8 Amazing Marketers from Your Favorite Children’s Books

What were some of your favorite stories from childhood? We’re willing to bet there were some excellent life lessons hidden inside those tales. But … what about examples of how to be better at your marketing job?

Children’s literature is full of colorful characters, heroes and villains, mischief makers, and creative geniuses. It was pretty easy to think of fictional figures with some mad marketing skills.

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Director of Content Marketing
Kasey Steinbrinck has been creating content since he was just a little kid, writing stories and making radio shows on his Fisher Price tape recorder. He went on to produce local television and wrote for an area newspaper before discovering the power of telling stories online. Kasey worked as a content marketer, blogger, and copywriter for two ecommerce companies before joining Element in 2015.

9 Tips to Create Brilliant Infographics for Content Marketing

That Your Customers Find Valuable

Infographics are great tools for top- or middle-of-the-funnel content. In other words, information that helps to compel or educate decision makers. They are an efficient way of sharing a mix of content, design, and data in an easily consumable piece. They are simple to scan, and with the brain processing images 60,000 times faster than it does text, it makes sense why they can be wildly effective.

We like to think of them as “tools to help buyers buy” (not sellers sell). Your infographics could be shared throughout the internet, posted to social channels, and exist as evergreen content on your company’s website. With 57 percent of purchase decisions occurring before a customer even contacts your company, it’s the perfect piece for your customers to discover.

Continue reading 9 Tips to Create Brilliant Infographics for Content Marketing

Content Marketing Specialist
Bree is a content creator with unbounded enthusiasm for mingling process and creativity. With a background in the worlds of marketing and communications, Bree is well-versed in content marketing, branding, and corporate event planning. When she's not writing, strategizing, or ideating, you’ll find her snooping in a snack cupboard or with a mouth full of food. And, while it wasn’t intentional, she has always been proud that she shares a homonym-name with the gooey queen of cheeses, Brie.

11 Tips for Hosting a Corporate Event People Want to Attend

We’ve all received them: a stiff, impersonal invitation in black serif type on white letterhead. It’s the dreaded corporate event invite, an event you need to attend … but don’t necessarily want to attend.

If you’re planning to host a corporate event for your business, whether that be a ribbon cutting, product launch, or networking event, there are ways to flip that reaction on its head. Here are 11 tips for planning and hosting a seamless, successful, and measurable corporate event—one that guests will be clamoring to attend.

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Director of Public Relations
A self-described chatterbox, it’s rumored that Tara was born with a phone in her hand. It was only natural that she ended up in the marketing communications industry. With more than 12 years of industry experience, Tara specializes in campaign strategy, planning, publicity, and content marketing. In addition to socializing with just about anyone, Tara enjoys running, yoga, and watching her beloved Wisconsin Badgers. She also appreciates the occasional quiet weekend at home cooking and relaxing with her husband Ryan and kids, Julia and Colin.

What Top Ten ’90s Songs Can Teach You About Google Adwords

Hey … remember the ’90s?

It’s hard to believe Google was nothing more than a big idea that founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had in 1998. I wonder what music they were listening to?

As Element’s Director of Digital Marketing, it’s my job to stay up to date on digital advertising strategies, and Google AdWords is easily one of the most important platforms. Keeping up with best practices allows us to provide our clients with the expertise they need for success online.

I also happen to consider myself somewhat of an expert on ’90s music. So why not combine AdWords and ’90s pop songs?

Here’s what we can learn about Google AdWords from 10 hit songs.

Continue reading What Top Ten ’90s Songs Can Teach You About Google Adwords

Director of Digital Marketing
Officially, Derek is Element's Digital Marketing Director, specializing in search engine optimization, social media marketing, and website user experience design. However, outside the office, Derek cannot be pinned down to a single title, so let's go with "happy-hour-turned-late-nighter," "driveway fire-starter," "fins-up-Parrotheader," "world traveler," "Frisbee-throwing-dog-lover," and "up-to-the-minute digital dominator."

Element Favorites: 20 Appetizers and 20 Mobile Apps

Food days and potlucks are a regular part of agency culture here at Element. Any time there’s an excuse to eat, we’re ready to stuff our faces and fill our bellies.

But this time … we decided to do something a little different and added technology to the mix.

We called it Element’s Apps & Apps Day! 20 of us brought in our favorite appetizers and also dished on our favorite mobile apps. It made for some great conversation. That is – when our mouths weren’t full of delicious food.

Keep reading to find out what we devoured during this feast, and discover some mobile apps that are both fun and useful!

Continue reading Element Favorites: 20 Appetizers and 20 Mobile Apps

Director of Content Marketing
Kasey Steinbrinck has been creating content since he was just a little kid, writing stories and making radio shows on his Fisher Price tape recorder. He went on to produce local television and wrote for an area newspaper before discovering the power of telling stories online. Kasey worked as a content marketer, blogger, and copywriter for two ecommerce companies before joining Element in 2015.

The Great Typo Hunt (or “How Not To Sound Like A Idiot”)

So, did you catch it? Yes, I deliberately threw a typographical error in this article’s headline. Oh, I’m sooooo crazy. Yet, as silly as this potentially misunderstood stunt is, it’s still cringe-worthy for any writer. I’m not sleeping well tonight.

Words can be powerful weapons. Likewise, mistakes can be A-bombs that explode in your face. Assumptions are instantly made. Characters are judged. Intellect is challenged. Lawsuits are filed. And, good judgment is questioned, especially when the typo appears immediately before the word “idiot.”

So, does your copy mirror how you want to be perceived? Does your product or service come across as smart, confident, and capable? Odds are you’re falling short if your work contains typos. People can’t help it; they have trouble trusting copy that sounds like a fourth grader wrote it (unless it’s your fourth grader who wrote it).

It’s a simple fact: your butt is on the line every time you share any words that are written. Whether they appear in printed collateral, in a digital ad, or even in a casual email. They’re all reflections of you and your brand.

So, now you’re completely paranoid. Apologies for that. I can at least offer a couple pointers to help you tighten your copy and catch these unsightly critters. So, other than the obvious (spellcheck, read slowly, have someone else review it), here are …

Continue reading The Great Typo Hunt (or “How Not To Sound Like A Idiot”)

Copywriter/Asst. Creative Director
Eric’s been doing this copy thing for a while; over 25 years now. He understands that proofreading, like any skill, requires focus and practice. Eric’s been knocking out creative copy with few errors (nobody’s perfect) at Element since 2009. And, he feels somewhat uncomfortable writing in the third person.

7 Ways to Make a Winning Super Bowl Commercial

As amazing as it would be, the vast majority of us will never be able to afford an advertisement during the Super Bowl.

If you do happen to have four or five million dollars in your marketing budget, that money might be best spent somewhere besides a single 30-second spot.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to make a Super Bowl caliber commercial.

In fact, if you play your cards right, you could create something that gets just as many eyeballs and buzz as the Budweiser frogs. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you don’t have to pay millions to get people talking. You just need to make something that’s worth talking about.

Let’s take a look at some of the elements that go into making an advertisement of Super Bowl quality.

Continue reading 7 Ways to Make a Winning Super Bowl Commercial

Director of Content Marketing
Kasey Steinbrinck has been creating content since he was just a little kid, writing stories and making radio shows on his Fisher Price tape recorder. He went on to produce local television and wrote for an area newspaper before discovering the power of telling stories online. Kasey worked as a content marketer, blogger, and copywriter for two ecommerce companies before joining Element in 2015.

How to Implement Content Marketing Software into Your Strategy

Some time ago, a bank president shared with me that his sales team was not using their new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. I asked him why not and he told me that the CRM had over 80 possible fields and was overwhelming to use.

It turns out the sales team simply did not have the time or computer access to use the CRM software correctly. They were only using about 10 percent of the software’s capabilities! Since no one took the time to consult with the team or understand their sales process beforehand, the bank was now locked into a lengthy, expensive CRM contract that was hard to break.

So, how do CRM software and other programs relate to successful content marketing? First, let me take a minute to define content marketing.

Wait… Isn’t Content Marketing Just a Program?
Easy answer? No, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content with a target audience in order to acquire new audiences or deepen relationships with existing customers.

It’s the vital link between customer awareness, action and sales conversion.

From the conversations I’ve had, it’s a common misconception that content marketing is simply a software program. Although software is a valuable part of managing and tracking the results of content marketing efforts, it’s only one part of the process.

The key to content marketing is to have an ongoing, consistent strategy. When there’s a solid understanding of what makes your audiences tick, producing and delivering engaging content can easily complement your audiences’ natural buying cycles.

Consider this. A prospect has the potential to interact with your earned media (public relations efforts), owned media (blog, newsletters, videos), shared media (social media), and paid media (display ads, advertorials, Google AdWords). This interaction needs to be positive, consistent and well thought-out.

You also need to think about how you want to position your brand.

  • Who are your target audiences? Where do they look for information?
  • How do you integrate information about your products and services into engaging content?
  • What content format will have the most impact? When do you deliver this content?
  • How will your sales team interact with and leverage the content to amplify your sales process?
  • How will you measure the success of your content marketing efforts?

You get the point.

You need to be smart about the content you’re producing to add value to your prospect’s decision-making process. And, it’s important to understand that great content can also exist in a variety of forms — videos, infographics, slide decks, press releases, product demos, e-books, games, case studies.

There is no shortcut to great content. It takes work, dedication, creativity and expertise. The challenge is to select formats that will resonate with your audiences.

By delivering outstanding, crafted content when your audiences are looking for it, you’re better able to address their needs and wants in a positive way at the right time.

It’s about creating a relationship, not a transaction so align your content to their buying cycle, don’t push your sales cycle on them.

When Does Software Come into Play?
There are hundreds of software programs to choose from that can ensure you receive relevant information to make right, ongoing adjustments to your content strategy.

Once you have your strategy and objectives in-hand, you can determine what software needs can be applied to specific tasks or measurements of an ongoing content marketing program. But before you decide if you even need software, you need to set your content marketing goals.

Similar to my earlier CRM example, you shouldn’t start a program without first planning your strategy. A strategy of any kind with only a software program, and no sense of strategy, will produce mediocre results.

Like selecting a CRM, you need to take the time to understand the situation, determine your goals, and what tactics and tools you need to get there.

Content marketing software can deliver and organize content, optimize conversations and measure results, but cannot take the place of a good strategy, relevant and engaging content, and understanding audience segments.

When you’re looking at content marketing for your business, research and strategy will ultimately help you create a roadmap to results. Have a process to develop meaningful content, use that content to enhance your existing marketing efforts, and then evaluate software programs that can help you deliver content and measure success.

This article originally appeared on page 17 in the Aug. 10, 2015 print issue of The Business News as “How is Buying CRM Software Like Content Marketing?”. This article has been modified for this blog.

Principal/Agency Director

How to Create a Marketing Budget

Let’s talk about the ‘b’ word everyone likes to avoid: Budgets. When it comes to putting together your marketing plan or next project, writing down that number next to each line item can be tricky. While you’re planning out how to create a marketing budget, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Look at previous plans and budgets. Past project costs will shed a lot of light on your budget and is a great place to start when planning.

Don’t forget the details. Make sure you fully understand what all needs to come out of your marketing budget (salaries, agency fees, printing, postage, media, etc.). Next, add as much detail next to each line item as possible. Understanding where expenses come from within each project will help you make a more accurate projection.

Be upfront and honest. If you work with an agency, talk candidly about your objectives and budget. There’s always multiple ways to skin the cat so perhaps they can find ways to shave off dollars without losing the impact. Even if the initial project estimate is out of your ballpark, it’s worth a conversation to explore the possibilities.

Prioritize based on your goals. Which projects will have the most impact and will directly affect your annual objectives? Move these to the top so that if you can’t stretch your budget to accommodate all your activities, you’re at least getting done the ones that will move the needle.

If you’ve got too much on your plate or are looking for a fresh perspective on your marketing plan, remember agencies have experience planning and budgeting for a variety of clients and can add valuable perspective to the budgeting and planning process.

Director of Account Services
Nikki Peroutka has handled account service duties at Element for more than a decade. She remembers pre-PDF days when every proof required a face-to-face client meeting, and the number of colors in an ad determined its price. This, of course, makes her feel like an old marketing-weary battle-ax. Yet, she brings a youthful, fresh perspective to overseeing all client relationships as well as managing her own accounts. When her daily Director of Account Services duties are done, she enjoys relaxing with a good magazine or book, chasing around her son Oakley, and doing DIY projects around the house.

Tips for Crafting Your Story

By: Kate Shropshire

Twitter started real-time conversations, now they have facilitated real-time video with their on-the-rise app, Periscope. We can do more than listen, we can watch things happen live. Periscope is a platform for users or brands to live stream video to the world where users are tuning in to see live broadcasts of the first appearance of the Royal baby or sunsets on mountains.

Similarly, Snapchat is bringing brands to the devices consumers are attached to. Snapchat users can see celebrities get ready for award shows or watch a video story of an international musical festival and its attendees.

So why do these platforms matter? They provide new ways for brands to showcase a story on social media. These platforms also require creativity to breakthrough the status update quo. Here are 4 tips for brands when crafting a storytelling strategy.

  1. Think Mobile. As more and more people rely on the Internet for news, entertainment, and communication, it’s no secret your consumers are on their phones. To reach consumers, brands need to participate on the platforms people use daily. Brands are using Snapchat to give an inside look to consumers. Taco Bell shows off new products in Snapchat stories and the NBA generates excitement around the playoffs. As a brand, you can be one click away to consumers on the platforms they already trust and love.taco bell snapchat (picture source)
  2. Offer True Engagement. Engagement comes naturally as users can comment on Periscope streaming videos while they are happening. As a brand, there are now opportunities to really connect with consumers instead of pushing one-way messages at them.periscope on phone(picture source)
  3. Keep It Short. Some users are watching 8-second Snapchats instead of 2-minute videos. People want quick content that costs them little time as they move on to the next thing. Consumers want behind the scenes, exclusive looks at the world around them, and they want it fast. For the Billboard Music Awards, brands showed red carpet updates to fans through quick stories that highlighted the popular stars.IMG_4546
  4. Channel Your Inner Artist. With Snapchat, brands can type, doodle, use emojis, and pick filters for video and pictures. Brands can create anything they want since custom content is easy. Use the opportunity to show case some personality and get creative.SnapChat_Scavenger_FB-300x300 (picture source)

Now go explore the story-telling possibilities. Try it out and showcase the personality of your brand.

Digital Marketing Specialist