Hep Rebrands to Cohesive

Winnipeg Marketing Agency

We did it to ourselves

Several months ago, we started the inward looking process of defining who we are and what we do.  In other words, what our brand is. Now, isn’t that a novel concept, apply what you do to yourself.

We found that we had grown beyond building websites and that we have been providing complete marketing solutions to a broader base of clients for some time now. We decided that the best way to tell our story was to make sure that we understood, in detail, what we do, who we do it for and why do we do it.

We knew that our roots were firmly in the online world, specifically websites, but that we had grown to encompass most, if not all, of the marketing components you would expect a full service marketing agency to deliver. Continue reading

Oscars! Space Jump! Canada Day?

I can’t help but look for brands marketing themselves at events and what they are doing to standout in the crowd.

Being in the right place, at the right time can have huge impact for increasing brand awareness and sales, but these marketing initiatives usually take planning and clever creative.

Take Samsung at the Oscars with the now famous Ellen selfie – that product placement was brilliant. No it wasn’t a iPhone – do you think that helped Samsung?

ellen-degeneres-s-oscar-selfie-300x168

Another event marketing opportunity that was done really well was Felix Baumgartner’s Space Jump – Red Bull was part of this huge event from beginning until end.

So on Canada Day, when I headed over to Assiniboine Park to watch the fireworks, I looked around to see if any brand was making an effort to stand out in the big crowd ( I believe this event averages 80,000 – 100,000 people each year). I wasn’t disappointed with the fireworks display, but I didn’t notice any brand trying to stand out at this event at prime time. Seems like a missed opportunity.

If you’re looking for ideas to launch your brand to the next level, let’s talk.

The Pride of .ca

Cohesive.ca - Made in Canada
You’ll have to pardon the patriotic nature of this post – it comes with the territory of posting the day before Canada Day.

At times brands that have a presence both in Canada and the U.S. and one of the trepidations that occurs is branding oneself as being ‘too Canadian’. For whatever reason, we can sew a Canadian flag on our backpacks, we can put “Made in Canada” on labels but when it comes to online marketing, even something as basic as a domain extension, there is a jolt of ‘are we sure we want to do this?’

The funny thing is, more than ever, we’re no longer living in the ‘dot com’ world – rather we’re in the ‘dot somethingorother’ realm. Continually, hosts are coming up with new extensions that we all want to buy into, and to an extent we do, if for no other reason than to protect our business names from being bought up by unsavoury companies who’d charge larger amounts that standard retailers.

It almost seems counter intuitive to patriotize yourself in the global community. How many American companies do you see, for example, that have “.us” as part of their website address?

Here’s the reality folks – the same way we wear the red and white proudly in our business’s daily life is the same thing we should do online. Is there nothing that says “I am Canadian” more than dot ca in the virtual world?

When you choose to brand your online presence with the Canadian extention, you say to the world,  “yes, I’m Canadian”,  and in doing so you are showing the quality of your work. Canada has a long and proud international history, one that we need to continually build on and raise our glasses to.

So when it comes to purchasing your next web domain, make sure it’s .ca – you will reap the rewards of your pride.

Can you build your own website?

Of course you can. There are a variety of tools out there that will help you build a site, albeit a basic one, one that will function as an online brochure and validate your business. And there is more coming from some very big and reputable companies.

But, if you want one that is found, one that stays found, and actually drives or helps to create opportunities for your business, you need to pay attention to your online assets. And, you need to find new ways to drive traffic to it so that they can see what you can do for them; that’s right, it’s all about them; the customer.

Over the past month or two, I have seen some pretty nice websites that were built by the owner using some form of online tool. Now, just about anyone can build a nice site as long as you have some content, some imagery and some idea of the buying process and calls to action. And, as long as you know about directory submissions, tagging, optimizing for search engines and keywords, you will be just fine. But, as is with a lot of things in life, the devil is in the details.

Online marketing has become a major force for both brand recognition and getting prospects to contact you. Everywhere you look, someone is on their mobile device and a lot of the time, they are looking for information about a product, about a service or where to get what they need.

Can you really afford not to have your online presence working as hard as you are? Sometimes traditional works, most times online has a wider range but either way, we’re here to help; give us a call.

Every Picture Tells a Story

I figured since today’s blog topic is about visual storytelling in marketing, I’d entitle it with something that pays homage to the great Rod Stewart, since he happened to write a song on the topic of telling stories through visuals. Or, at least I thought he did, until I read the lyrics for said song – the title doesn’t really capture the song theme, in this (now rather ironic) case.

In any event, I did stumble upon many interesting articles touting the importance of reinforcing online content through powerful and engaging imagery and video. My favourite one describes “The 8 Types of Images That Increase the Psychological Impact of Your Content”.

Most of the image types listed were no surprise, until I got to the end and saw number 8, Comics.

Humour has always been a big part of marketing, and the rapid growth of online marketing has meant that we’ve all had to become very witty, very quickly. If there’s a visual that can help to, ahem, accentuate my clever wit, I’m all for it! I found this one particularly uproarious because it happened to me recently.

As a consumer, you may notice that you’ll feel a stronger kinship toward a company when you feel that you share a similar sense of humour. It’s very difficult to impart humour with words alone – this is where imagery and video become so important to establishing the B2B or B2C relationship.

The popularity of clever, witty and amusing marketing grows every year – almost exponential to the cost of a Superbowl spot – and it’s a refreshing ingredient to add to an overall marketing strategy.

If you’re ready to test its efficacy and share a laugh, give us a call!

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Lessons from Cannes Lions

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity wrapped up this past weekend and I’m so happy to see some of my favourite ads from the past year on the Grand Prix winner’s list!  Among them are Volvo’s “Epic Split” featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow” a follow up to their previous winner “Back to the Start” and British Airways’ “Magic of Flying” real-time billboards that react every time a BA flight flies by overhead.

But beyond being a showcase for advertising from around the world, the Cannes Lions is also a venue for discussion.  This year, the festival featured over 48 hours of talks, as well as workshops, screenings and exhibitions.

One of the strongest themes of this year’s festival was the importance of storytelling.  With all the technology that is available to us today, an authentic human story is still the best way to break through all the clutter.  Stories allow you to connect with your consumers on an emotional level.  Some of the best ads from this year and past year’s winner’s lists are there because of their ability to move their audience through the stories they tell.

Executive Chairperson and Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather South Asia Piyush Pandey puts it best, “Advertising has gone from being literal to connecting with the heart.” (Source: Huffington Post)

Of course, telling a good story is only the beginning.  Social engagement can tell you how well your content was received.  People only share something when they feel an emotional connection to it.

“Social is the gateway for what to watch and when.” – Maker Studio (Source: Huffington Post)

So if you’re struggling to find your story, just look to your audience.  What are they interested in? What are they sharing? What resonates with them?

Coca Cola uses a similar strategy – “We produce 15 percent of the content. Consumers produce 85 percent.” – Wendy Clark, Coca Cola Marketing Chief (Source: Huffington Post)

It’s important to remember that a social strategy means give and take.  You give valuable content to your followers but you also gain valuable insight and perspective from your audience in exchange.

The marketing world is always evolving and changing – events like the Cannes Lions are a great opportunity for the world’s creative minds and brands to share insight and to start a  dialogue and exchange of ideas.  And for those of us watching from afar?  It is a source for true inspiration!

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DIY vs a Professional

I recently saw the term “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur” someone had posted on LinkedIn and started to think about the companies I come across from time to time that try to design their logo, brochure or website. Some have a creative eye and business smarts to create well produced pieces, but it took them way longer than what they expected and fall behind on the things that make them money or there were things they didn’t know at the when starting and the logo they created doesn’t work well in all mediums.

If I compare that to Do It Yourself projects around my home, I learned years ago that I’m handy enough with a screw driver or paint brush that I can do some home improvements on my own to save money, but when it comes to something that may jeopardize my home functioning well, like the furnace, hot water tank or roof. It’s best to call a professional that does the stuff every day and has experienced and knowledge on how to do the job right the first time.

If it’s time to create a new logo, brochure or website, you could DIY and hope you get it right the first time, but my experience tells me that you will save in the long run by hiring a professional.

How Do You Blog?

When I meet with one of my clients, I use an analogy of a website being like a child – that it is a living, breathing organism. The more you feed it, the stronger it grows.

The food for your website, in this case, is fresh content, and there is no better form of nutrition than blogs (and yes, I will further this analogy in later blogs) which tend to be the true active parts of your website. Unless you’re regularly updating flyers or service offerings, your blog will be the spot you will be doing most of your activity.

The question that arises, then, is how do you blog.

It’s a question that most who don’t have confidence in their writing ask often, and at times will back away from any thought of blogging because of it.

The truth is, blogging is a lot easier than you think – it’s a matter of avoiding over-thinking it.

The biggest problem is the fear of looking bad in your online communication. Everything from bad grammar to misspelled words become the boogeymen of your publishing, let alone the idea of truly presenting yourself as an expert.

The key is that the voice you use has to be representative of your company. If your company line is to be warm and inviting, consider a conversational style. If you’re a firm that has education as its primary strategy, then carry this method to your blog.

The bottom line with blogging, to borrow one of my favourite lines from The Simpsons, is to write the way people talk. Use a voice rather than a straight facts-and-terms approach and you will keep casual readers coming back for more.

For more expert tips on website content generation, contact Jon at Cohesive Marketing.

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation – an opinion

The new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) goes into effect July 1, 2014. CASL covers the sending of commercial electronic messages that may be accessed by a computer in Canada (which usually just means cases where the recipient is in Canada). CASL covers more than just email — it also covers texts, IMs, and automated cell phone messages sent to computers/phones in Canada.

CASL requires you to get express consent before sending someone a message. All requests for express consent must touch on the following three points: 1) You must specify exactly why you want the consent 2) You must give your identifying/contact information as well as the contact info of anyone else for whom you’re getting the consent and 3) You must provide a clear method so that they can remove their consent. You can get this in writing or orally, but you should keep a record of when/how you got consent.

With the introduction of CASL, outbound marketing has some very specific and tight rules but if executed correctly, and legally, it can still be very effective; actually, more so now as you will know that the recipient actually wants to hear from you.

As well, a properly executed inbound marketing strategy is now more important than ever before. CASL legally restricts many of the questionable outbound tactics some people have relied on for far too long. With these tactics no longer at their disposal, the inbound imperative is now even more important.

Ultimately, as the email-sender, you have to understand your obligations and determine how to be in compliance. The information provided here is to help the reader better understands the issues around online marketing. While we are sure of the accuracy of the information provided, it is imperative that you consult your legal counsel for a professional interpretation. This information is not provided as legal advice and is solely provided as information only.

Quizzical Messaging

A recent conversation about a client here at Cohesive got me thinking about quizzes and surveys. Have you noticed how many quizzes are popping up on your Facebook newsfeed lately? I never thought that I would be curious about which Disney princess I am, but it’s not a question I asked myself until it was put in front of me – and then, for some reason, I was curious.

Now these quizzes are bringing to light a whole bunch of other stuff I never knew about myself – Would I Pass School Physics Right Now? (I don’t even need to do this quiz, I know already); What Should My Name Actually Be?; Which one of Charlie’s Angels am I?; and the list goes on.

Clearly, these quizzes are created for amusement and those hours nearing the end of the day that I like to call “mushy brain time”. However, that doesn’t mean that quizzes and surveys don’t have a place in the world of business marketing.

Structured correctly, quizzes and surveys can be a valuable tool in learning about your target audience and how you can go about invoking reliance and trust in your products and services. This blog post does a good job of helping to visualize what sort of information a survey should contain, but that’s not to say that the goal of surveys is to go viral.

As with any good marketing tool, the goal could be to ascertain customer information, troubleshoot lines of business where necessary, promote specific products and services to disengaged audiences, or really whatever you deem the goal to be.

Somebody had a goal of making me ponder which Charlie’s Angel I am, and voilà, for better or worse, I am now equipped with that little tidbit of information for a lifetime.

It’s really all in how you communicate with your audience, and that’s one thing we know a lot about. Give us a call and let’s craft the survey to which you need the answers!

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