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Posts Tagged ‘Great ideas’

#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.

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.

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Be unexpected


I recently had a completely unexpected lesson in effective communication while attending church.

There we were, sitting in our pews waiting for the service to begin. At the invitation of Pastor Meredith, someone from the congregation headed up to the front of the room to make a few announcements. We sat there silently and waited.  Suddenly, a whistle blew in the back of the room and everyone turned around. There stood Pastor David, wearing an apron and carrying a shepherd’s crook. Behind him were several women wearing aprons and carrying pots and pans. After them came a drummer.

The pot and pan brigade marched to the front of the church to a drum beat and sang a song in traditional army style about how fun and easy it is to volunteer for coffee service on Sundays. The song was a bit silly, the group looked funny, and Pastor David was having a great time twirling the shepherd’s crook. The entire congregation was paying attention. And smiling. Even the teenagers. It was completely unexpected and everyone was watching.

When you need to communicate something, the traditional route often feels the safest but might not yield the best results. How many people would have paid attention of Pastor Meredith had just rolled the “volunteer for coffee service” message into the rest of her announcements? Maybe a few, but not everyone. I guarantee there was not a single person in church that day who did not know that we needed volunteers for coffee service, and it’s likely that the sign-up sheet is now full.

The next time you need to ask someone for something, think about how you can make your message appealing and unexpected. Remember, if you can’t get someone’s attention, you can’t communicate anything.

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.

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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.

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Playing with Vines


Have you heard of Vine? It’s a fun new app that you can use to make the equivalent of a video “tweet.” You use your smartphone to make a six-second video, which you can then post to Facebook or Twitter. Once your video is posted, you can get an embed code that will allow you embed the video anywhere.

Now I know you’re probably thinking, “How great can a six-second video be anyway?” Well, they can be pretty great! In fact, the Tribeca Film Festival invited people to submit Vines for judging and got some amazing super short videos. Check them out here.

So, what can you do with a vine? Lots! Obviously, vine isn’t great for explaining complicated topics or if you need to impress someone with a high quality video, but it can be used to create a fun, simple message. Check out two we quickly made at Clear Verve.

Imitation and innovation


It’s not unusual for businesses, especially businesses in conservative industries, to market by imitation. We are constantly reminding clients and prospects that if they are asking themselves what their competitors are doing in order to make a decision, they may be falling into this trap. Of course, we know that it is important to know what your competitors are doing, but a smart business owner should never make a decision based upon copying someone else.

However, there are times when paying attention to what others are doing is very beneficial, especially when the business or industry you are watching is not a competitor. Futurist David Zach calls this “thinking into other boxes” instead of the tired expression “thinking outside the box.” If you can think about how something that works in another industry could be repurposed for your business, you are likely to come up with something that is innovative and interesting.

Here’s a great example. It’s called Lent Madness. Patterned after March Madness, Lent Madness gets those interested in theology to vote in a celebrity tournament of favorite saints. In the tournament, bloggers nominate saints and the faithful cast their votes online. Participants come from all across the country. The winning saint is awarded the Golden Halo – virtually, of course – and participants get the chance to brush up on their knowledge of the saints while having a little fun during Lent. It’s a nontraditional approach to religion, which is exactly what makes it fun. Last year, someone named Queen Emma of Hawaii (my apologies to anyone who really knows who she is) went all the way to the championship round before losing to Mary Magdeline (believe it or not, I do know who that is). Apparently, the Bishop in Hawaii really got into the game and urged his followers to vote.

The next time you read the newspaper, watch TV, or read a magazine or blog post, pay attention to industries that are completely different from your own. Who would have ever thought that the church could borrow an engagement tactic from college basketball? They could and they did. Don’t be afraid to think into new boxes. Who knows how you might be able to innovate your marketing strategy.

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.

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What matters in marketing


Sometimes things that seemingly shouldn’t matter end up truly counting for something. Take nonverbal cues, for example. I was recently part of a jury pool and when the defendant’s attorney asked us about his client’s appearance, a couple of us mentioned we thought the client’s prescription sunglasses were not appropriate for the courtroom. Wearing the glasses conveyed something, shadiness maybe, that we thought would not serve him well. We just wanted to see his eyes.

In marketing, we consider nonverbals – paper choice, ink color, size and shape of printed pieces – all the time. But we also have to consider several other factors and make recommendations to help clients increase awareness of their products or services.

Here are five things that are important and must be considered if you want to make a difference in your industry:

Even now in the age of innovative strategies, it’s important to always choose the strategy that’s well-thought out. Strategy is what ultimately determines the overall measurable success. Without the use of proper marketing strategies, your business won’t experience any type of long-lasting prosperity. With the right strategy in hand, on paper, and in action, businesses of all types, sizes, and locations will experience the necessary success in order to hold a place in today’s competitive market.

What you offer is of prime importance, of course, but it’s the features, advantages and benefits – the FABs — of your product or service that count more. Most audience segments are eager to know about the benefits they’ll get by buying your particular product or using your services. You need to find the right key messages along with the right offer to promote your products or services.

Channel and Audience
The way you choose to reach your audience can really make a difference as well. Every communication medium has its own strengths and weaknesses. We’re all getting marketing messages constantly, so deciding which channel to use should be based more on the nature of the products and the target market than the cost of the tactic. For example, if the target market is local, current customers, it makes sense to use social media, email and maybe even direct mail rather than TV and newspaper. The right channel choice ensures extensive reach and conversation among those you want to get your message. Everyone here at Clear Verve believes discretion when choosing your channel for communications will determine the final results you’ll achieve.

As in so many endeavors, timing is of prime importance. That’s true with marketing too. The time of the year you choose to promote your products and services, the timing between your promotions and the timing of your follow-up are all relevant to your results. When you have an opportunity to do something, act quickly before you lose your chance.

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

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What the Future May Hold


Recently, Futurist David Zach spoke to the Milwaukee Rotary Club about trends that he feels will affect our lives in the future. Not surprisingly, many of these trends related to communications and design. As our world has become more technological, the amount of information we consume on a daily basis has made communication more important for all of us in our personal and business lives.

Trend #1 – Reality

People spend so much time in the virtual world, it could almost be considered a major world economy. In the virtual world, everything looks perfect and sounds perfect. We post the most exciting bits of our lives on Facebook. Every company seems uber-successful. What is happening to our perceptions and expectations of the real world?

Trend #2 – The Rise of Logistics

With technology, we know where things are and where they are going. We are bombarded with information. We can find out just about anything about anyone. How will this affect innovation? Think about it. If everything you do is known – are you willing to take risks? Try something and fail? Most successes are simply the last attempt that did not fail. Are we willing to fail in front of the world?

Trend #3 – The Age of Design

Design matters. It helps us solve problems and makes our tools more useful. David says that everyone needs to learn to think like a designer because designers see what others can’t. They help us solve problems. They are not passive. We can’t get complacent or we won’t innovate. Throughout history, it hasn’t been big companies that have saved us, it’s been amateurs. People who aren’t afraid to let things get messy. Have you ever heard the term “think outside the box?” David says we don’t need to think outside the box, we need to think into other boxes.

What can you learn from this? I think David points out that we need to challenge ourselves. Even though systems and processes are important, sometimes throwing them out the window is also important. As business owners, we need to look outside our own industries and get inspiration from others. Don’t just copy your competitors, surprise them by coming up with something they would never think of. Think like a designer, and succeed.

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.

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Delivering controversial news


When I visited Alterra the other day, I noticed this sign outside the door.

This is a great illustration of one way to handle a politically charged, sensitive, emotional issue. Of course, it won’t work for every sensitive subject. But Alterra found a way to be legally compliant, funny, and inoffensive WHILE maintaining their branding. Great job!


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.

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A little advice for working the room

Thursday, July 19, 2012 — 


During a staff meeting the other day, we got to talking about providing a client with young associates tips on how to work a room. We didn’t pull out Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (I don’t think we even have a copy in the office); we just discussed some key networking principles that work for us.

To network more effectively at business events, we suggest heading into the room with the goal of meeting at least one person you can remember and who you’d like to talk with again. You must remember and appreciate that people do business with those that they like, trust and respect.

Here are a few other ideas:
First of all, wear your name tag high on your right side, where it is more visible during a handshake.

Attend the event alone, or separate from your friend when you arrive.

Be present. If you are in the room be in the room, and try to make contact with as many people as possible. However, the best time to have a leisurely and uninterrupted conversation is at the beginning of the event. You might want to arrive early.

Approach groups of two. You might be interrupting a larger group, and a loner might be hard to break away from.

Like my dad always said, approach people with a friendly smile and introduce yourself with a firm handshake.

To get a conversation going, ask someone where they work and what they do. By the way, if someone asks you this, be sure to describe your work simply, using 25 words or less. (Hint: you might want to prepare and practice your reply.) In fact, be concise, clear and compelling with all your replies.

Be more interested in listening to others than talking yourself. Asking questions makes you a more interesting person anyway. Doing more listening that talking is sure to win you some notices, and ultimately, business.

Be genuinely enthusiastic about peoples’ ideas and plans. They are likely to be in the same position as you, and will appreciate your feedback.

Ask for business cards and give your own to anyone who shows interest in what you do, not necessarily everyone you meet. Don’t be pushy; don’t pass out your brochure. Leave a reason for a second contact. Follow up promptly with contacts that you make. The longer you wait to follow up, the harder it will be to keep the momentum going.

A quick note about business cards: make sure you have a good supply with you, make sure they leave people with a good impression and that they have a well-written descriptive statement about your company. Also, make sure there are no stray scribbles on them.

Lastly, be a connector — freely introduce people to each other — and remember networking is about establishing relationships, not selling.

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

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