Fortress – Behind the Name

[Written from the perspective of Joel Mathew.]

Strength. Safety. Stability. 

Fortress embodies all of those and more. 

Our rock solid foundation is built on genuine relationships, consistency, and respect for our company and clients. We are a family. We are a team

I built this company after experiencing a discouraging work environment, a dog-eat-dog world where my colleagues and employers were focused on money alone. After witnessing a toxic atmosphere where creativity is stifled and voices go unheard, I knew I needed to make a change. And when I couldn’t find anything better in the corporate world, I decided to build my own business with its own culture.

Here at Fortress, we do the opposite. We steer clear of that culture, eliminate that selfish environment, and replace it with something stronger. Our company name is a symbolic representation of that. We are a fortified place, a stronghold, and a place of comfort and peace for both our team and clients. We dedicate our time and energy to building genuine relationships and treating people with the respect they deserve. 

We respect, care, and love our people. For that reason, the words employer and employee are rarely used here. You will only hear us use one word: team.

When people hear the name Fortress, we want this same sense of respect, comfort, and security to be felt. I want them to trust who their dollars are going to – people who are client-success obsessed, who possess unmatched energy and passion, who operate differently and authentically, who value integrity, rest, and generosity. 

Because of this mindset and attitude, we have built a strong foundation that cannot be shaken. After starting out with nothing, carving a path for ourselves, and fighting through the pandemic, we are stable amidst chaos. 

With our core values at the heart of all our work, we will always be a fortress for our team and our clients.

Joel Mathew | CEO & Founder

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

Psalms 62:6

Fortress Wins 3 Telly Awards!

We’re Proud to Announce Our 3 New Telly-Award Winning Productions!

We’re thrilled to have won three Telly Awards for our commercial productions – “Imagine” General Admission Spot for Southern Illinois University, “Imagine” Hispanic Latino Spot for Southern Illinois University, and “On Chicago’s Side” for Walner Law. 

The Telly Awards, founded in 1979, honor excellence in local and regional broadcast and video commercials across all screens. Each year, the Telly Awards receive 12,000 entries from all 50 states and from 5 continents. We are honored to have been chosen as award recipients in their 43rd year. 

Our commercials for Southern Illinois University – “Imagine” General Admission Spot and “Imagine” Hispanic Latino Spot – were each one of just three winners for the production of Regional TV for a school, college, or university. Additionally, our production of Walner Law’s “On Chicago’s Side” was also just one of three winners for Local TV regarding law and legal services. 

Taking Our Video Production Capabilities to the Next Level

After winning our first Telly Award in 2021 for another Southern Illinois University commercial titled “It’s Our Turn,” we were even more determined to keep up the momentum, producing top-quality commercials for our clients. Winning three more Tellys in 2022 is a testimony to the time and energy put into producing captivating, professional, and visionary videos. 

This is a proud moment for our team. However, the real reward is seeing the positive impact that these commercials have had on our clients’ businesses. As with everything we do, we will continue to improve, advance, and innovate to bring success to our clients. 
Take a look at our production reel which showcases all of our video capabilities, from animation to full-production commercials.


From Script to Screen, We’ve Got You Covered

In addition to video production, Fortress also specializes in the placement of commercials on broadcast, cable, and OTT. 

From script to screen, Fortress has you covered.

If you have any questions about how video production can help build your brand and drive leads to your business, contact us.

SEO Is Complicated: Here are Four Common Mistakes Brands Make

With some aspects of digital marketing, winging it might – just might – get you by. For example, social media is a space for bold experimentation and can be left up to each brand’s discretion, and the same could be said for some types of email marketing. With those, driving home a compelling narrative is more important than individual word choice. However, when it comes to SEO, you are dealing with a whole different beast – Google. Google, and other major search engines, have the power to determine whether or not your site will be visible to potential users. According to Ahrefs’ recent study, 90% of sites don’t receive any visitors from Google. At all.  Ensure that your site will be part of the 10% by avoiding these common SEO mistakes.


SEO Mistake #1: Using Too Many Highly Competitive Keywords

As a web user, when was the last time you did a Google search and scrolled past the first page of results? It’s probably been a while, if ever, right? The second page of results is not where you want to be as a brand, and, oftentimes, a site ends up there because there are too many high-competition keywords on the page and not enough niche ones that make your website unique.

This is not to say avoid competitive keywords like the plague – because they are competitive for a reason – but without the right balance, you risk drowning in a sea of websites that look too much like yours in terms of keyword use.

The best way to avoid this mistake is taking advantage of the many search engine optimization resources available like Google Analytics, Keywords Everywhere, SE Ranking, and more. These services often feature metrics that will tell you how difficult it is for a specific keyword to rank on the first page of Google, thus increasing your organic traffic. It will be well worth your investment, especially if you own a site with a low domain rating.


SEO Mistake #2: Overlooking Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions

Metadata is crucial in helping your web page rank high on search engines. So what exactly is it? Well, the root “meta” refers to “the self.” Essentially, metadata is data that references or describes other data. It is the text that informs the reader about what they are about to read if they click onto the site. You’ve seen it before. Here’s an example of what effective metadata looks like:



So why is it important to make sure you include and optimize metadata in your SEO strategy? The answer is user convenience. You can see how Fortress strategically uses keywords in its meta descriptions, informing interested readers about what we do. These descriptions are important because they not only build up our credibility but also introduce readers to our distinct voice, right there in the search results. The goal with these descriptions is to simultaneously answer initial questions a reader might have, such as “Who in Chicago can help me get my brand developed?” as well as invite them to peruse the site in full. Once they’re in, you’re in business.

SEO Mistake #3: Not Integrating Social Media with SEO

The year is 2022. The reality is that some of the old rules of thumb regarding search engine optimization have lost some of their relevance. Namely, brands can no longer get by without pairing their SEO strategy with social media. Building up social media profiles by creating consistent and unique content is absolutely essential to driving up traffic. It establishes your reputation. It increases visibility. Here’s proof: research was recently conducted by CognitiveSEO that revealed a link between the number of engagements on social media and site ranking.

While there is no direct link between social media and SEO, that does not mean brands can ignore the clear indirect link social media has in boosting site traffic considerably. 

SEO Mistake #4: Neglecting the Mobile Experience

Search engines take into consideration how mobile-friendly your site is when determining its ranking. When we talk about SEO evolving, this is a huge part of that, because everyone knows the most common way we access sites is on our mobile devices. Whether it’s ordering a Lyft, browsing for a new apartment, or quickly perusing a restaurant’s website before deciding to dine, we are attached to the convenience of our cell phones.

The way to avoid this mistake is to constantly remind ourselves that SEO is not strictly a conversation about keywords. Staying on brand is just as important. Websites with high-quality design are engaging in more ways than simply with their written content will perform better. Unequivocally.

As you read these mistakes, make note of them and how to avoid them, but most of all remember the general rule of always keeping your user in mind: UEO – User Experience Optimization, if you will. Your customers and clients will thank you.

Influencer Marketing: How it Works and Where it’s Heading

When are you more likely to be interested in a product or service? Is it when a stranger representing a company is selling it to you in a traditional advertisement? Chances are you will hit “Skip Ad” right away or scroll past. 

But what if the person you see is a familiar face, someone you admire in some way – or at least recognize? Then there’s potential, and that’s where influencer marketing comes in. In this blog, we’re going to highlight what strategies have proven successful in the past and forecast what trends will make waves in influencer marketing in 2022.


How and When Does Influencer Marketing Work?

Influencer marketing works best when the chosen influencer has a consistently devoted base of supporters. This should come as no surprise, because by definition, an influencer is someone with an established level of credibility in their field. 

They have reached their elite status by being people-pleasers. Let them do the work of adding credibility to your brand. Here’s the truth: chances are they’re better at it than you. Nielsen has reported that 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals over brands. 


Plan Your Strategy

Once you’ve decided to adopt an influencer marketing strategy, then comes the time to set a plan about how you’re actually going to implement it. One option to strongly consider is prioritizing the use of short-form video in your strategy. 

Short form video has been proven to be an effective way to get through to consumers. As we have referenced in a past blog, short-form video has the highest return on investment of any marketing strategy in the social media space. 


Predictions – Where Will Influencer Marketing go in 2022?

It can be hard to keep up with the constantly evolving landscape of social media. However, if you look closely enough, you can make note of the direction things are headed in terms of what marketing approaches are growing in popularity.

One of these emerging trends is the use of college athletes as influencers. Until very recently, college athletes were not allowed by the NCAA to profit off their name, image, and likeness. Now that that has changed thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, it will give more brands the ability to use athletes to promote their products and services.

Professional athletes are often at a premium, but college athletes are, on average, easier to acquire and work with. Take Braelon Allen as a recent example of this in practice. Allen is a freshman running back for the University of Wisconsin football team who is coming off a tremendous season.

At just eighteen years old, he’s already a big-time ambassador for a company called Iron-Joc, a clothing brand based in Wisconsin. Since bringing him on as an influencer, they have tripled their sales, according to their founder and owner, Paul Hanson. 

Expect to see more and more of similar uses of college athletes as influencers in 2022 and beyond.

Another trend that we predict will be significant in the future of influencer marketing is the advances that platforms like Tik-Tok are making in their live-streaming capabilities. 

Imagine a live Q&A session with an influencer regarding a product instead of a pre-recorded video message. You just can’t beat that kind of engagement between influencer and consumer, so expect to see more of that across all social media- whether it be Tik-Tok, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, or Twitter’s “Spaces” feature.



The key universal takeaways here are to know your audience, stand for something, and establish goals for what you are trying to accomplish in using influencer marketing. 

Know your audience, meaning think about the demographic that is inclined to be interested in your product. As is the case with short-form video, in general, younger audiences are more likely to be won over by influencer marketing.

Stand for something, meaning make sure your content is promoting a message that people are likely to support. It is more complicated to try to get consumers to identify with brands that are irresponsible with or dismissive of concerns regarding environmental sustainability, as an example. Make space to reassure your base that you care about what they care about.

Establish goals, meaning know what your ultimate intentions are in developing your strategy. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, encourage people to try a product, simply gain followers, or increase sales?

Short-Form Video is Taking Over Digital Marketing in 2022

People in 2022 expect their interactions to be efficient and brief. Commuters expect their trains and buses to arrive on time, and their coffees to be made fast. The realm of digital marketing is no different. When these same people browse the internet searching for content to consume, their attention spans are short. It is crucial for brands to realize this and examine the helpfulness or short-form video to boost their site traffic sales, and clientele. 


Social Media and Short-Form Video


According to HubSpot, in their 2022 Marketing Industry Trends Survey, short-form video has the highest Return on Investment (ROI) of any marketing strategy involving social media. They found that thirty percent of social media marketers plan to invest in short-form video more than any other trend in 2022. 

This isn’t shocking when you take a look at just how powerful and popular the platform Tik-Tok has become in the world of social media. Specializing in these short-form videos as opposed to still images or longer-form videos, Tik-Tok has over one billion active users. For comparison, Twitter has 186 million daily active users. Even more noteworthy, teenagers in particular are hooked on Tik-Tok, spending an average of 80 minutes per day on the platform. 

For an example of how powerful influencer marketing on Tik-Tok can be, look no further than Chipotle. Tailored toward the key Gen Z audience, Chipotle has created numerous “challenges” for followers to complete and brought in major influencers to spread the word. In one of these challenges, called the #ChipotleLidFlip campaign, Chipotle partnered with influencer David Dobrik, resulting in 111,000 submissions in the first week of the campaign, and hundreds of millions of views. Your brand may not be as big as Chipotle, but the lesson is clear; tailor your short-form content on Tik-Tok toward the demographic that uses it the most, young people. 


What does effective use of short-form video look like?

Finding success with short-form videos will depend on your company’s overall content strategy, but there are a few things to highlight that can be useful for all brands. First, use short-form video to invite engagement. If on social media, invite users to comment and share your video and incentivize them to do so. Think about any promotional content your company could produce, which would drive strong engagement and create the reposts and retweets you’re looking for. In a similar vein, short-form video can be productively used for things like product teasers and supplementary information embedded in website content.

Here is an example of an effective use of short-form video, from one of Fortress Consulting’s clients, Chicago-based Falafel and Shawarma restaurant, Benjyehuda. It’s a simple idea being executed here, but it’s effective, nonetheless. When the user sees the overhead shot of the employee putting together a meal, they themselves, while scrolling through their Instagram reels feed, can envision making a trip to Benjyehuda for a meal. 

Here is another example of short-form video and how it can be effective, from Fortress.


Short Form Video for Website Content

Another slightly different but equally important example of how short-form video can enhance your brand is seen with this webpage from another one of Fortress’ clients, Action Injury Law Firm. Action’s goal in including multiple case studies on their website is to show their potential future clients just how dedicated they are to the success of the individuals they represent. As you can see on the link provided, they included a clip of their client, James Gibson, speaking about his case. The video is about ninety seconds long, but its effect is just as strong, even if the average user only watches thirty seconds of it. What this video does is provide true testimony to the work Action does, from a client themselves, not a company representative.

While we tend to think of social media as the main place for short-form videos to thrive, the Action Injury Law Group example shows that all companies, regardless of their presence on social media or the services they provide, can benefit from incorporating short-form videos into their digital persona.



Remember that short form video is your friend, regardless of the size of your business. Tik-Tok presents an immense opportunity for smaller brands to reach wider audiences. This is because their algorithms allow posts to go viral regardless of how many followers the account who posted the video has.

While some content is better than no content when it comes to short-form videos, the best practice is to be as creative and engaging as possible. Thinking about how to tailor your videos towards a younger audience.

Rebranding: When, Why, and How

Defining Your Business From the Inside, Out


A rebrand is more than just a new look, it’s an opportunity to make fundamental improvements to your business. Nothing great remains the same. If the times are changing, your brand should be, too.


Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve


How you look should be about who you are. If you don’t know who you are, it will show in your brand. If you look at your brand and something feels off, take that as a sign that you need to revisit who you are. 


Your business is not the same as it was 10 years ago. By redefining your mission, vision, and values, you can reconnect with yourself and the people you serve. As a result, a rebrand will just make sense—elements like a new logo, website, and mission statement will simply fall into place.


At Fortress, our new look was motivated by our new mission. When our mission changed, so did we. Our daily operations have improved, the way we interact with clients has changed, and how we view ourselves has evolved. A new logo and website is only an outward expression of that.


Nice to Meet You, Again


Your brand not only represents you, but it represents your audience. If you fall out of touch with what your audience wants, you’ll lose them. Once again, this is about more than just visual appeal. Your ability to connect with your audience ultimately comes down to your ability to serve them.


That means that a rebrand is also a great time to take a look at the services you provide with a magnifying glass.


  • Ask yourself what services are still relevant to your audience and which are not.
  • Determine how the services you provide can change and improve to better serve your clients.
  • Identify any new services that you are capable of providing and that your customers will benefit from.


The services you provide your audience will help to shape how your brand looks, feels, and sounds. As a result, you will be placing your customers at the foundation of your brand and will connect with them on a deeper level.


Don’t Wait for Your Brand to Come Back Into Style


Your brand is not like fashion, it won’t come back into style no matter how long you wait. If it’s been more than 5 years since you’ve revisited your brand, you might want to change that. If it’s been more than 10 years, you must change that. 


Not every brand will need to make drastic changes, but frequently checking in with your mission and audience gives magnetic confidence to your brand. Even if it’s changing something small like a line of copy on your website or the images that you use in your monthly newsletter, when your voice comes through in every detail, people will gravitate toward your brand.


Take a client of ours, Walner Law, for example. Jon Walner has been representing Chicago people for nearly 60 years. Over that time he became well-known as one of the city’s best personal injury lawyers. The problem was that his brand did not represent that rich history. Walner Law had used the same logo since 1988, and it was no longer resonating with the firm’s audience—the people of Chicago.



With the help of Fortress, Jon Walner was able to rebrand himself as “Chicago’s Personal Injury Lawyer” with a brand new logo, one that symbolized the firm’s commitment to Chicago, and a powerful ad campaign that communicated Jon’s passion and experience.


Regardless of the amount of success your business has had in the past, it can still benefit from a rebrand. You may discover a new audience, new services, or a more powerful voice—everything it takes to keep growing your business.


How to Rebrand, Step-by-Step


1. Revisit and redefine your mission.

2. Get in touch with your audience and seek out new audiences.

3. Reevaluate your services and add new services to better serve that audience.

4. Let the “new you” speak for itself through web design, logos, content, and social media.


In reality, the redesign aspect of your rebrand is the simple part. That is if you put in the work to truly know yourself and define your goals. Still, we know how important amazing design is to communicating that story you have worked so hard to develop. That’s where Fortress comes in. 


You are the hero in your story, let us help you tell it. Start a project with us today, or explore more of the brand transformations we have helped our clients achieve.

When Facebook Falls, Don’t Let Your Business Go With It

October 4th’s Facebook Outage Shows Businesses the Importance of a More Diverse Digital Marketing Strategy


Love it or hate it, Facebook is one of the best places to advertise and grow your business. 3 million businesses advertise on Facebook to an audience of over 2.14 billion people, and a lot of these users are customers who use Facebook to find information, ask questions, and stay connected to businesses. Nearly 67% of Facebook users will visit a local business page at least once a day looking for information. With numbers like that, Facebook has become essential to most businesses, especially small and local brands. 


It may be tempting to put all of your eggs into Facebook’s basket, but what happens when Facebook is no longer accessible?


On October 4th, 2021, Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram) shut down for almost 7 hours. It might not have been a big deal for you personally, but for the millions of businesses that rely on those social media sites to conduct business, 7 hours can cause a lot of damage. 


If it happened once, it can happen again. Is your business able to stay operational without platforms like Facebook and Instagram? If your answer is “no”, or even “maybe”, it may be time to focus some of your marketing efforts elsewhere.


A Facebook Page is NOT a Website

Somebody had to say it: a Facebook page is not a website. 


If the most important information about your business is only found on social media, you are missing out on potential customers. 


While Facebook—or any major social media platform—has remained a tremendous tool for growing your brand and reaching new customers, you would be shooting your business in the foot by relying on it as your sole internet presence.


Social Media Drives Business, Websites Do Business

Billions of people have a Facebook account, but that doesn’t mean they are using it to make buying decisions. Most people will Google your business looking for a website to back you up. If the only thing they find is a Facebook page, your brand loses both credibility and professionalism. 


During an outage like Facebook’s, you’re abandoning the audience you already have and giving them no way to find information about your business. This is why websites for your business are essential. With a website, as long as your customer has internet access, they have access to your business. 


This is not to say you should ditch Facebook altogether—you certainly should not. However, any social media should only be a supplement to your digital presence. Facebook will help you to grow an audience, but a website is where you build brand recognition, credibility, and conversions. 


Diversify Your Marketing Strategy

A smart investor would never place all their money into a single stock. So why would you conduct business on a single, volatile platform?


Facebook offers a large audience, but it is not a fully comprehensive one. To reach a more diverse and complete audience, it is important to diversify your marketing strategy.


Allocate some of your marketing budget to other platforms such as Google and YouTube. You should also consider email marketing which can help you stay connected to the audience you already have, and gives you a means of communication during Facebook blackouts.


Get Noticed

When you finally get your business’s website up and running—or if you’re looking for ways to improve your existing website—make sure it breaks through the noise. Fortress provides a free marketing audit, which will identify areas of improvement within your website’s SEO, social strategy, Google rankings, and overall marketing performance.


Don’t have a website yet? We can help with that, too. Start a project with us, and let’s work together to set your brand up for success in an ever-changing world.

The OSI Model: 7 Layers of Security

The OSI model is an essential tool for understanding how a network operates. It’s also an essential tool when it comes to cybersecurity. Understanding the 7 stages of the OSI model and the cyber threats that exist at each layer will greatly improve your network security. A layer-by-layer approach to cybersecurity following the OSI model is one of the most thorough and effective methods for conducting penetration testing, allowing you to identify and remediate any vulnerabilities in your network and prevent cyber attacks.


What is the OSI model?


The Open Systems Interconnection model, or OSI model, describes the way a network system communicates, or how data is exchanged between point A and point B. It breaks down the flow of a network into 7 different stages. Below, you’ll find basic descriptions of each stage.


1. Physical


At the base of the OSI model is the physical layer. This layer represents the electrical and physical components of your system. These components include cables, routers, modems, and other physical requirements.


2. Data Link


This layer manages data and information that are exchanged across the same physical network.


3. Network


The network layer is where most router functions occur. This is the exchange of data and information between different servers.


4. Transport


This layer coordinates the transfer of data between systems and hosts. It defines how much data is being sent, the rate it’s being sent, where the data is going and more.


5. Session


When two devices, computers or servers communicate with each other, a session is generated. The session layer sets up the session, coordinates the responses and terminates the session when it ends.


6. Presentation


The presentation layer is where data is translated from its network form into its application form. In other words, it presents data to the application. This is also where encryption and decryption happen. (Take a look at our blog on SSL Certificates, which are a large part of the presentation layer.)


7. Application


This is the layer that the user directly interacts with. Applications include web browsers, Microsoft Office, Skype, and many more.


Why is the OSI model important to cybersecurity?


Wherever there is a function being performed, there is a possibility for disfunction. There are several possible cyberattacks at each of the seven layers of your network. Listed below are just a few of those potential attacks:


Physical – When you think of “cyber attack” you might not associate it with something tangible, but threats do exist at the physical layer. Attacks at the physical layer are usually DoS, or Denial of Service, attacks. The goal of these attacks is to stop all network functions. Examples of DoS attacks at the physical layer include a wire being cut, or a wireless connection being interrupted.


Data Link – Attacks at the Data Link layer come from within the local network, or LAN. It’s important to educate all your network users on how to prevent cyber attacks. Otherwise, they may unknowingly put your network at risk. Data Link attacks may include MAC Flooding or ARP poisoning, which are usually a result of unhardened routers.


Network – Network layer attacks, unlike attacks at the Data Link layer, can be performed over the internet. There are more DoS attacks possible at this layer such as ping floods or ICMP attacks.


Transport – The main threat at the Transport layer is port scanning. This attack seeks out open or unused network ports and exploits these weaknesses in order to access your data.


Session, Presentation and Application – The attacks that occur at these layers are primarily related to flaws in code. As a result, attackers can implement their own code into your network and extract data. An example of this is SQL injection. Again, educating your team on best practices is crucial to preventing these attacks.


How do you implement the OSI model into your own security plan?


The OSI model is a valuable tool that will help you identify cyber threats wherever they exist and effectively secure your network. However, cyber protection does not end there—it is an ongoing process. Beyond the OSI model, there are additional tools that should be implemented into our cybersecurity plan in order to achieve complete protection. This can be a complicated and time-consuming process if you try to go it alone. Employing experts to help will save you time and give your network more intensive protection.

The cybersecurity team at Fortress has the industry knowledge that you may lack to help secure your network. Not only does Fortress approach cybersecurity using the OSI model, but they also employ other industry-leading tools to further strengthen your network. In addition, we provide support online and on-site, and educate you and your team on how to better protect yourselves in-house.

Don’t wait for an attack to happen before securing your network. Visit our cyber page at to learn more about the powerful suite of Fortress cybersecurity services and to request a free security audit.

SSL: 3 Letters That Can Make or Break Your Website

You have a beautiful website, one with a great design that shows off your desirable product and compelling story. But there are three letters that can sabotage it all: SSL. Without an SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, potential clients will click away from your site before even taking a glance at your homepage. The good news is that getting your site secured with an SSL certificate is a relatively simple part of your cybersecurity plan.

What Is an SSL Certification and What Does It Do?

A Secure Sockets Layer protects your customers’ data by creating an encrypted link between a visitor’s web browser and your server. In simpler terms, it protects the exchange of information between you and your customers.

Even if you’ve never heard of SSL, you’ve probably noticed it on other websites. In addition to creating an encrypted connection that protects your data behind the scenes, an SSL certification will give an indication in your browser that the encryption is present and working. In Google Chrome, this is symbolized by a padlock which appears in front of the site’s URL. Other browsers use similar indicators. But the one fail-safe way to check if your site or a site you are browsing is secure is to check if the URL begins with the unsecured “http” or the secured “https.”

Example of a secured site’s URL:

Example of an unsecured site’s URL:

It’s most likely that you are using your website to collect valuable data—that’s anything from an email address to credit card information. Without SSL, this exchange of data is vulnerable and could be compromised, risking the privacy of you and your clients. And without the indication in the web browser that your site has an SSL certificate, most potential customers will click away from the site.

Why SSL Is Important

According to HubSpot, 82% of visitors will click away from a website if the browser indicates that it’s not secure. Browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox have made it extremely easy for visitors to see if a site isn’t protected by an SSL. Even visitors who are not familiar with SSL, or what it does, will know when it’s missing. On Google Chrome, a red padlock with a line through it appears in front of the URL along with a notification that the site is not secure. Other sites with an unsecured “http” connection may even be blacklisted by Google. These sites won’t even open without first bringing you to a warning page that informs you that your information may be at risk of phishing. Warnings like this will scare away your potential customers, reducing your conversions and severely harming your brand identity.

Example of blacklisted site:

Google and other search engines take unsecured sites very seriously. As a result, sites with SSL certificates are rewarded with higher search engine rankings. This means that your SEO tactics will pack more of a punch when paired with an SSL.

Customers feel safe browsing secure sites and will be more willing to sign up for a newsletter or make a purchase. Purchasing, activating and installing an SSL certificate is one of the simplest ways to create an initial foundation of trust with your clients, a foundation that you can build on as they browse your beautiful site and learn more about your brand and story.

SSL and Cybersecurity

Protecting your clients’ data with an SSL certificate is just the first step in your cybersecurity plan. It’s important to know that while having an SSL certification will protect your customers’ data, it does not make your site hack-proof. To learn more about how to further protect your brand and to see the powerful suite of Cybersecurity Services Fortress has to offer, visit our cyber page.

Break the Pattern

I bought a $6 toaster for my first apartment in college. There wasn’t even a brand name on the box. It just said “Toaster.” I’m a big fan of toast in the morning and I was on a budget. It worked great for a month until one morning when I noticed flames shooting out of the top of it. I’m assuming breadcrumbs at the bottom ignited and things went south from there. I thought it might be better to put the fire out rather than conduct an investigation. Thinking quickly, I unplugged it, threw it in the sink and turned the water on. The incident ended up costing me time and money to replace the toaster and almost cost my landlord an apartment complex.

Looking back, I had about fifteen choices of toasters. My expectation was that all the toasters on the shelf would make toast, so I took only about 30 seconds to make my decision. All I considered was the price and what I could easily see on the box. There wasn’t a toaster that said: “Won’t Catch on Fire.”

With so many choices and increasingly limited time for buyers to properly evaluate their options, it can be difficult for the right choice to make itself known. In business, this has never been truer.

The human mind is excellent at finding patterns. The only way to stand out is to break that pattern. The digital age has brought short attention spans and an abundance of options. Breaking the pattern is one of the best ways to differentiate your company from the rest.

At Fortress, we are tasked with helping our clients become memorable in a short amount of time. In other words, we help them break the pattern. We do this by focusing on the details.

Details are everything.

Here are three tips for stepping into your customer’s shoes and using your attention to detail to break the pattern.

Understand True Average

Average is meeting the minimum expectations. When buying a car, you expect it to get you from point A to point B. A car that can do that is average. The way in which we experience that ride from point A to point B is what differentiates BMW from Toyota. The differences are in the details.

There’s a reason that Toyota or BMW commercials focus on the experience of driving their vehicles as opposed to their ability to get from point A to point B. They know that everyone expects their car to drive. Yet, in business, far too many companies rely on their ability to meet minimum expectations to differentiate themselves.

When a client hires us to build a website, they expect it to look good and the functions to work properly. They also expect on-time delivery and responsive communication. If we meet those expectations and do nothing more, we are delivering an average product. In school, that would be a ‘C’ grade. We met the minimum expectations, but most agencies can do that. It’s not compelling to say you can meet minimum expectations. It’s not compelling to adhere to the pattern.

Companies that lean on meeting minimum expectations as their primary differentiator often don’t know they are doing it. If you want to see if you are doing this, go to as many competitors’ websites as you can think of and make a list of the ways they are describing themselves.

You can’t break the pattern until you know what the pattern is. In every industry, especially professional services, you will have a list of about four things that appear on every site. Everyone is the most experienced, will mention something about scalability, will have a line about having good customer service, and say they’re dedicated to getting the job done right.

That list only covers your customer’s minimum expectations. The market has established this patternbreaking it will give you a huge advantage.

Perceived Value Is the Sum of the Details

As the price of a product or service increases, people expect the focus on the details scales upward with it. Companies that consistently beat their competitors are operating with sharp attention to detail. It’s critical that customers and prospects can experience that in every interaction.

If I showed up to a meeting with a potential client wearing wrinkled clothes, fumbled through the conversation and left garbage on the table after I left, I could represent the best agency in the city and it wouldn’t matter. If I couldn’t handle that interaction, how could I possibly solve their problem?

We see companies doing this digitally all of the time under the belief that their online presence isn’t a factor for business growth. Yet, when we look at industry leaders, we always find a very well-groomed website, polished print materials, persuasive advertising, a strong point of view on social media, and a general buzz around whatever it is they are doing. It isn’t only about looking nice; it’s about demonstrating that they’re up to the task.

Apple is the best example of this. Everything they touch is extremely well thought out. Anyone who has ever unboxed an iPhone or gone into an Apple store knows this. They demonstrate their command of details before you even touch their product. Apple is competing against products with much more affordable prices and (arguably) better technology, yet they lead the industry.

Excellence is forged in the sum the details. If a company wants to be competitive and get attention, they need to show excellence at every touchpoint. Digital presence is king in this regard. Having a nice website, an active social media account, and a search engine presence shows you care about the details, and that you’re better than the competition because of that.

If you look at everything a customer could potentially see about you online and you aren’t legitimately excited about it, then the customer won’t be either. Perceived value isn’t created in one area; it’s created in every area. By doing this, you are breaking the pattern by presenting yourself as sharp and confident. You are also establishing your own pattern of what can be expected of you. Your customers will recognize that. 

Dialogue VS Monologue

Every detail plays a part in someone’s decision to take action. Especially in the way companies and those representing them communicate. 

“We do this. We do that. We are good at this. We have great customer service. We care about our clients,”  is the basic, predictable monologue. 

Dialogue is when you are invited into the experience by being directly spoken to. Instead of hearing about what that company can do, address how it affects your client. At that point, the conversation becomes two-sided. It doesn’t matter if the communication is verbal, printed or digital. Any time a company is getting someone to imagine themselves in a situation, a dialogue is being created. 

This is a familiar concept, but almost no one is doing anything with it. Here are two “elevator pitches” I’ve heard from financial advisors, one that adheres to the pattern, and one that breaks it:

“I do estate planning, wealth management, retirement planning, and risk management. I have 15 years of experience. I care deeply about helping my clients and meeting their financial goals.”

This is an average monologue. They are communicating their ability to meet only the minimum expectations. Most other advisors offer identical services and have experience executing them. As a potential client, I would them to care about helping me meet my goals. They need to go further to make themselves more desirable. For example, they might say:

“I help my clients to create and manage alternative, passive streams of income through investments so that they can enjoy greater stability and flexibility in the present and future.”

This breaks the pattern. In this scenario, they are opening a dialogue. Instead of listing the minimum expectations, they are focusing on the details. It is easy to see how my experience will play out. It is easy for me to decide if that is right for me. In the marketplace, it doesn’t matter what services a company provides unless the customer is able to see how they will benefit. 

When a company’s primary messages are monologues, they will rely heavily, if not exclusively, on word of mouth for generating new business. It’s hard for them to become memorable in a short time and gain traction with the massive flow of people looking for their product or service. Their messaging is going to lower their ceiling and slow the pace of their growth.

Putting It All Together

Understanding the patterns and using the details that make your company identifiably different is key to being memorable. Imagine a potential customer is browsing a shelf in a store. You and your competitors are all on it. By using these three tips, we break the pattern, stand out on the shelf and show our clients why we’re right for them:

1. Average is meeting minimum expectations. This is not compelling. Assume your prospects/customers expect you to meet them and clearly define the details that make you different.

2. Perceived value is created through attention to detail. Use your website, people and processes to demonstrate your ability to execute on the details. If your attention to detail isn’t demonstrated everywhere they look, both online and off, you are missing opportunities for perceived value. 

3. Avoid monologuing. Create a two-way dialogue by speaking to them not just about what you do, but what you can do for them specifically. This is what they want to know and what will affect their decision.

Put these tips to work and watch what happens. 



Fill out the form, tell us about your project, and we'll reach out to you.