The Underblog

Curated content without consistency doesn’t make a brand for all time

If content is king, then consistency is the ruthless queen.

Excellent communication in advertising and marketing requires a strict discipline to the rules of style. The public doesn’t take kindly to grammar and spelling mistakes or random, disconnected visual elements. Such errors can instantly lessen the value of a brand or product and risks driving the audience away, never to return.

A brand only succeeds if its style is consistently applied across all ads, websites and social media. So how do you establish consistency? Here are a few factors to consider as you’re making choices about your brand’s identity.

Start by using styles already available
There are already established editorial style guides that many content creators follow to deliver consistent, high quality messaging. Guides like The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook are largely used by news media, but they are also among the best examples of organization for rules and policies related to editorial standards. Since media advertising plays a prominent role in branding, it’s worth referencing one of these media industry popular style guides as groundwork for your internal and external communication rules.

What terminology makes up your brand?
You can only create standards if everyone is on the same page about your brand- and industry-specific terms and phrases. The Chicago and AP books include standards for how to display numbers (using numerals vs. words), how to address cities and states, and other proper and common terminology. Start here, then decide what rules need to be applied to your brand. Once you’ve established your in-house editorial rules for advertising and marketing, commit to them.

A brand to remember
Consistency shouldn’t be limited to advertising alone. The brand of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has sustained for more than a century—thanks to several design aesthetics that have been consistently applied in its television, audio, print, outdoor, social media and opinion leadership. According to Small Business Trends, the brand’s logo has used the Spencerian script font, clear white text, and bright red background with great success since 1885. Use fonts, colors and graphics to create a logo and brand that work across all platforms and can also stand the test of time.
According to Pew Research in November 2016, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone—nearly 250 million people who are waiting to see a company’s brand on responsive websites, apps and social media. HireRabbit notes that brand consistency across the web can inspire name recall, deliver strong messaging from one platform to another and eliminate confusion with your competition. Whether your brand is part of a tweet marking a special occasion or pops up in an ad after you win a round of Angry Birds, your consistent brand can stay with users even when they put away their iPhones.

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Make Your Marketing Program Compete Like a Bracket Champ

BrackeHeadlineMarch Madness is in full gear and everywhere there are examples of teams that do a little more to advance to the next round. This bracket mishmash reminds me of today’s competitive marketing landscape. Assuming each brand in a category spends the same percentage of their gross sales on marketing. How can new brands grow and larger brands lose share and fall to the bottom of the ladder? We have to look at some of the same elements that allow NCAA teams to advance and become champions in their space.

 

A Disciplined Approach

It’s funny how some marketing programs seem like they are haphazardly thrown into the fray. The website doesn’t look like the storefront or the social posts look like they came out of a catalog. Brands need to become disciplined about how they go to market. Process driven planning is a lot like college basketball teams preparing by reviewing tape before the game. A disciplined process creates a solid execution plan. This results in a deeper understanding of the competition, a more thoughtful plan addressing their strengths, and a dedicated strategy to commit resources in the strongest way possible.

Create Opportunity

Teams that advance do so by creating opportunity when they need it most. Every game is full of opportunities. In basketball, opportunities are created through fouls, officials, a hot hand, or coaches influence of what happens on the floor. Consumers are ever changing. Any brand marketing to an 18-39 year old female is losing ground. Today, brands must create opportunity by determining which 18-49 year old females are their customers. they must learn everything about who they are, what they like, and how they buy. Solid digital analytics provides an exact profile of the prospect and their behavior. A good creative agency will push you for data and build a fluid portrait of your consumer. Brands should live within their consumer’s world. When brands connect, the opportunity to influence decision making becomes reality. Find out the prospects interests, and make them a relevant part of your communication.

Get Scrappy

The tournament is a battle of near equals. The intangible factors that influence victory reveal themselves in phrases like “you gotta want it more” or “it was all about hustle”. These same intangibles will get you ahead in the marketing game. The little things make you stand out where others melt into the crowd. This is never more evident in the world of sponsorship management. As a mid-sized Atlanta ad agency, VWA’s national and regional clients are often up against global brands with deep pockets. That puts our full service agency up against network agency sports marketing divisions. It’s amazing how much these guys leave on the table. They are so caught up in the contract negotiation that the hustle never enters their minds. Smaller players realize more by squeeze every drop out of sponsorship opportunities. Hand out samples. Present a hospitality team at events. Bring unique and creative added value solutions to media buys. And the all time air ball by big agency networks. Set up a social media team to leverage your investment and produce content for the future.

In the next few weeks, you will observe how these primary factors dictate the wins from the loses. If you apply these same elements to your marketing plans, you will win at the game of marketing one bracket at a time. The biggest and the strongest will go down in the tournament. Pay attention to the underdogs and how they execute their game.

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Getting the Most Out of Your Ad Agency: 3 Things to Pay Attention To

advertising agencies in AtlantaWhen you hire an ad agency, it’s easy to be seduced by how well they market themselves. After all, that is our job! But ultimately, you need to make sure that the full-service marketing agency you choose to work with is going to put their clients first — and be highly skilled at doing so. When you’re considering different advertising agencies, you need to put their knowledge and capabilities under a microscope. Are they experts in their field? Can they provide the kind of advertising you want for your company? Do they have the power to take you to the next level? Of all the advertising agencies in Atlanta, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service for our clients with our talent and expertise. Although there are many factors to consider, we think these are three of the most telling.
 

  • Make sure their design skills are up to snuff
    Back in 2015, more than $180 billion was spent on advertising in the United States. You have to make sure that this significant part of your company’s budget isn’t wasted. If your ad agency’s design is subpar, you’re never going to get the attention and sales your company deserves. One way to tell whether you’re working with one of the finest advertising agencies in Atlanta? Check out the agency’s website. If the design is outdated or their branding is blasé, it’s not likely that they’ll do much better with your company’s ads. Although their focus should be on their clients, that doesn’t mean that they should let their own marketing fall flat.
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  • Ask about mobile strategies
    It’s more important than ever to implement the latest technology in your marketing strategy. If they have a client whose site or ads don’t function well on mobile or they seem to know nothing about social media marketing, those are pretty clear signs that they aren’t going to be a good choice for the future. They’ve clearly already fallen behind the curve, so there’s little chance they’ll be able to catch up with ever-evolving technology. While they may not handle website design themselves, it’s important they know about the latest practices in related fields; that’s the only way they can ensure their clients will succeed. If they’re still depending on print ads and don’t know much about Facebook, don’t even consider the partnership.
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  • Consider a local agency
    A personal touch can be paramount for many businesses. Being able to meet face-to-face is a real perk for many of our clients, which is why many of them seek out advertising agencies in Atlanta and the surrounding area. Although we work with clients in other parts of the country, both we and our clients love having our location in common. This can be especially important when you’re a small business or are considering working with a smaller agency. Whether every marketing agency will realize it or not, local clients often get precedence. Plus, it can motivate your agency to work a bit harder for you if they know you could show up at their offices at any time!

If your company needs a revamped marketing strategy, Van Winkle + Associates is here for you every step of the way. To find out why we’re one of the best rated advertising agencies in Atlanta, give us a call today to set up a consultation. We’d love to work with you.

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3 Tips for Finding a Quality Marketing Agency

marketing agencyIt’s more important than ever to have an effective marketing strategy across the digital realm. No matter the size of your company, operating the marketing division yourself can be extremely difficult. In order to succeed in 2017, you’re going to need every competitive advantage you can get to stand out from the crowd. Working with an experienced digital marketing agency is a great way to improve your business.
 
There are plenty of marketing agencies out there that offer their services, but it’s important to be able to distinguish between the quality agencies and the ones that just want your money. Here are a few tips for hiring a marketing agency and what you should be looking for.
 
Social Media Knowledge
Social media has grown into one of the largest sectors of the digital world. If your company doesn’t have social media accounts on the various networks, you’re going to be considered prehistoric. In 2012, roughly 67% of companies had dedicated social media teams. Since then, that number has increased to 78%, and it looks like that trend will continue because social media is such an integral part of business today.
 
Emphasis On Building Your Brand
The most successful marketing agencies don’t focus solely on promoting a company’s specific product or service, but rather spend most of their energy on actually growing that company’s brand. Although it’s important to market your product and service, the only way to truly grow your business is to promote your brand though quality marketing. Your company and one of your competitors might have identical products, but if you spend more time and energy on your brand, you’ll have a much better shot at success.
 
Creativity
Along with brand focus and social media experience, a marketing agency must be creative in order to succeed. There are creative agencies that will work with you and develop an original marketing strategy that is specifically tailored to your company and its individual needs. A creative agency will ensure that your company’s brand is growing across the digital realm in a creative and original way.
 
If you want to grow your company brand, standout on social media, and improve your marketing creativity, contact VWA today!

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Is Print Advertising Really Dead? 3 Predictions For the Future

advertising

 

There’s a widely held belief that print advertising is dying (or may already be dead). Considering that U.S. marketers will spend nearly $24 billion on online ads this year alone, this sentiment is certainly understandable. Many companies have replaced the majority of their print advertising efforts with online marketing, and it’s not hard to see why. Hiring an online marketing agency typically may have a lower cost and a better ROI. But should you abandon your print advertising efforts just yet? Not necessarily, experts say.

Many times, using a combination of print and online methods can be much more beneficial than choosing just one. And there are countless industries whose target demographics are unique in that they respond much better to print ads. One of the benefits of hiring an advertising agency is that your ad agency can customize a strategy that will work best for your particular business and customers. By continuing to work with your creative agency on print ads as well as digital marketing tools, you’ll be getting a much more diversified solution. Here are three reasons not to give up on print ads:

  • It’s better to have a mixed approachIn general, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. By eliminating print ads entirely, you may be alienating an important segment of your customer base. While some consumers feel totally comfortable interacting with a company on social media, others would rather receive information in a more traditional fashion. If you have a combination of digital ads, print ads, and social media interaction, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching a bigger customer pool.
  • Some demographics need a personal touchOne downfall of digital ads is that they don’t usually feel very personal to consumers. When you see ads on webpages or commercials before video content all the time, it becomes very easy to ignore them. They’re a great way to increase brand recognition, but they’re not always great for engagement purposes. Think about your target audience. Will your customers appreciate personal touches like direct mailings or ads in the local paper? Don’t discount these traditional methods as being out-of-date. They may work better than you’d think.
  • The print ad experience can’t totally be replicatedAs hard as digital marketing agencies try, the complete experience of a print ad can’t be achieved through a digital ad. Because print ads are physical and digital ads merely visual, digital efforts may leave something to desired for some customers. Print ads still provide a very valuable physical experience for consumers, as they provide more ways to engage the senses. If you’re having trouble reaching your audience and making a connection through digital means, add print as part of your strategy.

Our creative agency can custom-make any marketing strategy to fit your needs. Whether you want a combination of print and digital or want to focus solely on one tactic, we can help you achieve your goals. For more information, get in touch with us today!

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Does Your Small Business Need a Boost? Try These 4 Digital Marketing Tips

creative agency
 
These days, it’s vital for your small business to utilize a creative agency for your digital marketing needs. While it’s unfair to say that digital marketing has replaced other forms of marketing, you can’t afford to ignore this powerful part of your advertising strategy. Companies spent only 25% of their marketing budgets on digital efforts in 2014, but this number is expected to jump up to 75% within the next five years. In order to be ahead of the curve, you need to start implementing these methods now. Working with an advertising agency can help refine your marketing strategy to fit your needs, but there are also some ways in which businesses can help themselves. By working together, ad agencies and companies can come up with tactics that will result in success for everyone involved. If you’re looking to give your business a boost through digital marketing, try starting with these four tips:
 

  1. Have a well-designed website
    Having a user-friendly, unique website is key to keeping visitors on your site. In addition, having a site that’s visually pleasing and easy to navigate can actually help you get more traffic because those are the type of sites that Google likes to see. Make sure your site looks great and works equally well across desktop computers and other devices. Cookie cutter sites are boring and won’t retain traffic — but don’t sacrifice the user experience for a quirky website. Find the balance and you’ll also find success.
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  3. Encourage reviews
    Many businesses used to thrive on word of mouth. Although that’s still an important factor in many areas, you can no longer rely on it. That’s why you should encourage your customers to leave reviews on Google+, Yelp, and other websites that will help local customers find you. Essentially, these customers are voting for your business and your services. If they have a great experience, encourage them to tell others about it via a web rating. They can make a bigger impact and can help your business do well — a benefit your happy customers will definitely love. You can even offer an incentive for a check-in on Facebook or for leaving an honest review.
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  5. Focus on images
    Today’s world is driven by visuals. Poor quality images are no longer acceptable; customers need to see exactly what you do because it will ultimately influence the decision of whether or not to work with you. Bad website design or bad images can alienate potential consumers. This is especially true if your business is in a visual industry, but it applies across the board. If you don’t have regular access to a great visual library, our Atlanta creative agency can certainly help you cultivate and utilize images that will enhance your postings.
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  7. Optimize local traffic
    Google’s recent developments have made it easier for smaller local businesses to succeed through area listings. Your ad agency should make sure that your site and digital ads are targeted towards local customers. Make sure that you’re taking advantage of all the area business listings at your disposal. If your company isn’t showing up in web rankings when people search for industry providers in your area, you’ll need to focus your efforts there.

We believe that your small business should have all the tools it needs to succeed in today’s digital world. Our creative agency can help you achieve all of your goals. Please contact us today to find out more!

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The 4 Predicted Social Media Trends That Can Help (or Hurt) Your Business in 2017

benefits of hiring an advertising agency

It’s no longer enough for businesses to simply have and occasionally use social media platforms. In order to survive in the marketplace, companies have to consistently come up with creative ways to utilize these platforms to their advantage. The importance of having an established social media presence has caught on. In 2015, around 78% of companies said they had dedicated social media teams, compared to 67% in 2012. But it’s how we use social media that matters most.

One of the benefits of hiring an advertising agency is that you have a team of highly skilled marketing professionals on your side. A marketing agency can determine the most effective practices for your business and how to improve upon your current strategy. Because the landscape of social media is always changing, ad agencies need to keep up with the latest trends. To that end, here are four predicted social media trends to pay attention to in 2017:

  • Twitter may be on the outsTwitter has been decreasing in popularity for a while. Although the platform probably isn’t going anywhere just yet, its users are experiencing a bit of pronounced fatigue. While comedians and certain political leaders manage to create highly shareable content in 140 characters, most businesses don’t fare as well in their tweets. It can be an important channel for customer service needs, but it’s not a reliable method for social media marketing. Don’t delete your account, but don’t dedicate too much time to it, either.
  • Instagram’s influence will increaseVisual engagement is key in social media marketing, which makes Instagram the perfect platform for your ads. Instagram just rolled out a new feature that allows business accounts to identify themselves as such. The beauty of this feature is that it allows you to trace your demographics and engagement trends in a much more comprehensive way. The platform also provides businesses with a much wider reach, and the advertisement options allow companies to create visually appealing ads that don’t alienate consumers.
  • Snapchat shows promiseSnapchat may be appealing to trendy millennials, but its reach has a lot of potential. The company recently rebranded as simply Snap, which shows that it is thinking way beyond flower-crown filters. Its success illustrates a shift to instantaneous content — something that’s craved by its users. The platform allows for live feeds and provides a more intimate connection to your followers. This can be very beneficial for businesses both small and large. The company is also planning to roll out additional products and features, so this platform is definitely one that your ad agency should keep an eye on.
  • Companies will have to get creativeHere’s where the benefits of hiring an advertising agency become perfectly clear. With every business being expected to maintain an alluring online presence, it’s going to become increasingly important for businesses to get creative in regards to their content. You have to stand out for the right reasons. Businesses will need to focus their efforts on social media and use a lot of imagination in order to be successful. Practical or emotional posts tend to get a lot of attention, but it’s the creative ads — the ones that make consumers think — that have staying power.

One of the main benefits of hiring an advertising agency is that we’re able to think outside the box. We’ll come up with a creative campaign that perfectly encapsulates your brand’s identity and target audience. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how our Atlanta marketing agency can take your business to the next level.

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These 4 Marketing Strategy Rules Are a Must For Any Small Business

ad agencies in Atlanta
 
Regardless of the size of your business, you need to have a strategy for your marketing. Although digital marketing is becoming more popular than ever, around 50% of the companies who do utilize it don’t have a plan! When you don’t have a plan, you’re essentially flying blind. If this sounds familiar, your business could definitely benefit from using an advertising agency. A creative marketing agency can help identify the things that can help to improve your revenue as well as what might be a waste of time and money. For small businesses, this can be vital for survival. If you’re looking for creative ad agencies in Atlanta, we can help. Here are the steadfast rules your small business needs to follow for marketing strategy success. Here are four of the most important:
 

  • Identify Your Brand
    “Branding” is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but that doesn’t diminish its importance. In order for potential customers to remember your company and the services you provide, you need to have a clear brand identity. Everything you put out — from print ads to social media posts — needs to be easily recognized as something that belongs to you. You need to consider everything from copywriting style to color choices to having a memorable logo. Although many ad agencies in Atlanta may claim that they can help you with branding, you should choose an ad agency that has clients with memorable campaigns. If you’re cohesive with your ads and your branding, customers will be drawn to what’s familiar and to something that resonates with them. That’s how you build brand loyalty.
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  • Differentiate Yourself From the Competition
    Chances are that there are already countless businesses in your industry within your area. If the local market is already saturated, you need a marketing agency to help you set yourself apart from the rest. Becoming familiar with the competition is paramount in order to find what makes your company unique. Do you offer services that others do not? Do you have new technologies coming to market? Do you have a one-of-a-kind point of view? You’ll need to explore what makes your company special in order to rise head and shoulders above your competitors.
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  • Know Your Customer
    Identifying your customers is just as important as identifying your competition — and maybe more so. Who is your ideal customer? How can you effectively reach that target customer? Knowing your audience can be tough for many businesses — some want to appeal to everyone. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s often more effective to find your niche and focus on how to effectively market to those consumers. Many businesses don’t want to alienate potential customers and potentially miss out on profits, but honing in on your ideal customer will actually benefit you.
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  • Track Your Tactics
    Being able to track your advertising tactics is key to marketing success. Digital marketing efforts can be especially helpful in this regard. When you focus on specific keywords, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t. This will allow you to make better and faster decisions on how to reach those targeted customers. Your creative agency will also be able to analyze whether your strategy is getting the results you want or how this can be changed to yield a better one.

If you’re looking for highly qualified ad agencies in Atlanta, GA, our services are among the best the area has to offer. Whether your business wants a small boots or needs a complete marketing overhaul, we can help take your company to the next level. Contact us today to find out more.

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Rate parity isn’t the only thing that has hurt the hospitality industry over the last decade.

Rate parity isn’t the only thing that has hurt the hospitality industry over the last decade. Advertising parity is a real problem too. How many times have you seen a commercial for an established hotel brand and not been sure which brand was the sponsor after the fact? Parity in hospitality advertising is unfortunate given the diverse offerings available to consumers today. There is truly a choice for everyone: millenials, animal lovers, business travelers, the health conscious, eco-friendlies, trendies, etc. Why then do these brands insist on following the same formulaic approach to their advertising? As is true with most products or services, the key to breaking through the competitive clutter is finding out what makes your brand unique to consumers. This can initially be based on a very tangible benefit or differentiator like “focused attention on personalized service” or “highly stylized décor and accouterments.” But tangibles are simply what the consumer is attracted to on the surface. These offerings do not necessarily translate to brand loyalty. They only open the door to the possibility of a long-term relationship. The key to great advertising that truly connects with consumers is solving the mystery of how your brand makes your customers feel and how it contributes to their experience on a very personal level. It’s about elevating the brand beyond the tangibles to the intangibles. I think the best example of this that I’ve seen lately is the Airbnb campaign, “Live There.” Yes, Airbnb benefits from having a different model than traditional hotels. But what makes the campaign effective is that they chose to focus on the experience that their brand can afford to their customers – the intangible benefit that no one other than Airbnb can offer. The idea that you’re not just a guest checking into a room for the moment – rather you’re experiencing a new environment in a different way than you ever would have been able to before. Having worked with several major brands in the industry, I feel passionate about this lack of creativity and know how hard it can be to convince marketers to take a different approach. With the continued diversification of offerings and increased competition from non-traditional entrants, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

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A Few of the Biggest Advantages of Hiring an Ad Agency

ad agencyDid you know that upwards of $180 billion was spent on U.S. advertising in 2015 alone? Best of all, the numbers are only growing as more and more businesses get started. However, the vast majority of those businesses don’t do their advertising and marketing all alone.
 
One of the most important assets a company can have is an ad agency. Also referred to as a creative agency or marketing agency, these businesses make a living helping other businesses run their marketing campaigns. Here are a few of the biggest benefits of hiring an advertising agency to help your business succeed.
 
Access the Skills You Need
For countless small to medium-sized businesses, building an in-house marketing team is simply not an option. Lack of resources, skills, and time are all issues that they may face. However, a professional marketing agency’s goal is to provide all of those necessary skills without deducting from the time you need to do other important things during the work day.
 
More Effective Budget Managing
Because hiring an external marketing company allows you to utilize their skills and expertise when you need them, it gives you a lot more control over your spending. Instead of paying a few members of your staff full-time salaries to complete the work, you can outsource it to the professionals.
 
Gain New Insight
By outsourcing your digital marketing, it’s possible to gain insight and new ideas that you may not have necessarily gained with an in-house team of marketing staff. You may know your business best, but ad agencies know how to market your business best.
 
Meet Deadlines on Time
If there’s one thing an ad agency understands, it’s a deadline. And with a professional ad agency behind you, you’ll be able to meet all of your deadlines, too.
 
Let Your Business Grow
The key advantage of outsourcing is that you’ll be able to get work done exactly when you need to. The degree of flexibility granted will allow you to perform core business functions and expand your business the way you want to.
 
Don’t let the minutia get in the way of running a successful business. Entrust your marketing to the experts.

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