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One key part of being a great marketer is understanding how people think and knowing why they act the way they do. 10 principals.
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Which Social Network Should You Advertise On? Social media advertising is a great tactic to use to supplement your print advertising.

Back To Grammar School

Communication skills are more important than ever, but what if your grammar doesn’t quite make the grade?

Technology has reshaped how we communicate in the business world. Fifty years ago, you would have walked over to your coworker’s desk or called up to the second floor to ask a question. Now, whether your coworkers are in the next cube or half a world away, it’s standard practice to email, instant message, or text. An increasing number of employees are “working with people they have never met and communicating with them largely through email," Will Ellet, adjunct professor of writing at Brandeis International Business School, told CNBC.

No matter what format your written communication takes, it needs to be clear and concise. Misunderstandings can lead to costly mistakes. Given that the average business user sends and receives over 100 emails a day, no one has time to read rambling messages that don't get to the point quickly.

We could all use a little refresher on our business writing skills. And thanks to a wealth of free classes and resources online, we can improve our grammar and writing from the comfort of our own desk chairs -- without spending a dime.

To get you started, we've put together a list of tips for quickly improving your written communication skills. Check 'em out. (And if you're looking for more, here's an excellent list of helpful websites and tools that address common grammar questions and errors.)

 

12 Quick Tips For Better Business Writing

1) Develop a daily writing habit.

Practice makes perfect, so set aside just ten or fifteen minutes each day to free-write. In other words, just get your thoughts down without worrying about proofreading. (You can then use a tool like Grammarly to help spot mistakes after you've finished writing.)


2) Try to read every day, too.

In addition to writing each day, a daily reading habit is also a great way to increase your vocabulary and expand your writing repertoire. Pack a novel alongside your lunch or peruse a magazine—even blogs can be a great source of quality writing (if we do say so ourselves).


3) Capitalize when you're supposed to.

Email subject lines, blog post headlines, and report titles should be capitalized just like book titles.


4) Avoid using exclamation points.

Often, we rely on exclamation points too heavily as a crutch.

"Don't ask punctuation to do a word's job," warns Beth Dunn, chief writer and editor on HubSpot's product team. "It dilutes your message." Instead, she suggests working on making our words convey more precisely what you want to say. When in doubt about whether to use an exclamation point, consult this flowchart.


5) Always think about your audience.

You can be casual with your coworkers and peers, but when communicating with management or clients, it’s a good idea to write using more formal grammar. Keep in mind that "formal" doesn’t necessarily mean stilted or old-fashioned.


6) Cut the filler phrases and buzzwords.

Wordy phrases such as “due to the fact that” should be swapped out for their simpler, more straightforward synonyms. (In this case, “because” gets the job done.) Some buzzwords may be trendy, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're effective in communicating ideas clearly. Remove them from your business communication unless you’re sure that everyone understands exactly what “synergy” means.


7) Take advantage of free writing courses online.

Massively open online courses (MOOCs) are only multiplying, and you can find free courses offered by Coursera, Udemy, and edX, as well as universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.


8) Use templates.

Templates can save you some serious time and effort. If you have to send out similar letters or memos on a regular basis, create a template with customizable fields. You can always personalize your communication with a sentence or two.

Here are 78 free content creation templates for ebooks, press releases, SlideShares, infographics, and more to help you get started.


9) Make sure you address people correctly.

Avoid accidentally insulting someone by triple-checking names, gender, personal pronouns, and titles.

Dustin Wax of Lifehack writes, “If you’re not positive about the spelling of someone’s name, their job title (and what it means), or their gender, either a) check with someone who does know (like their assistant), or b) in the case of gender, use gender-neutral language.”


10) Study commonly misused words and phrases -- and never get them wrong.

It is "peek," "peak," or "pique"? Which one is correct: "first-come, first-served" or "first-come, first-serve"? There are a lot of commonly misused words and phrases out there that you should know.

For example, what's the difference between "that" and "which"? In short, "that" introduces essential information, meaning the stuff that would turn your sentence into nonsense if you took it out. It does not get a comma. On the other hand, "which" introduces non-essential information and is preceded by a comma. (For an in-depth explanation, read this post from Grammar Girl.)

When in doubt, do a quick Google search. It's worth it.


11) Drop the word "very" from your vocabulary.

Florence King once wrote, "'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen."

You’ll be amazed at the difference removing it makes in your writing.


12) Read your writing out loud.

Before you send anything important, read through it out loud quickly. It may seem a little strange, but reading your writing out loud is one of the most effective ways to catch typos, grammar errors, and awkward phrasing.

These self-paced, self-study tips will help you improve your writing and communication skills in no time.

Written By: Allison VanNest / Hubspot Blog

Graphic Novels and Comics

Ever since I've been old enough to hold a book, I've been crazy for comics. To this day, few things provide me with more pleasure than the combination of pictures and words, telling stories together in ways that neither can do on their own.

As PR, marketing and journalism become increasingly visual disciplines, it makes sense that practitioners can learn much from great examples of comics, so here's a preliminary list of works that I think have a lot to say to communicators. You won't find many superheroes or spaceships here - my own tastes tend a bit more toward the indie end of the spectrum, where artists have more freedom to experiment with what they say and how they say it. Though this list may be limited - these selections are overwhelmingly American, for starters, and I wish there were more women authors - it's only the beginning of what's out there. I'd love to hear additional suggestions!

UNDERSTANDING COMICS, by Scott McCloud
An explanation of the aesthetics of comics in the form of a comic itself, this book is actually one of the greatest - and most enjoyable - textbooks on general visual communication out there. In expounding on the power of the cartoon image and demonstrating how the essential nature of comics makes it one of the most engaging art forms, it's a book that provides incredible insights that are applicable across nearly all forms of communication.

BUILDING STORIES, by Chris Ware
You'd be forgiven if, at first glance, you thought Chris Ware's work consisted of a series of infographics, thanks to his clean style and penchant for cramming his images full of innovative constructions and intriguing detail. His commitment to using every imaginable visual tool came to a head in Building Stories, which is actually a series of 14 smaller works packaged together to tell the story of the residents of a single apartment house, each piece designed and printed in a completely different style. It's a treasure box of visual inspiration that shows the boundaries of how and what the medium is capable of communicating.

GOVERNMENT ISSUE: COMICS FOR THE PEOPLE, 1940s-2000s, by Richard L. Graham
Did you know that the U.S. government has been using comics as a tool for communicating with audiences since the 1940s? This compilation brings together some of the best (and strangest) examples of federally-funded funnybooks, intended to educate the public on everything from military etiquette to financial planning to fire safety. It's a great way to see the many communications uses that comics can be put to. (Pair it with Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, 1870s-1940s to enjoy a look at the commercial side of this history.)

WHAT IT IS, by Lynda Barry
Don't let Lynda Barry's deceptively childlike images fool you - hiding beneath the playful, chaotic surface of this book is a mature and inspiring manual about how to get over your fears and communicate with confidence. Drawing from a personal period of writer’s block after years as a celebrated cartoonist, it intersperses autobiography with instruction in a bid to give readers the courage to create. (If you like this, be sure to follow up with Barry's Picture This, which helps readers learn how to draw without fear, and Syllabus, which brings her unique teaching methods to life.)

PALESTINE, by Joe Sacco
Joe Sacco is a pioneer of first-person journalism in the medium of comics, and this book, compiled from individual comics released in the early 1990s, is his groundbreaking work in the field. Developed from experiences and interviews conducted in Gaza and the West Bank in 1991 and 1992, it demonstrates definitively that graphic storytelling is a respectable, effective form of reporting - paving the way for it to be embraced for every possible kind of story, no matter how serious.

ASTERIOS POLYP, by Dave Mazzuchelli
The story of an architecture professor undergoing a personal crisis, this fictional tale is a master class in visual thinking. Seeking out connections is both a visual and narrative theme of the book - the characters are mostly drawn in starkly different styles, but, when they communicate successfully, these styles mesh together on the page. The protagonist's inner life is depicted via charts, graphs, posters and other tools. By bringing a human dimension to what could have been abstract thinking about the way we communicate, it provides a series of tactics and strategies that can be reimagined to tell any human story.

INFOMANIACS, by Matthew Thurber
In this surreal tale of technology run amok, reality can be photoshopped, physical objects can be downloaded, and, at one point, a page of the story is obscured by a pop-up ad. It's a freewheeling, ribald satire of life in the Information Age, and a reminder to communicators that our work is plumbing strange new territory - and maybe even changing the fabric of reality as we know it.

Written By: Jeff Lewonczyk / Ketchum Blog

Monday, 27 April 2015 14:15

Let's Talk Print & Marketing

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Lets Talk Print

"Clients are beginning to associate the tactile experience of print with luxury. Digital is cheap, fast, and easy. Who want's to be identified with any of those things?" MARY-FRANCES BURT, Creative Director, Burt&Burt

"Print communications have potential to bring a more unique, engaging and memorable experience to the audience than digital communications. Personally, I prefer the printed page for certain information because of the flexibility in presentation, the tactile qualities, the construction and the protability...I find digital presentations too repetitious and boring after a short period." PHILIP MCCORMICK, Owner, Design Works

" Print still has an impact on communication. In a fast paced digital world where things change every minute, the tactile presence of a printed piece feels more permanent and special." SUE TAUBE, Art Dirctor, Taube/Violane, Inc.

Consumers Still Trust Traditional Media Over Online Ads % of North American consumers who trust the following forms of advertising:

  • NEWSPAPER ADS - 63%
  • MAGAZINE ADS - 62%
  • TV ADS - 61%
  • RADIO ADS - 58%
  • BILLBOARDS - 55%
  • SEARCH ADVERTISING - 44%
  • ONLINE VIDEO ADS - 44%
  • SOCIAL MEDIA ADS - 39%
  • MOBILE DISPLAY ADS - 35%
  • ONLINE BANNER ADS - 33%

Click HERE »» to Discover Ten Top Reasons to Print

Source: The Modern Media Mix / Written By: Domtar / GDUSA 2014 Print Design Survey

 

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When it comes to business, we talk too much about social media and expect too little. It’s like the old joke about sales people: one person says, “I made some valuable contacts today,” and the other responds, “I didn’t get any orders, either.” Companies measure the market results of their sales investments. But few have measures or even have accountable managers in place for their social media investments, and only 7% say their organizations “understand the exact value at stake from digital.” Meanwhile, according to a Gallup survey, 62% of U.S. adults who use social media say these sites have no influence on their purchasing decisions and only 5% say they have a great deal of influence.

Consider:

  • The most common metrics for evaluating social media are likes, tweets, reviews, and click-through-rates (CTRs) for online ads — not cause-and-effect links between the medium and market results. The basic investment logic is typically no deeper than a version of “Fifty million tweets or likes can’t be wrong” . . . or can they? There is justifiable skepticism about this data. Farming services spike these numbers, with evidence that one in three online reviews is fake. For $50, you can buy 1,000 Likes, 5,000 Twitter followers, or 200 Google +1s. With real people, moreover, 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads, and 85% of social media updates come from less than 30% of a company’s social-media audience. One online reviewer, Harriet Klausner, has reviewed more than 25,000 books.
  • A Forrester study found that posts from top brands on Twitter and Facebook reach just 2% of their followers (note: that’s followers, not new customers) and only 0.07% of those followers actually interact with those posts. As others have noted, people are more likely to complete a Navy Seal training program or climb Mount Everest than click on a banner ad.
  • There are, as always, opportunity costs. Since 2008, according to a McKinsey study, companies have devoted more time and money to social networks and 20% less to e-mail communications. Yet, the same study found that humble e-mail remains a more effective way to acquire customers — nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. Why? Because 90% of U.S. consumers use email daily and the average order value is 17% higher than purchases attributable to those social media.

Technology changes fast — remember MySpace and Friendster? — but consumer behavior changes more slowly. As a result, people tend to overhype new technologies and misallocate resources, especially marketers.

When banner ads first appeared their CTR was 10%, but that soon fell due to heavy usage by firms, and clutter. Research has long demonstrated that ad elasticities are generally very low, that firms often persist with ineffective ad media (because they have the wrong measures or no measures), and that companies routinely over-spend on ads (due to ad agency incentives, the fact that ad expenses are tax-deductible, and companies’ use-it-or-lose-it budgeting processes). Other research indicates that traditional offline consumer opinion surveys (when they use representative samples) are better at predicting sales than clicks, number of website visits or page views, positive or negative social media conversations, and search (although online behavior is good at tracking the reasons behind week-to-week changes in sales.)

With new media, therefore, great expectations are common and missing the goal is understandable: it takes practice and learning. But changing or dismantling the goal posts is a different story.

It’s now common to say that social media is “really” about awareness, not sales. Companies that “get” social media should be “relentless givers [who] connect instead of promote.” In fact, forget “traditional” ROI (that lovely qualifier), focus on consumer use of social media and, instead of calculating the returns in terms of customer response, measure the number of visits with that social media application. How convenient: to be evaluated with a metric without tangible marketplace outcomes. But it’s wrong, a circular argument, and smart companies should not follow this flawed business logic.

The value of any advertising, online or offline, depends on what effects it has on purchases. As Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, and other ad execs have emphasized, “our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise, not ourselves.” Those effects are difficult to measure, because consumers buy (or not) for many different reasons and even good ads in the right media have both carryover and wear-out effects that vary over the product life cycle and an ad campaign. But to justify an investment by activity and not outcomes is a tautology — we advertise because we advertise — not a meaningful business argument.

Even an activity measure, moreover, assumes the consumer can see the ad. Did you know that a display ad is deemed “viewable” if at least half of each ad is visible on your computer or smart phone for a minimum of one second? Data released in 2014 by comScore indicated that more than half of online display ads appear on parts of a web page that are not viewable. In response, the Interactive Advertising Bureau noted that for various reasons 100% viewability is “not yet possible,” but the industry should aim for 70%. In other words, hope that “only” 30% of your intended ads are not seen by anyone for at least a second!

Further, what we now know about shopping and social media activity says that online and offline behavior interact. They’re complements, not substitutes, and you ignore these interactions at your peril. The vast majority of communications on social media sites are between friends who are within 10 miles of each other. The same is true about the available data on buying behavior. As Wharton professor David Bell documents, the way people use the internet is largely shaped by where they live, the presence of stores nearby, their neighbors, and local sales taxes.

For years now, we have heard big talk about the big data behind big investments in social media. Let’s see who is behind the curtain. It’s time to expect more from social media and prove it. The Association of Advertising Agencies has refused to endorse the 70% goal and wants 100% viewability, which means if an advertiser buys 1 million impressions from a site, that site must display that ad as many times as it takes to ensure a million viewable impressions. In 2014, The Economist guaranteed those who buy space on its apps and website that readers will spend a certain amount of time there. For instance, it will guarantee that a site containing an ad appearing for three weeks will receive X hours of readers’ attention — documenting, not assuming, engagement with the medium.

Other companies try to trace the links (or not) between online platforms and sales outcomes. They buy point-of-sale data from retailers and have systems that purport to match Facebook or Twitter IDs, for example, with a given campaign and subsequent retail sales for a product. The validity of these approaches is still to be determined. And the FTC has raised concerns about privacy issues and disclosure practices, and has urged Congress to pass legislation to give consumers the right to opt out. But shining light on what does and doesn’t happen here will be a good thing.

Business success requires linking customer-acquisition efforts with a coherent strategy. You can’t do that if you are not clear about the differences between hype and reality when it comes to buying and selling. And we should care about this distinction for reasons that go far beyond making even more ads more viewable. Companies’ abilities to make better use of their resources are important for society, not only shareholders. It spurs productivity, and productivity — not just tweets and selfies — is what spurs growth.

Source: Harvard Business Review / Written By: Frank Cespedes

 

As organizations flatten out, employees don't have to corner senior management in an elevator to get their thoughts heard. They could just schedule a meeting, or even walk up to a leader's office or desk. So is there even a need to have an elevator pitch at the ready?

Absolutely. Although accessibility to managers has increased, the amount of time those managers have at their disposal has decreased. And that means the clearer, crisper, and more concise you can make your idea, the more likely it is that your senior-level listener will tune in.

Salespeople trying to connect with C-level prospects should have a variety of pitches at their disposal, but each should adhere to the principles of the classic elevator pitch. This infographic from Bplans explains each component of an elevator pitch to ensure you hit the highs and provide all the necessary information. Just remember that brevity is a virtue -- according to the graphic, an ideal elevator pitch should clock in at a minute or less.

A Perfect Elevator Pitch

Source: Hubspot / Written By: Emma Snider

 

Improving Company Culture

Company culture is something that is very close to me. I refer to myself as an HR-driven CEO, and I mean it. If someone at VaynerMedia is unhappy, it is entirely my fault. Period.

Because of that, I spend a good amount of time making sure my ideas on company culture are loud and clear. Not all companies have great culture, and it can be difficult to change when it’s been one way for so long. But it is possible to improve and shift until those changes are permanent.

The first step is something tactical, something you can execute on right away. I don’t care where you work, you probably have had a meeting that you found to be totally useless, right? This piece of advice is practical as hell, and it’s this: Cut all meetings in half. Seriously. Meetings can be some of the least productive places in an office, and when people feel like their time is being wasted, they get upset, and feel undervalued. Cut meetings in half. I promise everything will still get done, you’ll just eliminate the banter and tangents that usually happen.

The second step I would advise you to take: Hang around. Yes, seriously. Find ways to shift your busy schedule so you can be in the office more. Spend as much time with your employees as you can, and not just leadership. Everyone. Let them learn by being around you. Emulate the culture you wish to have and let people soak it in. Learning by osmosis can be tremendously successful in this regard.

When you’re doing that, there is one thing you need to do that might not be the first thing on your mind, and that is to listen. The best way to get things done is to be a great listener. No one ever talked their way through a problem. And this is step three. Straight up. Not only do you need to be a great listener, but you need promote that standard within the company. Hire for this skill and you will not be sorry, especially when looking for project managers. Someone who can listen without interrupting and asks a lot of questions is a good listener.

And what about hiring? That absolutely plays into company culture, of course. Let those doing the hiring learn by osmosis, like I talked about above. If you’re someone who has a hard time choosing between candidates, my answer is this: Hire like you mean it. Don’t hesitate with decisions; just make a damn call. At some point, you have to just do it. And if you're going "No Gary, seriously they're both great" ... maybe you need to hire both of them. Figure it out.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the last piece of advice is going to be, right? What is the ending thought I am going to leave you all with? Well, you might be saying right about now “Gary, this is all great, but what if my company culture is just seriously messed up?” I hear that. I get it. Sometimes things are just so bad you aren’t sure how they got there. And to that, here is my final, last ditch effort piece of advice: Nix the leadership. Everything stems from the top. They are the ones who set the tone in meetings. They also control the overall sentiment individual teams have, since employees look to leadership as a guide. If the system is broken, fix it by refreshing your team.

  • And that’s it. That is what you do.
  • Cut meetings in half.
  • Hang around.
  • Hire listeners.
  • Hire like you mean it.
  • Nix the leadership.

Now I want to see you execute on these steps. If you need to change company culture, take action. Now. Nothing will happen till you actually make the moves. It’s all about execution. You could read 10 more articles like this, but who cares. In the end, you have to go for it. Who knows; your company future could be in the balance here. Culture should be your priority, and that starts now.

Source: HubSpot Blog / Written By: Gary Vaynerchuk

 

There were hundreds of business books published last year. With so many books to choose from, it's nearly impossible to figure out which ones you should actually read.

We decided to simplify things for you. Similar to the way Nate Silver aggregates political polling data, BookBub aggregated 23 different "Best Books of 2014" lists -- from The New York Times to The Financial Times and more. After aggregating all the lists, we ranked the most frequently listed books, and compiled those into one big list.

The top business-related results are in the infographic below. Check it out below to learn which books made the cut.

(Note that these are just the business books. If you’re looking for the overall list, including fiction and other genres, head over to the BookBub Blog.)

2014 Best Business Books Infographic

Source: Hubspot / Written By: RIck Burnes

 

Creative Strategy

Many marketing benchmarks are easy to assess: sales, web traffic, SEO, social engagement and conversion rates. These results are tracked with hard data and as a result success is measurable. If one tactic isn't working, it's easy to try another.

But not so fast. Results are the final outcome of a marketing initiative - but where do these results originate? Let's trace back the steps. Before every successful conversion there is a strategy in place. Before every strategy is a creative idea. And all good creative ideas are fueled by extensive research and insights. This is the purpose of Creative Strategy: to set the foundation for business growth in three simple steps: 1) research 2) creativity 3) strategic planning.

Creative Strategy is essential to any marketing plan or new website, and good Creative Strategy should address the following five foundations that impact business growth:

1) Identify needs / determine goals
The only way to get a clearly defined answer is to ask clearly defined questions. A well thought out Creative Strategy will uncover the most pertinent business/brand needs to address and leverage consumer/industry insights to illustrate a custom solution.

2) Figure out a roadmap
Solutions are a great starting point - but how do we get there? It's the job of a Creative Strategist to determine the most effective way to get from Point A to Point B. What threats stand in the way and how can they be avoided? What mistakes have other businesses made and how can they be learned from? Creating a roadmap that addresses these questions is essential to mobilize your team with a bird's eye view of clear next steps.

3) What's happening?
Simply put, a Creative Strategy must be informed. What's going on in your industry? What is the competition doing? What new technology is on the horizon? What's going on in the digital and social space? A roadmap can't weave through the complexities of the business world without being well informed on what's happening...everywhere.

4) Tell a story
Content drives online success, but what drives content? A brand's point of view - their story - should set the foundation for all communication efforts. What is your brand's unique perspective and position? This will determine your messaging strategy and visual vocabulary. Every audience loves a story. What's yours?

5) Influence behavior
Great - the goals are now determined and the plan is in place. Now, what is the desired action we want the end user (the audience) to take? The more specific the action, the more effective the conversion will be. By establishing direct calls to action and intuitive online pathways for users, the strategy will translate into consumer-focused terms that are both relatable and relevant.

Creative Strategy Flow Chart

In the interest of long-term brand success, it's important to set a stable foundation and not take short cuts. It's not always directly measurable, but a sharp Creative Strategy is evident along every brand touch point, and can set the tone for messaging, design and marketing for years to come.

Source: Blue Fountain Media / Written By: James McCrae

 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:20

Women in Architecture [Infographic]

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According to The Architect's Journal's first Women in Architecture Survey the percentage of women in architecture has fallen over the past few years. When searching for a solution to the current situation, it's best to look back to see how far women have come and better understand where we go from here.

Women in Architecture Infographic

Source: ArchDaily

 

Thursday, 20 November 2014 15:25

Why Print in Colour

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Why Print In Colour

Color, it can attract, influence, and even increase retention. Color is a powerful tool for any business. The way you present your company’s ideas with the use of color in printed material is becoming an increasingly important issue. Studies find that using color in your documents is both impactful and influential.  Xerox recently commissioned a study online by Harris Interactive about why your boss should let you print in color.

Let’s look at a few of the findings. In the study it was found that 25% of the respondents print using color to improve retention but in the survey 69% of the respondents stated that they understand new ideas better when they are presented in color. It would seem to make sense that printing in color will help to get your ideas and messages read, understood and remembered. In the study 21% of the respondents print in color to reduce search time but the study found that 76% of the respondents think they can find information faster if it is printed in color. So wouldn’t it make sense to print things in color so that more people can find the information that you are trying to share with them in less time?

Research has shown that using color in business can dramatically improve communication, enhance productivity, and boost sales. So as color becomes increasingly affordable and easier to control there will be an ever increasing use of color in printed material and CAD plotting. Xerox provides many printers and multifunction printers that provide color printing.

Source: Xerox Blogs / Written By: Cheryl Otstott