St. Luke’s of the Mountains: stylish wordpress site on a shoestring budget.

It’s true. With awesome template options available like those offered by Studiopress, it’s really quite simple to offer an organization like St. Lukes, an elegantly presented website with a ton of very useful functionality. Clearly, the day has come when internet design is more about aesthetic challenges than those that are technical in nature.

St. Lukes, a small California Episcopal Church, no has a great website they can use to easily communicate with members, connect with Facebook and Twitter, and update with ease. The site can grow as the community does, and if they get tired of its look, well they can hire us, or anyone for that matter, to redesign it.

Enter Red Lambda: security and operational intelligence software.

operational security company

Very soon, we will likely be doing some serious brand integration for Red Lambda, who is touted as the foremost provider of security and operational intelligence software for the world’s largest network infrastructures. I think you can expect great things from this up and coming company as security and network operations teams struggle to analyze everything, everywhere, every moment hoping they can quickly detect issues or anomalies.

Red Lambda provides some timely solutions, not only by helping detecting operational threats, but also offering capabilities to reveal opportunities to increase operational efficiency and unlock enormous business potential. Watch the video below to learn more.

 

Spotlight, a bold new sub-brand from our friends at Unimax.

Our longtime client, telecom software provider, Unimax is doing some smart new things in this rapidly changing and uncertain marketplace. They’ve created a new product based on the specific needs of a subset of their customer base, and have created a delicious new interface designed to give the user the tools they need to manage daily tasks. What you see below is our design concepts for a microsite we’ll develop in WordPress in the near future. Can’t wait to get started on that.

 

 

 

Why Google adwords and landing pages are essentially Direct Mail 2011.

If you’re wondering how to get started with an effective Google Adwords campaign, you need to take a look back in history.

The 1990’s was the golden age of database marketing — direct mail, catalogs, Val-Paks, and dozens of other marketing vehicles designed to deliver an offer to a targeted list in hopes of snagging a new customer. It was an era was all about the direct mail package — the offer, the message, the teaser, the buck slip. Copy was king. The mantra was test, test, test until you optimized the elements that would deliver ROI.

Copy is still king. The messages, offers, and teasers you used to see on direct mail envelopes are still alive and well. The same proven fundamentals of outbound database marketing are now used primarily in Google adwords campaigns and custom landing pages.

When John Q Consumer is searching for polo shirts, pool supplies, or the cheapest tree trimmer, he turns to Google. In the old days, he might have turned to the yellow pages or had a coupon he received in the mail. Now when searching google, it’s your 95 characters of copy in your ad that persuades a prospect to click through to your custom landing page whose job is to close the deal.

 

Hook, persuade, close. Same fundamentals, new medium.

Briefly, here are the basic similarities between direct mail and Google adwords campaigns, and how to make them work for you:

1. Hook with Google ad copy (the envelope teaser) — Envelope teasers like ‘wake up and see the world’ are akin to your Google ad copy, because those few words will determine whether the offer resonates with your prospect enough for them to take the next step, open the envelope. With Google, your teaser, or ad copy has to hit a little bit harder. So, for the same product, your offer with Google may be a little more straightforward such as ‘eliminate dependence on glasses or contacts.’ With Google ads, you only have text, no pictures, so simpler is better.

 

envelope-teaser-google-adwords

The direct mail envelope teaser.

google ad vs direct mail teaser

The Google Ad Copy.

 

2. Persuade with your Landing Page (the direct mail letter) — Once a prospect clicks your ad, they have essentially opened your envelope, and are considering your offer. In the 80s and 90s, marketers tested direct mail letter formats in much the same way search engine marketers test landing pages. The layout, bullet points, copy, headlines, captions and graphic elements are mixed and matched until the right combination steers prospects to take action. Marketers use arrows, bursts and testimonials much the same way on landing pages as direct mail letters. The goal is always to use enough elements with enough persuasive copy to get the prospect to take the next step.

 

custom landing page design

Example of landing page coming from PPC ad.

direct mail letter

The direct mail letter, full of promises.

 

3. Close with you Conversion Form (the BRC) — In the old days, you had three ways to get a prospect to convert — the business reply card (BRC), the 800 phone number, or god forbid, the fax form. Today, it’s still the same mentality. We walk the fine between asking the prospect to give just enough info so we don’t turn them off, but just enough so we know they’re a qualified prospect.

the business reply card

The BRC - business reply card

 

 

 

 

 

Please, never over-think what you think people think.

overthinking-internet-marketing

It’s a common phenomenon among marketing folks: over-thinking, over-analyzing details based on personal preferences.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘I don’t read junk mail’ or ‘I never go to sites like that’ or ‘I would never click on that.’ Well, the reality of whether you don’t read junk mail, or what your particular clicking preferences happen to be, are largely irrelevant when it comes to making strategic marketing choices. Successful strategies are built on facts, metrics and reliable consumer behavior data, not your personal preferences. Over-thinking strategic details based on how we feel consumers will respond can potentially waste thousands in ad spending, and cause major campaigns to crash and burn.

Welcome to the age of reason, and ROI.

Because the majority of advertising and marketing is conducted on the internet these days, pretty much all marketing is measurable, or can be tracked — marketing dollars spent to revenue generated. Every marketing initiative — email marketing, pay-per-click ads, social media, et al — can be tracked. If the media choice doesn’t perform, it gets the axe. Pure and simple.  So why would anyone make strategic decisions based on personal preferences?

Any strategic media choice, online or other, can and should evaluated on it’s potential merit. The media market has never offered more choices, and has never been more competitive. Yet some marketing folks commonly shy away from solid strategies based on numbers offering promising results and ROI because they ‘would never click on something like that.’

Newsflash: your personal preferences are irrelevant. Put more of your trust in numbers, and less on your gut.

 

 

Branding 101: three distinct types of taglines, and when to use them in your brand’s lifecycle.

best slogan or tagline

I’m was recently working with DemandQuest Marketing Institute on a few minor branding and marketing issues, when the subject of taglines came up.  Their website tagline read DemandQuest – Achieve Marketing Clarity. That sounded nice, but was it the right approach for a startup company specializing in marketing training? It dawned on me when I picked up their promotional pen they gave me at one of their seminars. It read DemandQuest – Marketing Institute. Not surprisingly, whoever made the decision to use that tagline had the correct instincts. Because, in the realm of branding and using taglines, there are three very distinct types, all used for different purposes at different phases of of the brand lifecycle:

  1. The Descriptor — In DemandQuest’s case, or any start-up unknown in the marketplace, this is the safest approach. Your tagline should simple describe who you are and what we do, in simple, straightforward terms. We’re not trying to get cute in any way: DemandQuest Marketing Institute. That’s pretty clear to anyone on any first impression, stating precisely who we are and what we do. This approach is perfect for the new business with a new brand when clarity is absolutely critical, and ambiguity is dangerous. If you want your tagline to work a little harder, try the next approach.
  2. The Selling Proposition — We’ve all seen these, the mini-slogan that states your value proposition in 3-5 words. For example, ‘Johnson Printing – top quality, lower prices.’ Personally I hate these, because they make you look needy, unless of course you’ve really got a great selling proposition, and you can pare it down to 3-5 words, like ‘the quicker picker upper’ or ‘good to the last drop’ or something catchy. Unfortunately, most start-ups don’t have the dough to pay a big-time writer  to create something like that. It’s not to say that a straightforward selling proposition or brand promise won’t work. Just keep it simple. Not sure what DemandQuest would use in this scenario, but ‘Achieve Marketing Clarity’ was not a bad attempt, it just muddied the message. It was more like the next approach.
  3. Aspirational — Finally, if your brand is all grown up, and well established in the marketplace, you may want to consider this approach. It speaks more to your philosophy, than your value proposition. Obviously, ‘Just do it’ is one of the all time greatest, and is perhaps best example of taking a brand to the next level where it’s not about the product anymore. This approach is more about connecting on a human level about a value, or just saying ‘hey, we’re just like you.

 

DemandQuest: the internet marketing institute whose time has come.

In the coming years, business owners and marketing people will need to know how to effectively market on the internet to compete. That’s a given. Because, outside of broadcast and print, internet marketing will comprise the lion’s share of all marketing activity, if not all. For small businesses, it will be the only low cost tool available. The cruel irony, however, many of the business professionals who will depend on this for success, will be incapable of using the tools.

That’s where DemandQuest comes in. After years of interaction with owners and marketers at businesses of all sizes – from independent business people to Fortune 500 companies – DemandQuest addresses an undeniable need running through every organization at some level: to create on-going new business revenue using the most appropriate, cost-effective tools available. Offering courses in planning and other educational resources, DemandQuest is a hands-on learning center designed to increase your marketing skill, and bring clarity, inspiration and enthusiasm to your efforts.

Here’s why the concept is a sustainable business model:

Marketing and small business people fall into two groups – the tech and internet savvy ‘haves’ and the meek, technology intimidated ‘have nots.’ Unfortunately the chasm between these groups will grow ever wider, as the choices of new tools becomes greater, and the skills to use them even more daunting to some. Business owners and marketing people will need unbiased direction and hands-on help to navigate the ever changing sea of new tools, and companies like DemandQuest will be valuable resources.

 

Borrowing from Banksy: hope he doesn’t mind but it makes a really makes a nice header for email template.

If you haven’t heard of the graffiti artist Banksy, you should really check out his work. A mystery man going only by the alias ‘Banksy,’ this cat is one awesome environmental artist who finds a unique way to intelligently mix images into urban landscapes, and provide needed editorial comment on culture and society at large. We used one of his images in our new newsletter banner and attempted to do to him what he does everywhere. If you look at his work in the video below, perhaps you’ll see what we mean.

Simple, yet awesome ecommerce platform: BigCommerce is a no-brainer.

If you’re looking for a simple, yet sophisticated ecommerce store, look no further than BigCommerce. It’s easy to set-up (days not weeks), even easier to manage, and their live phone support is truly unbelievable, and essential to any tech-squeamish ecommerce first-timer.

Setting up two different stores (Happytown Trading and MyNurish.com) was a snap, although the Nurish store was a little trickier because we needed to maintain main wordpress site for marketing and SEO purposes. But skinning the store to look like the main site was not too difficult.

For more info, go to BigCommerce for all the details.

 

BEPA takes WordPress and runs with it.

Business and Estate Planning Analytics (BEPA) is the brainchild of Attorney William White, whose new firm counsels business owners, families and individuals on how to reduce expense, risk and complexity through proactive planning. As Bill puts it, “the cost of doing nothing far outweighs the price of planning ahead.”

Zosel&Co had the pleasure to work with Bill, thanks to a nice referral from lawyer pal and fellow parochial school chum T.J. Conley, one of our first WordPress clients. We designed the branded website using the Genesis Framework which allows to create lots of nice functionality through widgets that allow you to place content in key spots all over the site, pretty much wherever you want.