13 Nov 2015 Comments Off on Creative Examples of What You Can Do With a Well-Placed QR Code
Creative Examples of What You Can Do With a Well-Placed QR Code
In today’s world, one of the single best opportunities that you have to leverage the power of both digital and print campaigns at the same time is with a well-placed QR code. Short for "quick response code," a QR code operates on the same basic concept as a barcode, but can be used to accomplish a host of different things given the circumstances. If your goal is to use QR codes in your print campaigns creatively (as you should be), there are a few key avenues you can choose to pursue.
It’s About Education, Not Destination
If you’re only using QR codes as a substitute for a hyperlink, you’re not coming close to unlocking the benefits of this technology. Consider the example of a restaurant that uses QR codes for customer education. There’s only so much information that you can fit on a "take home" menu before it starts to get unwieldy. The larger that menu is, the more likely it is to get thrown in the garbage because it’s difficult to store long-term.
If you were a restaurant owner, you might include an abbreviated menu featuring just items that are available to carry-out as a print marketing material. The QR code on that same menu, however, can be used to instantly educate the user about what your restaurant looks like, what items you have available for dine-in visitors and more. The physical print information that the customer is receiving is contextually relevant, in that dine-in options aren’t necessarily on their mind if they’re looking to order in. However, they do have access to all of that additional data should the need arise.
The customer has everything they need to order in and stay home for the evening if they choose, but you’re also using the opportunity to show them what a great time they’ll have, and what a great selection they’ll be exposed to when they do decide to pay you a visit. More than that, you’re saving physical space on your material and are leaving contextual information in the digital realm. This is the power of a well-placed QR code at work.
Adding to an Experience
Another great way to use a QR code in your campaign has to do with adding to the experience before, during, and after the event. As previously stated, a QR code should be about delivering quality information to your customers. In the days leading up to an in-store event, for example, a QR code on the print mailer that you send out may automatically send relevant details about who is going to be there, why the customer should come, and more to that person.
After the event, however, you can update what that QR code actually does to redirect the user to photos, video and other multimedia elements that were captured while the event was going on. Did a speaker host a question and answer session during the event? Suddenly, that same QR code can be used to deliver all that content right to the user’s smartphone to let them relive the experience (if they were there), or show them what they missed (if they, unfortunately, couldn’t make it).
Now, you don’t have to send out another print mailer with updated information because the QR code itself is inherently malleable. It can be whatever you need it to at any given moment with a few quick modifications.
A well-placed QR code can do wonders for combining the best parts of both print and digital campaigns together. More than anything, however, it gives the user a choice regarding how they want to view the information that you’re trying to get across. It allows them to pick a forum for the receipt of this data, allowing them to gain exposure to your message in the format that matters most to them.
27 Oct 2015 Comments Off on Mistakes as Vehicles to Success
09 Oct 2015 Comments Off on Staying Relevant in a Social World Means Embracing All It Has to Offer
Staying Relevant in a Social World Means Embracing All It Has to Offer
Despite the fact that we’re well into the 21st century at this point, there are many businesses that are truly afraid of addressing exactly what that entails for whatever reason. It is not uncommon to meet a marketer that is still relying on the tried-but-true techniques of yesteryear, while at the same time turning a cold shoulder to the advancements of the last decade: namely, the social media-centric society in which we now live. If you distill the goal of marketing down to its most bare essentials, all professionals operate with the same end result in mind. Marketing is a quest to stay relevant. It’s a battle to keep a brand at the forefront of a customer’s mind and to engage with an audience in new and meaningful way. It’s an attempt to create a world in which the customer cannot fathom living without Product X or Service Y. In the 21st century, that means embracing social media and technology in general.
Social Media is Meaningful
By staying firmly ingrained in the techniques that have always worked in the past, the "old school" segment of the marketing population is forgetting that these new technologies bring with them a huge variety of advancements that can’t be ignored. For starters, social media eliminates much of the guesswork that marketers used to have to contend with. You no longer have to guess which conversations your customers are having and try to interject in any way that you can. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, you can literally see the conversation as it’s taking place. You don’t have to attempt to steer the conversation in a new direction to attract attention – you can attract attention by contributing meaningful content to something that is already taking place.
If a customer is having an issue with a particular product and posts about it on Twitter, a marketer is, at most, three mouse clicks away from solving that problem and creating a meaningful example of brand engagement at the same time. Social media also tears down the obstacle of geography, creating a world that is literally as large as it’s ever been but figuratively much smaller. Do you want to quickly get a message out to customers in Cleveland, Ohio? Filter Twitter accounts based on location and send away – they’ll receive it in seconds.
Most importantly, social media allows you to make use of one of the most widely used platforms for any type of activity in existence today – mobile. People spend a massive amount of time on their smartphones each day thanks to their ease-of-use, small size, convenience and more. You don’t have to fight for their attention anymore – if you’re putting the right content out in the world using the right social channels, you’ve already got their attention.
Social Media is Not a Replacement
One of the biggest misconceptions that the "old school" marketers have is that social technology, in general, is replacing the way things used to work. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The timeless, best practices that worked in the 50s and 60s still work today. They will always work. Social media and other digital marketing techniques are not a replacement to the techniques that you’ve always depended on, but a compliment to them. When used in conjunction with one another, they’re creating an environment where success is practically a guarantee.
A properly designed direct mail piece will be just as effective in 2025 as it was in 1975. If you also add a hashtag or a QR code or some other type of digital element to that mailer, however, you’re performing the most important task of all: You’ve given the customer an option regarding where and how they’d like to continue the conversation. You’ve included them in the process in a meaningful and organic way and, rest assured, they will thank you for it. That is what social media is all about.
06 Oct 2015 Comments Off on Individuality: Use Your Voice to Emphasize What Makes You Special in a Crowded Marketplace
Individuality: Use Your Voice to Emphasize What Makes You Special in a Crowded Marketplace
When you begin to create marketing materials and send them out into the world, one of the most important aspects to focus on is your voice. You can describe "voice" in marketing in many ways – from the word choices that you use to the feeling that you’re trying to unlock in your target audience. Even if you’re operating in a crowded marketplace and competition is incredibly stiff, we believe that your voice is one of the best opportunities that you have to emphasize what really makes you special to your readers. By not shying away from this built-in sense of individuality, and instead, embracing it head on, you can really do wonders for your marketing return on investment at the same time.
The Impression That You’re Trying to Create
One of the most important things to understand about your voice in marketing is that it isn’t necessarily something that you can artificially create. It’s something that you’re going to have to find as your business continues to grow and evolve. Once you do discover exactly what that is, however, you’ll want to grab onto it, use it, and refuse to ever let it go.
Consider the example of Nike as a recent example of a powerful voice in action. Nike’s "Find Your Greatness" campaign played up the idea that amazing things typically have small beginnings and sometimes you really only need a simple "push" to unlock your full potential. Obviously, as one of the premiere footwear manufacturers on the planet, the thesis of the campaign itself is, "If you want to be a great athlete, your journey begins with a pair of Nike shoes." But, the use of Nike’s voice as a reflection of their own brand and individuality is unmistakable: what Nike is telling its audience is that the shoes themselves are not necessarily great, but the combination of the shoes and the undying will and perseverance of the individual are what will accomplish great things. Nike’s voice in this case has created an emotional connection with its audience. They aren’t saying, "Buy these shoes because they’re the comfiest or longest lasting shoes that you will ever have." They’re saying, "If you want to accomplish the impossible, step one is buying a pair of Nike shoes."
Is it bold? Yes. Is it almost brash in its confidence? Absolutely. But regardless of whether or not you buy into the marketing line as a consumer, you can’t argue with the fact that it is a startlingly simple campaign that distills what makes Nike unique into one positive message of empowerment.
Your Voice is as Unique as Your Business
Never forget that the form your voice takes depends on the impression that you’re trying to create. If you sell shoes and you want to come off like a friendly neighbor who just happens to be a clothing manufacturer, you would want your marketing language to take a much more casual and flowery approach. If you want to come across as a professional expert, you would essentially go in the other direction and prove yourself trustworthy through word choice. The key is experimenting and finding the voice behind your company and then using it to separate yourself from the rest.
These are just a few of the key reasons why embracing your voice and emphasizing what makes your business unique in marketing are so important. It isn’t necessarily what you sell that makes you successful – it’s how you choose to sell it. There are a million different companies that sell widgets out there, but what is it that really makes people want to buy YOUR widgets above anyone else’s? The answer is your voice. If you can master that, everything else will fall into place.
02 Oct 2015 Comments Off on How Introverts Thrive in Quiet
How Introverts Thrive in Quiet
When we picture successful people, we tend to lean toward the extroverts — those who speak up more, get noticed more, and interact with others more than their introverted peers. But introverts have much to offer beneath their quieter demeanor, and they are more than wallflowers. They are not necessarily even shy.
Extroverts thrive on interaction with other people, which gives them the energy they need, and they tend to be restless when alone. Introverts, on the other hand, recharge through seclusion and tend not to be lonely when alone. An introvert may look forward to a quiet evening at home with the same zeal as an extrovert who anticipates an evening out with friends. The extrovert is geared toward activity, the introvert toward contemplation. They are both vital parts of the same world.
You may not realize that some of your close friends and family members are introverts. It doesn’t always show.
"I dream big and have audacious goals, and I see no contradiction between this and my quiet nature," Susan Cain, author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking," writes on her website.
Cain, a former attorney and negotiations consultant, dropped out of corporate life to live a quieter life as a writer at home with her family. She describes the seven years of writing her best-selling book as "total bliss."
"Quiet" was published in January, 2012. The following month, Cain left her blissful world momentarily to do a TED Talk, "The Power of Introverts." To prepare, she joined Toastmasters, worked with TED’s speaking coach, and spent six days with an acting coach. Three months later, she wrote that she had become an "impossibly oxymoronic creature: the Public Introvert."
That introvert aced her talk, which reached one million views faster than any other TED talk and now is ranked as the 12th-most viewed TED Talk of all time. It’s the favorite of Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Bill Gates, himself an introvert who says one of the advantages of introversion is the ability to spend long periods of time thinking about a problem or concept.
Cain tells "Quiet" readers that Western society is dominated by what she calls the "Extrovert Ideal."
"Introversion — along with its cousins – sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology," she writes. Extroversion, she notes, "is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform."
Society really isn’t designed for the introvert. Children are encouraged to speak up, to get over "shyness," to play well with others. Introverted teens may be considered antisocial or withdrawn. Adults in the workplace are often advised to be assertive, to join committees, to take leadership roles at work and in the community — in other words, to be productive members of society, or as Cain says, the Extrovert Ideal.
"But we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly," Cain writes. "Some of our great ideas, art, and inventions — from the theory of evolution to Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the personal computer — came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there."
In the quiet, introverts are in their element, momentarily removed from the world of the extrovert. They create art, solve business problems, and come up with great ideas. Businesses are wise to celebrate the introvert along with the extrovert. They are two sides to the same coin.
29 Sep 2015 Comments Off on The Value of Understanding Motivation in Marketing
Have you ever lost an entire afternoon diving into an incredible book? Despite the numerous decades that have passed since the publication of countless works of classic literature, people still manage to lose themselves in the words. They imagine themselves as a part of the plot– trying to understand the characters and their motivations. They root for their favorite hero or heroine while cringing every time that famed nemesis appears.
We are all accustomed to trying to understand the motivations of our favorite characters. We know that if you do not make an effort to comprehend the ‘why’ behind the actions, the book will lose much of its appeal. Humans are naturally complicated! We relate far better to well-rounded characters than the more superficial ones.
Although we all have the skills needed to complete this type of analysis, most marketers neglect doing it in one of the most essential aspects of their jobs: understanding Google.
The Struggle of Marketers
The past 18 months have been big for marketers. The mobile update that hit in April sent many brands scrambling to make sure their sites were ready. There were also Panda updates and a suspected Phantom update, just to name a few. Each change impacted countless sites both positively and negatively. Some sites saw their rankings plummet– and with it their traffic and their business. Others saw their sites suddenly appear on page one of SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) for the first time and experienced a much-needed jump in traffic and revenue.
Many professionals dedicate their time to trying to correct whatever errors might have hurt them in the last update. When the Panda update hit, they learned that thin content was frowned upon, so they spent time trying to beef up certain pages that were damaged by the update. When Google made the announcement that sites could expect a mobile update in April 2015, numerous marketing and IT departments found themselves scrambling to make sure their sites were mobile ready.
The problem with these techniques is that the site is always one step behind. If you are always trying to catch up to the latest Google update, then you have already lost your spot on the SERP. If you want to have a successful site, you need to be one step in front. Just like targeting the motivation of a character in your favorite book, you need to understand the motivation of Google. You want to know the ‘why’.
The why is actually simple. Google does not care about your business. Google cares about making their users happy, which in turn means delivering sites that answer their queries. Every one of the Google updates has been designed to better sort through poor websites and track down the high quality ones to display for users.
If you want to create a website that is successful, you need to focus on the end user.
Understanding the whys behind behavior is important for understanding a great book, and for understanding Google. Rather than always playing catch up with algorithm updates, get out in front of it by focusing on the same thing Google does: the end user.
If you are ready to get a new marketing campaign off the ground, contact us to get started.
22 Sep 2015 Comments Off on Overcoming Negativity
18 Sep 2015 Comments Off on Building Anticipation for a New Product or Service Through Marketing
Building Anticipation for a New Product or Service Through Marketing
Marketing materials that you put out into the world aren’t just a great way to introduce a new product or service to your target audience. If done properly, they can also be an invaluable way to create a huge amount of buzz and anticipation surrounding an upcoming product or service launch. That can then translate into increased sales when it is eventually ready for release. By keeping just a few, key things in mind, you can use hype to your advantage and build the type of momentum that most businesses can only dream of.
Master the Art of the Tease
One of the major lessons to be learned about building anticipation for a new product or service through marketing is to master the concept of teasing. If you were still a year out from the launch of a new product, for example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to send out a mailer detailing all of that product’s functions right away. Not only do you not want to "give the game away" just yet, so to speak, but a year is an incredibly long time in the world of business. Things can change, so you don’t want to lock yourself into something that you may end up dropping down the road anyway.
Instead, you can send out a mailer talking about the exciting new product that is on the horizon and detail all of the hard work that you’re putting into it. Instead of talking about what it specifically does, talk about the problem in your customers’ lives that it is designed to solve. Talk about the overarching goal of the product in a way that both gets people excited and makes them want to learn more.
It’s About Steady Updates
Another major technique to make use of when building anticipation is to check in periodically with your customers prior to launch. You wouldn’t want to send out a mailer teasing your product and then not check in again until it’s ready to launch. You would want to send out materials two, three, or even four times during the year, revealing larger bits of information each time. Not only does this give you a chance to build the hype surrounding your product or service a little more each time, but it also helps to keep it in the forefront of a customer’s mind – even though it isn’t released yet. Not only will your customers have a higher level of anticipation, but they also won’t have a chance to forget about what you’re up to.
Learn From Hollywood
If you want to take a master class in building anticipation through marketing, look no farther than movie trailers. Every Hollywood blockbuster usually follows the same format when it comes to their previews. First, roughly a year from release, a teaser trailer makes its appearance. This preview is usually around a minute in length, gives away virtually none of the plot and really just broadcasts the look or spirit of the movie. Six or so months later a longer, full trailer is released, which is usually about two minutes. This expands on the promise of the teaser, gives a way a bit more of the plot, but still leaves a lot to the imagination. A final trailer is released in the weeks before the movie itself, which is usually around three minutes and not only lets you know exactly what the plot will be, but also showcases amazing images that you immediately need to see more of. Building anticipation is all about escalation and Hollywood seems to have created a formula that works wonders, regardless of the type of business that you’re in.
Marketing is one of the best tools that you have to not only announce a new product or service to the world, but to build the type of anticipation that always translates to increased sales.
15 Sep 2015 Comments Off on Finding the Recipe for Successful Marketing
Finding the Recipe for Successful Marketing
Sara was excited. Her grandmother had just given her the recipe for her famous peanut butter cookies, and she could not wait to make them for her friends at school. She had never been much of a cook, but she figured that with the recipe she should be ok. After all, how hard could it be?
Sara enters the kitchen and begins to gather her ingredients. She notices that the recipe says she needs two bowls, but when she looks in the cabinet and sees that she only has one, she figures that should be ok. She then sees that she needs some baking soda, but only has baking powder– that should be close enough.
Sara begins to get everything into the bowls. The recipe calls for her to mix the sugar with some softened butter, so she sticks the butter in the microwave. Thirty seconds later, the the butter is just a puddle. Well, that will make it even easier to mix it into the recipe, right?
Twenty minutes later, she sticks everything into the oven and triumphantly sets the timer. When she returns after the ding, she pulls them out eagerly and then stops. Wait a minute, these do not look right. They did not rise properly and just look ‘off’. Confused, Sara thought back to her cooking. Did those little details about the butter and baking soda really matter that much? She supposed so. She decided to try again the next day.Tonight, she would pick up some more butter and some baking soda.
Developing Your Marketing Recipe
If you have ever made cookies, you most likely noted Sara’s mistakes right away. You knew that those cookies would not turn out right. Recipes use very specific ingredients because they have particular roles. If you do not use the right ingredients then the food will not act the way it is supposed to.
When you are creating a marketing campaign, you will similarly need to follow a recipe. The difference is that you will need to develop the recipe yourself. You know that you need a variety of different ingredients, such as direct mail, social media, online content, and paid advertising. You then need to mix these different techniques together to engage your intended audience and create the perfect recipe.
Often, determining the exact recipe of success will require some experimenting. You will need to explore where your customers spend their time online and what types of information they are seeking. What types of designs and offers do they respond to best in direct mail? What social media platforms are the most important to them?
Unlike with baking cookies, when you mess up a marketing recipe, it will often not be as obvious that there was an error. If most of your marketing campaign has a decent amount of success, you might not notice right away that your paid advertising campaign was not bringing in customers unless you closely monitor your different channels. If you do not identify the problem, however, you risk needlessly spending money.
To be successful in marketing, you are going to combine several different techniques into a unique recipe that helps to get your message in front of the right people at the right time. To ‘taste’ the recipe, however, you need to make sure that you regularly use analytics to gauge how well the campaign works together. You can use this data to refine your efforts and become even more successful.
Creating a successful marketing campaign does require careful thought and the precise combination of different parts. If you are interested in starting a new campaign, contact us today to get started.
The Quest for Quality Content in the Marketing World: Why the Need Isn’t Going Away and is Only Getting Bigger
28 Aug 2015 Comments Off on The Quest for Quality Content in the Marketing World: Why the Need Isn’t Going Away and is Only Getting Bigger
The Quest for Quality Content in the Marketing World: Why the Need Isn’t Going Away and is Only Getting Bigger
If you have any type of Internet presence for your business at all, the chances are high you’re always searching for relevant, high-quality content to put out into the world on a regular basis. Quality content accomplishes a number of different goals. It allows you to maintain an active presence on the Web, to engage with your target audience, and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. It also happens to be incredibly important for reasons that go above and beyond those — and will only get more and more integral to your strategy as time goes on.
The Google of it All
One of the major reasons why high-quality content is so important to your website, your blog, or your social media presence has to do with Google. Google is essentially the "be all, end all" way of getting recognized by your target audience in the digital age. If your blog appears near the top of the search results for relevant keywords, you can expect a huge boost in visitors (and ultimately revenue) as a result. Because of all this, quality content is important for one simple reason: Google thinks it is.
How High Quality Content Ultimately Benefits You
Even going above and beyond website traffic, the quest for quality content is one that ultimately benefits your business in a wide range of different ways. For starters, it forces you to stop thinking of your website visitors as users and to start thinking of them as real people. This is a great approach to have, as it puts you in a better position to connect with them in a meaningful way and to form a meaningful, loyal bond in return.
Secondly, striving to generate high-quality content online can be a great mentality to take with you into the offline world, too. If you use the same practices when generating offline content that you do for your online content — an emphasis on readable, relevant, and interesting materials — you can form the same meaningful connection with those you’re targeting via direct mail and other materials as you do with Internet users.
Ultimately, however, the quest for high-quality content means one thing: everybody wins. You aren’t "faking your way" into the position of a thought leader in your industry. You aren’t "tricking" your customers into thinking you know more than you really do.
You ARE a thought leader in the industry and you ARE a voice to be listened to. Google and similar companies that emphasize high-quality content are essentially performing the biggest magic trick of all — they’re slowly forcing businesses in all industries to become better at what they do on a daily basis. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s a position that’s certainly hard to argue with.