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Upstate New York Marketing Blog

  • How did you hear about us?

    I talk to a lot of business owners want to know where their traffic is coming from. It would be so much easier to know for sure that Facebook works great and newspaper ads are irrelevant; but the key phrase is "for sure." It's impossible to know exactly how your customers heard about your business because it takes several reminders in order for most people to take action. They may have seen a television ad and a shared social media post before your newspaper coupon prodded them into action, and without the first two, they may not have known enough about your business to take advantage of the deal.

    Still, a popular survey question on so many forms and questionnaires is, "how did you hear about us?" I want to make it clear that the reason for this blog post is to convince you to stop asking that question. The data you receive has been studied and proven to be inaccurate. Research shows that typical responses to this question will simply align with the popularity of the choices.

    For example, if you only advertise on WENY-TV for 6 months, and WENY has a 35% market share while WETM-TV has a 65% market share, your survey response will likely show that 35% of your customers heard about you on WENY and 65% heard about you on WETM... even though you never ran a single ad on WETM. Customers will name the station to which they're more loyal.

    There are 2 reasons for this: the first is that most people simply don't remember exactly where they heard about your business. Imagine McDonald's asking its customers where they first heard about McDonald's... it's impossible to tell. The second reason is that your customers don't really care about answering this question accurately because it doesn't serve them.

    David Hamill, a blogger and usability specialist from the UK, wrote a similar post about this survey question. He makes some similar points and adds a few comments about potentially losing conversions by asking, "how did you heard about us?" Read his post here.

  • Like it or not, You Have a Brand

    Everyone has a personality. It can be seen in the clothes we wear, the type of cars we drive, the decorations in our home, and the people we associate with - and even if you're not the life of the party or the one to always speak up, you make decisions for yourself every day that reflect who you are and the what you love.

    That said, when we don't pay attention to our own needs or we associate ourselves with the wrong crowd, our personality starts to become diluted. It can sometimes even be entirely dictated by the preferences of others, virtually erasing the individuality and identity that makes us who we are.

    "Brands" are simply personalities that belong to businesses. They can be seen in the design of a logo, the colors and fonts on a website, the products in a store, or the quality of customer service - and even if your business is not the most popular building on the street or the one that has a hundred TV commercials, sticking to your brand is the best way to show why you're passionate about what you do and who might benefit from your products or services.

    That said, when we don't pay attention or we're inconsistent with our brand, it can become entirely dictated by the opinions of others. Critics can easily say they wish Nike made dress shoes or McDonald's had healthier menu options, but the truth is that Nike's brand is all about athleticism and McDonald's brand is all about fast, cheap, and easy.

    Listen too closely to your critics, run with the wrong crowd, or lose focus on your own passions and soon you'll lose control of your own personality. "Brands" are simply personalities that belong to businesses. So, like it or not, your business has a brand. Remember to focus inward sometimes and pay attention to it - because if you're not paying attention to your own brand, who will?

  • The 2014 PANTONE Color of the Year

    If your work causes you to so much as glance in the direction of a designer, you've probably heard of PANTONE®. If not, the company is simply known best for providing color standards across professional print and design industries, anywhere from fashion to graphic design. PANTONE® assigns a numeric value to a very specific color and helps assure companies like Coca-Cola that their standard red logo will always show up in the same red color, whether it's on a plastic vending machine, an aluminum can, or a cotton t-shirt. 

    Each year, mostly as a marketing stunt, PANTONE® releases its "Color of the Year," and for design nerds like me, it's always fun to see how they arrived at this selection. The company released this statement as a description for how they choose the color each year:

    The color of the year selection requires careful consideration and, to arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.

    The chart below shows some of the more recent Colors of the Year and includes the selection for 2014: PANTONE® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid. This color evokes a sense of royalty and recognition, and it's great for inspiring creativity. It's a nice balance between blue and red, colors that contrastingly stand for stability and emotion; so Radiant Orchid can help provide balance, calmness, and professionalism in a world where originality and creativity are valued.

    PANTONE Colors of the Year

    Here's hoping you find some inspiration in this year's PANTONE® Color of the Year!

  • "Should" is a Terrible Word

    A friend once told me that in her line of work, "should" is considered a curse word. She's a mental health therapist and her reason is because "should" carries so many feelings and assumptions that are not necessarily our own. When someone feels like they should do something, rather than wanting or needing or deciding for themselves that they are going to do it, the action is done with some resentment or guilt. At the very least, it's done with less consciousness than the alternatives.

    So, I run a marketing agency... why am I talking to you about "should"? Well, for one, it's something that I think is really important for people to hear and understand, just in general. I see people every day who are doing things they think they should be doing rather than doing the things they really LOVE and WANT to do. My friends say things like, "I should go to the gym," or "I should really eat healthier," or "I should not sleep in until noon on the weekends any more." And even though those may be great decisions for their health and well-being, "should" means that someone else is telling them what to do. In my opinion, it would be more powerful and self-evident for my friends to say things like, "I want to go to the gym," or "I am going to eat healthier," or "I will not sleep in past 10, even on the weekends, because I see that my sleep schedule is interfering with my social calendar." See the difference?

    Anyways, as I mentioned before, I run a marketing agency. I'm not a therapist. Please don't ask questions about your mental health in my comment section. That said, I think it's great practice for business owners, marketing professionals, and the like to consider how they want or need to communicate with their customers - based on their own feelings, assumptions, hunches, research, and expertise - rather than how they feel they should communicate with their customers.

    For example, a company might say something like, "we should run more newspaper ads in 2014," but what they may actually be saying is, "newspaper ads are not extremely effective for us, but many of our competitors appear in the business section so let's do what our competition is doing rather than what we think is best for our business." Conversely, there may be hundreds of articles out there about the power of social media and blogging and email campaigns, but it's most important to know how and why your company may use these tactics rather than simply saying, "we should try some new forms of advertising."

    So this year, it might be helpful to approach your marketing plans and aspirations - and everything else - with whatever it is you WANT and LOVE and DESIRE instead of what the world is telling you you should do. You have so much to offer, I can't wait to see it!

  • Kicking off 2014 with 30 Days of Blogging

    Happy New Year from CreAgent Marketing! I'm excited to say you'll be seeing lots of changes in 2014, including plans to completely redesign our website to reflect a new partnership and several new professional relationships that have been under development. But to kick things off, you're first going to see our blog return to life.

    That's right - for all the consulting and suggestions I make for other companies to take great care of their blog, the CreAgent Marketing blog has been practically inactive. So with that said, I've made a commitment to write a new post each day for the rest of January; 30 Days of Blogging, to be exact. Here are a few reasons why I know it will be a valuable practice:

    30-Day Trials Help Create Life-Long Habits
    According to Matt Cutts in his TED Talk, "Try Something New for 30 Days," a great way to set and achieve goals is to simply try something new for 30 days. Since I haven't been very consistent in blogging, but I know I want to be, I'm going to use his suggestion as an avenue for getting back into it. Watch his talk below for more ideas on how you can set and achieve your own goals this year!

    Blogging is an Extremely Effective Business Tool
    I always tell my clients that if they want more traffic to their website and more leads online, they should try blogging more often. And now I'm heeding my own advice, which has been proven by industry leaders like HubSpot and almost every Internet Marketing agency. Blogging does all the things that search engines love; it helps create more pages on your website with the right headlines and meta data, it gives you an opportunity to provide unique content, and it keeps your website fresh and updated.

    Blogging is an Extremely Effective Personal Tool
    As I continue to hone my own craft and my passion for marketing, I'm excited about the prospect of blogging as a way to help me research and connect with other writers and marketing professionals around the world. I know I'll have to put a lot of thought and sometimes a lot of research into my topics, so it's going to help me get better at my job and open a more efficient line of communication. So even if no one reads this, I know I'll help myself to grow and learn throughout the process.

    That said, if any of my articles are particularly inspiring or infuriating, I hope to hear from you! I'll always leave the comment section open and I'll try to respond whenever I can. If you don't feel the urge to write back or if I'm just simply not interesting, that's ok, too. And if you're doing your own 30-day blogging challenge, I'd love to hear how that's going.

    All the best on your challenges, your successes, and your growth in 2014!

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