Building Strong Client Relationships

November 22, 2017

At Marketing In Color, we are not your typical marketing agency. You won’t see us doing one-off logos or accepting orders to design business cards. Yes, we can do that, but that’s just not our style. We are your marketing partner. We work with companies that may have a small, in-house marketing staff, but need a full marketing team. That’s where we come into play. We collaborate with companies long-term to help develop and execute their overall marketing strategy. This includes the branding, the look and feel, the voice, and everything in between. From the perspective of an account manager, here are a few things that really help build strong client relationships.

Communication

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CommunicationLike any healthy relationship, communication is key. Clients expect full communication – and rightly so. They expect communication that is transparent, clear, and timely. But we also have these same expectations. If a client is not fully open with their wants and needs, there is always the chance for error. Whenever we meet with our clients (which at the minimum is weekly), we have an agenda that specifies what we will be discussing and what needs to be accomplished in the meeting. This strategy creates structure and keeps our conversations on track. If we ever leave the meeting with unanswered questions, we are in constant contact with the appropriate individuals who can get us the answers we need.

A Key Point Person

A-Key-Point-PersonIt’s critical to our ability to do our best work for our clients to have one point person to work extremely closely with on a day-to-day basis. Just as the MIC account managers are the liaison between the client and our internal team, this point person is the liaison between the C-level at their company, and one of MIC’s account managers. We trust they are communicating exactly what their management is communicating. We also trust that they will be timely in their responses, to get us what we need when we need it, so we can ensure that we deliver on time.

Meeting Deadlines

Meeting-DeadlinesWe meet deadlines. And the only way that is possible is when we have responsive clients that provide us with everything we need to deliver. If, for some reason, our client is unable to meet a deadline, they notify our team before it’s too late. The timelines we create for our clients are so critical to the way we operate, and clients that meet their deadlines get our best work. We understand that unforeseen events occur that leave our clients reacting to situations. But it is so crucial to have that open communication so that we can help nip problems in the bud.

We Are Your Second Line of Defense

We-Are-Your-Second-Line-of-DefenseOur clients are part of our team. We want our clients to look good no matter the situation. If we are notified of a “fire” that needs to be put out, we jump on the project immediately to help prevent any harm. We’ve stayed late many nights to ensure projects are complete and new project proposals are finalized. We are always looking to make our clients better and take them to the next level. Great clients are clients that also want to see that growth. We go the extra mile for our clients in hopes that our clients will go the extra mile for us, too.

We’ve been working with some of our clients for more than 10 years. It is the open communications we’ve built with our clients, the trust they’ve bestowed on us, and our ability to deliver great work that has created the most successful client relationships. If you think your company needs our services, please reach out to us. We’d be happy to discuss your marketing options and listen to what your company’s wants and needs are.

Please Stop Using Your Phone To Shoot Video Vertically!

November 14, 2017

Here’s a quick tip for those of you who fancy yourselves budding film directors, as you traverse the world recording your video selfie history with your digital pocket bricks. I’m talking to YOU, you people who insist on shooting video while holding your phones standing tall at attention – leaving unsightly, amateurish black voids on either side of your film epics.

Let me be clear by asking you this question. When is it okay to hold your phone vertically when recording video? In a word … NEVER! Or better yet, here are two words. NEVER … EVER!

What follows is a visual dissertation to help you face your crimes, overcome your affliction, and move yourself closer to being a person of finer taste.

You’re welcome.

Imagine if some of your favorite movies had been filmed vertically! 

You might have missed seeing who Patrick Swayze was groping in Ghost.

ghost

 

You might have felt dumb, only to find out you were even dumber.

dumber

 

You might have been left feeling the blues, brother.

blues-bros

 

And you might have had to settle for just one usual suspect.

usual-suspects

 

If you find yourself too incapable or too lazy to turn your phone sideways, don’t worry, there’s an app for that:

An Introduction to Business Intelligence (BI) Dashboards

November 9, 2017

You can set up Google Analytics, track your social analytics, and even get fancy and add Google Analytics Events to your website, but if you and your team don’t look at it regularly, the analytics are worthless. You will miss trends, not capitalize on growth, and generally, lose out on opportunities. And I know, Google Analytics can be very overwhelming when trying to quickly look at data, and if you aren’t using a social media tool like Sprout Social or Hootsuite, then you need to sign into each social platform individually. Then any digital marketing platform you use likely has its own dashboard, so at the end of the day, you need to wade through numerous reports across multiple platforms and ultimately draw some kind of conclusion from their collective data. If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is.

Building a dashboard is a much simpler way of visualizing your data, giving you a 10,000-foot view of how everything is humming along at a moment’s notice. What’s best though, is that everyone on your team can also look at this dashboard. This ensures everyone is looking at the same data and has access to it at any time they might need it.

Set up the Dashboard

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Set-up-the-Dashboard1There are TONS of dashboarding tools out there, each with various options on how to import, visualize, and share data. At Marketing in Color, we use Google Data Studio, a free BI (Business Intelligence) tool from Google that allows you to make useful dashboards from a variety of data.

Once you have decided on which tool will work best for you and your data, you will need to determine what data you want to display. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) include every single data point you have collected. Instead, talk with your team to determine the various KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) they will need to reference. KPIs can be anything ranging from online check-outs to form fills to video views. Once you have determined what information you need to collect, you need to figure out how to collect it. Most BI tools have built-in connectors for things like Google Analytics, various social media platforms, even digital marketing platforms like AdRoll and Google AdWords. If your chosen platform doesn’t have the connections you need, you still have options to display it on your dashboard. Most have a connection with Google Sheets, or some other online database like a SQL database, so you can export the data to CSV and import it to the database. Then just connect to the database like you would any other platform.

Lay out the Dashboard

Lay-out-the-DashboardSo you have your data and dashboard connected, its time to lay out some data. You need to make sure you are keeping your data un-cluttered and as clear as possible. Keep similar data together (like social media stats together and website stats together), and use a color scheme that allows for you to differentiate between different data points without being overly “loud.” Here is a great whitepaper on best practices to lay out out dashboards by Tableau. Worth the read if you want to get really in-depth with your next dashboard. Remember to not combine data and infer causation from correlation! Remember, the goal here is context, not clutter. Someone should be able to glance at your chart, understand what they are looking at, and what they are supposed to take away from it.

Engage Your Audience

Enage-Your-AudienceNow you have a tool laid out and ready for your team to consume. Make sure team members are aware of the data, and if needed, make it impossible to ignore. Most companies host their dashboards online where any employee can access them anytime. Some companies go a step further and actually mount TVs in their office and run their dashboards on them all day long. Some even take it a step further and put the dashboards right outside the restroom!

You now have the outline and resources you need to make a BI dashboard for yourself. Go forth and analyze your data!

Reading This Article Will Bring You To Tears

November 1, 2017

For many, it was the vision of Batboy in the newsstand of the grocery checkout line that was the precursor to the now ubiquitous clickbait headlines we all know from reading the web.

Clickbait (also known as Linkbait) is the art of coming up with teaser headlines you just can’t resist from clicking on. Usually leading you to worthless or nearly worthless information on the other end.

Clickbait headlines can be so compelling, they’ll drop your jaw. Or maybe even leave you speechless.

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They generally lead you to revealing information they don’t want you to know. A simple trick that’s sure to blow your mind. A picture that will leave you wondering which Kardashian’s dress left little to the imagination. Or how eating pancakes every day for 7 days can make you a millionaire.

These headlines will make you laugh. Cry. Even shock you. And there are sure to be 5, 8, … maybe even 10 reasons you’ll want to share them with everyone you know.

The end of journalism as we know it?

Not surprisingly, it looks like clickbait is taking its toll on traditional journalism, sucking the life out of mainstream newspapers along with profits, salaries, and morale.

According to the PBS NewsHour, “Click-bait is rarely newsworthy, but it does attract eyeballs. The assumption seems to be that audiences might stay for the ‘serious’ content after gorging on the fluff.”

Why you should wash your hands non-stop.

Among the tricks linkbaiters employ is to present a picture of something that looks oddly grotesque or in this case OMG REALLY DISGUSTINGLY GROSS!

clickbait gross

Just try to look away. Yep, this pic is probably in the clickbait hall of fame. What in the world can it possibly be? The special at Denny’s?

The decline of the dancing mortgage ads.

Somewhat of an off-shoot to pure clickbait headlines are the visually-arresting dancing mortgage ads. Who hasn’t seen these ads dancing in the sidebar of every major, and not-so-major, news website out there. Sadly, they seemed to have fallen out of favor lately. Or perhaps I’ve finally become immune to their existence. Either way, I’ll take it. But I must admit, this video has a groovy beat to it.

Did they laugh because he couldn’t play the piano or just because he sat down at the piano?

Oh, and if you think linkbait is the stuff of the internet age, check out this famous ad from 1927.

classic clickbait article example

Is there a technical explanation for all this?

Glad you asked. Here’s how TechCrunch describes clickbait:

“Clickbaiting is the intentional act of over-promising or otherwise misrepresenting — in a headline, on social media, in an image, or some combination — what you’re going to find when you read a story on the web.”

The art of a clickbait headline.

Okay, now that you have a general understanding of what click/linkbaiting is all about, it’s time for you to show the world you have the wherewithal to flood the web with the kind of break-the-internet prose that will stop the marauding masses in their tracks.

To show you how easy this is, I’ve taken three actual headlines from a CNN.com home page and transposed them into scintillating, can’t-avoid phrases that can distract and cause even the most diligent readers’ eyeballs to fly off topic.

REAL HEADLINE:
John Mayer Celebrates a Year of Sobriety

CLICKBAIT-ED:
What Pampered Celebrity Songster Can’t Find His Hooch?

REAL HEADLINE:
Why You Should Wash Apples

CLICKBAIT-ED:
3 Ways Apples are Out to Get You

REAL HEADLINE:
Jeff Glor Named Anchor of CBS Evening News

CLICKBAIT-ED:
Who the Hell is Jeff Glor? <— Sorry, that was more of a personal statement than a rewrite.

Okay, by now you’re impressed with how effortlessly and flawlessly I was able to transform otherwise ordinary headlines into the pantheon of Batboy-worthy, sensationalist rubbish.

Now you try!

You too can be an expert in clickbait authorship. And you can do it without even thinking! That’s right. Instead of massaging your grey matter, you can simply enter a topic to exploit using the online Linkbait Generator! Just click here to enter a term and the Linkbait Generator will do the rest.

In my test, I entered “Lady Gaga” and generated a few of these interesting morsels:

  • 8 deadly uses for Lady Gaga
  • 9 reasons you can blame the recession on Lady Gaga
  • 7 things Lady Gaga has in common with Lady Gaga

(That last one sounds like an algorithmic error.)

This concludes all the information about clickbait they don’t want you to know about.

And now, the video no one wants you to see again.

Successful Brands Have a Soul

October 27, 2017

Pixar Studios - Castle CubicleThe offices at Pixar Studios are… unique. Take their work area, for example. Each employee is given the freedom to customize his or her workstation. And I don’t mean photo portraits and desk accessories. At Pixar you’ll find workstations that look like castles, caves, tiki huts, and one office even has a secret room called the Lucky 7 Lounge, where the Pixar team and big-name celebrities hang out over drinks. Complete with a free cereal bar and game room, a workday at Pixar is not your typical day at the office. Take a look.

Pixar’s internal culture spills onto the great movies it creates. Personally, I can’t help but smile when I recall certain scenes from Finding Nemo or The Incredibles – two of my favorite animated movies. Pixar’s work has made me smile, laugh out loud, cry, gasp, and even wax philosophical. It’s no wonder they have a glass case filled with over 20 Academy Awards and countless other shiny award statuettes. Pixar has a soul.

A Brand with a Soul

There is an underlying culture within Pixar that spills onto everything they are, from their individual workstations to their animated films. This culture and soul are promoted from the top, from their leaders, and trickle down to all things Pixar, creating a beautiful, unique blend of creativity and fun. For many companies, especially those in the franchise industry, maintaining a defining culture can be a difficult thing. It’s one thing to keep team members in a single location synced, but keeping your brand’s personality consistent across various locations can prove challenging. But it can be done.

K.I.C.S. (Keep It Consistent Stupid)

My first job was at a McDonald’s. There was this one customer called Jose who would always walk up to the counter and order a Double Whopper with cheese. “Hello Jose. Welcome to McDonald’s! We’re fresh out of Whoppers. Can I get you a Big Mac instead?” With the exception of Jose, people don’t have an issue recognizing that they walked into a McDonald’s. The work that’s been put into maintaining consistency in the look and feel of a McDonald’s restaurant is tremendous, and with over 33,000 restaurants worldwide, I’d say they’ve done a good job of creating a solid culture (whether you agree with that culture or their food is a different topic). Your brand’s soul needs to be intentionally established and protected. Your brand’s soul is a fusion of a consistent look and feel to your graphics, a consistent voice across all communications, a positive, pleasant work culture at every one of your franchise locations, and many other factors.

Soul-Building 101

A place to start for a franchise or business is defining its core values. The brands with the most soul have core values that drive and define everything they do. Take a look at Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s core values. Dedicate a few minutes to look back at your history and identify the key principles, values, or motivators for doing what you do. If you can’t really recall any, think of what you’d like your brand to stand for, and what values you’d like to inject into your product, service, and work culture. Don’t filter yourself… go wild and make a huge list of traits! Most times the best ideas come from unfiltered thinking. Now rank the values in that list and define 5, 7, or 10 core values. Write a sentence or two explaining each. Type that list, print it, and place it somewhere visible. Make those values practical and apply them to how you work internally, how you treat your team, and how you perform your service or create your product. Keep it consistent and you’ll see your brand’s soul come to life. Prospective customers are more drawn to brands that stand for something… that have soul. Since your brand is not what you say it is, but what they say it is, give them something soulful to talk about.

Challenges will arise as you uphold your brand’s soul and culture, be they financial, operational, or brought on by growing pains. Fight for your brand’s soul, and in the words of the wise fish Dory, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming.”

Dory-FN

Keep Control Of Your Web Presence

October 9, 2017

Your brand is your business, and your business is your brand. A big part of being able to grow your brand is to effectively message and reach your customers. And in today’s world, successful communication of your business means having to keep control of all sorts of messaging, from social media and blog posts to regular website updates and engaging content. It’s all too common these days for businesses to mishandle that website component, often just due to a lack of understanding.

You know your products and how to engage your customers, but you don’t know how to build a website. So it only makes sense that you’ll try to find someone to help you. You’ll search out and find a web developer who can design a site for you that will enhance your business. And you may find a developer that you think has all the answers. Not only do they design sites, but they’ll also register your domain name and host the website for you as well, and manage everything for a reasonable monthly rate.

And while that may sound like a great idea, the reality is that you may have just made a critical blunder with two very critical components of your business. By allowing a web development company to register your domain name and control your web hosting, you’ve potentially given up control of them, and that could be bad. When you give up that control, it allows a less-than-scrupulous web developer to essentially hold your website hostage, forcing you, their “client”, to work with them exclusively for the life of your company.

Luckily these two components of your business are very easy for you to keep control of. You know that your domain name is how everyone will find you, so you should take steps to insure that you outright own this important component of your brand. Just as you searched for a web developer to build your site, you should find a Domain Registration company to use. When you’ve chosen one, you should create an account with them and purchase your domain name. The only thing to check for is that the Registrar you have chosen is ICANN-accredited.

And while it may not seem true at first, the second component of your internet presence is just as easy to maintain control of. There are plenty of hosting providers available at local, national and even international levels. From GoDaddy to Rackspace and everything in between, you’ll find shared and dedicated hosting options that will meet your needs. And while you will find hundreds of hosting providers in your quest, don’t be overwhelmed by the options you find. Ask your peers, friends, and others if they have any suggestions or experience with hosting providers. If you feel this is too complicated for you, work with your web developer on this, and ask for their recommendations. Your goal is to have your own account with the hosting provider you’ve chosen, where everything is in your name, and the bill is paid by you.    

In the end, you need to be the one in complete control of your internet presence. It is, after all, a critical component of your business in today’s marketplace.

Spelling – A Lost Art and Why Mnemonics are Not Demonic

August 24, 2017

I always knew I was a good speller. I even had the honor to represent my grade school in a local area spelling bee once. But, what I didn’t realize was how fortunate I really am! With the advent of social media, it’s become very apparent that proper spelling is a lost art, even with spellcheck. And, don’t even get me going on improper punctuation and grammar!

The good news is that if you are someone who has always had difficulty spelling, then this is the blog for you! Here are some great tips and mnemonics, to not only help you remember the proper spelling of a few of often misspelled or misused words, but to also help you remember some common grammar mistakes and random facts.

receive – didn’t everyone learn “i” before “e” except after “c”?

capital vs. capitol – what’s at the top of the U.S. Capitol building? A dome.

desert vs. dessert – the double letters stand for strawberry shortcake.

principle vs. principal – the headmaster of your school is your “pal”.

stationary vs. stationery – the “er” is included in the word “paper”.

compliment vs. complement – a compliment is the opposite of an insult, and a complement usually enhances something (e.g. That blue shirt complements your blue eyes). In short, i = insult and e = enhance.

And, here’s one word I always having trouble spelling (along with that place you go to when eating out) and found this mnemonic when researching content for this blog:

rhythm – think about dancing to music and this sentence: Rhythm helps your two hips move.

See also: Five Microsoft Word Tips That Could Save You Time

Grammar 101

Grammar 101 - InText Image

Now that you have the spelling tips safely tucked away in your memory bank, now it’s time for a few grammar tips:

who vs. whom – if you can’t decide which to use, answer the question. If the answer to the question uses one of these personal pronouns “him,” “her,” or “them,” then the correct word to use in the question is “whom”. For example, the answer to the question, “Who are you going with?” is “I’m going with him/her/them.” Therefore, the proper question is: “Whom are you going with?” (Actually, if you use proper English, the correct question would be “With whom are you going?”, but that’s another blog topic!) Remember the “m” in him/them goes with the “m” in whom.

to vs. too – so what’s the difference between these two words? One of the definitions for the word “too” is “more than enough; excessively.” How to remember this? Simply by the fact that there is more than one “o” in the word too! For example, I see bad spelling too often on social media NOT I see bad spelling to often on social media.

affect vs. effect – Affect is usually a verb, and as you know, verbs are action words. Effect is almost always a noun. To affect something is to change or influence it, and an effect is something that happens due to a cause. When you affect something, it produces an effect. Remembering that “a” = action will help you determine when to use affect instead of effect.

See also: For All Intensive Purposes, It’s Time for a Grammar Lesson, Irregardless of What You Think

Fun with Mnemonics

Spelling - In-Text Image

Who remembers this mnemonic from their grade school music class and for what it was used to remember? Every good boy does fine. (Answer: the order of notes on the treble clef – E G B D F). What about the mnemonic for the spaces between the lines? (Answer: F A C E).

You may also remember that Roy G. Biv, was not your long lost cousin, but was the mnemonic for the order of the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).

And, finally, one of the most memorable mnemonics I learned was in my astronomy class in college (probably because I didn’t learn much else in that class!). It was an easy way to remember the order of the planets. Unfortunately, it no longer works because Pluto is no longer a planet, but here it is anyway:

Mercury – Mother
Venus – Very
Earth –Eagerly
Mars –Made a
Jupiter – Jelly
Saturn – Sandwich
Uranus – Using
Neptune – No
Pluto – Peanut Butter

So what’s your favorite mnemonic? Do you have a specific way of remembering hard-to-remember words, phrases, or fun facts? Please share, I would love to know!

Productivity Isn’t What It Used To Be

August 11, 2017

I don’t know what I was thinking when I first entered the marketing business 25 years ago, trying to create effective programs for clients before the existence of the internet. I must have been out of my mind.

We Learn These Tools So You Don’t Have To

Productivity Isnt What It Used To Be - In-Text ImagesToday, my mind is blown almost daily by yet another amazing digital tool or platform that does things that were inconceivable – heck, even five years ago! The technology that we, as a marketing company, employ and have at our disposal for use on behalf of our clients is just staggering. For example, we use the highly popular Basecamp program that allows us to collaborate seamlessly with clients across the country. We also employ a browser-based video cataloging system to share raw video content with clients online and partner with a company that specializes in local search accuracy on behalf of our clients. We have online access to stock photography, email programs, mind mapping and marketing automation tools, social media management tools, website issue tracking software … the list goes on.

The staff resources and financial investment required to vet and stay on top of it all are sometimes equally staggering. However, the ongoing investment is offset by the continuous increases we gain in productivity, which translates into billable time and profitability. One person can accomplish in a day what it took ten people to do only a few years ago.

See Also: No Matter Where You Are, We Make It Easy To Work With Us Through Basecamp

The Right Tools for the Job

The Right Tools for the JobI just can’t imagine running a successful business anymore without having an amazing array of technology at our fingertips. Gone are the days of relying solely on mass-media approaches like print, broadcast and outdoor. While traditional media still plays an extremely important role in creating brand awareness and lead generation, having a well-stocked “technology toolbox” is the only effective way to consistently develop highly-targeted, effective programs with indisputable ROI. Technology makes our jobs as marketers much easier in many ways.

However, the massive array of available and ever-changing marketing technology platforms can be overwhelming, especially to a client. Personally, I love the process of sorting through the tech toolbox to find the exact right tool to accomplish a highly specific job for a particular client. I get a rush when I can show a client exactly where their marketing dollars were spent, and precisely the return that was realized. It creates trust in us, as a company, and trust in the technology we employ.

It’s funny, because when you get right down to it, I’m not really a technology person, so to speak. I have a healthy respect for it… I understand its value, and I’m definitely not afraid of it. But you’re not going to find me sitting at my desk at midnight, diving into a new tech platform to find out exactly how it works and what it can do. And I won’t be the one to explain all the intricacies of how every platform we use works. I’ll leave all that to my incredibly talented and amazingly brilliant team. You’ll find me at home, playing “Words with Friends®” – on my iPad.

See Also: The Importance of Marketing Automation