Artists We’re Crushing On: Designer Appreciation Part 8

We have the utmost respect for the crafters, letter-makers, and inspiration shakers out there. In digital marketing, incredible visuals are a crucial element of the whole package. Therefore, in this ongoing series, we wanted to give due props to the artists, creators, and designers we’ve taken note of lately. Thanks for making stuff beautiful!

1. Matt Blease

Heavily influenced by his background in graphic design, Matt produces minimalist illustrations that pack a serious punch. Bursting with warmth and humor, Matt channels his ideas in a way that’s as playful as it is bold. Having created work for high profile publications such as The Guardian and The New Yorker, and brands including Nike and Coca-Cola, he’s certainly becoming an illustrator to watch. Simple line work on a plain white background has never hit home like this before.

Check out his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mattblease/

2. Elisa Sheehan

Elisa Sheehan is best known for her Kintsugi Eggshells, a collection of delicate and vibrantly painted eggshells that serve as a testament to nature’s beauty and imperfections. The art of Kintsugi originated in Japan in the 15th century. Translating literally to ‘golden joinery’, Kintsugi is the art of repairing cracked pottery with seams of gold. Elisa has applied the same technique to showcase the hidden beauty of broken eggshells, in a series she describes as “a visual representation of imperfection as a true value and where flaws are celebrated and viewed as beautiful.”

Check out her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elisasheehanart/

 

3. Toyin Ojih Odutola

Born in Nigeria and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, Toyin Ojih Odutola is a visual storyteller who explores the intricacies, malleability and complexities of identity through her drawings of enigmatic figures. Toyin’s work, rendered in pastel, pencil and charcoal, challenges traditional forms of portraiture through her distinctive, mark-marking style. Her intimate subjects, emerging from the canvas against colorful backdrops of luxury and leisure, speak to the intersections of race, class and identity. With a list of achievements that already includes solo exhibitions at major galleries such as the Whitney in New York, this is definitely an artist to keep a close eye on.

Check out more of her work on her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toyinojihodutola/

4. Lindsey Mendick

Creating multicoloured smorgasbords of gorgeous glazed ceramics, Lindsey Mendick melds comedy and color with the surreal to produce installations that are a feast for the eyes and mind. Her sculptural worlds subvert familiar, domestic objects to broach ideas of identity: what is our relationship with the domestic and how does this impact us? How does food play a role in broader political issues such as female oppression? Attention-grabbing yet deeply thought-provoking at the same time, Lindsey’s work is a celebration of life and color and a call to reflect on the everyday that surrounds us.

Check out Lindsey’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lindseymendick/

http://lindseymendick.com

http://lindseymendick.com

5. Studio Zimoun

Sound and space collide in the works of the mononymous Zimoun, a Swiss artist whose sound installations are as much architectural as they are audiovisual. Using simple elements such as cardboard boxes, cotton balls and plastic bags, Zimoun builds unlikely soundscapes that make the most ordinary of objects come alive. The viewer is invited to actively experience Zimoun’s spaces, playing witness and participant to the orchestra of anomalous sounds that his three-dimensional structures create. It’s exploration on a whole new level.

Check out their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/studiozimoun/

What artists, designers, or creatives are you into right now? Let us know in the comments below. You can also see all of our other designer shout-outs here!

How Well Do You Know Your Target Audience?

Image via Carney

There are opportunities for success and failure in marketing your brand every single day. Actually understanding – not just guessing or assuming – your target audience on a fundamental level, as well as what they want, is at the foundation of every successful marketing campaign. Without this, moving your brand to total obscurity could be one poorly targeted advertisement away.

Why this understanding is so important should be pretty obvious, but what many tend to struggle with is knowing how to jumpstart that process of learning about their target audience. In a recent post from Carney that we enjoyed, it goes into a great example about why this is so darn critical:

Let’s take a trip back in time.

In 1958, Honda made the decision to enter the U.S. motorcycle market. At this time, the US motorcycle market was dominated by Harley Davidson, Indian, and Triumph. Riders of those motorcycles were exactly who you think of when someone says, “biker.” They were leather-wearing outsiders.

Back to Honda, when the Japanese company decided to enter the U.S. market, they went after the leather-wearing biker audience. They built some large motorcycles that could compete with Harley.

How’d that work out?

It was a huge success for Hond…ehh, just kidding. It was actually a total flop. Their large bikes barely sold. In the early ’60s, no leather-wearing outsider wanted to switch from a Harley or Indian to a Japanese bike.

While the US Honda team was trying to figure out why no one wanted to buy a Japanese bike, they noticed something unexpected. Urban-living, non-traditional motorcycle riders were taking interest in Honda’s small lightweight bike, the 50cc Super Cub.

In Japan, the Super Cub had always been incredibly popular among the urban-living, younger audience. But, Honda decided to ignore that market in the US and try something completely new.

Eventually, Honda shifted their marketing strategy to target this urban-living audience. Instead of trying to get traditional motorcycle riders on a Honda, they targeted young buyers who had no interest in the black leather jacket persona.

This was the same audience who loved their motorcycles in the Japanese-market — people who just wanted inexpensive, convenient, individual transportation for short trips around town.

That’s where the famous, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign came from.

The Super Cub’s massive US success eventually allowed Honda to move into the traditional motorcycle market, and it wasn’t too long before they captured 63% of the US motorcycle market.

So, what’s the point?

Honda almost became a footnote in US automotive history because they didn’t understand their target audience. Luckily, they realized it and pivoted before it was too late.

Had Honda originally focused on their strongest audience, they wouldn’t have wasted time and money marketing to an audience who was never going to buy their motorcycles.

 

The author goes on to describe some of their tried-and-true ways to really begin understanding the target audience for your own situation. While no two businesses are exactly the same, these methods will give you the jumping off point needed to create a successful marketing campaign.

  1. Sit in on sales calls with your sales team. Pay attention to the questions their prospects ask and how the sales team answers them.

  2. Spend time with customer service too. You can learn a ton from both happy and dissatisfied customers.

  3. Talk to your customers. For real. Reach out to 10 or 15 customers and ask if you can just talk to them for 15 minutes.

  4. Check out online forums. There’s a really good chance that an online community exists for your target audience. Start with Reddit. Do this for 30 minutes per day for 2 weeks. You’ll learn a lot.

  5. Read review sites. Sites like Yelp, Google, G2 Reviews, Capterra, etc. can be a gold mine for customer info.

 

You can head to the Carney website here to view the entire article about how audience research is driving marketing today.

Need some help with understanding your own target audience? Feel free to reach out to our team to see how we can help. 

How to Write Copy That Actually Converts Customers

What does good copywriting really consist of, and why is it that way? In most cases, these questions can be answered with another question: does the copy you’re using right now convert customers?

How you position your brand, your product, your services, and even how your internal company is shared with the outside world all boils down to good copywriting and communication. It’s the one piece of the marketing puzzle that, when done well, can yield incredibly positive results. You know we love a good infographic — this latest one from Koeppel Direct dives into what exactly a direct response campaign is and how effective copywriting can make or break it.

Here’s a quick summary of what they cover within their key tips:

  • How to choose the amount of copy
  • Words to use (and avoid)
  • How to customize copy to campaign type
  • How to present value
  • How to demonstrate you can solve problems
  • How to create effective calls to action
  • How to test and update your campaigns

Check out the full infographic right here to learn more…

View the infographic source and see more from Koeppel Direct here.

Need help creating convincing copy for your upcoming marketing campaigns, social media posts, internal emails, or anything else? Get in touch with our team of experts to talk shop.

Social Balance: How to Choose the Right Social Media Channels for Your Business

There are a lot of social media channels out there, but just because they exist doesn’t mean that your business should be active on it. Companies can sometimes spend way too much time, effort, and advertising budget on social channels that just aren’t right for them.

Social Media Channels: Where to Begin, Anyway?

With so many social media channels in existence today, it can be difficult to decide which selection or spread might be the best one for your brand. Here, we’ll list some of the most popular social media channels in 2019 with businesses, and (more importantly) discuss how they work to best for businesses.

Facebook

The classic. Facebook has been around long enough at this point to boast friendships on it lasting — at least — ten years. As far as social media networks go, Facebook can proudly label itself the gold standard of the social media community, because its primary goal is just that: building a community.

Source: https://www.musicalamerica.com

Any business that wants to see any life at all online quite simply needs to have a presence on Facebook. Through ads, mentions, and engagement to a full-blown marketplace, Facebook has skyrocketed in relevance since its inception. Over the years, Facebook’s explosion has created a myriad of opportunity as well as risk. The biggest risk for businesses, though (beyond not creating and maintaining an active profile) is relying on it as a lone vehicle to increase their web traffic.

  • Great for: An up-to-date and well-maintained Facebook page is the first step to establishing legitimacy for any business. At its best, it is a vehicle for online and physical business traffic and is effective for businesses of almost all sizes to build awareness of their brand, as well as establish relationships with their online community.
  • Pitfalls: The popularity of Facebook and the recent changes to its algorithm affects what users see in their feed. Marketers need to be strategic about what they post and when so that their business is well-positioned to reach as many users as possible.

Instagram

It’s almost impossible these days to have a product or service on the market that isn’t in some way marketed through Instagram. And can you blame it? Audiences are intensely visual, and this is a fact that is increasing over time.

Source: https://www.instagram.com

Instagram relies on this as a method to reach a wide range of audiences. Its newest feature, IGTV, is ever expanding their reach to new levels, in an attempt that rivals even YouTube as it makes its move to position itself as a competitor to streaming giants like Hulu and Apple TV. The strength of Instagram is that it is a fantastic way for businesses to build brand awareness and generate leads through storytelling and real engagement with its audience.

  • Great for: Great for very visual products and services, but also is a great opportunity for marketers to be creatively strategic, as there are so many ways to get creative about showing your brand in action.
  • Pitfalls: Traditionally, it was difficult to make conversions through IG, because the options for direct sales were limited. Things are changing now, as businesses are finding ways around this through the use and continued development of add-ons that make Instagram feeds instantly more shoppable.

Twitter

Twitter has long made its mark in social media by being the long-running voice of the people. Businesses have come to rely on Twitter as a great way to get audiences involved in their brand’s day-to-day marketing voice. Twitter functions a lot like the voice of a brand and is able to provide near to constant communication with an audience.

Source: https://www.twitter.com/calacademy

The way Twitter functions allows users to be involved in the day-to-day discourse of trusted figures and brand ambassadors, so Twitter has established itself as a reliable and accessible brand voice over time. This has been expanded even more recently as Twitter has extended its trademark 140 character limit to encompass 280 characters. It seems like a small feat, but in actuality allows for everyday users become reliable brand ambassadors themselves for businesses or causes.

  • Great for: Businesses that need to share news, specials, and rapidly changing information with their clients. Serves also as a great vehicle to mobilize their audience to share brand-specific information with other users.
  • Pitfalls: The sheer volume of tweets on Twitter make it entirely possible to get your message completely lost along the way, which means it never lands where your target audience is most likely to see it. That makes strategic timing and planning of tweets crucial so that your messages don’t end up being, well, just noise.

Snapchat

Snapchat isn’t just for kids. Savvy marketers know that even though there are many SM channels that utilize the smart features that Snapchat originated, like disappearing stories and the ubiquitous filter technology, Snap just keeps growing!

Source: https://www.snap.com

In 2018 alone, Snapchat was slated to generate over $1.2 M, from advertising and branded content. And those trends show no signs of slowing. What’s the secret behind Snapchat’s success? Well, it’s highly visual and makes use of users’ shrinking attention spans. And for younger users that are saturated with the contrived ads they’ve grown up with, it can be an incredibly effective tool to see branded content in use in an authentic way, by people they can relate to.

  • Great for: Authentic marketing, targeted to a younger audience. This is perfect for larger businesses that have highly visible content, and products or services that can be seen in use.
  • Pitfalls:  Snapchat doesn’t currently have the capability to allow users to like and comment on each others’ rapidly disappearing content. So for now, influencers and representatives have to rely on their perceived influence, as it doesn’t foster the more personal engagement that users can find with other social media channels. And as advertising is available through Snapchat, it can end up being costly for smaller to medium-sized businesses.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a goldmine for audiences that are looking to get inspired. Try to remember a time before you’ve heard the term “Pinterest-style (wedding/party/living room).” It’s nearly impossible. That’s because this highly visual platform is an effective tool for users to curate their online experience by selecting highly visual content that helps them to create a series of mood boards featuring their favorite photos and products representing a common theme or idea, and all according to their taste.  

Source: https://business.pinterest.com

This means that they are more likely to be looking to purchase items or products that they find once they have been added to their curated collections. Why is this huge for businesses? Pinterest utilizes nearly every stage of the traditional marketing funnel to build interest, build relationships between the community of users and the businesses, and to lead potential customers to make purchasing decisions.

  • Great for: It’s great for products because often users want to create a custom list to shop from and Pinterest’s idea boards make products accessible and easy to shop.
  • Pitfalls: Pinterest has a weakness, and which is that it is all too easy for businesses to create spam that erodes user trust over time. Marketers need to be strategic about maintaining links about available products so that users can rely on them, and businesses can maintain credibility.

Finding the Balance in Social Media Presence

With so many options available, how do you know which is the right choice for your business?

Let’s take a look at a few steps that will help you determine some deciding factors to choosing the right option for your brand.

Step 1 – Figure out your goals for social media

This may be the most important step in any marketing strategy. At what part of the marketing strategy are you hoping to reach your audience? Determining whether you are trying to build engagement, or actively convert leads into returning customers will be your first step in deciding which social media channel is right for your business.

Step 2 – Define your target audience

Who do you want to engage with your brand? It’s so tempting to get ambitious here because it’s natural for businesses to hope to court as wide an audience as possible. But your best strategy here is to build a marketing persona and market to your target audience strategically.  Putting some research into who they are, what they would like, and what their needs are will help to determine an effective social media strategy.

Step 3 – Figure out where your target audience (and competitors) are operating online

What’s your audience doing online? And who (or what?) are they engaging with while they are there? This takes the strategy of defining your target audience to the next level. Using analytics tools, and A/B testing will help you to determine what SM channels your target audience (and competitors) are engaging with and will give you a clearer picture of how to narrow down your focus, and strengthen your social media strategy.

If you are trying to get your brand out there to reach your audience, you’ve got to know who your audience is, what they are looking for, and how to work with where they are looking online! Knowing the strengths and downfalls of the most popular social media channels will be the first line of attack in determining how to create an effective social media strategy.

If you need help determining how to best position your business in the ever-shifting market on social media, don’t be afraid to reach out. We stay on top of the latest in social media trends so that you can do what you do best!

Charitable Companies: Our 5 Favorite Brands That Give Back

Charitable Companies

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is one of the biggest times of years for consumers to bust out their wallets. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other crazy seasonal discounts and sales, it’s hard not to focus on buying things. The Thanksgiving season is also very much about giving back, though – I know, crazy right?

Charitable companies with rock-solid mission statements are among some of our absolute favorites. While much of this time of the year is racked with anxiety and stress and buying, buying, buying, it’s always nice to take a look around and appreciate those businesses that are focused on giving back. Putting your money into the businesses that give back on a local community, regional, or even international scale, makes your purchase all the more worth it.

Let’s take a look at some of our absolute favorite initiatives from brands that give back. 

1. Pura Vida Bracelets

Who doesn’t love stylish, handmade jewelry to complement a holiday outfit? Pura Vida Bracelets is one of our all-time favorite charitable companies, with a mission to help support simplicity in life and the incredible craft of artisan jewelry and other goods. “Pura Vida” means “pure life” in Spanish, a Costa Rican philosophy that encourages the appreciation of life’s simple treasures. Following in line with this philosophy, the organization gives artisans full-time jobs while also helping to fund close to 200 charities around the world. With each purchase, Pura Vida donates 10% of proceeds to important causes affecting our planet.

Head to the Pura Vida Bracelets website here

2. Sudara

Being a women-run agency, our hearts are always with the millions of women around the world who are being held against their will in many capacities. Sudara is one such business that is actively fighting against slavery and sex-trafficking in India by providing women with safe opportunities to learn skills and move towards long-term careers. By offering real hope and true opportunity to these women through living-wage jobs, skills training, Sudara is helping women to gain more control of their lives and open up their futures to even more possibilities.

Head to the Sudara website here

3. Warby Parker

Being able to help someone see is a true gift in this world. So many communities around the world don’t have access to the kinds of vision care that’s needed to support a healthy, happy life. That’s why Warby Parker has stepped in to help bridge that gap and offer better vision to more people in need. With their charitable system, when you purchase a pair of glasses through their store, a donation is made to one of their non-profit partners who will help get someone set up with a fresh pair who really needs them.

 

Head to the Warby Parker website here

4. House of Light Goods

In the country of Mexico, there is a poverty-stricken crisis going on, with unemployment, imprisonment, and other important elements playing a role in the absence of many fathers. Unfortunately, this leaves mothers without the right resources or funds in a vulnerable place in trying to care for their children; this is where House of Light Goods comes in. A non-profit small business that provides real employment opportunities to single mothers in Mexico, House of Light Goods offers a safe place to work, and spaces for children to learn and play, funded by the purchase of a handmade scarf.

Head to the House of Light Goods website here. 

5. Amazon Smile

While Amazon is one of the biggest, most high-performing companies in the world, we can’t deny their influence on giving back. When you shop through their Amazon Smile portal, you can automatically have .5% of your purchase donated to charities of your choice! With absolutely no change in the overall price for you, the buyer, Amazon is set up to help you give back to organizations like the ASPCA, American Red Cross, The Nature Conservancy, and many more.

Head to the Amazon Smile website here.

 

Are you a company looking for charitable activities to launch in 2019?

Get in touch with our team – we’d love to talk shop and help brainstorm ways for you to give back!