best” color for marketing changes annually, it’s not really about what color you use. It’s about consistent design with color saturation.

3. Where do you work? Sitting at a desk waiting for inspiration is a thing of the past. Get out in the world and work on your tablet to enhance your ideas and take pictures to bring more elements into your design.

4. What’s your perspective? Look through your social media account and look for variety in your photos and posts. Find a new angle for photos and text to give more interesting content.

5. Are you using trends to brand your company? Coloring books have been the hot ticket item in 2016 and 2017, but the population has already moved on to the next thing, so why would you hop on an old trend and send out branded coloring books?

Use trends in marketing, but not for branding.

6. What’s your design style? Flat design is a trend that is going by the wayside. Get one step ahead by using elements to add depth to your site.

7. Do your templates look like templates? WordPress is great for small businesses, but when you use one of the templates without any customization, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Spend a few dollars and get some help implementing your own images and graphics to fully adapt your site.

This assumes that your site has already been on the cutting edge. We’re still seeing a number of small businesses who don’t have much content about their business.

Having a website is vital in today’s economy, and even if you’re the only one in your community that provides your service or product, you cannot expect to stay on top by just having a minimal website.

Make it a part of your marketing strategy to update your site weekly and keep your customers engaged.

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Real Estate Marketing

Craft the perfect cold email with these simple, awesome templates

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Struggling with inspiration to write those intro emails? These free cold email templates can make growing your business a whole lot cooler.

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Woman seated on ground writing cold email to clients.

Entrepreneurs and digital marketers, you’ve all been there – staring blankly at your computer screen, waiting for the Muse of Marketing to smack you on the head with the perfect words for a perfectly crafted email introduction.

The struggle to write high-quality, effective cold emails for customer prospecting is a near universal pain point in marketing. Need something to help with the pain?

Behold Hunter’s free collection of best-performing cold-email templates. Their sample emails are a treasure trove of inspiration, nudges and signposts to help when you need to reach someone who may not know you or your business.

To make it easy to find the right templates, you can filter by categories such as sales, SEO, follow-up or networking, then refine it toward your offer or call to action. Want to pitch a guest blog post? Offer a free trial? Ask for help connecting with the right person? Just peruse the site to see what goodies you can use.

If you’re not even sure where to start, take a look at Wordstream’s handy tips for creating a cold-email strategy. If you’re a data person, take in the stats on sales emails that work from Hubspot. But if you need to start out with an even bigger picture, take advantage of Hubspot’s sales prospecting guide.

We’ve got some tips for you, too. Here are some thoughts on how to get the most out of Hunter’s template directory.

Resist the urge to just copy, paste and add your details. You’re not a spammer, right? Don’t waste your time or your prospect’s with bot-speak or boilerplate. Templates are your jumping-off point. Do your research, know who you’re talking to and look for ways to personalize.

Know thy business well before you dive in and start emailing. Even with the perfect template, you can’t write an effective marketing email without defining your most important digital marketing building blocks: customer personas and your value proposition. Know your ideal customers, where to find them and how you can solve a problem for them. Need help? Check out Buffer for how to define a customer persona and Sumo for how to define your value proposition.

Browse the templates for ideas on how to find and engage with prospects. Some examples: Maybe tell them about a broken link on their site and offer better content. Point out a competitors’ negative reviews and say how you can help their company avoid those issues. Notice a question on social media and offer an answer.

Help a fellow cold-emailer out and share what’s worked for you. Hunter invites users to contribute templates from their successful emails. Sharing is digital caring!

Now that you’ve saved time crafting those perfectly worded emails, don’t waste time figuring out where to send them. You can make hunting for prospect emails more efficient with another free tool from Hunter: Business email search and verification. They offer 50 free searches as well as a tiered subscription plan ranging from $49 to $399 per month.

May the Muse of Marketing ever slap you when you need her! But if she’s not cooperating, try out some templates to give her a little nudge.

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Real Estate Marketing

6 logo design trends for 2021 to boost your branding

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Outdated branding can be a big red flag to anyone viewing your website or social media – check these logo trends to improve yours for 2021!

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Logo design sketches being drawn on paper and hands pointing to various designs.

When you click a website or open a marketing email, nothing (and I mean NOTHING) is more discouraging than a sloppy or outdated logo. It’s the first thing a consumer equates to the quality of the goods or services being offered. In short, if your logo looks like it was designed using Windows 95, it doesn’t matter how good your product is – no one’s going to believe you.

Here are 6 current logo aesthetic trends that will give your branding new life in 2021:

1) Minimalist design
A timeless aesthetic. Classy. Clean. Minimalism gives the viewer less to scrutinize and is an easy way to achieve professionalism. The best part is you won’t have to update every couple of years when trends change.

Pro Tip: Try using sans-serif fonts, as well as thin lines and clean geometry

2) Custom Fonts
I LOVE seeing custom fonts. We’re all used to Helvetica, Poppins and – God forbid – Papyrus. When a logo is made with a familiar font, it’s too recognizable – and feels like an 8th grade made it.

Pro Tip: You can go nuts with custom fonts, but make sure to keep it legible. What’s the point of a cool logo if people can’t read it?

3) Gradients
Everyone’s doing color gradients this year (think: the Facebook Messenger app icon). Gradients are eye-catching and make the image appear to be 3-D. They will also certainly not be going out of style in 2021.

Pro Tip: Make sure your selected colors print well before committing to them.

4) Text destruction
Use psychology on your potential consumers! A logo that’s unfinished or has a letter is missing will likely have viewers fixated and try to mentally complete it. This means instant attention on your brand!

Pro Tip: Don’t go over the top – you still want it to be recognizable.

5) Planned chaos
Twisted letters, random geometric shapes, and more! 2021 is a year that is inspiring some out of the ordinary designs that look interesting and sophisticated.

Pro Tip: I keep stressing this but it’s true – have fun with it, make sure it’s understandable, especially for this trend.

6) Balance
On the other side of the spectrum, balanced, orderly logos are trending right now. If you want a symmetrical and clean logo to give your brand a grounded feel, try a balanced approach.

Pro Tip: While they are inherently professional, these kinds of logos can become boring pretty easily. I recommend adding a little zest of some kind to work in tandem with the balanced-ness.

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Real Estate Marketing

Incentivizing recycled materials puts this shoe startup a step ahead

(MARKETING) Thousand Fell integrates sustainability into their brand structure by paying customers back for their recycled shoewear, which they then use to make more shoes.

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Thousand Fell Shoes, a startup incentivizing using recycled materials.

The startup shoe retailer, Thousand Fell, has a line of classic white lace-up and slip-on shoes. Based in New York City, the company was launched by Founders Chloe Songer and Stuart Ahlum last year. But, the brand isn’t just a regular sneaker company. It’s a full-circle economy shoe company that’s creating zero-waste footwear.

According to the company’s website, about 2.4 billion pairs of shoes are sold in the U.S. every year. As many as 97 percent of all shoes will end up in a landfill each year. It takes leather soles about 40 years to decompose in the landfill, and rubber soles take twice as long to decompose. Thousand Fell recognizes that waste is a huge environmental issue and wants to be a part of the solution with its biodegradable footwear line.

The company’s shoes are all made with materials that can either be “biodegraded, recycled to make new shoes, or upcycled into materials for new projects.” The company uses items like recycled rubbers and bottles to make soles, leather-like uppers, and next generation laces. Other ingredients such as aloe vera, coconut husks, and sugar cane are also used to offer a soft-touch feel, stability, support, and comfort.

Thousand Fell’s mission is to be sustainable and to never send another sneaker to the landfill. And to get there, it’s incentivizing its customers to recycle their purchased products. When you’ve worn out your shoes, or simply don’t want them anymore, you can return your shoes to Thousand Fell at no cost.

“Thousand Fell owns the material feeds and covers the cost of recycling, as well as the resale or reintegration of recycled material back into new shoes and the issuance of the $20 recycling cash that is sent back to the consumer once they recycle,” wrote Ahlum in an email to TechCrunch.

In partnership with TerraCycle, customers can easily recycle their purchased products through the company’s “Thousand Fell Recycling Program”. All you have to do is place your shoes in any box you have. You create an account, request a prepaid UPS shipping label, print it, and affix it to the box. Then, you can mail them via UPS. Once your shoes are scanned for return, you’ll receive $20 that can be applied to your next Thousand Fell order.

When the company receives the shoes, they are catalogued, sorted, and broken down to be used to make raw recycled materials

“We create sneakers with a life cycle you can follow—and feel good about,” the company’s website states. By taking a step forward to create a zero-waste product that can be used and reused to create a new one, Thousand Fell is going full-circle and doing just that.

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