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The Psychology of Why “Less Is More”

The Psychology of Why “Less Is More”

The Psychology of Why “Less Is More”

Even if your audience likes what you’re saying, when you give them too much information to process, they subconsciously lower their opinion of you. This applies not just to marketing but to all our interactions in life.

by MATT STOKES | MARCH 21, 2018

“Less is more” is repeated so often in discussions of marketing that it’s easy to ignore and dismiss as an empty cliché. But clichés often become clichés for a reason, and when you seriously consider whether less is more, you ask a fascinating question.


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Disney & Marvel showed how to get employees involved in a social media campaign

Disney & Marvel showed how to get employees involved in a social media campaign

Disney and Marvel showed how well employees’ social media can be used in marketing campaigns.

The studio turned a routine announcement into a social media event… and we can actually learn a lot from their example.

by MATT STOKES | MARCH 14, 2018

This is an entry in an ongoing series of looks at successful modern marketing campaigns. 

Even though my business makes money helping other businesses with their marketing efforts, I don’t mind saying that you don’t need me for your most important marketing campaign. The most successful form of marketing is you doing what you already do the best you can. That means that your best resource can often be the people who work with and for your business.

That being the case, why not utilize their talents when it comes to social media? Chances are, you have at least a few employees with robust social networks, and these networks can be enlisted to spread awareness of your marketing campaigns.

We saw a terrific execution of this strategy recently when Disney and Marvel announced that they would be moving the North American release date of Avengers: Infinity War (one of the year’s most anticipated movies) up one week. While movie studios carefully select release dates (often years in advance), the announcement that in a few months a film will come out seven days sooner than initially planned is not dramatic news. To turn the news into something people were excited to learn about, the studio used the movie’s biggest star, Robert Downey, Jr., as part of a charming social media exchange.

This handful of Tweets exchanged between Marvel Studio’s Twitter account and Downey took only a few minutes and a little coordination, but it got far more attention than a simple press release announcing the date change. Entertainment websites and blogs all around the world picked up the thread and wrote news stories about it, embedding the Tweets and getting exposure far beyond the already substantial following both accounts had.

Does this have anything to do with your business? You likely don’t employ Robert Downey, Jr., but you probably do have employees who are skilled at social media and have healthy followings. Enlisting them to help in your company’s social strategy is a great way to get more attention and engagement.

Even routine social media posts can be livened up if the employee initiates the post on her own account. For example, say your company hosts an event and you want to share pictures taken at the event. You could upload the pictures and share them, or you could have your employee post to Facebook that she had a great time at the event and can’t wait to see pictures, and you can respond to that with a picture or two. Take time, allow comments and exchanges with your own followers and your employee’s friends, and you’ll have a series of posts that receive far more responses and engagement than if you’d gone the more straightforward route.

That’s a very simple example, but there are countless ways you can implement this method. Showing that your employees love the company they work for enough to interact with it on social media will also be great for your brand, and it will make your company seem more approachable and accessible. And the best part is you already have the tools to do this in house.

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You—yes, you—should write a book.

You—yes, you—should write a book.

You—yes, you—should write a book.

How anyone can use a book to build their brand.

by MATT STOKES | MARCH 5, 2018

Do you need to write a book to promote your business?

The answer is not always going to be yes, but books are becoming increasingly useful as a marketing tool to show off your expertise and explain what you do in a more sophisticated setting.

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Should You Be Podcasting?

Should You Be Podcasting?

Should you be podcasting?

Podcasts are great... but can they help you market your business? 


Many businesses are adding audio podcasting to the weapons in their marketing arsenal. Whether or not creating and maintaining a podcast to promote your business is worthwhile depends mainly on your capacity for creating new content, your budget, and the nature of your existing marketing.

If you're unfamiliar with podcasts, think of them as on-demand radio shows. Podcasts become more and more popular every year, and businesses can create podcasts to connect with consumers in a unique way.


Creating Unique Content

But how can you make your podcast stand out? What are you going to discuss? How are you going to produce it? Who's even going to listen?

The short answer is that if you have an idea good enough to blog about or post on social media, then it's probably a good enough idea to record to a podcast. The problem is that podcasts are generally longer in length and go more in-depth on topics. What you would communicate in a 30-second TV commercial won't suffice for a podcast. The upside is that podcasts give you the freedom to say what you are limited by time and space to otherwise say.


Share Success Stories

Explain what your business does, who your employees are, and how they do what they do. Tell success stories clients and customers have had working with your business. Share funny or unusual stories about experiences you've had in your career. The goal is to build a relationship with the listener so that they'll think of you when they need your services and tell all their friends and family about you as well.


What If You Don't Have Enough Time?

If you don't have enough time to record a podcast, it's still worth thinking about how to make a podcast happen. Are you recording YouTube videos? You can easily take the sound from the YouTube videos and create an audio-only version for the podcast. Are you blogging? Record one of your employees reading your favorite blog posts. The point is to get your voice out there, to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.


How Do You Podcast, Anyway?

Almost all computers and smartphones have solid microphones that will allow you to record audio. If you want to edit and enhance your recording, GarageBand and similar apps will get the job done.

Once you've produced your podcast, you'll need a way to distribute it online. A podcast hosting service will allow you to upload your recording and distribute it to iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and other popular podcasting platforms.

The most trusted name in the game is LibSyn, which offers monthly packages for as little as $5. Prices increase the more size you require... in other words, the more podcasts you release, the more bandwidth you'll have to purchase. LibSyn also offers great analytics, so you'll be able to track and get insight into your audience.

A free alternative to LibSyn is SoundCloud, which offers limited podcast hosting, with paid packages for users who need more space and tools.

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How to optimize a PDF for mobile devices

How to optimize a PDF for mobile devices

How to optimize a PDF for mobile devices

by MATT STOKES | JULY 27, 2017

One of my clients is a political organization that wanted to distribute its recommendations to voters on Election Day. Traditionally, this would be a “punch card”—a pocket-sized piece of sturdy cardboard paper clipped from a mailer or a newspaper ad. But we had a short turnaround time and we wanted to do something a little more modern, so we came up with the idea of encouraging voters to use their phones in the voting booth and pull up this organization’s recommendations that way.

I designed a nice-looking list of recommendations but, once I’d saved it as a PDF and pulled it up on my phone, I was frustrated that it wouldn’t fit a mobile screen.


It looked something like this.

I wanted the image to appear designed for mobile phones—because, after all, that was its point for being. So I recreated the list in Adobe Illustrator as a graphic, using the dimensions for the most popular smart phones. I exported the final image as a PDF, pulled it up on my phone, and just like that, I’d found a quick, elegant solution.


Much better, with nothing cut off.

Final product ready to go, we uploaded the PDF to the organization’s website, and voters were able to enter the voting booth and pull up a sleek PDF optimized just for their phones.

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Do You Need a Newsletter?

Do You Need a Newsletter?

Do you need a newsletter?

by MATT STOKES | JULY 7, 2017

Does your company need to be doing email marketing? Does it need to send out a newsletter?

The answer, regardless of what kind of business you are engaged in, is almost certainly yes. In fact, many people think email marketing is the single most effective form of marketing or advertising.

Email marketing puts you directly into the inbox of people who have already indicated that want to hear from you (by giving you their email address). Staying in touch via newsletters keeps your audience engaged and potentially builds awareness of your brand.


Who Is Your Audience?

For most businesses, the audience is their pool of former, current, and potential customers. For others, the audience might be a network of colleagues, with the hope of generating referrals. Determining who the email newsletter is for is a key part in figuring out the most important question of email marketing:

Why Should Anybody Ever Read Your Email? 

When sending a newsletter, you have to give the audience a reason to care; if the recipient opens your email and finds nothing of value, chances are they’ll either unsubscribe or ignore your future emails. So be careful in choosing what to include in the email—do not overload the message with updates on your company that a customer is unlikely to care about.

You’ll also want to build around the main subject of the email. If you’re having a customer appreciation day where every customer gets a free car wash, for example, be sure to provide enough information about the event while avoiding unnecessary and distracting information about unrelated topics. The main goals of the newsletter are to remind your customer about your business and build up goodwill with them so they’ll want to use you again and tell their friends about you.

How Do You Create and Send Newsletters? 

The old-fashioned method of sending out a blast email is to simply type it up and put all the recipients in the BCC field, so that nobody knows who else the email is going to. But there are certainly more sophisticated newsletter tools, and there are two major players in that field: Constant Contact and MailChimpSnip20160607_39

Both Constant Contact and MailChimp have been on the email marketing scene for many years, and they generally have the same features for similar prices. They both offer creative design templates and analytics to help you track how many of your emails are getting read, and who is actually clicking on the links you share.

Snip20160607_40Analytics are a great tool in email marketing, and you’ll want to take them very seriously. They allow you to experiment, to see what is and is not working, and to adjust your approach accordingly.

Both apps also have a robust contact management feature. You can easily import your the email addresses on your mailing list from virtually any other program.