The Benefits of Google Hangouts for your Business

Posted on December 2nd, 2015 by REFUGE Categories Blog

By Vlad Vidaeff
I have been a big fan of the complete menu of Google apps for the past decade.  In fact, in almost every situation, I prefer Google’s offerings to their main competitor.  Victory to Gmail over Microsoft Outlook.  Thumbs up to Google Maps over Apple Maps.  Cheers to Google Docs over Microsoft Office for group projects.  This blog will explore the benefits of an underrated Google app: Google Hangouts. (more…)

The Cultural Behemoth Apple and the Potential of the Apple Watch

Posted on July 15th, 2015 by REFUGE Categories Blog

By Vlad Vidaeff
I’m 28 years old.  I grew up during a time of unprecedented technological innovation.  I am part of the first generation that used computers as children.  I am part of the first generation that used cell phones.  I am part of the first generation that used social media.  Looking back at how things were before technological armageddon, it’s truly extraordinary to see how far we’ve come.  It’s no exaggeration to say that Apple has played an important role in my life.  As I progressed from adolescence to becoming an adult, the introduction of a new Apple product was always met with excitement.  The iPod?  Bought it.  MacBook?  Bought it.  iPhone?  Bought it.  Apple Watch?  Nope. (more…)

Mobile-Commerce is making a Big Splash on the Hospitality and Tourism Industry

Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Jordan Suresky Categories Advertising


Businesses today are thriving on setting a goal maximizing Self-serve technologies. These technologies are becoming more prevalent forms of communication. These forms of communication are can be B2C or B2B.  This is especially true with the advent of the numerous social media platforms.

A mobile-app using SoLoMo Technology to reserve a hotel.


For example, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly discusses a perspective on M-Commerce’s impact on intermediation. There are two terms that have been provided, the first being consumer engagement technology (CET) and the second being SoLoMo Applications. SoLoMo is an acronym that is abbreviated for a set of M-Commerce applications that satisfy customer’s social, location, and mobile-based needs.  The most widely used examples of this technology include apps such as Foursquare, Yelp and similar sites where users can check in at a destination point to their inner circle. This technology was innovated by a company with the same namesake in Wisconsin. The hospitality and tourism sector is benefitting from this type of technology in that it is easier to practice loyalty-marketing techniques. In terms of careers within the hotel segment, knowledge and successful execution of m-commerce is also significant.

The MGM Grand is an example of a hotel utilizing m-commerce technologies.
The MGM Grand is an example of a hotel utilizing m-commerce technologies.

The IHG Group, for example that runs multiple brands such as Intercontinental Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn are looking into what are called SMS Marketing personnel. These key people are responsible for driving those automatic text messages you may see when you check into a hotel or if your folio (bill) is ready to view.


All of this again is to help drive engagement and ultimately revenue. The ideal result is that the hotels and its systems are able to read into their guests throughout the customer lifecycle experience (reservation, stay, repeat stay, etc.). This is only the tip of the iceberg however with ‘SoLoMo’ and other related m-commerce advancements that hopefully will have a positive impact on marketing and tourism related organizations.


Holiday Marketing

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising

Holiday Marketing


Holidays are major players when it comes to marketing. Typically, there are big sales that are associated with each holiday that provides marketers with the opportunity to up their game in order to avoid getting caught in the shuffle.

Firework display over downtown Houston
Firework display over downtown Houston


We have compiled a list of the best tips and tricks to make your campaign stand apart from the rest.


Use What Makes You Different


When it comes to marketing, unless you are a major corporation, competing with the Coca Colas of the world is going to be a hard feat. We suggest focusing on marketing your niche products to a highly targeted audience. This will eliminate spending your marketing budget on reaching people who will not give you the ROI you need. Targeting your audience will help you create a detailed campaign that will result in leads and sales.


If you’re a smaller company, emphasize that each of your customers will get a unique shopping experience with exceptional customer service. When they come to your business, they are an individual and not just another number.


Promote, Promote, Promote!


During any holiday, people are being flooded with an astounding amount of information. They’re getting emails, advertisements and announcements in their inbox and on their newsfeed. If you want to reach them, you must promote your sale or special as often as possible.


Social media is a great tool that you can use to promote any sale, and most of the features are free. Change your Facebook or Twitter profile covers with an interesting graphic that will show off the sale. You can also create Facebook events and use a hashtag campaign to connect with other users!


Track Your Efforts


Make sure all of your marketing efforts are traceable! The goal of any marketing campaign is to be able to see which of your efforts work and filter out the ones that do not for your next year’s campaign.


Holiday marketing can be a great tool for success if you focus on your company’s individuality, promote through your online and traditional platforms, and track results!


Pinterest and Marketing

Posted on April 17th, 2014 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Marketing

Many have heard about Pinterest, but what may not be clear about the social media site is that it is actually a great resource and tool for marketing, especially with smaller businesses. Pinterest is essentially a virtual pin board that allows the user to share pictures and ideas for others to share and spread to their followers, which is why it can be a very helpful tool to small business.


Make your brand stand out and viewable

– Take pictures of products and projects to show and demonstrate what it is exactly that separates your business from others. Hiring professional photographers could also be a great idea to make your images even more appealing to Pinterest users.


Know your target audiences

–  Knowing whom to approach on Pinterest can make all the difference in marketing your company/brand.  You want to build a relationship with your followers/fans and give them more pins than just what you sell/have done; you can do this by creating boards that appeal to your audience’s other interests. So if you are representing a window and siding company you may want to create board that have windows and siding but also have other boards including dream houses, recipes, and more.


Direct traffic to your website

– Yes Pinterest is a good marketing tool, but be sure that you are also attaching your brand to the posts as well. Put comments that connect dots between your product/projects and the followers’ other interests. Also put a link to your website in the comments of the pin so people will take a look.



– Remember that Pinterest is still social media, so you want to engage your fans/followers still just like you would on Twitter. Following people who follow you is one way to engage them, but also re-pinning their posts and/or commenting on them is also going to get you a long way with them and build a relationship.


By posting pictures of work that a small business has done and posting it for others to see and share, Pinterest becomes a marketing tool that increases brand recognition, website traffic, and sales.

Content Marketing

Posted on March 26th, 2014 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Marketing

Content Marketing

Traditional marketing methods previously used by businesses are becoming outdated and uninteresting to consumers, leading to decreased website traffic, low conversion rates, and less engagement. Many businesses are using the newest method of marketing, content marketing.


What is content marketing?

marketing online contentContent marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In other words, content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.


Content marketing serves as a two-way communication tool between a business and its target audience. An effective content marketing strategy will help a business engage with its customers, leaving them more informed and eager to find out more about your business or products. Content marketing includes social media, articles, blogs, webinars, images, videos, and e-newsletters.


Be Mindful

Consumers visit websites and social media sites to gain insightful information about a business or product, not to experience hard selling. Many consumers are highly distrustful of advertising messages, so the moment your content becomes too promotional, consumers may lose interest. Alternatively, provide customers with information in a creative and informative manner. By providing useful information versus selling content, consumers gain trust from your business and are more likely to make future purchases.

Social Media Trends to Watch for in 2014

Posted on December 26th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Blog

Social Media2013 was the year for Vine, SnapChat and social analytics. Social media marketing is only going to get bigger in 2014. As year-end approaches we want to give you insight into social media trends to expect next year.


1)    Social Video is set to become a big way to market your brand in 2014. Pew Research published a report that states, “The share of online adults who watch or download videos has also grown from 69% of internet users in 2009 to 78% today, and mobile phones have become a key part of the video viewing and creating experience.” Knowing this, you can upload short videos showcasing your brand. Vine is the perfect app to upload videos. The mobile app is free and it allows you six-seconds to post interesting videos. The six-second limit is long enough to interest fans (so long as the content is interesting) but short enough to prevent boredom. Take a look at these corporate Vine videos for ideas.


2)    Twitter’s popularity is on the rise therefore they unveiled a plan for targeting tweets via zip code. Targeting tweets is great for local businesses. They will be able to engage the zip codes that he or she sells in and will have a better chance of reaching their audience.


3)    Google+ will gain steam in 2014! It has the second highest number of monthly users according to Forbes.  It is becoming an integral part of SEO. Google+ integrates your favorite parts of the social media you’re currently using. You can send group messages, ‘hangout,’ and post public status updates, photos and events.


Staying current in 2014 is all about engaging your fans and followers but recognizing that people are busy. Short messages that convey your point will likely increase your engagement and make you a leader in social media. 




Holiday Marketing

Posted on November 13th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising

Holiday Marketing

The holidays are here and marketing is spreading the cheer. Everywhere you look during the holidays, businesses get into the spirit and change up their traditional marketing to a more spirited campaign. Here are a few tips to follow to get you through the festivities.


Prepare your website

If you sell popular items on your website, prepare the system for the heavy traffic flow that is to come. The last thing you want is for your site to crash! Test your website often leading up to your big-rush sales.


Log onto social media

Use social media to get your items out there. People will be surfing on sites like Pinterest looking for the perfect gift. Here is a list of ways to get your social media ready for the holidays.


Offer perks

‘Tis the Season for sales and free shipping! Nothing excites customers more than scoring a great deal. The holidays are the perfect time to roll out a discount campaign to get business in the door. Run a social media campaign where your customers can win a gift card. Be creative with the promotion, make it  fun and interactive, your customers will enjoy!


Spread the cheer

If your company is giving back this year, let your customers know about your gift of giving. If it is something they are also passionate about, it is possible they will spread the news of what you’re doing. There is no better marketing than word of mouth. If you’re donating to a local toy drive, such as Toys for Tots, let them know the locations so they can donate too.


Be on time

When strategizing for your promotions, go simple and stick with the holidays occurring at the present time. People like to enjoy the celebrations and stretch the holidays as long as possible.


Remember that not everything has to change; your usual methods of marketing will still work. But by adding a little holiday cheer, you will ensure your customers get into the spirit.



Marketing for the non-tech savvy

Posted on October 16th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories communication

Marketing for the non-tech savvy


Last week we blogged about how marketing is shifting to the digital world and your business should move along with it too, but lets not forget the traditional tactics of marketing. These tactics have proven successful over many years and continue to bring success to businesses. There are a few strategies you can perform to stay in the eyes of your target audience without going online.



Direct mail may seem dated, but the reality is people still check their mailbox daily. If you send out a direct mailer and it is eye catching or grabs their attention they are going to at least glance at it more than email in their spam folder. An advantage for you is that most businesses are moving towards emails, so you have more of a chance of your business being seen sending direct mail.


According to Forbes, people are watching more TV, for a longer time, than surfing the web. Product placement and in-show advertising are proving effective in influencing what consumers are purchasing. Consumers will be more likely to remember your product if they see it in their favorite show, so be strategic in your placement of ads to reach the most potential consumers.


Handing out “swag” as a promotion is the newest way to draw in a customer. Customers love little samples of items, it helps them decide if your new product is for them. More companies are utilizing this tactic and seeing a success with it.


Finally, network, network, network! This is probably the easiest way to find out what your market is interested in and the best way to reach an audience is to get out there and connect with them offline. Word-of-Mouth (WOM) is a huge reason why people try companies out, and this promotion strategy is free! Getting a positive WOM spread of your products or services is sure to bring in business; consumers base their perception of a product/ service first on what they hear from their influencers.


Traditional marketing strategies are not to be forgotten, so if you decide your business will benefit from combining both digital and traditional strategies, here are some tips. Remember, with any campaign, the key to being successful is doing your research to know which outlets work best.

Are you using Google+?

Posted on October 2nd, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising

Are you using Google+ ?

If you haven’t heard, the latest movement hitting the social networking world is Google+. The networking service was created in 2011 but is just now gaining the title of the “next big thing” in the digital world. In early 2013, Google+ had close to 360 million active users and is projected to grow even more. If you are not on Google+, here is why you should be.


You can place people into different circles and manage who sees what. You are able to converse with each group on separate topics, making your engagement more personal. In your business you might have certain messages to relay to different target audiences, and this feature allows you to do so without posting a one-for-all message.


Imagine a place that allows you to interact and meet people whom all share the same interests; communities does just that. It connects users with others who are posting about the same topic. You can use this to benefit your business by reaching out to those who already show an interest in what you are offering. You can also plan events within this feature, making it easy to send out invites to just the right people.


Hangouts are where you can catch up with your followers/friends with video, voice calls or share photos. You can have up to a 10-person conference call from all around the world (for free), and share photos and emojis in your conversation. Another great thing about the video aspect is you can pre-record your videos to post to the web at a later time.


Since Google is the creator, your business’s Google+ profile will always pop-up on the top right of the search results.

With the unique features offered, it is no wonder it has millions of users and is the next big thing! Google is creating a new way of communicating with its easy-to-use, engaging social networking site. Now is the time to join, the media buzz surrounding the site is bound to draw in many more users.