LeadPlan Marketing In The Press

In addition to podcasts, seminars, and speaking engagements LeadPlan Marketing’s team has been featured in various online and print publications. As columnists and contributors on topics of both digital and traditional marketing – we love to share our insight and expertise.

Please enjoy a sample of our contributions and news mentions, consolidated here for your viewing.

Traverse City Young Professionals Is Out; Fuse Is In

The Ticker: Jan. 27, 2018

Traverse City Young Professionals Is Out; Fuse Is In

By Craig Manning | Jan. 27, 2018

The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce has been working to support and promote local young professionals since 2008; now that effort has a rebranded name.

“The name and the logo, previously, [were a problem],” Chamber Executive Director Max Anderson says of the TC Young Professionals. “The logo was four briefcases that interlock. I don’t know anybody that carries a briefcase anymore, outside of lawyers. It just didn’t vibe with what young professionals in this region are really about. We also wanted to remove ‘Traverse City’ from the name, not because we don’t love Traverse City, but because we’re a five-county chamber. The name was alienating to some people.”

Anderson says that renaming the program puts Traverse City more in line with other cities that have young professionals programs. Working for six months with LeadPlan Marketing and Hardy Design, the Chamber researched comparable programs throughout the country. Snappy one-word names—preferably “hip, new terms”—were prevalent among professional associations geared toward millennials.

According to program chairperson Valarie Handy, Fuse ultimately ended up fitting the TC young professionals group like a glove.

“Everything that we thought of when we thought of the word ‘fuse’ made sense,” she tells The Ticker. “Fuse could be an ignition point, which, as young professionals in the community, we can be an ignition point for change. Fuse can also be a connection point, as in a fusion of ideas or conversations. Everything that was coming to mind with the word ‘fuse’ was what we represent, in some way or another.”

For Handy, the reboot offers a chance for Fuse to garner new interest as well as reactivate existing members; Fuse has a monthly active member count of 150; she hopes that, by focusing more on the philosophy of the group and less on a specific age bracket or geographic location, Fuse will be able to swell its ranks.

In particular, both Anderson and Handy stress that anyone is welcome in Fuse, whether they’re 22 and starting their career or just turning 40.

“We do not have bouncers at the doors checking IDs,” Handy says. “We have no age limit. If someone wants to have access to our programming, they can have access to the programming.”

Fuse has five areas of programming. Two of those areas, the “Lunch and Learn” and “Morning Brew” events, focus on getting members together to discuss or learn about specific topics. Other categories—like volunteer events, social events, and annual conferences—focus on giving back to the community, networking with local professionals, and helping members grow in their careers.

Handy adds that Fuse is unveiling a sixth brand new programming effort: field trips to local businesses.

“We want to see those amazing things that are going on in this region that we may not otherwise have access to,” Handy says. “For example, we’re going to try to set up a field trip to a drone company, to learn a little bit more about how drones can be useful.”

When asked about Traverse City’s reputation as more of a spot for retirees than for young professionals, Anderson emphasizes Fuse’s role in rewriting outdated misconceptions.

“I think it’s a misnomer to say that Traverse City isn’t friendly to young professionals,” he says. “We do have the wave of retirees who move up here, because who wouldn’t want to live in such a beautiful place? But part of Fuse’s role in is helping connect young professionals to jobs, to each other, to nonprofit organizations, to volunteer opportunities. We want them expand their networks and help them tell the story of how Traverse City has always been—and will continue to be—friendly to the young professional crowd.”


Young Professionals Program gets name change

Business in Brief: 01/24/2018

TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce has changed the name of its Young Professionals program to FUSE.

The rebrand follows a six-month effort led by LeadPlan Marketing/Hardy Design that included gathering extensive input from program members. The new title and logo were unveiled last week. The new branding features a lowercase “f” designed as interlocking thought bubbles or quotation marks. The change is designed to more clearly portray the connection elements of the program and better identify with the reasons prospective and current members are involved.

The FUSE program offers an array of programming to support young professionals throughout the region connect, serve and grow as community leaders personally and professionally.



YPs Launch Rebrand: Welcome to FUSE

The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce has successfully completed and launched its rebranding of the Young Professionals program that will be known as FUSE.

The rebrand follows a six-month effort led by LeadPlan Marketing/Hardy Design that included gathering extensive input from program members.  The new title and logo were unveiled last week.

“We started this rebranding process because The Traverse City Young Professionals program has come a long way. While the former name and logo had served us well in the past, it struggled to reflect and relate to today’s young professional,” said Immediate Past program Chair Lauren Harris, who led the organization in 2016-17.

The previous branding included four interlocking briefcases and “TCYP” in lowercase letters. The new branding features a lowercase “f” designed as interlocking thought bubbles or quotation marks. The change is designed to more clearly portray the connection elements of the program and better identify with the reasons prospective and current members are involved.

“We wanted the program to identify more closely with what we do for and in our community rather than how old we are or the closest City to where we live” 2018 program Chair Valarie Handy said. “Yes we’re young, and we live in the Grand Traverse region, but the program is about connecting people together and getting involved in our community. After almost 10 years it was time to refocus our image in the community.  Updating the name and look of the program will go a long way towards shifting the focus towards the action and impact our members are making in the region.”

The name change initiative began in late 2017 and was revealed by Handy at the FUSE Morning Brew event on Thursday, January 18, to a standing room only crowd. The event included a synopsis of the 10-year history of the program, where it is today, and where it is headed for 2018 and 2019. The full presentation is available on the Chamber’s website at www.tcchamber.org under the Programs tab.


Holy Grail... or Waste of Time?



Holy Grail…or Waste of Time?

Facebook post boosting under the microscope

Small companies with slim budgets might think Facebook is the holy grail of cheap, effective marketing. But is having likes and boosting posts working? According to smallbiztrends.com, a marketing and business resource website, 62 percent of Facebook ad campaigns run by small businesses fail. Depending on the industry, conversion rates can be as low as 4.11 percent (apparel), or as high as 13 percent (fitness facilities). Most business owners don’t know how a results-driven advertising funnel for social media works. A common belief is that boosting a post to people who like their page is going to impact sales. Even if a post is boosted, Facebook algorithms will need it to become relevant to be seen by “friends.” That means it needs engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares.

Facebook is not a cheap alternative to traditional media. It’s just a new tactic.

In other words, it has to be something people actually like. Consider who you are trying to reach, how many of them are on the platform, and how often you want to be seen by them. In traditional media buying, this is called reach and frequency and it’s no different in the digital world. TV and radio can cost big bucks because of the number of people you’re reaching. The outlets charge you a cost for every thousand people who see or hear your ad (CPM). With social media platforms like Facebook, you pay a cost per click (CPC). However, you will still need to reach a significant amount of people to get enough of the right clicks. If you’re only spending $20 on your Facebook ad, then you’re not going to reach many people. If you haven’t built a proper audience, then you’re not reaching the right people.

So how much should you be spending?

As an example, if you have a conversion rate of nine percent (industry average), a revenue goal of $15,000, and your average unit sale is $100, then you will have to spend approximately $4,886. This would need to be seen by 16,287 people in order to get 150 sales at a nine percent conversion rate.

Know your customer.

Marketing tactics are changing, but marketing fundamentals will always stay the same. You need to create a promotion that will interest your ideal customer, put it into a message that will grab their attention, and place that message where you know this specific type of person will see it. That’s where having a “mix” comes into play. Facebook and social media are great tools to add to your mix, but they also need to be respected by your ad dollars. Facebook is not a cheap alternative to traditional media. It’s just a new tactic.

Have a plan.

If you’re marketing without a plan, you are just merely using tactics. Without a plan, you waste money trying different tactics until you find which ones will work. When you have a plan, you know what tactics to use, therefore eliminating wasteful spends. Having a plan starts with research. Know your customer’s goals and challenges so you can put a message together that will speak to those challenges and get their attention. Know where they go for information and entertainment so you can place that message in front of where it will be seen at the right time by the right people. The options we have to get our message in front of buyers has expanded. It’s ever-changing but marketing hasn’t changed at all. We’re still using Marketing 101 tactics. Research the customer, design a deal that addresses their need and places it where they will see it. Include a message that will grab the attention of these specific people, generate a sale, gain a customer and turn that customer into an evangelist of the brand.


Social media advertising is a powerful tool when it is used correctly. Your TV, print and radio ads are all still important when it comes to delivering your message. You want to be seen by your prospective buyers often and you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket. Your marketing mix should be represented by who your customer is and should be as precise as possible.

John Smiddy is a marketing consultant and owner of Lead Plan Marketing in Traverse City. He is a former media consultant for both Fox and CBS affiliated broadcast stations and has written TV commercials and run social media advertising campaigns for clothing companies, wealth management, education systems, realtors, lawyers, and much more. Reach him at john@leadplanmarketing.com or (231) 714-0290.









John Smiddy


John Smiddy is an Author, Marketing Consultant and Co-Owner of LeadPlan Marketing. He Specializes in direct response marketing strategies and is a certified inbound marketer.

“Marketing for financial advisors can be a daunting task…”

The industry itself is heavily regulated. Every message you put out on facebook, advertising campaigns and blog you post’s must be approved by compliance. Advisors are not allowed to ask for testimonials or leverage case studies of people they have grown assets for. These are all reasons that make a marketer’s job difficult when trying to drive leads for the financial sector.

The number one thing you can do is great work. Have a high level of integrity and drive results for your clients. These things increase word of mouth. Word of mouth advertising is a financial advisor’s best friend. In order to grow that word of mouth, make moves to become the authority in your area. Contribute articles to local publications. The demographic most advisors are chasing is still heavily engaged in traditional media (i.e., TV, radio, and print). So contribute to that publication or that radio show that is happening in your local area. Watch the news, when something happens on Wall Street, call your media reps and offer to come on air to speak about it. Local TV stations are always looking for professionals to talk about a subject that is happening on a national level from a local perspective. As your word of mouth increases, people will come looking for you. Making sure that you rank for the proper keywords in search engines is essential, but also once they come to your website, don’t make the mistake of having a portfolio-style website. Be a resource to your prospects and make sure your site has plenty of valuable information that could answer any questions they may be searching to answer.

The Dirty Truth about Website Traffic
TCBN-Cover Mar 2017

The Dirty Truth About Website Traffic


As a Marketing Consultant, I hear it a lot, “What we need is more traffic.” After all, more traffic equals more sales, right? Well, maybe.
SEO companies would love for you to believe that SEO alone is the answer to hitting your sales goals. But, there are a few questions you will need to answer to make use of any traffic coming in.

Do you know what is drawing search traffic to your site? Who are those people? What are they in search of that has brought them to you? If it’s an article, how long do they stay? Are they reading the whole thing? Where do they go when they leave your site? Does your website speak to them by addressing their problem and pointing them to different solutions you provide on the site? Or, does it talk about you? I bet you were grabbed by a salesperson the last time you walked into a furniture store? He asked what you were looking for and then showed you the various options. Your website doesn’t have a salesperson, but it should point them to the areas of interest.

Did you know that only 22% of traffic will take action or make a purchase the first time they visit? Studies show that 70% of purchases are made on the second visit. That’s a huge jump! So how are you driving traffic back to your site? You will need a proper retargeting campaign.

3 types of traffic
-Traffic you CAN’T control
-Traffic you CAN control
-Traffic you OWN
Your goal is to increase your conversion or sales rate by taking traffic you can’t control and turning into traffic you own. Let me explain.
The traffic you cant control comes to your website from Google, Bing, social media and so on. You cant control that traffic all you can do is draw them to the site. Once at the site, they are cookied and when they leave this changes. Now you can control what they see with advertisements that speak to them based on what they did on your site. Example. If you’re a doctor and someone spent 3 minutes on your arthritis page, their ads will speak on arthritis.
It doesn’t end there, though. Don’t forget the end game. You need to turn them into traffic you own. You would do this by running ads for a very enticing piece of content. “Download our checklist of 10 DIY remedies that will decrease your arthritis pain.”
We offer the content in trade for information. Once the email is grabbed this person is now traffic you own. Now the doctor can put them in an email sequence designed to bring them in for a checkup. He has a list of hundreds, maybe thousands of these people that he can advertise to whenever he wants, and it doesn’t cost him a dime because that is traffic he owns. If they have already used him in the past, even better.
So, the dirty little secret is SEO alone is not the key to successful online marketing and website leads. Your website needs SEO to bring traffic in, but once the traffic is there it should capture sales or info, and bring them back when they leave. It should have a working plan that converts the traffic you don’t own into traffic you do own.

Author John Smiddy is the co-owner and marketing consultant at LeadPlan Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency located in Traverse City. More information can be found at leadplanmarketing.com


Digital Marketing Trends Of 2017

In Issue 2017 January, Marketing/Promo./Design

Digital Marketing Trends Of 2017

Each year, business owners invest their hard-earned dollars into marketing strategies that generate new customers and increase revenue. This investment is used toward both digital and traditional marketing plans with the same end goal in mind: to grow the business. It can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing trends in the digital world, but with the correct guidance and resources, business owners can stay ahead of the game.

Digital Marketing: Why Is It Important to Keep Up With?

Your customers are constantly online, searching for products and services that provide a solution to their needs. The solution(s) your business provides needs to be projected in a way that makes sense, creates a sense of urgency, and gets the consumer to react. These solutions are delivered daily through digital platforms (ex: Google search), which consist of ever-growing changes. When it comes to these trends, staying in the loop is crucial for any successful business model.

Social Media

Wisely invest your budget. It’s generally not advisable to put “all your eggs in one basket.” It’s also not beneficial to have a broad, “shotgun approach” when it comes to social media. As the business owner, you need to choose the social media platforms whose style matches your business and ideal audience.

A strong social ad campaign will become a dominating marketing trend for 2017. Consistently posting on social media coupled with an optimized ad campaign gives business owners the best return on their investment because you’re reaching both current and potential customers. Over time, advertisers can choose expanded criteria to target the best, prospective buyers. Business owners are starting to shift their budgets, allocating for social media.

Content Marketing with a Personality

This strategic marketing approach is focused on creating and sharing valuable, relevant content to attract a defined audience and increase profitable engagement. Your content should be immersive, pull them into a discussion, and get them to act. Content marketing is what drives successful social media and digital advertising campaigns.

Time and energy should be put into creating content to build value and trust. These results help establish strong relationships between a business and its customers which produce sales, referrals, and a positive reputation.

Don’t just share content; share your personality! Audiences tend to engage more with a Facebook page that speaks directly to its customers with a personal touch instead of one that constantly sells. Business owners should follow the 80/20 rule, using 80% of your posts as valuable content and 20% as persuasive call to action. A great saying to remember is “talk WITH your audience, not to them.”

Mobile-Friendly Ready & Optimized

With “80% of Internet users owning a smartphone (Global Web Index),” having a mobile-friendly marketing strategy is a no-brainer. A mobile-friendly website, with search engine optimization (SEO), is going to be a requirement for 2017 marketing plans. When you search for your service on a smartphone, what is your placement on Google? Once the results of a user’s search are shown on their phone, an immediate decision is made based on what they first see. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to be found within the top search via mobile device. Being on the top of the results dually builds trust and keeps your competition on the back burner.

Users searching with their phones most likely have a Facebook account where they will check in, view your recent activity, and read customer reviews. It’s just as important to have your business found on social media as it is within Google search results.

Video Content

Your business website is already mobile-friendly and is found on social media. The next step is to create video content. Did you know that “…during 2017, 69% of all Internet traffic will consist of video content (Cisco)?” Millennials and smartphone users are increasingly receiving their information via video. Videos are entertaining, quick, and easy to share with others. Digital video is quickly becoming the new alternative for television, live news, and direct communication.

Continue to adapt to these evolving trends, and lead your business down the path to increased growth and profitability.


Author Brian Boyer is the co-owner and marketing specialist at LeadPlan Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency located in Traverse City. More information can be found at www.leadplanmarketing.com or info@leadplanmarketing.com.



Striving Marketers Launch A Custom Video Service


July 20, 2016
An up-and-coming marketing agency, LeadPlan Marketing based in Traverse City, lead by two inspired gentlemen has launched an enterprise-grade promotional video creation service.
July 19, 2016 – Many name-brand companies, such as Outbrain and Youtube, foresee video as the majority content type in the near future even Cisco has predicted 80% of the internet’s traffic will be video related. In fact, according to the Online Publishers Association, video marketing is so effective that 46% of viewers take action after viewing a video promotion. In response to this growing customer infatuation with video advertisements, LeadPlan Marketing has launched their custom video service. Each video will consist of original content and be professionally edited. This style will instill a sense of authenticity, enhancing the effectiveness of any promotional content.

The LeadPlan Marketing video studio service comes equipped with a several outstanding features: 1080HD Quality, Smooth Editing & Transitions, High-Quality Audio, and Quick Turnaround Time to name a few. The video and audio quality are produced using professional-grade equipment, a key advantage to enlisting a video studio. This ensures potential clients will encounter nothing but crisp audio and sharp images, leaving the best possible first impression. As a nice bonus the turnaround time is a blazing fast 24 hours in most cases. The professionally trained staff handle the entirety of the post-film production headache. They create seamless transitions, keeping customers engaged throughout the entirety of the video.

The customization of these videos extends past the script and into the layout and cost of the films themselves. A few possible additions include additional text graphics, image-based graphics, and music selection. Another near-essential option is the search engine optimization (SEO) service. A search engine optimized video will increase the prevalence a client’s video,
allowing maximum distribution and exposure. The expertise put into the creation of a custom promotional video is bound to increase sales by more than the reported average of 64% according to ComScore.

About LeadPlan Marketing
LeadPlan Marketing is based in Traverse City, Michigan, and is dedicated to helping customers achieve the company goal to “market like a rockstar”. LeadPlan Marketing was started by John Smiddy and Brian Boyer, two synergistic sides of a coin. Brian is skilled in digital marketing, certified in Google AdWords and Analytics while John is a seasoned Marketing Consultant with experience as a media consultant for prominent networks such as Fox and CBS affiliates. There is one value these two friends share, a passion for music. They truly believe all the world’s a stage and marketing is the music that moves the crowd. They want nothing more than to make their clients the main event of every show. The duo achieves this through a variety of services: Creative Works, Digital Advertising, Research and development of Marketing plans, now Custom Promotional Videos, and even Marketing Coaching.

To learn more about LeadPlan Marketing or the Custom Promotional Videos:
Visit: www.leadplanmarketing.com
Email: info@leadplanmarketing.com
Call: (231) 714-4430

Come Together

310 W. Front St #308
Traverse City, MI 49684

(231) 714-0290

Toll Free: (877) 280-6486

If you are looking to inquire about becoming a vendor partner, freelance partner or would like an opportunity to pitch us on your software please send your inquiry to Partnership@LeadplanMarketing.com. Anyone trying to sell us through our contact form will be deleted and blacklisted from any future consideration.

Free Consulting!