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Hello, Summerville! As chilly weather descends upon the Lowcountry, we sure do hope you’re keeping warm! The upcoming holidays present copious branding and marketing opportunities and, as always, Creative Consulting is here to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity available. We’re happy to have you here on the Creative Consulting blog, where you’ll find the most relevant information about marketing your small business in the digital sphere. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting covers everything you could possibly need to know to take your business to the next level.
Recently, we took a brief look into the future (as much as we were able) to see what’s coming next in terms of marketing trends. While 2021 has seen significant changes to how marketers strategize and connect to consumers, 2022 is shaping up to be full of even more changes, with the rise of hybrid events, the micronization of influencer marketing, and the disappearance of 3rd party cookies. To see how next year’s marketing trends will affect you and how you can plan ahead, definitely check out our last article. While trends may come and go, the basics of branding remain the same. Do you know how to tell a compelling story? Storytelling is the essential component to reaching your audience. Only, how do narrative elements such as character, dialogue, and theme translate over into branding? How do you capture your audience's attention right off the bat? Our article, ‘Using Storytelling to Enhance Brand Message,’ covers everything you need to know about developing a well-told brand narrative. We’re constantly sharing relevant, deeply researched articles about branding and marketing. That’s why we hope you’ll give our last few articles a read!
Today, we’re discussing the concept of “free PR.” Nothing’s free, you might be thinking, and you’d be right. However, earned media is significantly cheaper than paid media. What is earned media? We’ll discuss how this type of marketing works, it’s effect on consumers, as well as how you can earn yourself some “free promotion.” If you’re interested in learning more, read on!
The difference between paid and earned media?
Paid media is just what you’d think based on the name. It consists of marketing efforts which are paid for by a brand or company. Examples of paid media include pay-per-click advertisements (such as Google Ads), social media advertisements (such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn ads), print advertisements (such as magazine and newspaper ads), billboards and television commercials. Simply put, paid media relies on the exposure of a platform and the exchange of currency for the utilization of such exposure.
On the other hand, earned media does not rely on the exchange of currency. Earned media relies on the organic distribution of information about a company by other social entities. For example, if a newspaper decided to write an article about your business, this would be considered earned media. If you paid for a newspaper to write about your business, this would be considered earned media. Earned media does not include advertisements, influencer campaigns, or any other marketing ploy which relies upon paid endorsement. Since no money is exchanged, there’s a perception this type of exposure is “earned,” as in a company has outperformed expectations to garner the esteem of their industry and consumer base. This can, however, also work the other way around, as in a company has underperformed enough to warrant disdain from their industry and consumer base.
Every time a customer tweets about their amazing brunch at a new restaurant downtown, writes a review on Yelp, or recommends a service or product to their friend, this is earned media. Television spots, paid articles, and blogs written and published by the company in question are not earned media. In addition to paid and earned media, there’s also owned media, which we can discuss in a later article. In order to make the distinction between earned media and it’s counterparts, here are a few more real world examples!
While Oreo, “America’s Favorite Cookie” paid millions for a TV spot during Super Bowl XLVII, their mid-game tweet made a much larger splash. When lights went out due to a power outage, the company acted quickly to publish a tweet which read: “You can still dunk in the dark.” This tweet went viral. After being retweeted by thousands, major news outlets such as HuffPost and Wired published articles (the important part: of their own volition) declaring Oreo was the true winner of the Super Bowl.
You can never guess what the internet will make viral, but you can surely capitalize on sudden public interest. That’s exactly what Ocean Spray did when a video of Nathan Apodaca drinking their cranberry juice while skateboarding and listening to ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac went uber-viral. They gifted Apodaca a brand-new truck, which was covered by The New York Times, and created their own video inspired from Apodaca, which was covered by The Boston Globe.
In 2020, in honor of Halloween, Home Depot fabricated a huge, anatomically correct, 12-foot skeleton. This skeleton went for $300 and quickly sold out as a result of going viral. Reductress published a satirical article called, “How to Stay Humble Even Though You Own the 12-Foot Home Depot Skeleton.” Home Depot was quoted in an Insider article about the unexpected surge in popularity as saying, this was “the strongest [Halloween] we’ve ever had.”
Is earned media effective?
As evidenced by the examples mentioned above, earned media can be incredibly effective. While virality can play a large role in the success of earned media, virality isn’t an essential component of earned media. Earned media, by nature, is organic. It’s compelled by a genuine love, or hate, of a business, brand, product, or service. Human beings, by nature, are influenced by social customs. Most humans value the opinions of others and will base their personal opinions on the opinions of those they love and trust. For this reason, influencer marketing is the strongest form of marketing available. Likewise, for this reason, earned media holds greater weight than paid media.
According to research done by HubSpot, as many as 57% of U.S. citizens trust the opinions of their friends and family about new products more than any other information source. At least one-third of buyers use Google searches to determine their opinions about new products. When making the decision to buy, or not to buy, consumers rely on public opinion, not ads, to make their final choice. Earned media, which relies on a business’s name being shared, mentioned, reviewed, and reposted, also cultivates a greater online presence for a brand. Highly sought-after elements of industry dominance, such as credibility and authority, can be most easily built by earned media.
Now that you’re aware how effective earned media can be, the next step is to understand how to cultivate earned media.
How can I “earn” earned media?
Earned media can be a bit tricky, since it’s not as straightforward as paid media. One type of earned media can be derivative of owned media. For example, blog posts published on your business’s website provide opportunities for driving organic traffic, obtaining reshares, and establishing credibility. Higher levels of engagement with high-quality content equate to higher rates of earned media. Having a content strategy which utilizes earned media and a marketing team which understands how to take advantage of earned media is essential. Think about the examples of earned media mentioned previously. All of those companies took advantage of an existing opportunity and doubled-down on their exposure by thinking quickly and responding in kind.
Are there any drawbacks to earned media?
Absolutely. Unlike paid media, you cannot ensure earned media will always be positive. For example, while Spirit Airlines garners plenty of earned media in the form of videos and mentions, many of these instances are commenting on the unreliability or lack of safety consumers associate with the brand. “All publicity is good publicity,” right? Not exactly. To ensure earned media is beneficial, you’ll want to be particular about which opportunities your brand responds to and ensure your social presence is spotless.
We hope after this mini-lesson you’ll take advantage of earned media. While paid media is an important aspect of any marketing strategy, earned media is a potent addition to any marketing arsenal. For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered. Tune back in for our future articles! We’ll discuss co-branding, affinity, and cause marketing. You won’t want to miss it! Feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand. Until next time, thank you for reading!
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Hello, Summerville! Happy Fall! We hope you’re enjoying the fall weather and taking advantage of the beauty autumn has brought to the Lowcountry. We’re happy to have you here on the Creative Consulting blog where you’ll find the most relevant information about marketing your small business in the digital sphere. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting covers everything you could possibly need to know to take your business to the next level.
Our most recent articles about utilizing QR codes for advertising and using storytelling to enhance brand messaging are currently available on our site. QR codes can seem tricky or highly technical, which is why we broke down what they are and how to use them in a simple way. As well, we looked into the psychological impact of encapsulating a brand’s message in a story. Suffice it to say, people are much more likely to be interested in your business when you frame your product or service within a compelling narrative. If you’re interested in either marketing strategy, we recommend giving those articles a quick read!
Today, our focus is on the future. The past year has been unpredictable and, at times, quite frightening. The pandemic has altered our society in ways which will continue to unveil themselves in coming years, but so far we’ve seen a massive shift towards digital marketing (as in-person events became untenable) and reduced marketing budgets. Marketers have had to be quick on their feet to evolve with consumers’ shifting demands. From how we interact with each other to how we consume media, things are changing. If you and your business want to stay ahead of the curve, then planning is essential. Today’s article is all about marketing predictions for 2022. The advertising experts have weighed in and they’re in agreement about a couple of important trends. We’ll break down each of these trends and give you an idea of how you can manage their arrival. Without further ado, here’s what you can anticipate from the marketing industry in 2022!
As 2020 saw a shift towards virtual meet-ups and corporate events due to safety concerns, 2020 will likely see a return to in-person events, but only partially. While some consumers languished at home, waiting for the opportunity to attend concerts and parties in-person, another set of consumers found themselves enjoying the comfortable access virtual events provided. The latter could enjoy entertainment and conferences from their homes and save travel expenses, both of which were worth the lessened experience. As we approach the new year, many marketers are planning hybrid events, which will feature a strong digital presence (using technologies like AR and VR). The goal is to satisfy both sets of consumers—those who want to go out and those who want to stay in. As you’re preparing for 2022, consider still offering a virtual component for customers who still don’t want to leave the house.
It’s always been important to strategize and unify the content released on various digital platforms by a single brand. Just as you wouldn’t use a different logo for Facebook and your website, it’s obvious your brand voice should remain consistent no matter the digital sphere. However, as marketers level up, they develop new standards for what cross-platform alignment looks like. If your goal is to establish industry dominance in your sector, you’ll need three things: visibility, credibility, and authority. Visibility equates to brand awareness. Do people know about your business? Credibility is akin to trust. Do consumers believe your brand does what it says it does? Authority is a mark of leadership. Do other similar brands quote and mention your content?
To establish visibility and credibility, it’s important to have source content. Source content is generally blogs or videos produced by your brand and displayed on your website. These forms of media can be easily embedded in other sites and shared. By aligning your promotional materials and SEO, you can increase visibility and establish yourself as an industry leader.
More and more consumers are becoming aware of the environmental and societal impact companies can have and are now more likely to support companies which stand for something larger than themselves. Brands which give back in some way perform better among consumers. It’s important to align your brand with a mission which is genuinely dear to your heart. It’s even better if your philanthropic venture is relevant to your product of service. Investing in nonprofits can mean potential product placement, affiliate marketing, donating a percentage of your sales, or agreeing to sponsor an organization. These endeavors open your brand to a wider audience and humanize your brand in the consumer's eyes.
Influencer marketing is still on trend and experts predict the market will increase from $9.7 billion to $15 billion in 2022. Most marketing firms are spending twenty percent of their overall budget on influencer marketing. However, there’s been a shift from targeting high-follower influencers to focusing on what are termed “micro influencers.” Micro influencers, while their following is smaller, have highly-engaged followers. These followers are more likely to turn into leads and covert than the sometimes millions of followers larger influencers have. AI-technology is allowing marketing firms to invest in influencer identification (which can predict the conversions likely from a particular influencer) for a low cost. This advanced technology nearly ensures a return on investment.
Privacy Protection Impact of 3rd Party Cookies
Google recently announced a delay in their Privacy Sandbox initiative, which pushed back Google Chrome’s phasing out of third-party cookies to 2023. Third-party cookies are hosted by ad servers, social media sites, commenting aggregators, live chat pop-ups, and more. They collect tracked information on a particular user across different sites. Their purpose is to enable adware and target likely customers as they roam across the internet. Third-party cookies are responsible for the dozens of water filter ads you see after searching for one water filter on Amazon. Consumers are tired of feeling constantly watched and are taking back their privacy. This means marketers, if they haven’t already, need to plan for the eventuality when third-party cookies will no longer be supported. First-party cookies, which are collected by the brand’s site for the purpose of optimized user experience, are still viable and can still be used to learn about consumers.
Social Media Shopping
As we’ve seen Instagram increase the presence of businesses and stores on its shopping platform, we’re likely to see other social media sites follow suit. Social commerce buyers, or people who bought things from social media, increased 25.2%. This number is predicted to increase from 80 million to 100 million by 2023. If you aren’t advertising your products on social media and offering users a means of checking out without leaving the app, sorry to say: You’re leaving money on the table.
Short-form Video Content Craze
TikTok took over during the pandemic and it’s not likely to loosen its grip anytime soon. Fifteen second, one-minute, and now three-minute videos are now all the rage. Instagram even followed suit and released its popular Reel feature in August 2020. Brands have an opportunity to engage directly with consumers and capitalize on emerging trends with short-form video content. It’s a small investment which can yield massive returns, considering TikTok’s virality. One study even predicts 82% of online content will consist of videos by 2022. Can you believe that?
User Generated Content
With the proliferation of user-generated content (UGC) comes the incorporation of this content into many brand’s marketing strategies. According to research, brands which added user-generated content into their branding saw a 20% increase in return visitors, a 90% increase in time spent on their website by consumers, and an 81% increase in likeness to convert. The numbers don’t lie. Consumers want to see themselves in more companies' branding efforts.
No one can know for sure what’s coming next, but predictions like these help us prepare the best we can for the future. Here’s hoping 2022 will be a fruitful, safe year for everyone. We hope these tips help you strategize a plan for the upcoming year. Tune back in for our future articles! We’ll discuss the intricacies of email marketing soon and you won’t want to miss it! For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered. Feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand. Until next time, thank you for reading!
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We want to tell you a story. This story begins with a brand. This brand began with one man, who travelled to a distant land… Do we have your attention yet? Encapsulating your brand message in a story format can draw consumers toward your business and keep them coming back. Is there a reason we love stories as much as we do? Probably. And we’re sure the reason has scientific backing (such as a psychologist saying we’re twenty-two times more likely to remember information given to us in a story) and a long history (such as human beings using storytelling as a means of oral history for thousands of years). However, we’re more interested in how storytelling can help you reach your marketing goals. If you’re interested too, keep reading!
(And when you’re done with this article, be sure to check out our last post about using QR codes to market your business!)
What is a narrative?
“Narrative” is just a fancy way of saying story. A story can be a book, a television show, a film, or a ten-minute explanation about why you were late to work. My car battery died. There was an accident on the highway. Then, a giant lizard came out of nowhere. How well you’re able to tell a story can be the difference between a light warning and a pink slip. It can also be the difference between a consumer remembering your brand and forgetting. Stories can inspire consumers to take action, spend money, and even tell their friends about a product or service. Therefore, it’s important to understand the key mechanisms of any story. There’s more to a narrative than beginning, middle, and end, right?
Every great story needs a compelling main character. A main character can be your brand, an individual who played a large role in the creation of your business, or even a talking gecko (read: Geico). The main character serves to humanize your brand and give people a reference point to associate your brand with. The character should be well-defined, with clear goals, traits, beliefs, and fears.
When Disney ran a marketing campaign for their Disneyland Paris location, they chose a young duckling as their main character. The duckling finds a Donald Duck comic book and becomes obsessed with the Disney character. An unfortunate series of events causes the duckling to lose the comic book. After a night spent enduring turbulent weather, the duckling arrives at Disneyland Paris with his family and is welcomed by none other than Donald Duck himself.
Even with this short description, you’ve gone through an emotional journey. That said, a character doesn’t have to be a person or an animal. An example of a brand doubling as a character would be TOMS. TOMS uses the brand message, “one for one.” This slogan means for every pair of shoes a customer buys, another pair of shoes are given to someone who needs them. A customer buys a pair of shoes. TOMS sends shoes to the customer and someone in need. Stories don’t need to be long, but they need to center around a central figure. In this case, the central figure is TOMS.
If you’ve ever had to write an essay about literature, you know themes play a major role in storytelling, though they can be hard to pin down. A theme is an overarching message encased in your brand storytelling. Usually, the theme of your branding should align with the values of your company as a whole. Do you value consistency above anything else? Or are you known for your quality? Does your company prioritize charitability? Is the happiness of your workers something you take pride in? Make sure to emphasize what’s important to you throughout your brand messaging.
The themes prevalent in the fairytale, Cinderella, are good versus evil and luck can change your life. Your theme might be more specific or more vague—that’s perfectly fine. Now, take a company like State Farm for example. Their motto is, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” This messaging sets up a character—a good neighbor—and emphasizes the themes of trust and reliability. Their commercials, while entertaining, always remain consistent in their message: You can count on State Farm to be there when you need them.
After a while, themes become what consumers subliminally associate with your brand. Thus, after years of consistent message, consumers associate positive sentiments (i.e. trust, safety, community) with State Farm.
We’ve already seen a few examples of how brands use dialogue to story tell in this article. TOMS’ “one for one.” State Farm’s “like a good neighbor.” A few more examples would be Geico’s “fifteen minutes could save you 15%” or Disney’s “the most magical place on earth.” Dialogue is a concise, potent aspect of storytelling. It’s used to further the theme and most often delivered by the main character. Dialogue is the message in brand messaging.
You can use customer testimonials as your dialogue. Or, you can use written text. A local Charleston business, Baker Roofing Company, bought out several billboards along the highway. They read: Billboard 1, “We shall do good work.” Billboard 2, “At a profit if we can.” Billboard 3, “At a loss if we must.” Billboard 4, “But always good work.” This slogan is adapted from a quote by Collis Potter Huntington. Thus, this dialogue began as a spoken phrase and has the cadence of natural speech.
The key components of good dialogue are authenticity and personality. Your brand message should be unique. This helps people remember your brand and differentiates you from the competition. Before coming up with dialogue, you should have a pretty good understanding of your brand voice. This is the tone inherent in everything your company publishes, from newsletter to social media to website content. Understanding your brand voice will help you keep dialogue consistent and authentic.
Know Your Audience
Just as authors pen novels in different genres, brands must tailor their stories to their consumer base. A middle-grade author would not employ the same narrative strategies as an adult thriller author, would they? Similarly, you need to understand what will hook your consumer base’s attention. If your target audience struggles to understand what your company does and why they should invest in your services, then the main goal of your storytelling should be articulating why your company exists. What purpose do you serve? How can you help them? Similarly, if your target audience wants to be entertained and appreciates a bit of humor, your brand storytelling should crack a joke (just not at your brand’s expense). Consumers want to be seen, heard, and understood. By telling the right story, you can accomplish all of those things.
If you’re checking out at a grocery store or withdrawing money from your bank, more than likely you’re not interested in hearing a story. And, if someone approached you to tell you a long-winded story, you might even feel accosted. The same is true of consumers. They have lots of things to do and places to be, which is why you should be respectful of their time and try to tell your brand’s story in as few words as possible. As well, position your story in an area where they’ll be more receptive to listening. For example, your brand’s storytelling shouldn’t take over your entire website to the point that potential customers cannot easily navigate to purchase products.
How do you know you have a good story?
A brand’s storytelling will not draw in every consumer. But, done well, the story should bring in those who are in need of your service or product. Good stories have the elements we discussed above. They are well-thought, well-executed, and (eventually) well-received. They should be easy to understand and useful. As well, they should prompt an emotional response (and preferably not anger).
To begin crafting your brand’s story, start with the original purpose behind the brand. This is what you’ll highlight within the story. From there, flesh out the necessary details. Character. Theme. Dialogue. When you’ve finished painting the broad strokes, test the story out on someone unfamiliar with your brand. Incorporate feedback. Try again. Large corporations have entire teams and test groups, but you don’t need all of that. Anyone can tell a story. That’s the beautiful thing about stories.
For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered! Feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand! Be sure to return for our
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Hello, Summerville! Welcome, business owners! We’re happy to have you here on the Creative Consulting blog where you’ll find the most relevant information about marketing your business in the digital sphere. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting covers everything you could possibly need to know to take your business to the next level.
Today, we’ll be discussing a widely known but rarely understood tool in marketing—the QR code. You’ve probably seen these strange, black-and-white boxes posted to the sides of lampposts, lingering on the backs of business cards, or even looming above the highway on massive billboards. At first glance, these unassuming squares can resemble their technological cousin—the barcode—but they’re actually far more advanced. The potential applications of QR codes have yet to be breached, but the average business owner can already benefit from its existing capabilities. We’ll explain what a QR code is, how a QR code works, and how to use QR codes to expand your business’s reach. If you’re interested in learning more, read on!
What are QR Codes and How Do They Work?
First, the term QR code is actually short for quick response code. Quick response code was developed in 1994 by Masahiro Hara, the chief engineer of a Japanese automotive company called Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota). Hara developed the code as a method of tracking parts and parcels through the production, manufacturing, and distribution process. QR codes contain more information than the standard bar code (e.x. locators, identifiers, trackers) which can all be read by a machine. The QR code utilizes four standardized encoding modes: numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji. Several factors inherent to the QR code design (including the surrounding white space, the position of the black pixels, and the anchoring black squares) allow the code to be scanned quickly and from virtually any direction.
There are two types of QR codes: static and dynamic. As you might have inferred already, static QR codes are codes which cannot be altered or changed after being generated. This might apply to QR codes which share a coffee shop’s WiFi password or QR codes for entrance to a mass event like a concert. Meanwhile, a dynamic QR code can be altered or changed after being generated, as many times as needed. The dynamic version lends itself to customization and increased ability to track advertising statistics.
Though QR codes were created in the 1990s, the United States has been slow to integrate their use. While countries like China have been using QR codes in their payment systems and day-to-day life for decades, we’ve only caught onto the brilliance of these black squares in the past few years. Apple programming their cameras to read QR codes in 2017 and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 played a large role in introducing QR codes into our society. Many restaurants switched to paperless menus with the help of QR codes.
The truth is: There are an endless number of applications for QR codes. They can be used to determine an object's position in three-dimensional space for augmented reality. They can be used to establish “virtual stores,” which unfold before potential customers wherever the QR code exists. Giant companies such as Walmart, Procter & Gamble, and Woolworths have already undergone making the concept a reality. QR codes can store bank account information and can work in tandem with a payment provider application to facilitate transactions. They can be used to log into a website, board a flight, order food at a restaurant, and join a WiFi network. Best of all, QR codes cannot be hacked.
We’re only just scratching the surface with what QR codes can do. And, when it comes to advertising, there may be no better way to establish a personal connection between consumers and your brand.
Applying QR Codes to Your Business
The wonderful thing about QR codes is that users need only scan the code with a phone camera to unlock the code's information. This makes the user end of the interaction incredibly simple and streamlined. On the brand’s end, there are a multitude of places you can take a user once they’ve scanned. You can choose to direct a consumer toward a website or a landing page. You could also direct consumers toward the download page for an app. You could pull up multimedia (i.e. video, audio, image) or a discount code or promotion. If you’re participating at a business conference or engaging in networking opportunities for your business, you can use QR codes to quickly exchange information. Whatever you choose to do, you want to make sure you establish a clear Call-To-Action (CTA). Users should be able to determine exactly what scanning a QR code will do. Some businesses use QR codes to expand their SMS or email list, but we wouldn’t recommend doing this. Anytime consumers scan a QR code, while they are trusting the creator of the code, they haven’t given their express permission to be a part of any mailing lists.
QR codes do not obtain any personal information from the phones which scan them, however they do provide some insight to their creators. QR codes can report on where and when they were scanned, which gives advertisers an increased comprehension of which areas are proving to be highly engaging and at what times, too. The major reasons for using QR codes in an advertising campaign are the ability to build direct connections with consumers, collect first-party data, and ass attribution tracking to ad channels. If you use the same QR code on a billboard and a mail card, within a given time span you’ll have the requisite data you need to determine which campaign is better suited to your efforts.
Most QR codes require a connection to the internet. You’ll want to keep this in mind when choosing locations for your codes.
QR codes have evolved in the decades since their inception and now offer perks like brand protection, anti-forgery protection, and increased traceability. There are companies which specialize in assisting businesses tailor and apply their QR code strategy across their business platform. Next, we’ll examine a few cases where businesses applied QR codes to their benefit.
One of the best examples of integrating QR codes into a business structure is Instagram’s name tags. Once scanned, name tags allow users to quickly and easily identify the user they want to follow. Instead of searching for their username (potentially spelling the username wrong, missing an underscore or a period, etc.), name tags simplify the entire process. As well, in Instagram’s case, they were able to alter the appearance of the QR code to be on-brand and appealing. This is a huge aspect of using QR codes, as you want to incite the user to scan the code and they’re more likely to do so when the code is pleasing to the eye. This feature could also be used cross-platform, allowing users to post their name tags on other social media sites; thus adding more followers to their account and bringing more users to Instagram.
Another example is when Amazon Go stores implemented the use of QR codes. Instead of waiting in life for a limited number of cashiers, customers could check out on their own time using QR codes. This cuts the shopping time for users in half and leads to a more positive shopping experience overall.
This has been a shallow overview of the possibilities inherent to QR codes and we’ll definitely be returning to this subject in the future to delve deeper into it’s wonderful uses. Until then, consider the benefits of using QR codes in the expansion of your business. QR codes are inexpensive to make and easy to use on both the user and the developer’s end. The potential to learn more about how consumers engage with your business—as well as to convert consumers into customers—is an appealing draw to QR codes. We hope you’ll give them a try soon!
For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered! Or, give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand! Be sure to return for our upcoming posts on CRMs and co-branding! Until next time, thank you for reading!
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Hello, Summerville! Happy July! If this is your first time visiting our blog, here you’ll find the most up-to-date information about marketing your business. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting is a one-stop shop for taking your business to the next level.
Today, we’re going to break down the difference between two types of advertisements: Exposure vs. Lead Generation. There are dozens of different marketing terms and strategies you’re probably eager to learn (and we’ll be delving into CPC, CTR, PPC, CRMs, and every other acronym you can think of in later posts), but before you can become an expert you’ll need to understand the basics.
What Are Exposure Ads?
Like the name suggests, exposure ads are advertisements which have been placed in an exposed environment. With these, the advertisers’ objective is to place their ads in strategic locations to ensure as many eyes as possible see the ad. They can be innocuous (think: paper mail catalogues) or ostentatious (think: billboards). They can be stagnant (think: television commercials) or interactive (think: mall kiosks). And, while these ads can target a specific audience, they can also reach a broad range of audiences, as their viewing really is a matter of potential customers being in the right place at the right time.
Company ABC is a fashion brand. They’re hoping to market their clothing to consumers between the ages of 18-25. They decide to employ the use of exposure advertising by purchasing paid ads on TikTok (which will appear once when the user opens the app), by purchasing paid ads on Facebook (which will appear on the side of the screen while the user is scrolling), and by purchasing a billboard in Time Square (which will occupy the space for two weeks).
In this scenario, Company ABC is expecting the money they spend on exposure to directly translate into a higher volume of consumers visiting their website and purchasing their clothing. This conversion is not guaranteed, however the assumption is that the more people are reminded of the brand, the more likely they are to purchase the brand’s products.
What Are Lead Generation Ads?
Lead generation ads are also quite self-explanatory. These types of ads collect data about the consumers who click on them and—if done correctly—transform those consumers into customers. Consumers might be asked for their name, email address, or other contact information. Think of these ads like an investigative journalist. A journalist must follow a lead—which is a small piece of information which points to something larger—in order to uncover the underlying story. These ads are, literally, generating leads which a company can then use to enlarge their customer base.
Company XYZ is also a fashion brand. They’re hoping to market their clothing to consumers who are socially and environmentally conscious, regardless of their age. They don’t have much money to spend on advertising widely. Therefore, they decide to employ the use of lead generation ads on Facebook and Instagram Stories (which will ask for consumers' main environmental concerns, what they look for in a clothing brand, and their email address).
In this scenario, Company XYZ is expecting the information they receive from consumers to directly translate into a better understanding of their consumer base, a personal connection from consumers to their brand ethos, and that the newsletters they send out to the consumers’ emails will generate traffic to their online site.
Pros of Exposure
Exposure advertising is advertising in the traditional sense. In this case, the phrase “out of sight out of mind” truly does apply. Exposure ads perform the much needed work of increasing brand awareness. Without brand awareness, consumers won’t think of your company when they have a need.
In most cases, consumers have a need and an advertisement conveniently pops up in one of their social media feeds. A short click and the need is met. There’s a feeling of gratification on the customers’ end because the brand happened to be there when they were in need and saved them the trouble of having to search for what they needed. In this scenario, both the advertiser and the consumer were in the right place at the right time.
Another positive aspect of exposure ads is the ability to isolate demographics while also maintaining the possibility for diversity. For example, a company might be seeking consumers over the age of thirty-five, who have advanced degrees and disposable income. If this is the case, they might choose to advertise on LinkedIn or run a commercial on a home improvement channel. The placement of these ads can narrow the target audience while also allowing for unexpected consumers (i.e. those under thirty-five without advanced degrees but with disposable income).
Cons of Exposure
Exposure advertisements are what most of us recognize as advertising. They are the kind we’re used to seeing (and ignoring). As of 2021, the average person is exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 ads every day. And this number is only expected to increase. Over-exposure is a term for a reason—it’s when media coverage becomes excessive, to the point people lose interest. Counter-intuitive, isn’t it?
Exposure ads should be well-placed and relevant to the consumer. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating potential clients.
Pros of Lead Generation
Lead generation ads are interactive. They require the consumer to engage with the advert, which weeds out consumers who aren’t genuinely interested in your company’s service or product. With lead generation ads, a company can amass a sizable amount of data on their consumer base, which gives them insight into what their customers might expect from them in the future. They can also compile an audience for an email newsletter, which will keep consumers informed about new promotions and products.
Since these are form ads (and the results can be submitted without the consumer leaving the site on which they saw the ad), they can be run even when the company doesn’t have a website up and running yet. This makes lead generation ads a stellar option for companies looking to advertise on a budget.
These types of ads are most popular on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and (as of April 2021) TikTok!
Cons of Lead Generation
Sometimes a pro is a con and a con is a pro. A double-edged sword, of sorts?
Lead generation ads, as previously mentioned, are great for weeding out consumers who aren’t genuinely interested. Unfortunately—they leave a ton of “so-so” consumers by the wayside as well. There are plenty of consumers who just aren’t willing to spend thirty seconds to a minute filling out their information. These consumers (especially if the company is operating without a website) can easily turn into lost customers.
Which Type of Ad is Right for Your Business?
As with any aspect of your business, before you can answer this question you’ll need to take stock of your priorities and your capabilities. What are your priorities? Do you want your products and services in front of as many people as possible? Or, do you want to build a database of consumers who are interested in your products and services? What are your capabilities? Do you have a large marketing budget to spend on diversifying your exposure and reaching untapped markets? Or, do you have a conservative marketing budget which must turn each and every ad interaction into monetary gains for your company?
Once you have an idea of what’s important to you and what you’re able to sustain financially, you’ll have a better idea of which type of ad is the best for your business.
Don’t be daunted! You don’t have to choose either exposure or lead generation advertisements. In fact, most successful companies operate with a mixture of both. As you make attempts and gather useful data, you’ll gain deeper insight into what works for your specific brand.
We’ve only scratched the surface with these two types of ads. There are countless other types, which we’ll explore together in the future. Until then, we hope you’ve found this helpful. For more marketing and branding expertise, be sure to return to the Creative Consulting blog, where we dive deep into the best marketing practices. Or, give us a call and set up an appointment. We are always more than happy to help you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand. Until next time, thank you for reading!
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Still intrigued about how Instagram shopping will benefit your small business? You've come to the right place. In part two of our current blog series, we are here to talk about and discuss just that!
Welcome back to part two of our blog series discussing Instagram shopping for small businesses! Have you had an opportunity to go and begin the process of starting your Instagram shop for your business since our last blog? How has it been going for you so far? Have you been having any issues with the process or has it been enjoyable for you? We are excited to hear about your journey, so when you do finish this blog, please make sure to comment below and share your experience with us! This is still a new concept for us and many of our clients, and it has been an interesting journey to learn more about Instagram Shopping and to even experiment and try it out on our own time. There is an ease to it that helps the flow of in-app shopping more enjoyable, and it's so nice that you don't have to leave the app to find exactly what you're looking for. Many of our team members have commented that they'll see a post about amazing new products on Amazon, and they'll have to leave whatever app they're using and hop over to Amazon to find what they're looking for. While this really doesn't take all that much extra time, going right to what you want when you want it is very appealing. There is no wonder why it has been so successful! There is no in-between time to second guess if you should really purchase what you've seen on your Instagram feed or not! If anything should appeal to our small business owners considering adding all the shopping features to their Instagram page, that should be one of the top things to consider! When someone falls in love with your product and immediately has the chance to buy it, the more likely they are to follow through with the purchase instead of just leaving it in their carts! With that in mind, fellow small business owners, let's hop back into part two of our blog series!
What Will Instagram Do For Small Businesses?
We've said it a hundred times across all of our platforms, but not using Instagram to promote your business and products would just be crazy! Hundreds of millions of users are on Instagram every day and all of them follow at least one small business. This will cancel out a lot of distracts and steps for your customers, allowing them to continue what they're doing on social media and bringing your store directly to them. They can browse, save items, learn more, discover more, and buy everything right from the app. This also directly allows you to bring all of your products to your target audience without always including a call to action in your post or stories to have them visit your website. You can promote more and the products are already there in front of your customers.
Since its establishment and throughout the pivoting process that small businesses have been through in the last year, Facebook founder and Instagram owner Mark Zuckerburg has said that, "We're seeing a lot of businesses that never had online presences get online for the first time, and we're seeing small businesses that had an online presence now make them their primary way of doing business". All by taking those few simple steps of creating an Instagram shop, you are opening up your business to a larger market with ease and possibly a market you've never needed before. No matter what curve ball might be thrown at the business world next, this new addition will be a stronghold! This new idea and addition to Instagram will bring you closer to your followers and introduce your products faster, easier, and with better detail. By choosing an Instagram shop, you are cutting everything out of the middle and delivering your product right to your followers. Take the time to invest in your shop and watch how it helps your company grow!
The Future of Now
While Instagram will always be a very active social platform, it is also an up-and-coming e-commerce site that once it truly takes off, has the ability to become one of the most popular locations for small business owners to sell their products. While the destruction of the pandemic was felt through every part of our lives, online business kept us connected, calm and inspired when there was nowhere else to turn to, leaving in its wake a stronger e-commerce community than ever before. It's not only a huge step for small business owners to take freedom with their shops, it is also reviving the app itself. New apps such as TikTok have taken the spotlight away from Instagram and has left it in the dust with Facebook and its other predecessors. Thanks to the ease of shopping on Instagram, more users are returning once again - not only to go shopping but to open another platform for their products. This whole process is breathing life back into the app, which for those who adore the app, is also a relief! While the app has taken center stage, it had time while it was off in the wings to mature, grow, and become even more innovative than it was before. You can do so much more in this app that so many were already so comfortable with, that this lends even more benefits to shoppers. Users are already familiar with the app, so getting used to these new trends and new opportunities will be even easier to adjust to since no one has to go through and learn how everything works. You just have to tap, click, and pay, and before you know it your favorite new products are at your front door. What could be more appealing than that to all of our small business owners out there?
A Kickstart To The Finishline
You've learned a little bit about the overall process of what Instagram Shopping is, how to set up your shop, what its many features are, how it benefits small businesses, and what the future of e-commerce on the platform looks like, but you might be a little stuck with getting started. The secret is to just get started! When setting up your shop and creating posts that will grab the attention of your followers, current buyers, and future customers, a lot of your success will be found in many of the same tips and suggestions we've talked about when creating a powerful media marketing strategy for your overall business on Instagram. Think about these things when starting to focus on your shop, when you're creating shop-focused content, and when you're ready to start selling!
Instagram for Business and Instagram Shopping is here to stay and is going to continue to see amazing growth. Even if you don't think your product would be a good one for Instagram Shopping, why not give it a try and just test the waters? You might be surprised! The pandemic pivot taught a lot of small businesses that almost anything is possible, especially when you least expect it. You and your business deserve the best, so why not use the tools that are already waiting for you? Go on, give it a try, and let us know how it works out for you! Thank you so much for joining us in this two-part blog series about Instagram shopping! Don't forget, if you're looking to build a website, design a logo, rebrand your company, have social media management, marketing analysis and consultation, and search engine optimization (SEO). We are here to help not only provide these services to you but to help your company become exactly what you've always wanted it to be and more. Until next time, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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Online shopping has seen an incredible rise over the last few years, throughout the pandemic, and it is still finding new markets every day to flourish and grow. In this two-part blog, we are going to be talking about shopping on Instagram and the many benefits it can offer you as a small business owner!
Hello, Summerville! Spring has never looked more beautiful on you! It's been amazing to see our little town come to life and open its doors as the flowers and trees are blooming like crazy. It's been our pleasure to get back to spending time with our community and enjoying our favorite spots around town! Today we are celebrating you, Summerville, and you, reader, who we are so glad found us today! If you've found yourself here on the Creative Consulting blog, it's most likely that you are here to learn more about the media marketing world, a little bit more about your business, or how to improve your growing small business every day! You've come to the right place! Here you will learn, read, and enjoy all of this and more!
We are here to help you add a website and branding design, SEO, social media management, marketing analysis and consulting to your company, your workflow, and your everyday life. We offer each of these services to our clients and we also talk about them right here on this blog. Welcome! Enjoy everything you see and find here! If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out or comment below. We want to hear from you! Today we are going to be continuing with more new and exciting things happening out there in the business world to help you grow and maybe even learn something new and exciting today! Today we are going to be talking about Instagram shopping!
What Is Instagram Shopping?
Online shopping has defined the last decade on the internet. With the boom of Amazon and how easy it is, and getting exactly what you want and when you want it without having to leave your house has become the new normal. Online shopping has solidified itself as the most common way to get all of your shopping done, no matter what you're shopping for. With Instagram shopping, it's taking the whole idea of online shopping, and its ease to a whole new level with an additional boost. Instagram users have turned to the app to discover more about the products they love and to discover more new and exciting items that they didn't know existed. When they saw something in the past that caught their eye or interested them, they would go to every link to find out more about the product and how to buy it. It's been a series of clicks, traveling to an app or website outside of Instagram, and digging through the said website until they find exactly what they're looking for. All up until now. With Instagram shopping, all of these extra steps have been eliminated and shopping overall for businesses of all sizes has just gotten easier. There are multiple new resources that Instagram has implemented and is now offering to both retailers and consumers alike, you just have to know how to become eligible, how to use these resources, and how to enjoy them.
Overall, Instagram shopping, in its own words is "a set of features across Instagram that lets people shop your photos and videos no matter where they are in the app". It's taking window shopping to the next level and putting it right into your hands. Not only that, but Instagram created and designed each of these new features so they match and reflect how Instagram users already use the app. In no time at all, these new features will feel very natural as you scroll through Instagram. Here's every step that you need to know, all from Instagram itself.
How To Become Eligible for Instagram Shopping
All these perks sound incredible, right? It's because they are! Small business owners are you interested in adding these features to your professional Instagram page? Here is what you need to do to become eligible! This is a seven-step process, so make sure to read below and follow along before you get ready to go after your Instagram shop!
How excited are you about Instagram shopping? As we've been doing our research, the more we are exploring within the app ourselves and it's a fantastic addition to the platform overall, and we are excited to see where it goes next! Tune in next time for part two of our blog sharing more important and vital information about Instagram Shopping and its benefits for small business owners!
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Wanting to generate more leads from your social media platforms? That's exactly what we will be talking about today!
Hello, Summerville! Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Creative Consulting blog, your one-stop blog for everything you need to know about media marketing! Looking to add website and branding design, SEO, social media management, marketing analysis and consultations, and more to your company? Are you looking to learn more about each of these topics and apply them to your company? You've come to the right place! Not only do we offer all of these services to our clients, we talk frequently about these topics right here on our blog. We want to work with you rather than for you, and we want to make sure that all of your ideal clients know who you are. Thanks to thousands of hours of research, we have created a solid framework that allows us to grow your company's presence both locally and online, allowing your business to be known as the go-to experts in your field! We all know what social media is, and we spent our last two blogs discussing what social media and SEO are supposed to do for your company. Like you, and many of our clients, we know you want the time and money that is put into your social media and SEO to generate leads, but how best can you do that? Let's talk about it!
What Are Business Leads?
A business lead, in so many words, is an individual who has come across your company and they're interested in the products or services you sell. Sometimes these happen organically by doing cold social media searches (which SEO helps with) and sometimes they can come from ads and the social media you are posting out into the social world that grabs the attention of your target audience. Once a lead is made, companies (of all sizes!) will follow up on each of them to see if the interested party is part of their target audience and if they will continue to want what your company offers. Remember, it is very exciting to get a lead, but it doesn't always mean you will be a good fit for one another. That's okay! Sometimes these leads can turn into good professional relationships, situations where they will recommend you to others who will need you, or they won't go anywhere. You never know what might happen with each lead you get, so it's important to follow up on them. You've been putting so much time, effort, and money into your social media, how can you utilize these platforms to generate more of these business leads?
Creating Leads on Social Media
When using your social media as a key component in seeking out and drawing in new clients, what should you be keeping in mind? Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of it!
How many of these tips and ideas are you using right now to generate your social media leads? Remember, each of these suggestions is fairly simple, and don't take the time you might think they do to add them into your workflow. Getting leads can happen organically, but that can take years before you get enough attention to become a profitable company. Why wait when you can have all of that right now? Don't overwhelm yourself, start with a few of these ideas, and begin to note how your leads increase. Even reading this blog, are you still not wanting to do this extra work for your company? We can help with that! Make sure to reach out to us now to get started! Until next time, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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In our last blog, we talked about what social media does for your company and what your expectations should be of that powerful tool. Today, we are going to go a bit deeper and talk about what SEO will do for your business and what your expectations of it should be!
Welcome back to the Creative Consulting blog, your one-stop shop to learn and discover everything connected to the social media marketing world and then some! You've also found a wonderful company to work with if you're looking to build a website, design a logo, rebrand your company, have social media management, marketing analysis and consultation, and search engine optimization (SEO). We are here to help not only provide these services to you but to help your company become exactly what you've always wanted it to be and more. We are passionate about the social media world and continue to learn and grow with the industry as it grows and changes! In our last blog, we talked about social media as a whole and what you should be expecting from it as a business owner, and what you need to put into it to become successful. This week, we are going to be taking a closer look into SEO and what you should expect from it!
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is designed and created, in short, to increase the visibility of your website in relevant searches. The better your visibility and the more your website comes up in relevant searches on the internet, the more likely you will gain attention from the right kind of client. The right kind of client is your target audience that will want to buy your products, become a returning customer, and share your company with their loved ones and colleagues. Popular search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo all use bots to comb the internet and every website out there (according to siteefy.com there is 1,197,982,359 website globally as of January 1, 20201) collecting information from each of them and they put them into an index. Once this information has been put into this index, each search engine uses algorithms to analyze the information by ranking factors and signals to determine what order every webpage should appear every time someone asks a question or searches for something in said search engine. Each algorithm that these popular search engines use has been created to pull up relevant and authoritative websites that will give searchers exactly what they want and the highest quality of what they are looking for. What else is very interesting is that you can't pay search engines to give your website a higher search ranking, you have to put the work into your website to make this happen.
Why Is SEO Important For Your Company's Marketing Strategies?
Now that you know a little more about what SEO is, it's time to learn why it is so important for your business marketing campaign. Searching for a service or a product is one of the most popular ways to gain traffic for a company's brand, website, and one of the most popular ways new customers will discover you. It is also a very powerful complement and additive to your existing marketing plan and channels. Staying as high as possible in a ranking search will also help you stay ahead of your competition. Just like social media, SEO is something you can't sleep on anymore and it can't be a last thought or option. If you have a beautifully designed website and powerful social media platforms for your business, it won't complete or reach its full potential until you add in the element of SEO. While SEO will help your website rank higher when someone turns to an online search, and will help increase traffic to your website, it can provide a lot more to you and your company when used correctly.
What Are Some Examples of SEO?
Now that you've hopped on board with the idea of SEO and are working towards getting everything out of it that you possibly can, what are some real-life examples of SEO?
We understand that SEO can be difficult and we recognize that it is a huge undertaking to add to your online marketing and online presence. This is why it is so important and why many companies hire their own SEO specialists, and this is why we offer it in our services. In all honesty, it is a full-time job. To successfully add SEO to your site, it isn't something that you can pick up and become a master of overnight, it is something that needs to be learned and it needs and deserves your time and dedication. With that being said, remember how much it does for your company and its success. SEO is a very worthy and worthwhile investment! Do you have any questions about SEO? Please reach out and chat with us, we will be more than happy to spend some time with you on the topic!
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Today the business world, especially ours, depends a lot on social media, but what is it exactly supposed to be doing for your company?
Hello, Summerville! Hello, Readers! Welcome to the Creative Consulting blog. We hope you've been doing well, working hard to grow within your business and team, and have had your favorite caffeinated beverage close by the whole time! Anyone who uses social media for their business and who makes it a part of their media and sales strategy put a lot of pressure and responsibility on the shoulders of the apps that were once created by very young nobodies whose products were once called fads. Now the creators and their apps are household names, and a daily part of some of the most important and integral parts of many businesses, and they are the margin line for success for many content creators. However, these powerful apps are still just that. They're apps. They were created to bring people together and to keep them connected. Today, a lot of business and important decisions happen right at our fingertips. Companies can spend countless hours creating content and keeping up to date with all of the social media apps updates and algorithm changes. Hours can be spent tracking your followers, learning about them, and discovering your target audience. It truly is a full-time part of running your business.
One of the greatest things about social media is the fact that it's free and so accessible to anyone and everyone. Somewhere in between the conception of social media and using it for business, something changed. Something shifted in these apps from their humble beginnings as social tools to becoming some of the key cornerstones in modern business. So many of us expect social media to be the end all be all to make our ideas, companies, and products go viral and to make us millions overnight. While we wish this was always true, that's not the case. Today, we are going to take a step back and talk about what social media is really supposed to do for your business, what your expectations should be.
2020 was a strange plane for all of us to cross and figure out. Everything changed, we all had to adjust, everything was difficult, and we all had to get used to it very quickly. When we all had to spend time away from our friends and loved ones to stay safe, we turned to our electronic devices and apps to keep us connected. This changed our relationship to social media, and this change has raised our expectations on both the consumer and producer side of things. As social media gets closer and closer to providing almost perfect instant gratification with rushed shipping, instant streaming, and a constant flow of information and news, our expectations of the social world are becoming even higher as the days go on. This puts pressure on every aspect of social media, those working behind it and creating it, and those depending on it to help create and maintain a successful business. This has caused a unique brand of pandemic fatigue on the entire social media industry. It had to do its own pandemic pivot, support its followers as they went through an unimaginable global epidemic, and once again switch gears as the world returns to life after a pandemic both online and off.
Understanding Social Media
How To Help Your Social Media! Get Out Of It What You Want!
Social media is a mouthpiece for all the hard work that you and your marketing team have done. It's a tool in your marketing toolbox. A mouthpiece doesn't work without brains behind it, and a hammer won't work without a nail. Social media is a three-part equation; you use it to learn about who you need to sell to, how best to sell to them, you create content based on everything you've learned, and to solve the equation, you post your findings. For extra credit, you need to interact in the social world yourself. What else can you do to optimize your social media so it works as it should?
You can no longer sleep on the idea of social media, and you can't place all of your expectations on it without doing any legwork yourself. Social media and all the apps it is connected to are tools of any successful trade. Make sure you're using it correctly, growing with it, and know exactly what to expect out of it and the work you need to do!