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A Year in Our Shoes – HMG’s 2012

Posted on Dec 31, 2012 by Daniel Alvarez

This is typical verbatim around this time of year. And like many of you, we at HMG had a very busy and productive 2012.

Rewind

We began 2012 in unchartered territory- Austin, Texas. Although we had built a solid presence in San Diego over the past 8 years, the opening of a new office in Austin came with just as many unknowns as certainties. We knew Austin was an up-and-coming city with a savvy talent pool. We knew it had some of the best music festivals and startup-related conferences (SXSW). And we knew that we’d be gaining some weight from the scrumptious Mexican food and finger-licking BBQ.

What we didn’t know was just as daunting. Would Austin accept us? Could we be as (or more) successful than we had been in San Diego? But in late 2011 we decided to make the move. Challenge accepted.

Fast Forward

As we look back at 2012 and our move to Austin we can’t help but think of how great the year and the city has been to us. We embarked on a journey that has brought us great reward both personally and as a company. We’ve acquired some unique additions to our team and have worked with some of Austin’s finest businesses.

In honor of the wonderful events that have taken place over the course of 2012, we’ve accumulated a list of our favorite 12. We hope you like them just as much as we do!

Hit Play

January– We kicked off the year with the opening of our Austin location; we cheered to good fortune, friends and rockin’ clients!

February– Founded in 1922, Taylor Linens produces quilts that are made of 100% cotton fabric and batting that are often hand quilted with fine, close stitches.  We provided Taylor Linens with: Custom Email Templates, Printing & Collateral, and Web Development.

March– A good month for several reasons, SXSW and Spontuneous. The first is obvious; SXSW is a 9-day music, film and interactive festival showcasing the nation’s hidden gems. The latter is one of our most eclectic and entertaining clients, Spontuneous. Makers of an award-winning board-game that brings your favorite song lyrics to life.

AprilRetailMeNot rates every single coupon and then orders it by its usefulness.  Every store is then categorized and ordered by its popularity within that category.  Their users ensure that the best deals quickly rise to the top, and expired or superseded coupons quickly drop down the list.  We provided RetailMeNot with Web Development.

MayOneStar Foundation supports the nonprofit sector of Texas and its stakeholders through initiatives that increase civic engagement, research, rigorous evaluation, and nonprofit organizational excellence.  We have provided OneStar with: Branding, Website Redesign and Press Releases.

JuneQuick Fix Stock Charts is an online resource that provides insightful and annotated stock charts while enabling you to make time-sensitive, decisive, money management decisions. We provided QFSC with Branding, Custom Email Templates, Press Release, Printing and Web Design and Development.

July– PrimoDish is a group of developers that love food and thought there needed to be a place where you can easily find the best food around.  We provided PrimoDish with a Website Redesign/UX. (Check out the new website we’re currently building them!)

August– After several months of steady growth we decided to begin a hunt for a stellar Business Development Consultant. We wanted someone who knew the industry and also knew how to build rapport and relationships with the right people. Enter Daniel Alvarez. With over 7 years of experience in sales and marketing, Daniel is our go-to guy for Biz Dev and Social Media Management.

September– There aren’t enough (good) adjectives in the dictionary to describe Stacey Donelan. She is assiduous, determined, creative and absolutely brilliant when it comes to her role as our Social Media Intern. Thanks to her we have built a solid following on our social networks and even created a fun-filled Christmas marketing campaign (see December). Stacey, you’re the best!

October– Every once in a while you stumble upon something so good you just can’t pass it up. In our case, Nick Welp was that hidden gem. His expertise in back-end web development is unparalleled and his knack for perfection paired quite well with HMG’s standards. Nick has helped in creating many custom applications and continues to lead our team of developers into the New Year.

November– As our stomachs prepared for the turkey and dressing coma from a hearty Thanksgiving meal, our developers prepared for an influx of new clients. But from what you say? Not what, who! John Wagner– ultimate selling machine. Hailing from Denver, John touched down in Austin hungry and ready to network. His over 6-year tenure in several managerial sales positions has given John a refined knowledge of B2B sales and project management. We look forward to see what else John has up his sleeve in 2013.

December– In honor of the Holidays and filled with the Christmas spirit, we decided to embark on an HMG-inspired 12 Days of Christmas campaign. Twelve days of absolute holiday giddiness and fun- if you follow us then you saw it. If not, click here for the recap.

The Holidays weren’t the only thing happening at HMG in December. As business demand grew and our list of clients expanded, we were in dire need of a savvy Front-End Designer. And we found just that in Jenn Buch– a West Virginia native, Jenn came to us with a portfolio rivaling our very own. She is not only talented but extremely creative, and our clients LOVE her work. Jenn, thank you for bringing your talents to Austin and more specifically to HMG!

 

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On The Twelfth Day of Christmas, HMG gave to me: Twelve Websites Winning

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 by Daniel Alvarez

Web design has changed exponentially since the advent of web 2.0 in the early 2000’s. What used to be static-only websites have now been replaced with dynamic ones that incorporate many design features including widgets, social plugins and much more. Here are 12 tips to keep in mind when building or rebuilding your website.

1.  Show value– give people a reason to visit your site and keep them there.

2.  What does your website do? Are you informative, are you selling something? Include a call of action and let it be seen on the site!

3.  Simplicity– Keep it simple while still getting your point across.

4.  Myspace is out! That means no blinking text or magic cursors!

5.  Popups– Do I really have to explain this?

6.  Keep the home page accessible. I’ve been to many sites where once I click a link on the navigation bar, I cannot get back to the home page- so frustrating!

7.  Follow in Apple’s shoes and drop Adobe Flash– it’s processor heavy and there’s no place to embed SEO.

8.  I KNOW THIS MAY SOUND DUMB BUT DON’T CAPITALIZE ALL OF YOUR CONTENT.

9.  Speaking of words and content, check your grammar and spelling please!

10.  Use keywords and descriptive text that relates to your business. However, don’t over-embed keywords in your content- keep it natural.

11.  Be accessible, yes add a Contact page and put an email, phone number, something!

12.  Navigation is key! Keep a global navigation bar that allows accessibility to all of your pages.

I know the post reads “12 Tips” but I’m throwing in a BONUS, yay! 

13.  Social media integration- the key to the popularity and national/global success of your website and business.

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On The Seventh Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Seven Shows-a Streaming

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 by Daniel Alvarez

What makes a video go viral? Perhaps it’s the catchy dance-inspired jingle or the tooth biting little brother.  Whatever it is, we can all agree that they have one thing in common: originality. Add in some humor, sex appeal or complete random-ness and you have yourself a Grade-A viral anomaly. Here at Startifacts.com, take a look at seven of our favorite viral videos.

Isaac’s Live Lip-Dub Proposal

I Told My Kid I Ate All Their Halloween Candy Again

Felix Baumgartner

Gangnam Style

Dollar Shave Club presents best electric shaver

Kony

The Dog Strikes Back

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On The Sixth Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Six Birds-a Tweeting

Posted on Dec 18, 2012 by Daniel Alvarez

Twitter is gaining momentum at an alarming rate and more and more businesses are using Twitter to create new revenue, build relationships and solve customer issues. As a Twitter user for both personal and business use, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Below are 6 tips to writing good tweets and getting more followers!

1.  Keep it simple! Probably the most important piece of advice anyone can give you…no one wants to read a novel; especially on a network of fast-moving posts.

2.  Be original. Yes, I know this is trivial but a lot of people forget to use their own thoughts.

3.  Be personal. Bring your followers into your world, show them what YOU are about and make them feel welcome.

4.  Make ‘em laugh. If you can’t come up with anything creative then default to a funny joke, everyone can appreciate a laugh now and then!

5.  In conjunction with keeping it simple, make it catchy at the same time! Use words that define you and intrigue the reader. Separate yourself from the pack.

6.  Hashtags. Another no-brainer in the Twittersphere;  hashtags are to Twitter as SEO is to a solid website.

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Why (social) communication is the key to selling!

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 by Daniel Alvarez

We live in a digital age, the age of communication and instant information. What once took hours, even days to reach people across the globe now only takes a few quick keystrokes and a matter of seconds. But don’t let me bore you with what you already know. What I’m really trying to get at is the fact that, when approached correctly, social networks are viable channels for sales and endless opportunities are within arm’s reach. All sales and business development professionals should consider leveraging this global social trend to broaden their sales funnel or you may one day, find yourself obsolete.

Back In The Day

In our grandparent’s time, business was conducted on a very personal level. The local baker knew what type of bread each family preferred, the butcher began cutting your favorite cuts as soon as he saw you walk through the door, everyone and I mean everyone, knew each other. This was relationship building at its best. Businesses across the globe lost this personal touch as time went on and our world grew a little bigger and busier. Until now.

7 Billion Strong

Yes, our world is no mere village, with over 7 billion inhabitants of planet Earth we are larger and more spread out than ever. Yet, with the advent of social media and its popularity, we have built a global network in which we are all connected; social communities like Facebook , Linkedin and Twitter unite millions of active citizens from all corners of the globe. In addition, smartphones are becoming commonplace in people’s lives allowing interconnectivity with the world whenever and wherever you are. This remarkable and ever-changing technology leads to one thing: communication. And as a business owner, salesperson or marketing executive this is key to reaching a broader audience and more importantly, building a closer relationship with your existing clients and prospects. Learn more about Advanced Telecom Systems to find out its benefits.

Laying The Groundwork

Get to know your social network, it’s great to have 2,000 followers but it’s best to have 200 that you truly know and engage with. Find out about their life, their work and their hobbies. Talk to them as you would a colleague or close friend; let them know you’re listening and that you care about what they have to say. After all, people just want to be heard. This is all part of that “relationship building” I was talking about earlier. So once you build that foundation of trust and friendship, you’ll be more credible when you pitch your business and its services. I say pitch with light reserve as you shouldn’t be pitching your business on social networks- it’s spammy. However, leads don’t always just fall in your lap so use your social network wisely to target specific companies or individuals who could benefit from your product or service. In addition, a humble tooting of your horn from time to time is highly recommended. Design an awesome project that just got posted in the city’s newspaper? Sealed a deal with a major distributor? Your new hire is kicking butt left and right? Toot that horn, baby! You’ll find that not only are people more likely to ‘Like’ and share your post but it also may strike a chord with a reader causing them to pick up a phone and call you directly.

Regardless of what channel you use, never forget that personable, peer-to-peer communication is key. Remember, it’s not about you, your business or your products it’s about your followers, their life and their interests.