Finding the right fit is vital when selecting a creative agency. Talent, track record, and creativity can be found in any size agency, but here are some things small firms can offer.
Not anyone can pull off a successful multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, but having access to the biggest names in sports is a good place to start.
Over the years, Nike, Inc. has used many of the world’s top athletes in their campaigns, but for the Olympics, they altered their strategy. For the 2016 games in Rio, Nike released their “Unlimited” campaign—which was executed to perfection.
Their first video, “Unlimited Future,” pans to a room filled with babies in cribs sporting nametags like: Neymar Jr, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Mo Farah and Zhou Qi. Actor Bobby Cannavale walks in and begins a Rocky-esque speech about how life isn’t fair, you don’t get to choose the circumstances in which you’re born into, but how you can determine your future—a future of greatness.
The stage and thesis are set for the campaign, and the message is broad. The campaign features one athlete per video with themes like:
- Champions weren't born champions. They were born babies.
- Life isn’t about finding your limits. It’s about realizing you have none.
- Youth has no age limit.
- Limits are only limits if you let them be.
These cleverly play off everyone’s motivation for greatness and desire to succeed. It’s uplifting, inspiring, and energizing. While this message that could be delivered by Adidas or Under Armour and be received just the same, it was Nike that did it.
The Unlimited series of films inspires viewers to push beyond the limits of what the world says they can do—a move that parallels what Nike is doing themselves by evolving beyond their “Just Do It” tagline.
Nike tells us that greatness is something everyone is capable of, and whether we believe them is beside the point, because either way they’ve created a tether between greatness and their own brand.
Image Source: YouTube
Email is a successful communication tool that can improve sales—if done well. Make yours better than your competition and see what happens.
Colors create a reaction in our brain, and yellow, more than any other, gets noticed. It’s the color to use if you want to get someone’s attention—particularly when paired with high contrast colors like black type.
But like all colors, it has its place. According to Print, you’re less likely to see it on apps and websites than book covers, taxis and caution signs. It signals anything from cheery to danger, so has to be used with care.
But on a shelf of books, your eye will surely move first to the yellow ones, which may be why yellow is having a resurgence in book covers.
Can you see yellow being used in your company?
Image Source: Print Magazine
Consider Google’s recent insights on shopping for the holidays:
- More decisions are made in micro-moments throughout the day—like when waiting, walking or commuting.
- More decisions are made on the phone—up to 30%, according to Think With Google. In fact, shopping-related searches have grown more than 120% in the last year. And 82% of smartphone users will consult with their phone while they are in the store.
- 32% of shoppers plan to use video for holiday purchases.
- 64% of smartphone viewers would rather watch a video to answer questions than pick up a phone or read a manual.
- Sundays are the biggest shopping days. And yet, the day when more businesses have shorter hours or are closed altogether.
Perhaps the biggest shift is that we have gone from focusing on a given task to splintering tasks into hundreds of bite size moments, according to Lis Gevelber, VP Marketing at Google.
Gevelber says these moments “are increasingly where hearts, minds and dollars are being won and lost…. And companies that measure and respond to micro-moments are gaining a very big edge on the competition. Mobile is the new from door to your brand and your stores. Are you at the door, ready to help?”*
So what does this mean for your business—even if you aren’t in retail? Often, the service industry will lag retail trends, but retail trends are a harbinger of consumer behaviors that will come your way. Here’s what you can do right now to respond to these:
- While mobile must be a central part of any marketing strategy, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough. The content that your customers most crave must be available and easy to use on mobile.
- Attention spans are shorter, so content you want to convey has to be delivered as snackables—short messages that fit between a myriad of other tasks.
- Consumers want content in video form—and frequently will choose it over “reading”.
- Can your customers find what they want on weekends and evenings—when they have discretionary time?
Now’s a good time to think about how these trends will affect your business, and to ask what your competitors are doing better than you are in each of these categories.
* Source: Micro-Moments and the Shopper Journey
Don’t ignore direct mail in your move towards digital messaging. Of course digital must be part of your mix, but don’t underestimate the power of print.
In the case of direct mail, people generally have to sort their mail, which means you have a chance to get their attention.
Once you’re in the reader’s hand, you have a second or two to help them decide if the message is for them—and to get them inside the piece. So think about every micro-second of the buy journey as you develop a direct mail piece.
- Does the cover clearly offer a promise to a problem they have—thus inviting them further into the journey?
- Does the overall look convey the right image? For a hospital, for example, there’s an expected dignity and credibility that telegraphs competence. This is done through color, type choice, word choices and photos.
- Is it easy to browse, so the reader can go right to the content that interests them?
- Is the call to action easy to find and clear?
- If they respond to the call to action, will they get what they’ve been promised? Either someone knowledgeable on the phone, or a Web page that truly offers useful information without much effort on their part.
We’re still fans of this medium. If it’s done well, it can definitely affect people’s buying decisions.
Every now and then really creative people find a way around people’s finely-honed abilities to skip ads. These hilarious Geico ads are a stellar example.
Humor doesn’t work in every industry, perhaps, but the plethora of cat videos on YouTube tells us that people want to laugh. Even if it’s an ad.
What ads have you decided not to skip?
One author thinks so. According to a study by Randy Garner at Sam Houston State University, the addition of a sticky note significantly improved the chances of reply. While his research centered on survey results, one could see this finding applied to direct mail, too.
You can read the whole article here.
Fear is a major driver in human behavior, and the birth of a new baby is no exception. While emotions around this event pair both joy and anxiety, before a hospital can ever sell a particular aspect of their service, they need to allay the fears of the new mom.
This ad starts by showing that this hospital team absolutely understands the emotional turbulence of pregnancy, and that they are completely prepared for all of the things you’re worried about. It moves the new mom from worry to calm by inviting them back to their own place of wonder.
Although the text is short, it’s a very strategic journey designed to connect, draw in and evoke an emotional tie with the physicians and the hospital.
What fears does your service or product allay for your customers?
Associative storytelling is the grown-up child of the popular testimonial. It uses story to evoke affinity with customers by allowing the brand to play a secondary role to the values it promotes. In the end, the customer-brand bond this creates is much stronger than one created with a traditional “here’s why you need this” sales approach.
Why is this?
First of all, we’re all tired of being sold to. Selling is pervasive, indiscriminate and wearying. So when we are allowed to enter a story without an overt sales messages, we find not only a respite from intense selling messages, we may even find a piece of ourselves. Yes, we say, we agree with you. Like with this Thai Life Insurance ad, we resonate an idea—in this case, that there are things in life that money can’t buy.
And secondly, associative storytelling feels more respectful to us as consumers. It allows us to make up our minds when we’re ready—rather than being forced to take in a sales message we’re not ready to hear.
We’re not ready to say that testimonials are no longer valuable, but we do believe associative storytelling can be much more effective in building bonds with consumers.
Graphic standards are designed to create visual cohesiveness for your brand. But their usefulness can vary widely depending on how old they are, how robust they are and how they have responded to changes in your world.
Here are six questions to ask to see if your graphic standards are still serving you well—or need an update.
Is the logo practical?
Does it perform on a lapel pin and on the Web as well as it does on an outdoor board? In color or black and white? Professional designers test their recommendations in these venues before making them, yet we still find logos out there that are difficult to deploy in different applications.
Is the logo footprint unwieldy?
Square, round or odd-shaped logos often get problematic because their footprint doesn’t integrate well into an application. A discrete, contained footprint is often the most practical one for a logo.
Do you have enough font options?
Different applications require different types of fonts. Fonts that work well on an outdoor board aren’t always the same ones that work well on the Web. So be sure you have enough font options for all of your applications.
Is there a standard font included for the non-designer?
Hundreds or thousands of people in your company will be trying to work with these standards from the comfort of their own laptops and desktop computers, all armed with the standard fonts that come with their computers. You should have at least one of these standard fonts as an option in your recommended fonts—or it could end up being very costly to purchase specialty fonts for every user.
Do you find yourself struggling with the colors?
Maybe the palette doesn’t translate well to Web applications. Or you find there isn’t enough contrast in the colors to provide readable print or outdoor creative. Or there aren’t enough colors to serve your needs. Or perhaps the colors are starting to feel dated. Colors do go out of style, particularly those that aren’t classic colors, so if yours aren’t looking fresh, add some new ones.
Can your logo be built in four-color vs. adding Pantone spot colors?
A logo that requires Pantone spot color can add cost, because it requires adding another ink to a four-color process. Designing one that can be built using four-color process can save you printing costs.
If these are problems, you can update your standards—you don’t have to completely recreate them to keep them useful. Add colors, fonts and applications as you see the need. While it’s important to have consistency across a brand, brands migrate visually with time and this isn’t necessarily bad. Remember that while it’s important to preserve consistency, it is ultimately as important that your visual brand works for you. Tweaking it as your business needs change should be expected.
What problems are you having with your graphic standards that could be improved with a little tweaking?
Events are expensive, time-consuming and sometimes a great idea.
But they can also be a really bad idea.
So here are a pitfalls to avoid when you’re deciding if an event is the best marketing tool for your goal:
- Consider the return on investment. Add it all up—the advertising, the time, the event costs—and divide it by the number of people who came. How does your cost per person compare with other ways of reaching your target audience?
- Think about the cost of lost opportunity. Maybe you get 50 people at the open house. But what else could you have spent your time and money on that would have had even better results?
- Don’t equate attendance to loyalty and business results. We all take advantage of free things, from time to time, even when we have no intention of returning with our business.
- Consider labor in the cost. When looking at return on investment, be sure to count the time of everyone involved—not just the people in your department, but throughout the organization.
On the other hand, there are some things for which events are the very best venue—like galas. Getting 400 people in a room to celebrate your organization’s biggest ideas can be the opportunity of a lifetime to make a connection and to leave people feeling like they are a part of the whole.
Make sure that you’re intentional about what you’re spending on events—and doing the ones that pay off and that don’t stretch your resources so thin, you can’t attend to bigger marketing initiatives.
In our last blog entry, we talked about how hard it’s getting to get others to read your emails, and gave you the first four tips on making yours more likely to get read. Here are the final four tips:
5. Avoid mitigated language.
Go from words like “it’s important that this is finished by June 10” to “You’ll recall there’s a trade show on June 15, and if we don’t have this finished by June 10, we’ll miss the chance to showcase this product to 50,000 potential customers.” So often we assume people will realize these unspoken things, yet often a reader’s time constraints don’t give him or her the chance to make those connections.
6. Make the connections for the reader.
Providing brief context helps the reader link your request or comment to something bigger that is important to them.
7. Shorten, shorten and shorten.
After you write an email, try to cut it in half. A long email makes it more likely yours will go in the “I’ll get to this when I have more time” bin—and ultimately may not get read at all. Remember too that many readers will decide whether or not to read your email on their phone, which requires even more scrolling to get through the message.
8. Don’t send it.
Sometimes the best thing is not to send it at all—so you don’t get marked as someone who sends too many emails. The busier the recipient, the more they’ll appreciate your ability to include them only on things that really require their attention.
Some people get hundreds of emails a day, and don’t even attempt to read them all. How can you see that yours get to the “read this” status?
1. Start with the main point in a single sentence.
We’re sometimes tempted to start at the beginning to tell the whole story, thinking that a reader needs to understand what led to the point. In some cases, this requires too much work for the reader to get to the point, so they jump ship. Start with a summary statement that gives them enough information if they go no further—or a reason to proceed.
2. Invest in writing a good subject line.
This not only helps someone decide if he or she should read it, but helps them find it later. Retrieval of emails later can be time-consuming and downright frustrating if the subject line isn’t clear. Examples:
- Need your review on the Smith case by tomorrow
- Potential delay in shipping of the direct mail for Anderson & Evans, Inc.
- Cost increase on ad space for Henderson Windows account
3. Make it easy to browse.
- Use subheads to help the reader find the section pertinent to him or her.
- Use bullets instead of paragraphs.
- Underline, highlight or change font colors on the key point (deadline, cost increase, action needed).
- Make action items and next steps stand out visually (in the subject line, when appropriate).
- If more detailed back story is imperative, indicate where the reader can find it. Title it clearly and put it at the end, so only those who want it can find it.
4. Give your reader just-in-time information.
Many readers prefer to focus on just the next step, rather than the next 10 steps. Most don’t have time to save it and review it over a period of months as it becomes relevant.
See the difference a professional shot makes. Top photo: We called in a pro. Bottom photo: They should have called in a pro.
Advertising has to work on every level. For many, it will be the only impression of your company or service that the consumer gets—or at least their first impression. So make the effort and investment you put into your message commensurate with the investment you’ve put into your product or service. Often times, companies will hire architects and designers for a new facility, for example, but fail to represent it accurately by saving money on the marketing. They’ll hire and train great people to deliver a good experience, but never connect them with the public due to low quality advertising.
So don’t do it. Avoid these 5 deadly money-saving ways to kill an ad campaign:
- “We saw a campaign we liked somewhere else that we’d like to copy.” Even if it were ethical to “borrow” creative, for the campaign to work everything about their market and your market would need to be the same—demographics, your own organization’s reputation, your ability to deliver on the promise, attitudes and culture.
- “We’ll take the pictures ourselves.” Unless you have a professional photographer on staff, this can be a costly mistake. We called in one of our pros to shoot the photo above to move the needle on the “Wow” factor using a myriad of technical and other tricks that could never be reproduced by an amateur. That photo projects a level of excellence for the urgent care center that can’t be put into words. You want to go there even before you read the copy.
- “We can’t afford a professional designer.” Companies will spend thousands of dollars on the media buy but cheat the very message by lackluster, unprofessional or simply ineffective design. Before making this decision, ask how much you’ve already invested in the product or service, and whether this relatively small investment in good design will reflect the image you’re looking for.
- “We can’t afford a professional writer.” There are all kinds of writers, and they differ in the same way there are all kinds of balls—footballs, golf balls, ball bearings—you name it. They are not interchangeable any more than a copywriter or a technical writer is. Good copy writers know how to get and keep the reader’s attention, and most importantly, how to sell.
- “We can’t afford research.” Unless you’re sure you understand the mind of your target audience, this is like buying a plane ticket to a destination without specifying the destination. Underlying any kind of creative are assumptions that, if wrong, will decimate your campaign.
If budgets are too tight, we’d recommend doing less, but doing it better. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Creative work developed by CMBell Company and clients has received eight awards from the 32nd Annual Healthcare Marketing Advertising Awards competition.
- Gold awards were given for Littleton Adventist Hospital’s 25-year anniversary video and elevator wraps.
- A gold award went to Dignity Health’s Recruiting Display.
- A bronze and merit award went to Adventist Health Southern California Region strategic planning video.
- Three merit awards went to Simi Valley Hospital for their 50-year anniversary print ads, transit shelter posters and elevator wraps.
We celebrate the hard work of our clients and our team in bringing together these creative projects.
LIttleton Adventist Hospital 25-year Anniversary Video
LIttleton Adventist Hospital 25-year Anniversary Elevator Wraps
Dignity Health Recruiting Display
Adventist Health Southern California Region Strategic Planning Video
Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Print Ads
Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Transit Shelter Poster
Simi Valley Hospital 50-Year Anniversary Elevator Wrap
You’ve put together an elegant campaign—all the right messages, all the right media. And then it happens.
You drive the reader to your website, and lose them.
This occurs too often, but there’s a simple solution: the campaign microsite.
A campaign microsite is a website that is exclusively developed to support the campaign. It allows you to control the user experience, deliver on your ad promises, and curate the strategic messages you want your viewers to see—without any advertising messages that you can’t control.
It also keeps the viewer from having to dig through your website to find the promised message—which often ends up losing them if the content can’t be found fast.
Want to see a microsite that’s working in action? Email us at TalkWithUs@CMBell.com for one of our latest examples.
Celebrating achievements are important, but corporate milestones represent an opportunity for more than just celebration. They’re a chance to roll-out your story in a fresh way—to revitalize your brand.
We worked with Simi Valley Hospital to pull together their signature messages about quality and growth, then developed a year-long plan to deliver those messages as part of their anniversary campaign—making the milestone work harder for them and getting more for their investment.
Four creative projects were selected for awards in the 30th Annual Educational Advertising Awards Competition. The Independent Colleges of Washington 60-year Anniversary Video received a Gold Award, and communication projects for the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities and Walla Walla University received a Silver Award and two Merit Awards. Earlier, these same projects received recognition in the 12th Annual Service Industry Awards Competition.
Congratulations to ICW, OAICU and WWU!
We love color and enjoy watching the seasonal color changes—much like the leaves of fall—which are often a reflection of our societal moods. The color experts at Pantone have made their prediction for spring colors, and you may not find them surprising.
Spring colors are predicted to take on softer colors that reflect “quiet zones” and create an oasis to counterbalance our high-speed, technology-saturated culture. These soothing colors create visual sanctuaries for the eye.
What colors in this new spectrum have strongest appeal to you?