Featured Client- Western Bat Specialist

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Featured Client- Western Bat Specialist

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Western Bat Specialists have been an SMS client since March 2014. When Bat Grl first talked with us there were major problems in their AdWords account and website. We dropped everything and worked through the weekend to get them and their phones back up and running/ringing. Today we provide AdWords, SEO, and Website maintenance services for them.

If you have some of these furry little guys flying out of your attic then you need Bat Grl to be your protector. Her secret identity is Rebekah Wright and she works at Western Bat Specialists. Bat Grl and her team provide Bat Removal Services for homes and businesses from Bakersfield to Eureka in Northern California.

They like these little guys and never hurt them but they do perform exclusions from buildings. What we never realized until we worked with Bat Grl is that bats are protected. This means that exclusion from a building cannot happen during the Maternity Season and bats cannot be killed, both actions are illegal. Why would you want to harm them anyways?

Without these cute furry little guys we would have a major insect problem in many communities. No matter how you feel about them, Western Bat Specialist will take care of them for you, the right way.


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New SMS Staff: Marvin Byrd

Marvin

Marvin provides hardware, software, and security engineering services at SMS. The systems side of our business has been working on PPC automation and AdTech Networks like our AuLaCart project and Marvin brings a new depth of geek to our staff. Marvin will also be providing security engineering in both hardware and software to clients.

Marvin graduated from Cal Poly in 2009 as an electronic engineer and has experience in hardware, software, and system security. He worked a couple of year for the DOD out in a desert that he cannot talk about and most recently as a Security Auditor in the private sector. He is a partner in our AuLaCart project and has been our secret to overcoming the engineering challenges of that project. Marvin is a scary smart engineer and is a pleasure to work with.

Marvin will be working with clients to make sure that their networks are secure from Hackers. As we all know system security is a huge concern for all businesses and the attacks can come from hardware, software, or social engineering. Marvin understands each of these threats and knows how to make reasonable recommendations that managers and executives can understand and respond to.

Marvin is an engineer that can move easily from hardware, to software, to security. Marvin also provides engineering consultation on hardware devices and firmware. A few of his current projects are a medical device for a company in the bay area and a WiFi board for RC vehicles.

I first met Marvin in 2004 when he was the team leader for the Arroyo Grande High School Robotics Team and we have kept in touch since then. When the opportunity to work with Marvin presented itself we were very excited to add him to our team.

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Clients in the News

We love it when clients get press coverage. It is the physical world equivalent to a great organic position on an important keyword search.
Liftgator was selected as one of the Top 10 new products at the 2016 World Ag Expo. Justin and his team have really set a new standard for work truck lift gates and it is great to work with them.
Finis was selected as one of the Top 10 Most Organized Brands by Brand Folder. We have worked with the team at Finis since 2010 and they are both well organized and creative so the award is well earned.
Loomis Tank Centers was at the 5th Annual Preparedness Expo, Saturday, March 12, 2016 in the Madonna Expo Center in San Luis Obispo, CA. This will helped educate the community on the use of water storage for residences, businesses, ranches, and farms.

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Featured Client-Loomis Tank Centers

Featured Client-Loomis Tank Centers

Loomis Tanks

Large, small, medium, colossal, tall, short or petite, Loomis Tanks has got you covered! Now that I’ve got your attention. I would like to introduce one of our newest clients, Loomis Tank Centers; we are very pleased and excited to be working closely with Dan and their great staff.

The Loomis family has been in business since 1905, wow that’s a long time! The family business was founded by E.C. Loomis, the great-grandfather of Dan Loomis, whom is the current owner of Loomis Tanks. Loomis has various businesses in our local area, from insurance to feed and supplies. But we are all about the Tanks, queue that one song!

Loomis Tank Center is a wholesale and retail distributor of polyethylene, fiberglass and steel tanks for the storage and transportation of water and the bulk storage and transportation of chemicals and fertilizers. Basically if you need to transport water for Shamu, they have a tank for you!

The experience and knowledge within the Loomis Tank management and long-term staff is unmatched in tank manufacturing and distribution in the US. They make sure their clients are well informed and get the best advice about their tank purchase, which is not as easy as you tank. 😉

They proudly supply storage tanks to various professionals and non-professionals, such as:

  • Contractors
  • Homeowners
  • Farmers
  • Ranchers
  • Industrial Engineers
  • Governments
  • Municipalities

 
7 retail locations in California, Arizona, and Nevada. With over 40 factory direct locations nationwide so that they can offer the best pricing and freight rates possible.

That being said, if you need a septic tank, water tank or storage tanks for chemicals and fertilizers, whether you’re looking for steel, fiberglass or plastic tanks, Loomis Tank Centers has a tank for you! Simply visit them by clicking here.


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Our Adventure in 3D Printing


We absolutely love new technology so when the opportunity to have a 3D printer in the office came along, we jumped on it. For our AuLaCart project we needed a custom case to protect the equipment and 3D printers are great for very small scale custom work.

In printing our first project, the AuLaCart case that is part of our recent patent filing, we quickly encountered our first challenge: just how slow this process can be. In our case the print time was well over 3 days and several of the parts had to be printed multiple times because of warpage. While the finished case looks like only two parts, the reality is that there are 8 parts that have to be ground down and glued together to complete the case.


In the learning process, it was interesting to discover that “solid” pieces are really hollow. When you slice the design from the stl file (design file) to gCode (printer instructions) it automatically fills large areas with a honeycomb structure to give it strength without wasting your expensive supplies. This improves the warpage that can happen when there is lots of material cooling at different rates. This may not sound like a big deal but we quickly found that temperature control is one of the biggest learning curves in 3D printing. Both the extruder and bed of the printer are heated and finding the right temperature settings can take time and a number of failures. The printer that we have is an open design so to control temp we ended up building a really “fancy” enclosure (implied sarcasm) from a cardboard box with a window made of shipping tape. Fancy-3d-Printer-CaseWhile it may not be top of the line, it makes a big difference in the success rate of printing parts.

As we worked with the printer we experimented with various types of different materials such as plastic, polycarbonate, carbon fiber and even a type of wood. The most difficult by far was the polycarbonate, which is best known by the brand name of Lexan. This is a tough material and we never printed a successful part with this. The reason is that the temperature need for this specific material is 310c on the extruder and our printer will only go to about 290. That being said, the material never turned as liquid as we needed and therefor failed every time. Thank heavens, we recently we found a polycarbonate that can be printed from a lower temperature and we finally got a successful print.

One material that was especially interesting was carbon fiber and this material makes some really strong prints. The material itself is stiff and breaks easily from the roll. However once printed this is impressively strong material. To test materials we print small scale rocket ships. When using other materials it was easy to break parts off of the rocket ships however the carbon fiber rocket was nearly impossible to break (unless you are superman strong like my boss Mr. Bob, who was successful in breaking a part of my carbon fiber rocket). Carbon fiber is not the cheapest material you can print with, but if your print needs to stand up it is a good choice.

So far, our only production work has been the AuLaCart case and, because of the size, it was printed in 8 pieces and had to be glued together. 3D printing is not as accurate as conventional machining of a part so when it comes time to fit parts there is a fair amount of hand work on anything with tight tolerances. In our case, all the edges that were to be glued had to be flattened to get an edge that would glue properly and result in the right size of the final part. The printed surface is rough and needs to be treated if you want smooth surfaces. The only surface that gets a smooth surface is the one that attaches to the printing bed so you might want to consider that when you position the piece for printing.

The bottom line with 3D printing is that it is a very cool and interesting technology that works best when hot. We are now discussing ways that this new ability might be beneficial to our clients so if you have a thought for using 3D printing in marketing, please let us know.


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Why I do crazy things

start up weekend team

Over the weekend of January 15-17th I participated in the Startup Weekend at Cal Poly. As crazy as it sounds this was my sixth Startup Weekend! A Startup Weekend is a global 54-hour long competition to create new businesses. According to the organizing group, 12% of the teams at a Startup Weekend will continue to pursue their idea after the Weekend is over and locally we have dozens of new businesses that include a Startup Weekend in their story. In this event 107 really smart and motivated individuals came together to pitch ideas, form teams, build plans, and present them to the world.

As the CEO of a successful, 20-year-old, digital marketing business an obvious question might be why would I burn an entire weekend to work on a new business? There are actually several reasons that this is important to my business. These events contain many of the people that will go into our communities and launch businesses; as a marketing company I have to be prepared to serve them and help them go to market. The bottom line is that it is tough to partner with people you do not understand.

First are the ideas

Innovation is a critical part of running any business and the longer the business has been around the more challenging innovation becomes. The Startup Weekends are nothing if not innovating. By being at the event I got to listen to the ideas of 100+ smart people pitching 60+ ideas. If your business needs to think about what’s next, this certainly provides a wealth of information to consider. I have been in hundreds of brainstorming meetings within businesses and I have never seen so many ideas generated in such a short period of time. The second phase of the ‘idea generation’ process is a crowd selection process that allows each person to choose their top 3 business ideas with no bias. Once this is done the top 12 ideas move forward to the next phase.

Next are the Teams

After pitches and crowd selections comes the team formations; 107 people rapidly divide and evolve into 12 teams in about 10 minutes. Some may think that this would result in a number of dysfunctional teams but amazingly it does not! This is because those who are attracted to this event all want to innovate and change the world which requires a certain type of person.In addition, the crowd was balanced by the event registration which controlled the mix of business, design, and engineering talent in the room. The end results were 12 teams, each with a reasonable balance to them. In our team we had 3 business persona’s and 2 developers with a goal of reinventing the retail checkout experience.

Next are the Plans

With the teams in place the hard work begins and here we experience the typical business evolution. We started with one concept but ran into problems that nobody had thought of before. In response, we pivoted and changed the idea again and again. This happened three times over the second day but, unlike in a normal business, there was no friction simply because everyone had expected to have to pivot the idea in the first place. Just imagine, a frictionless change process in a business! That truly is what happens and it is because of the expectations and the types of people attracted to the event. Almost every team went through one or more pivots before the team gelled around a refined idea that had 100% buy-in from the entire team. When you have this harmony amazing things can happen.

Next Tell all your friends about your Goals

The final step of a Startup Weekend is the presentation and judging. In our event we had 12 teams doing business presentations after 3 days and every team was successful with no on-stage disasters. From here many of the groups decide to continue with their idea and they have already introduced their idea to the world.

So Why Do I Do Crazy Things Like Startup Weekends?

  1. It expands my network into the next generation of businesses
  2. It makes me think about innovations from new perspectives
  3. It lets me see trends as they emerge from the minds of innovators
  4. It gives me a chance to put my ideas in front of 100+ smart people and judge their reaction
  5. Some of these might be clients in the future
  6. Even if the business never launches the people in the will likely launch something else
  7. It’s fun to hang out with smart people and discuss challenging ideas

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Featured Client Profile – Jan 2016 – Mini-Mover

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mini-mover-logo
conveyor-belts

We have had the pleasure of working with Tom and Roberta at Mini-Mover Conveyors since 2011. Mini-Mover Conveyors designs and manufactures small conveyors and rotary table accumulators. We could have some fun with how they shake up the mini-conveyor industry from their factory on “Shake Ridge” Road in Volcano CA but we would never try to create a marketing memory from a fun fact, even if it is true.

Their conveyors are tough as you can see in the recent AT&T video for the Galaxy 6s which features their LP Series conveyor. While the video had some fun with their conveyor it also demonstrates that they can take a beating and keep on moving.

Mini-Mover has an interesting story evolving from a high-volume manufacturer of precision parts for medical, electronics, and aerospace industries. Their product line evolved from their own need to move parts through their operation. Their products are typically used for:

Mini-Mover provides custom small conveyors and design consultation and technical support. If it’s small and you need to move it, then Mini-Mover should be on your speed dial.

We provide Mini-Mover Conveyors with AdWords Management Services in search and remarketing. The remarketing is a longer term investment in brand building, while the search serves the more immediate market needs of clients. We also provide general consultation in search engine optimization, social media, and image ad creative. Mini-Mover is a good example where we coordinate with both internal staff and other service providers as part of an overall Marketing Team.


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Top Secret – eyes only

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Aulacart

What AuLaCart will look like

In a small non-descript office with one-way mirrored windows in a small town on the central coast of California an elite team of geeks and creatives have been working in secret on the next big Ad Tech Network. Our patent was filed on 12/28/2015 and now we can come out of the shadows and talk about what has been pushing our creative and technical limits for the last year.

AuLaCart – Mobile Kiosk for Supermarket Carts

AuLaCart is an interactive in-store merchandising and consumer information system with the capabilities to deliver competitive advertising based on a shopper’s physical location within the store. The system serves the supermarket shopping experience with benefits for the consumer, supermarket management, and food product vendors. The device is attached to the shopping cart and communicates with databases at the local, store, and global levels. The device is a PC extended by robotic sensors for tracking device location within the store. Revenue is created by selling point-of-sale advertising to food product vendors. Users interact with the system by moving the cart within the store. For those consumers that engage deeper with the system there is a rich inventory of touch screen function including recipes, nutritional data, and store mapping & directories; just to name a few. The system is designed to globally scale using AWS for data services. AuLaCart is patent pending technology with the filing completed under the supervision of one of the best IP Lawyers in the country.

Building the Partnership

Building a business starts with building the team and to do this we put together an equity partnership with three partners and funding from a local angel investor group. Our team includes the CEO of another Digital Marketing Agency, a Project Manager from a Fortune 50 company with the skills to implement a national scale project, and an exceptionally smart engineer with the skills to solve the hardware and software challenges. Add to that SMS’s internal skills in design and programmatic ad systems and this really is an exceptional team.

Patent Filing

The patent filing process was one of the most frustrating parts of the last year probably because it was learning a whole new world. The entire basis of language is different because in marketing we talk about how the customer benefits from the product or service, while in the patent world it’s about how it works, not what value it creates. Our lawyer tells us that we are about half way through this process so there is more to learn. It was an interesting life experience as the inventor on a patent and it was one of the most challenging search projects.

The Business Plan
Great Ideas need Grand Plans and we have been through an extensive process to build ours. Our partner group has decades of experience in business planning and our local SBDC gave us the opportunity to test our plan with an independent review. This compared our business to other VC funded businesses in California. Many will tell you that the team is the most important success factor and our management team scored with a 90.8% compared to funded companies. When we look at the five year plan we are in the unicorn range.

What’s Next?

Our business is all about “What’s Next” and this partnership is no exception to that. Our next step is to find funding for the pilot phase and then execute that plan. This will prove the technology, business model, and the team we have to make this happen. When we are successful with that we have 37k supermarkets to install – remember our national scope project manager? Well this is why she’s here. We are out to reinvent the supermarket shopping experience on a national level.


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Restructuring for 2016

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In January of 2016 we are restructuring our AdWords staff to improve the services we provide to our clients. Today all accounts are assigned to one of our AdWords Experts. Starting in January each client will be assigned an AdWords team. The team will include an AdWords Expert, Client Relationship Specialist, and Outreach Specialist. In early January each client will be advised of the names of the members of their team along with a small backgrounder on each of them. Here are the responsibilities of each team member:

The AdWords Expert will be responsible for the detailed maintenance of the account. These individuals all have 4+ years of AdWords experience and hold multiple Google Certifications. They are responsible for implementing the details of the client marketing plan and leading the overall technical team.

The Client Relationship Specialist is responsible for creating and maintaining an active communication with your business. CRS’s are Google Certified professionals with a career path in the company toward becoming a complete AdWords Expert. The CRS will be responsible for reaching out to each client on a regular basis to get a better understanding of the marketing goals of the client and working with the AdWords Expert on the implementation of the strategy.

The Outreach Specialist is responsible starting the relationship with prospective clients. They help build the relationship by opening a dialog driven by our email newsletters like this one.

The teams are organized into three categories of accounts because the basic strategies are driven by the type of client. These teams are:

  1. Home Services: Typically, B2C (Business to Consumer) local businesses with a heavy dependency on PPC that also interacts with Maps and Local SEO.
  2. Professional Services: Typically, B2B (Business to Business) service providers with regional, national, or international reach.
  3. E-Commerce: Businesses that are largely driven by direct sales on their website of a product or service where the direct relationship between advertising and results is the top priority.

The AdWords teams will coordinate with our Social Media and Creative Staff as needed to support each account.


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Social Media Basics

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people on social media devices

So many different social media devices

This article is for the people within a B2B business that are responsible for the management of social media for business networking and communications. In most businesses this will include key executives, sales, marketing, and purchasing staff. Learn to manage your social media voice.

Budget Your Time

Managing your social media is simple but you have to continually refine social media to improve your business reach and voice. The key to this is that you have to invest time on a regular basis to build your network and exercise your voice. Social media can be a captivating technology that can consume untold hours and as a business you have to put some common sense limits on this. This is a process not a project so it will never be finished and it must be managed as such. Decide on the right balance of effort and then stick to that.

It’s simple…The right people in the right seats talking to the right people

The first step in social media is going to be picking the right people and they typically fall into three categories; Executives, Sales & Marketing, and Purchasing. The reality is that business value comes from communication for either sales or purchasing as those are the common external connections of a business. Executives are different in that they often reach into both areas with their contacts. In larger organizations this can be many profiles divided into territories. Once you have the profiles identified you need to create a profile of the connections. That profile should include their network which is simply made up of who they should be speaking to.

Audience Profiling – it’s not really a bad word

The media has given profiling people a bad name but the reality is that for each social media profile you should have an audience profile describing the audience that is targeted for that profile. For example, if you have a product sold to medical offices in Chicago and the profile has sales responsibility then the audience profile might be:

  1. Medical Office Decision Makers
    1. Common Titles
      1. Office Manager
      2. Practice Manager
      3. Medical Office
      4. Practice Administrator
      5. IT Manager
  2. Doctors
    1. Common Titles
      1. Medical Director
      2. Managing Partner
      3. Managing Physician
  3. Negative Contacts
    1. Competitor
    2. Out of the area

This profile is then used to qualify additional connections. The first thing some people might say is “well that’s dumb, I know who I want to connect to.” However, you will sing a different song when a key person leaves the organization and the network has to be rebuilt. The last item you might notice is the negative contact profile. These are the people we do not want in our network and the common example is the competitor but there are special considerations here. We have often accepted requests from competitors and then used that to check shared contacts to assess risk or to identify opportunities and then we disconnect them from the network.

Set Goals & Budget Time

Network building goes on for an entire career so the time involved can get out of balance with its true value. For this reason it is best to set a time-budget and then make sure it gets used. Spend half an hour each week introducing yourself to new people that fit your audience profile. All the social networks provide utilities for this network building process so make sure everyone is trained on how to use these. With each profile we recommend setting a weekly goal for network building and then tracking it on a monthly basis. In many client profiles that we manage the goal for a rep is to add 5 new people each week and while that seems like nothing, over the course of a year that is 250 additional contacts that are hearing your message.

Plan the message but react to events

With the network in place and evolving as it should the next area to address would be the messages that you will put into the network. First, remember that you are a person and that should not get lost here. Your messages paint a picture to your business and it needs to be what you are about but this is not advertising so it is not a constant sales message. The people that go into social media screaming at the top of their lungs are always surprised that they did not get the response they expected. That is because as a net-citizen they are being rude. The golden rule is that people do business with those that they trust and if your message is a constant “me, me, me” people will react badly to your messaging. A common plan is to share 80% personal and industry information and 20% or less direction promotional copy. Remember that the postings you make are painting a picture about who and what you are as a person and a person that spends all their time talking about themselves is boring.

In Summary: Build your network, refine your voice, and keep on keeping on.


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