Category Archives: Marketing & SEO

Putting Your Best Photos Forward

Her pictures were worth a thousand wows. As a photographer, Cricket had captured the earthiness of Africa and the emotions of its people. And with those photos, she hoped to show the compelling needs in that majestic land. How could these photo gems best promote her cause? The way we incorporated them into their website reveals a marketing lesson for us all.

Everyone Matters

Cricket and her husband John founded a non-profit ministry called God’s Economy in 2002. They partner with organizations in Africa and the United States to bring hope and life to the poorest of the poor. Their philosophy is that in God’s Economy, everyone matters. And they want that message to reach potential supporters for their mission.

Montage for African Ministry

When God’s Economy came to us, they had an old website with outdated content. Cricket’s photos were displayed simply as a slider on the homepage.

Old website:

Old Website

They needed a website that demonstrated their value of individual care. And they needed their photos to reach their fullest potential, so they could tell the story of the people they’re helping.

With our artist’s eye and personal touch, we stylized the photos with detailed attention. We enhanced their rich tones for warmth. We added texture for dimension. Then we combined them into a captivating montage. The result is a visually stunning website that showcases God’s Economy’s vision: that the world is a majestic, broken place in need of redemption.

New website:

New Website

The new website helps God’s Economy communicate their mission with heart. It shows that they care about what they do at every level, from their website design to providing education for African girls.

Be Yourself: Your Strengths Will Shine

“Often when people set out to market their company,” says Ken Kinard, “they think they have to appear better than they really are. But we find that the best marketing leverages the strengths you already have. Good marketing starts with tapping into your core beliefs, the reason you are serving the market, and the uniqueness you already possess.”

Whether you come to us with words, images, or ideas, we figure out how to leverage your assets to communicate your mission. We help you put your best work forward, to work the best for you. That’s how creativity means business.

Dual Branding

If your business has ever expanded to the point where you’ve wondered, “Should we create a new brand for this segment of our business?” this article is for you.

We’ve had this kind of conversation with many customers, and there are pros and cons either way. Here are the four factors we consider when making this strategic decision.

Deciding Factors

  1. Nature of the service or product
    How different is this service from the other services you offer? The more different the service is, the more it lends itself to becoming its own brand.
  2. Clientele
    Look at your audience. If your services are catering to different kinds of consumers, then that’s another indication for a different brand.
  3. Customer experience

    Consider what it’s like for your clients to consume this product or service. The more different the experience is, the better it is to separate the brands.
  4. Customer mindset

    How connected are the different services in the mind of the consumer? For example, if a carpet store offers the services of carpet sales and installation, as well as carpet cleaning, how related are sales and installation with cleaning? One of them is a once-and-done kind of deal. The other has to do with scheduled maintenance. This question can be hard to answer. You might need to ask customers about their mindset because you may not be objective about this.

Benefits

After considering these factors, is at least one of them different enough to justify a separate brand? If so, there are several advantages to launching the new identity.

  • Focused marketing

    In general, marketing is more powerful when it’s concise and focused tightly on a niche. It’s easier to resonate with a simple targeted message, and customers can find exactly what they’re looking for without wading through unrelated stuff.
  • Unique branding

    Establishing a new customized brand lets it have more personality, reflecting specifically what it is. No more generic, one-size-fits-all branding.
  • Improved search engine results

    If you’re not trying to cram seemingly unrelated things onto one website, then it’s easier to be successful with search engine marketing. The range of search terms is narrower.

Sub-Brands: Four Stories

Here are examples of Accent Interactive customers that decided to create a new brand or new website for some of their services.

  1. Sea King: Same Surf, Different Turf

    If you want delicious seafood from Sea King Seafood Markets, you can enjoy it from either their take-out market or dine-in restaurant. This was a case of the same service/product and clientele but different customer experience and mindset.

    Sea King was running a successful take-out seafood market and decided to expand with a nice dine-in experience. So they renovated their warehouse into an adjacent restaurant. Sea King offered similar menus (but not exactly the same) in both the market and the restaurant. Their audience was very similar—the same local seafood lovers. The market and restaurant were even located in the same building, but had separate entrances. The customer experience and mindset is where the main difference was. Their customers choose whether they want to carry the food home and eat it there, or to dine in and have someone else do the dishes.The strategic decision for Sea King was to market the restaurant as a new brand, with its own name (Sea King Crab House) and website. This decision leveraged what customers already knew and loved about Sea King; and yet a Sea King customer who just wants the take-out market menu doesn’t have to bother with the restaurant’s daily special.

  2. Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The Power of Audience

    Many large corporations today have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers counseling and assistance to employees dealing with life’s ups and downs. Most of the factors here suggested that one brand could be sufficient. But this case study demonstrates how a difference in clientele can trump everything.

    EAP provides the same counseling services by the same staff to all of their clients. However, they are the designated service provider group for two different organizations. When it came time to decide how to brand themselves, we considered the options. One option was to create just one brand and one website for all the organizations they serve. Another option was to create all new brands and new websites for each organization client.The final solution is a balance between those two extremes. We feature a different logo and URL for each organization to give it a unique identity. But the customer experience is the same for each organization, and there is no need to create new content for each website. So we just mirror the content on both sites. This honors each organization with its own dedicated platform, while saving effort in content development.

  3. RMB Consulting: Get Your Own Bed

    This was a case of a service being embedded into a company when it deserves its own brand. The only question for this one was why we didn’t do it sooner.

    Nigel Jones specializes in embedded technology products. In addition to creating new products, he also uses his expertise to serve as an expert witness. All of those services were branded under RMB Consulting.He realized, however, that the service of testifying before court is quite different from embedded systems design and consulting. The audiences were different too. As an expert witness, he was offering his services to lawyers. As an embedded systems design consultant, he was marketing to technology companies, manufacturing companies, and engineering teams. The customer experiences were also different. His expert witness clients were trying to prove a case in court, whereas his engineering clients were collaborating on creating new technology.

    Considering all the differences, it was an easy decision to create a second brand for Nigel Jones as an expert witness. We created a new website and customized the content to the audience. Each service is featured in its best light, without the distraction of a seemingly unrelated service on the same website.

  4. Lead NYC: Fruit Salad on a Tree

    In this case, a non-profit had already branched out to the point of bearing different fruit. They had one brand for their parent company and another brand for their marketplace services. The parent company was getting rebranded as Lead NYC, and in that process, we reassessed if the marketplace services brand should still be its own entity. Were the kinds of fruit different enough from each other to justify separate brands?

    Lead NYC was known for catering to an audience of non-profit and church leaders through conferences and training programs. The marketplace services, however, was targeting a different audience—business people. The mission was to help them vocationally through coaching and executive round-table groups. Thus, the services and clientele were very different from each other.The customer experience and mindset were also different. Charitable people are used to reaching for their wallets to make an impact through non-profits. However, the marketplace services wanted to focus on serving these career-oriented people, not getting donations from them.

    So it was an easy decision to keep the marketplace services as a separate entity. The next step was to rebrand it, to fit with the new Lead NYC parent brand. To come up with a new name, we asked the founder, Dr. Chip Roper, a series of clarifying questions. This helped him get to the heart of what he wanted to communicate and represent with the marketplace services.

    The result was a new name: VOCA Center, and a tagline “find and follow your calling.” The logo was designed to give the VOCA brand a family resemblance with the parent organization.

    Establishing the new VOCA name and tagline gives Chip the key he needs to instantly open up conversations with prospective clients. The name VOCA is memorable and compelling. “People never forget VOCA,” said Chip. “It’s life-giving. It’s got zing. And it lets me tell people in one sentence that what I do is about them.”

    We also created a video for Voca Center, consulted on their program design, and facilitated team creativity coaching.

    After working with us on branding VOCA, Chip can clearly and enthusiastically explain to people what he does now. As he reflected on the branding experience, he shared advice for other business leaders preparing for that process. “It’s important to have self-awareness about what you’re trying to communicate. Be ready to have your assumptions challenged and to have humility,” he said. “It’s hard to tell the forest from the trees on your own. Accent Interactive figured this out much better than I could have. And at the end of the day, I’m really happy.”

Like Launching an Emerging Adult

We understand that your business is like your child. If your company has grown up, and it’s time for one of its distinct services to become an autonomous person, we’re ready to help it take that step of maturity.

Let Your Voice Be Heard: Podcasting for Marketing


Have you considered creating your own podcast? It’s a fun and effective way to regularly reach an audience with your message.

Podcasts can be audio or video. The advantage of audio is that listeners can be doing something else with their eyes and bodies while enjoying the podcast. The advantage of video podcasts is their ability to illustrate and show what they are talking about.

Benefits

  • Conversational
    The nice thing about a podcast is that you can keep it casual in tone, and that makes it different from other kinds of marketing. You can make it feel like people get to eavesdrop on your coffee conversation. They can learn from your business expertise—and hopefully laugh at your jokes. The dialogue is what makes the message engaging and accessible.“Conversational” describes the tone of our own podcast, WorkWise. Most episodes are a dialogue with Ken and Mike, but sometimes we mix it up with a guest.
  • Fresh content automatically
    Subscribers conveniently get your podcast right on their phones, and they can listen whenever they want. This is your chance to get in front of them on a regular basis. They want to hear from you.
  • Redeem time
    What do people usually do while they’re driving, exercising, or doing chores? Chances are they’re listening to something. With audio content, you’re giving them the opportunity to enrich their time with your message.
  • Cost-effective
    The production cost for a podcast is relatively low because you’re just recording a conversation. All you need are standard tools like computers and microphones, and you can self-publish a podcast. One of our clients produces Leading in the City by just getting a few people in a room with some microphones.
  • Repurpose other content
    There’s no need to create something from scratch for a podcast. For example, you could make a podcast from audio versions of your articles, like we did for Clinical Laboratory Sales Training. Or you can use recordings from events, like STORY Podcast does.
  • Unique style
    A podcast gives you a platform to get your unique voice heard. As with any form of marketing communication, think about what style is best to connect with your audience. Make sure your podcast feels like you.

Uses

  • Marketing
    According to Naresh Vissa, author of Podcastnomics, “Podcasting is now entering into its true golden age of mass adoption.” Many companies, such as our client Maroon PR, use podcasts as part of their marketing strategy. Similar to blogging, podcasting is another way to regularly create fresh, value-added content. You can make it available on your website and/or other platforms like iTunes to reach more people.
  • Later this year, Apple’s iTunes will be making it easier to track analytics for your podcast, so you can tell how many people are listening and how much of each episode they played.
  • Education
    Some companies are using podcasts primarily for internal purposes, to educate their own team. It can be hard to schedule time for the experts in the company to train other staff. But if you record a series of their presentations or interviews, then you can use it to educate anyone at any time. For example, our client Inolex is creating an internally published podcast to educate their sales team on their technologies and sales strategies.

Speak Up

If you’re interested in starting a podcast, get in touch with us. We have the professional equipment and experience, and we can help you craft a podcast that projects your unique style.

Facebook: Personal Connections for Your Business

Business is all about connecting well with the people you serve. While nothing can truly replace those face-to-face chats, Facebook can help keep you top of mind with clients and prospects.

Since you need a personal account before setting up a business page, it emphasizes the Facebook way: it’s all about individuals. Here are some tips to promote your company and connect with some of the 1.2 billion people who use Facebook every day.

The Anatomy of a Good Business Page

  • Profile Photo
    Your company logo works well here. It’s recognizable and it’s the thumbnail image that is displayed with all your updates.
  • Cover Photo
    This is one of the first things people will see on your business page, so make sure it hooks them in. Feature an engaging image that sends a message, and make sure it’s optimized for the right dimensions. We can help you polish your business page profile and design a snazzy cover photo. If we’ve already done design work for you, we can even repurpose it for Facebook, like we did for this managed IT services company:
  • Call to Action
    Take advantage of Facebook’s call-to-action button. Choose an option that will drive people to do something important for your business. For example, with one click, people can easily contact you, sign up for something, or even make a donation.
  • Posts
    To be effective on Facebook, you need to engage with your network on a regular basis. This is how you keep the marketing conversation going. Think of posts as tidbits that highlight your company’s services and results. Show what you do through photos and videos. And did you know you can pin your posts to feature the most successful ones? We’ll work with you to create compelling images that pique interest. Leave it up to us to schedule posts so you don’t have to worry about it. Here’s an example of what we’ve created for a power wash company:
  • Ads
    Investing a bit of marketing budget into Facebook ads will increase your reach. You can pay to boost a post or create an ad that targets an audience by criteria, including:

      • Location such as country, state, city, and zip code.
      • Demographics such as age, gender, language, education, work, ethnic affinity, and more.
      • Interests based on their hobbies and pages they like on Facebook.
      • Behaviors such as what they purchase or where they travel.


    Are you curious about paid ads on Facebook but aren’t sure how to go about doing it? We can help you figure out the best strategy for your budget.

If you are looking to get more business using social media, especially if you market directly to consumers, ask us to help you connect your business using Facebook.

LinkedIn on mobile device

LinkedIn: Your Digital Business Card

If you’re on LinkedIn, you’ve probably noticed their new look. In January 2017 LinkedIn released a desktop redesign, the largest overhaul since their inception. They wanted to make it easier for you to access relevant conversations, content, and opportunities, whether from a mobile app or desktop.

It’s a great time to revisit your LinkedIn profile. Like it or not, LinkedIn has become like your digital business card. And who wants to give out a sloppy business card—to 450 million people?

What Not to Do

Here are some common mistakes we see in LinkedIn profiles:

  • Unprofessional profile photo

    Save the selfies for your personal life. When it comes to business, make sure you have a professional image of yourself. It can get you up to 9x more connection requests.
  • No background image

    Don’t settle for the standard nondescript blue background. If you want to stand out from the crowd, then visually showcase your business in the header.
  • Default headline

    This is like your personal tagline. Have something more creative than just your job title and company name.
  • Uninteresting summary

    A professional bio is your chance to shine. Tell your story in a way that sticks.

Take It Further

Once you have a profile set up, are you leveraging the power of LinkedIn? Here are some other actions to consider that will promote your company.

  • Keep connecting with more people to expand your network.
  • Create a company page. This will highlight your business more than your profile can.
  • Post content that shows your expertise in the field. This will engage people on a deeper level. 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.

We Can Help

We’ll help you create a digital business card you’ll be proud of.

  • Are you confused by all of LinkedIn’s different sections? 

    We’ll help you figure out what information goes where.
  • Do you want to improve your profile, but don’t have the time to do it?
    Let our creative team craft it for you.
  • Do you need a professional photo?

    Come on over to our studio, or we’ll come to you for a photo shoot.
  • Do you want to create a company page or content to post?

    Consult with us, and we’ll strategize together.

Partner with us to develop a LinkedIn presence that will set you apart. Show the world that you want their business.

Where Comics Means Business

MNS Group, an IT service provider, wanted to help computer users create stronger, more memorable passwords. And they wanted to communicate in a fresh, creative way. Inspired by a comic they saw, they decided to create their own version. We helped them develop this bold graphic with a new style.

comic-with-logo_v2

Creating the Comic Look

One challenge was to create a 3D appearance in a 2D plane. Our multimedia artist Chris explained how he achieved this effect. “I used different weights of stroke. The greater the variance in stroke weights, the greater the perceived depth.”

Another challenge was matching the character’s facial expression with his thoughts. “I wanted you to see what the guy was thinking even without the thought bubble,” said Chris. He drew and tweaked the character’s face to capture just the right emotion.

Super Effects

People are hopefully more likely to change their password after reading the comic, as compared to just reading an article. The comic is a powerful medium because of these advantages:

  • Clearly depicts contrast
    At a glimpse you can compare common practice with better practice.
  • Memorable
    The strong message sticks with you.
  • Information dense
    The graphic concisely shows a lot of information in a small amount of space.
  • It is the message
    It’s a visual to help people visualize their passwords.
  • Entertaining
    It’s appealing because it’s fun and interesting.
  • Shareable
    It stands alone as a shareable resource for social media.

Illustrate the Message

Think about your own business. What important marketing messages could you communicate in a special way? Creating something iconic that is shareable, educational, and entertaining will help your message really stand out.

If you are trying to make a bigger impact with your marketing, let’s connect. We can show you how creativity means business.

How Secure is Your Website?

It used to be that only e-commerce websites were concerned about security. Not anymore. Now there is a push—especially from Google—for everyone to get SSL certificates.

No More Excuses

  1. “It’s too expensive.”
    The cost of an SSL has come down in the last few years. We’ve been installing certificates in under 4 hours for most websites.
  2. “It will slow down the browsing experience for users.”
    Due to recent improvements, speed is no longer an issue. This is good news for web publishers who care about security.

Security for Everyone

All companies should install SSL certificates on their websites. Here’s why:

  1. Improves Google search engine ranking
    Google now considers security a factor in your search engine ranking. If you rank the same as other websites, then security level is going to be the deciding factor.
  2. Let’s people know your website is secure
    Here’s how they can tell:

    • HTTP becomes HTTPS
    • Green padlock icon indicates secure connection between the browser and host website
      Secure website connection
  3. Shows that you care about your users
    If prospective or current clients visit your website, they’ll see that you want to protect them and have their best interests in mind.
  4. Demonstrates you have a modern approach to technology
    Eventually, adding security to websites will be the new default. By adding security to your website now, you’ll stay up-to-date on technology developments.

We’re Your Help Center

How do you know which level of security to choose? Which SSL certificate is best for your website and situation? If the world of encryption and website security seems complicated and confusing, we’re here to advise. Contact us, and we’ll take care of the technical installation process for you. Then you—and your website—can rest secure.

Photography Website with Laser Focus: a single product line

Lenox Laser is all about small holes. They specialize in microdrilling holes with lasers for any kind of material. Their pioneering work has applications in various industries, such as aerospace, medical, pharmaceutical…and photography.

Just for Them

Lenox Laser apertures are perfect for the re-emerging art of pinhole photography. But with all the other products and services in their catalog, Lenox Laser wanted a way to make their camera caps distinct. So they created a product line for pinhole photography called Daystar Laser.

Our job was to create a website just for Daystar Laser products. Creating a website that clearly focused on just one aspect of the Lenox Laser business proved advantageous in several ways.

If your business has multiple aspects to it, how could you benefit from creating a website focused on just one part?
  1. Targeting a distinct audience with specific, relevant content
    Why direct a NASA scientist and an aspiring pinhole photographer to the same place? Instead of trying to create a website that would cater to all of Lenox Laser’s prospective clients, we focused on photographers with the Daystar Laser website. And to be even more precise—on pinhole photographers. These parameters gave us a clear direction for the website content. For example, we included the history of pinhole photography and showcased a gallery of artistic photos for inspiration. We wanted to focus on not just the products themselves, but on showing a niche audience how they were used.

    Pinhole Photography Primer

  2. Cohesive design
    Focusing on photographers enabled us to design the website to attract them in particular. Camera equipment is highlighted on the home page slide. Hints of a photography studio fade into the background. Examples of pinhole images pique creative interest.

    Daystar Laser homepage

  3. Optimizing the check-out process
    The original Daystar Laser website didn’t have an option to purchase products online.  Catering to the modern photographer, we made the new website mobile responsive and created a secure online shopping cart. This conveniently gives customers an “express” online check-out. They don’t need to wade through other Lenox Laser products to get to what they want.

Streamlined Results

If creating a website for your entire, multi-faceted business seems overwhelming, then limiting the website’s scope can make it more manageable and effective. We’ll help you develop a marketing strategy so the website content and design appeal to your target market. That’s creativity that means business.

David Shulman PT's workshop

Making Beautiful Music

David Shulman is a professional musician turned physical therapist. And his training in both worlds led him to a revelation: “Practice, practice, practice” may not—as the old saying goes—be the sure-fire route to Carnegie Hall.

Pain without Gain

In fact, 70 percent of professional musicians will be forced to stop playing—sometimes permanently—due to injury caused by repetitive overuse. For years, Shulman worked one-on-one with musicians, treating their injuries and showing them how to avoid future injuries without sacrificing proficiency. As the demand for his specialized knowledge grew, Shulman created an interactive workshop that combined treatment with education. Participants raved: “You need to get this workshop to more people. You are the music profession’s best-kept secret.”

At a Loss for Words

But Shulman was a physical therapist, not a marketer. He didn’t have time to talk up his workshop. And he wasn’t sure how else to get the word out.

David Shulman PT's workshop

Hands-on marketing for the Injury Prevention workshop

Singing Their Song

We created a flyer to do the talking for him. In an age of electronic communication, a printed flyer was a refreshingly personal way to reach the music world’s gatekeepers at symphonies, music schools, jazz ensembles, and beyond. 

The flyer features a photo-illustration of a violinist’s hand with pain points highlighted as in a clinical diagram. Classical music meets high-tech medicine. The message stresses the workshop’s uniqueness—prevention, hands-on demonstrations, and participants’ enthusiasm.

Creating in Tune

When clients, designers, and writers function as an ensemble, they make beautiful music together, with a message that’s in tune with the intended audience.

wine bottle in bag

Nobody Cares About Your Brand

Some marketing consultants want you to obsess about your brand. I think that’s a mistake.

What a Brand Can Do

A brand is fundamentally what people think of your business—your reputation, your promise. A brand serves a purpose—it’s a mental image of who your company is, what makes you different, what value you offer. It’s meaningful to customers because it helps them make decisions about when to hire you for one of the many jobs to be done (video). But customers care more about getting their job done than they care about your brand.

What a Brand Cannot Do

The problem with spending time and energy on your brand/reputation is that you don’t have direct control over it. Your reputation is the sum of what you deliver—what you do, what you make, how you interact with your customers.

How to Succeed in Business

Instead of focusing on your brand, focus on delighting customers. Find out what job they hire your product or service for and get busy improving that. Make them so happy they want to talk about you. And create good marketing materials that help them do that.

Let your customers handle your brand.

And get back to work.