Five Signs You Need Creative Design Help

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As great creative design software and DIY web and social apps become more accessible to integrated markers, more of you are taking the opportunity to create great-looking websites and design your own marketing collateral. But is there a time when you need to let go and call in professional help? Here are the telltale signs:

You’re Having Quality-Control Issues

Even though it seems like you’re saving money by doing it in-house, here is the real cost: when your project is at the printer, and your files aren’t set up right—or worse, it’s printed with the wrong fonts. Or your website goes live and your images look weird because they haven’t been optimized. A professional graphic designer or art director understands the technical fundamentals that can tank a job if they’re not done right.

You Want to Save Money

A design pro knows how to get the most impact for the least money, which includes recommending paper and format choices and negotiating stock photo usage costs. And a pro’s expertise means they can accomplish in a few keystrokes what might take an amateur 30 minutes.

You Want to Make Money

The power of good design speaks for itself, and the power of a good designer is that he or she knows how to capture your audience’s attention, build your brand, and help make sales. One study found that companies that invested in good design grew by nearly 300%.

You Need to Expand

Staffing services and print houses are trained to know the right questions to ask, looking not only for technical expertise but matching the aesthetic and the personality to your company’s need. By turning this over to a professional agency, you’re outsourcing the headaches of finding the right fit.

You Don’t Have Time For Your Own Job

You’re the expert on running your company; it’s more efficient for you to hand off the design tasks and concentrate on being the best at what you do.

Stress Less, Sell More

A good service agency can make you feel like finding talent is as simple as ordering from your favorite restaurant: you tell them the skills you need and how soon you need help, and it’s their job to make it happen. The bottom line is less stress and more sales for you.

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Five Ways to Use Facebook Live for Your Business

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With the runaway success of video on social media platforms, and with Facebook giving priority to live video, it may be time integrate Facebook Live into your integrated marketing strategy. When paired with the most powerful social network in the world, you can experience new levels of customer engagement without a significant up-front investment. Recently Small Biz Trends put together a tip list for those interested in getting their share of the 4B video views enjoyed daily.

Offer a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Your Business

Everybody loves an ‘exclusive.’ Draw back the curtain and show customers how you operate: processes, decisions, operations – it’s your call. Determine what is unique or special about how you run things and share it with the world!

Hype Your Events

Host live video to let your audience know what events you will be attending. Target your existing network, a specific group or event, and let them know what to expect in your booth, display or offices. Combine the live video with teaser posts and paid ads to drive viewership.

Product Sneak Peeks

Get the word out about any upcoming or recent product launches. Give viewers details and generate excitement for the release. Drive viewers to a web page or landing page where they can pre-order, order, or view FAQs.

Broadcast to Your Business Page Members

Send messages directly to fans of your business page. Use Facebook Live to share breaking news or information relevant to your industry. Network and connect more fully with potential customers and peers while establishing yourself as a leader in the field.

Up Your Customer Service Game

Have your senior leadership get in front of an engaged audience and answer questions. Or your customer service staff can get personal and address individual concerns in one-on-one, real time sessions.

Before You Take the Plunge

Consider these other pointers from Small Biz Trends:

  • Have a plan in place –from the mechanics of privacy settings to how often you will address questions from the audience. We offer some helpful guidelines here.
  • Determine your CTA before go-live – end every Facebook Live video with a viewer call-to-action: visit your website, subscribe to a newsletter, like or share your business page, etc.
  • Deliver quality video – ensure that the basics for a good end user experience are in place.

If you’re willing to do the work in advance, Facebook Live can be a useful addition to your integrated marketing strategy. A more authentic and personal approach to customer engagement may be your ticket to building stronger relationships and increasing sales.

Delivering the Human Touch through Mobile Devices

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Mobile technology has changed social communication, allowing for richer experiences through personalization—from custom themes, fonts, and apps, to animated emojis and eye-catching GIFS. But can consumers have a genuinely human mobile-connection with a customer service agent or salesperson? You bet!

Mobile provides an unprecedented opportunity to connect with audiences in a familiar way, whenever you like, wherever they are. MarketingProfs gives integrated marketers four tips for building a nurturing relationship with consumers who spend 51% of their time using their mobile devices.

Get Personal

Savvy SMBs rely on behavioral data, including purchase history, online activity, and analytics—as well as demographics like age and gender—to customize messaging to the interests, needs, and location of users. Tailor the contact with mobile personalization, including push notifications (promotions, discounts), content adapted to user preferences, recommendations, or location-based deals.

Build a Unified Experience

We took a look at the value of platform integration here. For instance, integrated marketers could provide incentives for mobile opt-ins, or encourage mobile subscription through email. LivePerson reminds marketers that mobile helps break down barriers, using apps, social media, service and e-commerce to improve customer engagement.

Be Human

Today’s consumers are so connected to their mobile devices that it is strategically advantageous to engage with them there. Domino’s pizza famously embraced the call to humanize their customer interactions by admitting their faults, connecting with customers on social and mobile, and giving a face to those creating the product. Customers felt that they were heard, trust was re-established, and share prices soared.

Be Authentic

We’ve talked before about the importance of authenticity to customers. It’s better to be open and genuine than to use contrived verbiage that causes confusion and weakens relationships. Consumers who have a conversation with a real person who is interested and willing to listen to (or text about) their concerns—on their timetable—will remember and cherish those exchanges.

The same call for authenticity applies doubly with millennial consumers. This post cautions against heavy advertising or vague details that can lead to distrust; instead be transparent and honest, creating bonds with shoppers. Simplicity is the key, and mobile is the fastest, easiest way to simplify that connection.

Humanizing is Good Business

As Bruce Springsteen (“The Boss”) laments, “I just want someone to talk to / And a little of that human touch.” This is the same message integrated marketers are hearing from consumers. While mobile provides the mechanism to transform the customer journey with efficiency, convenience, context, and personalization, it’s ultimately up to companies and their teams to bring the humanity home.

Six Rules for Earning the Respect of Email Readers

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Email tends to be underestimated by many marketers. In fact, permission-based email marketing generates a higher return on investment than direct mail or traditional advertising. Email marketing can be an effective tool to attract and grow your customer base.

Marketers are integrating email into their marketing efforts for lead generation, sales, website traffic, as well as to strengthening customer relationships and building loyalty.

The trick with email marketing is to avoid the spam trap. We all have trouble getting to the bottom of our email inbox. So don’t make it easy for your customers to dismiss your next email.

Adapted from a list of 34 email tips on Campaigner, here are six rules that are so crucial they could be considered best practices for building a list of loyal subscribers who will open, read, and act upon your emails.

Six Rules For Earning The Respect of Your Email Readers

  1. Build a Permission-Based List — This is the most important as well as most difficult step. It takes time to develop, but you should only send emails to people who have signed up or asked to be on your list.
  1. Offer Something of Value — You’re asking for people to give up their personal information. It’s only fair that you give your readers something valuable or helpful in exchange for their name and email address. White papers do particularly well for B2B audiences.
  1. Only Ask For Info You Need — The more you ask, the more you risk putting people off and not getting any information at all. If you only need a first name and email, then keep it simple.
  1. Offer an Opt-Out — Give recipients the ability to unsubscribe in each email you send. Don’t risk damaging your business reputation with spam complaints.
  1. Practice Good List Hygiene — Addresses can change, so keep your list minty fresh by watching for bounce-backs or undeliverable emails.
  2. Respect Readers’ Privacy — Post a brief privacy statement (without all the legalese) on your subscriber page that says how much you respect your readers’ privacy and how you will use (or not use) their contact information. Always link to your privacy statement in every email you send. Then stand by your policy and never break your word!

Top 5 Signs Your Business Might Need a New Logo

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Have you ever watched a film from the 1920s and found yourself thinking about how odd everyone looks? Whether it’s the Great Gatsby look men sported (club cut, flat hair with a clean-shaven face), or for women it was overly plucked eyebrows and bow lips, which gave otherwise attractive movie stars – dated faces.

That’s what an outdated logo can do to your brand. Your logo is one of your brand’s most important assets, and it was probably designed with longevity in mind. But just like facial hair, things like type, color, and graphic elements go in and out of style. Here are some signs that indicate integrated marketers may want to think about refreshing their logos.

It Uses a Jokey or Gimmicky Font

Comic Sans, Lemonade, I’m looking at you, and Fajita. Designers love to rip on these fonts, and there’s a reason why: they look silly. It’s like putting a big red clown nose on your business.

It Uses a Generic Font

A logo should communicate what’s special about your business; if yours uses a generic font like Helvetica or Arial, what your customers see is that your business is indistinguishable from others.

Your Graphic or Mark is Just There for Looks

If your logo includes a mark, it should mean something or say something about your brand. For example, the Nike “swoosh” is supposed to represent a speed blur. Though it isn’t quite a graphic, per se, the FedEx type logo smuggles in an arrow that indicates movement.

It Only Works in Certain Layouts

Logo lockups that are oriented in one direction or another—either a long name that stretches out on a horizontal line, or elements stacked on top of one another—limit a logo’s utility. You should be able to place your logo on a website, signs, direct mailers or promotional products, and it should still be crisp with all of the elements easily readable.

Does It Really Reflect Your Brand, as it is Today?

Brand change over time—and if your company has changed substantially, maybe it’s time for your logo to do the same. Perhaps your business has grown, or you’ve added new products and services to your mix. Or maybe you had the logo designed when you just started out, and now your business is a market leader.

The antidote to all of these potential pitfalls is, of course, for integrated marketers to choose a graphic designer with a good portfolio who can talk through how business decisions influence their artistic choices. For best results, avoid those services that promise logo design for $50. Good design makes a measurable difference to your business, and you get what you pay for.