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New 'Park + Prime + Power' Subscriptions Take Your Website to the Next Level

If I told you what I really did during the winter holidays, you might feel inclined to sigh and pity me. But, the reality is, working on business—specifically revising processes, implementing new structures, and powering through the necessary systematization efforts—brings me more joy than it probably should. There are actually very few times, other than extended holiday breaks, where things get quiet enough around the studio for me to concentrate and actually get those necessary tasks done. (That may be how and where the joy seeps in.)

Truth is: Twenty-twenty really work me up to the importance of strong systems and the power that comes from wielding that knowledge for myself. It also showed me how fortunate I am to live and work in my own metaphorical test kitchen, making the recipe development and tasting process all that much sweeter. This is really the core of what we do around here. Sure, we build powerful and stunning brands and digital properties, but none of that matters if the websites aren’t serving the business on the backend. And, it’s time to drink our own champaign.

This process—or rather the start-up process—of systematizing my studio practice wasn’t easy though. I had to physically outline all of our service areas, how they communicate with each other, which have the opportunity and ability to be truly autonomous and which will require a little more hand-holding from the team and I. Then, from the list of things with the potential to actually become a virtual or autonomous system, I had to prioritize their development based on whether or not there was true demand/need for that system (amongst existing and forthcoming clients) and what the capabilities would be off the bat.

Digital property development is the lifeblood of our business. These long-lead projects can span anywhere from 2-4 weeks for “the most together” clients and 6-9 months for those in which we take a more integrated approach. Depending on the client and need we could be at the helm of everything from custom content (photography and videography and copy) to backend software and systems implementation to the actual design and build of the site. This work is meaningful to the organization and therefore requires a lot of time and attention on the backend, increasing both investments and turnaround times. When this dries up, we dry up.

Perhaps I was always washed away in the excitement of incoming projects or, perhaps, it was just something that needed to be fleshed out in due time. However, historically, I have only ever Managed and Maintained approximately 10% of the sites I’ve built. (There are many factors here, namely the relationship between the studio and the client; the intentions, needs, abilities, and so-on.) The properties I did hold onto were based almost solely on the relationship I shared with the client, either other agencies or young entrepreneurs who needed a more hands-on approach to the technological side of having a website.

We thrived, as an agency, with nearly forty-some-odd hosted digital properties and a healthy roster of recurring work before I terminated the offering approximately two years ago. During this time I was experiencing a painful intolerance for the growing pains, stemming from my decision to evolve my freelance practice into a full-fledged agency venture. The prices and inclusions needed to be both elevated and restructured and, the truth is, that revised offering would take some clarity to design and implement. Clarity that could only come with time.

Eighteen months was all the time I needed before I was able to regain the perspective necessary to reframe, redesign, and begin the process of reimplementing what would become the new framework for an entirely new department we’re calling EM&A Managed Digital and the subsequent plug-and-play subscription model, ‘Park + Prime + Power’ that would support it.

About the system and subscriptions:

Park + Prime + Power by EM&A Managed Digital makes the taxing process of registering, hosting, securing, licensing, and promoting your website easier (we think!) than ever. By offering scalable retainers and inclusions we’ve been able to curate and deliver á la carte options that support (almost) every organization through equally comprehensive service and fee.

Starting at $99 USD per-month, Parked by EM&A is a month-to-month Managed Hosting subscription model that works to reserve and maintain domain and security socket licensure as well as unlimited digital property storage and bandwidth allowances. By parking with us, clients also receive Google Search Console & Analytics data captured and reported automatically, along with the autonomous monitoring of the entire system, security gateways, and end-user performance. Clients are also welcomed to ‘drop-in’ to weekly Office Hours to share needs, feedback, or just join in the conversation of best practices for building and growing your site.

Eric Michael & Associates presents Primed as a first-of-its-kind, hybrid month-to-month subscription model pulling balance between Managed Hosting and Managed Maintenance needs. Covered by the $199 USD monthly retainer (or discounted to $289 USD when bundled with ‘Parked’ plan), themes, plugins, and ancillary softwares are given automatic updates as well as manual quarterly check-ups (site) and one-on-one check-ins (with the client) for review of comprehensive, quarterly reports. Or, bundle Park + Primed together and save.

Powered by EM&A takes the convenience, control, and transparency one step further, for clients. Covering the costs associated with setup and management of search and social SEO and PPC needs, this extends a clear cut for the general ledger. By subscribing to this month-to-month model, clients receive a stronger (more hands-on) understanding of how their digital property is being presented on the world wide web and the various action items/steps that could work to improve ranking and, ultimately, end-user engagement. Pay-Per-Click advertising setup and management costs are also covered (for up to three campaigns) in this one, competitive monthly retailer ($2,499); supported with monthly check-ins, reviewing each.

A twelve-month commitment is required to activate both Parked and Primed models and a six-month commitment for the activation of Powered, all subscriptions go month-to-month after those terms.

Because I know many accountants and CPAs will advise their clients to shy away from our primary vendor in this initiative, I’d just like to say this to clear the air: PayPal has been an incredible partner of ours for the better part of the last two decades and we work diligently to educate and train our clients and partners on how the system (really) works. We value their commitment to serving our shared clients (you!) while also working to ensure transactions are processed and handled in a timely and most efficient manner. It’s important, from your perspective, to understand the vast and multi-dimensional nature of the PayPal system and what it does for B2C and B2B organizations and consumers; it’s more than a payment gateway, as you’ll come to see. Our favorite aspect of the PayPal service suite is the wildly accessible and user-friendly interface it extends to our shared clients. When setup properly, through the single site, PayPal.com, you’re able to subscribe and manage your subscriptions all in one place with total control at your fingertips. The reason most CPAs and accountants shy away from gateways like PayPal, because I know you’re wondering, is, frankly, because they don’t understand them—although more are becoming more-and-more educated.

‘Park + Prime + Power’ by EM&A Managed Digital is a truly exciting return to endeavor for us and I’ve, personally, never been more excited for a product launch in years. This, I know for sure, is the slice-and-dice option the entrepreneurial (and solopreneurial) communities have needed for quite some time and it’s been an honor to introduce you to it.

Feel free to explore the new ‘Park + Prime + Power’ page on the site. You’re also welcomed to my personal calendar to open a larger discussion around capabilities, add-ons, and other inclusions.

Eric Michael & Associates welcome Shopify store customization, development, and deployment to the studio.

I Heart Shopify

Foreword: Eric Michael has extended a limited time Special Pricing offer to incoming or existing clients looking to establish a new eCommerce digital property using the Shopify software. Terms and conditions apply.

If I am being totally honest, when I first entered the web development space (wayyy back in 2008), I hadn’t given much thought to ROI or profitability in terms of new web design assignments. Mostly because (wayyy back then) no one was – people were struggling to find stability in the real world, let alone the wild wild west of the [then] internet. It took about two or three years – right around 2010 – before eCommerce design and development projects (or even ideas!) started popping up. But, once they did, they never stopped.

In the same vein that you’d never hire a chef only willing to work with one ingredient, it’s imperative that designers and developers and business strategists maintain a strong understanding of the tools and resources (hardwares and softwares) that go into making their jobs not only seamless but successful. That said, I’ve kept a close eye on a number of softwares and solutions in the eCommerce space and, eventually, settled pretty comfortably into one.

Thankfully that one solution, WooCommerce, was deemed our “go-to” and held their own in the industry for quite a while. They got better and better with every new release of their program; their backend was user-friendly, functionality was always evolving, and they seemed to be making consistent contributions to the directory of “add-on” applications. Still, there were a few things that the team and I couldn’t shake from our list of needs and the waiting game for their arrival or injection into the core software was getting too indefinite. And, so, inquiring minds wandered.

That’s when we began flirting with Shopify again.

It was a magic moment, like running into a previous love for the first time in a decade. Nervous and anxious but mostly curious about all of the ways in which they’ve changed and how the both of you may have changed together, for the better. It was fantastic. It was love at second glance. A new user interface, stronger core, more intentional functionality, and countless productivity plugins. This was our future. This was everyone’s future. We knew it instantly.

Over the years, Shopify has made leaps and bounds in becoming a major contender for marketshare in the eCommerce world. Their platform, originally built for their own product line (snowboards), has become so coveted and such a versatile software that it’s attracted the likes of world-famous entrepreneurs and some of the most-coveted brands. (I can’t name-drop here, but we can talk offline.)

And that’s our cue.

My job – and the job of my extended team – is to not only make you outshine the rest of the world – through incomparable hands-on branding and web development services – but to make you out-perform them too. Shopify offers a comprehensive out-of-the-box software that pairs well with a seemingly infinite number of collaborators – from Mailchimp to eBay, Zapier, Facebook, Zendesk, Hubspot, and a slew of others.

Shopify makes it easier than any other platform for developers (like us!) to establish and build the eCommerce connection while also granting the transactional ability to hand it off to the client for future ownership, upon its completion. On the client end, we can offer a sliding scale approach to shop management: Have as little or as much control as you like. And, of course, all Shopify stores are welcomed to ongoing maintenance to assist in the ongoing changes that often follow in the wake of a new development project.


Please note: This is no more a #SponsoredPost (and it isn’t) than it is an announcement that we will only be working with Shopify from here on out. (Neither of those statements are the reality.) This is just a much-deserved nod and show of respect to the tremendous effort that Shopify has made in developing such a powerful platform and incomparable software for their clients (and developers!). And, a little reminder that we’re here for you when you’re feeling ready to take your retail project to the next level: World domination.


Eric Michael outlines the advertising and media buying process.

How It Works: Advertising & Media Buying

Once upon a time there was a young graphic designer, peddling his ernest creative talents to small and medium-sized businesses in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Interest was high though, try as he might, each project seemed to be a “one off.” Once he completed their web development work, a client would leave; only to return when edits or software updates were needed. This inspired the need for a recurring revenue generator and what motivated the budding entrepreneur to begin offering media buys.

I was that young designer, and that’s exactly what brought me into the world of media buying.

Media Buying — by industry definition — is the process by which a third party agency collaborates with a client to budget and place advertising dollars over an extended period of time. Since 2010, I have been helping small to large-sized organizations curate, implement, monitor, and recalibrate their marketing and communications efforts. Media Brokering has been an integral part of those operations; the secret sauce that’s whipped up behind the scenes.

It’s no longer enough to just populate your various feeds across the tangled world wide web, this interactive content needs to be boosted, promoted, and sponsored in order to land in front of the correct audience. Why? Because, you’re looking to attract new customers — not just the ones who have already subscribed to your feed. (Though, the content still needs to speak to them.)

There are three key reasons why an organization might want to retain a media buying specialist:

Because a buyer forces you to work smarter, not harder. Specialists, with experience in media buying, are going to work with you to research and align your individual product or service with the right media outlet. Most people, when they do it themselves, they go with whatever outlet/station/platform they think is most popular and effective with very little research. Throwing money to the wind, so to speak.

Because a buyer has power. Third party agencies/brokers know what questions need to be asked and can spot the appropriate time to negotiate on rates. (Which, happens to be all of the time.) They have the leverage you need to get the most bang for your buck. Contrary to popular belief, this leverage surpasses traditional media outlets and dips into new-age platforms as well, with the right connections.

Because it’s convenient. Beyond the rush of incoming calls from ad sales reps, producers, and everyone else who has learned you’ve got funds to allocate, buying your own ads sometimes leads to those ads being run in the less-attractive windows in the broadcast period. Why? Because they can. Media brokers reduce the risk of these kinds of practices; in most cases, the station/network is relying on the support of the broker for more than one account.

How it Works

BRIEFING

Together, we meet to discuss current pain-points, objectives, messaging, overall expectation, and touch on budget.

PROPOSAL

Information in-hand, I plan and promptly present suggestions for the best platforms, methods, and allocation of the overall budget.

ACTIVATION

Formal budgets are set, agreements are signed, campaigns are coordinated, and resources disseminated to the appropriate partner.

TWEAK

Once implemented, we carefully monitor campaign exposure, engagement, and make necessary adjustments to maximize the client’s ROI.