CCC Turns 3, And You’re Invited (To Win)!

We’re throwing a party, and you’re invited — to win.

CCC turns 3!

Clearly Conveyed Communications is turning 3 this week, and we’re celebrating with our clients, customers, supporters and fans. All week, we’ll be partying (while we work) at the office, so we’re inviting you along for the fun.

Follow and engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the blog for your chance to win CCC swag and other cool prizes. The winners will be announced right here on Friday, so stay tuned!

While you’re here, kick off your shoes and stay awhile. We’d love to help you with your next marketing, writing or social media project. Let us know your challenges, so we can help you with solutions. Have a question? Ask!

To kick your Tuesday up a notch, here’s what we’re dancing to in the office right now. Join us!

Now that you’re done dancing, here’s a chance to win.

What’s your favorite post (or series) on the CCC blog? Let us know below to be entered to win!

(New to the blog? Check out the right-hand sidebar for recent posts, popular content, categories, subject tags, archives and contributors to the CCC blog. You may be surprised at what you find!)

p.s. THANK YOU to all of our loyal readers and followers. We love to hear your thoughts and appreciate everyone who likes, comments on and shares our posts to further the conversation.

Cheers,
The CCC Crew

Jaime, Penelope & Mojo

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Inside/Out: Brands, Take Your Message To The People

Last night, I attended a launch party for a unique concept called Inside/Out Akron. The Akron Art Museum has embarked on an ambitious community outreach program to take art to the people. High-quality art reproductions from the museum’s collection will be installed throughout the city for Akronites and visitors to enjoy as they go about their days.

Taking your message to the people. It’s a concept that seems everywhere today, or maybe I’m just noticing it more. From museums and churches to malls and grocery stores, everyone is reaching out to its audiences instead of only trying to market their products and services to them.

How can your business or brand take its message to the people?

Hit the Road — Exhibit at trade shows, conferences or community events. Take advantage of the tremendous foot traffic that these events generate, and the opportunity to get your message to new audiences. Early registration timelines and product/service trades can reduce your expenditures and help you receive even more exposure. Maximize your return on investment (ROI) by putting together a show strategy and executing a pre, during and post-show plan. Don’t forget about sponsorship opportunities, either at these events or elsewhere. They can be a boon to your business if chosen carefully.

Related Reading: Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan  |  Sponsorship: Your Name Here

Make New Friends — Look for opportunities to partner with other businesses or organizations to expand your reach. Make sure it’s a win-win situation, so you can develop a long-term, positive relationship. For example, the Akron Art Museum partnered with numerous organizations, including the Summit Metro Parks, Downtown Akron Partnership and Akron-Summit County Public Library, to reach new audiences and increase promotion of the Inside/Out initiative. A local homeless shelter partners with organizations to expand its reach, including Chick-fil-A to host a canned food drive. When you drop off at least two canned goods, you receive a coupon for a free sandwich. The right partnerships can open up a whole, new world.

Related reading: Love — and Marketing — is in the air!

Be the Host with the Most — Step outside of selling your products and services for a minute, and invite people into your building with no strings attached. What can you offer? Host a monthly book club or allow community members to reserve little or unused space for meetings. For example, the Summit Mall has flourished in an era when malls nationwide are struggling by opening itself up to the community. The mall encourages walkers, even opening the building well before the stores to accommodate work schedules, and posting wellness tips from a local hospital system. It also hosts a variety of events, from career fairs to pet expos, and seemingly everything in between. Once people are in the mall, it’s amazing what happens. They spend money! Another win-win.

Flip It Inside/Out: Your Turn!

How can you take your message to the people?

What are other examples of businesses who have taken their messages to their communities and beyond?

Would you be interested in a similar type of art outreach program in your community?

p.s. If you have event-related questions, let us know (or check out these event-related posts). While it’s not a core service that we promote, CCC has plenty of event experience of all kinds and would love to help with your next event.

“Just a small biz owner in Akron, OH,” 🙂
Jaime

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Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

“Everyone has a story to tell. It only goes in one direction: forward.”                                                                         -Don Draper

And Mad Men, the popular drama about the advertising world (and life) in the 1960s from AMC, has told its story well. In its own way, with some detours of course. But isn’t that life?

Sorry, CCC will be out of the office on Sunday evening -- watching Mad Men!

As an advertising major (and disciple), I love this show because of its attention to detail. Everything — the ads they create, the most minor set props (Tab, anyone?) and the lifestyles depicted are true to the time period the show is set in. (Just ask real-life Mad Woman Jane Maas.)

Even AMC’s social media marketing is on point. Take the above out of office that you can create on the Mad Men Facebook page. Pick your favorite character, decide what you’ll be doing (brainstorming a new ad, meeting with the creative team or going on a date) and fill in your name to let your connections know that you’ll be tied up on Sunday evenings. Genius.

Furthermore, the Mad Men voice is consistent wherever you hear it. Watch the show, scroll through its tweets or check out pictures on its Facebook page. AMC remembers that the brand is set in the 60s and acts accordingly, even down to the words it chooses. Want to rub elbows with Don and Peggy? Don’t sign up for the show’s newsletter; join the Mad Men Social Club. Looking to enjoy the next episode with friends? Check out the Cocktail Guide. Still not enough? Get the Mad Men Birchbox, male or female version.

AMC has stayed true to the brand it created while taking advantage of more modern marketing options, like social media, brand partnerships and email marketing. That’s why it’s so important to understand your brand’s voice, so you can present a consistent presence across platforms, marketing vehicles and generations.

Now make yourself a martini, put your feet up and enjoy storytelling at its finest.

Tell Your Story

What brand is your favorite storyteller?

Would you work at Sterling, Cooper & Pryce?

Who’s your favorite Mad Men character?

Editor’s Note: Different bat time, same bat channel. The CCC blog will now publish on Mondays and Thursdays. Don’t want to miss a post? Click on the subscribe button to the right of this post’s title. Thanks for reading!

A Mad Woman at heart,
Jaime

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Brands: Is Looking Stupid Ever A Good Thing?

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”                                                                      -Brendan Behan, Irish writer

Even in the constant onslaught of social media, some things stop you mid-scroll.

Here’s the kicker (no wrong sport pun intended): Hostess did this on purpose.

“The ‘Touchdown’ line was intentional; it’s fun and aimed at young audiences who are in on the running joke – which, of course, is the goalllll.” -Ellen Copaken, senior director of marketing at Hostess Brands

Huh?

As a company who helps brands with social media, we love to secure increased exposure for clients, along with achieving their other objectives. Positive exposure, we should point out. We can’t ever imagine making a brand look stupid in order to gain engagement and attention. How does that help with the big picture?

“For a few hours, Hostess achieved the all-consuming goal of social media managers everywhere: cut through the noise. Even though it had to act like an idiot to do it.” -Mashable

Along the same lines, there was a mixed reaction to JCPenney’s #TweetingWithMittens Super Bowl stunt last year. If you missed it, the retailer sent out a series of tweets filled with mistakes and typos. Most Twitter users thought that the people manning the account were intoxicated, or the account had been hacked. It turned out the company was “tweeting with mittens” to promote its status as the official supplier of Team USA’s mittens.

The company planned this strategy because Super Bowl XLVIII was held outdoors in New Jersey, and freezing temperatures were expected. Unfortunately for JCP, temps were much higher for the game, so wearing mittens didn’t make sense. However, JCPenney’s engagement went through the roof (both positive and negative), and its week-over-week mitten sales doubled.

So, here’s our question –> Does the end always justify the means?

If your brand’s engagement soars (even negative mentions), is it worth it?

Would you use a stunt that may reflect poorly on your brand in order to gain publicity?

This is a hot topic; Mashable even wrote about it. We’d love to hear your take!

Cheers,
Jaime

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Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Business

Spring is in the air! Maybe it’s the rising temperatures or longer days, but optimism abounds this time of year.

Spring is in the air! CCC can add a breath of fresh air to your communications.

Spring cleaning? Don’t forget your business! CCC would love to help you freshen up your communications.

If spring cleaning is on your to-do list, don’t forget about your business! How can you spring clean your business? Try these tips:

  • Get Organized — Go through your paper and electronic files and form a system. The point is for you to be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Try alphabetizing file folders or creating sub-folders to further corral all of your pictures and electronic documents. Don’t forget to back up your electronic files!
  • Review Your Online Home — Take a fresh look at your website or blog, or ask an unbiased third party to help out. What catches your eye? Is your site easy to navigate? Does the look and feel still work or is it time for a change? If you don’t have a blog, now’s a great time to start one.

Related reading: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide to SEO // Do You Mow Your Blog? // To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is the Question

  • Get Social with a Strategy — Review your social media presences. Do you like what you see? Be honest — are you providing your community with value? Are your efforts producing the results you want? If not, step back and think about what you want to accomplish.
  • The Right Fit — While we all want to grow our businesses, sometimes downsizing can help spur growth. Are you stretched too thin on social media? All platforms aren’t the right fit for all businesses. Choose your platforms wisely to get the highest return on investment. Remember, social media isn’t free!
  • First Impressions Matter on Social Too — Your profile, profile picture and cover photo are often the first impressions that a visitor — potential customer? — has of you on social media. Make a favorable first impression! Refresh any profiles, profile pics or cover photos that need it. Note that some platforms have changed dimensions for 2015.

Related reading: Have you found your social media voice? // Should You Slim Down (on Social Media)? // What’s in a social media profile? Everything.

  • Revisit Your Customers — Take a fresh look at your customers. Are you providing the right products or services to help them achieve their objectives? Do plans or strategies need a fresh look? Is your customer still a good fit for your business? Companies and brands change, so you need to be fluid too.
  • Look in the Mirror — Look at your brand: your logo, colors, font(s), name, reason for being… everything that makes you who you are. Does it still fit? Has your brand evolved but your look and feel stayed the same? It may be time to rebrand or just refresh.
  • Freshen up Your Communications — Has your message grown stale? Are you having trouble reaching your target audience(s)? Are you sending out the same emails, newsletters and blog posts? Freshen up your content to re-energize your brand and re-engage with your customers, prospects and employees.

Related reading: Why You Should Think Like The B.A.U. // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun // The Power of the (Red) Pen

We hope that you enjoy the related reading links, which should help you tackle some of the aforementioned business spring cleaning tasks. Or you can search the CCC blog in 3 ways: search box (upper right-hand corner), Categories and Tags (scroll down the right-hand sidebar). If you have a question about your particular project or a subject in general, just ask! We’re here to help. Not sure how we can help you? Check out a sampling of the marketing, writing and social media services we offer.

“I always find something I’ve lost when I do my spring cleaning. This year it was my mind.”  -Maxine, Hallmark character

What part of your business are you going to spring clean?

Whistling while I work,
Jaime

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A Subtle Dash of Branding Can Make Your Customers Smile

It’s amazing how what you do shows up throughout your life, even when you least expect it.

Anthropologie understands it's brand!

A subtle, unexpected touch of branding can form an emotional connection.

For example… I was opening my mail yesterday after a long day spent catching up at home and in the office from traveling to a client’s conference last week. To my surprise, I received an early birthday gift from a longtime friend (who has wonderful taste, by the way).

As I opened the box, I was excited to find a beautiful bottle opener, a practical and eye-catching gift. I also noticed two other objects in the box which I pulled out. One was a full color card advertising the company’s gift registry. The stock was a nice weight, and the piece reminded me of an invitation or ‘Save the Date’ card, which probably wasn’t an accident. The other was a tone-on-tone embossed white envelope with an old-school tie clasp containing the shipping list/return form. I was impressed!

Anthropologie understands its audience.

Why? Anthropologie is a company that I’ve long thought to be on point, branding-wise. In its 22-year existence, the retailer has stood out from its competitors by focusing on the stories of its products, the communities it operates in and its partners. (It’s name is no accident; look up the definition of anthropology.) By offering a mix of signature products, outstanding service and community support, Anthropologie understands its audience and serves it well. The big-hearted retailer has no interest in being another mass-market discount superstore.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me when the company that seems to think everything through, captured the smallest detail. The shipping list and/or return form is often an afterthought, thrown in the box at the end, so it’s the first thing you see — and associate with the brand — when opening your package. Not here. It was neatly tucked into the subtly branded envelope, keeping it safe if needed, yet out of eyesight if not. Upon opening the envelope and discovering its contents, I received another surprise: two more beautiful pieces are on the way.

By thinking of every last detail, Anthropologie made me smile three times while opening a gift from a friend. With a subtly branded envelope and some ingenuity, this brand-conscious retailer lured a potential customer in without ever walking in a store or going on its website. Remember, a subtle dash of branding can make your customers (and prospective customers) smile.

How do you promote your business in subtle, unexpected ways?

What’s a small thing you’ve done (or can do) to make a customer smile?

A branding believer,
Jaime

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Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

Branding. It’s all the rage, but what is it exactly? According to Merriam-Webster, branding is the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand. Of course, there’s as many definitions of branding as there are flavors of chewing gum.

These are just a few of the brands who have connected with me.

A few of my favorite things — Starbucks espresso, Chuck Taylor shoes and Merona socks.

I’ll make it easy though. Branding is a feeling you create in people, an emotion. It’s the way that seeing a Starbucks cafe makes me smile. Sure, I’m an espresso junkie, but that’s not the only reason I love Starbucks. It’s the atmosphere in the company’s cafes, the best reward program in the industry. It’s my personal Starbucks cup, paying with my phone and earning stars, all while doing what I love — drinking espresso.

It’s the same type of connection I have with Big Red gum, New Balance running shoes, Sharpie markers, PaperMate Flair pens and so on. When I use these products, they evoke a special feeling in me. When I chew other gum or write with another brand of pen, it’s just not the same. (As a writer, I’m serious about my writing instruments!)

The Garth Brooks brand has a loyal fan here!

17 years ago, Garth put a kid from an unincorporated village 10 rows from the stage, convincing me that dreams do come true. Almost 17 years later, the love affair continues.

And then there’s Garth. It’s not just my country roots or my cowboy brother who turned me onto his music. When you go watch Garth Brooks perform, it’s an experience, not just a concert. And 17 long years ago, he signed this fan up for life with a gesture that he repeated over and over again. He took the time to look at his show from his fans’ point of view and came up with ways to make their experience even better. And this fan will never forget it.


Brand You

What are your favorite brands?

How did they make a special connection with you?

As a brand, how can you connect with customers?

Cheers,
Jaime

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LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile

You created a bare bones profile and uploaded your resume to LinkedIn a few years ago, and you haven’t been back. You’re done, right?

LinkedIn: Essence of a Profile

original photo via smi23le’s photostream by CC BY 2.0 // edited by CCC

Similar to other social platforms, the more you put into LinkedIn, the more you’ll get out of it. And just like other platforms, it all starts with your profile. What’s in a LinkedIn profile? Let’s break it down.

(Read my) Headline

First, let’s start with what it’s not. Your headline does not have to include your title or current employer. That information is already listed elsewhere in your profile. Your headline is what you want people to think of you (and contact you) for. Are you a content marketing maestro? QuickBooks queen? WordPress whiz? Let the world know about it.

Here’s the deal with headlines: you want to come up in as many relevant searches as possible. The format is up to you. List your specialties: Writing Services | Marketing Services | Social Media Services | Content Creation or create a phrase: Writer (aka content creator, communications connoisseur) reaching consumers’ minds and pocketbooks since ’04. Spend some time playing around with your headline: tweak it, change it, have friends and colleagues read it. This is how you pull people in — or don’t.

Profile Picture

As we’ve touched on previously, it all starts with your profile picture. You need a good head shot, which is easier than ever today. It helps to show your face, so people know who you are. Remember, people do business with people, not companies. Let them know who they’ll be working with. Stay away from group shots, pictures of your kids (or other people) or anything related to a mugshot. Your personal Facebook page? Fine. Your LinkedIn profile. Not so much. Smart phone pics work fine. Just make sure you’re in good lighting, don’t have anything distracting behind you and don’t move the phone/camera. Oh, and stay away from duck lips. They may be hot, but they probably won’t help you land new clients or opportunities.

Summary

After a well thought out headline and appropriate profile pic, this is it: the most important part of your profile. Prospects, potential employers and investors will often decide whether to read on and contact you from your summary. This is your time to shine and let readers know why they should want to work with you. What can you do for them? Think of it as your elevator speech or 30-second spot to sell what you do. Always think of the reader — what do they want to know? Include any relevant statistics or numbers to back up your claims (i.e. consistent double digit growth, 25% year-over-year ROI).

Experience & Education

This is where you spell it out (briefly, of course). Tell people how you succeeded at previous opportunities, including going above and beyond. Share relevant examples, statistics, key responsibilities, numbers and any details that may impress a prospect or potential employer. Bullet points work great! Also, add projects that you worked on, including published works. (p.s. Published doesn’t have to mean The New York Times; it can be in a company newsletter or on a blog.) Don’t forget about the Education field, even if it was “forever ago.” Chances are you accomplished a few noteworthy achievements in school and should let everyone know about them: internships, awards, minors & additional areas of knowledge, overseas studies. It’s amazing what could attract someone’s eye!

Skills & Endorsements, Recommendations

These two areas can provide validation to your profile. Select the skills that you most want to be known for to display on your profile, so people you work with can endorse you for them. It’s fine to ask for endorsements or recommendations; just be tactful about it and be prepared to return the favor. Yes, that means you shouldn’t blast a recommendation request to all of your 900 connections unless you’re prepared to write 900 recommendations. Be selective about who you ask: did you provide value to a client? Did you succeed on an important project for your boss? Make sure that anyone you ask has a reason to recommend you, and being your best friend probably isn’t a legitimate reason.

There are other sections of course, and they all add value to your LinkedIn experience. But we’ve covered the “meat and potatoes,” so to speak. Go ahead, implement a few changes, and show the professional world what you’re really about!

Related reading: LinkedIn: Are You Connected | Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You?

Connect with Us

What tips do you have for LinkedIn profiles?

Share an awesome example of a LinkedIn profile or section — yours or someone else’s.

Have you landed a job, client or business opportunity via LinkedIn?

Your professional networker,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’d love to be a part of your professional network.
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Wristbands: Carrying Your Message for Miles (and Years)

When the Livestrong Foundation (formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation) launched the iconic yellow silicone wristband in 2004 as a fundraising initiative, I hoped it would raise some money for a worthy cause. I had no idea that it would catch on across the country — and around the world — as one of the hottest promotional products around. To date, over 80 million Livestrong bands have been sold, inspiring countless other charitable organizations, companies and brands to share their message in this popular manner.

silicone wristbands

Silicone wristbands are so popular even Elvis has his eye on them.

 Like so many others, I thought this trend would never last. Who would want to wear these promotional wristbands? Nearly everyone, it turns out. From young to old and red to blue, people of all ages, nationalities, genders, political beliefs and lifestyles want to rock a wristband. That’s one of many reasons the silicone wristband is here to stay. Ten years later, this staple promotional product is produced in a plethora of colors promoting metro parks to marathons and everything in between.

If you’re interested in promoting your company or brand with a reminder around the wrist, keep the following variables in mind:

  • decoration method
  • imprint location
  • imprint colors
  • band sizes
  • band colors
  • packaging options
  • quantity
  • in-hands date

All of these factors can affect your pricing, and different options make sense for different objectives.

In addition to exposure, silicone wristbands are also helpful at events. Hand them out to attendees at concerts, conferences and sporting events to easily identify who should be admitted and who shouldn’t. They’re durable, easily spotted and can be kept long after the event for continued exposure and as a keepsake.

Whatever your message is, it’ll go far on a silicone wristband.

Weigh In

What silicone wristbands are in your collection?

Are you surprised at this product’s staying power or did you think it would be a hit?

When did you get your first silicone wristband?

Have you promoted your brand, company, cause, organization or event with one?

Rockin’ the wristband,
Jaime

We don’t have wristbands, but we do have social networks. Connect with CCC!
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