Browsing articles in "Advertising & Marketing"
Nov
14

Forgetting Thanksgiving

I wondered into the grocery store the weekend after Halloween, only to be greeted with wrapping paper and Christmas cookies. What the hell? I had to check my calendar, nope, it’s still November.

Why does America choose to totally skip over Thanksgiving? Is there no money to be had on turkey and football in the backyard with the fam?

For me, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. You don’t have to stress out about what to buy that Aunt you only see once a year, or get all creative on making a costume no one else has.  You slap on some jeans, a sweater, and fast for two days so that your tummy will be completely empty to take in all the gut busting goodness. You don’t worry about counting calories, and you have that second piece of pie. You come together with the ones you love to give thanks for all that has been bestowed upon you in the past year. You share stories of children learning to walk, raises at work and new additions to the family.

But appearantly, all that goodness isn’t good enough to keep the commercial beast at bay. I’m already getting red and green mailers, catalogs of expensive toys, and TV commercials about where you can get the cheapest candy canes and fake trees.

I just want some pumpkin pie, coffee and good conversation with family I don’t get to see often enough. But I suppose, you can’t sell that.

Nov
6

Wanda Sykes: Spokesapple for Applebee's

Applebee’s has a new logo, and a new Spokesapple.  Brand New has a reveiw of the new logo, and most of the reviewers are as mixed as the logo elements themselves. Personally, I think the logo brings Applebee’s to the current design trends, but the offset of the apple illustration and the monotone between the company name and the slogan is a little bland. The font choice for the tagline is a bit much, perhaps too much serif going on here.

Identity aside, I like the way Applebee’s has introduced a viral marketing video as part of the rebranding. Setting up Apple auditions for a new Spokesapple. Some of the clips are pretty funny, including the pineapple, orange and pear who auditioned, or Alan the Karate Chopping Apple. Check out the auditions here.

When all auditions were through, Wanda Sykes is the new voice over for the new Spokesapple. I love Wanda, and I think she’ll really bring out the comedy in having a Spokesapple. She is fun, funky, and still very fresh.

Nov
2

The Long Wow: Keep Your Clients Coming Back

I subscribe to the Adaptive Path newsletter, and I suggest you do as well if you’re interested in user experience in the slightest. I’ve continously enjoyed the articles they write regarding users and how to keep them around.

The most recent article was The Long Wow by Brandon Schauer, an experience design director for Adaptive Path.

The Long Wow is a means to achieving long-term customer loyalty through systematically impressing your customers again and again. In other words, you have to keep up the awesome user experience all the time, not just the first time. Revising your product or service to continually introduce new features and examples of how this product can make your users lives amazing.

Brandon also explains that your common loyalty programs really don’t create customer loyalty at all. Just because you have a membership card usually isn’t the main reason you keep going back to a particular store.

For instance, I have a Basha’s discount card, a Frys discount card AND a Safeway discount card on my key chain. But I’m loyal to Safeway, but why? 50% of it I would have to say is because it’s the closest to where I live right now. 30% is the fact that I know my way around their store, I can find what I want and get in and out quickly. 10% is because I like the service there, everyone is friendly and they are helpful. 5% is because I feel that Safeway is cleaner than Frys (the next closest store) and I feel safer there. 5% is the fact that Kaleb, my boyfriend, worked for the Safeway company when he was younger. Notice the fact that I have a little card that gets me some discount doesn’t even play into that mix.

What is in the mix? Well, there’s location, ease of use, customer service, care of product, and personal connection to the brand.

So what are some new features Safeway could add to make my experience even better? Well what if they added a branch of my bank there so I could make deposits as well. Maybe they could open up another store even closer to me, since I still have to drive a distance to get to this one. Perhaps they could hire more checkers on Sunday evening since it’s always PACKED.

These types of constant user experience analysis really can make an impact on sales, marketing costs, and of course customer loyalty. Anyhow, check out the original article to read more about what Brandon and Adaptive Path have to say about this topic. 🙂

Oct
28

Internet Stars are Viral Video

If you spend any time at all watching viral videos online or are into viral marketing, you NEED to watch this video!

The team over at Cakke has mashed together some of the greatest viral moments (online and off) into one amazingly funny video. It’s really interesting to note just how many of them you have personally seen. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re participating in a viral activity, but this video really drives it home how many times we’re touched by this marketing magic.

In fact, I’m virally promoting this video right now… weird huh?

Oct
24

Facebook Developers Garage in Phoenix

What is a Facebook Developers Garage? It’s an opportunity for developers, marketers and any one else to learn more about Facebook, Facebook applications, marketing through Facebook applications, building applications and everything in between. Highlights of the event include a presentation by Dave Morin of Facebook on Platform and a detailed look at the evolution of the Red Bull Roshambull application by Nate Warner of Red Bull. Seating is limited to the first 150 that RSVP to this event, so if you have interest be sure to get in early! Click here to RSVP


Date: Wed, Nov 14th, 2007

Time: 6-9 PM

Location:
Tempe Center for the Arts,
700 W. Rio Salado Parkway,
Tempe, AZ

Agenda:
6:00 pm – Networking & Refreshments
6:30 pm – Keynote Speaker: Dave Morin, Facebook
7:15 pm – Marketing Facebook Applications – Chris Johnson, Terralever
7:30 pm – Application Presentation: ‘Roshambull’ presented by Nate Warner, Red Bull
7:40 pm – Facebook Application Development, presented by Scott McAndrew & Joel Neubeck, Terralever
7:50 pm – 5-minute Apps and Ideas mini-presentations (If interested, contact one of the Event Admins)
8:30 pm – Live Social Networking
9:00 pm – Let the afterparty begin (location TBD)

Oct
21

Local Lifestyle Magazines Recieve Facelift

I’m proud to announce that Terralever launched two new sites into the world wide web this week. We have just finished production on a redesign and large back-end content management system for Cities West Publishing sites, Phoenix Home and Garden and Phoenix Magazine.

I am really proud to have been part of this success. The website may seem large and elaborate, but with the use of themes, masterpages, and dynamic content the site itself is about 20 pages in total. This was the first website in which we were really able to experiment with large scale theme usage and I learned quite a bit about how to make the front end flexible enough to reskin.

Making sure css naming conventions were simple enough to reuse through out the process was a key piece of the puzzle. I used the content to determine the class and id naming instead of color or position since both of these could change dramatically. This was not only important to switch from theme to theme within the sections of the site, but also we chose to reuse quite a bit of code from one site to the next to save cost for our client. Thus, the reasoning in similar layout from one site to the other.

Making sure each piece of content knew what month and what section it appeared in was also a large undertaking in this process, thankfully our wonderful back end development team did an amazing job of coordinating how the data manipulated the themes and sections with in the site.

In addition to the amazing design and development that went on to create the front end look and feel, there was an amazing effort on the back end administration system. Back behind all that wonderful content is an editorial staff that needs to input it in every month in a quick efficient manner! To help them with this, Terralever created an amazing custom content management system that allows the editorial staff to select which issue an article appears, what section, enter in the content and add supplemental photos to each story.

For each story the editorial staff has full access to create and layout articles however they please. They can add as many photos, call outs, etc to make each layout custom to the story it holds. To help them with this process, we created five templates for them to start with, allowing them to enter content quickly and then make the necessary additions with more photos, more call outs, etc.

The administration also gives the staff full access for the featured flash piece on the homepage, to create and edit user polls, add events, showcase photos in galleries and have users sign up for news and emails.

While these sites were a big project and some nights were spent eating at my desk instead of in front of the TV, it’s always worth it in the end. To go to a live URL and see something you’ve invested so much and learned from is amazing.  These sites are definitely two projects I’m proud to have been a part of. I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoyed building them.

Oct
16

Seth Godin: How To Create a Great Website

Seth Godin recently posted his top 10 principles to create a great website. I really agreed with his perspective and wanted to elaborate with my own views.

1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker.

When you involve too many people into the process you start to conform and compromise until a great, original idea has transformed into a safe, bland piece of uninspiring web junk.

2. Change the interaction. What makes great websites great is that they are simultaneously effortless and new at the same time. That means that the site teaches you a new thing or new interaction or new connection, but you know how to use it right away. (Hey, if doing this were easy, everyone would do it.)

The web is all about interaction and ease of use, make it easy and make it essential to life. People flock to technologies and websites that make it easier to connect, share, do, and use in a way that wasn’t possible before. Take for instance, Flckr, it’s made photo sharing so remarkably easy that the whole world started sharing their snapshots. Or look at MySpace, making connecting to old friends easy, customizable so you can have your very own space on the web.

3. Less. Fewer words, fewer pages, less fine print.

There’s a new trend on the web where less is more. Don’t pitch to the client, don’t dance around the fact that you have a service they are interested in, just give it to them straight. If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t be on your website, and they’re on your site for more concise, to the point information about you, the services you provide, and if you’re right for them. However, on the web, attention spans are at an all time low, so make it snappy!

4. What works, works. Theory is irrelevant.

Ultimately, there is no golden ticket to being a giant on the web. For years everyone thought we needed MORE everywhere on the web, and then came along Google: a logo, a text box, and a button. PERIOD. While you may think for a long time on how something may work, the true test is just to launch and see what happens.

5. Patience. Some sites test great and work great from the start. (Great if you can find one). Others need people to use them and adjust to them. At some point, your gut tells you to launch. Then stick with it, despite the critics, as you gain traction.

The bigger the site, the more complex, the more bugs you’re going to find. You can test EVERY scenario on how a user will try to use something, and then the day you launch, a user will show you a different approach you didn’t think of. The web is ever evolving, even if you launch today and it’s perfect, you’ll still need to update to stay fresh. Nothing on the web is forever. If you place your flag in the sand and wait two years to build on what you’ve created you’ll realize you have to totally rebuild because you’re washed up. Keep fresh, keep building on what you’ve made.

6. Measure. If you’re not improving, if the yield is negative… kill it.

You can spend a ton of money on a new site, but how do you know you’re getting a return on your investment? Do you know how many new contacts or sales are coming to the website? Do you know how many visitors you have and what your conversion rate is? If you’re not getting the numbers and contacts you want, where are your users bailing out of the system? Knowing all this information is key to making sure your investment is really being returned and that what you do next is really required to boost those numbers. Don’t be afraid to bail out of something that isn’t working after a period of time. Don’t beat a dead horse, just get up and move on to another approach.

7. Insight is good, clever is bad. Many websites say, “look at me.” Your goal ought to be to say, “here’s what you were looking for.”

Just because your site has all the bells and whistles doesn’t mean you’re going to draw in those users you want. Building on the less is more strategy, make sure that that select content you choose to include in your website is insightful and what the client is really looking for.

8. If you hire a professional: hire a great one. The best one. Let her do her job. 10 mediocre website consultants working in perfect harmony can’t do the work of one rock star.

Think of it as if you’re going to the doctor, would you tell him that your leg is broken and how to set, pin and cast it? No. Would you go to the illegal doctor working out of a shack instead of a highly trained doctor in a hospital? You should have the same regard for your interactive professional. Tell them where it hurts, tell them what other marketing meds you’re on, but don’t tell them how to do their operation. Even though you might save some money in the short term by going to a hole in the wall web shop, you’ll get want you pay for, junk. You’re going to reap the benefits of plunking down the dollars for a professional organized, designed and developed website.

9. One voice, one vision.

Make sure you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. You should have a solid idea of what you’re looking for. This will save time and money when you start looking at companies and solutions to help you build your website.

10. Don’t settle.

In the end, you ARE paying for a service. Don’t be steamrolled by a company who simply isn’t giving you what you need or thought you were going to get. Make sure the company you’ve selected for your project is right, and feel free to shop around. If your idea simply isn’t going to happen for your budget, more than likely several companies will tell you.

Sep
27

Wait Less – Sprint Style

I have been seeing the WaitLess Sprint commercials on tv lately, I figured it was just another bad commercial gimmick like the Alltel’s commercials Man Cave. But honestly, the way Sprint has married their TV commercials with the web is genius! Waitless.org is all about spending less time doing the boring things in life, to spend MORE time doing what you want to do. The videos are hilarious and they’re a great sample of what viral media should be. Check it out and have a laugh at all the awesome ways you too can save time and wait less!

Sep
18

Favorite Presidential Logo

Be design democratic! Check out LogoVoting.com to vote for your favorite 2008 Presidential Candidate logo.

It’s interesting the number of different symbols and typography that are used to express a personal touch to the same type of communication. Also check out the variety and combinations of red, white, blue, stars, and American flags.

I would tell you who I voted for, but that’s against the rules. 😉

Sep
16

Letters from Code Camp

So I spent a good chunk of time yesterday over at the Phoenix’s Desert Code Camp and I must say, what a great set up! There were lots of sessions available for most every type of coder. I found two sessions to be especially interesting, SEO for Coders and Designing the Obvious.

 The SEO for Coders session went over how developers can start from the inside out when creating a site to really give SEO a fighting chance.

Some of the on-site SEO considerations are:

  • keywords in the domain
  • relavant, keyword rich content (Content is King!)
  • keywords in page titles (Page Title should go before Site Name)
  • clean, keyword rich urls
  • keyword proximity and density throughout the site (use Ranks.nl to test density, 2-5% is good, anymore and possible spamming might be considered)
  • having keyword encompassing meta tags, make sure all your keywords are covered
  • internal links
  • relevant, keyword rich alt and title tags
  • valid xhtml code that’s quick loading

Some of the off-site SEO consideration are:

  • inbound links to your site
  • reciprocal link exchange
  • press releases
  • forum comments
  • e-mails
  • paid links and pay per click

Overall it was a great session that covered the basics of SEO as well as some of the tips and tricks of the trade. Such as using dashes instead of no space or underscores in your page urls. I confirmed a lot of my beliefs about SEO as well as learned about some new tools to look for great keyword combos and how to better market my sites outside of my own.

Designing the Obvious was a wonderful session as well that covered some of the overlooked, but very important pieces of designing a user-friendly site. Some of the highlights were:

  • first impressions are important, make sure you put a lot of thought into the front page of your site
  • use wireframes to mock out your site before designing or developing, it saves time and money
  • pay attention to diagonal balance, don’t force it, but be aware that the users eye will tend to shift from the top left to the bottom right and try to put your main branding and focal point to fall within that diagonal line
  • when designing navigation try to use verb noun pairs to support the users mind set of getting things done
  • many sites are now changing the style of used objects to make them more pronounced on the page, the more the user uses it, the darker it becomes, making it easier for the user to find what they’re really interested in
  • we need to explain exceptable values on forms, approach form design as if you were a user looking at it the first time, make sure everything is instructive and clear
  • there are three states to any interaction on the web, invitation to act, manipulation or the steps to complete the process, and completion and confirmation, confirmation is the least remembered step in web site creation, but a very important step for the user, make sure to include it

Robert Hoekman, Jr., the speaker for Designing the Obvious session, also has a book out by the same title. Also check out his blog and he’s starting Up Down Repeat Workshops that you may want to check out, the next one coming up is about form design.

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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