ClearVerve Marketing, LLC

Promise Marketing Blog

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.

Business lessons from the back of a canoe

Monday, September 8, 2014 — 



Last weekend, I went canoeing. Although my family owned a canoe when I was a child and I had spent a lot of time canoeing, it was something I hadn’t done in years. I was excited and thought my canoe ride was going to be a lot of fun.

Boy was I wrong! It was a disaster. When the ride was finally over, I thought about what happened and realized that the mistakes we made on the water were a lot like the mistakes business owners make when trying to build their businesses.

Lesson #1 – You need to know where you are going.

When we started paddling, I thought we were going to go to the right because that was the way we had ridden around the lake on an earlier boat trip. The other person in the canoe wanted to go to the left to show me a hidden passageway through the reeds. Did we discuss this before we started paddling? No. Guess what? Much like your business, a canoe cannot go in two directions at once. Be sure to define your organizational goals and then make sure everyone on your team knows what these goals are. A team can’t work together if they aren’t reaching for the same goal.

Lesson #2 – Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

My father and the girl scouts taught me to paddle the canoe a certain way. My partner was holding the paddle differently and using a totally different stroke. We kept trying to correct each other. But guess what? Just like there are many ways to solve business problems, there are many ways to paddle a canoe. Did my stroke move the boat forward? Of course it did. (Those Girl Scouts know what they are doing.) But so did my partner’s stroke. Duh! Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” That is very true in marketing. To succeed and be noticed, you have to be willing to try something new. That’s scary. Most people don’t like to try new things. So they settle by doing “new” but copying their competitors. To be successful, you have to be willing to try doing something completely new and nothing like your competitors. If you look like your competitors and sound like your competitors, in the minds of your prospects, you are your competitors.  Be brave. Try something new. If it actually is wrong, you can always go back and fix it. There are not too many things in life that can’t be corrected.

Lesson #3 – Recognize and take advantage of other peoples’ skills.  

When canoeing, it is best to have the stronger person sit in the back. We didn’t do that. Steering the canoe from the front is not very effective and we zigzagged all across the lake. We should’ve just agreed on who was going to steer and then let the other person do their job. Business owners and managers who try to do everything themselves and don’t trust others to do things correctly end up becoming overworked and making mistakes. You selected your employees, your advisors, and your marketing company for their skills. Now trust them. Your way isn’t the only way (see #2 above). Let go so they can do their jobs. The results will surprise you. (In a good way, I promise.)

And the next time I go canoeing, I’m sitting in the front.

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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The Hidden B2B Customer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 — 


According to a recent study Enhancing the Buyer’s Journey: Benchmarks for Content & the Buyer’s Journey, B2B buyers are waiting until they are mid-way through the decision making process before revealing themselves to potential vendors.

Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Think about what you did the last time you felt an unusual ache or pain. You went online. What did you do before you made a large purchase? You went online. Once you felt you were ready, you went to the store, but only if you needed to.

B2B buyers are no different. They want to research what they are buying. For Clear Verve clients, buyers are researching the people who will be providing services. Our clients’ prospects want to feel confident that their attorney, accountant, health care provider, nursing home, etc. will understand their particular issue and is qualified to help them. They gain that confidence by visiting websites, reading blogs, and downloading whitepapers. In other words, consuming CONTENT.

That’s why it’s so important to continually update the content on your site and to publish what you know. Whether you create videos or infographics, publish whitepapers, or hold in-person seminars, demonstrating what you know gives others confidence in your ability to get the job done.

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

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