Marketing

QR-Codes

QR Code it

What can a QR Code do?

A lot of people don’t know this, but QR Codes are actually old technology.  The QR code system was invented in 1994 by Toyota‘s subsidiary, Denso Wave. Its purpose was to track vehicles during manufacture; it was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. With the advent of the smart phone and the capability of such devices to easily read and process these barcodes anywhere, at any time, their potential and use began to blossom.

A QR code is literally a bridge to connect the “real world”  with the “digital world.”  You can’t put “Click here” on a t-shirt or printed brochure, but a QR code gives you virtually the same benefit.  “Scan here” and visit the online destination of my choosing. Basically, anywhere a website button could take you, a QR code can bring you to the same place.

We often generate QR Codes for our clients to place on cards, ads, stickers, or T-Shirts. It can store text, a URL, contact information, phone numbers, SMS whatever. I have used them to link directly to websites, Facebook pages, and even PayPal payment screens.

The possibilities are endless.

The best place I have found to go to generate your code, simple, easy, and free is: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/

Good luck, and happy scanning!

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Bright idea

How to work around the Google Analytics Account Limit

Account Limit Reached! You have reached the limit of 25 accounts. Please reach out to your Google Analytics support contact for assistance.

The problem seems daunting, but the solution is really quite simple and obvious (since we all have 20/20 hindsight). I know people that have set up individual Google accounts for EVERY client, but that ends up being a whole lot of user names and passwords to manage for no particular reason (like we don’t have too many already).

The Scenario: You use your Google account to manage Analytics for all of your clients.  After you try to create the 25th account, you get this message: “Account Limit Reached: You have reached the limit of 25 accounts. Please reach out to your Google Analytics support contact for assistance.” That is totally BOGUS!

The Solution: Use a secondary Google ID to create the “new account” for your new website’s analytics, then add your primary Google account as an administrator.  Now, you can log back in with your primary user account and delete the secondary account as a user.  Voila! You now have 26 Accounts in your Primary User ID’s Account list.

This 2 account solution works flawlessly to break the 25 account limit. It keeps everything under one roof, while still maintaining separate accounts able to be shared with clients who want to have administrator access, or transferred away if the client wants to take over complete control of it (a.k.a. transfer to another vendor).

Bravo! To Grant Bivens from Interworks Blog for explaining it in extreme detail here

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Still cuckoo after all these years

Do you ever wonder if your advertising and marketing campaign is getting old and stale? Do you feel like you need to have a new image or a new look to help boost sales? Perhaps your brand needs an evolution, not a revolution.

Since 1962 Sonny the Cuckoo Bird has been cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, because of those 3 wonderful qualities “crunchy, munchy, and chocolatey.”

Since 1959 the silly Trix rabbit has been trying desperately to trick children into giving him some Trix Cereal. Although on a few occasions, he WAS allowed to eat a bowl of Trix, he continues to try.

Since 1963 Toucan Sam has been sniffing out hidden bowls of Foot Loops Cereal and he can ALWAYS find them because all you have to do is follow his nose (it always knows).

With respect to these three brands, General Mills and Kellogg’s have chosen to stay on the path of CONSISTENCY.  I often emphasize the importance of consistency because although YOU are looking at your marketing materials day-in, and day-out, your customers and prospects aren’t necessarily seeing it every day. Rather they only see your message as an intermittent burst among the sea of thousands — sometimes even tens of thousands —  of messages that they are flooded with every day. Staying consistent and cohesive gives your brand extra strength through longevity and repetition.

Sometimes an ad campaign seems to get boring or dull, and you may want to switch it up after a few months or even a year.  The 3 examples above have been maintaining a consistent advertising campaign for OVER 50 YEARS!  Sure, the characters get freshened up, and they go on new adventures, but they are always there. Think about what you don’t like about your message and maybe all you need is a new twist on the old theme. Don’t lose faith in your brand equity and brand history.

Keep Sonny in mind next time you want to start fresh. Think about it, are your ads driving your prospects cuckoo, or just you? If General Mills or Kellogg’s had changed their campaign theme intermittently, they might have gone from Cereal Manufacturers to Cereal Killers.

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Google me.

In 2010, people googled the word “google” over 615 MILLION times according to comScore’s 2010 digital year in review. This suggests that people in general don’t like to use the browser address bar.  After all, “http://www” is not a very user friendly string of characters.  “Is that two colons and one forward slash…or was it two forward slashes and then a colon..or was it a back slash and a semi-colon?!”  Just looking at the many emails I get every day, people often have a hard enough time spelling their own name, let alone remembering how to properly format the syntax of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

So what does this mean for me? It means that first and foremost, before you start worrying about targeting keywords for your products and services in organic search engine rankings, you need to make sure that your company name and or URL itself is searchable. For the most part, this is relatively easy to do, and the search engine algorithms normally account for this.  For example, if you search for hats, in the top 5 results you get www.hats.com.  The same result happens when you search shoes or belts – www.shoes.com or www.belts.com will show up in the top 5 results.  But when you search for couches, www.couches.com is not in the top 5 results.  This poses a problem for the people that – although they have your URL, don’t know how to use it.

The above statistic barely holds a candle to the nearly TWO TRILLION searches for  the phrase “facebook.”  in 2010, Facebook grew to the 4th most visited web property.  3 out of every 4 internet users visits Facebook at least once per month. comScore 2010 Year in review also reports that “Facebook accounted for 10 percent of U.S. page views in 2010, while three out of every ten Internet sessions included a visit to the site.”

Facebook is a great place to expand your marketing efforts to. Find your ‘fans’ and enable them to help you spread the word about your product or service.  Obviously ALL your customers aren’t reachable there, but reaching out to the ones that are there is a great piece to a comprehensive marketing campaign.

Go ahead and Google me. You should get a few valid results.

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Hits don’t hurt and impressions don’t last.

In the world of websites...impressions lead to hits, not the other way around.When looking into an online advertising program, it’s good to know the lingo before you start. Here are a few terms you should know to get you on your way.

Clicks: A click is when a user actually CLICKS on your web ad. This click normally goes directly to your homepage, or to a landing page you have set up for that specific ad or marketing campaign. Normally this statistic is counted on the site where the ad is placed, so even if the ultimate destination (your web site) is down, doesn’t load correctly, takes too long to load, or the user cancels the action and goes somewhere else, the click still counts as a click. (Normally a click is registered at the exact moment the user releases the mouse button – thus it goes ‘click’, or maybe it goes clack, but I digress…). This method of ad tracking is commonly used because it is easy, simple and does not require tracking code on YOUR website (only on the site where the ad, banner, or link is placed.)

Impressions: Impressions are the number of times an image, ad or link is displayed. In most cases tracking impressions requires access to the site that is serving the ad.

Click Through Rate (CTR): Click Through Rate is one of the vital statistics that you should be aware of. To find your CTR, you divide the number of users who clicked on your ad (clicks) by the number of times the ad was shown (impressions)  For example, if your ad was shown 100 times on a website and 1 person clicked on it, then the CTR is 1 percent. This statistic helps you determine if your advertising campaigns are effective. There are many factors involved in determining the effectiveness of of an (target audience, the content of the ad, position of the ad, etc).

Okay, so what’s a ‘hit’?

Hits: A hit is when a user actually LANDS on one of your web pages. Hit counts tally the traffic your page or site receives. Google Analytics uses the terms “Visits” and “Pageviews”to refer to variations of the “hit.” A visit is a unique person who comes to your website as a whole. A pageview is when an individual page on your website is viewed by a visitor. If you are trying to determine the success of a banner ad through hits, then you need to have a separate landing page set up, so hits from that particular ad are gong to a unique page, often called a “landing page,” and not just directing visitors to the home page.

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They’re using my photo! Inconceivable!

Inconceivable! Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride

Inconceivable!

I know you licensed that image, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Have you ever seen an advertisement and done a double-take because you KNOW you’ve seen that image somewhere before?  Well, you probably have.  With the advent of low-cost royalty-free stock photography, this phenomenon is happening more and more. One day I use a photo for a client website, and the next day, the same exact photo appears in my inbox from an unrelated company. Hopefully you steer clear from using the same photos as your competitors, but that is the risk you take when you use stock photography.

The two ways to guarantee that no one else is going to use the same image as you is to either purchase the complete rights to an image (which can often cost exorbitant amounts) or hire a model and a photographer and do your own photo shoot.  Make sure you have an arrangement with the photographer that at the end of the day you will own all rights to the photos and they won’t be reused or re-sold. Custom licenses and contracts are always negotiable, but make sure you figure it all out ahead of time.

Unfortunately, the cheaper a photo is, the more likely people will license and use it.

How do photo licenses work?

The Biltmore Email newsletter used the same royalty-free photo that we used for White Collar Investigations

The Biltmore Email newsletter used the same royalty-free photo that we used for White Collar Investigations

Royalty-Free Images

No, these aren’t FREE, they are royalty-free. These images are usually the least expensive to purchase, and the quality tends to be on the low end (but not always). This means that you license an image at a certain size, usually determined by the pixel dimensions of the digital image, and you can use it wherever and whenever you want and as many times as you want.  License particulars vary from vendor to vendor, but the general idea behind royalty-free images is the same.  NO ROYALTIES!

Websites like iStockPhoto.com, 123rf.com and many others license images like these starting at $1 (for a small web-size).

Rights-Managed Images

A rights-managed image means that you have to purchase an image for a specific use and time frame.  You can license it for a day, a week, a month, etc. You normally have to also disclose to the vendor where and how it is going to be used.  Web, print, commercial, editorial, the list can go on and on.  Many factors are calculated into the final price.  At the end of your image license time-frame, if you want to keep using the image, you have to renew the license.

These types of images usually tend to be of a higher quality and are more desirable than royalty free images, which is why the vendors can often get away with charging higher prices.  These images usually start at $500 for a single use at a small size, and go up from there.  The final price can end in the thousands.

Beware, you are responsible to renew your own image license.  When the license runs out, the image files do not self-destruct like the mission tapes in an old episode of Mission Impossible.  Although you may still hold the digital file for the image, you can not use it in a public piece without renewing the license.  Yes, Big Brother is watching, and you may find yourself in a legal matter when the image vendor calls on you with a letter to cease and desist and to collect $5000 of past royalties for using an unlicensed image.

The Discovery Channel used the same royalty-free image that we used for Amit Arava, a Counselor and Sex Therapist in Westport, CT.

The Discovery Channel used the same royalty-free image that we used for Amit Arava, a Counselor and Sex Therapist in Westport, CT.

Custom Photography

This is always a great option when the image you are looking for is specific and realistic.  (If you need an image of a model in the Caribbean, and you are located in the mountains of Colorado, you probably should consider other options) however, the cost of a model and a photographer for a day can often be MUCH CHEAPER than licensing a Rights Managed image for a year of unlimited use.

Free Images

There are select websites like www.sxc.hu that offer FREE photos for commercial or editorial use.  Be sure to read the image details carefully.  Different people have different license requirements and some request to be notified of use and/or credited. Overall these images are of a much lower quality than you would find anywhere else, but I have been able to find rare gems among them. And as my Father says, “It’s hard to beat free.”

Good luck on your image endeavors and let me know if you have any questions!

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Failure is the path of least diligence

Failure is the path of lease persistence

You are supposed to add "...in bed" to the end of every fortune.

It is a good thing that I’m not a landlord chasing people for rent payments.  Apparently, these days that is the path to failure. (wah wah wah)

...the road to failure is actually the path of least persistence!

Ziggy figured this one out 15 years ago.

There is the  possibility that this fortune is supposed to say what it says and imply that you will fail if you are always renting a property, I will go out on a limb here and guess that the author of the above fortune meant to write, “Failure is the path of least persistence.”  This fortune was intended to be a play on the old cliche based on the scientific phenomenon of the path of least resistance. The clever play on words was actually used correctly in a Ziggy comic in 1996. 

“The path of least resistance” is an idiom for “the easiest way.” According to answers.com, it is the “physical or metaphorical pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity, among a set of alternative paths.”

As H.G. Wells said, “The path of least resistance is the path of the loser.” One can also deduce that if you are not persistent, you are also going to fail. Bravo to the person who came up with this clever variation on the theme (I don’t think it was the fortune cookie company), but a big fat “F” (for failure) to the person who didn’t check the final copy.

You can run your copy through the spell checker a million times, but there is no replacement for the human eye.  Not even a grammar checker can do a fool-proof job at making sure you are getting your message across correctly.  Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do your due diligence and read through everything that goes out the door.  At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did.

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Don’t confuse your sources.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)

I have heard many people say “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is not true.  The aforementioned quote is primarily attributed to Albert Einstein, but this and other variations of the quote have been attributed to others as well including Benjamin Franklin, an old Chinese proverb, and Rita Mae Brown.” In addition, countless 12 step programs use this as their mantra.

One should always be cautious when quoting or defining a term.  Be sure that you have verified your sources before you carve them in stone.

The Definition of insanity according to Oxford Dictionary is “the state of being seriously mentally ill.” or “Extreme foolishness or irrationality.” One who is mentally ill, may or may not exhibit the behaviors that Einstein mentions.

The devil is in the details.  Watch out!

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For all intents and purposes: Stop. Think, then speak.

Scared or shocked face

For all intensive purposes, you will have this expression on your face.

I often hear people misquote this phrase and say “for all intensive purposes.” Ironically, they are often using the phrase to make themselves sound more educated and articulate, but misquoting a phrase does the exact opposite.

The phrase “For all intents and purposes” means: for all practical purposes, or in every practical sense.

If you say this incorrectly as: “for all intensive purposes” you are actually conveying an almost opposite meaning: for all intense and extreme purposes, or in extreme and intense situations.

For example, you may have guests over for dinner, and when you ask someone if they want a beer, a glass of wine, or a cocktail, their response may be “For all intents and purposes, I don’t drink alcohol”  This means that in any practical situation they don’t drink alcohol. However, it implies that if some rare or unexpected situation occurs – like they are offered one million dollars to drink a beer – they may actually drink it. If your guest had said, “For all intensive purposes, I don’t drink alcohol.” That would imply that in that rare situation when they are offered a large sum of money to drink it, they would NOT do so, because that would be an intensive purpose. One should also note at this point, that there is a difference in emphasis between intensive and intense although they are similar in meaning. “Intensive” normally relates to objective descriptions like an intensive care unit, where as “intense” relates to subjective responses, or how one feels, like the doctor at the hospital was very intense, but I digress.

Let’s use the phrase in another sentence to see how the meaning changes.

“For all intents and purposes, I drive very carefully.” Another way to say this might be, “99.99% of the time, I drive very carefully”

Now let’s see how the meaning changes when you use the incorrect phrasing.

“For all intensive purposes, I drive very carefully.” Another way to say this might be, “When things get intense and extreme, I drive very carefully.” This is most likely the opposite of what would actually happen.

When my children get really excited they sometimes tend to speak quickly, incoherently, or excitedly and I have trouble understanding them.  When this happens I often will say, “Stop. Think, then speak.” After a brief glare at my facetious response to their apparently urgent matter, they will then think about what they need to tell me, and convey it rather articulately. This advice is great for anyone, at anytime.  If you hear a phrase or cliché that you think sounds useful, by all means please learn it and use it in your vernacular. However, always remember to stop and think about what it means. If need be, look it up in the dictionary. Once you are certain of what it means and how to use it, then you should use it in your conversations.  This is especially true when you are on a first date, at a job interview, writing copy for an advertisement, or making a presentation.

For all intents and purposes, you should know what you are saying before you say it. Stop. Think, then speak.

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Nothing left to take away

Use a strong voicing.

The phrase “I think” is quite often superfluous in any essay or article, since the author wrote the article one can only assume that EVERYTHING in the article is subject to that person’s bias and opinions, unless quoted or footnoted. The same might also be said for the phrase “I know,”  but that is perhaps subject to one’s writing style.  Leaving one or both of those phrases out of your writing will result in a stronger voicing and will make you sound like an authority in the subject you are writing about.  It is almost akin to adding “like” in random places to fill in the sentence.

Consider this example from an excerpt from The FENG Editorial:

“I know that many of us pride ourselves on being brief. Being a financial person I think in part is defined as being factual and to the point. Any member of our profession who had a tendency to rattle on would be viewed as a little odd, don’t you think?”

A stronger voicing would be to change that paragraph to:

“Many of us pride ourselves on being brief. Being a financial person in part is defined as being factual and to the point. Any member of our profession who had a tendency to rattle on would be viewed as a little odd, don’t you think?”

It is perhaps ironic that a paragraph about being brief had some extra words sprinkled in there, but that aside, the second version of this paragraph is much stronger and to the point. This circles back to my central theme of “Less is More,” which applies not only to design, but to writing as well.

You can tell a piece of work is done, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.1

1. This is my spin on a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exuper – Ch. III: L’Avion, p. 60 –  “Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher.”

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