We are thrilled to announce that Michigan State University has selected Beacon for a 3-year web services contract (w/ 2-year extension option) that includes the University’s web development (Cascade CMS Support), web hosting and analytics. Beacon will support over 30 different organizations within the Michigan State University system. Due to the recent significant increase in web demand from these organizations, MSU is partnering with Beacon to support expected continued demand over the next 3-5 years in order to increase the continuity, quality, accessibility and security of MSU websites.
Managing brand, quality, accessibility and the sheer demand for web services is causing colleges and universities to consider longer-term, dedicated web partnerships. The Beacon Team is excited about supporting Michigan State’s web projects over the next several years, but also appreciative that such a prominent university recognizes our deep experience in Higher Ed for integrated web services. Emily Ledbetter, Account Executive at Beacon, worked on the contract and will now be focused on all the various campus organizations to build relationships as well as the work queue for the Beacon Team.
Burton and Burton, the world’s largest balloon and coordinating gift distributor (~15,000 products), has contracted with Beacon to overhaul their online store. While many websites change every couple of years, Burton and Burton’s current site has experienced a solid 6 year run that has seen continuous year-over-year growth. Based on deep studies of the underlying analytics, the new website will not only upgrade to new, leading edge ecommerce features, but also facilitate expedited growth through greater reach and engagement.
We are big believers in data-driven decision-making, our digital marketing team did an extensive analysis of the website data within Google Analytics. They then collaborated with our design and technical teams to lay out a strategy based on insights from the data that will drive the new design and technical improvements.
The new site will be constructed to align with current SEO protocol, which has changed dramatically over the last year… especially as Google moved to heavier emphasis on content relevance. The new website will also bring more visual appeal to the wide range of products offered by Burton and Burton, coupled with new features that improve usability and the entire online shopping experience. The primary technical platform will be basically the same with Beacon’s BeCommerce product wrapped with Cascade CMS, combining the best of both products – flexible product/order management and flexible, easy-to-use content management that is also search-engine friendly.
Earlier this month I joined a couple of my Beacon colleagues at HighEdWeb 2016 in Memphis, TN. They told me many times leading up to it that HighEdWeb is a great conference. Having experienced the conference for the first time now, I wholeheartedly agree.
— Gus Kroustalis (@guskroustalis) October 17, 2016
After helping set up the Beacon booth with our branding, free t-shirts, and YETI cooler giveaway drawing, I made my way to the first breakout session of the morning. I had the honor of presenting a session on how to avoid higher education website redesign pitfalls. The slides can be viewed below. There were a lot of other engaging sessions throughout the conference, some that I was able to attend, and others that attendees spoke about.
Throughout the conference, I met many higher education professionals, both on the marketing and web development/IT sides. The recent challenges and upcoming projects shared by many of them seemed to echo a clear sentiment in higher education: Providing a quality digital experience is critical to each institution’s well-being, as is the measurement and analysis of that experience.
The HighEdWeb conference staff, as well as the support staff at the convention center, made the entire event run smooth. During a little bit of downtime, we were able to experience a little bit of what makes Memphis a unique destination. At the top of the list were some of their famous pork ribs.
At the end of the last full day, the conference hosted a social outing at AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Birds baseball team, AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. A number of us joined together on the field for a marathon kickball game. With live music playing from the concession area, and the NLCS on the big screen, what a fun and unique experience it was.
— Aaron Hall (@llahnoraa) October 19, 2016
The conference concluded with a high point, the keynote address by Levar Burton. He spoke so passionately about his mentors, and empowering the youth in our communities with literacy and the arts.
As a last time before heading home, our group made a point to briefly visit the National Civil Rights Museum, built at the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
— Gus Kroustalis (@guskroustalis) October 19, 2016
We were thrilled to participate in HighEdWeb 2016, and excited to experience the great city of Memphis. We look forward to working with many higher education institutions over the next year, and then reuniting with many of them at HighEdWeb 2017 in Hartford, CT.
Today is Gary Synan’s last day at Beacon. Retirement and the beach have wooed him away after 12 years of dedicated service with my company. It’s bittersweet. He has played an important role as a web application developer, serving hundreds of Beacon’s clients over the years, but especially with the many Bassett Furniture projects. His technical expertise will be missed.
Gary has also been one of those people that contributes to the culture of Beacon – the unique and extensive holiday decorations, especially around Christmas (much of which has been passed to other employees), the pumpkin bread, the sports discussions and his involvement in a wide range of office hijinks and events. During his retirement celebration yesterday, as people shared “Gary Stories”, it was interesting that very few were work-related. That’s the way it should be. His office-fun will be missed.
When Beacon opened in 1998, the thought of employees retiring from Beacon never crossed my mind. Gary is our second retiree. Prior to Beacon, Gary and I worked together at AT&T and were teammates on softball and basketball teams. And for the last 12 years, day-in and day-out, Gary has worked alongside me and the entire Beacon Team to help our customers…and make Beacon what it is today. That’s a long time! For that, I am very thankful! He will be missed, but we wish him the best as he now focuses his time on golf, beach, family and friends. Enjoy retirement, Gary!
We hope you all enjoyed our April Fool’s fun last Friday. We certainly did. Members of my digital marketing team had the idea about a year ago, so incredibly funny concepts have been tossed around for a long time. Got to give lots of credit to Jordan Burleson (Digital Marketing Strategist), Logan Ray (Digital Marketing Specialist) and Keana Lynch (Lead UI Developer) for pulling this off. Also special thanks to Christy Joyce (graphics), Jordan Lowry (social media) and our Tech Support Group.
As a business owner, it’s always a little scary to push the envelope on things like this, particularly spoofing a company name change. However, it’s who we are. It’s our culture, and we like (need) to have a little fun to keep us creative as a team. Plus, with all the brilliant minds here at Beacon, collectively, this whole process was hysterical.
So, we are back to being Beacon again. Our website is back to normal, but we saved Bacon Technologies in case you missed it. Of course, as marketers, we had to assess the results for Makin’ Bacon as an April Fool’s joke. On Friday, we experienced the SECOND largest volume of traffic to our website in our 18 year history. It says a lot about the power of marketing that is either shocking, funny or drives curiosity. We had an overwhelming number of direct responses via email too. My three favorites were “stands up and does the slow clap”, “That’s funny fools ~ we do love Bacon and Beacon!”, and “You guys win the Internet today. Dare I say…Well done!” Thanks to everyone who chimed in.
And yes, we did catch a few people off guard. One asked for us to send a new W-9 with the new company name. And another asked for the Bacon logo so they could replace our Beacon logo on their website.
Now I just wonder (and am a bit concerned) about how the Beacon gang is going to raise the bar next year.
GREENSBORO NC. Since the company’s inception in 1998, Beacon Technologies has always advised its clients to “Listen to your customers,” when developing their websites or conducting online marketing. Now Beacon is finally practicing what it has preached for all these years. Mark Dirks, Beacon’s President, announced today that the company will operate under a new name, which allows it to introduce new services as well. “People have always misread ‘Beacon’ which caused them to not find us in Google or have their email returned – leading to lost business opportunities,” says Dirks. “So we made the bold decision internally to end the confusion once and for all by changing the company name to Bacon Technologies.”
Dirks admits that the new name may initially take some time to register with clients, but several marketing consultants were engaged in this undertaking. “From a marketing perspective, the world is moving toward more shocking, outrageous naming conventions simply to obtain higher visibility,” says Dirks. “Well, everyone loves bacon and since so many are already calling us that, it makes perfect sense. Check out our new website and you’ll see that it certainly stands out. It draws you in by appealing to all of your senses… especially our porkfolio.”
Of course, makin’ bacon is not easy. It requires a highly experienced team that knows how to process bacon efficiently and put it on the table. “Just like when developing websites, we have to know our audiences. When and how do they consume bacon?” says Jordan Burleson, one of Bacon’s Digital Marketing Strategists. “And we have to be mindful of language because you are dealing with Canadian, American, Turkey and many other preferences.”
Dirks acknowledges that this is an unexpected move, but marketing-driven. “It opens up a lot of new opportunities for us. For example, we will soon be providing bacon bits to customers who desire localized flavor on demand, with one shake!” (April 1, 2016… yes, it’s April Fool’s Day!)
Bacon Technologies is a recognized leader in web design, development & analytics for Higher Education and Ecommerce. Its full-service “Brains, Beauty & Brawn” approach consistently delivers websites that truly engage and support the needs of the varied audiences that use them. With one of the first Certified Google Analytics Partners in the country, lean on Bacon to garner the full power of GA for ROI-based decision-making. Our strategy, marketing and technology experts are all under one roof. So you can always count on an audience-focused, on-brand, easy-to-use and dependable website.
Beacon is excited to kickoff our 2016 conference season with a return to Mt. Holyoke College for HighEdWeb’s New England regional conference. The regional conferences always provide a friendly format to learn how folks within the area are improving the web experience for their audiences. The one day schedule is going to be chock full of information on the hot topics, including: content strategy, curated content, social media, web accessibility, branding, advancement and much more. Despite the aggressive single day agenda, we hope to find time to reconnect with many of our old friends and introduce ourselves to those we haven’t met. If you will be in attendance and can find a few minutes, please drop by our table to say “hello,” share your 2016 goals and learn more about how Beacon’s Brains. Beauty. Brawn. approach to web strategy may benefit your institution.
Gotta share this amazing story. In our “work life”, we know our colleagues mostly by their talents in the office from 9-5. But, on the 5-9 flipside, there’s a world of other talents, interests and activities. I love it when people step up to a challenge, or opportunity, and take action. I call it “walking the talk” (a phrase that some want to debate about, but look it up).
When you learn more about Keana Lynch, our Lead UI Web Developer, you’ll want to give her a high-five, a hug or maybe both! As an extremely devoted animal rescue activist, Keana stepped up to completely change the life of a desperate dog for whom “the buzzards were circling”, literally. When you look at the images, you will think “no way” and then, if you have a heart, it will likely skip a beat. It may be the most vivid picture of “doom” that I’ve ever seen. It’s ingrained in my mind like the old “agony of defeat” clip for the Wide World of Sports.
I don’t want to re-tell the story, because you can read what others have published all over the web (see links below). It was even featured in Yahoo News recently. She’s also getting calls from across the country from people who care and appreciate her work and kindness. We can certainly focus on animal cruelty and the importance of animal rescue here, but I’ll leave that to others. There’s also a great opportunity here to talk about the internet and viral stories. But for me, it’s just cool to see people, like Keana, get attention when they aren’t looking for it, when they are just doing what they believe is right, because they care.
What a year! We traveled around the U.S. to many new client locations, trade shows, speaking engagements and conferences. We worked hard to meet deadlines and budgets. We were there for our customers when they needed us. We delivered results and quality work. We did the “RFP-dance” many times to prepare strong proposals. And we learned a lot.
But we also laughed a lot. We saw marriages and new babies born within our work family. We had Pirate Day, Bad Sweater Day, Cookie Exchange, Thanksgiving Feast and offsite socials. We came together to raise money for Kids Path (Hospice), provide food to our community through Urban Ministry, and grow our support for the United Way with another increase in contributions over 2014. We had a good year.
Of course, taking care of our clients is always our top priority, but 2015 will be remembered for…
- “Brains, Beauty & Brawn” to represent the strategy/analytics, marketing/design and technology/development services provided by Beacon.
- The official unveiling of GAFUSION at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, which connects in-store sales to online marketing activity within Google Analytics.
- Full ramp-up of Beacon IT Services (“BITS”), providing proactive managed IT services to local small businesses that need dependable support.
- A great collection of insightful posts on the Beacon Blog from our expert staff. Check out the Top 15
Oh, and the numbers? Very nice. Thanks to a truly incredible team, 2015 saw
- our 7th consecutive year of revenue growth,
- 16% growth in our team,
- 20% growth in new College & University clients,
- and 70% growth of BITS clients in the Triad area.