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?

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