CMBell and Clients Win Five MarCom Awards for Creative Work

Today we’re celebrating some wins for some of the creative work that we’ve produced with our clients. Here’s the line-up on the just-announced MarCom Award recipients:

PLATINUM AWARDS

Walla Walla | A Place Like This Video
Frog Hollow Farms | Our Story Video

GOLD AWARDS

Marcus Whitman Hotel | Social Media Video Content Campaign
Walla Walla University | Life Together Video
Adventist Health | Heart Work Video

The MarCom awards are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. As one of the largest creative competitions in the world, the competition draws about 6,000 entries from across the globe.

We could not be more proud of the creative teams, both within CMBell and at our client organizations, who made these awards possible.

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How To Avoid Costly Marketing or Rebranding Mistakes: Tips for Small Businesses

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Image matters. In fact, sometimes it isn’t even the best idea that wins in the marketplace, but the idea that is told in the most compelling way and reaches the right people.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, it’s impossible to have expertise in every area of your business—legal, human resources, finance, marketing. And frequently, you don’t have the budget to hire those experts full-time at the start of your journey.

So here’s a quick list of what you should have in place before you officially launch or re-brand your business—and some common mistakes to avoid:

LOGO

Your logo conveys your brand in an instant. Avoid:

  • Trendy type destined to be outdated

  • Similarity to other existing logos

  • Symbols that are complicated

  • Symbols that are vague and hard to understand

  • Colors that signal the wrong brand attribute or don’t work digitally

  • Amateur or dated fonts

  • Logos that don’t work in both very small and very large applications

WEBSITE

You have microseconds to win your viewer. Any of these can signal a reason for a prospective customer to abandon your site:

  • No clear promise

  • Complex navigation

  • Poor pictures

  • Inadequate call to action

  • Cluttered layout

  • Too little white space

  • Wrong vibe for the product/service

  • Too many colors

  • Too many type faces

  • Lack of a clear design grid that makes it easy for the eye to navigate

  • Type fonts that aren’t web friendly

  • No strategic hierarchy of information (most important should be largest)

  • Not deploying responsive design that runs smoothly on all platforms

  • Bad design

  • Auto-playing music

  • Long load times

  • Broken links

  • Not using video to increase engagement

Here are more tips to making sure your website is reaching and engaging your audience.

VISUAL BRAND

Besides needing a logo, you’ll need to have a look that applies to all of your visuals, from signs to apparel to stationery, so avoid these common mistakes that signal amateur:

  • Color that doesn’t convey the right brand attributes. Colors should be chosen based on color theory, not merely on what you like. (Search our blog for color psychology articles to see what different color families signal.)

  • No font standards. Use a consistent family of type for everything related to your company.

  • No graphic standards. Preserving a consistent use of your logo, colors, and fonts ensures that your customers begin to recognize your brand over time.

SOCIAL MEDIA

The most common social media sites being used by businesses are Yelp, YouTube, Instagram,  Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook . Focus on the ones your clients are frequenting, and pick only as many as you can manage well.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Languishing channels. It takes consistent work and time to create an effective social media channel, so limit yours to ones you can do well. Users won’t engage with you on a channel that doesn’t have a continuous flow of content they like.

  • No strategy. Understand what your followers want and why they follow you and stick to a consistent strategy.

  • Ignoring your data. It will tell you where success and failure lies. Use it to continually refine your posts to fit what your audience is looking for.

  • Content that doesn’t fit your channel. Instagram, for example, is all about strong visuals. Twitter, on the other hand, thrives on sound bites.

  • Overselling. There’s an unwritten rule that people don’t want to be sold to, so give value without a hard sell.

  • Not engaging with others. Liking, re-sharing, and commenting on other businesses is essential to growing your following.

  • Lack of patience. This is a long haul, so be willing to stay with it while you build a following.

  • Incongruent visuals. Make sure all of your channels have the same visual look and congruent messaging as you build your brand.

DIGITAL PRESENCE

If you’re not getting found on the internet, you’re losing business. Here are three missteps that are common:

  • No SEO. Search engine optimization is about making your website get found by Google. Make sure you have had someone knowledgeable in SEO involved in your web development, or you could have a beautiful website that no one sees. It’s a complex and constantly changing field that will cost you if left to amateurs.

  • No method of driving traffic to your site. It takes awhile to show up in search results, but one short-cut while you’re building that is to create a digital advertising campaign that puts you at the top of the search results page. Even once you're established on page one of search results, digital advertising can be vital for driving traffic.

  • No Google My Business address. Nectafy says that 28% of consumers who search for a type of local business on mobile call or go to that business within 24 hours. So if your My Business address is not set up, you’re likely losing business.

Of course, this is just the starting point, but crossing the finish line on these things can position you as credible, help you get found on-line, and turn visitors into prospects—and that’s the first step to creating the sales that grow your business.

Ask about our business Launch and re-branding packages designed to take the worry out of marketing, get you found online, generate leads, and grow your business.

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CMBell Wins Four More National Aster Awards

Creative work by CMBell and their clients have garnered four Aster Awards: One gold award for a marketing video in Physician profile, one silver in executive message – internal communication video, two bronze awards in marketing videos for regional healthcare systems.

The Aster Awards competition is dedicated to recognizing the most talented healthcare marketing professionals for outstanding excellence in advertising, marketing and communications. Winning entries were judged by industry experts.

“Our team and our clients bring their full minds and hearts to developing creative solutions that help solve business challenges,” says CMBell President DeLona Lang Bell. “So it’s always gratifying to see their work recognized along with the best in the industry.”

Winning projects this year were produced in partnership with White Memorial Medical Center (Los Angeles) and with Adventist Health and their 20 hospitals in four western states.

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Is Video A Waste of Money?

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Too often companies invest in video—then don't get it in front of their intended audience.

If you have a good video distribution plan, video is an unparalleled communication tool. But if not, you're wasting money. 

Here are just a few more common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Poor web placement. Make sure it isn't buried on a remote page or presented with a link rather than a high impact visual.

  2. Poor social media placement. Know when to embed vs. link, and how to use captions to engage your followers.

  3. Not adapted for social media. Create a mini for Instagram, for example, that fits its size limit.

  4. Failure to boost content. Even a small ad buy can get you 1,000's of added views.

  5. Failure to use closed captions. Today's social media viewers often watch video without sound, so CC's are a must.

  6. Not engaging your existing (free) network. Send employees and fans links and invite them to share the video.

It's easy to think that when the video is done, the work is over. But distribution is a vital part of a video's success—and overlooking it can dramatically reduce its impact.

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CMBell Company Wins Seven National Awards

Creative work by CMBell and our clients has received seven awards from the 35th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards.

  • Three gold, one silver, and one bronze awards were given for video productions in digital video and health promotion program categories. 
  • Two merit awards for healthcare video productions.

This national competition aims to bring recognition in the field of healthcare marketing and advertising. Over 4,000 entries were judged by a national panel who reviewed projects for creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design, and overall impact.

Winning projects this year were produced in partnership with Adventist Health and their 20 hospitals in four western states.

Congratulations to our clients and our team for their excellent work on these video projects.

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8 Unexpected Ways Businesses are Experiencing the Power of Video Storytelling

We know that stories are what move the human heart. This has been true since the dawn of time, and is true for individuals as well as businesses. As humans, we are especially drawn to stories that feel true, authentic, and well-told. And when delivered with the power of music, motion, and imagery via video, a story’s impact is multiplied.

Although we know the importance of storytelling, sometimes we find businesses are hesitant to tell their story. It can be difficult to put something we are so close to into words. It rarely is as urgent as the crisis of the day. Or perhaps it feels like our story is not good enough.

But often, we see that our clients experience value far beyond what they anticipated when they invest in a video that tells their story—and they are pleasantly surprised to find their investment paying off in unexpected ways like these:

  1. A story can shift the conversation to something energizing for the brand—maybe even providing a “tone” reset for the organization. Perhaps they were embroiled in controversy, bad news, or hard times—all “depleting” messages that make the lives of employees heavier and take the wind out of an organization’s sails.

  2. The process of telling one's story helps clarify it internally. Committing essential truths and ideas to words makes a business commit to vital internal conversations, and they are often surprised to emerge from the process with a clearer understanding of who they are and the why behind their work.

  3. Telling the story can bring renewal to those involved in it. By shifting their focus to the deeper purposes of the organization and the value it brings to customers, it's possible to see your business in a new light.

  4. Telling the story brings new perspective. So much of our daily work lives revolve around solving problems, and it is only when we tap into our deeper motivations and sense of purpose that we put those problems into a meaningful context. Often, rising above the challenges of the day can fuel us to face them with more energy, resolve, and a positive attitude.

  5. Story built culture. Human behavior is heavily influenced by what we are told. The intentional work of reminding people why they are doing what they are doing reinforces the very values your organization espouses. Story is to culture what fertilizer is to the soil—an agent that promotes healthy growth.

  6. It personalized the company. By showcasing people talking authentically about the organization’s story, it became more real, authentic, and personal—all of the things that build relationship and trust.

  7. It provided an oasis. Stories are inspiring, and when done right, can offer a pleasant and meaningful moment for today’s viewer, who is often overwhelmed with content that fails to deliver that.

  8. Stories recruit for your brand. Whether you’re looking for investors, customers, employees, or fans, nothing builds tribe like stories.

Your story may, in fact, be one of the most vital communication tools you can invest in.  Maybe now is exactly the right time to meet with your communication team to amp up your plans for making storytelling an even more central part of your strategy.

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CMBell and Clients Win Five Hermes Awards in International Competition

Creative work by CMBell and our clients has garnered five awards from the international Hermes Creative Awards competition.  Four platinum and one gold award was given for video productions—including the Walla Walla video released last fall. Winning client work represented Andrae’s Kitchen and Adventist Health.

In this year’s competition, an estimated 6,000 entries were judged by “industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry.” About 15% of entries received the platinum award, which is the top award.

Congratulations to our clients and our team for their excellent work on these video projects!

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Are You Losing Customers Because of Your Website?

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If you’re in business, it’s likely that more prospective customers will visit your website than your actual storefront.

In fact, your online presence is a vital determinant in whether visitors will buy from, support, work for, or donate to your cause.

This vital micro-decision to engage or leave your site is made  intuitively, rather than logically, and influenced by subconscious elements that most people can’t even articulate.

Creators of great websites understand this and artfully use the tools that can convert your visitor into a customer. You can too.

KNOW WHAT MAKES YOUR CUSTOMER DECIDE TO ENGAGE WITH YOU

It’s starts with knowing how today’s viewer makes the decision to engage with your company:

  • How credible you look

  • How well you appear to solve a problem they have

  • How well you tell your story

  • How easy it is to find what they’re looking for

  • How your website and logo compare to other companies they admire—within and outside of your industry.

Consumers have never had more options—which means the battle for their attention must be engaged in with skill, art, and resolve. Today, more than ever, your customers are comparing your business to companies crossing all geographies and with all levels of resources.

TELL YOUR STORY BETTER 

Often, the businesses who tell their stories best are the ones who sell more. Don’t be misled by the idea that having a superior product or service is enough to become a market leader in your industry; even if your product or service is better than your competitor's, if your prospective customer doesn’t know about it, or perceive value (as they define it) within a few seconds of visiting your website, you’ll lose them.

PUSH THROUGH THESE BARRIERS

A website, logo, and digital package is your first impression. It’s more often than not the deciding factor that determines whether a visitor becomes a lost prospect or a new customer. So why do businesses who spend millions of dollars developing their product or service cheat their image with a poor website, logo, and digital presence?

First, it’s a much newer field than most business disciplines like finance, personnel, or product development—and a field that’s changing daily. Small businesses don’t have the resources to retain this level of expertise full-time in-house, and even large companies are outsourcing very specialized work in this area. But all sizes of companies can purchase this expertise if they don’t have it in-house.

Secondly, it requires a new mindset that sees this part of the business as a vital investment in their success. It makes no more sense to relegate this work to someone who isn’t skilled than it does hire an amateur to do your accounting, legal work, or facility design. Just because someone can build a website doesn’t not mean they can build a successful website. If you spend $1 million on a new business, hire professional architects, interior designers, and financial experts, but hesitate to spend much at all on your logo, website, and digital presence—you will miss out on huge opportunities to attract and retain prospective customers through your website and digital strategy.

DO AN INTERNAL CHECK-UP

How does one go about ensuring that your digital presence is working?

A successful digital strategy should bring together the skills of experts in marketing strategy, design, SEO, writing, photography, user experience, coding, videography, and the rules of digital marketing. Engaging talent that has experience and an understanding of what makes today’s viewer buy can save you from mistakes that could end up costing you far more than in lost business than you paid for their expertise.

If you’re ready to step up your presence and claim more clients, here are things to ask yourself:

  • How does my website compare to my competitors?

  • If my prospects knew nothing about me, what does my home page tell them?

  • Does my logo telegraph the brand attributes that will advance my business?

  • Am I using the latest techniques to engage readers: video, strong images, “snackable” content, persuasive writing, good design?

  • Is my website content easy for me to update, if I need to do it myself?

  • Am I getting good analytics from my website, and adapting my site based on what I’m learning about visitor patterns?

  • Does my website have the necessary e-commerce functions?

  • Where does my company’s name appear on Google search results?

COMMIT RESOURCES

An effective website, logo, and digital presence can be within the reach of most businesses. If budgets are tight, do a phased-in approach where you develop the basics first, then add functionality and features as budget allows.

Set aside marketing dollars for your launch and ongoing resources to advance your presence using all of the digital channels that make sense for your type of business. While your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are the most common ones, they don’t all apply to every business.

And finally, create the team of in-house and external experts who understand your goals, have the needed skill sets, and can help you make smart decisions about where to put your resources for maximum return on investment.

You wouldn’t turn away business at your storefront by making it hard to find your front door—so don't turn them away on your website.

With the right resources, you can make it easy for prospects to find and choose your business—and become your next new customers.

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How Video Can Help Your Company Build Trust

Since trust is vital to successful business transactions, creating tools that build trust should be part of a company's communication strategy. 

Video is a particularly good tool for this, for several reasons:

1. It's personal. It takes the viewer inside your company and reveals the people, passion, and purpose that drives it. 

2. It hands control to your viewer. It shows, rather than tells—allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions.

3. It's real. Video offers less filtering than text does, and so it is perceived as truer. The viewer is able to see the person and place without it being filtered at the level text can be.

4. It's emotional. Because video brings images, motion, sound, and music to the experience, it far outperforms any other medium in producing an emotional experience. A viewer who is moved by your story is one step closer to choosing your business.

In the video example above, you'll see how one of our clients used video to take prospective customers inside their organization and build trust. In this case, meeting the people behind the scenes provides the assurance that residents will be cared for with respect and compassion—which is exactly what their customers want. 

The right kind of videos can be the most credible ways to deliver trust-building messages.

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10 Ways to Create a Winning Annual Report [and How to Know What Your Reader Craves]

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Your annual report may be your most important communication tool—and for good reason.

It offers an snapshot of company performance, shows how you are creating value for all of your stakeholders, and offers a glimpse into the passion and purpose that drives your organization.

To get the most from your investment, your annual report should be designed as both a marketing tool and a reporting tool that can reach shareholders, employees, and customers.

Winning the hearts and minds of today's stakeholders, however, isn't a simple task. As competition for viewers' attention soars, your annual report has to both capture and hold your reader's attention.

So how can you make sure yours will rise above the competition?

 

FIRST, KNOW YOUR READER

Today's reader will no longer wade through long and tedious pages of grey text. And understandably so. Their world has changed, making it necessary for them to consume content differently. Knowing how they are likely to engage with your message is the first step in building a winning annual report.

Understanding these five trends can help you reach your audience:

1. COMMUNICATION FATIGUE. People are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of communication that bombards them daily. As a result, they have to filter out much of it. To break through this barrier, companies need to be producing higher quality content on all levels. 

2. SHORTENED ATTENTION SPANS. It takes mental energy for people to filter content and find the messages that are relevant to them—and mental energy is a limited resource. To conserve energy, today's viewer scans and decides within seconds whether to further engage with a message or whether to abandon it.

3. SKYROCKETING VISUAL APPETITES. The human brain responds to powerful visuals far more than it responds to words. And as visual fare becomes more sophisticated, it raises the bar for everyone. Today's consumer will filter content via images before reading text and will abandon it if it doesn't satisfy their craving for a rich visual experience. 

4. EXPLODING DEMAND FOR VIDEO. Because video is more compelling than any other medium, demand for video content has never been higher. When given a choice, viewers will choose video over other formats. Today's annual report messages need to include video as part of their delivery strategy.

5. MOBILE DELIVERY. The use of mobile devices is growing rapidly, and viewers will quickly abandon content that isn't mobile-friendly.

 

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NEXT, incorporate these 10 tips TO GET YOUR ANNUAL REPORT SEEN, READ, AND REMEMBERED

So how can you make sure your annual report message gets read, understood, and acted on? By finding fresh methods of delivery that speak to today's reader.

Here are 10 tips that will transform your annual report:

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1. CLARIFY THE "WHY" BEHIND YOUR BUSINESS. Annual reports can no longer be about numbers. They must create connections by showing the benefits a company brings not only to shareholders, but to employees, customers, and society at large. As the primary narrative of your company for a given year, an annual report has to convey the "why" that drives your business. It does this best through story and with a distinctive, compelling statement that encapsulates the company's purpose in a few sentences. 

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2. INCLUDE BETTER DATA VISUALIZATION FOR YOUR KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS. Don't make your reader dig through pages of text to get your most important messages. Make it easy for the browsers who want to self-direct to content they're interested in. Effective data visualization delivers in seconds, an idea that would take paragraphs to explain in text—and busy readers love this. 

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3. ADD INFOGRAPHICS. Infographics are 30x more likely to get read than text, so use them to simplify complex ideas, create visual clarity that requires less mental energy, or deliver an executive summary of the high points.

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4. AMP UP YOUR PICTURES. An investment in top quality photos is not a luxury, it's a must have if you want to keep your reader engaged. Pictures really are worth more than a thousand words, and good pictures reflect handsomely on your business. (If you're not convinced of this, imagine how long it would take to create a narrative that evokes what a photo conveys within seconds.)

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5. GO DIGITAL. Go beyond the downloadable PDF and into the digital world with a custom annual report website devoted only to this content. (See how Home Depot hits this out of the park.)

Dedicated microsites are a best practice for any targeted messages, and for good reason: they are entirely focused on just one message and make it easy for a viewer find what they're looking for with minimal effort. This is something that simply cannot be done on your existing web page, because your home page has multiple goals—rather than the single goal of delivering your annual report message.

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6. PAIR IT WITH VIDEO. Video is the fastest growing and most persuasive communication tool available. Add a video version to be more compelling, make your message easy to share, and make it more memorable.

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7. USE DESIGN TO DIFFERENTIATE. Too many companies don't make great design a priority for their annual report, even though it is one of their most important communication tools. But great design can be the very thing that will get their annual report noticed and read. (If you're still not convinced about the power of great design matters, think Apple.)

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8. MAKE IT EASY TO BROWSE. Use white space and snack-able content to help viewers to find the content that interests them. Remember that people read in this order: pictures, headlines, captions, subheads, and bulleted lists. Readers should be able to catch your most important messages even if they never go on to read the full text of the report.

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9. MAKE IT MOBILE-FRIENDLY. Some of your viewers will use their phones to review your annual report, so make sure your distribution plans include a mobile-friendly version.

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10. TELL A STORY. Your annual report is your company's story. It provides the context for your numbers, but also reveals the culture, contributions, vision, and values of your company—the very things that will move someone to join, invest in, or buy from you.

Using best practices can help you rise above your competitors and get heard. Never before has the battle for your shareholder's attention been so intense, but fortunately, it's possible to improve your readership, your image, and the impact of your annual report by following these tips. 

Need some inspiration? 

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Is Your Company's Online Presence Working?

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For most businesses, it’s very likely that customers will interact with your company more online than in-person. It's also the case that nearly everyone searching online for your type of business won't get past the first page of Google results; and once they visit your website, they won't stick around if they can't immediately find what they are looking for.

Because of this, every business needs to ask if they are investing enough in their digital presence to attract attention, drive website traffic, and generates sales leads.


The Quick Test

How well does my business online presence rank?

If you aren’t sure how well you're doing with your online presence, here's a simple checklist that covers some of the essential areas you may be overlooking (score from 0-5):

_____  We have set up a complete Google My Business profile.

_____  Our business appears on the first page of search results for relevant searches.

_____  We have set up trustworthy measurement tools (such as Google Analytics), so we can see what kind of traffic we're receiving.

_____  We successfully use digital advertising (e.g. AdWords) to drive traffic to our website.

_____  On the first page of our website, it's obvious who we are, what we do, and what problems we can solve for our clients.

_____  We use social media effectively to drive traffic to our business. We have Facebook, Instagram and YouTube/Vimeo channels and have a content posting strategy that is working for us.

_____  We use video to effectively differentiate us from our competitors.

_____  Our website is mobile-friendly.

_____  Our web pages are visually compelling, with high-quality photos and videos that look better than our competitors.

_____  Our call to action is easy to find—and speaks to a prospective customer's need.

_____  Visitors to our website can easily find what they are looking for—with minimal clicks.

_____  We have an outbound email strategy that delivers useful content to clients and prospects.

_____  TOTAL SCORE

 

5 points = complete
4 points = nearly complete
3 points = partial
2 points = vague, at best
1 point = non-existent
0 points = what's this?


How well did you score?

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51-60

Our online-presence game is on-point. 

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41-50

We're ahead of our competitors but still have room to grow. 

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21-40

We're leaving many business opportunities on the table. 

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0-20

Our online-presence is severely lacking, help!

 

 

The digital world is changing rapidly, but it's entirely possible to create a sustainable online presence even if you're a small business. Creating and executing a plan to improve in each of the areas above will take you a long way toward reaching your business goals.

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Is 2018 going to be your best year ever? [7 Tips]

With each new year, we all have the chance to draw on what we’ve learned, embrace new ideas, and build on our successes.

May we share with you some of the milestones and insights we've gained this year?


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For CMBell, 2017 was a year of milestones—our 20-year anniversary, the production of a record 140 videos, the release of our signature anniversary video production, and the expansion of our digital services

These milestones, and the remarkable clients we have worked with, inspire us to enter 2018 with great optimism and excitement. We are truly seeing the power of communication to change the course of a business.
 

7 insights from 2017 that can help you win in 2018

As we head into the new year, we'd like to share 7 insights we've gained this year that have made a difference for our clients:

  1. Too many businesses are leaving money on the table due to a weak online presence. 
  2. One vital item can cause even a great video to fail: the lack of solid distribution plan.
  3. Two essential internal communication strategies can be game-changers during mergers, layoffs, and downsizing: more listening and more congruence between actions and words.
  4. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is worth a million.
  5. Revealing the people behind your brand is a killer way to build brand loyalty.
  6. Powerful images aren't optional—they're a competitive edge.
  7. Using video in your internal communication strategy can be exactly what your CEO needs to drive strategy and inspire employee engagement.

See more tips below.


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Too many businesses are leaving money on the table

Companies are leaving money on the table by not being fully aware of how they’re ranking and appearing on the web—and by not knowing what to do if they’re performing poorly.

If you're struggling with your digital strategy, this quick audit can show you how you're faring online—and be the first step in making 2018 the year to outperform your competitors with a stronger online presence.


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One essential element can cause a great video to fail

Although video is the most powerful communication tool a business can use, producing a video is not the end game. A video must be part of a video marketing strategy, tell the right story, and get in front of the right people.

If you're not sure how to build a video marketing strategy, our popular Definitive Guide to Video Marketing makes it easier to chart your course.

 


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Two Strategies that are easy to overlook when downsizing

In 2017 we consulted with businesses experiencing rapid change, mergers, and downsizing. While there is no way to fully ease the struggle employees face during this time, there are ways to make their experience better.

We came away with two deepened insights through this:

  • listening must be a bigger part of communication strategy,
  • and businesses must have congruence between what they say and what they do. 

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A video is worth a million words

We have loved bringing the power of video to businesses of all sizes this year and seeing the impact it is having—from raising money and increasing awareness to driving sales, building loyalty, and increasing web traffic.

Video is truly a game-changing communication tool that can get your company seen, heard and remembered like never before.


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The best way to dispel myths about your industry

This year we worked with clients who struggled with a negative image of their industry, clients building an emerging brand, and clients who were being outsold by a competitor.

We were reminded (again) that while people are tired of being sold to, they never tire of story. And revealing the people behind the brand is often its most persuasive argument.


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Great images are a competitive edge

Since today’s consumer looks at visuals before deciding to read anything about a brand, an investment in great images and design is essential.

Whether telling the story about world-class engineering, extraordinary food presentation, or the passion that inspired a business, great images helped our clients' differentiate their brands this year.


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Video takes internal communication to new levels

In 2017 we developed a web page and video content for a large corporation and helped them bring video to the forefront of their internal communications for the first time.

We saw the unparalleled power of communication to clarify strategy, inspire a sense of mission, and instill the values that drive an organization. Video is truly a culture-builder!


Yes, you can make 2018 your best year ever

Every new year brings the chance to excel in new ways. We hope some of these insights will inspire you as you keep reaching for better results from your communications—and that 2018 will indeed be your best year ever!

 

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14 Tips on Communicating with Employees During Layoffs, Mergers, or Other Times of Change

Are you in the midst of layoffs? Budget-cuts? A merger or acquisition?

If you are downsizing, then you know the anxiety it produces among employees and the way it impacts morale, productivity, and customers. Communication during these times is a powerful tool that can help keep your employees engaged during difficult times. Here are 14 internal communication tips we’ve seen work during difficult times:

  1. Start inside. Cascade the message from your inner circle out—making sure employees get the news before the public does. Although social media makes this challenge, it helps to create an hour-by-hour schedule that outlines who gets what messages when—and how.

  2. Explain the why. Employees are more likely to accept difficult decisions if they understand the why behind them. Work with your legal teams to determine the guardrails on what can be shared—and what can't.

  3. Speak the truth. Truth appears to be a diminishing commodity in a world of spin-doctors, but truth-telling ultimately is essential to building trust. Give as much detail as you can, but never promise things you can't deliver. People will accept difficult news more easily than they will forgive untruths.

  4. Start with the vision. People endure hard times when they know it's worth it. Maybe the layoffs will allow the company to remain competitive. The more detailed and inspiring your vision is, the more it will fuel employee support through hard times. If you can provide a timeline, even better.

  5. Recognize the symbolism of actions. Cutting budgets while redecorating an executive’s office? Building a new corporate headquarters during layoffs? Timing could be entirely coincidental, but the actions of leaders are always symbolic and send messages whether intentional or not. Communicators need to be at the table during these decisions to manage the optics of the situation.

  6. Be consistent. Make sure there's parity between what you're doing and saying. If your company values have always been about respect, then respect must be a guiding principle in how people are treated during times of change. Actions always are the most powerful form of communication.

  7. Be present. Round with your team each week, even if you don't have good news. There is consolation in knowing that a leader is listening.

  8. Don't go dark. We recommend regular updates even if you don't have any big news to communicate. There's always something to say—even if it's that you're still waiting on the outcome of a report or working on meeting your targets.

  9. Recognize the employees' struggle. Showing that you understand the impact on your team builds camaraderie.

  10. Speak personally about the situation. Corporate-speak can feel cold and uncaring. Balance expressions of empathy with reasons for hope, and be willing to talk about what is difficult for you about this situation.

  11. Recognize that communication is ongoing. Remind your leaders that they will have to repeat messages over and over before they gain traction in your organization.

  12. Use video as part of your communication mix. Why? Communication that is passed on verbally migrates messages. But video preserves the message exactly as you want it—no matter how many times it is shared. And it engages more of the senses by adding sound and motion—so is more likely to be watched and remembered.

  13. Ensure a balanced diet. Look at the communication employees are receiving and ask what percentage is business/operational information, and what percent is inspiration. Although you need both, it’s often the latter that is too sparse.

  14. Explain limits. If you are in the midst of negotiations or can't provide more information, tell them why. This helps them realize that you're not withholding information purposely.

During difficult times in a company, it’s easy to want to take a low profile as a leader. But these are exactly the times when presence and communication is most important.

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A Primer on Uploading and Distributing Videos

Now that your video is done, some of the most important work still remains

It’s easy to celebrate the completion of your new video and think that it will now magically get seen by the right people. But this is generally not the case. Knowing how to distribute your video is essential to making it work hard for you.

How do I decide how to distribute my video?

There is no one answer that fits everyone. That’s why we’re providing some quick tips on uploading and distributing your video. Following these will help ensure that your video gets the maximum return on your investment.

Where can I distribute my video?

Here are some ways:

  • Your website. Sometimes it can go in multiple places, so don’t let just one location suffice if it is suitable for more. (Example, a company introduction might go on your home page, product page, or recruiting page).

  • Your Vimeo or YouTube channel. You should have these for increased distribution.

  • Facebook. Decide if you want to upload to Facebook and get more views, or embed to Facebook from another platform and keep the traffic going to the same place.

  • Instagram (must be 60 seconds or shorter).

  • Emails (to clients, employees, board members, donors—or whomever you’re trying to reach).

Should I host our video on Vimeo or YouTube?

Vimeo and YouTube cater to different audiences. If you’re primary goal is reach, YouTube might be for you. But if you want higher engagement and a better user experience, Vimeo is the right choice. We use both for varying reasons and projects, but prefer Vimeo because of its higher quality player company values.

How to download videos from Vimeo

1. Visit the URL where the video is located.

 
 

2. Click the “Download” button and download in “Original” quality.
(Ask Vimeo account owner to change settings if no button exists)

Tips for uploading videos

Be strategic about which platforms the video is uploaded/embedded to.

Uploading vs. embedding can be a complex decision that should be discussed by a team before distributing any video content.

Uploading is the practice of hosting video data on a service site (Vimeo and YouTube are most common). The video will be distributed from where it was uploaded—passing any data and value to the upload platform.

Uploading a video to two or more locations will split the traffic and decrease the perceived value and significance of the project.

Embedding is the practice of “adding an object from another website.” While the video is still uploaded to a hosting site (for example: Vimeo) the video object appears on the website on which it has been embedded. Data and value are still passed to the upload platform, but the visual occurrence passes to the embed location.

Embedding a video to two or more locations will maintain the data and value for all the occurrences since the video is still hosted in only one location.
Deciding which video is posted or embedded on which platform(s) depends entirely on the project content, subject, and goals. These decisions should be clearly thought out and communicated.

For a basic example:

Uploading a video to Facebook will get more interaction and views, but is a much less robust marketing tool as the system is designed to help Facebook before your business.

Embedding a video on Facebook will get less interaction and views, but it will pass rank and traffic to a more robust hosting site.

Uploading a video to Vimeo will be much less likely to get interaction and views, but the hosting platform is built to help your business and the viewer community—making this an ideal platform for sharing content with people who want to see it.

Embedding a video from Vimeo produces a high-quality player and product to display the video, however, videos embedded from Vimeo are not passing search ranking on to the video content.  

Uploading a video to YouTube can be an effective way to get your video found by strangers, but the platform is built for Google to sell; small videos can easily get lost in the barrage of other content.

Embedding a video from YouTube provides a lower-quality player and product, but the views and interaction will more improve your search ranking for the topic.

There are many scenarios and strategies to discuss. With so much time invested in each project, it’s important to place similar time and importance on the distribution of the video, to get the most from your investment.  

Always upload videos in the highest quality available.

The general standard for uploading is 1080p, however, 2k-4k+ quality videos are becoming much more common with recent advancements in technology. When you upload a lower quality version, it will not look or sound its best. This is exacerbated when shown in larger venues and reflects badly on the team.

Titles matter.

A good title will follow the goals of the project. It may be more descriptive or more emotive depending on the project. Generally, the more targeted the audience, the more targeted the title.

Three examples:

1. The authentic video company that posts their demo reel to Vimeo and host on their already popular website.
They title the video: “Real” Because it says so much about the company in so little time.

2. The teacher who wants people who search for “Adobe Premiere tutorials” on Google to watch his video on YouTube.
They title the video: “How To Get Started with Adobe Premiere Pro CC - 10 Things Beginners Want to Know How To Do” Because it is a functional title that specifically targets beginning users of Premiere Pro CC.

3. The owner of Denver Doughnuts who posts a video to social media wanting their customers to learn about new offerings.
They title the video “Denver Doughnuts – Our 2018 Menu Explained” because it balances functionality and feel.

Keep descriptions interesting and concise. Link out to contributors or relevant websites.

Example:

ON | Athlete Refugee Team - The Human Spirit

There are 65 million refugees on earth right now.­ The most in recorded history. There are 31 refugees from 5 different countries who train in the Ngong Hills of Kenya as the Athlete Refugee Team (A.R.T). This August 2017, five of the athletes will be at the world athletics championships in London. Go see them run and proudly represent and provide a symbol of hope for the 65 million refugees worldwide.

Thanks Ladi Demko, Olivier Bernhard and Feliciano Robayna for the opportunity to shoot this amazing story and for the support your company has given to these athletes.

Add as much information as possible to the informational fields.

Adding [a(n)]:

Language
Location
Tags
Keywords
Website
Closed captions (CC)
Subtitles
Thumbnail
Audience type
Genre (ex: documentary, lifestyle, etc.)
Etc…

Adding information can improve platform understanding of how to sort and show videos based on user search and interest. As many details as possible should be added to each piece of content. This will help your content get found and viewed by the target audience since hosting platforms use this data to decide which videos to show certain users.

Always include closed captions and/or subtitles.

People frequently watch videos without sound, so we strongly encourage use of subtitles and/or CC. We typically add these at negligible if any cost to videos we produce, but it’s always important to double check so you can reach the maximum number of users.

Consider removing the download button for more control over content distribution.

A common problem is content being downloaded in a low-quality format and then being uploaded to platforms. Consider removing download capabilities in the video settings to minimize the probability of lower than “original” quality content being published.

Create thumbnails that sell.

Thumbnails should be designed and supplied with each video project, as they are vital to a healthy click rate. Check your thumbnail design to be sure it works well in the smallest application—like on a mobile phone.

If the original thumbnail is not easily available/accessible, use Daniel Ehniss’ tool to download one.

Paste the URL of the video into the search bar and download the thumbnail in the highest quality available (likely the default).

Upload the thumbnail to the video platform and ensure that the change has correctly taken place upon upload.

You don’t have to be the expert, but you should call on one if you need it.

How a video is distributed is paramount to the success of your project. Strategies should be discussed at the start of the project and improved throughout its creation and launch.

The number of variables for each project is an overwhelming and complex task to discuss. If you do not have someone experienced in this, contact Christian@CMBell.com for help distributing and uploading your video content to get the maximum return on your investment.

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How Communication Can Build a Values-Driven Culture

There’s no better way to bring your mission and values off your walls and into your halls than by showing your leaders and employees walking the talk.
 
And there’s no better communication tool than video to build a values-driven culture. Video can capture symbolic moments in which people bring values to life in authentic ways—and spread the role-modeling throughout the organization.
 
The video above is just one example. One of our clients showed up in force at the California International Marathon, and we captured footage of the president and many employees participating—to help spread the idea that they’re taking their own health seriously. The video is one in a series developed as part of an internal communication strategy to deliver signature messages about the culture they’re building.

7 Ideas You Can Use to Bring Your Values to Life

Not sure where to begin? Here are seven ideas to start you thinking about how this could look in your company.

  1. Innovation: Capture stories of employees and leaders innovating throughout your organization.

  2. Service: Showcase real customers telling real stories of outstanding service.

  3. Respect: Interview employees talking about what respect looks like in their daily work.

  4. Compassion: Feature stories that show—don’t tell—what it looks like to bring compassion to your work.

  5. Eco-friendliness: Show employees involved in eco-friendly initiatives.

  6. Integrity: Interview employees who can describe acts of integrity they’ve observed among their peers.

  7. Quality: Take your customers behind the scenes by interviewing employees who are shaping high quality scores.

Leaders have to repeatedly find ways to bring focus to their company’s values for them to become more than words on a wall. To really drive behaviors and build culture, share your best stories and capture your leaders talking about your values in personal ways.

Still wondering where to start? We can help you put together a values- and culture-building package that will get viewed and remembered.

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Neutral Color Guide (When to Use Neutrals)

Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright.
— Van Wyck Brooks

While colors are trending towards bright, vivid hues, the hard-working neutrals—white, gray, black, and brown—have a staying power because of their flexibility. They might not be your favorite color, they don't tend to steal the show, they aren't usually even noticeable, but they are the bedrock of strong design.

“I don’t think neutrals are going to go away,” notes color expert Denise Turner, owner of the consultant business called Color Turners and member of the Color Marketing Group Board of Directors. "Neutrals continue to flourish, as companions for brighter hues or as standalone, monochromatic color schemes."

Neutrals create a cozy atmosphere and bring a sense of sanctuary. They diffuse the stresses of the world, offering restoration and balance—something we could all use a little more of. But beyond their neutrality, neutrals can be powerful. Big brands like Apple and Nike use neutrals to great advantage. They are the canvas on which to showcase bolder work.


White Space is where the world and all distraction falls away. Where the voice of the Divine can be heard. Where the Truth of who you are is found. Where miracles happen.
— Valerie Rickel

WHITE

White is a color. And white is never just white.

White is both complete and pure—the perfect example of innocence, cleanliness and peace. White can be used in marketing to represent new beginnings, providing a blank slate and give a platform to new ideas. White stands for simplicity, coziness, cleanliness, and the potential for invention.

Apple turns to white for its branding, products, and packaging. White doesn't come off as disposable and is pure and quiet, according to Apple's Chief Design Officer.

Off-whites are another important sector of the neutrals. They have a subtle, stylishly elegant and classic connotation attached to them, and have come to suggest environmental responsibility. They have often symbolized sustainable resources such as natural fibers and recycled paper products. The hard-working neutrals are an often-used tool for those who work with color. Their flexibility and staying power make them an important part of your color mix.

Think white is boring? Try layering different whites in a variety of textures. You'll end up with a sophisticated look that is both calming and encouraging.

WHITE ATTRIBUTES
Classic, neutral, soft, warm, comforting, good taste, smooth, subtle, natural.


The inner equilibrium of Cezanne’s paintings, which are never insistent or obtrusive, produces this calm almost velvety air.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, referring to the color gray

GRAY

Most of us are indifferent to gray. And therein lies its power. Gray is quickly surpassing brown as the favorite neutral. And it covers a wide range of hues—soft gray to charcoal to hematite. And that's not even considering metallic and pearlescent accents. As gray nears black, it becomes more mysterious and dramatic. The more silvery or white, the more illuminating and lively gray becomes.

Because gray comes in a wide variety of intensities, shades and subtle nuances, it can add a designer feel. It has also captured the world of technology marketing. New York City designer Jenny Wolf considers gray the new white. "It's a nice alternative to white," she says. "It's neutral. It's timeless."

But gray is also pretty hard to pin down, as it is rarely a perfect mix of black and white. A very small amount of subtle color that is added to gray ends up lifting and energizing this powerful neutral.

Gray is the truly perfect neutral—the middle ground between black and white. This is why color matching is best done against a gray background. It is a difficult color to find in nature, as things that often appear gray from a distance are usually complex mixtures of other hues. Because of its perceived neutrality, gray has connotations of responsibility, fairness, loyalty, accountability and wisdom. This translates well in the corporate world where those are desirable attributes.

GRAY ATTRIBUTES

  • Dove gray is soothing, calming, enlightening.
  • Neutral gray is classic, sober, corporate, practical, timeless, quality, quiet, neutral, logical, deliberate, reserved, fundamental, basic, modest, efficient, dutiful, methodical.
  • Charcoal gray is steadfast, responsible, staunch, resolute, restrained, conservative, professional, classic, sophisticated, solid, enduring, mature.
  • Silver is sleek, classy, stylish, modern, cool.
  • Dark gray is conventional, constrained, serious, solemn, inflexible, strict, self-disciplined.
 Precision & Poetry in Motion by  Pentagram

Precision & Poetry in Motion by Pentagram

 Coca-Cola can concept from New York-based designer  Ryan Harc

Coca-Cola can concept from New York-based designer Ryan Harc


You can have any color as long as it’s black.
— Henry Ford

BLACK

Black is powerful. It’s visual heft gives it authority and weight. Is black a neutral? Absolutely. When used in a palette, black is a base—allowing other colors to shine. However, when left alone, black can also be a dominant focal point. Because black is the absence of all color, it seems to stand alone—giving off an air of seriousness, control, independence and mystery.

Black is a shortcut to sophistication and elegance—think black tie event, or the little black dress. But it is also power and authority. Want to be a martial arts master? Earn your black belt. Need to call in the authorities? Here come the men in black.

In marketing, black implies affluence and seriousness, making it an ideal option for marketing higher-end, big ticket purchases. American Express chose black when they created their status Centurion card (aka the Black Card).

Finally, because of it’s reserve and separation from other colors, black is one of the best colors for high contrast and superb readability.

BLACK ATTRIBUTES
Sophisticated, secure, quality, reliable, serious, controlled, independent, mysterious, reserved, dramatic.


What can brown do for you?
— United Parcel Service

BROWN

The color brown is layered with so many levels of meaning. On the one hand, brown is simple, inexpensive, rugged and natural. As one of the most common colors in nature, it is comfortingly safe and stabilizing, as well as friendly and approachable. On the flip side, brown can be rich and decadent—like roasted coffee beans, aged leather or dark chocolate mousse.

Brown is a surprising color. You'll be hard-pressed to find many who will claim brown as their favorite color, and yet we surround ourselves with this neutral.

Light browns are on the rise, especially in larger purchases like cars, sofas or carpet. "For those big-ticket items, we'll make the safer choice such as neutrals, from rich gray to camel," says Emily Kiker Morrow, Director of Color, Style and Design at Shaw Industries. Morrow says, "We're seeing browns shift to the colors of spices and beverages. Think mocha and cinnamon."

Taupe and beige share many of the attributes of gray, but are warmer and sometimes lighter. They are thought of as authentic, organic, modest, and unobtrusive. Hues of taupe and beige have a timelessness and basic lack of "trendiness" that foster a confidence in the longevity of the shades.

Using brown in advertising can help denote ruggedness. It is the color of the United Parcel Service (UPS)—with their trademark brown trucks and uniforms. Adopted by UPS both because brown is easy to keep clean, and due to favorable associations of luxury. UPS refers to itself as "Brown."

BROWN ATTRIBUTES

  • Light brown/beige: Friendly, approachable, sincere, honest, genuine, practical, reliable, conservative, constant, unchanging, loyal.
  • Light golden brown: Comforting, yet energizing. (Just like your favorite coffee drink.)
  • Golden brown/tan: Ageless, timeless, straightforward, uncomplicated, natural.
  • Taupe: Classic, neutral, practical, timeless, quality, basic, authentic, organic, versatile, inconspicuous, understated, discreet, compromising, modest; be careful to pair it with colors that keep it from appearing bland.
  • Dark brown: Strong, sad, depressive, materialistic, prudent.

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Custom Video Packages to Grow Your Business

Video is more likely to be viewed and remembered than all other media. It’s powerful, easy to share, mobile-friendly, and suitable for many different types of uses, from in-person events to social media.

We offer several video packages designed to grow your business and build your brand.

Brand-building

Build your brand internally and externally with the most effective tool available: video. This package can take many shapes—from showcasing your produce or service to a CEO message that unpacks the most powerful ideas behind your brand.

Mission, vision and values

Video is exploding as a tool for inspiring employees and customers with your company’s mission, vision or values. And for good reason: As Simon Sinek says, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Starting with the "why" is the best way to inspire both sales and employee engagement. This video package can feature your own employees, customers or donors talking about what your mission, vision and values mean to them—and brings your aspirations off the shelves and into the lives of real people.

Customer testimonials

Studies show that today’s consumer trusts his or her peers more than they do experts. So parlay this into making your business more successful by showcasing how you’re helping your customers. In this package, we capture a series of customers on-camera sharing their own experiences about why they love your company.

Microdocumentaries

Ads aren’t the only way to engage your customers. Stories that show—rather than tell—what you’re about, why your work matters, and how you’re helping others create a powerful connection with your viewers. This package is ideal for showcasing stories that reveal compelling truths about your business.

Promote a service or product

Opening a new business? Launching a new service? In this video package, we showcase your product or service in ways that compel viewers to buy from you.

Explainers

Need to explain a new service? Help customers get answers to common questions? Create content that establishes you as an online expert? Our explainer video package features whiteboards and similarly styled videos to make complex subjects simple and easy to follow. 

CMBell offers individual custom videos in a wide variety of price points and styles—as well as the packages listed here.

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