2
Sep

The Power of Words in Advertising

The power of words is especially important in all human cultures and must be thoroughly understood for effective advertising. Regardless of which language is spoken by which people, we are in awe of the impact word choice can have.  “The pen is mightier than the sword,” according to English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton. All of existence began with “the Word” according the Old Testament, which also begins with the Word. The Persian poet Rumi once said, “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” The First Amendment to the United States Constitution deals entirely with the protection and importance of self-expression. So what impact does the power of words have on your marketing efforts and the perception of your brand?

All Media Interpreted as Words

In today’s fast-paced, digitally-obsessed world it can be easy to forget the complexity and fundamental nature of language. Marketers are constantly hearing from social media platforms, designers, and ad agency executives that visual cues matter most. Video reigns supreme on social. People love to capture a moment in a photo for a succinct communication of its impact. But have you ever stopped to think about the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”? The importance is the relationship. The picture is defined in terms of words – not the other way around. No one ever said “one thousand words are worth a selfie”. Words are the foundation of our understanding. They are the foundation of our communication.

All advertising is a means of communication. Marketers use every media available to communicate a message, story, and emotion to their intended audience. People receive and process each attempt into words. A deaf person learns to communicate with visual words. A blind person learns to communicate with tactile words. It is our words that matter in advertising so that we can achieve the desired result.

Word Choice

As mentioned before, the power of marketing can and should elicit an emotion. The emotion could be the joy of saving money or the nostalgia of the past or anything in between. Every purchase decision ever made is rooted in an emotion. Now take a look at the following two words and the difference their meaning may have:

Discover
Learn

Both could be used as a call-to-action in an advertisement. “Discover the new Porsche 911 today” or “Learn about the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class today”. The difference lies is the imagery evoked by the words. “Discover” offers a connotation of adventure, exploration, and excitement. “Learn” delivers recollections of classrooms, tutors, and textbooks. Both words imply the acquisition of knowledge, but in very different ways.

One important tactic for marketing success is to understand that context matters. If the audience is comprised of engineers, programmers, or other professionals with a technical skill set, the word “learn” may be the best choice. “Discover” would serve a better purpose if the audience is young skydivers looking to purchase apparel. Knowing the psychology of an audience is vital to effective word choice.

Professor Gerald Zaltman is a Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, and author of Marketing Metaphoria. He has spent years teaching the customer mind to his students and using metaphors to better interact with those customers. There is an understanding among qualitative market researchers about how people process and associate images and experiences through the power of words. That is the goal of successful marketing.

The Power of Words to Affect Action and Recall

Metaphors have been famously used in advertising jingles for decades. Chevrolet was “Like a rock”. State Farm is “Like a good neighbor”. Such phrases conjure easily understood imagery. The power of words can actually produce a chemical reaction in the brain. If powerful words are used to trigger an emotional reaction they can prompt the release of dopamine. That dopamine enhances the brain’s ability to remember. A good call-to-action is a memorable one. The audience should be directed to embark on a single action after receiving the stimulation of the advertisement. Effective branding includes recall rate and top-of-mind awareness. For the audience to remember the advertiser and what they were asked to do, they need an emotional stimulant.

According to a 1959 study by J.A. Easterbrook, high levels of emotional arousal result in narrowing of attention and stronger commitment of that experience to memory. Today’s consumer is more easily distracted than ever. They require greater stimuli to capture their attention. The average American transient attention span is 8.5 seconds. A goldfish has 8.0 seconds. Their attention must be captured and then acted upon.

10 Words That Make an Impact

Now for the cheat sheet. Here are 10 words that you can use in your marketing campaigns.

  • Love – The only emotion arguably more powerful is fear. Love is a positive emotional connection.
  • Free – Stimulation of the desire to save. Most people want to make smart financial decisions (even if they don’t always do so).
  • Unique – Exclusivity makes a consumer feel special. The word can also be used to describe a product or service feature. Doing this separates the offer from competition.
  • Opportunity – The positive version of a risk. Opportunities are discovered. Risks are stumbled upon.
  • Guarantee – Providing a sense of security to the customer. Also denotes stability from the advertiser. Remember Kia’s 10-year warranty announcement?
  • Win – Depending on context, this may resonate more strongly with men than women. But both genders want to avoid losing!
  • Increase/more – People seek to optimize what they already have or do. The product or service that delivers such results gets the win.
  • Real – A statement of genuine materials, processes, or results. Break down the walls of artificial promises or ingredients.
  • Now – Reduces hesitation before action or confusion about timing.

The 10th word on this list is the most powerful of them all. It changes the intent and interpretation of the statement. Most importantly, it personalizes everything within it.

You

“You” forms a connection with an individual. It encourages them to place themselves along the path you want them to follow. In radio, it is a key component of the “theater of the mind”. Humanizing a product, service, or even a result can make a substantial difference in ad recall, action, and revenue. By including the word “you” in marketing, the audience immediately thinks of what the product or service does for and with them. A separation from the group and focus on the individual. This is a shining example of the power of words.

Language in Tomorrow’s Marketing

Technology and data are being combined to create the most personalized and customized marketing in history. Marketers have the ability to know their customers on a very personal level. As this capability advances, marketers must be ever more aware of the power of words and the language used in each media.

As you depart this blog, remember:
At Arkside, our winning knowledge is free because we love you and offer guaranteed access to unique wisdom now and in the future so you can increase your real ROI at every opportunity.

27
Aug

Facebook Stops 5 Star Rating System

Much like Yelp, the business community has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Recent actions may make that more hate than love. Over the last few months, Facebook has been adjusting how businesses are “rated” and how it is shared with their more-than two billion users. Their trial with 10 stars didn’t go over well. The latest shift walks away from the Facebook 5 star rating system almost completely and now focuses on “Recommendations”. What does this mean for users and businesses?

New Facebook Recommendations for Business

Users who want to comment on a business are now presented with a first step: “Do you recommend [business name]?” According to Facebook’s guidance, “Select ‘Yes’ to share what you love about a Page. Select ‘No’ to tell them how to improve”. If the answer is “Yes”, it becomes a Recommendation. If the answer is “No”, it becomes a review. Only after you have made this choice can you enter a rating or comments.

Facebook Recommendation promptA Recommendation is supposed to answer the question “What do you recommend about [business name]?” Users are welcome to enter any comment they like. Now this is where things become even more interesting. Recommendations are treated like a post to the user News Feed. They type their message, select a privacy setting, and then press Post. If they select any privacy setting other than Public, the review will not be shown to the world, nor will it count toward a Facebook Page’s score. But if “Public” is selected, it will go to the Page’s Reviews (or Recommendations) tab and be shown to all users. The same is true for a (negative) review.

If the user doesn’t want to give the business a Recommendation, they press “No” and leave a review. They will be prompted with “How could [business name] improve?”. The opportunity for comments, privacy, and posting will be the same.

The Quality of Facebook Page Feedback

Assuming Facebook is trying to improve the overall quality of the Recommendations system, they have instituted a minimum character requirement. Recommendations or reviews cannot be less than 25 characters. This would prevent such typical spam as “Love it!” or “this place sucks”. A side effect of a Recommendation system instead of stars is that Facebook Business Page managers will have spend more time asking for feedback, not just “5 stars”. They will also have to read that feedback to learn from it, not just brag to a CEO that the company has a high score and assume their job is done.

The unfortunate side effect of this new Facebook rating system is that fence-sitters may be left out. The experience may not have been awesome or terrible. Just a middle-of-the-road situation. They no longer have three stars to choose. They are forced to go to one extreme or the other and must also share a comment about their experience. This could dissuade “lurkers” or introverts from contributing.

How to Report a Facebook Review

The changes discussed so far will represent a significant shift to how most businesses interact with their customers, solicit feedback, and set their own KPIs. Whether they are good or bad for business is negotiable. One new feature is a definite win for businesses: reporting inaccurate reviews. Removing a bad Facebook review is easier under the new system. Facebook Page administrators and regular users can now report Facebook reviews for a variety of reasons. According to Facebook, they are doing this to ensure more “authentic” recommendations. Reviews can be reported for:

  • Recommendation not relevant
  • Unfair recommendation
  • Nudity
  • Violence
  • Harassment
  • Suicide or Self-injury
  • Spam
  • Drugs
  • Hate Speech

Facebook Review Change Aftermath

You may have noticed that businesses still have a score. Facebook has not deleted previous ratings. According to Facebook, scores are now a combination of previous ratings and new Recommendations and Reviews. There are rumors that response time may also be somehow included, but those have not been confirmed.  All of these changes mean a few things for business owners and reputation managers: stop asking for stars, thoroughly read and learn from “authentic” customer feedback, and gauge your success or failure on new standards.

If your organization is looking for professional guidance on how to effectively use this new system, contact our office to learn more about Arkside’s social media management and reputation management services.

25
Jun

IGTV: Not All Good News for Advertisers

The wait is over. IGTV is now public and offers a new capability to content creators and marketers like you to deliver long-form video on one of the most popular social media platforms. But how does this Facebook-owned technology impact the market?

No Longer Just an Instant Camera Telegram

For those who didn’t know, the name “Instagram” was a combination of “instant camera” and “telegram”. It was intended to be a purely visual platform without the clutter of sidebars or lengthy posts. Just square photos and a filter to share what you were doing at that moment. Instagram was very popular and earned its first million accounts in just two months.

It has since evolved, especially after being purchased by Facebook. It first launched exclusively on Apple phones and waited two years before releasing a version for Android. A very limited desktop version also came down the pike along with versions for Windows phones. Additional features such as messaging, posting multiple images in a single post, and Stories (to combat Snapchat) came later.

The new IGTV video feature is interesting because it makes two bold statements:

  1. That “instant” moment is no longer all that matters.
  2. Instagram is hunting for YouTube.

IGTV Video for Marketing

YouTube has always dominated the online video space. This is helped in no small part from its owner: Google. Its videos receive prime real estate in Google searches and it has built a massive dugout of content creators, corporate partnerships, and viewing audiences. Like Facebook, it is the 800lb. gorilla in the room that everyone must dance with at some point.

But Instagram is now courting YouTube content creators. They want to position themselves as a destination for new content and younger audiences that already use the platform for hours each day. For individual or corporate content creators whose target audience is an Instagram user, this is a great win. You now have a greater tool with which to connect with your audience. The measurement metrics will probably be insufficient for significant study of your audience, but it will be a start.  Instagram is trying to lure creators from YouTube to offer new brand placement opportunities, partnerships, and creativity. All of this equals revenue.

The long-form video format now allows creators to collaborate with each other and do so for more than 60 seconds. It allows interviews, comedy skits, and product demos not previously possible. Again, for marketers trying to reach Instagram users, all of these new tools are exciting. Keep in mind, a one hour IGTV video is not available to everyone. You must have a large following or a certified account to receive the maximum benefit.

The Downside of IGTV for Marketing

Yes, there is a downside. The biggest negative impact will be in platform diversity. IGTV is now a powerful contender in the realm of video destinations. You now have one more platform to which you need to direct your audience. So where does your video belong? YouTube? Facebook? Vimeo? IGTV? Obviously this means you need to understand your audience’s social media preferences as deeply as possible.

IGTV also limits how you use such videos in the future. There is no way to embed these videos on your website or in other social media platforms. You can embed YouTube videos nearly anywhere. Also, the only long-form video allowed on IGTV is something pre-recorded. That means no live long-form content. If you record for an hour, it will probably be another hour before it is done uploading.

Is IGTV Right for You?

This is actually easy to answer. If your audience prefers to consume content from Instagram over other platforms, the new IGTV is probably a strong addition to your media delivery options. You’ll have to be very particular about the type of content you place there, but your audience will appreciate the new videos.

If your audience is not primarily on Instagram, you can include it in the rare moments it may be ideal for a particular campaign, but avoid it the rest of the time. Also, keep in mind that good Instagram content may not make good IGTV content. Evolving a still image of a Mustang to a 15 minute test drive would be great. A still image of a Thanksgiving table may be enough so you don’t have to see your sketchy uncle unbutton his pants.

22
May

The Importance of Product Branding

by Christian Cuevas, Operations Assistant

What is product branding? Why is it important?

Branding refers to the way people perceive your business; these perceptions are a reflection of what your company means to them.  Company branding is often seen as something that may develop naturally throughout the life of the business; however, it is a very critical aspect to a companies success which requires going beyond getting the job done. Establishing an emotional connection between a person and the business he/she is dealing with is not an easy thing, especially in highly competitive markets. In competitive markets, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves in order for consumers to easily determine where they are going to buy their good or service. Business owners often try achieving this differentiation through lowering the cost of their good or service. But they can also do so through well executed product branding.

Apple logo branding on iphoneThough consumers will generally respond positively towards a cheaper alternative, there is a reason people are willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that has the same functions as a phone that costs half of that price. As you read that last sentence,  your brain may have already automatically made a connection between a product and a company. Regardless if you are a fan of Apple or not, their immense popularity in the marketplace is undeniable. When Apple released their first iPhone, they took an existing product (the smartphone) and made it different.  Along with a new design, they created an operating system that provided people with a unique user interface and on the back of this product was the iconic Apple logo. Apple features their logo on every product making it easy for consumers to associate the bitten apple logo with all of the positive experiences and connotations that come with it. Apple is consistent with both the quality of their products and the unique experience they offer to each individual consumer. To many Apple users, the experience they have with products is so unique that they become extremely loyal to the company. Alternatives are not an option to these loyal customers, which gives the company an edge in their industry. Although much of the branding for Apple has come from their differentiation in the experience a consumer has with their products, the consistency in the use of their logo acts as a flag for their consumers to proudly wave.

Product Branding

Not all companies can brand the same way that Apple has branded themselves. There are some companies that have products that largely vary in target audiences. Apple’s products appeal to a very large group of people, making the user experience very uniform among most product users. The buyer of an iPhone may also want an iPad. In other cases user experiences are purposely made to vary because the audience is very different. For example, a car company is not going to brand a minivan the way they brand their high performance sports car. This is simple because the feelings that consumers expect and want from the vehicles are completely different. A person looking for a new family van may desire most the feeling of safety and comfort, while the person looking for that high performance sports car is most interested in the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. Perhaps the company is dedicated to mostly make family oriented vehicles, but they also produce that one sports car; in that case it would be wise to brand the sports car differently from how the car company as a whole has been branded. Show below, you can see the front ends of two sports cars from different competitors. Although both cars are respectively very beautiful, well-designed performance vehicles, one has an element of branding that may have already allowed you to picture the entire car.

Mustang branding on a grille

The emblem on top comes from the front end of a Ford Mustang, while the bottom one comes from the front end of a Chevrolet Camaro.  Can you guess which has been branded better? In 1965 when the first year of Mustangs were produced, rather than being badged with the standard company badges the Mustang was badged with a symbol representing power, endurance, and speed. This symbol is still placed all over modern day Mustangs. Both consistency and repetition are crucial when creating a connection between a symbol and a customer. The Chevrolet Camaro has had various redesigns in their logo since the first year it was created, which made its brand a bit unclear over the years. Today, we will see Camaros badged with the same logos that you can find on any of Chevrolet’s vehicles, reducing the vehicles unique qualities. In comparison, Ford has taken a different approach in how they uniquely tailored their Mustang product branding. The logo is not only seen on the front and rear of the car, but it is also placed on the middle of the steering wheel to greet the driver as they enter the vehicle. Though it is a small difference, it is the small branding details that can make a difference when a person is looking to make a purchase. In this case, since both vehicles are similar in performance, it may just be the brand that may persuade a consumer to buy a particular car.  Building unique experiences that allow consumers to develop an emotional connection to your product or service is essential to establishing customer loyalty.

18
Dec

Facebook Algorithm Update Targets Engagement Bait

Facebook announced a new algorithm update today. You already know social media success continues to elude many organizations today. It isn’t hard to understand why: The algorithms governing each social media network are shrouded in mystery, competition for attention is fierce, and it takes significant knowledge to know how to trigger engagement from the audience.

Facebook Algorithm Update: Targeting Engagement Bait

Facebook announced today that they are changing their algorithm so that posts using “engagement bait” are penalized. This effort specifically targets posts from people or Pages that ask readers to “Like” it, vote with a specific emoji reaction, or share it. Facebook has been working to find new ways of keeping its users connected to the platform while balancing the desires of their business users and advertisers.

According to Facebook’s announcement today:

So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.

Additionally, over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed. We will roll out this Page-level demotion over the course of several weeks to give publishers time to adapt and avoid inadvertently using engagement bait in their posts. Moving forward, we will continue to find ways to improve and scale our efforts to reduce engagement bait.

The goal with this December Facebook algorithm update falls in line with Facebook’s priority in recent years: authenticity. They want content to shared that creates authentic interest and engagement. It is interesting to note that Facebook will penalize people and organizations for engagement baiting behavior. The Arkside team has noticed that whenever they are making an algorithm change to try and squeeze more money out of advertisers, they don’t apply the same standards to people. In this case, they are doing exactly that. This is a sign that they want a better experience, not just more money.

Social Media Best Practices

As a business owner or manager, your social media success depends on working with a team that stays current on social media changes and trends. You can’t risk running afoul of the rules and wasting your invested time and money. This new Facebook algorithm update means that you need to create engaging content that is of true interest to your audience.

If you would like a free consultation on how our accomplished team can improve your social media results, contact our office today!

(Image credit: Facebook)

5
May

Arkside Becomes Social Media Partner with Sprout Social

Early last year, we began a search for our official social media partner. Due to the varied nature of our client list, the sheer number of profiles we managed on a daily basis, and our commitment to cross-media integration, we needed a robust platform that could grow with us and be responsive enough to handle our requests and recommendations. After testing six different platform, including industry leaders Buffer and Hootsuite, Sprout Social was our ultimate choice. Together we have grown over the last year and we are both taking our next great leaps together.

Arkside Marketing is now a Founding Member of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program!

“But what does that mean for me?” Good question. We’re very excited about the answer!

The Sprout platform has already enabled us to offer incredible results for our clients. Their content curation and posting abilities are strong compliments to our unique, cutting-edge social media strategies. When it comes to social, we strive to be a social media partner. Our clients routinely outperform industry standards for engagement every month. Now we will be working more closely than ever with Sprout and creating new opportunities. These are just some of the tools at our disposal for the benefit of our clients:

  • Direct API access to key social media networks Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.
  • Sprout’s Viralpost audience engagement analyzer
  • In-platform image editing
  • Employee advocacy support (“brandvocates”)
  • Competitor tracking
  • Keyword monitoring
  • RSS feed integration
  • Post click tracking
  • Google Analytics integration
  • The latest social media industry news, tips, and strategy
  • Case studies and whitepapers
  • Mobile & desktop curation, scheduling, posting, and monitoring
  • Enhanced customer support
  • Access to an exclusive community of social media professionals

From Day 1, Arkside has always believed in treating our media vendors like partners. We treasure our relationships because the media is a partner in the success of our clients. That approach has paid tremendous dividends. This week is another shining example. Sprout has worked with more than 17,000 clients over the last seven years including UPS, Bentley, Hyatt, and Stanford University. They have won more than 25 awards since their founding. We are honored to be chosen in a small group representing less than 0.004% of their client roster to help launch their new Agency Partner Program.

Why Arkside as Your Social Media Partner?

There are thousands of individuals and agencies to choose from that offer social media management. As Founding Members of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program, we collaborate with their amazing team which elevates our abilities to drive new brand awareness and revenue to your business. We offer expertise in organic and paid social media campaigns. Beyond social, we can analyze, optimize, and integrate other media such as radio, billboards, and Google into your media mix for the best possible ROI on your marketing investment.

For organizations that have an in-house marketing team, we work with seamless collaboration to ensure success. They are a vital element of content development. Our CEO and Digital Coordinator can train your existing staff (once or at regular intervals) on the latest social media best practices, internal process development, crisis management, and employee empowerment.

If you are looking for a social media partner to see the best results from social media, contact us today. The consultation is free. We can even perform a confidential audit of your existing vendor to identify potential areas of improvement. Give us a call and let’s explore your possibilities!

1
May

What is Broadcast Media?

Cutting to the chase: Broadcast media is radio and television. Even amidst the pop culture dominance of the internet, broadcast media still commands the largest share of the advertising pie nationwide. Put the audio and visual media to work for you as your company earns larger market share, stronger branding, and increased sales. If you are looking for cost-efficient lead generation, you need to be looking at radio and television advertising.

Not only are radio and television the main media for advertising today, they are continually developing new ways to reach their audience. The SyFy cable network launched a show (“Defiance”) that combines interactions on a video game with the plot of a series show. Radio stations are supplementing on-air campaigns with digital media to provide on-air and on-screen promotions to those who stream the station through their computer.

Multiple studies have shown that combining radio and television can help advertisers reach audiences not achievable with only one medium or the other.

What Is Broadcast Media?

  • Broadcast television
  • Cable television
  • On-demand television
  • TV/web integration
  • Local, network, and national radio
  • On-air endorsements
  • Long-form programming
  • Multi-language programming

The Power of Radio

Radio reaches more Americans than any other advertising media. As an example, let’s look at Los Angeles, CA. It is the #1 radio revenue market in the world and generates more than $1 billion dollars in sales each year. In that market alone, more than 9 million people listen to radio each week. People are loyal to radio and love listening to their favorite DJ or talk show host. The shows become part of their routines as they drive to and from work or run errands or take kids to school. There is probably at least one conversation in your office every day that starts with, “I heard on the radio this morning…” The reason? More adults in L.A. listen to radio in a week than will visit Google+ in a month!

Radio offers a unique method to achieve Top-Of-Mind-Awareness (TOMA). As people listen to radio advertising and don’t rely on visual cues they would get from TV or a website, your ad is playing in a “theater of the mind”. For example, the phrase “a soft pillow” could conjure an image of a white silk pillowcase on a down pillow for one person whereas another person could be thinking of the cute yellow pillow they had as a child. That openness for interpretation means the quality of your copywriting is vital to success. You have an opportunity to connect with a listener through their own experiences, ideas, and dreams.

The Power of Television

We just mentioned a unique power of radio to achieve TOMA. Television advertising -another part of broadcast media- is the most powerful medium currently available to put your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds. The combination of audio and visual messages allows for a dual delivery of your marketing message.

Television Advertising Choices

There is a huge range of choices when it comes demographic targeting with television advertising. The most basic is network vs. cable. Attach your brand to the prestige and authority of companies such as ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox. Take advantage of the huge variety of cable networks that enable you to selectively target viewers based on income, hobbies, ethnicity, favorite sports, gender, sexual orientation, education level, or any combination you may need.

Much has been said about the impact of TiVO/DVR devices and people skipping commercials. Multiple studies have shown that advertising on TV continues to be one of the most effective marketing methods available. Only about 50% of DVR-owning households actually skip commercials. And many of those that skip have been shown to retain what they see in fast-forward or -most importantly- see something that catches their attention and will go back to watch the full ad.

The newest addition to television advertising success is the multi-screen viewer. Millions of Americans watch TV while also surfing the internet on their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. These potential customers can see your add on television and surf immediately over to your website to learn more about your company or product. Conversely, a potential customer can share reactions on Facebook or Twitter to their favorite shows and see your mobile or other online ad appear. A great example of this was the recent airing of “Sharknado” on the SyFy cable network. This B-level movie on a low tier network generated more than 300,000 live Tweets while it was airing.

How Do Radio and TV Help My Company?

  • Credibility via popular media
  • Branding to a loyal audience
  • Association with customer’s favorite show/actor/DJ/host
  • Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA)
  • Unique demographic targeting
  • Multi-screen engagement

Contact Us Today

9
Apr

The Value of Promotional Items and Custom Apparel

If you can put something in their hand, it makes the job of remembering you a lot easier. Most people (60%) who receive a promo item will keep it for two years and use it regularly. (Relevant Insights, 2013). Are you looking to make an impact with great promotional items and custom apparel?

Promotional items and apparel can help you greatly improve the presentation of your company. Your image becomes more professional and memorable. So let’s explore how your logo on a product or apparel item can help your marketing.

First Impressions

You never have a second chance to make a first impression. When your prospect is first introduced to your brand, make use of every tool at your disposal. Enable your employees to be brand ambassadors with each meeting or introduction by giving them branded apparel with the company logo. Can they hand out a custom pen to a prospective client or a balloon with your restaurant logo to every child who visits?

Show customers you care by making an investment in their relationship with you. Promotional items and customized apparel are excellent examples of how to make a great first impression.

Lasting Impressions

You know a first impression is important and you want it to be a good one. Now how do you make that good first impression last longer? A survey from LJ Market Research showed that people recalled the name of a company on a promotional item (76%) more than a company they saw previously in a print ad (53%). Like an app for a smartphone, promotional items can stay with your customer even after they’ve left. It is something they can carry around with them forever and keep your brand in their daily lives. For example, a tow truck company should give out key chains so their customers don’t have to wonder about who to call in an emergency. Or a law firm can send employees to a national conference wearing custom polo shirts with the firm logo and give them custom golf balls to distribute.

This makes remembering your company a lot easier. It also shows the inherent value in a well thought out promotional product gift and professional apparel for giveaway or employees.

According to a recent study, the industries with the best (not the only, just the best) recall rates were: financial services, retailers, apparel brands and electronics manufacturers.

How To Choose Promotional Items and Custom Apparel

According to our newest catalog, there are more than 300,000 promotional products and apparel for sale today. There are literally thousands of choices available and some of them are perfect for your business. You should keep the following in mind when making your promotional items and custom apparel selections:

Promotional Items

  1. Does the item fit my company brand? (A car dealership shouldn’t hand out custom flasks.)
  2. How many will I need?
  3. What is my budget for promotional products?
  4. Do they need a case/bag for distributing?
  5. What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)

Custom Apparel

  1. Are these for employees or customers?
  2. How many will I need?
  3. Do I know what sizes I will need?
  4. Imprint on front and back?
  5. What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)

To ensure you are getting the best product at the best price and the most creativity, speak to an Arkside representative today.

4
Oct

Promises to Rank on Page 1 of Google

How to rank on the page 1 of Google is one of the most coveted and misunderstood business goals of the 21st century. The holy first page. 93% of the eyeballs never go to page 2. Business managers and owners understand its value. This has opened a huge market for disreputable companies to make false promises we see every day. They usually arrive via email and look something like this:

“We can put you on the first page of Google!”
“Our program will have you ranked on page 1!”
“This patented system guarantees you will be #1 on Google!”
“You will rank #1 on Google within 30 days!”

As a company that offers and specializes in digital marketing, we fully understand the importance of appearing on page 1 of Google. It can boost website traffic, enhance reputation, and improve sales. But it can be done in two very different ways: right or wrong. The right way is worth an investment. The wrong way should be avoided at all costs. This false “Page 1 Promise” can cost you dearly.

Continue reading and you will learn why any company (with one exception) is lying when they make this promise.

How Google Calculates Rank

Google has confirmed that there are approximately 200 ranking factors in the calculation of a page’s rank. This is a major reason reaching page 1 of Google isn’t easy. Once they are evaluated and broken down, there are perhaps 10,000 variations that are included in the Google ranking algorithm. Thankfully, Google has been kind enough earlier in 2016 to confirm it’s top three ranking factors:

1 & 2. Inbound links and content
3. RankBrain

Links and content are listed together because Google has never confirmed which is more important. Those two elements are vital but bad links or content can also result in penalties. We’ll cover those later in this post. They are directly related to the false promises of Google rankings.

RankBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence program which evaluates searches and the results they generate. In 2013, Google stated that approximately 15% of the 3.3 billion searches it handles every day are something it has never seen before. RankBrain evaluates those searches and the results produced. Always keep in mind that Google’s top priority is to serve the most relevant results possible. RankBrain helps Google efficiently learn about new searches and better understand what the user is searching for.

What is the Google Algorithm?

The recipe for Coca-Cola.
The formula for WD-40.
The Google algorithm. (It is called “Hummingbird“.)
The calculation of a FICO score.

These are all highly coveted targets of corporate espionage. They are secrets. Only a select group of people in the world know any one of them. That secrecy is the primary reason any company (with one exception) claiming to know the Google algorithm is lying. That one exception is Google. Much like FICO is the only company that knows the full and accurate way a credit score is calculated, Google is the only company that knows every ranking factor and their importance. It is rumored that less than 10 people at Google actually have this information. The rest of us are making educated guesses – some more educated than others.

Millions of dollars are spent every year by companies around the world trying to determine how to rank a webpage. The entire search engine optimization (SEO) industry is devoted almost entirely to this pursuit. For any company to claim they can guarantee first page ranking, they would need to know the algorithm.

They don’t.

An important element of the Google ranking system is called PageRank. It is an algorithm within the algorithm that ranks webpages within the search results. Its primary factor are inbound links to a site. As mentioned above, links are one of the top two ranking factors so the PageRank algorithm is vital to a site’s appearance on page one of Google. PageRank is also a primary means of dishing out penalties from Google.

Google Penalties

BMW logoBeyond the secrecy surrounding their algorithm, Google is very serious when it comes to people who try to “game the system”. Remember Google’s top priority? They don’t take kindly to people who intentionally manipulate the organic search results to circumvent search results. Such efforts have a material impact on Google’s quality. They publish Webmaster Guidelines which, when violated, can result in serious damage to a webpage’s ranking.

Google’s most notable penalty is a loss of PageRank. When Google discovers “black hat” SEO techniques such as artificial blog networks or paid links, it usually responds with a corresponding loss of PageRank. This has happened to companies such as BMW and even Google’s own Chrome browser website. The loss of PageRank -which, in some cases, goes to zero- can be coupled with the complete removal from search results of the offending blog network or site with paid links.

Companies that suffer Google penalties have reported loss of website traffic, loss of revenue, and a long climb back to page 1 of Google. Companies like BeatTheQuote.com, JCPenney, and Rap Genius (lost 700,000 visitors a day!) have all had to endure Google penalties.

SEO Best Practices

Obviously, you should not be buying links, using black hat blog networks, or keyword stuffing your webpages.

Focus on creating content that is valuable to your audience(s). Educate and entertain to earn visits and time. Doing so requires a deep understanding of your market.  The best SEO is organic value in the content you create. Blogs are an excellent means of regularly updating your website while providing educational or entertaining information. Pages (along with your blog posts) should be updated when needed, consist mostly of text, and include images as visual support or illustration for the material presented.

Google has a guide: ask yourself “would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” While this shouldn’t be taken literally, it should be considered whenever an SEO strategy is proposed.

Next Step to Reach Page 1 of Google

If you would like to have your current website analyzed and SEO strategy created or evaluated, contact an Arkside specialist today. Our team can provide you with objective insight, identify unrealized opportunities, and present effective strategies that maximize your search engine presence.

19
Apr

Al Jazeera America: A Marketing Failure

“One on-air personality said management’s view was ‘if we build it, they will come.’ They didn’t.”

As we routinely tell our clients, the days of “if you build it, they will come” ended after Field of Dreams.

The notable and relatively new entrant to the American news mediascape, Al Jazeera America, is scheduled to shut down by April 30, 2016. While there are heaping reasons for this abrupt termination, the vast majority involve marketing failures. From a doomed name and laughable Al Gore connection to a poor understanding of the market and public management failures – all roads pointed to a disastrous conclusion.

The Beginnings of Al Jazeera America

Al Gore became a joke after surrendering the 2000 U.S. Presidential election to George W. Bush. His one-note-Johnny routine about climate change while owning a massive energy-swallowing home, sexual harassment of a masseuse, and separating from his wife, led to a steep decline of his stature in politics and environmentalism. He also was a partial owner of Current TV, a low-level cable television network in the United States. It was the sale of this network that not only allowed the foothold for Al Jazeera America, but helped to further erode Al Gore’s reputation. He was harshly criticized for selling an American media company to terrorists.

Strangely, no one cared about Current TV before it’s sale to Al Jazeera – with one notable moment of exception. Two of its journalists were arrested after crossing the North Korean border in 2009. Their investigative reporting skills did not include map reading. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (the former boss of their current boss) secured their release. Thus ended the newsworthiness of Current TV until it was sold. At it’s height, the network reached a paltry 31,000 viewers per day. Total. To Gore’s credit, he was able to sell the network with almost no audience to the Qatari government for $500,000,000. (That’s $16,129 per viewer!)

Within the first two months of Al Jazeera America, it shed nearly two-thirds of that audience and reached a pathetic 13,000 people per day. Total.

Even MSNBC was over 120,000 per day.

You Can’t Be “Al Jazeera” in America

For reasons that continue to elude employees, observers, and the American public, Al Jazeera’s management never seemed to fully understand the poison pill presented by their name. Given the public hesitation to anything Arab or Muslim after September 11th, it should have been easy to grasp the need for a more acceptable brand name. Presenting an Arab news network with an Arab name and a terrible reputation in the United States seemed puzzling. Unfairly, most Americans only associated Al Jazeera with their occasional broadcasts of propaganda from Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. But perception was reality and perception began on day one.

This brand crisis was only magnified by their Arabic logo. America is a melting pot and has learned to listen to foreign names all the time. There are Arab construction companies, racing teams, and many other Arab-named entities in the U.S. But to actually use a logo written in Arabic was a visual reminder that Al Jazeera America had nothing to do with America. It is difficult to convince anyone you’re American if everything about you is not.

Their brand was an American disaster visually and audibly.

Al Jazeera and Cable Distributors

The conundrum of bad branding was strangely mitigated by a limited audience. It is hard to make a terrible first impression if you aren’t allowed to make the first impression. Just days before Al Jazeera America was set to go on air, AT&T U-verse dropped the channel. This followed prior decisions by Comcast and Time Warner Cable not to air the station at all. Their possible audience size now dropped precipitously below 100 million homes.

Technology and regulation also posed a problem. The still-successful Al Jazeera English is the English language version of Al Jazeera. It is popular on a global scale, especially it’s internet stream. But Al Jazeera was trying to build a TV network, not a stream. So they prohibited streaming to the US. That narrow-minded decision again limited their exposure and opportunities to drive traffic to their fledgling American network. The CEO, Al Anstey, admitted as much with this line from the email announcing the station’s closure: “The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges.”

News Coverage Quality

Al Jazeera never succeeded but it was not due to a poorly produced product. They won every major journalism and media award possible including the Emmy, Peabody, and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University awards. The hired top talent away from other TV news networks and other journalism media. Although occasionally accused of having a “Middle East bias” in their coverage, they were routinely recognized for being objective and presenting a unique voice in American media.

But no one will give you a chance to be objective in their home if they think it comes from the mouth of a terrorist.

Al Jazeera Management Failures

Every single one of the problems listed above could be fixed by a stable and competent management team. Al Jazeera America never found that team. They were in a constant state of management “desperation” as they made frequent changes and suffered internal drama. Every department saw departures as Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar applied constant pressure for success. Few were ever managing long enough to make a difference.

In some instances, these personnel shifts and a substantial wrongful termination lawsuit, once again brought forth the idea of an anti-American bias with preference given to Middle Eastern employees. Certainly not the desired picture when trying to appeal to an American audience.

Bad Marketing Dooms Al Jazeera America

The media landscape in America is extremely competitive. Ask MSNBC. To find success, even with a unique voice, is a challenge. But when your marketing -from your name to your HR policies- build and support a notion that you are the opposite of what you claim, you will ultimately fail. Competitors will relish in your misery and make sure your customers know. Partners will feel as though they are part of a lopsided relationship. And customers will choose an alternative.

Bad logo
Bad name
Weak exposure
Internal drama
Lacking support

All of this dooms what was otherwise a well-made product.