ClearVerve Marketing, LLC

Promise Marketing Blog

Posts Tagged ‘content marketing’

What dog-watching and marketing have in common

Friday, July 25, 2014 — 


It’s the dog days of summer, (well, July and August are supposed to offer the most sultry, high temp days of the year, anyway) and for me, recently, it’s been more like dog daze.

One cute, furry hamster aside, we don’t have pets. No dogs, cats, fish. Nada. So our schedule was in a bit of a tailspin last weekend when our neighbor asked us to watch his visiting son’s 5-year-old, blind-in-one-eye, American bulldog, Bianca, while they spent three days at an out-of-town golf outing.

Our experience with Bianca ended well and with a big bag of thank-you chocolate truffles. But here’s what three days of dog sitting reminded me about marketing.

Take time to learn your brand.  It was important for us to get to know Bianca before we started rubbing her ears and scratching her back. The same is true for your brand. Do your research. Get to know your brand’s personality. When you do that, you’ll know if your marketing fits appropriately.

Cheap, fast and mediocre doesn’t cut it.  Our sweet, placid bully deserved a good weekend too. One quick 10 minute walk wouldn’t do. We needed to spend quality time with her. Clients expect the same. There isn’t one in the world who wants fast, low quality results. So put your hours in and be awesome every time.

Be social.  It’s amazing what a dog on leash can do for your social life. We were out there pounding the pavement and ended up having conversations with neighbors we thought were afraid of daylight. It’s just about the same with social media. You have something to talk about; you have a story to tell (ours was no, we didn’t get a pet), so get out there and start talking.

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.

Related posts
Generic marketing doesn’t work
Are you marketing more? So is everyone else

Where does your content marketing go?


Last week, I made a presentation at Social Media University Milwaukee, speaking about how to determine the best way to mix online and offline marketing tactics. As part of the presentation, I shared this graphic from our Content Marketing Survey:

What does this graphic show us? First of all, more people post content to their Facebook page than they do to their own websites. I can’t give you a scientific answer that explains why this happens, but anecdotally, I can tell you that many people have websites that are fairly difficult to maintain. If that sounds a lot like you, look for a better solution when you update your website. Be sure to ask every  provider  consider  to show you how the content management system you’ll be using will work. Make sure it is flexible and easy to use.

What else do we see? Email is not dead. Direct mail is not dead. Print newsletters are not dead! Don’t give up on more traditional marketing tactics. Yes, I know it’s a lot of work to publish both a print newsletter and an enewsletter, but it can be done. Many people receive so much email that sending something on paper is actually a very simple way to break through all the clutter. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute reports that many marketers say that live, in person events are still among the most successful content marketing tactics.

Want to see what else we learned? Get the whole ebook here.

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

Related Articles:

10 ways to create engaging Facebook posts

Friday, March 14, 2014 — 


We blog. We tweet. We post. We wonder…actually our clients have wondered what they can do to increase engagement and improve the chances of their corporate pages being shown in the Facebook news feed? Here’s a listicle that will help.

1. Use engaging copy, images and videos

  • Photos and videos get more attention and help your message stand out.
  • Lifestyle images like the ones you see from your friends on Facebook are always engaging. Try sharing images of your products or photos of your customers enjoying your services.
  • Try to keep your posts between 100 and 250 characters to get more engagement. Shorter, succinct posts are better received.

2. Create a two-way conversation

  • Take a poll. Ask a question. Ask your audience to share their thoughts and feedback on your product and services. This is another way to listen to your customers and improve your business.
  • Posting content that shows you took their feedback into consideration can build customer loyalty and show you value their ideas.

3. Share exclusive discounts and promotions

  • Offer special deals or perks to your customers to keep them interested and to drive online sales. Include call to actions with links to the most relevant page on your website.
  • To improve engagement with your promotions, include clear calls to action, redemption details, and when the promotion ends to add a sense of urgency.

4. Provide access to exclusive information

Reward people who are connected to your page and drive loyalty and online sales by providing them with exclusive information. Make them feel special by sharing exclusive product news, contests and events.

5. Be timely

  • Your audience will be more likely to engage with posts when they’re related to subjects that are top of mind, like current events or the holidays.
  • Timeliness is also important when replying to comments on your posts. The faster you reply, the more likely fans will engage with you in the future.

 6. Plan your conversational calendar

  • The easiest way to stay in regular contact with fans is by creating a conversational calendar with ideas about what to talk about each week or month.
  • A content calendar will not only help you post regularly, but will ensure your content is well planned, interesting, and that you don’t miss major business events and news. Find a frequency that works for you and your audience.
  • And don’t always post about how great your product is.

7. Schedule your posts

  • To better manage your time, you can schedule your posts in advance and plan for upcoming holiday events and specials.
  • To schedule your Facebook posts, simply click the clock icon on the lower left-hand corner of your page’s sharing tool.
  • Schedule your posts when most of your customers are online. You can find out this info by visiting your Page Insights and going to the posts tab.
  • After you’ve scheduled a post, you can manage your scheduled posts by going to the top of your page and choosing Edit Page and then selecting Use Activity Log.

8. Target your posts

If your posts are meant for specific groups of people, you can target your post in your page’s sharing tool by clicking on the target icon at the bottom left corner and selecting Add Targeting. You can target your post based upon gender, relationship status, educational status, interests, age, location and language.

9. Use link posts to drive people to your website

  • Link posts have a larger, clickable area that helps drive people to your website.
  • In your page’s sharing tool, enter the offsite URL, then click Enter.
  • The title, description and image are taken from your URL, but you can still customize the text and image of the post. Be sure to select compelling imagery that will blend into the news feed experience.

10. Review the performance of your posts

Check your Page Insights regularly to understand what’s working to keep your posts relevant and engaging. Page Insights will help you understand your audience and what types of content interests them.

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.

Related posts
Five ways to measure Facebook page influence
What content is right for you
A new social media planning tool

Power point fail


Recently, I attended a large networking event that featured an out-of-town speaker who had been brought in to share research results on a very important topic. (Vagueness added to protect the not-so-innocent.) I had been looking forward to this presentation and was ready to take notes in hopes of blogging about the insights I gained.

Instead, the speaker committed two of the biggest power point sins – her slides had lots of words on them, and she READ them to us. This was a room full of approximately 600 intelligent, thoughtful people. I’m pretty sure we all knew how to read. After a couple slides, I looked around the room and noticed people were talking to each other, checking their phones, or daydreaming.

Power point has been around for many years and at one time, it was common practice to pack each slide with tons of data. Not anymore. We are a much more visual society. Speakers are competing fiercely with mobile devices for their audience’s attention.  Many times, they lose.

So how can you win? By leaving information OFF your slides! A couple months ago, I delivered a presentation at the Junior Achievement National Empowering Success Conference. My presentation is below. Notice anything? The slides don’t say much. If you want to know what I said, you need to download the presentation so you can read my speaker’s notes. Everything I wanted the audience to know was in my notes, not on the slides.  During this presentation I was not only competing with mobile devices, I was competing with LUNCH. But because the slides didn’t say much, the audience paid attention to what I said, the presentation got great reviews, and everyone stayed awake.

The next time you have to make a presentation, challenge yourself to leave much of the information off your slides. This more visual method will keep your audience engaged.

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

Related posts

Leadership is like marketing
What can you do with a hotel room?

You still need 1000 words

Friday, November 15, 2013 — 


I have 836 pictures in the camera roll on my phone. That’s a lot of photos. Most of them were taken so I could share a moment with someone else. There’s a reason for all the photos. Pictures illustrate a moment and convey more information faster than words. Although I can’t find any scientific evidence to back this up, I’ve read that people process images 60,000 times faster than words.

In today’s digital age most people are literally exposed to gigabytes of information on a daily basis. For this reason, many marketers are turning to more image-based communications such as infographics and visually-driven layouts for everything from annual reports to what used to be called “whitepapers.” Applications such as Instagram and Pinterest allow for easy photo sharing and help organizations connect with people on an emotional level.

We love image-based communication. It helps our clients tell stories and connect with emotions. Whether we’re working with an attorney, a bank, or a nonprofit, all our clients need to connect with their clients’ and prospects’ emotions. When someone can’t see what you’re selling, they must understand how they will feel after purchasing a service, attending an event, or making a donation. However, it’s important to remember that the photo can’t do all the work. A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but you can’t skimp on the accompanying text.  Think about your photo captions, social media posts, and the tags you associate with your images. Then YOUR pictures could be worth 1,001 words.

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

Related posts

Marketing and the unemployment line
Pantone colors of the last decade
Explanation overkill

Inspiration can come from anywhere


I was working with a client to write a blog post recently when we both agreed we needed some new inspiration.

Inspiration can come from everyday objects or from anywhere. Whether it’s from the pattern on your grandma’s China, the paint color in your kitchen or the buckle on your bag, I believe there is usually something I can take away from one spot and use somewhere else. Case in point, @susanschoultz, Clear Verve design director, often finds herself taking photos of patterns on buildings, interesting floor tiles or colorful artwork. I’ve been with her when she’s done it. She’s always thinking of ways to bring an aspect of those characteristics to her design work. (She posts her photos on Instagram, by the way.)

It’s all about figuring out what it was about these things that draws her to them.

Another blogger I follow wrote about how this persimmon pump inspired her to design this desktop wallpaper. Between the bold color, the detailed white stitching and the floral touches, the shoe gave her some good material to work with, she says.

For me, inspiration comes from some phrase I hear during an interview or a feeling I get while getting to know more about a topic. Writing headlines, picking themes for publications or creating marketing messages are usually inspired by something else.

Sometimes, sitting down to write something — anything — gets my creativity moving and motivates me to start that blog post or a case study I need to write.

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

Related Posts
Finding the innovation
What could you do with a recycled shopping bag?

What content is right for you?


Content marketing has become the newest gotta have it thing in marketing. And just like many marketers were told to “get us up on Facebook” for no other reason than someone had heard of this new Facebook thing and it sounded cool, content generation is now a jump in with both feet and no thought thing.

But the problem is that creating all this content is WORK. A lot of work. And there are a ton of platforms you can use. For example:

  • You can write a whitepaper and post it to your website, or create a microsite, or post it to Facebook, or Tweet it, write a press release about it, or…
  • Work with a videographer create a video and post it in a bunch of places (see above)
  • You can create a short-form video, such as a Vine, for your website, YouTube, or Facebook
  • Try uploading a presentation or e-book to Slideshare
  • Write and post information to your LinkedIn account
  • Create your own magazine on Flipboard
  • Tweet
  • Blog
  • Set up a Facebook page or a Google + profile
  • Maintain an online press room
  • Publish an e-newsletter
  • Don’t forget about Instagram, Pinterest, and a thousand other platforms I can’t think of off the top of my head
  • And on and on and on…

Who has time for all this? Even large companies struggle to keep up with it all. And there’s nothing worse than setting up an online profile and then abandoning it. In fact, a recent study showed that 70 percent of buyers are relying on content more than they did just a year ago to make buying decisions.

So take your time. Think about what you actually can do. Pat yourself on the back for what you accomplish. Keep your eyes open for new opportunities, but remember that just because something exists, that doesn’t mean you have to use it.

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

Related posts
Tell us how you use content for marketing
What does your content sound like?

Tell us how you use content for marketing


Clear Verve Marketing today launched its third original research project looking at how businesses in a variety of industries across Southeast Wisconsin use content marketing.


Click here to take survey



10 questions to ask when redesigning your website

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 — 


I was waiting for my summer highlights to process when I started daydreaming about how exciting makeovers are. If you’re like me, you can sense when it’s time for a change. You start doing some research, talk to a few professionals, ask questions, take the plunge and come out looking fabulous.

Same goes for website makeovers. If you’ve had the same site for more than three years, it might be time for a redesign. Here are 10 questions you should ask before redesigning your website.

What’s the goal of my site?
Before redesigning your website, you must determine what it is you want the site to do for you. Once you have a strategy in mind, it will be easier to build your sitemap and decide what applications need to be included. You don’t necessarily need to rebrand your site, just re-engineer its goals.

What are my customers’ needs?
Start with understanding the expectations of your current audience and then your targeted audience. Are they different? You’ll want to use any metrics available to figure out how your site is used, where it’s viewed, what pages do well and what pages don’t. Find out where viewers are coming from. Let the data drive your decisions. Plus if you consider search engine optimization while building the site, you’ll be served up at the top of many searches.

Are your customers tablet and smart phone people?
Desktop and laptop computers are no longer the most frequent place websites are viewed. Make sure your website can respond to varied screen sizes and conform to the touch feature found on many mobile devices. Clear Verve (and the industry) calls these sites “responsive.” We basically design three versions of your site so that it looks good wherever it’s seen.

What do I really need?
Don’t let fancy design or technology get in the way of functionality. Keep your site’s navigation intuitive. In general, it’s still a good practice for people to be able to find what they are looking for within three clicks.

Should all this chatter about content affect my redesign?
Absolutely. You’ll want to fill your site with compelling content that in some way helps your audience. It can entertain them with stories and photos, inform them with announcements or survey them for ideas. An occasional sales pitch is even OK. Your content should benefit you as well. The right combination of content will significantly contribute to your business leads, search engine optimization and digital marketing. Also be sure you add a sharing function. You’ll want to repurpose your content to social media networks such as Instragram, Facebook and Twitter.

What type of content generates the most response?
Content is more than text. Images actually get more clicks than word-based calls to action. Use well-designed, interesting buttons and graphics to keep visitors on your website longer. Imbedded videos, for example, speak to people and trigger their curiosity to explore more.

What about the technical piece?
There are great Content Management Systems available today that allow you to change things on your site whenever you want. Be sure your new design has a CMS behind it. And for the love of Pete, make sure your server is fast and reliable.

Do I need better marketing?
Your website is just one piece of your marketing puzzle. It should be integrated with all your other efforts, both online and off, to drive customers toward your desired results.

When’s the best time to relaunch my site?

Timing matters, but it must make sense strategically. When your newly designed site goes live, it will have an impact on your traffic. Consider launching at the beginning of new campaign or when your business has a change. You’ll want to leverage the new site so it creates some buzz for yourself.

How do I ensure a smooth transition?
It takes time to get used to a redesigned website. Don’t sweat it. You can always post a tutorial as a guide for your users to help them adapt to the changes.

Jackie Costa is the director of content marketing at Clear Verve and works with clients to create and communicate smarter, better marketing materials. Listen for her on Twitter as @JackieMCosta.

Related Posts
What’s your plan?
Is it time to update your website? [infographic]
Is responsive design the right mobile strategy for your nonprofit?

Writing for the Green Bay Packers & Content Marketing


I recently had the chance to hear Bob McGinn speak. Bob is a reporter who has been covering the Green Bay Packers for nearly 30 years. Now, if you’re like most people in Wisconsin, you probably think this was a great opportunity. I however had no idea who Bob was. For me, the sports section is that part of the newspaper that makes it more difficult for me to get to the business section.  Let’s just say I was not exactly excited to hear Bob speak. I thought he’d just spout statistics and I’d feel like he was delivering a lecture in Greek or something.


Boy, was I wrong! Sure Bob shared some statistics. And rattled off the names of a bunch of football players I’m supposed to have heard of. But he also pointed out how his approach to writing about the Packers is exactly like what a good content marketer does.

Bob tries to be original. There are lots of reporters covering the Packers and they’re all covering the same game. He tries to find a new approach to what he has to say so that his column is a little different and therefore, worth reading. How do you work to make your approach to sharing information different from your competitors?

He works at learning about the game. Bob admits he watches a lot of tape. He asks a ton of questions. While Bob may not actually play the game, he feels that he is doing a disservice to his readers if he isn’t well informed. So he works at understanding what’s going on both on and off the field. Do you keep up with your industry? How many blogs, articles, or books do you read? Do you attend seminars? Are you open to new ideas?

He works with experts. Bob is not a football player (see above), a coach, or a scout. He knows that there are some things he just can’t understand because he’s not part of the team. So he enlists the help of others to make sure he’s got his facts straight and that he’s sharing good information. It’s okay to admit you don’t know everything. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to figure out who to ask.

Whether you’re writing about sports, accounting, or a nonprofit cause, you can learn from Bob’s approach. Content marketing is the most important strategy you can implement in today’s digital age. But your content must be good to work. If you work at being original, understanding your industry, and aren’t afraid to bring in an expert or two, you too can succeed at content marketing.


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

Related posts

Playing with vines
2013 is the year of content marketing
What does your content sound like?