The “Cloud’s” silver lining

Mar

We’ve been an Apple Macintosh shop from day one. We loved them. They were intuitive, stable, and reliable.

Until the Cloud.

Most of our software now comes from the Cloud. Programs update automatically and sometimes without warning. Apple, in an effort to stay ahead of hackers and competitors, releases new systems more frequently than my windows get washed. As new versions are introduced, software developers scramble to stay compatible.

Apple isn’t the only culprit. Larger developers drive change as well. Often, Adobe’s Creative Cloud’s frequent updates mean files built with the latest software won’t open in even slightly older versions.

All these “New and Improved” developments coming from the Cloud got me thinking. Could thoughtful marketing communications have made these changes easier to accept?

Here’s what I wish I could tell Apple to do, and what you can do if you’re introducing a changed product or service.

Give us a warning.

Tell us when change is coming with enough time to prepare for the transition. Upgrade costs, training demands and operational impacts will all be factors in determining how much lead time your customers may need.

Educate me.

Show me and tell me what is changing and how it will impact me. Provide demos and documentation. Share your research, trial results and white papers. Discuss the benefits of the “new”, but be honest about any potentially unwelcome changes, too.

Let me test it first.

Provide samples, a trial period, or a preview. Letting us try the new thing into our own real-world setting alleviates a lot of fear.

Give me options.

As much as possible, give me control over when the change occurs. Keep both the new and old products in production for a while to accommodate late adopters. Tell me when the original will no longer be available.

Let me change my mind.

If I hate the new thing, how do I undo my decision? Are refunds or guarantees possible? How do I return, uninstall, or dispose of the thing? What are the alternatives if this doesn’t work for me?

How you introduce change to a customer can make a big impact on its acceptance. Make marketing communications your ally and you’ll go a long way toward keeping them happy and open to improvements.

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Exhibiting? Six tips to make the most of your show experience.

Feb

We’re coming up on trade show season again. Exhibiting at trade shows can be stressful and costly but when done well, they can be a powerful tool to move you closer to your business goals. Below are five tips to help you make the most of your company’s tradeshow experience:

1. Visit before you exhibit
If possible, attend a show before you commit to exhibiting. Walking the expo floor will tell you a great deal about what you’ll need to do to be successful. This is especially important in shows overseas. They have very different booth systems than we do in the US. If you don’t match their style you’ll look like a clueless newbie. Get a feel for the exhibit floor layout and decide where you’d like your booth to be placed. Make note of exhibitor’s booths. You’ll want to rise to the standard, but also stand out.

2. Know your purpose
Set a clear purpose for going to the show. The best shows will attract a range of potential prospects and customers. Pin down your goals and decide what metrics you’ll track for success. For instance, how many prospects are you hoping to gain, and how are you identifying them? Are they a prospect if they register for your drawing, or only if they request product information?

3. Refine your message.
Your booth is like a billboard. When attendees walk by your booth you only have about five seconds to capture their attention. Based on your purpose for exhibiting at this show, decide what ONE message you’re going to lead with and stick with it. Keep it short and succinct—8 to 12 words—and use it everywhere; on the booth, in collateral, and on giveaways.

4. Don’t be afraid to stand out
Trade shows may have inspired the phrase Go Big or Go Home. Shows are absolutely the time to break out of the routine. Stick with that one message but be bold with it. Let your brand show its purest, most passionate self. Be you. Only bigger!

5. Stay on brand
Avoid off-brand traffic building gimmicks. We’ve probably all been to a trade show where a booth ran an event that drew long lines, and yet you have no memory of the company exhibiting’s name or what they were selling. Too many times booth bait is used that has no relation to the company, brand or marketing message. If your booth is using something random like Jedi Knights for an attendee photo-op, you better find a clever way to tie it back to your message.

6. Train your team
Make sure everyone working the booth understands the show’s purpose and marketing message. Not only should they be able to repeat it and work it into a sentence or pitch, they need to know why it is the message for this show. Hold a training session and do some role-playing. It’s a good way to get a group focused and excited for a trade show.

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Go-To Apps for Marketing and Design

JanuaryThe team members at Cooper Smith & Company rely on our smart phones to make our lives easier and our work more productive. Want to know which apps we turn to on a daily basis? Here’s a list of our go-to favorites.

Evernote I use Evernote like the iPhone’s Notes app — on steroids. Because it syncs with all my devices, anything I jot at my computer can be retrieved later on my phone or iPad. Evernote let’s you store photos, recipes, to-do lists and reminders and now even has a chat function. Stored notes are searchable by keyword, tag or content. You can also organize your notes into “notebooks” and even share them with others.

The Font Game If you’re a type geek like me, testing your font identification skill is a blast. This little app is just $1,99 and can suck in you as fast as any game of Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

What the Font What the Font draws on the font identification engine of the global type library, MyFonts. Snap a photo of type and this app will attempt to identify the typeface. Like the font? You can link to more information and purchase options right from the app. Of course, it can sometimes miss the mark – but when it works it’s fantastically useful.

Kuler I used to rely of Palettes. It’s a free app and still a lot of fun. But Kuler is one of the best iPhone apps for color picking around. Snap a photo, or pull up a photo from your library or the web, and Kuler will capture five points of color, creating a palette you can then tweak, save and send to other Adobe tools such as Illustrator.

Adobe Ideas Adobe’s iOS companion to Illustrator is one of the best iPhone apps I’ve come across – and the best news is, Adobe has made it free to download. The features in version 2.6 include the ability to customize your toolbar with your favorite brushes, draw more accurately, share your designs on Facebook and Twitter, and sync your color themes with Kuler . If you have Creative Cloud membership you can also sync the app between your iPad, your iPhone and your desktop.

Dropbox A cloud-based server system, we rely on Dropbox for several of our clients. Using Dropbox, we share files, keep teams current and collaborate with the programmers, animators and photographers we work with. A Dropbox account is accessible from any mobile or desktop device with an internet connection.

Facebook Pages Since we currently manage six of our client’s Facebook accounts, I’m checking Pages several times a day. (More often I’m afraid, than I check my own account!) Through Pages you can make and schedule posts, stay on top of activity and check your insights right from your phone.

TED It’s not exactly a marketing app, but I am addicted to TED. Fascinating and inspiring, TED talks (and TedEd presentations) are available on nearly every topic. I often watch TED talks when I’m on the machines at the gym, and I would rather watch a TED before bed than TV.

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