The transformation of the Lowensteins’ farm was really starting to take shape
Stage 6: Webhosting
Much like a championship runner passing the baton to a teammate at an Olympic relay race, Elisheva Perlman and the Branding Together team were ready for the next member of the group to do their part as the finish line loomed tantalizingly near. It was webhosting time for Calmin’ Ground, giving the sensory-friendly farm an online presence that would whet the public’s appetite for its unique offerings, turning website visitors into paying customers.
Not at all that long ago, the Branding Together story would have concluded with some well-placed, cleverly designed advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and even the local Yellow Pages, but in today’s fast-paced digital world, creating a proper online presence for Calmin’ Ground was an essential part of the process.
In addition to providing a measure of credibility, having a website also allows a business to showcase its brand in a big way, driving sales by letting the world know who they are and what they are all about. With the Internet having become the primary source of information for so many people, websites are an incredibly efficient medium to attract customers, and it was clear that despite Calmin’ Ground’s low-tech, back-to-basics vibes, a well-designed state-of-the-art website was a necessity, not a luxury.
“A website is a 24/7 salesperson,” explains Elisheva Perlman, founder and creative director of both the Anelis Group, a boutique marketing firm, and the Branding Together contest. “You could be sleeping or you could be in Florida enjoying the sun, and this online ‘salesperson’ is telling people who you are, what you are, how to get in touch with you, and how to sign up, making it crucial to not only take the time to set up a website, but to do it very, very well.”
Given the sequential nature of the marketing process, Elisheva is a firm believer in taking things one step at a time — which means not just jumping headfirst into website design, no matter how tempting a strategy that may be. Since websites are constructed on a foundation consisting of campaign content, strategy, imagery, content creation, and advertising, it is actually one of the last chapters in any branding journey. And while there are many talented writers who can churn out high-quality press releases, headlines, and numerous other types of content all day long, hiring a dedicated website specialist to write that all-important text is a must in Elisheva’s book.
“There is an art to writing for websites, as well as a certain type of strategy and creative direction needed to turn a website into a sales funnel,” notes Elisheva. “Website copy really is a language all its own, which is why it is crucial to go to someone who has the expertise and specializes in that type of writing. In a sense, it is like taking your child to the plastic surgeon, when really all she needs is stitches. It’s not like an emergency room doctor can’t do the work, but you want to be sure that the person doing those sutures is going to do the best possible job.”
Equally important is a website’s structure and how information is broken up into various headings and pages. While the casual user might appreciate a website’s aesthetics and its ease of navigation, other components also yield tremendous power (see sidebar).
“Don’t just tell a client what you have to offer,” counsels Elisheva. “Give them the opportunity to book it right there on the spot and to pay for it. There are a lot of resources that already exist that make that experience so much easier.”
Mirroring true life, where even the most carefully planned projects can hit unexpected snags, Branding Together hit a minor bump in the road when its original web designer wasn’t able to stick around for the duration of the project. As leader of the creative team, Elisheva had to bring a replacement on board, with website developer Kalman Groner stepping in at the 11th hour to bridge the gap, exceeding all expectations as he worked around the clock to create a simple and uncluttered online presence for Calmin’ Ground. The rich imagery, messaging, and robust content previously created by the Branding Together team came to life on the website, letting visitors get their first taste of Calmin’ Ground and the many services it provides, while also providing them with the ability to schedule a visit quickly and easily.
Website copy really is a language all its own, which is why it is crucial to go to someone who has the expertise and specializes in that type of writing. In a sense, it's like taking your child to the plastic surgeon when they need stitches — it’s not like an emergency room doctor can’t do the work, but you want to be sure that the person doing those sutures is going to do the best possible job.
Testimonials are crucial to have on a website. They give potential customers a sense of security — they see that others already used the product or service and enjoyed the experience enough that they took the time to give positive feedback.
Video is another key element that really resonates with people, as is having a clear call to action, whether it be a way to make a reservation or to purchase an item.
Investing in SEO, search engine optimization, is crucial as it's the GPS for viewers to get to the site you spent so much money to build. If you don't invest in SEO, your customers might not find you online.
Name: Kalman Groner
Occupation: Business development through software/web development
Location: Lakewood, New Jersey
Years of experience: 22
Favorite part of the job: Identifying operational inefficiencies and coding their solutions
As a child, Lakewood resident Kalman Groner was fascinated by the persuasive power of mail-order catalogs, sparking his fascination with the sales process. His affinity for the computer keyboard and his diligent studies in sales went hand in hand, and by the time he was 16, Kalman had been hired to design a website for A&B Fish, his first paying client. That job opened the floodgates, with clients beating a path to Kalman’s door, and he soon built a business that served a wide array of industries, including wholesale, retail, fashion, health care, finance, and manufacturing.
The thrill of converting website visitors into customers is something that never gets old for Kalman, but when a fashion client found itself overwhelmed by a deluge of orders pouring in on its fax machine, he rose to the challenge by creating operational solutions to help the business run more efficiently, an experience that took his own company to the next level.
Today, Kalman’s company, Kangaroo Partners, creates solutions to drive businesses growth, focusing on learning about their clients’ businesses and target markets to identify operational inefficiencies and areas of opportunity, providing software solutions, including customized websites that offer clients everything they need and nothing they don’t. Over the years, Kalman has seen websites become an invaluable businesses tool, and he views them not as a piece of software but as an actual member of the team.
Kalman has created digital solutions for manufacturing industries, insurance companies, some of Amazon’s biggest sellers, and well-known names including Torah Umesorah, Riverside Abstract, Sirius XM, Dish Network, MaxiHealth, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and the New York City Board of Education. Kalman notes that in addition to helping clients optimize their businesses, a well-designed website can enhance a smaller company, positioning them as experts in their respective fields.
“When you see a business that presents themselves well, you tend to view them as an authority,” says Kalman. “Taking that one step further, if a website has tools that provide functionality and they work well, it gives clients confidence that they are working with someone who will get the job done.”
After joining the Branding Together team, Kalman took his family to Calmin’ Ground, spending a Sunday getting acquainted with the animals and all that the farm had to offer.
“I tried to get the vibe of the place and, when I met Yossi, I was struck by how passionate he is about helping children,” observes Kalman.
While some websites are shopping-oriented, others are more informational, and Calmin’ Ground’s site fell in somewhere in between, combining an overview of the facility with an element of purchase power. Sticking to a design that mirrored the farm’s relaxed environment, Kalman gave the Lowensteins the ability to post messages regarding daily activities on their site, which gives visitors get a quick feeling for the farm as well as the ability to schedule appointments for riding lessons and Calmin’ Ground’s sensory hour.
“The website really needed just a little bit of content, keeping the focus primarily on the visuals and the great photography that they had,” says Kalman. “The old saying definitely applied here — a picture really is worth a thousand words — and this site is going to do a good job for Calmin’ Ground.”
Seeing their new website taking shape was an exciting experience for Yossi and Leah on multiple levels. For months on end, they had been working hand in hand with Elisheva, her team at the Anelis Group and the creatives as they made their way down a figurative trail, honing in on their business’s core values and concretizing those concepts in a full package of deliverables. But with the website coming online, Yossi and Leah found themselves heading down an all new path, one that would take them and Calmin’ Ground in a new and improved direction.
“It was hard to believe that after all this time, we were finally getting to the point where we could present our new identity to the public,” says Leah. “The new website is exactly what we need to give people a glimpse of Calmin’ Ground and all the information they need to plan their visit. We can easily see how visiting us online will get people excited and wanting more, and we can’t wait to welcome them personally to Calmin’ Ground.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 879)
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