The Atlanta Small Business Profile – Kayla Dicus, Of Grace Marketing & Design

On the latest episode of Atlanta Small Business Profile, host and small business expert Ted Jenkin sits down with Kayla Dicus, owner of Of Grace Marketing & Design, an Atlanta agency devoted to building unique and profitable strategies for small business owners in all industries. 

Transcription:

Ted Jenkin:
Hey everybody. This is Ted Jenkin, small business expert, right here on this week’s Atlanta Small Business Profile, where this week we’re talking about marketing and sharing a story of a new entrepreneur. Because some of you are thinking, “Right now, is it time to get off the couch? Should I start a business during the Coronavirus? Is it even worth it?” So, I have Kayla Dicus with us today. She is the owner of Of Grace Marketing & Design, and I say a brave entrepreneur in starting a business here. So, tell me, Kayla, how did you get started to want to do the marketing business and get this up and running in the beginning of this year?

Kayla Dicus:
So, I didn’t plan for Coronavirus, as most of us didn’t, but it was just weird timing that it happened. We started in February, so, that was right at the beginning where everybody was learning about it. So, it didn’t affect us too much to start off with, but then obviously, became much more than we all had expected, I think. And honestly, transitioning, working from home, it really didn’t affect us a whole lot, because, we do all of our work on our computers, and with great technology like Zoom and GoToMeeting, and things like that, we’ve been able to stay in contact with our customers, and we haven’t really skipped a beat. So, that was fine.

Ted Jenkin:
And have you found, during the coronavirus, because everything that people could do face-to-face before; trade shows, fairs, festivals, meet-and-greets, that’s all out the window, now, really short-term, have people started to invest money to redo their websites in the way that they’re thinking about their digital presence?

Kayla Dicus:
Absolutely. A hundred percent. And even people that have brick-and-mortar retail shops are thinking about going more e-commerce now, where… There was a slow trend to selling online, but people with more expendable money could take those risks. Now, everybody’s saying, “Well, it’s kind of where you need to be. You either need to have both or you need to at least be online and selling.”

Ted Jenkin:
I’ve seen some really, really bad websites in the internet and I think I’ve seen some really, really good ones. What do you think is the top mistake most people are making right now with their current website, or when they’re thinking about designing a website?

Kayla Dicus:
I think the biggest mistake is understanding the time commitment it takes to do it yourself. If you don’t already have the skillset and the knowledge-base, it takes a long time to figure it out. So, if you’re trying to do it yourself, it becomes where it might take you 16 hours to finish a website, to three weeks or four weeks, or you just dump it all together.

Ted Jenkin:
But it’s not that simple. You get people that say, “I think I can do this on Wix or on WordPress,” but it’s so important that your website looks good on a mobile basis, and that is a different process. It’s just not as simple as clicking a button.

Kayla Dicus:
No.

Ted Jenkin:
Why do so many business owners, I think, personally, cheap out on their website?

Kayla Dicus:
Because a lot of business owners are number people and they want to see a direct return on their investment. And visuals aren’t… You can’t put a direct return on that kind of thing.

Ted Jenkin:
[inaudible 00:03:34] hard to quantify.

Kayla Dicus:
Yeah. It’s hard to quantify, exactly.

Ted Jenkin:
And what do you recommend for business owners when it comes to logo design? I’ve seen some people go online and use online companies where it feels like there’s a hundred designers all around the world trying to make a random design. Do you recommend that business owners have a slogan attached to their actual name of the company? Is the logo important or is it really much ado about nothing?

Kayla Dicus:
Okay. So, there’s a difference between logo design and branding and identity, and I want to touch on that for a second.

Ted Jenkin:
Sure.

Kayla Dicus:
So, logo design is the actual visual that your company is going to perceive itself in the marketplace. That’s important, but what’s more important is developing that brand identity which encompasses so much more than just the visuals. It’s the essence, it’s your motto, it’s your company goals, it’s the language you use when you talk to your customers. So, when you just go into creating a logo without having that brand identity in mind and having that strong business idea behind it, you’re just creating a visual that really had… it’s very empty. So, when you’re using brand identity to build that logo, you’re creating something that’s more meaningful. It’s going to shine through as the essence of what you want your business to be. So, I think that that’s a common misconception; is, “I just want to go get a logo drawn. Well, you can’t just go get a logo done. Hire somebody that’s going to ask you the important questions like, “What do you want your language for your audience to be? What do you want to say? What problem are you solving in your marketplace?” And from there, you create a meaningful visual.

Ted Jenkin:
Yeah. And you’ve got this quote that you talk about, of like stripping it down to the essentials and then building it back better, really here. And so, what does that mean; building it back up after you strip it down to the essentials with your marketing plan?

Kayla Dicus:
Right. So, being in this industry for a while now, I’ve seen a lot of companies that will try to sell everything to a customer. “You need this, you need that.” And really at the end of the day, staying hyper-focused on where your target audience is going to be, is going to be the most beneficial. So, you don’t need everything; you don’t need all the social media, you don’t need to do, maybe, this or that. You need a few things that you do really, really well, that can reach your target audience and bring that return. So, we take away all the fluff. We bring it to where we’re doing all the research, and making sure we know where a customer is seeing you, and that’s what we target. So, we build that back up in a meaningful way.

Ted Jenkin:
So, Kayla, we’re six months really into the hardcore part of the coronavirus, and you’re seven months or eight months into this business venture right now. How are you marketing for clients? You’re a marketing firm. I mean, how do you do it when you can’t go to chamber of commerce meetings, you can’t go to meet-and-greets and stuff like that where you could normally smile and talk to people and share your story. How do you do it?

Kayla Dicus:
The Internet’s been a saving grace. I mean, we are so lucky to have all the capabilities that we have, and this stuff has not been around for very long. So, just really staying in tune with what’s coming out that’s new on the internet, that we can utilize, is the best way. Staying above the curve, making sure that we’re hyper-focused on new things that can benefit our customers. Like I said, Zoom has been a lifesaver because I still can have these face-to-face. And that’s what I enjoy; is the face-to-face. I would certainly love to be in-person, but if I can see your expression, if I can see your excitement and build on that, that’s where I thrive. So, we’ve been all right. I mean, it’s not ideal, but you got to do with what you got.

Ted Jenkin:
Yeah. Now, that makes perfect sense. And I think a lot of business owners get conflicted too on social media platforms and where they may need to be in their business. Is there a social media platform that you recommend for a company to start with today, now that, obviously, news came out about TikTok, and we’ve had Facebook and Instagram and all those other stuff? I mean, is there one where a small business owner should start or does it really depend on their business?

Kayla Dicus:
Yeah. It depends. And that’s where really understanding your target audience and your industry is very important. For example, I have a few customers that thrive on LinkedIn. They do great, we put most of our money towards the paid advertisement there, and that’s great for them. A lot of our other customers, it’s just not where their target base is, so we find other places like Google Display ads or Facebook or Instagram. So, it really just depends. And that’s where it’s important to make sure that you know who you’re trying to reach out to.

Ted Jenkin:
I know that you’ve got several areas of expertise in your business, but you’re also doing a lot with schools and teachers right now, and I know that a lot of parents have had to scramble and create learning pods or micro-schools or things like that. What kind of stuff could you share with us, that you’re doing during COVID-19 with schools and teachers?

Kayla Dicus:
Yeah. So, that was unexpected. My mom is actually a fifth-grade teacher, and my best friend’s [inaudible 00:09:00], and I have lots of family and friends that are in education. And from February, I’ve been going through this journey with them on e-learning struggles and issues, and I couldn’t help but try and find a way that I could help. So, I don’t have an education background, so I can’t help them in that way, but I do have a graphic design background. So, I thought, maybe I could take these people’s ideas and make them visually pleasing, so it’s enticing for them to want to use it, and their students want to use it. So, that’s [inaudible 00:09:33] where that came in. And right now, we’re just working on back to school, like, “Get to know your teacher, get to know your student,” type of stuff, but we’re going to go into the space of creating reports like book reports and things like that, that the kids can interact with as well.

Ted Jenkin:
It’s got to be hard enough to manage 30 5th graders when they’re in the class, so I can’t imagine trying to manage 30 5th graders when they’re not in the classroom.

Kayla Dicus:
That’s right.

Ted Jenkin:
One of the things that business owners struggle with is that people will come to their website… And I’ve always heard this term of bounce rate, where people will come and then immediately exit. And do you have any tips or ideas to share with entrepreneurs that may be watching the show, about how to keep people stuck on your website longer? I always say this, like, “The longer you keep somebody in your store, the better chance you have for them to buy something,” and nothing is different on the internet. Where are the mistakes that people make, and what are you recommending fits?

Kayla Dicus:
Well, so I don’t know that a bounce rate can really determine a mistake, because really if you think about it, our attention spans are so small nowadays, that if you keep somebody for 6 to 10 seconds, you’re actually doing okay, which is weird because they’re retaining and they may come back. But to answer your question, in order to contain them on your website for a longer time, is to have very interesting visuals. People would much rather see a picture or a video than read something. So, you don’t want a ton of text right upfront. Now, it’s important for SEO to have text on your website, obviously, but you need to think about hierarchy; what do you want the customer to see first, second, third, and so on? Lead them through that journey. If you’re leading them, they’re going to be interested, and continue along that journey with you. If you give them everything upfront and they’re bored, they’re gone.

Ted Jenkin:
Okay. Well, thanks so much for sharing your story today with everyone. And it’s amazing that it tells you out there that, whether you’re an entrepreneur or wantrepreneur, no matter what happens, even a global pandemic shouldn’t stop you from chasing your dreams. You still have to get a business plan and you definitely have to have a marketing plan, because, without a great website and a great marketing plan, your business probably won’t launch. So, Kayla, thanks so much for sharing your story today, and thanks so much for joining us right here. I’m Ted Jenkin, small business expert, right here on this week’s Atlanta Small Business Profile.


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