Interview With Our Project Manager, Lauren Termini

This year we hired our second project manager. Her name is Lauren Termini. You may been greeted by her either at our front door or over the phone. Lauren procures, plans, and executes website projects and advertising collateral. Not only that, she also photographs all our clients’ photographic needs from events and meetings to head shots. Lauren is hard-working, organized, and super friendly. We are so glad Lauren joined us in January and are excited for her to tell you more about herself today.

A head shot of Sperling Interactive's account manager/photographer, Lauren Termini.

Where are you from?

I always find this to be a tricky question because I have lived in many different places throughout my life. I was born in Las Vegas, and before my family settled in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania in 1997, I lived in San Antonio, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Avondale, Pennsylvania. Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania is located in the northeastern part of the state just outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

What is being a project manager like?

Being a project manager is fun, challenging, and full of variety. I really enjoy that every day is different, and I think my favorite part is immersing myself in, and learning about different industries in order to help each one of our unique clients.

What has been your favorite Sperling project to date?

Lauren: The Topsfield Fair’s new website. While overwhelming, the site has been really fun to recreate. The fair itself is highly visual – with lights, sounds, animals, food – so we were able to get really creative with the new site. With their new online presence, I am looking forward to photographing this year’s fair with their new site in mind.

Where did you fall in love with photography?

I cannot remember exactly where I fell in love with photography, but it was around sophomore year of high school when I enrolled in the Intro to Photography class as an art elective. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an artist, and after taking all three photography classes my high school had to offer, it was an easy decision to apply early action to RIT’s Photographic Illustration program, specifically majoring in Photojournalism with a minor in Journalism.

What are your favorite things to shoot?

Wow, tough question. I love to travel, so I would have to say that photographing while I am traveling is the best, because it’s all new and exciting. As I have gotten older I have become more confident in photographing people, and I feel I do a great job at making people feel comfortable. While fun, people are a challenge!

How do you manage to run a successful photography business alongside a project management role?

Coffee, at least seven hours of sleep a night, and when I have a day with nothing on the calendar, I make sure to take full advantage of it. I rarely think about work and emails on those days as otherwise I’d burn out!

What do you like to do for fun?

Travel is near the top of the list, but I also enjoy running, eating/trying new restaurants (I am a huge foodie), visiting breweries, reading and I recently have started archery.

What is something no one knows about you?

I can walk on my hands and I used to be a competitive gymnast. Not many people in my adult-life know that about me because I ended my career when I was 17, but I still very much view myself as a gymnast, and probably always will.

We have done two other employee spotlights this summer. Be sure to check out our interview with our COO, Rachel Grubb, and our lead web developer, Phil Condon.

How to Market to Different Generations

Graphic of four different age generations; baby boomers, gen x, gen z, millennials

As the world of marketing continues to expand, the ability to market to distinct niches is increasing. While everyone is unique and has their own preferences, research has shown that generational groups have a lot in common. This helps with marketing. By focusing on the different generations, a lot can be taken away for marketing. Having certain generations as target markets can save money and time by knowing the kind of people who will be receptive to particular ways of marketing. 

Target marketing is beneficial for learning about which specific customers the marketing should be aiming for. By choosing people with a shared factor, such as by location, gender, or interests, marketing can be more effective by focusing efforts only on those demographics. When thinking about the marketing, two important questions businesses should ask are “Who are the current customers like?” and “Who would you like your customers to be like?”. If there is any difference between the two answers, target marketing can help to get them more aligned together.

Different age groups can be a great place to start. The four main generations are Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964),  Generation X (born between 1965-1981), Millennials (born between 1981-1995), and Generation Z born (between 1996-present). Each generation is examined to see how they compare with particular marketing styles.

Baby Boomers

Of the generations, this group is the oldest in age and can be the least technology savvy. They can be found reading print more than any other generation. Thus, marketing in newspapers and magazines can best be applied to this age group. They also can be big fans of guides, catalogs, and books. Major pieces of technology, such as the internet and smartphones, were developed later in their lives. This explains why it took longer for Baby Boomers to overcome the learning curve and to implement gadgets into their everyday lives.

Still, Baby Boomers are emerging online and their online presence is on the rise. Many have enjoyed reconnecting with old friends online. Facebook and LinkedIn are the top platforms to find this age group. Baby Boomers emphasis on relationships can also be linked to how they like to have brand trust and brand loyalty with companies. Content with clear and brief information are delivered best over desktops and tablets. 

Generation X

As one of the middle generations, this age group is an assortment of people. As a result, the ways Generation X likes to be marketed can be comparable to Baby Boomers and/or Millenials. Although they are the smallest age group of people, Generation X should not be overlooked. They have the highest average income on the national level, which is reciprocated in their top-tier purchasing power

They use tablets, desktops, and mobile devices. Videos can be a nice interchangeable medium to use in this instance since it can show well on all devices. Additionally, blogs can be sought after for an organized and interesting application of information. Generation X still likes to rely on email to stay updated. 

Millennials

This generation is at the heart of the smartphone craze. They have the highest percentages of smartphone owners with 92% and laptop owners with 70%. Millennials have been the trendsetters for everyday technology, especially known for using phone apps, for anything from using social media to checking their bank accounts. Their ease with the constantly changing technology causes this generation to be able to learn and adapt quickly. The fast-paced environment is what they are used to. 

On the other hand, they are used to seeing a lot of media, so they can require more to entice them in comparison to the other generations. Thus, they want to be able to get information concisely. Information should be directly to the point. Still, Millennials often like to see creative and/or interactive media. Imagery can help attract their attention. They also engage with incentives, such as sales and offers. 

Don’t consider calling this generation because it is likely they will not answer the phone. Although they can often be found on their phones a lot, they still will not pick up calls. Texting or emailing are preferred in order to have clear and concise correspondences. 

Generation Z

As the youngest of the four generations, this group has grown up around technology. By being the generation to which it has become second nature to know how to navigate technology, they are most likely to catch up to Millenials with their mobile and online trends. Generation Z has another world available to them through technology, as seen through their vibrant social media presence; Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, TikTok, Twitch, and Musical.ly. are among their top mobile apps. 

Generation Z can work well with more creative content, such as through social media, quizzes, memes, and other graphics. They also are the most likely to make purchases from their mobile devices, such as from food apps or online clothing sites. It is important to stay up to date with popular trends in order to keep up to date with Generation Z.

Always Have a Plan

Target marketing to any of the four generations offers a concise plan to work with. Each of these generations’ expectations, likes, and dislikes provides information to strategically use for marketing. Considering the different elements of the generations makes sense based on how they behave and navigate life. It is important to realize who you are marketing to through different advertisements. Digital pieces will attract different people than those that gravitate to print pieces, which is what generational marketing is all about. The goal is to better end up understanding the connection between both the marketing and the customers.

 

This is the second blog post by marketing intern Maura Honan. The first blog post was about brand trust, you can read it here.

Interview With Our Lead Developer, Phil Condon

Portrait Photograph of Lead Developer Phil CondonThe lead developer at an agency doesn’t just create websites to meet clients’ needs. They also serve as their team’s mentor, oversee how the development of projects is going, and contribute to the biggest web and/or app products. Our lead developer, Phil Condon, has mastered all of these responsibilities along with picking the best songs to listen to and cracking the funniest jokes throughout the workday.  Since Phil has a lot to offer, we decided to chat with him so our audience could get to know him better. 

Where are you from?

Salem, MA. 

What inspired you to go into web development? 

I originally got my Associates in Graphic Design from North Shore Community College and wanted to be a designer. Then as I was going for my Bachelors I decided I wanted to learn to code. I’ve always been interested in the Internet and spend a lot of time online so I eventually got interested in how websites are made. When I started at Sperling Interactive, I was a designer/developer but over time decided development was my strength.

Where did you learn how to develop websites? 

I am primarily self-taught having used various paid and free online resources like Team Treehouse, YouTube, and Google but I got my Bachelors of Art in Interactive Multimedia from Salem State where I took a few HTML/CSS classes.

What is your favorite Sperling project to date? 

It’s hard to pinpoint one single project. I enjoy working on sites that involve creating interactive elements that drive a better User Experience. Some websites I had the privilege of working on that have great UX are Bluesel, the campaign for the Concord Museum, Harbor Tours, Bridgewell, and Brunswick School’s admission site

What is your favorite part of the website building process? 

I really like creating something from nothing. At Sperling Interactive, we start with an empty text editor and over time we eventually have a fully functional website.

What is something most people don’t know about you? 

I can juggle! 

What do you like to do for fun? 

Play sports with friends, play video games, and develop my coding skill further. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Salem? 

Live here. I’ve lived in Salem my entire life and have seen it evolve drastically over the last 27 years. I also enjoy being near the water and it’s interesting living and working in a huge tourist destination.

What is your key to success?

Having a clear plan from the beginning and persevering through any challenges that may arise.

Thank you Phil for all of your work at Sperling. To learn more about our team members, check out the interview we did last month with our COO, Rachel Grubb, here

Habits of Creative People

A person using a drawing tablet and laptop. All organizations need creativity to prosper. When you’re being creative, you’re able to come up with new ways to improve your business and differentiate yourself from your competition. According to findings from an Adobe/Forrester Research study, companies that encourage creativity are 3.5 times more likely to achieve 10% revenue growth goals and are 50% more likely to report a commanding market leadership over competitors. If you’re someone who’s never dabbled in creative endeavors before, here are some of the most common habits of creative people to get you going.

Creative People Take Breaks From The Internet

There’s no denying the Internet is amazing. It enables you to gather information on anything you fancy, shop from the comfort of home, meet new people, and correspond with friends and families with just a few clicks. But the Internet can also suck up our time, be noisy, and become a big echo-chamber since algorithms feed us content based on what we’ve looked at. As a result, the Internet has made it harder for us to prioritize our creativity and truly listen to ourselves. Say no to the Internet when you wake up and an hour or two before you go to bed. Take that time to daydream or work on a creative project and not interact with a screen. By doing this, you’re able to re-connect better with yourself and have more creative thoughts.

Creative People People Watch

Creative people see the world as their oyster. They know creativity can come from anywhere. Writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times. She wrote down her observations as a better way to understand the world around her.

Creative People Keep A Journal

What do Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, and Thomas Edison all have in common? Besides being brilliant innovators, they all kept journals.

Journaling has countless benefits. It’s cathartic, helps the brain regulate emotions, brings forth clarity, and can help people process and generate new ideas. Remember, journaling is just for you. There is no right or wrong way to journal. When you write about whatever you want, you’ll be surprised by the ideas that come to you. Creativity is all about connecting the dots.

Creative People Embrace Being A Beginner

When you started your business, did you expect yourself to be Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk right away? No. If you’re trying out a new creative project to foster your creative muscles, you can’t expect yourself to become an expert overnight either. You’re not going to become the creator you desire by placing high expectations on yourself. Creativity should be fun. Embrace being a beginner and enjoy the process.

Creative People Talk About Their Ideas With Others

Talking to other creative people about your projects/ideas gets your energized. Another awesome thing that comes from talking with other creative people is they can serve as your sound board and unofficial accountability buddies. Don’t have a creative friend? Join a creative MeetUp group, go to a networking event, or strike up a conversation whenever you see someone doing something creative be it a person painting a mural in your community or a person playing music at an open mic night.

Creative People Know When They Work Best

Creative people know the hours when they work best and stick to it. They recognize having a schedule supports their creativity. If you’re a morning person, carve out time in the morning. If you’re a night owl, utilize night time. It doesn’t matter what time of day you work best, just as long as you stick to it and work towards recreating the same routine every time. Try to work in the same environment with the same simulations around you, be it coffee, calming music, alongside other people, etc.  

Does your company encourage a creative culture? What are some ways you foster your creativity to improve your business?

Our Favorite Things To Do In Salem During October

The exterior of the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.It’s October and, as a Salem-based business, we couldn’t be more excited. October in Salem is such a magical time and today we’d like to share with you our favorite things to do in the witch city during the month of October.

Go To Far From The Tree for Cider.

 
Nothing screams fall quite like apples. We’re so lucky to have a cidery here in Salem and Far From The Tree is an exceptional one. What we love about this place is they aren’t afraid to experiment with their ciders. They make unique ciders that have featured jalapeños, black tea, and maple syrup in them! Far From The Tree has a cozy taproom, delicious pop ups on the weekends, and they host regular events such as trivia, movie nights, and local bands.

Visit the Salem Witch Museum.


We had the pleasure of creating a new website for this iconic museum this year. The Salem Witch Museum is the museum to go to if you want to learn all about the 1692 Salem Witch Trials and witchcraft today. The first part of the tour is presented through thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting, and stirring narration. The second part is a guided tour that explores paganism, how Hollywood has shaped our perception of witches, and Wicca.

Go to the Hawthorne Hotel Annual Halloween Party.


On October 27th, the Hawthorne Hotel is throwing its 20th Annual Halloween party. If you haven’t been, you haven’t properly experienced Halloween. Their annual party includes three floors of food, fine costumes, live music, DJs, physics, and a costume contest. This year’s theme is “Happily Never After.”

Visit the Hocus Pocus filming sites.


Who doesn’t love the Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus?! The film takes place here and, as such, was filmed here. Old Salem Village was filmed at Pioneer Village, Max’s house is 4 Ocean Street, Allison’s house is the Ropes Mansion, and the Halloween party that Max’s parents attended took place right across from our office at Old Town Hall.

Watch Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop.


The best way to understand the Salem Witch Trials is to attend Cry Innocent: The People Vs. Bridget Bishop. In this live action play, Bridget Bishop is convicted of being a witch and you are put on the Puritan jury. You get to cross-examine the witnesses and make the final verdict. Cry Innocent is the longest continuously-running show north of Boston.

Have you come to Salem for Halloween before? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do? Let us know in the comments.

Google Is Closing Google+

Google+ symbol
In 2011, as social media started gaining popularity throughout all age brackets, Google decided to hop on the train and start its own social media platform Google +. On October 8, 2018, Google announced it will be closing the consumer version of Google+ over the next ten months, with a completion set for August 2019.

Why Google Is Closing Google+

Google’s reasoning for closing its social network is due to a lack of use and security issues. In the blog post where Google announced Google+’s closing, Google reported

Google +’s usage and engagement is so low “90 percent of Google + user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Did Google+ Ever Impact Ranking?

For a while, Google+ did impact search results. Since Google+ was set up to rival Facebook, Google really tried to generate conversations on Google+. Back in the day, it would highlight Google+ content in search results and in Google News. There was also a time when Google+ was essentially Google My Business.

Google+ Features

Google+ launched Circles, Hangout, Huddle, and Sparks to make it a more social platform.

Through Circles you can personalize your friend groups. Rather than sharing all of your updates with everyone your friends with, you can select which circles see what.

Hangout is Google+’s video chat and instant messaging. You can communicate up to ten users at once through Hangout.

Huddle was a group chat for phones, and Sparks was a place where you could find content on your interests.

When Google+ was unable to replicate Facebook, it switched its strategy and used Google+ as a medium to bind not only Google services between themselves (Google+ is integrated with Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Calendar), but Google with external services. You may have noticed a website offering you registration via Google+ before.

What are people saying?

Many marketers have been saying the demise of Google+ has been a long, drawn out death. Over the years, many marketers stopped creating a strategy for Google+ and a lot of websites took it away an option to share. Google’s top executives stopped using it about three years ago.

According to an article published yesterday by Business Insider, Google is beta-testing Google+ features for businesses. One of the features is tags. Tags will make it easier for employees to engage in conversations across their company and they will also help employees follow specific content. Google is planning on providing analytics with tags so employees can see what employees are viewing their content. Google is planning on unfolding more features in 2019. 

What do you think about Google closing the consumer version of Google+? Did you ever use the social network and have a strategy for it? What are your thoughts on Google unrolling features for the business version of Google+? Let us know in the comments.

How To Build An Agency: An Interview With Mike Sperling, Founder of Sperling Interactive

Mike Sperling, founder of Sperling Interactive

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 15, 2008 was a big and scary day for Mike Sperling. That day was his first day working full-time for himself after working at the Eagle Tribune for a number of years. Not only that, but that was the day the Lehman Brothers collapsed, causing the great recession of 2008. It was time of uncertainty, and Mike knew then he’d have to give his new business his all in order to flourish.

Mike’s business has come a long way in ten years. It’s no longer a one-man business. It’s now an agency located in a beautiful office on Derby Square in Salem, Massachusetts with 20 employees and 500 clients. With 98% of businesses failing within 10 years, Mike knows a lot about what it takes to make a business work so today we decided to interview him on how to build an agency.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

I wish someone told me the importance of setting boundaries. When you’re a business owner, you could literally spend all your time working, but it’s not healthy. Setting boundaries ensures you don’t burn out and have a better work/life balance.

What’s the hardest part about running Sperling Interactive?

Dealing with the anxiety of running a business. There are hundreds of decisions to be made everyday, some large and some small, and it can be overwhelming.

How do you provide good customer service to your clients?

I believe customers should feel important and have their needs listened to and acted on as soon as possible. I always try and hear my clients out. I think another way my company exhibits good customer service is we answer the phone when it rings as opposed to a computer. I feel this adds a nice human and personal touch for our clients.

What is your biggest tip for how to grow an agency?

I believe in slow calculated growth. There is no reason to take on debt or additional risk to scale the agency quickly.  Slow growth enables sustainability.

What’s something everyone should know about owning an agency?

While owning an agency is a lot of hard work, it is also a lot of fun. I get to think creatively and analytically all the time. If you’re someone who likes thinking these two ways, owning an agency might be a good fit for you.

A lot of people start an agency after having some success freelancing, how can one transition their solo career into a full-blown agency?

I would tell someone who is interested in starting an agency to take their time and to evaluate who they want to serve and what they stand for. The biggest difference between a freelancer and a business is a business has a targeted audience and a mission statement.  At Sperling Interactive, our targeted audience is businesses and nonprofits who want to reach and retain their targeted audience through custom marketing that speak to their brand. Our values are creative excellence, always going the extra mile for our clients, working like a family, and being accepting of others.

Click here to learn more about our staff.

Sperling Interactive's office.

Common SEO Myths Debunked

The word 'SEO' spelt out in Scrabble tiles.

If you do search engine optimization (SEO) for your business, then you’ve probably discovered that it’s constantly changing. It can be hard to keep up with what’s going on and there are a lot of companies out there claiming they’ve got the shortcut strategies (aka blackhat techniques) that can help you rank well. Today we’d like to debunk the most common SEO myths to bring you some clarity and help you properly optimize your site.

Myth #1: More web pages will help rank better.

At Sperling Interactive, we always encourage our clients to blog. Blogging does, after all, give you more web pages and chances to rank for relevant keywords. But it’s important to note that your blog posts these days need to be of rich content and not thin content. Google is the most used search engine in the world and, as such, it wants to show its users the most relevant and rich content possible. Check out our blog post on how to optimize your blog posts.

Myth #2: Link building doesn’t matter.

Link building has changed a lot since SEO was invented. It used to be that you could get backlinks by putting your business’s information into business directories. Today, Google and other search engines value those links a lot less. To create effective links these days, you want to reach out to other industry publications and ask if you can be linked on their site. A good way to go about this is to ask them to a link a blog post you wrote to a similar blog post they have up on their site.

Myth #3: Having a mobile-friendly site isn’t that important.

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website already, you should really hop on that now. In March, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing. This means it now prioritizes indexing the mobile version of a website over the desktop version. Google has started doing this due to the large spike in mobile search queries over the last few years.

Myth #4: Having a secure website isn’t an essential.


The newest component that Google takes into account when listing out results on search queries is security. Last month, Google began labeling sites that are not HTTPS as “not secure.”

At Sperling Interactive, we offer SEO audits. Contact us today to learn more about what you can do to better optimize your website.

Content Ideas for September

Autumnal props around a board that reads 'September. To Do:'

 

September is a favorite month for many people. Although it might have been years since you were a student, September may still symbolizes a fresh start for you. With it comes the return of crisp weather, school, and time to prep for the fourth quarter. It’s a month that comes with a lot of material, so here are our favorite September content ideas.

Labor Day

Labor Day is September 3rd this year. Wish your community a Happy Labor Day and take this holiday as a time to talk about your company’s work environment.

Back To School

Use back to school as a time to offer value to students. Share the lessons you learned in school and how students can end up working in your industry. If your targeted audience is students, this is a good time to offer special deals to them.

International Day of Charity

September 5th is International Day of Charity.  Has your company donated to a charity or done any volunteer work? If so, why did you do it? Did the people in your company feel a connection to the organization’s mission? Did you want to help out a local charity? Or did you simply just want to do something good with your time? Unpack your reason(s) why on this day.  

National Day of Encouragement

There’s no denying all the negativity on social media these days. Why not add some positivity by sharing your favorite quote on September 12th in honor of National Day of Encouragement?! Quotes are great because they’re bitesize, to the point, and elicit an emotional response.

First Day of Fall  

Fall is one of the more popular seasons out there. Who doesn’t love foliage, pumpkin spice, and sweater weather? Go outside with your camera and take some photos of autumnal sights near your workplace. If you’re a product-based business, be sure to promote your seasonal products, if you have any. If you run a clothing store, put together some outfits with your inventory and post fall Outfits Of The Days (OOTDs). On the first cool day of September, you could take a photo of a white long sleeve shirt, black vest, black pants, and brown boots and say Han Solo season is here!

World Tourism Day

At Sperling Interactive, we’re lucky to be based in a historical and tourist-y city, but even if you don’t work in a city like Salem Massachusetts, you can still participate in World Tourism Day on September 27th. Make a list of your favorite things to do in your city and share it with your audience so they will want to visit. This can also be an awesome opportunity for you to shout out your clients and help them gain some business, too.

Holiday Season

September reminds us that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the December holidays are all on the horizon. Use the middle-to-end of September to promote any deals or special offers you will have in the last quarter of the year.

Having trouble coming up with content ideas? Contact us today to book a content brainstorm session.

Questions To Ask Your Web Designer/Developer Before Hiring Them

A group of people sitting at a desk having a meeting. Are you ready for a new site? Here are the best questions to ask a web design and development company to get the best feel for them and to see if they’re the right fit for your business.  

What services do you offer?

If you’re having a meeting with an agency, there’s a strong chance they offer more than just web design and development. They probably also offer branding, search engine optimization/search engine marketing, social media, link building, and blogging. At Sperling Interactive, we offer all those services, as well as photography and video. Websites and search engine optimization go hand-in-hand so, after you find out they do SEO, you should then ask them what kind of work the SEO team will do to help optimize the new site.

Most sole prioperitors who do web design and develop websites only offer website work, but it’s still worth asking them if they offer any other services.

Do you do custom websites or do you use a template?

Every company is different. Generally speaking, larger agencies do custom websites, but some do offer templates, while still others do a bit of both. Companies that find most of their business through the Internet should opt for a custom website as it will help them stand out among competitors. Templates are a cost-effective solution for businesses that don’t rely so heavily on their online presence.  

What is your policy regarding building websites for competitors?

Speaking of competitors, you should also ask the question outlined above. This question is important for two reasons: you can find out if the company

you’re speaking to works with your competitors, and if the company has experience working within your industry.

Do you have any case studies?

This is a must if you want to see if the company will give you a good return on investment. You should find out if the websites this company has built have seen changes in their conversion rates and increased online sales.

What is your website process like?

A company’s website process says a lot about them. It can give you insight into how long the website will take to make, who from the company will be involved in the project (sometimes you can find out the staff’s experience), and how much input you will need to give.

Who will write my content?

Every company is different, just like every business owner’s preference on this question. At Sperling Interactive, we have writers on staff who can write your content for you, if you’d so prefer. These writers have knowledge of SEO so they can ensure the content on your site is optimized.

What support do you offer after my website goes live?

The thing about websites is they’re never truly “done”. There’s always security and maintenance to look after once the site goes live. When you ask this question, you should also ask about hosting. Do they offer hosting? Who do they do hosting with? Read more about the hosting service we use here.

Interested in hiring us to design and develop a website for you? Contact Sperling Interactive today at (978) 304-1730 to schedule an appointment.