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3 Strategies Your Small Business Can Learn From Big Brand Marketing

If you’re a small business that’s concerned with doing as much effective marketing as you can with your limited resources, naturally, you might think that you’ve got nothing in common with big, national brands and their multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. However, failing to learn from the moves of these big brands is, in our view, a missed opportunity. Many of their strategies can be adapted and successfully used by smaller marketing teams with fewer resources. Here are three strategies you can use right now based on recent big brand campaigns that caught our eye: 1. Think further outside the box What is one thing that big companies like to spend their money on? Creative ideas that make them stand out from the competition. This comes from a natural problem big brands have: when you’re already a household name, what can you do to actually stand out and surprise the customer? Smaller brands need ideas for a different reason: to get noticed in the first place. The great thing about this is that great ideas don’t have to cost a lot of money. You won’t have market researchers and focus groups on your side, but if you can manage to think outside the box, implementing the campaign doesn’t have to be so hard. In the campaign below, KFC has found a way to showcase fried chicken in new light. The idea could just as easily have come from an independent fried chicken place as KFC. 2. Give a voice to your audience We no longer live in a world where marketers create one-way messages that go out to their audiences. The modern marketer’s job is to take the voice of their most loyal followers and amplify it to inspire other potential customers out there. One company that does a great job at this is ASOS. Via their social media channels, they allow all their customers to tag them with #AsSeenOnMe. This,… […]

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5 Essentials Brand Guidelines Every Company Should Define

If you do any kind of marketing for your business, you’re probably aware that many businesses have a brand guidelines that they follow whenever creating any new materials. However, if you’re like most small to mid-sized businesses we encounter, you think you’re not big enough to justify putting together such a document. You probably have few enough employees that you think everyone “gets” the brand. And yet, even if you’re not putting out complex marketing materials for a large audience, you’re likely still putting together emails, blog posts, digital ads, and other materials on a regular basis. A brand guideline doc can help you maintain consistency over your brand, and in that way, help you project a unified front that will ultimately be a more effective marketing tool. Your brand document doesn’t have to look like the Yellow Pages either. Here are five basics your brand guideline doc should cover: 1. Your Company Mission  While this mission won’t be explicitly mentioned in everything you crate, it forms the basis for your marketing materials and having it here helps your staff keep it in mind as they create any materials for you. Inspiration: NASA’s mission statement 2. Your Company Logo Yes, something as simple as your company logo should get a mention in your brand guidelines. Your logo is the simplest way to communicate your brand visually, and you need some simple rules for how it should appear. For example, what version of your logo should be used in color materials vs. black and white materials? Do you have different versions of your logo in a traditional, square-ish layout but also in a horizontal layout that works well on letterheads? Inspiration: Barnes & Noble’s logo Do’s and Don’ts  3. Your brand colors  To convey a consistent image, you’ll need to use a consistent color scheme in your materials. Your brand palette can help your employees choose colors that work with everything.… […]

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7 Great Email Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

Most of us are practically drowning in the sea of emails that flood our inboxes on a daily basis. But as marketing professionals we’re constantly on the lookout for great looking emails. Whether it’s in our inbox, or seeking them out online we’re constantly saving the most engaging examples to inspire our next campaign. Today we’re opening the vault, and sharing some of our recent favorite examples with you. Take a look and start getting inspired. The Clean App Launch – Huntr App What we love: Apps are either intuitive, or they aren’t. This email keeps it simple with a one-sentence explanation of what the app does and a screenshot so you can see the interface. Really, what else do you need to decide if you should give an app a shot or not? Promos with Custom Illustrations – Headspace App What we love: Taking the time to design some custom illustrations really makes an email stand out alongside basic text based promos. It also shows that you care about aesthetics and branding, and that you’re willing to dedicate some resources to set your emails apart from the rest.   The Helpful Welcome – NextDoor What we love: We’re all for giving new subscribers or customers something to do after signing up, instead of just leaving them hanging on a login or thank you page. We love that this email is a simple format and highlights key areas a new user might want to interact with. Clever Use of Formatting – Carnival What we love: Never underestimate what you can do with a simple email layout and the right graphics. What we love about this email is that it showcases the huge impact of applying a creative idea to make a simple layout extremely engaging. Impactful Minimalism – Patagonia Action Works What we love: We like how clearly the sections of this email are divided up, and the uniform branding.… […]

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Our Favorite Mother’s Day Campaigns

Mother’s Day is one of the most emotionally resonant holidays of the year, and it’s no wonder marketers everywhere are trying to capitalize on the slew of positive feelings be making some memorable ad campaigns. Here are our favorite Mother’s Day campaigns from the past few years, and why we think they stood out from the competition. Brawny – Once a Mother Always a Giant In many ways, this is a conventional Mother’s Day ad, featuring a montage of typical moments from childhood and showing how ever-present moms are, from the happy moments, to the sad, to the messy. By showing everything from the point of view of the child, though, (low POV, adults look giant) this commercial adds a unique perspective and some silliness. Oeschle – Mom Doesn’t Want It One of the most creative campaigns we’ve seen as of late, this Peruvian department store decided to do its part for moms on Mother’s Day. Instead of following the convention and putting things on sale, they dramatically increased prices for gifts that moms don’t actually want (think: bathroom scale, clothes iron). This creative way of thinking helped the campaign go viral in its home country, and even get attention in the U.S. SOS Children’s Villages – No Mother’s Day This campaign for an organization that supports orphans doesn’t take itself too seriously, and has a very interesting and literal interpretation of the Mother’s Day holiday (“We don’t get our moms gifts, we don’t even call”) that highlights the absence in their lives, and hits home with viewers. MRY – Mom’s Explain What Their Kids Do Is there anything funnier than people who don’t understand technology trying to explain technology? This lighthearted campaign features a slew of moms who try to explain what their kids who work for a digital advertising agency actually do, with hilarious results. Did we miss one of your favorites? Get in touch with us on… […]

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9 Call to Action Examples to Inspire You to Up Your Lead Generation Game

One of the keys to generating those coveted leads through your website is having strong, effective calls to action (CTAs). However, it’s not enough just to plop a form on a page and expect results. Placement, UX, design, and messaging all play a part in encouraging your visitor to convert. Below we’ve got nine examples that use a combination of these strategies to create CTAs that work. Medium CTA Type: Product Promo Why It Works To promote their app on desktop, Medium bypasses the need to give download steps or ask you to get out your phone and go to the app store. This simple approach encourages visitors by offering a simple one-step solution. The added bonus is that I user can fill this out, and simply check their phone for the link later. Evernote CTA Type: Sign Up Why it Works “Remember Everything” is a simple, straightforward message about what Evernote’s service offers. The text on their button pushes the emphasis on “free” reminding the user signing up is a low commitment. Evernote makes the smart move of leaving their paid services out of it (for now). Basecamp CTA Type: Sign Up, Free Trial   Why it Works Basecamp has a plain explanation of the benefit of their product and focuses on a free trial offer. However, it’s the little details that make this call to action effective. By revealing just how many companies have recently signed up, Basecamp makes potential customers wonder what they may be missing out on by not signing up. Plus, giving the option to use a Google account creates the added incentive of simplicity. MailChimp CTA Type: Sign Up Why it Works MailChimp ditches the form for something simple and sweet. There’s one button and one option for action with a powerful message. Much like the others, they make a point of putting the word “free” in their button. Yes, they have paid accounts,… […]

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Why You Need a Marketing System in 2017

As 2017 gets underway, it’s time to decide whether you’ll stick with the same marketing strategy you’ve used in the past, or try to improve it to get better results this year. With that in mind, one thing we want to discuss is the importance of developing a marketing system rather than looking at your marketing activities as individual components. Again and again, we hear from companies that ask us, “We started a blog, why aren’t we seeing any results?” or, “We’re pretty good about social media, how come that’s not translating into any sales?” Be honest with yourself: Is the money you’re currently spending on marketing activities ultimately paying off? The thing is, investing in the individual components, such as a blog, a better website, paid advertising, or social media, will only get you a part of the way there. You need to continually be improving the whole system to get the results you’re looking for. The Pieces Work Together The one thing we’re always trying to emphasize is that the components of your marketing system work together. Consider these simple examples of how individual components can affect each other: Do you have a social media presence? If not, you may be failing to bring believers in your brand back to your website. Do you have a blog? If not, your social media profiles are likely only sharing other people’s content. Are your social media profiles taking people to a website that’s optimized for conversions? If not, you may losing a lot of potential sales early in the sales funnel. Is the content on your website and blog optimized for SEO? If not, your content may not be getting the credit it deserves, instead being ignored search engines. Thinking About Return on Investment Which of these options is more expensive? Spending $200 a month on something that brings 0 new clients or no additional revenue Spending $500 a month… […]

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The Best of 2016 Advertising: Artist Collabs and Social Justice

As 2016 winds down, we were inspired to go back and look at some of our favorite advertising campaigns of the year. When we started compiling our list, one thing we noticed immediately is an unusual amount of inspiration in this year’s cohort. In addition to a bunch of amazing artist collaborations, this year’s ads included more appeals to social justice stuff and brought more diversity to who represented certain brands. Abstract Thinking One great example to start with is this Morton Salt ad, done in collaboration with OK Go. The ad promotes Morton’s “Walk her walk” campaign (based on the girl in their classic logo), which works to support non-profits working in fields like arts education and reducing water scarcity. What’s great about this ad is that it comes out of nowhere. After all, no one expects much from a salt company, and we’ll all likely continue to buy Morton salt anyway. But Morton still decided to make the commercial, and that’s a testament to the fact that modern brands understand that they’re being held to a higher standard by consumers. Another great example of unusual collaboration is the Wes Anderson directed H&M ad that came out this Christmas season. The four minute ad captures the director’s unique and idiosyncratic style and is more of a short film than the “in your face” 30 second commercial we’re used to seeing on TV. While the ad does get to show off some H&M clothes, it does so subtly, again, putting art before the hard sell. Rounding out our list of amazing collabs is this Spike Jonze-directed Kenzo perfume ad, which takes some perfume ad stereotypes and turns them on their head by going “off the rails” and grabbing the audience’s attention through its sheer unconventionality. A Call for Social Justice A surprising number of ads this year tapped into the zeitgeist of equality and social justice. This Secret deodorant ad… […]

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Getting Serious about Content Marketing? Perform an Audit.

If you’ve been working on strengthening your brand presence online, or trying to rank better in search, there’s likely one single word you’re seeing over and over again—content. For the last five years or so content marketing has been all the buzz, and continues to be. Why? Because solid content marketing drives traffic and converts visitors. Chances are if you’re researching content marketing strategy, you already have a blog in place and want it to perform better. So, now it’s time to just start writing more content! Just kidding. Writing content without direction isn’t going to get you anywhere. First you have to audit what you’ve got. Real Content Marketing Starts With an Audit Real content marketing is less about just having a blog, and more about building a strategy around all your site’s content, both promotional and educational. A good content strategy is based on information, and performing a website content audit is your best first step in gathering that info. A thorough website content audit can help you get a better sense of the content on your site, what’s performing best and more to: Create a listing of all your content to understand what you have Determine the direction of future content Decide what stays, goes and needs to be updated or consolidated Discover which posts and pages are ranking best in search and for what keywords Find the strongest pages on your domain to leverage them Identify which pages are leading to conversions And much more! All this information will help you build a strategy based around real data, to improve upon what’s working and phase out what’s not. So how do you get started? Don’t be fooled. A good content audit takes time and dedication, but if you’re serious about content strategy it’s worth it. Before you get started, it’s important to ask yourself what your end goal is. Are you wanting to increase traffic? Increase sharing… […]

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The Best Super Bowl Ads, According to Us

As usual, there was no shortage of excellent clever advertising in Super Bowl 50. With way too many to choose from, here are our eight favorites, each brilliant in its own way. Paypal – New Money Paypal’s ad works so well because it finds a new way to define the brand, by making the argument that it’s not just one way to pay for stuff online, it’s a whole new currency fit for a new generation (featuring uber-hip millennials in the ad also helps). Audi R8 – Commander This commercial connects with the audience by drawing an apt parallel—the Audi R8 is so design-forward that it’s not a stretch to consider it “otherworldly”. It also works on a literal level, by not-too-subtly implying “If you are bored and have a lot of money, this car will make sure you’re not bored anymore.” Honda – A New Truck to Love But you don’t have to be Audi to make a great Super Bowl car commercial. In this ad for the new Ridgeline, Honda reaches a new level of awesome by featuring sheep singing an a capella version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”. The catchiness of the song totally helps to make this commercial memorable. Heinz – Wiener Stampede This commercial is basically a play on hot dog wieners vs. dachshunds, but it works so well because a) it has adorable animals (which ensures advertising success in 99 out of 100 cases), and because b) it helps reinforce the company’s brand image by effectively stating that all hot dogs desperately need Heinz condiments. *Disclaimer: Because we live in Chicago, we’re legally obligated to state that the Heinz mustard was the only necessary condiment in that commercial; the ketchup varieties were superfluous. – Never a Sellout This ad has Anthony Hopkins in it, which already sets the bar impossibly high. It’s also clever, self-referential, and just plain fun. (Also, see our note… […]

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Why You Need to Study Your Web Analytics Before You Start Writing

Writers are creative professionals, and as such, they can have a reputation for shooting from the hip and going in whichever direction inspiration pulls them. But having a successful blog takes more than that. When we talk about reimagining your content, one of the things we’re really talking about is taking the time to really think analytically about the content you produce, in order to gain valuable insights into your creative process. Studying your website’s analytics can shed a significant amount of light on what your readers are interested in, on the strengths you should play up, and on the weaknesses you may want to address. If you’re not a Google Analytics buff, we don’t blame you. The interface can be intimidating, and is not 100% intuitive. For those of you who are just getting started with the platform, here is just a small sample of the types of information your Google Analytics account can provide: Number of unique visits to different pages on your site for a specific time period. You can also compare predetermined page “groups”, such as different post categories to see how one category fares against another, and so, which content categories you should focus on. Navigation summaries. These can provide an overview of which pages lead to which other pages on your site. For each page on your site, you can see a ranking of the top pages users came from and top pages users went to, giving you some perspective on how users move through the site. Bounce rates (shown as a percentage) and average time on page, two metrics that are helpful for gauging engagement. The bounce rate will tell you what percentage of users left your site from a particular page—a low bounce rate on a particular post signifies that it compelled visitors to continue exploring your site. The average time on page is also helpful, as it will tell you exactly… […]

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