All posts by sschaeffer

ANOTHER CREATIVE DIMENSIONS SUCCESS STORY

AutoClaimServices_Logo_Black

 

Nothing makes us happier than when a client expresses their satisfaction when we complete a campaign. Below are the kind words a new client sent to us recently. You can view the website we designed and built for them at: www.claimservices.com

“We were referred to Creative Dimensions by one of their clients, and I really can’t say enough good things about our experience working with them. We were bringing a new concept to an established industry, and we needed help conveying a complex idea to both professionals (B2B) and consumers (B2C). Creative Dimensions helped us evolve our concept, and their creative ideas for our website and promotional materials were truly genius. Their process was extremely efficient, and their experience showed every step of the way. They were dedicated in making sure that our external communications would set us apart in the industry, and it’s very obvious that they have succeeded in that goal. We will continue to use Creative Dimensions to help us grow our company even more in the future. They are professionals in every aspect of marketing.”

– Allen Rhodes, CEO
Auto Claim Services

Does your healthcare advertising make a difference?

Part one of our series on advertising in the current healthcare environment.

Should there be ads for healthcare services? Are they effective? Demeaning? Ethical? The debate has been running since the lifting of the ban on hospital advertising by the Supreme Court in 1982.

So what should you think? If you’ve done healthcare marketing, you’ve learned enough to have an opinion. If you’re just now jumping in, here are a few things to consider.

ROI will be difficult, if not impossible, to measure. Traditional media advertising rarely gives you an element to track, like phoned or mailed responses to a call to action. Most messages are announcements (of a new technology, a new wing or a new branch), awareness of a specialization (“the heart hospital”), image (a commitment to the community) and other intangibles. Even touting a unique expertise or advanced equipment can rarely take direct credit for changing minds and routing new patients through the door.

Social media, on the other hand, with its real-time, real-people dialogs, offers an effective way to gauge reach and psychographics, and to maintain more balanced relationships between institutions and their communities.

For opponents to healthcare advertising, the concerns aren’t about effectiveness, but about the possibility of misleading patients and diminishing the respect of the healthcare category as a whole. They fear that institutions will cherry pick only positive stories and outcomes, or that their efforts will be turned less toward the community’s welfare and more toward that of their shareholders. Anyone alive during the 60s and 70s will remember the difference—and it wasn’t always better.

In our experience with our own healthcare clients and through discussions with colleagues, we’ve seen very positive results from advertising.

• Any communication that shines a positive light on a hospital or practice, clinic or care facility bolsters pride inside the walls, as well as outside.

• Advertising done well lends stature to a hospital, which often leads to better success in recruiting new doctors and nurses, as well as adding quality of life to its city.

• Keeping the institution’s face community-forward helps protect its equity from eroding in the tidal wave of competing advertising.

• As consumers have more information to guide their choices of providers, those providers pay more attention to improving the status quo—and consequently, the satisfaction of their patients.

This is a broad overview to help you frame the value of healthcare advertising for yourself. If you care to look, there are many more aspects and a zillion other opinions out there. The consensus is marketing in this category is a challenge. But it’s one we never get sick of.

Watch for Part Two: Keys to Successful Advertising for a Modern Healthcare Institution

–From the braintrust @Creative Dimensions

7 Traps To Avoid When Buying Your Own Media.

For those of you considering going rogue in your media buying, BEWARE.

I think of a friend I knew years ago who had a garage sale. “You’ll need a good sign,” I said, thinking of the fifty-cent, neon-orange-on-black printed sign you can see tacked to a telephone pole a mile away. “I’m not paying for a sign I can make myself,” he replied and proceeded to write with a thin black marker on corrugated cardboard.

Four people (all neighbors) showed up. He saved fifty cents.

If you want to buy media, do you know how to get the best vehicle for your message and at a good value? Consider these pitfalls, before setting out on your own.

1. Cutting out the middle man. When you take a third-party, media-buying expert out of the equation, you’ll face variables you may not understand. You’ll be negotiating your own contracts. Not all reps will be wholly committed to helping you, and some may attempt to take advantage of you to fill space and time slots which are of little-to-no value to you.

2. Focusing on savings. Money savings are often misleading. You might be getting a load of air time for a pittance, but more than likely, it’s money wasted. The cheap spots on air and the budget spaces in print are low priced for a reason. Almost nobody sees them, so they’re unlikely to reach your audience effectively.

3. Vertiginous vocabulary. The media world uses its own lingo, so you’ll be faced with enough acronyms and jargon to make your head spin. Ratings, HUT, dayparts, target rating points, break position…If you don’t talk the talk, find someone with your best interests in mind who does.

4. Collateral Damage. When you do the buying, every rep for every station, paper and magazine in the area will be hitting you with calls and emails. An expert knows them all and will shield you from the inconvenience. As a bonus, your expert will also evaluate what those reps are sending and recommend anything of value to you.

5. Lack of Objectivity. When going rogue, it’s easy to be lured by media you like (say, a certain cable channel, network news, the sports section). Thing is, those might not be where your customers are. Unless you do the homework—and there’s a lot—you’ll be guessing with your dollars.

6. Gotcha! Again, know the rep you’re dealing with. Some, when they sense gullibility, will bring out their shiniest baubles to dazzle you and seal a bad deal. Some call it “bargain prime” or “prime spot option,” but the sleight of hand is the same. They tempt you to buy a great time slot at a discount, but they then fritter the rest of your budget over slots so sub-prime as to have stalactites.

7. No measurement. So, you bought the media yourself—proud that you didn’t fall for the Bargain Prime—you didn’t spend much and you even saw your spot on the air twice. But…did the spots do any good? Unless you ran a direct-response sale ad, how will you know? And will it be a mistake to try the same buy again? These are mysteries that can be solved.

If you’ve read this, you must be a seeker of knowledge, which means you’re probably pretty well informed in what you do. So, at least talk to a media expert, before venturing alone through the rapids and quicksand.

–From the braintrust @Creative Dimensions

Proofreading: How to Win the War on Errorism.

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If you’ve ever worked with a professional proofreader on staff, you know they are just below Thor and Hercules in the pantheon of heroes. You really don’t appreciate their value, until they are taken from you, and a printout of that 90-page website document—with SEO templates, inventory lists, addresses, phone numbers and legal disclaimers—arrives on your desk to be searched for errors. The battle has begun.

Those will be your initials in the upper right hand corner of the first page averring the document’s integrity—and then damning you when the site goes live and millions see in the navigation on every single page “Abut Us.”

Typos are terrorists. They hide among the innocent. They can destroy careers, murder client relationships and parade your self-esteem on a pike through the center of town.

How you can fight back. Most companies—due to lack of foresight or budget—don’t have designated proofreaders, so the onus falls on, ideally, everyone. Here are some tips on how to proof effectively and win the war on errors.

 

  1. Run spell check, but don’t trust it—it won’t catch homophones (words that sound alike), misused words, and many capitalization errors (spell check is very likely working with the enemy)
  2. Read the document silently and then again aloud.
  3. Read for one type of error at a time—say, spelling on the first pass, punctuation on the second, etc.
  4. If the document is in Word, use the Track Changes and Comment functions (thus marking the landmines for those following you).
  5. Read it backwards; misspellings become more evident when the mind isn’t running smoothly over a narrative path.
  6. Double check figures, proper names and fine print.
  7. Print the document with the Track Changes and Comments and read again.
  8. Use your finger to track each word as you read.
  9. Use a blank sheet of paper to screen what has yet to be proofed (an alternative to, or used in conjunction with, #8 above).
  10. Take a rest between readings.
  11. Have one or more associates proof your proof (the enemy can’t hide from all of you).
  12. Remember, the dictionary is on your side.

 

If you think you are above proofreading or simply want to be entertained, check out this list of atrocities.

 

For further reading (and a more advanced battle plan) check this out.

 

The war on errors is ongoing and never ending. And one we cannot afford to loose.

–From the braintrust @Creative Dimensions

What Grade Would You Give Your Content?

I cringe when I hear the word content. It’s becoming analogous to “stuff,” which is to say general material with no specific use, the bric-a-brac of the internet. Of course, there is very informative content—and lots of it—but it’s mixed in with a tsunami of swill that devalues it.

There are over 450,000,000 active English language blogs out there. Yours will be 450,000,001. Do you have something to say that will stand out? YouTube receives 4,000,000 hours of new video content per month. Podcasts are on the rise and stand at a somewhere over 225,000—but listeners aren’t rising with them. The number of online or email newsletters has jumped 475%.

Pardon me for tipping the sacred cow, but does everyone NEED to spew content? One article after another says we do. But everybody? Really? We all know companies who practically herniate themselves trying. They post a blog per (week? month? geologic epoch?) They work late to create Facebook posts. They Tweet like crazy, whether they know why or not. And they dutifully crank out a newsletter to the anticipating masses. (When was the last time you read a newsletter that slipped into your inbox?)

Let’s reacquaint ourselves with the Dos of content creation:

  • Do impart unique information
  • Do make yourself a credible source (does your track record make you a thought leader?)
  • Be easy-to-read (don’t present an off-putting morass of badly written and organized information)
  • Do make good use of a reader’s time by teaching, engaging or entertaining
  • Do link to items that reflect well on your brand

And the Don’ts:

  • Don’t copy from another source and call it your own
  • Don’t bore your readers (lively engaging writing is worth paying for)
  • Don’t confuse by failing to think out your statements before writing
  • Don’t lie (someone will notice and then you’re out of the game)
  • Don’t put out content that’s inconsistent with or detracting from your brand

So, is your content making the grade?

Grade A: Thought leaders and innovators, teachers and national figures are natural content creators, because people seek them out. They should be blogging, podcasting, Tweeting, passenger-pigeoning, whatever. They have the power—and perhaps the responsibility—to create good content.

 

Grade B: Upcoming unknowns in new categories who have something to say should put it out there in multiple media and in as large a volume as they can handle to tell their story and put themselves on the map. People or companies riding trends should maximize the wave by engaging with fans/followers at every touch point.

 

Grade C: Most of us are here. Organizations and individuals dealing with commodities or low-interest goods or services who live in the gray area of content. Few users will actively seek us out. If we are new and lack a history of successes, we’re at a real loss for credibility. Following the mantra of the day, we try to fulfill the burden of content. We’ll import info feeds from other sources (usually a waste of time). We’ll blog based on borrowed information and desperately try to connect on Facebook and Twitter only to attract legions of no-shows.

 

Perhaps the best advice is: don’t waste much time inventing content just yet. Better to let your brand grow than to besmirch it with the wrong content. Cultivate the content you do have (on your website, in emails and marketing materials) so it’s cohesive, delivers your advantages and cross-references from piece to piece—especially on your site where inbound and outbound links are gold. Grow yourself as an information source or as a personality (entertainment is a huge bonus). You should know when you’re at a point to up the volume of your content—and make it worth your while.

 

Here are some tips.

 

Grade F-: The lowest marks go to pop culture sites and trailer-park news sources (even once-credible ones who have slathered their sidebars and video entries with non-news of a carnival sideshow quality: wardrobe malfunctions, sex scandals, the freakishly fat, freakishly thin, freakishly tattooed, etc.) Much of their content consists of links to titillation, propaganda, uninformed opinion pieces, celebrity gossip and lurid topics of no value. This is the flood of sewage in the content stream that has poured the talentless, amoral, hate mongering and ignorant onto our monitors and mobile devices to distract from things that matter.

 

The internet should be an open forum, not an abused one. At some point, a saturation point will be reached and content will be further devalued, until it is stuff cluttering a desk nobody knows what to do with.

 

So please, content wisely.

–From the braintrust @ Creative Dimensions

Quadras Corp tabs Creative Dimensions as Agency of Record

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Creative Dimensions has been named Agency of Record for Cincinnati-based Quadras Corp, and will handle all creative marketing efforts for the technology company going forward. Quadras is a global provider of unique, enterprise-class Data Collection and Professional Service solutions, with a specialization in mobile data capture and RFID technologies. Their business solutions are focused on optimizing operations, reducing expenses and improving business processes, and they have successfully been applied across a wide range of industries. Creative Dimensions is a Cincinnati advertising agency providing strategic planning, advertising, design and branding, digital marketing and media planning and buying.

Creative Dimensions partners with Golf Exchange

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We are proud to announce that Creative Dimensions has recently been selected by Golf Exchange as the retailer’s official agency of record. We’ll be handling marketing, advertising and all media buying for their four (soon to be five) stores in Greater Cincinnati and Lexington. Golf Exchange specializes in custom fitting golfers with the right clubs, a huge advantage over their competition. They do this by hiring bright, friendly sales people who live and breathe the game—and by investing in the TrackMan Launch Monitor to deliver state-of-the-art data on every aspect of a customer’s swing. Each location also displays the latest clubs, apparel and accessories, as well as an excellent selection of used clubs. Even with premium gear and service, Golf Exchange’s prices are as good as or better than the big name box stores in the market. We’re thinking that helping their brand succeed is a gimme.

Creative Dimensions now at the helm of Noah’s Ark.

 

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We’re officially working with a bunch of animals…and loving it. Noah’s Ark Animal Clinics of Greater Cincinnati has welcomed us aboard to help guide their marketing. The veterinary service opened on Colerain Avenue in 1967 and now has three, state-of-the-art facilities, including locations in West Chester and Fort Wright, Kentucky. Their motto is, “We treat your pet like our own,” and it defines their business philosophy. They encourage walk-ins over appointments, keep their costs affordable and provide expert medical care. True servants to their communities, they want every pet and owner to receive the time, talent and compassion needed. We’ll be starting with an overhaul of their website and a plan to provide excellent service, wise media placement and forward-looking ideas, all with no additional fleas.

– Creative Dimensions

Would you want to have dinner with your brand personality?

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This isn’t about creating your brand personality.

If you’re looking for that, you’ll find an overwhelming number of sources ready to teach you. Most of them will tell you how easy it is: Five Ways, Seven Simple Steps, Do It In Ten Minutes or Less! I’ll credit you with the wisdom to know it’s not that easy and to search out qualified brand creators with names, faces and credentials.

What the happy, helpy online folks don’t tell you is just how difficult it is to get your brand personality right. This isn’t a task done unilaterally by one marketing person. Or even by the whole marketing department. Or even by them and an external agency. It takes everyone from the CEO to the kid in the mail room with the Death Druid tattoo on the back of his neck.

Many of you are nodding your heads and thinking, “I know all that.”

Good. You’re whom I want to talk to. You either have a brand personality or are creating one. Here’s the question you need to ask yourselves, the litmus test of whether or not consumers find your brand likable and credible: “Would you want to have a drink with Mr. or Mrs. Your Brand?”

If you’ve done your brand personality creation correctly—assessed your strengths and weaknesses, aligned your brand strategy, listened to your customers, and spent the time to know what your brand looks like, how many kids it has, what it drives, whether it gives to charity and the brand of shoes it wears—you’ll see a living, breathing person before you.

The most thorough brand personality creation of which I was part (for a hospital), we even had a name: Dr. Henderson. I felt like I knew the guy and, yes, I found him intriguing enough that chatting over drinks was not an unpleasant prospect.

The trick is seeing the brand as consumers see it. People flying Virgin Airlines aren’t greeted by Richard Branson. From the minute they step to the Virgin gate, they interact with a brand beyond its creator’s personality.

Amazon vs Craig’s List? Let’s see, one is confident, organized and seems to really care about me, while the other is shady, faceless and doesn’t seem to care if I get scammed. Target vs. Kmart? I like both of the linked spots for branding purposes, only Target delivers the brand upon entering its stores. Kmart doesn’t.

One of the most brilliant branding campaigns belongs, of course, to Apple. It puts faces and voices to what I can only write about. While the PC isn’t a brand, the brands selling it—IBM, HP, Etc—are saddled with a bumbling oaf of a product that, were you to have dinner, would expect you to pick up the tab…after it had dropped its entrée onto the floor and broken its water glass. Apple I would expect to be a fascinating conversationalist and even recommend a better place to eat.

So, after your months of toil crafting your brand personality, put it to the final test. Would you like to sit across from it at Chez Gourmet or just stay at home and order carryout?

–From the braintrust @ Creative Dimensions

What’s Your ROI IQ?

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You’ve just presented a brilliant new advertising/marketing campaign when, from the tar pits, rises this: the dinosaur who, drawing from some Triassic-aged bank of analytics knowledge, says, “Show me a good ROI or I’ll show you the door”? You cannot take the threat lightly, because the dinosaur in these cases is almost invariably powerful enough to rip your efforts to shreds and search elsewhere for the tasty ROI it believes exists.

To manage the beast, you must have an evolved sense of what ROI really is, how to capture it and how to present it successfully from new perspectives.

First, let’s look at the term, itself. BusinessDictionary.com defines Return On Investment—in short—as, “The earning power of assets measured as the ratio of the net income (profit less depreciation) to the average capital employed (or equity capital) in a company or project.” Can marketers say they are investing in a company or project? A television or Internet campaign is much less tangible. Some would even argue that marketing is more an expense than an investment and, as such, belongs in the advertiser’s P&L.

Nobody’s saying ROI isn’t an important metric. The trick is understanding the many relevant interpretations of the term.

Modern wisdom, embodied in this case by a pundit from Forbes Magazine, looks at ROI from different angles and finds value in each. She asks us to consider ROI in the digital realm as Return on Impressions (self-explanatory), or in the social media space as Return on Opportunity (as in opportunities that arise when a branding effort takes on a life of its own), or Return on Engagement which comes from analyzing the interaction of consumers with your brand. There’s also Return on Objectives, a calculation of potential once the objective of a long-term effort is reached. All of these versions of ROI examined together can give a clearer picture of value versus expenditure.

Even if you don’t buy in to her rationale, you have to agree simple, one-dimensional ROI isn’t enough on which to base an integrated analytics picture. One must factor in the strategic intent of all marketing investments a company makes. Your representative’s visit to a client is supported by your print campaign that earns credibility by word of mouth endorsements which prompt action at point of purchase and so on. This gets into return on incremental investing and a look at not how much consumers bought, but at how much MORE they bought, because of your marketing spectrum.

In another twist of the term, ROI can stand for Return on Influence. This regards social media marketing and the ripple effect that occurs when like-minded people pass the word about your brand. Immediate dollars returned can’t be quantified. Analytics must instead focus on lead generation, customer acquisition and moving the customer along the purchase life cycle—and the registers ringing as a result.

This single blog entry can’t provide the content you need for an in-depth understanding of how to use ROI as a metric or how to counter those who believe it is the ONLY metric. It can (this blogger hopes) inspire you to look at ROI differently and go on to educate yourself. A Google search with parameters as simple as “New ROI” will start you down the right path.

As every intellectually astute article should begin and end with Einstein, I quote: “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” This is certainly applicable to those stuck in old thinking about ROI—and perhaps to certain bloggers who think they know everything.

–From the braintrust @ Creative Dimensions