Monday, November 28, 2011

We've Moved!

Our blog has moved to our new Web site. You will be automatically redirected to this site, but if for some reason you are not please click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

During this time of Thanksgiving we send each of you warm wishes. We count our readers and clients among our blessings during this holiday and always.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Communication Trends—How Google and Facebook Are Shaping Your View of Reality



In this TED Talk, Eli Pariser pulls back the curtain on the filtering techniques of Google and Facebook, reminding us that your news and information is now being filtered by someone else. Searches now bring up information tailored to you—so two people sitting next to each other and searching for the same thing will get entirely different results.

Pariser says the torch is being passed from human gatekeepers to algorithmic gatekeepers, which don’t have imbedded the ethics that humans are capable of. Right now these algorithms decide what we get to see—and what we don’t get to see—based on relevance to us. What they don’t show us are differing points of view, information that is important, uncomfortable and perhaps even challenging—creating a reality with us as the center.

Pariser suggests that these algorithms must be coded in a way that supports a sense of public life, a sense of civic responsibility—and that they are transparent enough so that we can both understand and have some control over the kinds of information we access.

This 8-minute video is a must-see.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Showcase: Scholarship Worksheet Keeps it Simple

Walla Walla University’s new scholarship program gives students instant feedback on what they’re eligible for—and has proven to be an important part of their marketing successes.

When they asked us to develop a simple piece to communicate this complicated message—we recommended an interactive visual piece that is available in print and on-line (click here to view the online version).

Very often, a visual is the best way to convey complex information quickly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Building Better Facebook Pages

Lauren Fisher advises those managing Facebook pages to write for the news feed, not your wall.

When you write an update for your Facebook page, the update will most likely appear on the page’s wall by default. It can be confusing however, to consider that the wall is not the place where 99 percent of your fans will see the update. Though a link or ad will lead some people straight to the wall, your existing fans will see the update in their news feed.

Remember to include links in your update if you want to drive the reader to a specific page—and don’t reference something that won’t appear in the news feed. For example, telling them to “Check out our tab on the side” is out of context for people seeing this update in their news feed.

To see all 8 of her tips, go to http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/43066.aspx.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Use Type Like a Pro—Part 1

One of the fastest ways to make your communications look unprofessional is by poor use of type. Here are three mistakes Jim Godfrey identifies that every pro should avoid:
  1. Two spaces between sentences. Once upon a time, typewriters used a monospaced typeface. Since all of the letters were the same width, it became customary to add an extra space at the end of a sentence to call attention to a new sentence. This was never the practice of professional typesetters, who always used one space. (If you're doubting this, find an old book and see for yourself.) Since most typefaces on our computers vary in width, unsightly gaps appear if two spaces are used--so retrain yourself to use just one space after a sentence.
  2. Failing to kern display type. Nothing bellows "I'm an amateur!" quite like display type that hasn't been properly kerned. Unseemly gaps can impede readability by distracting the reader. The kerning tables of some typefaces are great, but the human eye is divine. Remember that we read shapes--not individual letters--so kern accordingly.
  3. Using a hyphen instead of an en dash. A hyphen is great for a hyphenated word, but an en dash can be used to indicate a range of numbers or a duration of time instead of the word "to": the 8–10 Commandments, not 8-10 Commandments.  
—From "Thou Shalt Not" by Jim Godfrey, published in the July 2011 issue of How magazine.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Department of War or Defense: Words Matter


From 1789 until 1947 the department responsible for the operation of the United States Army was called the War Department. In 1947, it was renamed the Department of Defense.

Play along with us on this little turn of words, if you will, and ask yourself which you’d rather support with your tax dollars: a war department? Or a department of defense?

See the different feelings these two names for the same thing evoke? It’s much easier to rally support for defense then war. And so we see yet another example of how much a word matters in evoking a desired response.

What words in your business might need rethinking?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pick Easy-to-Read Typefaces for Body Copy


We read words by shapes—not individual characters—and our reading has a natural rhythm. An alphabet such as Futura Light (below, top) with widely varying character widths disrupts this rhythm—making it harder to read.

When designing printed material, select a body text typeface with similar character widths. Your readers will thank you.  

From Before & After Magazine, What's the Right Typeface for Text

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eight Reasons to Celebrate Your Company’s Anniversaries

CMBell Company was in Los Angeles at White Memorial Medical Center last week to begin work on the planning for their Centennial.
  
A company anniversary provides an opportunity to breathe new life into your organization—to offer a kind of oasis in the press of daily work. A strategically planned anniversary celebration can:
  1. Recognize the people who make your success possible
  2. Deepen bonds with your community, customers and staff
  3. Inspire deeper engagement
  4. Infuse the workplace with meaning
  5. Shift internal focus from problems to achievements
  6. Reinforce your culture, mission and values
  7. Attract positive press
  8. Provide a foundation for casting vision for the future
There’s no rule about which anniversaries you should celebrate. Whether it’s a 15th (ours, next year), a 20th, or a 100th, these occasions provide valuable time for reflection and celebration—both of which yield subtle but important fruits in the work place.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2011 Web Trends Part 2

Our last post highlighted some trends in Web design for 2011. We continue that here.

Adventurous Domain Names—The common .com is going out of style. Look for more creative addresses like .me which is becoming more common for blogs or portfolios or .us for business pages.

Quick Response Codes—You may have noticed these appearing on business cards, ads, billboards, etc. This is one trend that has a multitude of uses and doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Here are some cool uses for a QR code: 
  1. Put a QR code on the back of your business card so people can easily visit your Web site.
  2. Place a QR code on ads or store fronts so that smartphone users can access special offers, coupons or giveaways.
  3. Use QR codes on T-shirts so you can be a walking promotion for whatever it is you are wanting to promote.
  4. QR codes can also be used to make phone calls or send texts when scanned. Think of all the possibilities with this one!


Thumbnail Design—Thanks to Google's new thumbnail browsing you no longer have to click through to see the contents of a Web site, so expect your site to be judged based on a thumbnail as users become more acquainted with this new way of browsing. This poses a problem for Flash sites because that part of your design will not display in the preview.



Constant Connection / Life Stream—In our quest to make the internet more personable, we have taken to sharing all aspects of our lives online. Expect to see more integrated live feeds on Web sites such as the site below.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Holiday E-Cards Are Environmentally Friendly

Now’s the time to think about your holiday message to your clients. Instead of the traditional, ho-hum preprinted holiday card, do something original, high impact and environmentally friendly—an e-card.

Here are a few examples of work we’ve done in the past:
The holidays are a time to create a breathe in the working world—introducing ideas that speak to deeper issues in the human heart. Use your card to acknowledge your gratitude for your clients’ patronage, convey a mutually held value, or introduce an artful and inspiring message that provides a momentary oasis for the recipient. We promise you, it will be far more impactful and welcome than an impersonal, imprinted card.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Web Trends Part 1

While Web design is always evolving, we're seeing these trends in 2011:

Simple Color Schemes—It's popular to use only two or three colors in your site design and then use a lot of shades or tints.


Mobile Ready—Forecasters are predicting that smartphones will outsell personal computers this year, so it's becoming increasingly important to design with mobile viewing in mind.

Design for Touch Screens, Not Mice—Now that more and more people are using smartphones or iPads for their browsing, traditional means of navigation such as drop-down menus may not work so well in these new mediums.

Depth Perception—Layer objects, drop shadows and other 3D effects to create dimension in your site.


Large Photographic Backgrounds—Large, high quality photos are becoming more popular. Arresting photos capture attention quickly and draw your viewer into your site.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's the Deal with Google+ ?

You've probably been hearing about the new Google+, so for those of you still scratching your heads, this video provides a quick summary of what Google+ is about. 



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Color Counsel: A Monochromatic Scheme Can Be Chic

A monochromatic color scheme uses shades (created by adding black to a color) and tints (created by adding white) of a single color resulting in a clean and elegant look. This color palette is soothing to the eyes and works especially well with green or blue hues. It is easy to get right and has a sense of authority to it. The primary color can also be used with neutral colors like black, white or gray.

The only downfall to a monochromatic color scheme is that it lacks the contrast of a complementary color scheme and is not as vibrant. But don't be afraid to try this when you're wanting a sophisticated but cost-effective look.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint: Rule 1

Keep it Simple

PowerPoint slides shouldn't steal the show—nor should they be a complete script for the presenter. They are meant to emphasize your key points in a visual way.

To give your point emphasis, float it in a sea of white space. Remember that the less information you put on your slide, the more clearly your message will come across to your audience.

Resist the temptation to resort to slide after slide with bullet points, also—since studies suggest that this format is one of the fastest ways to lose your audience.

For example,  look at these two slides from a presentation by João Paulo Alves on simplicity:


See how powerful white space can be.
If you are trying to communicate too much visually, simplify your message in order to communicate your key points.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on great presentations you've seen—or on how you're improving your own presentations.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selling or Telling: Make Your Company an Information Destination


We’re not ready to suggest that selling isn’t still an important part of any business’s marketing efforts, but we also recognize that in the age of information, there’s untapped power in becoming a destination for trusted information.

Consumers are hungry for good information, and have the means to find it. Although we want coupons for free coffee and discounts from our favorite retailer—we are equally or more hungry for the most definitive, recent information on our topic of choice.

If you’re seeing social media as a way to “talk at” your consumers, you won’t likely build a robust following. But if you consistently deliver the trustworthy information they’re hungry for, they’ll be back for more. If they come to see you as a trusted source of information, this will develop a stronger bond than a sales message can.

According to a Constant Contact blog, roughly 78% of consumers prefer to get company information from helpful articles instead of an ad, and 61% of those are more likely to buy as a result of receiving this content.

Making content that benefits the consumer instead of selling yourself is a winning strategy. But don’t be discouraged by this. Take small steps towards this goal, and remember it takes time to move into an entirely new paradigm.

What are your most trusted sources for information?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

7 Things to Do Now to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Facebook Page

  1. Publish status updates or major stories in the morning. If you publish between 11 am and 4 pm your content may go unnoticed due to the heavy traffic by other users.
  2. Tag your friends when you post a note, so they see a message on their wall and are more likely to read it. Unfortunately you can only tag 30 people at a time. If you post multiple notes in order to tag more than 30 people, make sure to delete the duplicated posts in your news feed so you don't look like a spammer.
  3. Encourage interaction from your fans. Invite conversation, create contests, post interesting status updates and encourage check-ins.
  4. Share interesting links and encourage people to comment, but be sure to post the whole link instead of a short link because it's 300 percent more likely to get clicked on.
  5. Thursday is the best day of the week to get the most visibility for a Facebook post.
  6. Facebook may be the best platform for making a video go viral due to its ease of embedding media.
  7. Remember AIDA—Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Visit Ragan.com for more social media tips.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Using a Blog to Grow Your Social Media Leads

Many companies toy with the idea of starting a blog, but aren’t sure what resources it will require—and if they can keep up with the demand for fresh content. Followers expect fresh, new content regularly—but how much is enough?

In the 2011 State of Inbound Marketing, HubSpot reports that most bloggers post weekly.






But as Phil Mershon states on Socialmediaexaminer.com: “The likelihood of acquiring a customer through your blog increases significantly the more frequently you post…. HubSpot found blogs that post daily generate four times more leads than those that post weekly or less.”



So yes, frequency matters. But remember that frequency alone isn’t enough—the content must be relevant and accessible to keep your readers coming back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Color Psychology—The Color White Can Sometimes be Right

"White is not a mere absence of color, it is a shining and affirmative thing..." —G. K. Chesterton

White most often represents purity, clarity, innocence and simplicity. It expresses silence, the suspension of hostility and peace. White is a conciliatory color. The human eye is very sensitive to even minute differences in whiteness, and as it does have an ample presence, white should not be considered to be a neutral color. It may be considered a clean, spotless, sterile color, but it is not warm.
  • White: pure, clean, elegant, essential, pristine, spotless, innocent, silent, lightweight, airy, bright, ethereal, clarity, simplicity (sterile, cold, clinical)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Stretch Your Photo Budget

We'll give this a C grade. Lots of busy details detract from its message.
We'll give this an A. Strong focal point, good composition, professional.

Think you can’t afford professional photography? Here are some ways to stretch your budget:
  1. Consider hiring a photographer with a journalistic background who can shoot candids that are compelling. These require less set-up, thereby reducing cost, and add an air of authenticity to your images.
  2. Set up a one- or two-day shoot that attempts to capture a variety of images that can be used in a many ways. These digital assets can be cropped differently, treated differently, and used in different applications—while still giving your organization a professional image.
  3. Mix stock images with custom images to create a high quality piece. If you select images with similar characteristics and lighting, you can give the illusion of using all-custom images.
  4. Negotiate a price that includes full use rights when you do hire a professional photographer. This will ensure that you can use them in various applications.
  5. Plan to update your library every two years to ensure that you have fresh, high quality images with which to work.
Photos create a far more powerful first impression than words. Remember that although you can’t quantify it, there’s a cost to your organization when it appears unprofessional, careless, second rate or outdated because of poor images.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Client Showcase—St. Anthony North 40-Year Collateral Piece

This is the final piece in a campaign to promote St. Anthony North Hospital's achievements via its 40-year anniversary. This printed piece serves as both a direct mail and a brochure that tells the hospital's story and casts a vision for its future. The campaign theme, "We," celebrates the team's efforts in reaching this milestone, while creating enthusiasm for the hospital's future. It pairs well with the employee video, where we build on a reality-style production to show what "we" means. 


The focus of the messaging was not just about their accomplishments and plans for the future, but was a way to celebrate the achievements of the team, which always infuses energy into an organization.

We can't wait to see what they do together in the next 40 years.

How are you celebrating the achievements of the people who make your business successful? What company do you know that does this well?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quote of the Day—Each Moment We Decide What We Are Becoming



Those of us who are planners need to be reminded of the truth in this wise insight. It is not tomorrow, but this very moment, that defines me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is Email Dead?



Is email dead? Some say absolutely, while others say not at all.

In his Constant Contact blog, Martin Lieberman reports on Media Post’s 2011 Email Insider Summit and asserts that it isn’t.

The role of email has changed, he says, and now requires that you include strong calls to action in your email that pull your reader to other channels like social media, where you can continue the conversation.

Email is forging stronger bonds with social media—with both working together to deliver content.

How are you using email and social media as companion channels? Do you think email is dead?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Listen Up! The Consumer Owns Your Message


Those who have worked in marketing and communications for awhile know that it wasn’t that long ago that companies owned their messages. They would craft and place them to serve their purposes—talking at the consumer as part of their business paradigm.

Today the message is owned by the consumer, who has access to more information than ever—and who can share his or her ideas freely (whether they’re true or not). This increases risk and opportunity, as is often the case.

The Risk:
  • Failing to use the new methods of communication will diminish your reach and push you to the sidelines
  • Consumers can say anything they want about you
  • As chief marketer and communicator, you now have many more venues to monitor—and probably no more staff or budget
The Opportunity:
  • Consumers want conversation with a brand, so there’s a higher level of engagement with relevant messages
  • The consumer voice carries more credibility, so when they share a positive experience, it has more weight than a company-released message
  • Unleashing and empowering the experts within your company allows you to spread the communication function—so it’s not just your role. This can take advantage of organizational wisdom and expertise that can be valuable to the consumer.
This shift calls marketing and communication professionals to be more deeply involved in not only messaging, but in shaping the organization and creating services and products that inherently engage consumers. It also makes the chief communicator the chief listener—and an internal leader of the many voices within the organization.

We'd like to hear from you. What companies do you know that are engaging in meaningful dialogue with their consumers?

Image Source

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the Day—Change Begins Here



All ideasabout the world, business, ourselvesreside in our minds first. What thoughts do you have today that give rise to creativity, virtue and innovation?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Color Psychology—Blue is the Color of Calm and Constancy

"Blue very profoundly develops the element of calm." —Vasily Kandinsky

Maybe there's a reason that blue is the #1 choice for corporate branding and identity, as many hope to cash in on the intrinsic belief that blue represents constancy, quality and achievement. It's also safe, secure and calming—and universally liked.

Blue often brings to mind the serenity of a clear, cloudless sky, a calm sea and a feeling of familiarity. 

Blue became the color of respected honors, like the blue ribbon of quality and skill.  It is also a popular color that is safe—and less controversial than some others.

They're probably out there, but we've rarely met a male executive who didn't like blue.


  • Light Blue: calm, quiet, patient, peaceful, cool, water, clean
  • Sky Blue: calming, cool, heavenly, constant true, tranquil, trusting, serene, expansive, open
  • Bright Blue: electric, energy, brisk, vibrant, flags, stirring, impressive, aquatic, exhilarating
  • Periwinkle: genial, lively, sprightly, convivial, cordial
  • Deep Blue: credible, authoritative, basic, conservative, classic, strong, reliable, traditional, uniforms, service, nautical, loyal, confident, professional, introspective (can also be seen as aloof, distant, melancholy)
Source

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mayo Clinic Leads the Way with Social Media Marketing

Ed Bennet, author of the Web site Found in Cache: Social Media resources for health care professionals from Ed Bennet, advises health care organizations not to get into social media because you think you’re going to get more patients, but because you’re helping be responsive (not responsible) to people reaching out looking for answers.

The Mayo Clinic, a front-runner for using social media in the health care industry, uses it in a variety of ways:


Facebook:
  • Patient questions and comments are monitored and responded to by their experts
  • Video contests
  • Informational videos on various topics
  • Patient testimonies
  • Automatic blog posts
  • Visit the Mayo Clinic's Facebook Page
Blogs:
Twitter:
YouTube:

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Independent Colleges of Washington Uses Animation to Tell Their Story




    Washington's private colleges are a cause we love to support because of the way they change lives and help our state's citizens.

    About 40,000 students attend these ten schools—yet the schools receive less than 2% of the state higher education budget. This saves the state more than $330 million per year in operating subsidies—while increasing choice for those attending college. Contrary to what many think, these schools serve an economically diverse student body, providing quality education to students from all demographics and income backgrounds.

    We developed this animation for them to help them bring their story to life—and reinforce their key brand messages using a medium that works well on the Web and with social media.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Marketers Continue to Increase Use of Video


    Onemarketmedia.com reports that video will be ubiquitous on the Web—and is a top priority for marketers.  Here’s what they say:

    According to a survey by Marketing Sherpa, for the second year in a row video marketing is the top priority for marketers surveyed, ahead of SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing and all other online marketing tactics. Turnhere has also released a study in the fall which revealed the same results —“When asked to rank various online marketing priorities for 2010, video was ranked as the top priority.”

    In a recent post conference interview Jeremey Allaire, CEO of Brightcove, summarized the outlook for Web-based video this way:
    “Video will become as ubiquitous as text on the web.... What weʼve seen happening over the last year is this incredible growth in the number of organizations and corporations, of all types, of all industries, of all sectors of societies, embracing video to enhance what they are doing on the web.”

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Color Shift and New Design Directions Characterize 2011 Logo Trends

    Like fashion, design trends are dynamic. Logolounge.com lists these trends in their 2011 report on logo trends:
    • Soft gradients 
    •  Monoline
    • Series Logos
    • Brown and grey are being seen more frequently as replacements for the neutral black.
    • Loopys

    For the full report, click here.

    Sometimes change is an improvement, and sometimes it's a step backwards. Which of these trends do you think work best?

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Happy 4th of July!


    Here are some fun facts about the 4th of July from the U.S. census bureau. Now when you light those firecrackers or raise that flag, you'll know where it most likely came from (you guessed it, China).

    2.5 million
    In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.

    309.6 million
    The nation's estimated population on July 4, 2010.

    $3.0 million
    In 2009, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($2.5 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.

    $920,277
    Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2009. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $333,882 worth.

    $209 million
    The value of fireworks imported from China in 2009, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($217 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $42.9 million in 2009, with the United Arab Emirates purchasing more than any other country ($14.5 million).

    About 1 in 3
    The odds that your side dish of baked beans originated from North Dakota, which produced 34 percent of the nation's dry, edible beans in 2009. Another popular Fourth of July side dish is corn on the cob. Florida, California, Georgia, Washington and New York together accounted for 66 percent of the fresh market sweet corn produced nationally in 2009.

    31
    Number of places nationwide with "liberty" in their name. The most populous one as of July 1, 2008, is Liberty, Mo. (30,568). Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Corporate Image Must Reflect Reality


    It's our business to help other businesses with their corporate image. But our work only builds upon what the company already is. In some cases, a company has more to offer than its customers recognize—and that's when a strategically developed communication plan can really help grow the business. Upon occasion, a company wishes to position itself as something more than it is.

    While communication can drive corporate culture, there must be parity between what a company wishes to convey—and what they really are. Successful companies know that they must put sustained effort into both to retain the trust of their clients and sustain a thriving business.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Communications Can Restore Sense of Purpose and Meaning to the Workforce


    How can we recognize our volunteers? That was the question posed by St. Anthony North Hospital as they prepared to launch their 40-year anniversary campaign.

    We assembled this simple animation pairing words and photos to respond to their request, and love the magical qualities represented by these compelling still images. Hiring one of our partner photographers in Colorado, we commissioned her to tell a visual story that captures the generous spirit of these volunteers. Within a week, we had pulled this together, designing it in a way that allows it to be used not only for the anniversary, but for recruiting and recognizing volunteers in the future.

    Communicators build culture by the words and images they use—by the stories they tell. This is one of the areas I find most rewarding in our work. It's easy to focus on new products, services and programs, because of their news value. But we all need to remember how important it is to take time to reinforce behaviors that are essential to your corporate culture.

    Here are ways to use an animation like this:
    • Post it on your Web site
    • Post it on your You Tube site
    • Show it in orientation, or during the recruiting process
    • Show it at events
    • Post it on Facebook and other social media sites
    • Show it on in-house monitors or TV channels
    • Distribute links to it via email

    We often find that reminding people of the deeper reasons they chose their profession pays off in significant ways for companies—restoring a bit of soul to the corporate world.

    What kind of culture-building communications have you seen lately that worked?

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Color Psychology—The Hidden Meanings in Purple

    The most magical and intriguing color, purple pairs meditative blue with explosive red. It is a complex color and not often appreciated by left brained, analytical thinkers. Purple is often a great alternate when either blue or red seem an obvious choice.

    Purple is often an acquired taste, like many of the flowers and foods that bear it's hue. In ancient times, only the very wealthy could afford to buy purple garments, as the dyes were extracted from tiny mollusks and it took about 336,000 of the tiny snails to yield one ounce of dye. Thus purple became the color of kings, queens, nobles and wealthy, powerful patrons. The color also took on certain mystical, heavenly, transcendental or spiritual properties.
    • Lavender: romantic, nostalgic, fanciful, lightweight, lightly scented, playful
    • Mauve: wistful, sentimental, thoughtful, feminine
    • Amethyst: curative, protective, peace of mind
    • Blue Purples: contemplative, meditative, spiritual, soul-searching, intuitive, mysterious, enchanting
    • Red Purples: sensual, thrilling, intensely exciting, dramatic, creative, witty, expressive
    • Deep Purples: visionary, rich, royal, prestigious, subduing, distant, introspective (aloof)

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    7 Ways to Get Your Message Out Without Costly Media Buys


    Using video in your marketing strategy is no longer a luxury—in many cases, it’s now considered an essential part of any messaging strategy.

    Once you’ve developed the video, make sure you’re maximizing your investment by taking advantage of the many free distribution methods.
    1. Company Web site. Increase traffic and interaction by including video on your Web page.
    2. Company lobbies. Many companies are using HD video screens in high traffic areas, making it an ideal place for key messages.
    3. Mobile. Mobile is the media of the future, so repurposing video with mobile in mind can be a great idea for the right message.
    4. Post on your company Facebook page.
    5. Share it with your circle of influence by posting it on other social media sites, like Linked In.
    6. Post on your company You Tube channel.  If you don’t have one, now’s the time to set it up.
    7. Send an email link. Depending on the message, this can go to employees (remember, they’re a sales force too), stakeholders, donors, board members, volunteers and customers.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Client Showcase—Tips on Conveying a High Tech Image


    When Littleton Adventist Hospital installed one of the first 13-second Stat Scanners in the country, they asked us to incorporate this message into a series of ads that helped position their emergency center as high tech. By mixing a re-enactment with a brief description of how the equipment benefits their patients, the ad depicts how the hospital is leading the way in bringing innovative technologies to the community.

    It's not always easy to convey a "high tech" message in health care. Here are some tips:

    1. Don't include visuals that are unsettling for consumers. By and large, people don't want to see themselves in typical health care settings—having procedures done, blood drawn, surgery or tests.

    2. If you are promoting technology, make sure to make the prevailing message one of how it benefits the consumers. Most people don't want to hear about the bells and whistles of a new piece of technology, but are interested in what it can do for their condition or disease.

    3. Engage the power of story. Real stories or possible scenarios, told in language people can understand, are almost always effective.

    Health care organizations sometimes err on the side of conveying too much technical information, or too much of the softer side. Either one has its risk. We recommend balancing these messages, and making sure that you look at them from an "outside" perspective.

    Do you see examples of hospitals that are positioned as high or low tech? High or low "touch"?

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Consumers Look for Video Content on Web Sites


    Visitors to Web sites are now looking for video content first. Smart businesses can no longer ignore video as part of their marketing and communication strategy. A report on comscore.com states that 174 million US internet users watched online video content in March of 2011—for an average of 14.8 hours per viewer.

    The use of video often increases your marketing results. Here are some facts from slingshotseo.com:
    1. Video increases engagement, causing visitors to stay longer on your site—and making them more likely to buy.
    2. 65 percent of visitors will watch a video to completion—compared with only 10 percent who will read an entire Web site.
    3. 12 percent of users coming from a video are ready to buy—compared to only 1 percent for text-only users.
    You Tube is the second largest search engine next to Google, and last year alone You Tube reportedly exceeded 2 billion views per day.
    Are you where people are looking for you?

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Good Photos Are a Marketer's Secret Weapon

    Photos say things words cannot.

    In the examples here, the photos say professional or unprofessional, friendly or distant, engaged or posed. We see far too many bad pictures in general—photos that actually detract from the kind of message the organization is trying to convey.

    Why is this? Well, often it's a matter of vision. Marketers who understand the power of a good photo budget for a professionally-taken collection with which to work. In the same way that hiring the right architect can make all the difference in a first impression for your building, hiring the right photographer can make all the difference in a first impression for your company.

    Anyone can take a photo, but it takes a skilled professional to make a photo tell a compelling story—and do it in a way that reflects handsomely on your organization. The black and white photos below were taken for our client St. Anthony North Hospital by one of our partner photographers (we have a small group of hand-picked, top-drawer photographers in the markets where we regularly do work).

    Some believe that professional photography is too expensive, but we say that amateur photography actually costs the organization too much in terms of image.

    There are ways to get the most from your photography budget, and we'll talk more about that in a future post. But professional photography is an absolute necessity for any organization attentive to their public image.

    So now let's hear from you. Based on the pictures below, what kind of impressions do have about the organizations represented?





    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Client Showcase—North Ridge Medical Practice Steps Ahead of the Competition in their Promotion




    This new campaign for North Ridge Medical Practice in Colorado combined direct mail with a mini-animation ad—
    allowing for targeted advertising and putting them ahead of their competition by having a more Web-friendly, social media-friendly promotion. The presence of the mini-animation ad also delivers information in a format that consumers are showing preference for.

    Physicians who can deliver strong, targeted messages using contemporary media will likely experience immediate growth in their practice if the message is right and the market has pent-up demand. You can see how they've used this on their  Web site—and how it not only brings the Web page to life but reinforces their key brand messages.

    Have you seen other physician practices breaking out of the print ad-only approach to promotion?

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Have you heard about Facebook's EdgeRank?

    Have you noticed how only certain people's posts show up in your news feed? This is because Facebook uses something called EdgeRank to determine which status updates you will see in your top news feed. In order to do this, Facebook has developed an algorithm which takes into account affinity, weight and time decay.


    • Affinity is determined by your interaction with another user or page. The more you view their page or content, the higher your affinity score will be for them.
    • Weight is calculated by the ways you interact with other pages or users. For example, commenting on a picture will have a higher weight than simply liking it.
    • Time is probably the easiest to understand, and simply means that the older a post, the lower a score it will have.
    If you want to test your EdgeRank score, EdgeRankChecker.com  has developed an algorithm which allows you to do so. This score is closely related to how visible your status updates are on your fans' pages.
    If you get a poor score, here are  some ways to improve it.
    • Try to focus on posting content that encourages interaction such as photos, videos,  links or questions.  
    • Ask for feedback from users. Encourage people to comment and to like your entries.
    • Pose questions to your readers.
    • Be a frequent user. The more you share, the higher your chance of interaction will be.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Seven Ways to Use Video to Improve Your Marketing


    The demand for receiving content by video continues to explode, making it by necessity an important part of your marketing mix. Video can be used in many ways for communicating the same things as traditional media has been used for, but its ability to convey through images, sound and motion makes it higher impact.

    Here are some of the ways you can consider using video:
    1. Communicate key messages. Putting a face to key company messages makes it more personal and memorable, and because it can be made available any time, any place, over time it allows you to reach a broader audience than live presentations can.
    2. Recognize top employees or volunteers. Nothing inspires like hearing the story of another person who is passionate about his or her work. This kind of message helps to build a culture of excellence—reinforcing behaviors that fulfill your company’s goals.
    3. Share news. When announcing a new product or service, video should be part of your roll-out campaign.
    4. Offer testimonials. Feature clients talking about your brand to bring added credibility to your message.
    5. Show—vs. tell. When you want to teach, use video. An ideal medium for orientation and training, it’s the next best thing to being there in person.
    6. Go viral. Not every video is a candidate for going viral, but one that has entertainment value is more likely to do so. More and more companies are couching subtle product messages in viral-style videos to promote this kind of distribution.
    7. Repurpose ads. By all means, make sure you’re posting TV ads—in addition to buying air time for them. It’s also possible to create a kinetic motion production (type animation) that restates a print ad—but adds the elements of sound and motion.
    8. Communicate internally. Video can capture the soul of an organization, and fuel its core mission.
    Once you’ve developed your video, make sure you’re maximizing your investment by taking advantage of every distribution method (many of which are free).

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    Unless otherwise credited, all content copyrighted by CMBell Company.