50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2016 Edition

The days are getting longer, baseball’s back and it’s time for the annual listing of 50 things I’m grateful for. This tradition started back in 2012 and is a post that I look forward to all year.

I’d love for you to add your list to the comments or share your blog post with us, so we can read and share everyone’s lists.

50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2016 Edition

 

  • crushed red pepper
  • Gnome, Penelope & Mojo (CCC’s hard-working staff!)
  • home sweet home
  • chiropractors
  • a sunny afternoon
  • espresso (fueling CCC since 2012)
  • newspapers and journalists
  • vegetarian enfrijoladas
  • awesome clients (who pay promptly)
  • Netflix
  • touchscreen laptops
  • WiFi
  • the power of social media (when used for social good)
  • patios on summer days
  • Grease

 

 

  • laughter and conversation
  • travel, business or pleasure
  • quality design
  • daydreaming
  • handwritten cards and notes
  • adult coloring books
  • my nephew
  • CCC’s online community
  • getting lost in a good book
  • a platform to publish
  • furry friends
  • unplugging
  • fun socks
  • friends & family
  • a night at the ballpark

 

That’s my list on May 24, 2016! What are you grateful for today?

Usually smiling & always grateful,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about what you’re grateful for, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Get the Party Started: 5 Ways to Revamp Your Blogging Techniques

CCC is excited to welcome guest contributor, Katrina Manning! You can learn more about Katrina at the end of her article. 

When it comes to marketing your business, one of your most critical tools is blogging. For starters, it gives you an effective way to communicate with your customers. Secondly, it can help boost the SEO of your website. Yet, is your blog still having trouble getting noticed? There isn’t any question that blogs have a lot of competition. In order to get people to read your blog, you need to make it easy to find, produce high-quality and relevant content and have a design aesthetic that appeals to the contemporary viewer.

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Here are five tips for revamping your blogging techniques:

Keep your content original and interesting

It should be common sense to understand that people only want to read articles that are original and interesting. Yet, you may be surprised to see that there are thousands of blogs with copied and illogical articles that cause most viewers to shake their heads and never return to those spammy sites again. When it comes to revamping your blogging techniques, you might want to take inventory of your current article cache. Do they provide relevant and informative content? Are they original? If not, it may be time to do some housekeeping. You don’t want search engines to pass over your blog. Use keyword searches to look for fresh ideas, or offer a different angle on a popular topic. Just make sure you are not writing the same types of articles found on almost every other blog within your niche.

 

Put mobile first

In 2015, Google announced that more searches were performed on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries. In fact, U.S. web designers always advise building sites that are mobile-first, then creating desktop versions. Smartphone screens are getting larger, and tablets continue to increase in popularity. Many users enjoy the card-style layouts, made trendy by Pinterest. This might be something to consider with regard to revamping the overall look of your blog.

 

Think of video

When it comes to external communication strategies, brands are increasingly focusing on video and — the buzzword for 2016 — virtual reality. Although video is helping to strengthen messages many brands are trying to convey, content isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Think of the stories that videos tell, different formats and even videos with no sound. If you can successfully integrate video with content and perhaps start dabbling in virtual reality, you’ll have something superior on your hands.

 

Work on your social media profiles

One of the most cost-efficient methods of advertising is through social media. With that being said, you should make sure you cross-link your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn with your blog. In addition, you need a voice of your brand to promote your blog posts throughout your social media platforms. Do this on a consistent basis to get the word out and drive more traffic.

 

Connect with readers

One thing that readers will value is a personal connection. Other than your content, there isn’t anything to keep your readers coming back to your blog. On the other hand, if they have an outlet to share their thoughts and get the sense that a response will be made, they might be more inclined to revisit. Compare this to your personal Facebook page. When you post about something you like, do you not go back to see if any of your friends liked or commented on your post? When one of your readers has the opportunity to comment on your articles, they may come back to see if you’ve responded or if anyone else has responded.

On top of that, you can create an email list of willing subscribers by placing an optional subscription link on your blog. You can make it non-optional, but people don’t like to feel they were forced into doing things. If you make it optional, you have a higher likelihood that the people who signed up will be more receptive to your messages. When you email your subscribers with your updates, you can use your real voice to give it a more personal touch. You can be a subject matter expert and still appeal to the human trait of desiring companionship. People don’t want to feel like a number, they want to feel important.

As markets and personal preferences change, so should your blog. Performing a revamp every several years isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for business.

Katrina Manning is a web writer and editor with over six years of experience penning content for a wide variety of sites and publications, such as Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, IBM, The Purple Cow Agency blog, Sweet Lemon Magazine, Udemy, Business 2 Community, Personal Finance Hub, The Iowa City Owl, Newsiosity and Seven12 Magazine. 

4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

On Sunday, my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, celebrated its 4th anniversary. Along with some gray hairs and a sense of accomplishment, I’ve learned numerous lessons along the way.

CCC turns 4!

4 Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur:

Starting and growing a business is a thrilling roller coaster ride. If you love roller coasters (like I do), you’re probably thinking that sounds great. Keep in mind though that you’re riding 24/7, and there are no stops — for bad days, client disasters or even life (which doesn’t stop while you’re trying to start a business). If you like consistency and scheduled days, then don’t start a business. The most even-keeled entrepreneur has experienced many “What the f%#k am I doing?” moments.

I’ve developed a new definition — and appreciation — of living lean. Most entrepreneurs and startups are not raking in venture capital money and operating on million dollar budgets. They’re trying to build something for the future and scrape by in the present. You have to scrimp, save, shop smartly and still make hard choices. There’s nothing romantic about trying to figure out how you’ll pay your mortgage (or rent) next month, but you have to find a way until you can grow.

You’re not doing business until you get paid. Looking for new business, maintaining your professional network and taking care of clients is all part of owning a business, but it’s important to not focus too much on activity. You’re not doing business until you can bill and collect payment. Otherwise, you’re doing charity work, which is commendable, but it won’t pay your mortgage.

Your time is valuable; learn to spend it well. Every entrepreneur and startup owner needs more hours in a day, so you’ll learn to value your time quickly. You have to balance how much time something will take versus the (realistic) potential reward. Every opportunity or client won’t be a good fit. As painful as it can be to walk away, wasting time on a situation that you know won’t work is even worse. Use your time wisely so that you’ll be able to spend quality time with friends and family, sleep and exercise — all necessities in the long run.

No matter what happens, remember this:

Starting and growing a business is an amazing accomplishment. You took a huge risk to create your own future and build something for yourself. It may be hard for people around you to understand what you’re doing, let alone why, but you have to keep your goal in mind. Always remember why you started your business and what you want out of it. That will help you keep going during those “What the f%#k am I doing?” moments, although close friends, hobbies and happy hour will help too.

There are so many lessons I could have mentioned, because starting a business will teach you something new every day. Some days you won’t be in the mood to learn, but try to pick up as much as you can. The experience will come in handy in the future, wherever your crazy, amazing roller coaster ride stops.

What lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur or small business owner?

Did starting a business create an unexpected opportunity for you?

Feeling the rush,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about business, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Tips to Communicate Clearly With Emojis

When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?

Are you communicating clearly with emoji or being misunderstood?

Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author

Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.

Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.

These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:

  • Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
  • Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Same Emoji + Different Smartphone Platform = Different Emotion

Graphic courtesy of grouplens

  • Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
  • Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.

Warning: Appropriate Hashtag Usage on Instagram Will Result in Major Traffic Increase

 

Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.

Does Your Brand Speak Emoji?

What are your favorite emojis? What emojis would you like to see introduced?

Does your brand utilize emojis in its communications? Have you ever had an emoji miscommunication?

Speaking emoji (when appropriate),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about emojis, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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