Company For A Cause

Company For A Cause

Ever thought about why you started your business? In other words, what’s your business purpose? Your “why?” There are many reasons why someone would start a new business, and many business owners haven’t really spent time thinking about why they started their business in the first place. (It’s ok if that’s you – we won’t tell anyone)

Maybe you are really good at a particular skill like graphic design, coding, or you’re a great seamstress. Everyone told you that you just HAD to go into business, and rather than moonlight on projects at the end of a busy day, you went all in and hung out your shingle.

Or, maybe you started your business because you saw a need in the marketplace for something and decided you could fill it. A lot of great businesses are born this way. You realized something was missing and you couldn’t rest until you were the missing piece of the puzzle. Innovation was the name of your game, and you’re changing the world, one widget at a time.

Or, sometimes people start businesses as a way to give back to a cause they care about. Today we’re going to focus on these companies for a cause and talk about why someone may start this type of business, and how it works in their marketing.

Business with a social mission is, well, big business! Many people feel good when they buy from a brand that helps others. This of course adds to the brand’s bottom line, so it’s a win-win. And we love those!


Millennials love socially minded brands

Love em or not, if you market to millennials you’ll want to pay attention this!

Millennials not only prefer businesses with a social good component, it’s a big part of their decision making when it comes to purchasing. Consider this – millennials make up about 30% of the population and spend on average $200 billion yearly (that’s a lot of dough!). You don’t want to forget about them when you’re trying to get a piece of the marketplace pie.

So, just how many of them consider a cause worthy of their hard earned dollars? About 68% of millennials state that a social or environmental cause would be important when deciding what to buy. That’s a pretty good indicator that if you’ve got a cause, you can use it to your marketing advantage (and rake in some millennial moola)!

Of course, it should go without saying that if you’re going to join the ranks of companies for a cause, you’ll need to actually care about that cause, right?  It’s the shared cause that matters to the millennial – not just a random afterthought tacked on at the end of a busy marketing calendar. (We know you’d never do anything like that, this warning is for the other guys…)


What brands are rocking a cause right now?

There are tons of businesses that give back to great causes, but here are a few that we think are doing a great job.

  • TOMS gives shoes to people in need. Whenever someone buys a pair of TOMS, someone in need gets a pair of shoes. It’s a simple business model that gets them big results!
  • Stella Artois beer partnered with and Matt Damon to bring clean water to those in the developing world.
  • Sudara gives back by providing living-wage jobs, skills training, and education to those who were previously stuck in human trafficking.


Your Why Matters

In the end, whether you choose to be a business with a cause or not, there’s one takeaway we’d like to leave you with that works for any type of business – Why you started your business matters!

If you haven’t really thought through the why you started your business, now’s the time to get on that! As Simon Sinek has famously said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” In his book Start With Why, Sinek goes into details on why your why matters (try saying that 5 times fast!) We’d recommend you check it out. Or, you can check out this shortened version of his TED Talk if you’re too busy saving the world to read an entire book.


Zonion gives back

Here at Zonion, we’re excited to start our next chapter with a company for a cause – our very own  Elephant. Elephant is a way that we help other businesses market to their local audience, while also giving back to a cause we care about – elephants of course.

When you buy advertising through Elephant, we give 5% of proceeds to help banish cruelty to these gentle giants and let them live in peace. We think it’s pretty awesome, and we’d love to  tell you more about it. Ready to find out how you can join our cause and give back to elephants while also growing your biz?

Click here to head over to Elephant and help us celebrate our grand opening!

Ready to get digital?

Ready to get digital?

How to modernize your marketing methods.

Remember the good ol’ days when you could take out an ad in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages and have clients lining up around the block for your services? Those days are gone. Sorry.

Nowadays it’s still possible to get a big bang from advertising, but the methods have changed. Today, it’s all about digital. If you’re newly arriving to the digital age, then pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and get ready to bring your biz up to speed with digital marketing.

Start with Your Website

If you’re just getting started with digital marketing we suggest you start with your website. Seriously, if you’ve got a sad little website that harkens back to the dawn of the internet, it’s time to whip that baby into shape.

If you can make one change to your site, make sure it is mobile responsive. This is an absolute must in order to attract your ideal customers (and keep Google happy). Why you ask? It’s no surprise that cellphone and tablet usage is on the rise (maybe even an epidemic?). That means that people are turning to their phones more than ever to search for what they need. If they land on an unreadable page, or one that is seriously hard to maneuver because it doesn’t work on their device, it’s not only bad feelings about your site they have – They start to distrust Google too. That, of course, makes Google unhappy. And when Google’s not happy, nobody’s happy.

Not sure your website fits the bill? You can actually check how mobile friendly your site is with this handy tool from Google.

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure you have swoonworthy graphics, up to date fonts (no Comic Sans!!!), and content that doesn’t put them to sleep.


Once you get your website working for you and your customers, you’ll want to think about search engine optimization aka SEO. What is SEO for? In a nutshell, it’s to improve how you get found on Google and other search engines. When someone types a phrase into the search bar, the results that show up are thanks to SEO. Of course, that means you need to have the right words on your site for Google to find you. By the way, if you believe that an SEO campaign consists of writing a keyphrase over and over until the end of time, think again!

While keyword phrases are still “key” to getting found by search engines, what matters most is that you have smart and helpful content that answers questions and solves problems for your ideal clients, while still making use of keywords. Please don’t write a bunch of mumbo jumbo and expect the Google Gods to send you an overflow of traffic. It doesn’t work that way and you’ll actually lose brownie points (and credibility too). So, get those keywords in your pages, but don’t overdo it. Everything in moderation.

If you’re just getting started with SEO, never fear. SEO giant Moz has an extensive beginner’s guide to SEO that you can check out and learn all you need to know.

Socially Aware – Get started with social media

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat – depending on what you sell, there are several social media platforms crawling with your ideal clients. But, does the idea of getting started on social make you nervous?

This is an area where many people throw in the towel because there are so many platforms, it’s enough to make your head spin. We suggest taking it slow. Choose one or two platforms and get really comfortable there. Start showing up, interacting with your audience, and then when you’re ready, you can move on to another platform.

Confused about what to say? Start by joining the conversation your clients already have going in their head. Not sure what that is? Ask them! And for a perfectly executed campaign, ask us!


If you think of blogging as some sort of online diary and nothing more, you’re missing out on one of the greatest ways you can share information with your customers.

Blogging done right can help your target market see that you are the solution for their problem. How do you do that? By answering their questions.

Yep, the best way to get started with blog posts that will get you business is to ask your customers what they want to learn about and then teach them. Sure, you will be giving away free advice, but that will only increase your popularity and get you known, liked, and trusted. Plus, since it takes about 7 touchpoints before you turn a prospect into a client, you’ll stay top of mind when you continually put out awesome content. Win win!

PPC – Pay Per Click Ads

Your ideal clients are searching for what you sell on a daily basis. Sure, in the past they opened up that trusty ‘ol Yellow Pages, and flipped through the ads. They are still doing the same sort of search today, just not in some flimsy paged book. Instead, these days customers are searching Google, or asking Siri or Alexa to find what they need.  

If we had to sum it up, we’d say that PPC ads are like taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages on steroids. Instead of showing up on paper to a handful of people, you show up all over the web to anyone who is searching for what you sell.

Of course great PPC campaigns begin with an understanding of SEO best practices (yep, that again), and a deep understanding of what your ideal customers are looking for, so don’t jump into PPC before doing that research.

Need a little help?

Are you ready to join the digital age and start marketing your business on the world wide web? The good news is, you don’t have to go it alone! Here at Zonion, we help business owners just like you get their marketing efforts online in a flash. We also don’t require an arm and a leg to get started. Phew!

TRIBE is the perfect solution for businesses who are ready to tackle the digital world without breaking the bank. <<Check out our membership specials>> to see how we can help you ramp up your digital efforts and start putting more cha-ching in your bank account.

Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer

Not to blow an unwelcome horn in your ear but… Right at this moment, how holiday cheerful are you?

Are you slammed out of your mind with last minute customer purchases or nervously looking at your cash flow as your seasonal work dried up? Is your company going to hit its budgets for this year? What happens January 1st?

Or maybe on a more personal level you’re grumpy because people aren’t saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, or the snow plows aren’t getting your street as fast as other neighborhoods.

It’s time to HOLD IT! Stop right there. Yes you. All of this is not worth losing your cheerful attitude and enthusiasm for a bright new year. Just take 5. Not after the new year, NOW.

If you need to, pour a cup of tea, an espresso, a glass of wine or a bourbon and pull out a piece of paper. A napkin will do.
Answer these three questions:

  • What am I doing this for
  • What am I worried about
  • What am I hopeful for

Now, if the first one (why are you doing this) is still as true today as it was when you started your company, then give yourself a big holiday hug. Excellent!

If the third one (what you are hopeful for) is still what you dreamt of when you stayed up late plotting your course in the stars, have a drink on us! Fabulous!

Lastly, if you like so many others have a list of ‘what I am worried about’, it’s time to talk with an advertising agency like ours.

Because we’re full service and we’ve been around the block more than a few times to help you with worries like:

  • Cash flow
  • Running out of inventory
  • Having too much inventory left over
  • My competition has a better campaign than me
  • Am I advertising in the right places
  • Can I pay my bills and cover my marketing too
  • Is my P&L solid
  • Why am I not at the top of google searches (but my competition is)
  • Am I using social media correctly
  • Is my TV ad reaching the right people
  • What should I be planning for a solid new year
  • Where do I start!?

How about you start by telling us the answers to those first three questions. We’d love to hear your why, and your worries.

It’s free to talk to us. It’s confidential. And it’s fun, because we’re goofs at heart. If you need a tribe, join ours!

Don’t. Just don’t.

Don’t. Just don’t.

I hate to admit it, but I treat most sales people a bit like dirty Junk Mail.

I give both a quick look over, a nod to where they came from and that’s it unless there is a hook or a look that makes me want to know more. Otherwise, give me a break! I am busy! I am too overwhelmed to absorb the whole story you’re about to pitch me!

Sales people, just like direct mail, you get about 3 seconds of my time to make an impact, turn my head and steal my heart. You better be good.

So how do you win me over? Get straight to the point. Assume I am smart enough to understand the point and make a decision without a lengthy explanation. If your pitch is good, you can trust I will ask more questions if I need clarification. If your message is drab or meaningless, see ya later!

Yes I am talking to the sales person and the cute little postcard in my mailbox both.

Lay it on me quick! You have 3 seconds (or 2.3 if you’re a billboard). It better be creative, impactful and head turning babe! Don’t start with a long history about how your group is the oldest radio group in the region, or if you’re my orthodontists direct mail, how reputable you are and your long list of credentials. I don’t care. I mean, I might care LATER. But remember, this is a first impression. I am not ready to meet your family yet.

Face it- most business owners are up to their eyeballs in things that are MUCH more important than your whimsical stories or curriculum vitae. Even if your story were to lead up to something they REALLY should know about, they just don’t have time to slaughter the cow to get to the meat.

And this, my friend, is an unapologetic plug for the advertising agency in your life.

Let your creative marketing agency solve both of these issues.

Did you know we field all your media solicitations so you don’t have to skip one minute of your precious day. We are actually quite entertained by the process plus we’re doing it for dozens of clients per region so we filter the goods through our ‘bullshit-o-meters’ and save just the good stuff to share with you at our monthly meeting. All you have to do is whip out the magic words ‘talk with my agency’ and bam! Back to work you go!

Plug number two for a creative agency like yours truly? Let us get the first impression right for you. If you’re going to tell the world about your stunning new product at 50% off, let’s get it perfect the first time. Otherwise you might as well stuff everyone’s mail with dollar bills, which would get more attention and ultimately cost you less because the takeaway is not ‘ewww, how boring are those guys’.

You know where to find us!

How to stay true to your brand

How to stay true to your brand

First of all, if you don’t know what you’re doing, get some help. When you wake up in the morning and put on knee high white socks and slip on your favorite sandals, that’s a NO. And you need a fashion guru pronto.

Just because it is comfortable for you does not mean everyone will like it.

Just because you watch ESPN all day does not mean your potential customers do. You loving it does not make it the right place to advertise (although you will enjoy watching your ad often).

Just because you are a democrat or a republican that does not mean all your potential customers are.

You should be comfortable in your own skin (and socks and sandals) but in business, your job is to attract people who like what you have to offer.

If you’re selling unicorns to burning man folks, by all means wear a unicorn mask and goggles. But if you’re selling plastic surgery, at least come off as bright enough to do the job, by showing your potential clients you understand them. Your favorite colors may be your college mascot or navy blue. Your customers are women who have money and they like the softer finer things in life in most cases (not all!). Appeal to the largest amount of people in your target demographic by showing them you understand. Your brand is not about you, it is about conveying to them you understand them.
Unless, when it is not.

Because perhaps you’re looking for your soul mate in business. The exact right client that sees you, the clouds open, birds sing, love at first sight, that sort of thing?

Then be you. Be very you. Because that other sock wearing sandal person is out there looking for YOU. And only you. And it will be magic, profitable and exciting.

If you’re a cowgirl and you’re looking for a calf wrangler… be a cowgirl. He’ll know who you are. If you’re a hippy and tie-dye is your thing like it never went out of style, but you are selling tie-dye shirts and marijuana, you’re going to land with the right crowd.

The point about branding is you’re a flower looking for a bee.

First know what kind of bee you want. Then be that right flower.

If you only want to work with republicans, then by all means advertise on the right networks that secure that base. If you only want to work with nuns because you are one, then shine in that platform. If you want to work with school kids, get used to primary colors, crayons and vivacious advertising and be willing to surrender your ‘old school’ beliefs.

Business is not like any other relationship. You get to decide who you want to be in relationship with. You either do it true to your own brand (your special you) or to their brand (who am I with).

We’re here to help.

One last thought – we always like to be ourselves and work with people who enjoy that. We build very long term relationships so we like to enjoy a sense of camaraderie. But we work with all businesses, all political viewpoints, all sizes of companies and all dress codes. We just like to be us. And we know that if you’re the bee to our flower, you like what we’re about too.

Are we trying too hard?

Are we trying too hard?

As the director of a small ad agency, I can say my team and I have seen a lot of this, a bunch of that and a fair amount in the middle.  Everyone wants to stand out, make their mark, differentiate.  Without knowing their objective, businesses launch themselves like paint balls at the newest buzz and want to belong to it.  Their worst fear – FOMO.  Fear of missing out.  

Many ad agencies capitalize on this; no question.  If our problem has become ‘making you feel like YOU belong’ rather than making your ‘customer feel like THEY belong’, we can solve that.  We just need to know what YOU, dear business owner, are afraid of missing out on, want to belong to, what your passions are and what you worry about at 4 am.  

But you know, it’s cheaper to hire a professional of an entirely different sort, to solve that problem.

If there is one thing that irks me as a business owner, it is people who manipulate business owners at their weak points.

Your business doesn’t need another master manipulator.  It needs a plan.   And do you know what the hardest thing for any business owner is?  It’s to speak to THEIR CUSTOMERS needs, not their own needs.  Your needs will be met when your customers’ needs are more than met.  If not, then reconsider being in business altogether.

So it’s time for you to decide.  Do you want a plan that includes business growth, something stashed away for your offspring, something people are proud to talk about, a brand that stands for goodness and fairness?  Do you want to be pleased to run into your neighbor at Costco?  Or do you want to squander countless dollars fussing around with facades.

You may love seeing your ad in the newest glossy magazine – ‘boy isn’t that a beauty!’ say all your dinner guests.  ‘what a lovely magazine this is!’.  You may love hearing your voice on the radio!  “I heard you on the radio today!” say all your friends and family.  You might redecorate your entire office in gorgeous contemporary colors and refresh your logo and your patients love what you have done with the place.  

Did that work out for you?  Do you feel like you belong now?  Did it impact your bottom line? Or do you still have that uncanny uncertainty that other people have figured it out and you haven’t yet.   Is your competitor doing a better job with their social media than you are?  Are their pictures prettier?  Is someone else’s write-up in the newspaper better than yours and (while you grit your teeth) is it sooo wrong!  ‘If only they knew!’.

They’ve got you.

You are spinning your wheels.

You may be reaching for the carrot.  Oh that delicious warm rosy orange carrot.  

Please, ask yourself:  Am I trying too hard?

Take all the time you need.



Ok, welcome back!

You figured it out.

We, you, me, everyone… we try too hard.




My business is built on making you look amazing, sure.  And (throwing humility out the window here), we’re damn good at it.

But you being amazing is not WHY we make you look amazing.  We don’t heroically pull out all the punches to waltz around the town square with you on our shoulders so you can have the appearance of being amazing.

Again, in case you missed it : we don’t make you look amazing so you can look amazing.

We want you to sleep well.  Earn the right income for your right input.  Oh sure, a little more than that too!  We want the right people to know the right information about you.

You don’t need that amazing logo refreshed for that ‘right now – I am not trying hard – look’ that everyone has, you don’t need wooden pallets in your office, you don’t need a beer tap in your welcome area, and who in the world needs an oversized elephant in their office (except for me, I need that).  

What you need is a plan.

STOP spending money everywhere.  Just stop.

Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s, the SEO’s, the Google analytics, the social medias, the bloggers (except this one), the PR’s, the coffee cup holders, the whatevers.  Just stop.

Put down the fear of missing out.

Please don’t try so hard.



Now, start over.  Give yourself time.  Think back on why you started the company you love.  Remember the slog, the late hours, all those student loans (Lord help us) , the begging for venture capital, the all night study groups, the family that rolled their eyes, the bruised knuckles and the people in your life that helped you move furniture and paint the walls.  THIS.  THIS MATTERS.  THIS is something YOU are about.  YOU believe in.  YOUR soul is carved into.  

THIS merits a plan.  YOU have the right to take a deep breath, and NOT TRY so hard at the outreach part of your business.  YOU need to do what YOU are passionate about.  Because you are passionate about it!  

Now what do we propose?  Aside from the breathing and stopping bit?

We propose you remember you are in charge.  You know where you came from, you know where you are (including the good bits and the ugly bits like profit and loss and health care) and you know where you want to go.

You really do know your original place.  You really do know WHO you are.  Furthermore, if you think about it, you really do know who your clientele is, could be and should be!


Now, all you need is your plan!  

It goes like this (over simplified but don’t try too hard!):

  • ME
  • My clientele
  • What I want
  • How much money I currently have
  • How much I want that to turn into
  • Someone who knows the terrain and can take me there



Please – no more fancy logos and weird foyer flowers… just let’s get REAL and make a PLAN.



Do you know, there are other people who spent years, decades… learning how to help BUSINESSES like YOURS grow?  YOU be a dentist.  Let someone else be your tribe.   

I don’t want to fix my own teeth.  Please don’t feel like you need to fix your own marketing.  I can’t even open the hood of my car.  I am not very good at grilling.  You be you.  Let someone else help.