10 Years after Y2K Is A Good Time to Start Using Video

9 12 2009

-Martin Moleski
mmoleski@igpr.com

The end of one year and start of another always gives us time to simultaneously reflect and look forward. I’ve always found it to be a good time. Did I accomplish what I wanted in 2009? How can I be more successful in 2010? Wow…I’m coming up on my 10-year high school reunion (don’t despise me because I’m still under 30). The year 2000 was supposed to usher in flying cars, new technologies and almost limitless possibilities from the Internet.  And in just 10 short years so much has happened that it’s easy for even a young guy like me to get behind the curve every once in awhile. Before 2000, we never used Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, iTunes or this little search engine program called Google. Think about that. No Google before 2000. How was I even able to find information for my high school research papers?

And as these technologies grew so did our reliance on online video.  That’s right, I said “reliance” because these days the news is becoming more and more about what we can see and hear and less about what an anonymous source said. Don’t believe me. Try to think of the White House crashers story without the accompanying video of Mr. and Mrs. Salahi walking around the White House posing for pictures with the president and vice-president. Or maybe how protesters in Iran can only show what is happening to them by posting cell phone videos on their Twitter accounts. Still not convinced, I have two words for you: Balloon Boy.

Today’s technology is forcing you and your company into a video-centered world…whether you like it or not. If you still don’t have video on your Web site, you’re competition probably does. If you’re still going to sales call with a PowerPoint presentation, your audience has probably seen it before. As you start to both reflect and look forward, ask yourself, “How did I stand out in 2009?” More importantly, “How can video help me stand out in 2010?” If you can’t answer either question, now might be a good time for you to call The Impact Group.

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10 Ways to impact growth in 2009

15 12 2008

I can’t imagine a single educated person in a position of influence that hasn’t been affected by the negative news of late. Market volatility, political changes, bailouts and an overall uneasiness of stability has defined 2008. How will YOU prepare for a better 2009?

Things are no different here at The Impact Group. We are a full service marketing communications agency in Hudson, Ohio. We are experiencing clients and prospects that are taking a longer time to make decisions, shrinking budgets, disappearing cash flow.

The time is now to create a better growth strategy. Exclusively using the same marketing methods of the past and not incorporating “new media” will be a major mistake for organizations trying to thrive in this time of survival.

Understanding the shifts in the way people obtain and share information will be a critical component of marketing success in 2009. Being able to quickly apply that understanding into marketing outreach campaigns (social media marketing, online publicity, online marketing) that complement past / current methods (print materials, web, advertising, direct mail) is THE challenge for marketers in 2009.

The Impact Group has come up with 10 points to think about for a solid growth strategy in 2009.

1. Redesign your brand. What does a new car, new outfit, new haircut or a new coat of paint do to the psyche? The same thing a fresh corporate identity make-over can do to an organization. Even a modest change to an organization’s look can provide new energy to employees, media opportunities, excitement to current customers and new business opportunities. Check out some samples: Portfolio of work

2. Video Video Video!!! With the advances of video compression technology, video has never been easier to use for marketing purposes. Video is 5 times more effective than print for someone to remember your message, so throw away the print and replace it with video wherever possible. Use a video spokesperson to explain your website as people visit your homepage. (Sample: www.igpr.com) Incorporate video email for your sales and marketing outreach. Post video explanations and commercials of your products and services on your website (podcasts) and on sources like youtube. (Sample: www.trinitypension.com) 2009 will be the year direct mail will take a back seat to video email campaigns in cost efficiency and effectiveness. Get started before your competitors figure it out! More info on the effectiveness of video – http://www.vidpro.org/videomkt.htm

3. Listen to your customers. I can’t think of a better way to recalibrate your marketing message for 2009 than the recommendations from the customers buying your product in 2008. Do you have a simple print survey that can go in your invoices? How about an online survey that when completed, provides a coupon? We encourage gathering satisfaction data and recommendations year round. There are more comprehensive methods like focus groups, surveys, polls that can provide statistical certainty to strategic directions. I recommend starting with getting into your car to visit a few of your best customers, wish them a happy holiday, tell them why you appreciate their business and ask them for advice on how you might be able to grow into next year. Free marketing advice from the people that already buy your product can give you some good ideas for your 2009 growth strategy.

4. Social media marketing! The major trend in successful marketing is moving from the high impression factors of the past (one Super Bowl commercial brings 50 million + impressions on a broad audience for a 1 outreach : 50,000,000 target ratio) to the PERSONAL impression factor (1 personal trusted message : one target). This trend of one to one marketing can be most effectively done through online social networks. With the rapidly growing use of MySpace and Facebook and the ability to publicly follow a person or organization on Twitter, one to one marketing is ready for the savvy marketer to make an immediate and powerful impact. Read more on Social media marketing – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media_marketing and Social Media Marketing

5. Blog. 2008 was a year of exploring how blogging could impact an organization’s marketing efforts. Blogging (if done effectively) showed a powerful marketing ability to drive relevant traffic on a website, influence credibility for a product or service, grab mainstream media attention, and shape consumer behaviors. Blogging is providing the ability for the smaller company to have a louder voice. Read more on Blogging – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

6. Online publicity. The web has provided small and large organizations alike a wonderful medium for disseminating news. Public relations, which used to be reserved for mainstream media, is now more effective when implemented through online channels – called Online Publicity. Not only do the major media receive notice of your news, but individuals and organizations can receive info directly to their inbox through things like GoogleAlerts and RSS feeds. Getting your news online – through your website, blogs, news sites, social media, and others – can make a huge impact in 2009.

7. Hire experts. Most organizations trust a CPA for their tax filings, attorneys for legal issues and doctors for medical matters. The problem with “expert” marketers is that there isn’t a universal accepted and measured accreditation like the previously mentioned professions. Most marketing firms are a few folks that took a couple design courses and now lay claim to most marketing capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are the extremely expensive large agencies that need their invoices to match their high rent and huge payrolls. Check out this article on small vs large agencies for some thoughts. http://adage.com/smallagency/post?article_id=111233  Marketing techniques have gotten very complex due to the reliance of new technology and the critical timing of delivery. The right marketing group will help you create and implement a growth strategy for your organization and allow you to streamline resources. How to select an agency – www.ehow.com/how_2052377_select-right-marketing-firm.html  Start your agency search – www.igpr.com

8. Redefine your marketing message. Is your marketing message brief, simple to understand, interesting and able to distinguish you from your competition? Is it easy for someone interested in your product or service to get information in order to make a buying decision? What are the sound bytes? Everyone is too busy and you are competing against a world of information being thrown at your potential next customer. Your message must be able to cut through and motivate specific action.

9. Rebuild your web site. Most web sites are now outdated in information, technology and appearance. With the low costs of web technologies and the high value a good site brings to an organization, your website has to be a top priority in 2009. The ability for your products and services to show up on the top of the search engines is so important for growth. Your website appearance and relevance will be one of the main factors of establishing credibility in your future customers. Your website should be the centerpiece of the way you market.

10. Get your story told in the news. I’ve already talked about getting your news on the web. But, print and broadcast PR opportunities still exist in a big way. There are niche magazines for just about every industry in the world. And, while most news in a down economy is doom and gloom, media outlets are looking for positive, uplifting stories to tell. Getting the word out about that new client you landed, the product launching or the new hire…all these things are welcomed good news to the media, AND your prospects, clients and employees!

2009 has the potential to be a banner year, if you approach it with enthusiasm and knowledge. Take these points to heart. And, let us know how we can help. www.igpr.com

Don
dpolyak@igpr.com





Usability is key to web site success

5 12 2008

Have you ever visited a web site with a specific action in mind (finding info, buying something, getting a phone number, whatever), but once you arrived, you spent several minutes just trying to figure out where to even start? I’m surprised that even today, with all the knowledge we have about the web and how people use it, some organizations still forget to consider usability as a major factor in designing a web site.

Even the giants forget sometimes. Just look at Yahoo! and Google, for example. Both, at their core, offer search engine functionality. But, at just a quick glance, Yahoo has so much more going on that you can get distracted (which may very well be Yahoo’s intention).

Another example: Kenton County School District in the Cincinnati area vs. Garfield Heights City Schools near Cleveland. The Kenton site, while offering a wide variety of informational options, doesn’t provide the visitor with any specific direction; instead the home page is a long list of sections within the site. Garfield Heights, on the other hand, clearly addresses the potential audiences who may visit the site – students, parents, staff, alumni and community. In a quick glance, the visitor can choose which area he/she is looking for, and in one click, get to that information.

One more example: Trinity Pension Consultants vs. Third Party Administrators. If I’m a financial advisor or a business owner looking for an organization to help administer my 401k, and I come across these two sites in my search…it’s clear who I would be calling. While Third Party Administrator requires that the visitor read nine paragraphs of content right on the home page, the Trinity Pension Consultants site provides a quick educational video on the home page, along with two distinct options for valuble “Resources.”

These are just a few examples, but you get the point. When designing a web site, the user MUST come first. It’s not about how you can best get all the information you want on one page! It’s about making it simple for the visitor (ie. your customer/prospect/partner/vendor) to find what they are looking for.

Matt
mwhite@igpr.com





In this struggling economy, branding is still just as important… if not more.

26 11 2008

Businesses such as Walmart and McDonalds are thriving in these hard times because they have positioned themselves as the brand that will save you some cash. Whether or not these merchants actually save you money compared to other stores of similar product and price-range, doesn’t really matter when the consumer immediately associates the brand with value and savings.

walmartDespite what some may say about branding or rebranding your company in tough economic times, Walmart recently rolled out a new, more personal, softer logo and branding campaign (they even removed the hyphen.) This new identity, with a revived use of light and color, was said to create a more accessible and experiential feel for the store. With the inclusion of this new look (and of course the horrific downturn in the economy), Walmart has seen a steady boost in sales this summer and fall when most other retailers are down close to double-digits.

So in conclusion, don’t let the image of your business suffer because you think going the cheap route on your company’s identity is a way to cut costs. Just remember no matter what you are selling, clients and consumers alike want to do business with companies that appear professional – if for no other reason then to make certain the money they are spending with YOUR company is the correct choice.

 

Holly Davis
hdavis@igpr.com





Puppies and Promises

14 11 2008

By now you have probably heard that President-elect Barack Obama has promised his two daughters a puppy when they move into the White House in January. Well, so has every major animal shelter, breeder and dog food company in America. Pedigree, is no exception.

Dear President-elect Obama

Dear President-elect Obama

Pedigree has launched a marketing campaign to remind the Obama family that shelter dogs are among the best animals to adopt, and as a designer I believe that they have hit the mark. Their clean presentation and adorable puppy draws any animal lover in. Who wouldn’t want to adopt that dog with its floppy ears and wiry coat. Beyond the adorable image though is a very succinct marketing message that reverberates Mr. Obama’s campaign mantra of hope and goes further to subtly remind all of us of his campaign promises big or small.

Thank you Pedigree for producing a beautifully elegant ad while driving home a marketing message we can only hope President-elect Barack Obama will see and take to heart.

Allison Stulpin





“Pooliticizing” on the streets of California

24 10 2008

In light of the upcoming election, I thought I would discuss the grassroot politicizing that has begun to creep into the advertising mainstream. One “movement” in particular caught my eye as both disturbing and creative. Venice artist, designer and activist Greg Beauchamp decided to take to the streets adorning dog feces with his opinions of John McCain’s proposed policies on the economy,  foreign policy  and how he feels about McCain’s campaign tactics.

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

I won’t argue with the creative, albeit unconventional, method Beauchamp chose to get his feelings across to the general public. As a matter of fact, I audibly laughed when I first saw the image of a little pile of dog poo with a mini sign in it.

After I stopped laughing, I realized his method proves nothing but the fact that there are stinky political extremists on both sides. Beauchamp chose to stoop to a new low in political advertising, and however ingenious the idea may be, I find it to be irresponsible both from an environmental and a political standpoint.

From an environmental standpoint he chose to litter the public sidewalks. Some could also argue that his advertising method would encourage others to leave their dog poo behind in hopes that it would be used for future “pooliticizing,” leading to an even larger and potentially stinkier problem. The political standpoint is obvious. Both camps have had their fair share of low jabs, either directly from their camps or from the extremists that have taken to the streets in support of their candidate. This kind of behavior only encourages more of the same from the other camp.

As a designer, I always enjoy out-of-the-box creativity, but this may have gone just a little too far outside of the box for me. After my initial reaction, I was a little disgusted.

What do you think?

Click here to view more pictures of Greg Beauchamp’s “pooliticizing”

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer





What is graphic design?

2 09 2008

Just last week I was visiting my 86-year-old grandmother, and she asked me (as she has repeatedly for years now), “what is it that you do for a living again?”

Ever since I embarked on becoming a graphic designer, I have noticed a very curious perception about my chosen profession. When asked what I do for a living, I always reply, “I’m a graphic designer,” and I assume my response is descriptive enough. More often than not, I get a blank stare and usually a follow up question with absolutely no legitimacy, such as, “Oh, do you create special effects for movies?” This immediately tips me off that they haven’t the faintest idea what a graphic designer does. Subsequently, I reply with “well, not exactly.”

Graphic design, by definition, is the art (or profession) of visual communication. As designers, we creatively combine images, words and ideas to convey information to an audience, especially to produce a desired effect or reaction. Our main tools are typography, color, photography/illustration and composition. Graphic design can refer to both the designing process and the actual designs that are created.

There are a few reasons why graphic design is such an enigma to those outside the design realm. First off, it is a very broad profession with many avenues to pursue. Typical examples of graphic design include company logos, magazine layouts, advertisements, consumer packaging and Web site design. I try to give a few examples when I am faced with this situation such as, “I’m currently working on a logo for this client and a brochure for that client.”

I could say, “Grandma, I use the Abobe Creative Suite to organize space in order to communicate visual and verbal information with expression and clarity.” I have a feeling that might make matters worse. Since the arrival of graphic arts software applications, computer image manipulation has become the norm. So when all else fails and my grandmother says “what exactly is it that you do again?” I can reply, “I work on a computer grandma,” and she is somehow satisfied.

 

Holly Davis
hdavis@igpr.com