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

Creative Dimensions Launches Problem Gambling Outdoor Campaign for Talbert House

One of our longtime clients, Talbert House, reached out to us recently for creative development of an outdoor billboard campaign for problem gambling, which is being sponsored by the Mental Health Services Board of Hamilton County. Approximately 34 billboards will be visible throughout Hamilton County for the next two months. The project required a very quick turnaround, and true to form, Creative Dimensions was up to the task. Four campaign concepts were created, presented, and the final boards were approved and sent to the outdoor companies within a span of about a week. Nothing to it!

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Just Brakes Website—Down From the Lift and Ready to Roll

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Like getting a tune-up, lube and a new coat of paint, auto repair chain Just Brakes is rolling out in fine style at the wheel of a newly updated website, designed by Creative Dimensions. All of Just Brakes’ signature services are listed, along with helpful information about hours and locations. Money-saving offers remain in the spotlight, and arranging an appointment can be done in seconds. For mobile users, we’ve customized the site fit their style. Show your car, and yourself, a little love. Stop by the new justbrakes.com.

CREATIVE DIMENSIONS TEAMS WITH HALL-OF-FAMER MARTY Brennaman

Creative Dimensions Advertising & Marketing recently wrapped up production on a television commercial for Covenant Village, a member of The Health Care Management Group. The spot features Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer and Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman. The spot, shot and edited by Curtis Productions, will air throughout the Reds baseball season on Fox Sports Ohio.

Covenant Village of Green Township is a physical therapy rehabilitation center dedicated to getting you home faster. The state-of-the-art equipment, techniques and environments we employ are more than innovative. They’re proven to make the road to recovery more pleasant and a faster route to get patients home, healthy and independent.

To view the spot, click below.

 

Is Your Advertising Brave Enough?

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Ordinary advertising can work in the short term. Brave advertising, assuming it’s not also stupid advertising, can hook into the consumer’s consciousness and work for years. If you ever saw this for Apple, you haven’t forgotten it: 1984

Being brave means having the guts to be really good or really bad. Both cut through the clutter by either making a bid for the consumer’s affections (good) or by being memorably annoying (bad). In between are pansy ads that take no risks.

Excellent advertising aims for high-level (not necessarily high-budget) creativity that’s relevant to the product or service, appeals to the viewer’s values and delivers something memorable, whether it’s hilarious or touching or dramatically stylish.  See how Axe Peace did it with only the most tenuous of benefits: Axe Peace

Horrible advertising does much the same thing, but dares to be so annoying, it burrows into the brain, lays eggs and won’t leave. Low budget is not the defining factor here. Some brands throw garbage trucks full of cash at perfecting “horrible.”   See how Subway did it: Subway $5 Footlong

Being brave begs the question: Is it worth it?

Probably not for everybody. If you’re a visionary like Steve Jobs or have a good imagination or have hired an agency who knows a great idea when it births one, you should by all means go for the gold ring. If you don’t trust your instincts or your marketing people, your agency or your product, stay in known terrain and dare to be what you are. Being ordinary can work. There are plenty of work-a-day ads that get the job done.

If your advertising resembles someone else’s, you’re not brave enough. In fact you’re a chicken for hiding in the comfort of familiarity, even though it does nothing to distinguish your brand and may help your competition by looking like them.

If you blame the size of your budget, you’re not brave enough. Swinging for the fence takes good ideas more than big dollars. Lavish productions may dazzle, but do they deliver substance? Strong ideas do. Here’s one for FedEx: We Apologize

Bravery gives you a shot at commercial immortality. Nike, Capital One, Old Navy, Geico, Volkswagen, Coke, Dos Equis and others are household names because of it.

If you’re good with being good, fine. If you have a vision for greatness, then gather your best guns, go forth and conquer.

– From the Brain Trust @ Creative Dimensions