ClearVerve Marketing, LLC

Promise Marketing Blog

Five ways to keep your message simple

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 — 


I recently heard Dr. Steve Duncan, Marcus Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and director of MCW’s Program in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology speak at the Milwaukee Rotary Club. In 20 minutes, Dr. Duncan explained stem cell science, genetic testing, animal testing, and the FDA approval process. I actually felt like I understood everything he said. That’s a gift.

Most people think that in order to seem more intelligent, it is important to use bigger words and construct more complicated sentences. Actually, the reverse is true. People who are truly intelligent can explain something very complex in such a way that ordinary people can understand what they’re saying. This doesn’t mean that you need to be Albert Einstein in order to write clearly, but it does mean that good writing requires the willingness to get away from industry jargon and stick to plain English. That’s hard. It’s much easier to rely on buzzwords and generalizations.

The next time you need to explain something, try these five tips:

  • Think about the one thing you want the other person to do. Focus your explanation on achieving only that one goal.
  • Explain just enough for the other person to understand the basics, then stop.
  • Use short words.
  • Write short sentences.
  • Be specific.

When you’re trying to sell something, your prospect doesn’t need to understand EVERYTHING, just enough to ask the next question.

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Pinterest.

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OK, Google, can you help me with marketing?


I’ve been seeing these “OK, Google” ads on TV and wondered what would happen if I asked Google to help me with marketing. Of course I know Google can help with marketing, so I thought I’d pass along a dozen of my favorite free Google tools (and descriptions from other online sources) — all accessible using one login.

These tools offer ways to get more out of your search engine and social media marketing experience.

1. Google AdWords

If you’re not getting good enough traction with organic search traffic, then you might want to consider a paid search campaign using Google AdWords. By bidding for the right keywords, you can gain a considerable amount of qualified traffic where the conversions will meet or exceed the value you pay for your ads. Be sure to use advanced targeting options for location, mobile or desktop browsers, and other criteria to get the target audience you want.

2. Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Need keyword ideas for your search engine marketing campaign or paid search advertising? Try the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. When you enter a term that offers a wide range of ideas, like SEO, you will get groupings of keyword ideas that you can dig deeper into. While the total of the global searches is not always spot on, it can give you an idea of whether one keyword is more or less popular than another. You can also see an approximate cost-per-click amount, if you were trying to target the keyword using Google AdWords.

3. Google Alerts

Want to keep on top of the latest news, mentions of your brand, or other items in Google search? Then set up your Google Alerts. When you enter a search query, you will get a sample of the results you would receive and the option to have them delivered regularly to your email inbox. You can use this to keep up with your competition as well to see where they are getting mentioned or are building profiles.

4. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is probably one of the most powerful Google tools that you can use a as a marketer. You can learn so much about your website’s visitors including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Demographics – Learn more about your audience, including their location and language.
  • Social Engagement – See what social networks visitors come from and how they interact with your website’s social plugins (custom coding must be implemented).
  • Technology Used – Find out what browsers, operating systems, and networks your visitors are using to view your website.
  • Mobile Information – Curious if you need a mobile website? Find out how many of your visitors are using mobile technology.
  • Traffic Sources – Analyze what websites, keywords, search engines, and other referrers send traffic to your website.
  • Top Content – Get a handle on how effective your content is by seeing your top entry and exit pages.
  • What Leads to Conversions – Set up goals in Google Analytics to find out which visitors complete conversions such as purchasing a product or signing up for a mailing list.

5. Google Books

If you love reading, then Google Books can be a good place to go to find books online in all genres, some of which you can read for free. But from a marketing perspective, if you have a book, then you will want to get it listed on Google Books so that you can sell it to an even larger audience, especially now that Google is competing with iTunes and other online media retailers with their new Google Play store for music, books, movies, and Android apps.

6. Google Docs

Want to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and tables with other users to view online or download? Then Google Docs is for you. You can even create forms and send them via a link or directly in an email to collect survey answers, crowd source post information, and other data.

7. Google Display Planner

Need some quick traffic or demographics information for a website? Get it using Google Display Planner. The larger the website, the more information you will be able to find about it including the average visitor’s age, gender, education, household income, other sites visited, interests, and keywords searched for.

8. Google Trends

Google Trends allows you to search for keywords to see their trends over time. This way, you can see whether a keyword is gaining in popularity, see worldwide search trends over the course of a year to find popular months or seasons for a search, see search volume by region, and find a list of top ten related searches and rising searches.

9. Google My Business

Want your business to show up before organic search results? For some keywords, it can thanks to Google My Business. Be sure that you claim or add your listing on Google Places, complete your profile, add photos and videos, and encourage reviews so that your business will make it to the first page of search results.

10. Google+

Google+ is Google’s social networking channel. Google has not only created a thriving social network, but has incorporated it into almost every aspect of the Google experience, including Google search results themselves. Thanks to personalized search results, you can actually rank higher than normal in search results for those you are connected with on the network.

11. Google Voice

Google Voice allows you to create a phone number to make and receive phone calls and text. You can view your messages in an interface similar to your Gmail. It’s a good alternative if you don’t want to give out your office or cell phone number for particular contacts.

Another cool little trick with Google Voice is that you can set up a Google Voice number specifically for tracking how effective your phone number placement on your website is. Every time someone calls in using your Google Voice number, you can count the calls in your Google Voice account. This will allow you to test the size, location and color of your website phone number.

12. YouTube

Last, but not least, if you want to dominate the video market, then start with Google-owned YouTube. Not only will your video be available to YouTube’s millions upon millions of visitors, but it will also be on prime real estate for showing up in search results. Even if you can’t get your website on the first page of search results through traditional SEO, you might be able to get there with video.

Jackie Costa is the director of content marketing at Clear Verve. She works with clients to communication more clearly and create smarter, better, channel-appropriate content. Listen for her on Twitter as @JackieMCosta.

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In honor of Halloween: writing a blog is not as scary as you think


For some people, The Blog might as well be a new version of the 1958 cheesy alien invasion movie, The Blob. But, blogging shouldn’t scare you.

A client of ours recently asked us to blog (why, yes, it is a verb and a noun) for him. This happens all the time. He has good ideas and decent writing skills but he’s just tech-hesitant and time-challenged.

Though we’re more than happy to help him build his digital presence, writing for an online channel such as blog, is a skill he – and you — can cultivate. You need to find your niche and your voice and the tool that’s right for you. You don’t have to crank out your writing. You can move slowly. It might take you a while to familiarize yourself with the process, but before you know you’re thought of as a leader, a forward thinker who brings new ideas to the table and adds value.

But if you’re still a little spooked, here are a few tips we found for building fearlessness:

Tech is the means, not the end. The blogosphere, along with social media outlets, is just a spot for your message. Your message is what matters most. There a people who can help you make the technology work.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Writing is a process. So lighten up on yourself and move ahead.

Take a tour. Meet my friend YouTube. There’s an instructional tutorial (or 100) out there for anything with which you might need help.

Develop an outline. Planning and process might not be things you love to do but it will help you develop and repurpose your idea.

No worries. If the post just doesn’t look right in the preview mode, just upload it again.

Jackie Costa is the director of content marketing at Clear Verve. She works with clients to communication more clearly and create smarter, better, channel-appropriate content. Listen for her on Twitter as @JackieMCosta.

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#doorsopenmke – Totally Worth Seeing


For the past four years, Historic Milwaukee and several other community organizations sponsor Doors Open Milwaukee, a project featuring more than 150 buildings — offices, theaters, hotels, museums, clubs and universities — that open their doors to the public and  invite them in to take a look around.

I finally had the chance to check it out last weekend and it was well-worth the wait.

We enjoyed backstage access to the Milwaukee Theatre, Bradley Center and Turner ballroom. Plus we got a look at the city from the top floor of the U.S. Bank building where the view was spectacular. Here are a few pictures of this adventure.

So why do a project like this?

  • By giving the public access, you create some goodwill with them. You also get foot traffic into sometimes historic spaces that really ought to be appreciated by others.
  • You get to plug your upcoming events.
  • You get an opportunity with potential donors to share ways they can help your organization (as long as you soft sell it).

The materials promoting Doors Open Milwaukee (DO MKE, clever right?) were easy to find and to understand, highlighting all the available spaces in a really simple design. We used the online interactive map to plan our walking tour. There was even had a handy mobile app that provided great tours, donation and event information. Way to go Historic Milwaukee!

Susan Schoultz is Design Director at Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to create and execute marketing campaigns.  Follow her on Twitter as @susanschoultz.

Reputation management and Mary Burke

Thursday, September 25, 2014 — 


Professional Dimensions and TEMPO Milwaukee hosted gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke at a joint event yesterday. (The two organizations hosted Governor Scott Walker on Monday.) I was not able to attend the Walker session, but did make it to the Burke lunch.

I’m not going to tell you how I plan to vote, but I will tell you that as a public relations professional, Mary Burke definitely did one thing right at this meeting. For the past several days, there have been many stories like this one in the media. I’m sure she’s read many of the stories and has been asked about the plagiarism issue many times. She knows people are aware of it.

So when Mary Burke got up to speak, she brought the plagiarism issue up right away and commented on it. Whether or not you buy her comments is up to you. But from a PR perspective, this was the right thing to do. Many people would stick to their prepared remarks and hope the issue wouldn’t come up or refuse to discuss it. She simply took the issue off the table by bringing it up herself.

When your business has a reputation challenge, how do you handle it? Acknowledging the mistake and being open about how you plan to fix it is always a good choice. Think about the granddaddy of all reputation scandals – Tylenol. It’s a case study in how a business can survive by being open. Will Mary Burke convince anyone with her explanation? That’s up to voters to decide, but from a PR perspective, she got one presentation right.

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Pinterest.