2015: Storytelling, Platelets & Facebook, Oh My!

2015: what a long, strange road it’s been.

Our visitors and views climbed for the 4th straight year!

Thank you for visiting the CCC blog this year! We’re excited to see an increase in visitors and views for the 4th straight year, each year of our existence.

We publish a wide range of content and that showed in the diversity of our most viewed posts in 2015.

Our top 5 posts as voted by your eyeballs:

  1. The Psychology of Color: Following Guides or Going With Your Gut?
  2. To Give or Not To Give…
  3. 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook
  4. Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization
  5. Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Bonus: Things I Carry: Pen and Paper (missed the top 5 by 1 view)

As wide-ranging as our content is, it all leads back to our four main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection (including entrepreneurship/small business).

Our fourth most viewed post this year was written by one of our contributors, Carol Preibis from Ahh the Simple Life. If you would like to contribute an article (or series), check out our guest blogger invite.

We’ve had contributors from all over the world, just like our audience. Here are the top 5 countries that read our blog:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Brazil
  4. India
  5. Canada

How did our visitors find us? Search engines refer most of our traffic, although social media plays a role too. Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook all sent readers to our front door.

We look at analytics to help us craft future content, but we’d love to hear from you! Are there any subjects that you’d love to see an article on in 2016? How about follow-ups to any articles you’ve read? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or contact us to make your voice heard.

Chime in on 2015 (and beyond)!

What was your favorite article or series on the CCC blog?
What country do you join us from?
How did you first find the CCC blog?
What topic(s) would you like to see covered in 2016?
How will you ring in the New Year?

As we count down toward the ball drop, enjoy one of my favorite memories of last year.

In 2016, may we all be champions.

Happy New Year!

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Enjoy the Most Magical Time of the Year

It’s Christmas — the most magical time of the year! 

Merry Christmas from CCC!

Enjoy it! Unplug if you can. Have conversations with friends and family and give them your undivided attention. Catch up with relatives you haven’t seen. Relax. Have that slice of pie or glass of wine that you might normally skip. In other words, have fun and enjoy the most magical time of the year!

I’ll be chowing down on lasagna, homemade applesauce and peanut butter cream pie. Watching my family open their gifts (that I tapped into my marketing know-how to pick out). Laughing a lot. Discussing off-beat topics. Enjoying the wonder of my nephew’s first Christmas.

Thank you to all of our soldiers and first responders who spend the Holidays away from their families. We appreciate your sacrifice!

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Merry Christmas!
Jaime & the CCC crew

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How the Gift-Giving Process Makes You a Better Marketer

I love to give gifts. Part of it is seeing the joy that the recipient expresses, but part of it is the process. Finding the perfect gift for someone isn’t easy and shares a lot in common with the marketing process.

Danbo Santa Claus_Takashi Hososhima_flickr

First, there’s the research into what the recipient likes and how he spends his time. What’s a day in his life like? Is he a workaholic? A teacher by day but writer by night? Doting Dad of two? You need to understand what makes the recipient tick in order to give a meaningful gift.

Sound familiar? Studying a potential gift recipient is a lot like creating a buyer persona or understanding your customer. Step into your prospects’ or customers’ shoes in order to understand what they truly need. What would make their job a little easier? How can you take some stress out of their life?

After doing your research, you need to keep your budget in mind. Sure, it would be great if you could buy everyone a dream vacation or a MacBook Pro, but that’s not always feasible. Don’t be disappointed with your lower budget; just change your level of thinking. Does your friend love to travel? Pick up a scarf with multiple uses or a great travel bag that will be perfect for her next trip.

The same way of thinking holds true in marketing. Budget is always something to keep in mind no matter what yours is. Figure out how to maximize your exposure and effectiveness with what you have to spend. Maybe you can’t afford a digital billboard in Times Square, but you can afford passing out flyers about your new pop-up shop to those in the area.

Another way to expand your budget is to partner with others. So your brother and sister-in-law need a new washer but it’s out of your budget? Get together with family and friends to organize your gift-giving efforts. Everyone can contribute to a ‘new washer fund’ via a crowdfunding source or a group gift card to the appliance store.

The same practice works well in marketing. Partnering with like-minded businesses can expand your reach and your budget. Attend networking functions to find other businesses that you can help and vice versa. The important aspect of any relationship is that both sides are committed and both gain something. If only one business benefits, it’s not a good fit and the relationship won’t last.

Finally, evaluate the feedback. No matter how much you do your due diligence, sometimes you miss the mark. A gift is not well received or the recipient has no use for it. Make note of why the gift failed to live up to expectations so you can improve for the next occasion.

In marketing, sometimes your efforts fail. You can conduct ample research and maximize your budget but your campaign or project may not produce the expected results. Your customers and prospects are people, which means they’re complex. No matter how well researched your buyer personas are, maybe you missed one key aspect.

It’s crucial to examine your feedback so you can improve whatever part of your marketing is lacking to see better results in the future. That’s not always easy but that’s the topic of another article (actually the next one).

Who knew the gift-giving process could make you a better marketer? Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much. Or maybe it’s because I love to make people smile. Or because I love a good challenge. Regardless, put some thought into your gift giving and marketing this Holiday season and you’re bound to see the results.

p.s. Do you know an entrepreneur or small business owner who could use some marketing help? Give them a gift that will keep on giving long after it’s opened. We offer gift certificates toward any of our services. Let’s talk about your recipient’s business, product or idea, so we can customize a gift certificate for you.

Picture: Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0

CCC’s Chief Elf,

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Add The Power of Print to Your Marketing Mix

brain power by Allan Ajifo via CC BY 2.0 // text added by author

By 2016, the printing industry is expected to hit $845 billion.^ And yes, it’s growing. Before you go all digital in your marketing efforts, take a step back and consider the power of print.

Beyond the sheer size of the industry and options available, creative uses of print in your marketing campaigns can help you break through the information overload of today’s digital world.

Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper illustrates this point. In a Temple University study conducted for the U.S. Post Office, researchers found:

  • Paper ads engaged viewers for more time
  • A week later, subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads
  • Physical media caused more activity in the ‘purchase intent’ area of the brain

We’re not telling you to ditch digital. In fact, print is even more effective when combined with your digital efforts. Send a direct mail piece with a personalized URL (PURL) to your recipients, so they can go online and respond or buy quickly and conveniently. Utilize a QR code and text short code on a handout at an event, so attendees can request an electronic version, answer survey questions or enter to win a contest on their phone while they’re still in the room.

The Temple University study highlighted a key takeaway. Effective print ads will drive digital purchases. So even if the C-Suite prefers flipping through a physical catalog, they’ll probably place an order online. Make sure that you devote enough time to your website design and checkout process. You don’t want a disastrous digital experience to interrupt the steady stream of leads — and sales — that print will bring to your door.

The Power of Print in Your Marketing Efforts

Do you utilize print in your marketing efforts?

Do you see your brand increasing, decreasing or holding steady in its print usage in the short-term?

How can you integrate the power of print with your digital marketing efforts?

Share a powerful print example that moved you or someone else to make a purchase.

Sources: ^Pira International via adampage1976

Yes, I have physical business cards. 😉


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4 Ways to Control Your Social Media Destiny, But Not Your Fate

Social media is a two-way street, a conversation between brands and consumers that’s never been possible before. Every brand dreams of having an active, engaged online community that shares opinions, discusses its products and invites others to join. Until it happens, that is. Then the brand starts to get nervous. Why?

"I can control my destiny, but not my fate."

You can control what you say on social media, but not what others say about you.

To truly get social, you have to give up a little control over where the conversation goes. You can give direction, suggest topics and even try to steer your community down a certain path with incentives. But you can’t stop members of your community from taking a conversation down an unexpected path, making negative comments about you or associating your brand with undesired topics or people. And that scares brands, understandably.

What can you do to keep the conversation civil?

  • Stay Positive — Discuss what you (and others) do well, and stay away from negative mentions of competitors. Respond to community members who take the time to comment, even disgruntled ones. Oftentimes, a simple acknowledgement of someone’s distress and apology (if your brand caused said distress) will calm down upset members. If additional action is needed (i.e. replace a faulty product), take it. Always communicate what you are doing, so others can see you being responsive.
  • Be Honest — Don’t try to mislead your audience about your brand in any way. In the digital age, that won’t fly. Transparency and honesty lead to trust, which is the new business currency. If a community member asks a question, tell the truth. While all brands should strive to be good corporate citizens, no one is perfect. Lying to your audience or overstating your efforts won’t build trust in your brand. Editor’s Note: This doesn’t mean that you have to allow incorrect information to be shared about your brand. Feel free to step in and correct anyone (with a smile) who is misleading others about your brand.
  • Acknowledge Differing Opinions — Community members can disagree with your brand (or other community members) without being hostile or uncivil. Perhaps some members don’t like your new website layout or a new product. Listen to these members, as they may have valid points that can be useful in future discussions. At least acknowledge them and let them know that you value their voice.
  • Do Your Research — Some brands have had issues with their hashtags for new campaigns or chats being hijacked. A little research into current consumer sentiment about your brand can prevent this awkward situation. Is your brand the subject of negative PR at the moment? That may not be the best time to throw your CEO on Twitter for a chat. Test the temperature of the market’s feelings about your brand before holding a special event or launching a new campaign online.

With a little foresight, patience, honesty and positivity, your brand can build and enjoy a thriving online community. Just remember that you can’t control fate, or the conversation. If you’ve built trust with your audience, the conversation about your brand will be one you’ll want to share.

p.s. We’d love to see you in the CCC community! Click the Subscribe button at the top of the page, and visit our social networks below.

CCC’s Head Superhero,

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Kids & Social Media = What’s the Right Answer?

Your social media feeds are probably filled with pictures of your friends’ kids (or complete strangers’ kids), especially during back-to-school, Halloween or birthday parties. While we ohh and ahh over these pictures, a question always comes to my mind — how much is too much?

A young girl uses a laptop

“Young girl using a laptop” by PictureYouth via CC BY 2.0

Everyone is proud of their kids, and they should be. Let’s be honest… all parents reading this post would tell me their children are special and ‘above average’ at key capabilities. So it’s understandable that parents would want to show off their kids as much as possible. But should their be limits?

As a parent, how do you decide when to begin creating your child’s digital footprint? How do you determine what to post? Is anything acceptable — especially for young children? Naked pictures in the bathtub or sitting on a toilet? Do you worry about these pictures cropping up 20 years in the future?

I’m not a parent, so I’m curious of the thought process surrounding these questions — if there’s one at all. As a relative, do you post pictures of your nieces, nephews or cousins automatically? Or do you check with the child’s parents first? Do you share pictures of your relatives’ children to your social networks, which probably include friends outside of whoever posted the picture?

I’m not judging; I’d love to start a discussion and hear different points of view on this subject. Obviously, when my generation was growing up, there weren’t social media networks to share every aspect of your life on 24/7. Digital cameras or phones with cameras weren’t around either, so our parents didn’t take nearly as many pictures of us as kids as parents do today. It’s a different world!

So my question is… kids and social media = what’s the right answer?

Join the discussion!


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Girl Power: Do We Need It?

I recently came across an article from CNN, 5 things women couldn’t do in the 1960s, that really made me think. My life would be so different today if I were born a generation earlier. While we’ve still got a ways to go, it’s amazing the advancements that have been made in a relatively short period of time. Such as?

I'm contemplating life

Yours truly contemplating life… while enjoying espresso, of course.

  • Starting a business –> A woman couldn’t start a business without her husband’s permission.
  • Owning a home –> I still have service companies routinely ask for my husband. 😉  Surprise!
  • Having a credit card –> Banks could reject unmarried women, no questions asked.
  • Playing organized sports –> The female body was ‘too fragile’ (and the Earth was flat).
  • Use contraception –> Life planning, a beautiful thing.

What would you miss the most in your life if we lived in the past?

On that note, I’ve seen a push to encourage more girls to learn to code and go into traditionally male-dominated fields, such as math or science. Just today, I saw that Lego has introduced a play-set with three female scientists: a chemist, an astronomer and a paleontologist. GoldieBlox made headlines earlier this year by creating a video about its non-traditional female toys.

I think it’s great that girls today are being encouraged to broaden their horizons outside of their Pepto Bismol world (and wish some of this stuff had been available when I was growing up!). But I do hear criticism from some corners that it’s being overdone and girls don’t need special toys and games to show them what they can do.

What do you think? Is it important for girls to have female role models and mentors (even cartoons and action figures)? Guys, please feel free to chime in as well. I’d love to hear your opinion!

A not so girly-girl in a not so girly world,

No matter where you land on the girl power debate, connect with CCC:
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Blog of the Year Award 2013

One of the things I love best about the end of the year is all of the Best of designations, Year in Reviews, Top 10 lists, etc. (The year that ESPN showed the Best Sportscenter Commercials was at the top of my list.)

So you can imagine how thrilled we were at CCC when The Journal of Wall Grimm decided to designate this blog as a winner of the Blog of the Year Award for 2013. How exciting! It’s the blog’s first award, and along with the thoughtful comments, likes and visits, encourages us to continue down this long, strange road we’re traveling.

Blog of the Year Award

As a recipient of this award, CCC has the responsibility of passing it along to the blog(s) that we feel deserve special recognition. We follow some insightful blogs from a variety of people, so this was a decision we really had to think about. Without further ado, I present to you our 2013 Blog of the Year winners… (drumroll please)

101 Books

Robert Bruce is reading his way through Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels and taking us along for the ride. As a fellow writer and fervent reader, I appreciate his honest commentary and insight into each of his selections. It really helps me decide what — and what not — to add to my lengthy, always-growing reading list. For unbiased book reviews, insight on writing and a fun mailbag feature (where he answers readers’s questions), follow 101 Books.

Ahh The Simple Life

Carol and Michelle are sisters who value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Bucket List Publications

Some people make a bucket list when they’re dying; Lesley Carter makes one to live life to the fullest. She’s packed more into her years than people who have been around three times as long. Rock climbing? Paragliding? Dog sledding? Check. Check. Check. Lesley’s been to 34 countries and has no plans on slowing down. Follow along on her world tour as she seeks new adventures and works toward completing her annual bucket list at Bucket List Publications.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Congratulations 101 Books, Ahh The Simple Life and Bucket List Publications! I’ll be in touch shortly to personally congratulate you and offer some easy instructions on accepting this award. We’d be honored to have you guest blog here at any time.

Again, a heartfelt thank you to Sage Doyle at The Journal of Wall Grimm on honoring the Clearly Conveyed Communications blog with this award. Thanks for being a loyal follower and guest blogger!  

By the way, what’s your favorite blog? Drop the URL in the comments below along with a short description on what the blog’s all about.

Blog of the Year award badge courtesy of the Thought Palette, the originator of the award
101 Books, Ahh The Simple Life and Bucket List Publication headers courtesy of the respective companies


p.s. We need your help to hit 150 fans on the Clearly Conveyed Communications Facebook page! When we do, we’re celebrating with a ‘Big Bang,’ and some fun prizes. Check out our contest and bring your friends!

Connect with CCC… we’re more than just a blog!
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Breaking Through Gender Stereotypes: Are We Making Progress?

I planned on writing a post about social media today, either tips on tackling Twitter or answers to some FAQs from clients, but then I came across this video in Slate.

Watch it. It’s worth two minutes of your time.

It was created by a company called GoldieBlox, a toy company who wants girls to know there’s more to life than dolls and princesses. This ad speaks to girls who are interested in science and exploring, solving problems and getting a little dirty in the process.

What do you think?

Are we making any progress breaking through gender stereotypes? Or are they not a problem?

Does a person’s gender affect how you communicate with him? If you hire her? How much you pay him? How you treat her?

Related reading: Women in the Boardroom: Handshake or Hug?

What can I say? I love to make people think and open up discussions on debatable topics. So let’s discuss. All opinions welcome!

Video courtesy of GoldieBlox

A tomboy at heart,

Everyone welcome — let’s get social! 
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This Blog Is Made For You And Me

You're invited to the CCC blog!

This blog is your blog, this blog is my blog…

You're invited to the CCC blog!

In my last post, To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is The Question, I touched a little bit on why I started this blog in addition to the topic of blogging in general. As readers of my thoughts and musings, I value your feedback and welcome your insight and opinions.

First ask, then bribe…

Where should this blog go from here? In general, my posts are wide-ranging but fall into four main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection. The first three categories mentioned mirror the main services that my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, provides.

While focusing on these areas, the topics themselves are broad. Below is a current tag cloud of this blog (and a clickable version is housed in the right-hand side menu if you’d like to delve deeper).

blog tag cloud

Yes, I can look at analytics and see which posts draw the most eyes and engagement, but analytics don’t always tell the whole story. People do. Share your thoughts and help shape the future of this blog (and possibly other blogs).

Step Into the Spotlight

empty spotlight
Image: Danielle Buma (CCL by 2.0); Effects added by author

What’s your favorite type of post? Or your favorite post specifically?

Would you like to see the content of this blog narrow? Or shift focus?

Would you like to see different types of posts than what’s currently here?

The Incentive

Anyone providing sound feedback will be entered into a drawing for a Starbucks or iTunes gift card. There will be at least one winner but may be more based on the quality of the feedback left. Please share freely… Thank you!!

The keeper of your blog,

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