An Important Message About Unimportant Messages

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A new documentary short by German director Werner Herzog has been added recently to Netflix and other online streaming outlets.   A number of his documentaries can be found on Netflix, and some of his narrative films, as well, but this particular film strikes a chord with us here at Staples Marketing.

The film is called FROM ONE SECOND TO THE NEXT and it tells the stories of four different texting-while-driving accidents, and the effects that they have had on those involved. The message is an important one, and it couldn’t be more clear: texting and driving destroys lives.

Staples Marketing interviewed Xzavier Davis-Bilbo (the first of the four accident victims in the film), along with his mother, for a Wisconsin DOT “Distracted Driving” message.  You can find that interview at http://www.zeroinwisconsin.gov/media.html

We are continuously grateful that we’ve been able to work with the Wisconsin DOT on their vital ZERO IN WISCONSIN campaign, and we are always encouraged to see others (including prominent filmmakers) get involved with a similar message. Click below to see the trailer:

Designing Ahead of the Game

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As a graphic designer, I need to stay on top of my game.  So, I keep up with the latest design trends, BUT in order to stay relevant, I must also foresee the future.

Since I am constantly looking at and studying future trends, I am able to incorporate those trends into eye-catching, yet strategic design that adds value to a client’s overall marketing materials. Here is one trend to watch that could help you take your marketing efforts to the next level in 2014:

This year the shift has been toward simplicity and visually pleasing design. As the products around us become more intelligent and with communication platforms increasing it is becoming more and more important to keep things simple. This trend is no more apparent than on the web.

See how simplicity can improve your brand: https://creativemarket.com/blog/2013/11/11/simplicity-in-web-and-graphic-design

 

Stop the Spread of the Dreaded Employee Benefits Folder

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We’ve all seen them, or gotten them. You are fortunate enough to get a job at an employer who offers benefits. Or, you get an opportunity to make changes in your benefit choices once a year during open enrollment. Your human resources department hands you a folder. A folder containing many different forms, brochures, booklets, flyers. All of them from different companies or organizations. No clear instructions, no sense as to what to fill out first, or how to fill it out.

It’s not because the human resources staff is trying to make this process difficult. Quite the contrary – they want it to be easy for you. If it’s easy for you, it’s easy for them. But they only have the materials they’ve been given by their third party administrators (or TPAs): the health insurance company, the 401(k) vendor, the dental insurance provider, for example.

What if there was a way to stop the spread of the dreaded employee benefits folder? There is.

It’s called strategic employee benefits communications, and it does the following:

FOR EMPLOYERS:
– Increases employee retention and satisfaction
– Reduces the stress on human resources staff
– Reduces the cost of benefits over time (educated employees choose and use benefits more appropriately and cost-effectively)
– Reinforces your employer brand
– Helps you stay in compliance with State and Federal regulations

FOR EMPLOYEES:
– Reduces the stress of choosing benefits
– Makes them feel like the company cares about them
– Helps them understand the choices they have
– Empowers employees to make the right choices for their individual needs
– Makes it easy to get the paperwork done

Some of our clients, like Manpower and Charter Manufacturing, have already stopped the spread of the dreaded folder, and we can help you to do the same.

Learn to Laugh a Little

Some of the best advertising done involves humor. Nothing gets people talking like a clever advertisement that makes you laugh. One recent commercial that comes to mind is done by Taco Bell, for their new breakfast menu. Various men across the country try the new breakfast items, all sporting the name “Ronald McDonald.” Get it? Ronald McDonald loves Taco Bell breakfast?! Great stuff.

Taco Bell’s twitter account is pretty hilarious too; if you’ve got some time to kill, check out @TacoBell.

And which Super Bowl commercials generate the most buzz? The ones that make us laugh out loud. People want to find things that make them laugh, so why not provide this while promoting your product? It’s a win, win.

There seems to be a barrage of inspirational, tear jerker advertisements out there right now. While these advertisements have their place, all the stock nature videos or scientists working hard on curing the world of its ills, can start to blend together.

I don’t know about you, but I won’t be sharing the ad of the business people talking at a round table, on any social media accounts of mine. But I did send the Taco Bell commercial via Google chat to a group of friends.

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So, when given the opportunity, it usually bodes well to lighten up and learn to laugh a little.

 

FOUR ONE FOUR LIFE

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Happy Milwaukee Day! For those who don’t know, April 14th is recognized by an increasing number of locals as “Milwaukee Day”. Why? Because…

April 14 = 4/14 ≈ 414 = the area code of Milwaukee County (and bits of Waukesha County).

And, depending on how your Excel spreadsheet is set to identify dates, you might also write April 2014 as 4/14, so we actually find ourselves right in the middle of “Milwaukee Month”, as well.

Milwaukee Day is a time to celebrate what makes our geographic area so special. Go to a Milwaukee Brewers game, walk through the Milwaukee Art Museum, and shop at the Milwaukee Public Market – but that’s just the beginning. There are dozens of area events, music venues, restaurants, coffee shops, parks, museums, bars, libraries, record stores, bike trails, and quirky little gas stations that sell fried chicken that you’ve yet to visit.

But really, this is all stuff you should do every day (except Brewer games, which will only run through October this year). Let Milwaukee Day be your springboard into an ongoing exploration of the local richness that exists 365 days a year.

Local businesses, the responsibility falls largely onto you, too. People are generally creatures of habit, and will continue to visit their customary haunts until someone or something prompts them to do otherwise. Some local media sources are very thorough with their stuff-to-do coverage, and draw attention to even the lesser known businesses when it’s warranted.  Those recommendations will only go so far, though, if you don’t also inform your fellow Milwaukeeans that you’re here, you’re awesome, and that you can’t wait for them to visit.

So, Milwaukee, don’t let April 14th be your one capsule of local enthusiasm for the year. Let it be the beginning of a more engaged Milwaukee Life. Get out of your comfort zone a little, and enjoy, but only after you’ve finished filing your tax return!

Social Marketing vs. Social Media

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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Start wearing a seat belt? Lose weight? Quit smoking? Stop drinking? That decision might just possibly have been the result of SOCIAL MARKETING. Social marketing is an effort to affect a behavioral change instead of to sell a product (check out Donald Driver, a regular wearer of seat belts).

You might use social media to help effect that change. In fact, FitBit and other exercise programs can be very effective because people are sharing their experience with others using online/social channels and making use of the spirit of competition to help motivate everyone to meet their goals.  

So, what is social marketing and how is it different from social media?

Social marketing: Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, when Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” 

Social media: is just one of a wide range of tools and tactics that can be used to help support a social marketing effort. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest are just some of the social media channels available.

Many public health efforts use social marketing to help effect changes – such as cancer screenings, smoking cessation, food safety, nutrition and more. Through research, we get at the heart of both what motivates as well as what barriers exist in affecting behavioral change among our target audience. We then craft the messaging and the method in which those messages will be delivered based on the audience. Social marketing is measured in years, not months.  

Staples Marketing specializes in social marketing – we help reduce the number of deaths on Wisconsin roadways and increase the number of people recycling or using public transit. If you’re still confused about the difference between social marketing and social media – let us know. We’ll be glad to help clarify.    

BRACKET? I HARDLY KNOW IT!

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Brackets busted? Mine, too. In fact, I’ve never put together a really good NCAA Tournament bracket in my life; and I’ve been filling them out since before most of today’s student athletes (and a few of their coaches) were even born. So, why come back every year? Why continue to suffer defeat at the hands of someone whose selection criteria are team colors and mascot names?

Because it’s fun! What could be better than watching the world’s greatest reality TV series play out, and having an opportunity to interact with it? Win or lose, it’s all good – especially for the organizers.  While this year’s tournament is nearly over, the demand for brackets isn’t going anywhere. Savvy radio stations, newspapers, and web-based companies know that there is ample traffic-generating juice in a good interactive bracket, and that it’s not limited to early spring.

The Business Journal’s “Brand Madness” and other bracket-shaped contests driven by online voting give the contestants (usually businesses) a great opportunity to market themselves. But in doing so, the organizers also drive impressions up on their own sites because people love following brackets!

When I was in college, I put together a just-for-fun bracket on social media, with such thrilling matchups as BRITNEY SPEARS vs. MILLER HIGH LIFE and PEANUT BUTTER TWIX vs. GOODFELLAS. BACON was the #1 overall seed and eventual champion, because of course it was. Friends and friends-of-friends voted for their favorites and checked in regularly to see who won each round. Some even called me to get the latest updates if they weren’t near a computer.

The point is, if you need a simple way to drive traffic to your site or social media, you could do worse than to build your own bracket and give people an opportunity to participate. It should be interesting on some level (funny or educational, if not exciting), but it certainly doesn’t have to be complicated. Let the games begin and let the impressions increase!