Category Archives: Creative Awards

As The Marketing World Turns

When it comes to marketing, staying in your comfort zone is no longer an option. Some things have stayed the same from the bygone era of Mad Men-esque marketing, such as standout and consistent branding, impeccable creative concepts, and truly understanding who your target customer is and what makes them sit up and take notice. However, what works in modern marketing is light-years away from that golden age before worldwide exposure was available at the click of a button. As the marketing world revolutionizes, innovative and interactive technology takes the lead in the way we communicate with others and encompass what is known as emerging media.

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Picture this: You’re away from home and want to pass the time by browsing the internet. But you land on a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, making it almost impossible to navigate on a smaller device. This can be frustrating, and maybe you’ll leave the website and find a new one that is more user-friendly. If your business’s website isn’t responsive already, you might be losing customers this way again and again. Having a responsive website is not only imperative to capture over 50% of web users who are using their mobile device to use the internet, it also affects your search results on Google, a vital aspect of recruiting potential new clients to your website. The number of people who use their mobile device to use the internet is still rising, and if you haven’t adjusted your sails to capture them, you might sink.

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YouTube isn’t just for cat videos and makeup tutorials; if you haven’t experienced the power of video marketing, you’re missing out. Video marketing is the latest and greatest form of marketing communication. From Facebook adding autoplay on videos in your newsfeed to giving customers a clear overview of your product in a quick, concise format, or changing your content blog format to a vlog (video blog) in order to increase engagement from different audiences, video marketing is at the top of the ‘what’s hot’ list in media these days. With 78% of people watching videos online every week and 64% of all consumer internet traffic coming from online video, this is a must-do to stay at the top of your marketing game.

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Besides having a solid, responsive website, having an app can be one of the most helpful tools for your business to divide and conquer the digital world of emerging media. From increased customer engagement to transactions, a well-designed app that focuses on user experience can be a vital tool for your business. In 2015, people spent twice as much time as 2014 on their smartphones and tablets, and Americans use apps more than PCs to access the internet. To take advantage of this mobile wildfire, you must focus on obtaining a loyal user base. First impressions are everything when it comes to emerging media, and you can increase customer loyalty and reduce support costs by starting with a well-designed app off the bat. If an app is chock-full of errors or non-intuitive, or doesn’t provide consumers with what they want, this will reduce customer loyalty and increase support costs to fix the complicated inner workings of poor design.

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Social media has been on top of the marketing mix for over 10 years, but more types of social media and constant updates to make existing platforms more user-friendly help this medium keep its spot on emerging media lists. With almost 65% of American adults using social networking, this has entered most people’s lives and the way they communicate and learn about the world. Although different generations tend to use social media differently, marketing on these platforms reaches a universal audience of ages, including 35% of adults 65 and older! You must choose your social platforms wisely to really reach your target audience in the sometimes overwhelming and definitely fast-changing social world. For instance, younger generations tend to favor the visuals and semi-privacy afforded by Instagram and Snapchat, a change from the openness and crowds found on Facebook and Twitter. If you are trying to reach an older, professional audience with your content and marketing, LinkedIn might be your best bet. No matter which platform is more appealing for your target demographic, the one thing your business cannot afford is to have an underwhelming social media presence or none at all.

As time marches on, emerging media marketing keeps going with no end in sight. Let us keep track of the latest and greatest ways to communicate and make your business a target market magnet. Contact us today at 701.757.2000.

Marketing Matchup: Innovative vs. Traditional

“Out with the old, in with the new” is the old saying, but is this really the best policy to have when it comes to your marketing plan? In this edition of Powered by Creativity we dig into the new business turf war – innovative vs. traditional marketing.

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When you think of traditional marketing, you may think of the three pillars of classic advertising: radio ads, TV commercials, and print ads. However, it covers so many more products than you think. Business cards to billboards are all forms of traditional marketing that businesses have used for decades to brand their company to the masses. But that’s just it; this type of media relies heavily on a one-to-many paradigm, a one-way communication that serves to sell rather than to engage. The problem is that, with so many similar brand messages out there, and some that are less than honest about their product’s results, consumers rarely trust any brand messages. Every brand promises to be better than the rest, but not all live up to that claim. Because consumers cannot engage with this type of marketing, brands sometimes lack feedback to make their product better and more appealing to a target demographic – they don’t know what their market wants, so they can’t give it to them. This isn’t to say that this type of marketing is not valuable to companies; branding is essential to keep top-of-mind awareness. It all comes down to the customer’s take and experience. Period.

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Sometimes referred to as digital or content marketing, this piece of the marketing puzzle encompasses social media, responsive web design, mobile apps, blogs, videos, and all manner of new media methods. Innovative marketing creates engagement and conversation with its audience, it is marketing geared toward you and what you like. This type of marketing de-commercializes brand messages and creates a conversation with the customer instead. Innovative marketing done right promotes the be-all and end-all of marketing: the coveted word of mouth. It is important to note that innovative marketing is not just another form of traditional marketing. If you are creating social media posts or other types of innovative marketing involving traditional media lingo, you are doing it wrong. Innovative marketing is meant to captivate, engage, and create conversation. It requires active involvement and real-time creation. This type of marketing strives above all else to be authentic and not rehearsed. It builds up your brand with messaging that your viewers want to research and read. This type of marketing is also very fast-paced, and tends to change with digital trends very quickly. What works today may not work tomorrow, and half the battle can be just keeping up.

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Any good marketing plan is multi-faceted and at the end of the day, traditional and innovative marketing offer different ways to grow your business. While traditional and innovative marketing complement each other in the grand scheme of a well-rounded plan, you can have a purely innovation marketing plan; what you cannot risk in this day and age in is having a completely traditional marketing plan. Digital is here to stay, so get on board and get more active today with our help!

2016: The Year of the User Experience – Part 2

With 2016 well underway, in this post we continue to build on ‘The Year of the User Experience’ predictions for what lies ahead this year in the marketing world. Many of the elements featured in our Part 1 post focus specifically on graphic design and how vital it is to make sure the experience your design efforts create is extremely user-friendly and intuitive. Here, we continue that theme with a slight shift to focus more on how to best present the content within those design elements and marketing materials. Without further ado, let’s see what trends in content we can expect to see becoming more prevalent in the coming months.

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Modular design allows you to present content in an interesting way that aims to keep users engaged. Because we have busier lifestyles than ever before, as users our attention spans continue to get shorter and material needs to be extremely intriguing to hold our interest. Layouts that feature hard-to-anticipate designs keep one’s eye moving from one thing to the next, offering the fun experience that is preferred by our busy minds. This style of breaking up content is comparable to the shorter paragraph layouts of most blog posts you’re seeing these days, but with the flair of visually interesting design elements to make it pop. For a deeper understanding of modular design and resources to help you get started with this cool trend, check out this article.

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Did you know that 100 million people watch at least one video per day? Or that website visitors are 64% more likely to make a product purchase after watching a video? As humans, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than the written word. These are extremely powerful statistics that you’d be wise to use as fuel in your marketing efforts. Telling a story through visuals, especially video, is becoming more and more essential when it comes to sharing your brand with the world. Learn more about the video production services we offer and how we can help you grow your brand.

In addition to video, other visual essentials to include in your marketing strategy are good photography and infographics. These handy and appealing graphics are a fabulous way to organize and distribute information or stories using the power of visuals. Not only do they make data look pretty, but they are also 3x more likely to be shared by viewers than any other type of content. If increasing traffic is one of your top goals for 2016, infographics would be a good area to prioritize.

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Truly great design cannot be complete without the key element: typography. A language in itself, typography has the ability to give the written word a voice, ignite emotion and even make the reader believe a statement to be true. This coming year we expect to see some blasts from the past such as retro, serif and handwritten fonts. Check out this great infographic from Design Taxi with some need-to-know trends. Plus, with all the great resources available for finding fonts of all shapes and sizes these days, you’ll never have a shortage of options; in fact, you could most likely spend the rest of 2016 looking at every one out there – you’ve been warned.

Want more information on how to apply these anticipated trends to your own marketing efforts? As always, we’d love to meet with you and discuss how these elements can be incorporated into your marketing plan to help grow your business. Contact us today to learn more.

2016: The Year of the User Experience – Part 1

The beginning of each new year triggers fond memories we’ve made, reminds us of growth from lessons learned, and brings a sense of wonderment about what the future holds. As marketers, we become giddy at the thought of NEW – new design concepts, new innovative tools and resources, new advancements for better experiences and big dreams for the future.

Looking forward to what the coming year has in store, we’re already beginning to see changes in processes, design and more. What are some of the top predictions for changes this year? Grab a coffee, kick back, and let’s take a trip to Daydream Land to imagine all the opportunities to explore and trends to anticipate in 2016.

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We cannot stress enough how vital it is to provide users with the best, most seamless experience possible. Your company could feature the most outstanding web design ever, which you feel should be displayed in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa, but if it isn’t easy to use and quick to load, users will jump ship and move on to the next.

Be mindful of what effect the interaction with your site will have on a user, and allow that to help determine the best route. For example, will your mobile site make someone want to toss their smartphone at the wall because their fingers have to go ninja-status, zooming in and out to read a product description? Or will they feel a sense of calm tranquility from the clean, intuitive design that does exactly what they want without having to do much more than lift a thumb?

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A key factor that will contribute to giving the best user experience possible on your website is the first screen. With mobile screens becoming the primary screen users interact with, it is paramount to the success of your site – and business – to grow with the times and put smartphone screens as the top priority when developing design concepts. Focus on elements such as calls to action that require little to no extra work by the user, simple sign-up fields for capturing emails quickly, and easy-to-read content that is both effortless to view and full of rich, useful information.

A top-notch responsive design will cater to both mobile and desktop, leaving nothing to the imagination when using either device. For a superb example of a recent rebrand that encompasses the perfect balance of design, functionality and user-friendliness, look no further than Netflix. The company appears to have immersed itself into the life of the end user to fully understand how people use their devices these days and how to best cater to their needs. If you find your site is not able to provide a cohesive experience across every device, it’s time to take it under the knife for a facelift.

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There is a saying that goes “if it doesn’t nurture your soul, get rid of it.” Take this flower-child-like philosophy to heart when it comes to your website and the creation of an excellent user experience. For each piece of content, every photograph, logo or form – ask yourself “What purpose is this serving?” If the answer isn’t a solid justification to keep it on your site, it’s most likely best to remove it and allow the user to engage with the pertinent information of your business, rather than sift through what may or may not be of interest.

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Intuitively designed websites are of the utmost importance, and with this in mind, the ‘navicon’ or Hamburger Menu will be your new best friend moving into 2016. Clever little hidden menus are starting to replace the more traditional navigation menus across all devices, desktop included. Check out some great examples of these hidden menus on websites across a wide variety of industries. Intuitive and space-saving, these menus not only provide more white space for you to work with visually, but also give a subtle sense of clarity that allows the user not to be distracted from more important elements of your site you want them to focus on.

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Modular Scrolling

The infinite scroll function became a huge trend in 2015 on some of the world’s most popular sites, including Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and has since been adopted by numerous sites around the web. What’s the new thing in 2016? Enter module scrolling, a layout that enables modules of a site to scroll independently from each other, like this prime example from a hotel in Rome showcasing two columns working in harmony side by side. While the functionality and feel of this trend is pretty nifty in itself, its purpose all comes back to the top priority – user experience. This scrolling feature on a site allows the user to continuously absorb content from your site without being interrupted by loading pages, searching for links via clicks, etc. and providing a one-stop-lane for your site’s entire library of contents.

To learn more about the trends and concepts reviewed in this post and how you can apply them to your marketing strategy, contact us today. We find this stuff interesting and exciting, and would love the chance to take this journey into the coming year with you to help your business grow. Cheers to 2016!