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 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
  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,  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.

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